New Delhi, Dec 27 (IANS) Praising the India-Pakistan peace initiatives, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday said his state instead of "being the bone of contention, can become a bridge of friendship" between the two neighbours.
In his speech, read out by state Finance Minister Abdjul Rahim Rather, at the 57th National Development Council (NDC) meeting here, Abdullah said the economic development of the two nations can get a boost "if the scarce resources are invested in programmes of development and poverty alleviation" and added that "peace is a sine qua non for the development" of his state.
India and Pakistan have taken several steps to improve their ties this year, including the signing of a landmark liberalised visa pact.
Abdullah also emphasised that the need for initiating "internal dialogue with diverse political opinion, and in an inclusive manner, has never been more greater than it is today".
The chief minister said his state has set an ambitious target of 8 percent growth in the 12th plan (2012-17) and to achieve it the state would need Rs.68,000 crore.
He also urged that the central funds should be released to the state without any pre-conditions and at the beginning of the year, instead of at the end of the financial year.
Abdullah said the state government has made a beginning towards empowering the panchayats by "transferring the functions of 14 departments and ensuring flow of funds".
On creating a rapid and mass transport system for the two state capitals, Srinagar and Jammu, he said as per a feasibility report, Rs.30,000 crore would be required to set up a metro/mono rail.