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Progress on J&K possible: Mufti

October 31, 2005 18:39 IST

Describing the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan as a 'window of opportunity and a golden chance' for them to resolve their differences, outgoing Jammu and Kashmir [Images] Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has said he is confident of the two countries making 'concrete progress' towards resolution of the Kashmir problem.

"For the first time in 57 years, relations between India and Pakistan are now Kashmir-focused. Starting of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus on April 7 this year and now the agreement to open relief camps on five points along the Line of Control from November 7 show that people of Kashmir are now getting importance in relations between the two countries," he said, in an interview to BBC Hindi Service.

Maintaining that everything cannot happen in a single go, Sayeed, who is relinquishing office on November 2 as part of an agreement with the coalition partner Congress, emphasised on the continuance of the peace process, regular dialogue and its speed.

"It is a reality, which is now being realised. This is a window of opportunity and a golden chance, which cannot be allowed to go waste by either country," Sayeed said.

He said he felt that 'concrete progress on the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan is very much possible. I am hopeful that a new picture would emerge in the coming days'.

Sayeed admitted that at the moment both the countries have hard positions on the Kashmir issue. "India has its own view on Kashmir and so has Pakistan," he said.

Asked whether opening of relief points along the LoC was the maximum that the two countries could achieve since both the Centre and J&K governments are highlighting this as a great achievement, Sayeed said, "I do not think so and nor have I got any impression of this kind to the best of my political experience.

The whole environment in the region has changed and people would not tolerate any diversion from the real issue of good relations between the two countries. I have met both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi [Images], along with many other central leaders. All of them really see it as a great opportunity, perhaps a rare one, to improve relations."

Sayeed said the real thing is desire for friendship, which is so strong that any attempts to thwart it would not be tolerated now and 'I see a commitment in Indian leadership to have good neighbourly relations with Pakistan'.

Asked about his three-year tenure as J&K Chief Minister, Sayeed claimed that the biggest success of his government was the starting of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus on April 7 this year.

Observing that militant activities in J&K were on a decline now, the outgoing chief minister said, "Even if an incident takes place, it is dealt with sternly now and does not affect public life anymore."

He welcomed his successor Ghulam [Images] Nabi Azad's latest statement on seeking the support of those outside the coalition and even those out of the mainstream to bring peace in the state.

On the future of Congress and PDP alliance, Sayeed said, "I see this coalition government continuing smoothly, as both parties have mature leadership in the state."

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