J-K CM Mehbooba expresses concern over surgical strike, calls for restraint

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], Sept.29 : Expressing grave concern over the heightened tension between India and Pakistan over surgical strike across the Line of Control, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday said the confrontation could lead to a "disaster of epic proportions if urgent steps are not taken to bring down the heightened tensions in the region".

"New Delhi and Islamabad must open the channels of communication realizing the dangerous consequences of any escalation of ongoing confrontation along the borders," Mehbooba said.

Asserting that peace along the borders and within the mainland is of immense significance for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba expressed hope that the political leadership of the two countries would also treat it with the same spirit.

"Like siblings locked in an endless rivalry, India and Pakistan have bickered for well over six decades and transforming that rivalry into a mature, productive relationship will be difficult.

But the consequences of continued animosity will be much worse," she said while adding that the necessity of dialogue has assumed more significance in the post-nuclear phase.

Maintaining that war is never an option to resolve the issues, the Chief Minister said India and Pakistan should instead together fight poverty and economic deprivation plaguing the region.

"The two nuclear armed neighbors must cooperate in the fields of social development, including eradication of poverty and with their growing economies and energy needs, and the need for newer, more diverse markets and trading opportunities, the future of the troubled region has to be defined by common economic interests instead of hostilities," she said.

The Chief Minister called for reviving the spirit of the joint statement issued in Islamabad on December 9, 2015 following the meeting of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz.

She said that India and Pakistan, in a Joint Statement, had agreed to begin a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue on Peace and Security, Confidence Building Measures, Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, Counter-Terrorism, Narcotics Control, Humanitarian Issues, People to People exchanges and religious tourism.

Asserting that there is simply no alternative to talks, Mehbooba said history is witness that even after having fought two wars, India and Pakistan had to time and again come back to the negotiating table to resolve their issues.

"I am sure that amidst the prevailing gloomy scenario in the region, the hope for peaceful means of resolving the issues will again stand the ground and political leadership of the two countries shall have to revive the peace and reconciliation with fresh resolve," she said while adding that it would be in the interest of both the countries to solve their problems through the bilateral framework.

Source: ANI