Mehbooba Mufti says Kashmir must feature in Indo-Pak talks

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 23, 2012 12:30 hrs

People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said that the Kashmir issue must feature during talks between India and Pakistan in the long-term interests of the country.

"I feel that the talks between India and Pakistan are more of show-off and the benefits are mostly being reaped by other states like trade is increasing through the Wagah Border, banking facilities are being made available and cricket matches are being held. As far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, the impact of talks is not visible in Jammu and Kashmir," said Mufti in Poonch district.

Mufti said that increase in the trade activities will help to develop trust between the two nations.

"I feel that the obstacles must be addressed. Cricket diplomacy is very good but the real diplomacy will be formed through trade, when people of both the countries will be benefited. This will raise the interest and trust of people among each other. So, this will lead to peace and prosperity," said Mufti.

Pakistan currently allows only 1,946 items from India, including things like cosmetics and spices.

But most aren't traded directly. Only 109 goods are allowed through Atari-Wagah, while the bulk is channelled via third countries such as Dubai and Singapore, slowing deliveries and increasing costs.

Restrictions and freight cost have encouraged smuggling in items like tyres and machine parts across their border and also through Afghanistan. Analysts estimate the smuggling at up to $2 billion, more than the legal trade.

A new list of items being prepared by the Pakistani Commerce Ministry would replace the current list of tradable items with a much smaller list of banned items. The list is still being negotiated.

However, slamming the provincial ruling government for its failure on all fronts, Mufti said people are disillusioned with the government and want change.

"We have been visiting the far-flung areas of the state to find out the problems faced by the people living in these areas and to address their issues. People are facing lot of problems like price rise and corruption, so we want these facts to come in front of media and the provincial ruling government, so that these issues are addressed," said Mufti.

Mufti has been addressing rallies in far-flung areas of the state and said she has witnessed the suffering of people at large. (ANI)