SRINAGAR, Jan 23: Welcoming Union Minister Rajnath Singh’s assertion that Inida wants cordial relationship with Pakistan, former finance minister Jammu and Kashmir Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Wednesday said sustained engagement between the two neighboring countries is the only way out for a durable peace in the region.
In a statement issued here, Bukhari said while the Union Minister has expressed his desire to strengthen the relationship with Pakistan, need of the hour is to reach out to all the stake holders in Jammu and Kashmir to address the political aspirations of the State.
“While reaching out to Pakistan is a welcome step but the government of India must also address the internal dimension of the Kashmir issue by engaging all shades of political opinion in J&K,” the former finance minister observed.
Emphasizing on the need of extending some confidence-building measures for alleviation of trust deficit in Kashmir, Bukhari, however, cautioned that the same should not be used as a substitute for the resolution of the political grievances.
“I whole heartedly welcome Raj Nath Ji’s statement made at Attari joint check-post in which he has desired an atmosphere of peace and mutual trust wherein the two neighboring countries can live in peaceful co-existence,” Bukhari said, while adding that such an approach is also needed to address the brewing alienation in Kashmir.
He said the festering Kashmir issue has bedevilled relations between India and Pakistan and its long pending resolution has brought immense suffering and hardship to the people of the state.
“The unresolved political nature of Kashmir issue has also been a major drain on the resources of the two countries and has been a stumbling block to normalising relations between them,” he observed while urging the government of India to start dialogue with all shades of public opinion in Kashmir.