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Restoring peace is top priority: Azad

November 07, 2005 18:44 IST

Restoring peace and ensuring equitable development in Jammu and Kashmir will be the foremost priority of his government, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Monday. "My government would strive to give good governance, ensure political stability and fulfill expectations of the people of the state," Azad told reporters after attending his office at Jammu for the first time after assuming office.

Observing that the state had witnessed development during last three years, he said, "The foremost priority will now to be given to peace process in which we will assist the Union government." On reports of human right violations, the new Chief Minister said these "Â…have to be brought to zero and we have also to check killings of innocent people by militants which are also human right violations."

The chief minister said development is possible if normalcy prevails in the state and for this joint efforts have to be made by political leaders, opposition groups and different sections of the society. The chief minister said his government will do its utmost to fulfill the aspirations of people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions and will ensure equitable distribution of funds. Media has to play a special role in the given circumstances in the state, Azad said adding, "Objectivity has to be maintained at all levels."

"A responsible media and a good governance are the keys for bringing peace and prosperity in the state," he said. On the ongoing relief and rehabilitation programme in the quake-hit areas, he said it was also a priority issue.

Azad also thanked the state governments, especially of Punjab and Haryana, non government organisations and armed forces for providing timely help in relief operations. "We want to bring a total change in the prevailing work culture by seeking cooperation of every citizens of the state," he said adding office timings have been enhanced on all working days.

Replying to another question, the chief minister said that in order to promote peace process the Centre has kept its option open for dialogue with Pakistan, Hurriyat Conference and other concerned organisations. About the unemployment problem in the state, he said it was a global problem but through liberalisation policy more infrastructure would be created to generate employment opportunities.

Ruling out a jumbo ministry in Jammu and Kashmir, Azad said that its size will be less than 30 even after an expansion.

However, he parried a question on the timing of expansion of his ministry, saying, "You will come to know about it." The ministerial posts are not permanent, he said adding that the "Efficiency and work" of each minister will gauge his tenure. Azad was sworn-in as chief minister at the head of a 12-member coalition government on November 2. He had, last night, allocated portfolios to his ministers and kept vital portfolios, including Home, General Administration, Education, Health and Medical Education, Relief and Rehabilitation and Revenue, with himself.

Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig has been entrusted with Finance, Planning, Development, Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Tourism while former Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma, would hold Transport, Administrative Reforms, Inspections, Training, Grievances, Floriculture and Ladakh affairs.

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