Bridging the LoC: CM proposes advisory committee to promote tourism, student visits

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said that her party wanted to form an advisory committee that should be tasked to promote tourism on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC).

Interacting with media persons after visiting Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC), Salamabad and Kaman Post, the Chief Minister said that the committee will comprise members of both sides of Kashmir.

The committee, she said, will promote tourism and find modalities for allowing student visits on both sides of Kashmir. “There are 24 seats designated for territorial constituencies of the state occupied by Pakistan in 1947. Till their nomination, we should constitute an advisory committee comprising members of both sides of Kashmir which will work for the promotion of tourism and other areas,” she said.

She described poverty, unemployment and corruption as the biggest enemies of the people of the two countries and suggested pooling of resources by the two countries in fighting these menaces.

She said it is a fact that borders cannot be redrawn but they can certainly be made irrelevant with frequent exchange of people, students, artists and other groups of people.

Earlier addressing a gathering in Uri, Mehboba said that the mission of her party was to forge good relations with Pakistan and seek an end to border skirmishes.

Ms. Mufti also hoped that peace and friendship between India and Pakistan would finally triumph over acrimony and confrontation between the two neighboring countries. She also expressed the hope that the ambit of cross-LoC trade and travel activities would be further expanded so that there is more exchange of people and goods.

She said it is a fact that borders cannot be redrawn but they can certainly be made irrelevant with frequent exchange of people, students, artists and other groups of people.

Expressing dismay over recurrent flare-ups along the LoC, the Chief Minister said unfortunately, the people of Jammu and Kashmir are the worst sufferers of this hostility as they have to live under perpetual  threat to their lives and properties. She said the only way to prevent the loss of lives and destruction of properties and ensure peace along the borders is to revive the spirit of the 2003 ceasefire which had brought new hope of peace and prosperity in the lives of the people along the borders from Kathua to Kargil.

Advocating opening of more traditional routes along the LoC, Mehbooba Mufti said with this the people on the two sides would come closer to each other, understand better each others’ problems which ultimately would lead to lowering of tensions and violence which has plagued the State for a long time now. 

Mehbooba Mufti said cross-LoC travel and trade was not coined and piloted as an isolated facility but to bring the people on the two sides of the divide closer and open a new chapter of friendship and working together. She hoped that the ambit of the cross-LoC trade would further be expanded to get the two people understand each other better.

Earlier, the Chief Minister visited various areas of the Kaman Post like passenger arrival, custom clearance etc. She was briefed about the passenger arrivals and daily activities at the Kaman Post by the officers there.

The Chief Minister also laid the foundation of Tourist Facilitation Centre at Salamabad which, on completion, would have state of the art guest house, restaurant, craft shop and an amusement park.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of next year and it would provide luxury boarding and lodging facilities on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road.

The Chief Minister also had a detailed meeting with a group of cross LoC traders.

Mehbooba Mufti directed removal of all bottlenecks coming in the smooth way of operating the trade across LoC. She directed creation of single window clearance mechanism for addressing the needs of traders so that they don’t have to go from one office to another for redressal of their issues.

In a specific direction, the Chief Minister directed taking steps so that concessions to cross LoC trade are extended under GST. She also directed deployment of adequate manpower at the TFC, Salamabad for efficient service delivery. She assured the traders that her Government would take all those necessary steps which ease their business activities at the TFC and instill confidence among them.

Minister for R&B, Naeem Akhtar; Chief Secretary, B. B. Vyas; Director General of Police, Dr. S. P. Vaid; Principal Secretary, Home, R. K. Goyal; Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Rohit Kansal; Commissioner Secretary, Industries & Commerce, Shailendra Kumar; Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Khan, officers of district administration were present on the occasion.

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