Calling upon India and Pakistan to carry forward the peace process, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Saturday held demonstrations to protest the stoppage of trade across the Line-of-Control (LoC). Demonstrations were held in Srinagar, Poonch and Uri.
The demonstrators carried placards and raised slogans in favour of restoration of trade on Srinagar-Muzzafarbad and Poonch-Rawalkoot routes, across the LoC. They also demanded that the peace process be carried forward in accordance with the vision that had evolved over the years. They said the cross-LoC bus services should be increased and the travel facilities extended beyond divided families so that people are able to visit either part of the state as tourists or pilgrims. Similarly, the traditional routes like Kargil-Skhardo, Bandipur-Gilgit, Turtuk-Khaploo in Nobra, Jammu-Sialkot and other routes be opened for normal traffic.
In the summer capital, Srinagar, the protest rally comprising of hundreds of youth and volunteers, led by Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, the party’s youth wing in charge, started from the party headquarters towards Lal Chowck. On the occasion, Nazir Ahmad Yatoo, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Shuja Sarwar, Nisar Ahmad Mandoo, Irfan Naqashbandi, Advocate Irshad Ahmad, Riyaz Hajni, Raja Waheed, Bashir Ahmad Beigh, Shahnawaz Mir, Rayees Ahmad, Imran Khaki, Hilal Sultanpori, Ahmad Rasool, Mehrajudin Shah, Shahid Dar and others were present.
Addressing the gathering Waheed said it was unfortunate to see the historical initiative, happening after 60 years of independence, has become a victim of the sad events on the borders which will not serve any purpose given the fact majority opinion in J&K is not for bad relations between the estranged neighbours. He said though the biggest Kashmir specific Confidence-Building-Measure (CBM) did not yield the desired results so far, but a positive beginning had been made which has all the potential to see a bright future for the state in the near future if there is strong political will to carry it forward. Waheed said it was the PDP’s vision on the economic front to make J&K a free economic zone and a bridge of peace in the South Asia for which a foundation has been laid in April 2005 and the party will carry forward its efforts to make the borders irrelevant to give boost to economic activities in the region. He said travel and trade across the LoC has both economic and peace building potential provided it is not allowed to get derailed by depressing events like the recent alleged seizure of drugs.
He said the fresh setback to the initiative is against the people’s aspirations that have battled it hard to achieve it in 2005, with the start of bus service between Srinagar and Muzzafarabad and the PDP will not allow it to get sabotaged by the hands which are not for peace between India and Pakistan. He said the PDP, with the help of people particularly the youth, wants to revive the social, economical and political integration between India and Pakistan through J&K and want to end the post independence siege in the state. He said there is need to open more trading and travel routes to help in more people and people contacts and more economic integration.
In Poonch the protest was led by Abdul Hamid Manhas at Salamabad. On the occasion Dr Mumtaz Bukhari, Imtiyaz Ahmad Banday, Shah Mohammad Tantray, Shameem Ganai, Maroof Khan, Shamim Dar, Ch. Javed, Shahzad Khan, Adv Zaman, Amar Singh Josh, Naresh Sharma, Daljeet Sing, Capt. Sohan Singh, Basant Ram and others.
Speaking on the occasion he said the time has come to see the end of inbuilt hassles and hurdles in the trade such as limited number of tradable items, lack of infrastructure like banking and communication facilities. By doing so, he said, not only the trade will develop but it will see end to such disruptions in the near future. He said the frequency of buses should be increased and the bus service should not be left exclusive to the divided families only and the decisions taken in this regard should be implemented. In Uri, in the north Kashmir’s Baramula district, the protest was led by Syed Najeeb Naqvi and Parvaiz Ahmad at Chandanwari.
Photographs by : Arif Bashir wani