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After Musharraf visit, optimism engulfs Valley

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
April 19, 2005 11:00 IST
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After the recent visit of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to India, there is optimism in the air in Kashmir.

Most Kashmiris believe that the agreements signed by India and Pakistan during Musharraf's visit will end the possibility of a conflict between the two countries. They hope the confidence-building measures being taken by the two countries will ultimately result in a solution to the Kashmir dispute.
"After waiting for many years, there is some good news for us. India and Pakistan have decided to find peace through Kashmir," said Abdul Majeed, 51, whose uncle had migrated to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in 1947.

The fruit growers in Kashmir are also beyond themselves with joy after hearing the news that trucks will be allowed to ply on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road.

India and Pakistan have agreed to permit trucks to ply on the road.

For Ghulam Rasool Bhat, president of fruit growers association, there will be no more rotten boxes and stranded consignments of apples. His fragrant red apples will land in the terminal market directly from his trees in north Kashmir, which is called the apple bowl of the Valley.
Bhat said apples used to rot because of the continued blockade of the artery through the Banihal Pass, which has been the trade route for long, due to rain, snow and landslide.

"We welcome the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road for trade. It will now be easy for us to transport fruit to central Asia, the Middle East and even Europe through this all-weather road. It will be just a day's journey to the nearest sea port of Karachi," Bhat said.

Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said the decision to permit trucks to ply on the road was good news especially for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who had wanted the frequency of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service to be increased and the Jhelum Valley road to be opened for trade.
Mufti said the agreement between India and Pakistan to continue discussion on Jammu and Kashmir for a final settlement was a welcome development, which would result in the 'ending the agony and misery of the people of the state'.
The common man is seriously banking on the goodwill between India and Pakistan, which Mufti said he believed must lead to the resolution of the Kashmir issue.


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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar