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बुधवार, 11 अगस्त 2010

Give peace a chance: An all-party meeting of J&K political parties convened by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on the request of chief minister Omar Abdullah here ended inconclusively, with an assurance from the Central government that all suggestions would be examined and put on board while taking any decision to break the unrest in Kashmir Valley. It was also learnt that Dr. Singh will separately consult the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Union Minister and National Conference president Dr. Farooq Abdullah pleaded for restoration of autonomy, but he left the door open for an alternative proposal acceptable to all groups. Almost all the parties baring Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called for immediate resumption of peace process by initiating a dialogue internally with separatists and externally with Pakistan to assuage frustration amongst youth. Chief Minister Omar Abdulah, who left to his father to articulate his party’s stand had a tiff with Pathers’ Party chief Prof. Bhim Sigh, when the latter raised the issue of ‘miss-governance’ and virtual non-existent communication between the people and government. Omar intervened and said he has been reaching out to people, referring to his recent visit to Soura hospital. Bhim Singh and the BSP representative Tulsi Ram Langeh demanded removal of Abdullah government and imposition of Governor’s rule. Communsit Party of India –Maxist leader Mohamamd Yusuf Tarigami and PCC chief Prof. Saifuddin Soz called for sending an all-party parliamentary delegation to Kashmir to assess ground situation. In his concluding remarks, Prime Minister told the leaders that his government was sensitive to problems and crises in Kashmir. He said the presence of his senior cabinet colleagues in the meeting indicates the seriousness and the exercise was also aimed to apprise them the gravity of situation. Almost entire Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) was present at the four-hour long meeting, held at the official Race Course residence of Prime Minister.Earlier, in his inaugural remarks, Dr Manmohan Singh also hinted at amendments in the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that is seen as draconian by the Kashmiris and also talked of the dialogue with Pakistan resulting in "a permanent and just settlement of all outstanding issues that protects the honour and self-respect of all sections of the people of the State," but admitted that the complex problem that has defied resolution for 63 years cannot be solved easily or quickly. Sensing desperation of the Kashmiri youths who grew up in 20 years of militancy with no employment opportunities, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also held out a carrot of jobs in both public and private sectors to stop them from pelting stones on the security forces as the only way to register their anguish."I can feel the pain and understand the anger and frustration that is bringing young people out on to the streets of Kashmir. Many of them have seen nothing but violence and conflict in their lives and have been scarred by suffering, he said.The youths will, however, have to wait for at least three months for any job opportunities as that is the deadline set by the PM for a 6-member expert group headed by former Reserve Bank of India governor and his economic adviser Dr C Rangarajan to formulate a job plan that increases employability in the state. Members of the group are Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy, Tarun Das, the Chief Mentor of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Syed Shakil Qalander, president of Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir, economist P Nanda Kumar and an official of the J&K government.Announcing the constitution of the group at a meeting of the leaders of all political parties in the state at his residence, the Prime Minister appealed to the youth "to go back to their schools and colleges and allow classes to resume" and asked parents: "What future is there for Kashmir if your children are not educated?""I am convinced that the only way forward in Jammu and Kashmir is along the path of dialogue and reconciliation. The events in Kashmir over the past few weeks have caused me great pain. I share the grief, the sorrow and the sense of loss of every mother, every father, every family and every child in Kashmir," he said.Dr Manmohan Singh also hinted amendments in the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that is seen as draconian by the Kashmiris and human right activists, saying the J&K police who have to eventually take on the burden of normal law do not require special powers to discharge their duties.Those attending the meeting also saw a hint of withdrawal of the central security forces and Army from the civilian area in his remark that the Centre will accelerate the process of strengthening and expanding the J&K Police so that they can function independently and effectively within the "shortest possible time." He said the state is only now emerging from the shadow of more than two decades of a deadly insurgency, which brought only death and devastation and two lost decades in the history of Jammu & Kashmir’s development. "Our Government, more than any other government in the past, has invested heavily in the peace process in Kashmir. The brave rejection of militancy by the people opened the door for us to pursue an unprecedented and intensive internal and external dialogue on the issues that have bedeviled Jammu and Kashmir for six decades," he underlined. Urging the people to give peace a chance to rebuild the state and its institutions, promote economic activity that creates job opportunities, Dr Manmohan Singh frankly admitted that the key to the problem is a political solution that addresses the alienation and emotional needs of the people. "This can only be achieved through a sustained internal and external dialogue. We are ready for this. We are willing to discuss all issues within the bounds of our democratic processes and framework. But this process can gather momentum and yield results only if there is a prolonged peace," he said.He also extended the Centre's full support to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah making efforts to renew contacts with the people and asked the assembled leaders of various political parties in the state also to reach out the people and reinvigorate peaceful political activities on the ground that are lacking today. "The youth wings of your parties should be activated. In a democracy, leaders have to listen to the voice of the people and gain their trust and confidence," he said."Every possible effort should be made to reach out to the youth in Jammu and Kashmir. We must respond in a sincere and substantive manner to their genuine aspirations for freedom from fear and for freedom to build for themselves a life of dignity, security and well- being," he said while promising the youth that their genuine empowerment will be accorded the highest priority in his government's J&K policy.The Prime Minister also stressed that the local body elections should be held early to increase peoples’ participation in democratic governance and to ensure political empowerment at the grassroot level.

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