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Statement by Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lok Sabha on his two day visit to Jammu & Kashmir

April 22, 2003

Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statement in the Lok Sabha on his two day visit to Jammu & Kashmir :

"I went to Jammu & Kashmir on a two-day visit on April 18-19, 2003.

I had five programmes in Srinagar. The first had to do with the Foundation Stone laying ceremony for modernization of Srinagar Airport. This project would double the capacity of the airport. We would like international air services to start from Srinagar.

The second programme related to the National Highway Development Project. Under this, work on a four-lane highway from Srinagar to Kanuyakumari was launched. The newly elected Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Shri Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, had been insisting that work on this project in the Kashmir Valley should start as early as possible.

In my public rally, I congratulated the people of Kashmir on participating in the Assembly elections in large numbers. They exercised their franchise defying the threat of bullets. I assured them, "We have come here to share your pain and suffering. Whatever complaints you have, try to address them collectively. Knock on the doors of Delhi. Delhi will never close its doors for you. The doors of our heart will also remain open for you”.

I assured the people of Jammu & Kashmir that we wish to resolve all issues – both domestic and external – through talks. I stressed that the gun can solve no problem; brotherhood can. Issues can be resolved if we move forward guided by the three principlies of Insaniyat (Humanism), Jamhooriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmir’s age-old legacy of Hindu-Muslim amity).

In my speech, I spoke of extending our hand of friendship to Pakistan. At the same time, I also said that this hand of friendship should be extended by both sides. Both countries should resolve that we need to live together in peace.

My last programme was about the start of work on the construction of Udhampur-Srinagar- Baramulla railway line. It is our resolve to ensure that train services start in Kashmir Valley before August 15, 2007.

Unemployment is the greatest problem facing the youth of Jammu & Kashmir. We have decided to facilitate creation of one lakh opportunities for employment and self-employment over the next two years. For this, a special Task Force would be set up with representatives from the Central Government, State Government industry, commerce, banking and financial institutions. The Task Force will present its report by June 30 and implementation would commence from August 15 this year.

At a press conference before returning to Delhi, I expressed the hope that a new beginning can take place between India and Pakistan. I said that we have extended our hand of friendship. Let us see how Pakistan responds to this. Stopping cross-border infiltration and destruction of terrorist infrastructure can open the doors for talks. Talks can take place on all issues, including that of Jammu & Kashmir.

Thank You

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