Batting strongly for friendly relations between India and Pakistan, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah today said sustained and meaningful dialogue between the two countries was imperative for lasting peace in the region.
He said it was especially important for better living conditions of border dwellers in both the countries, recalling damage caused to life and property in villages along the LoC and IB due to shelling across the border over a year ago.
"Border people will be immediate beneficiaries of normalisation of relations between the two neighbours. A sustained and meaningful dialogue between India and Pakistan is imperative for lasting peace in the region," Abdullah said while addressing party workers at the border town of Sunderbani in Rajouri district today.
He said people living in border areas have been braving brunt of hostilities, and pitched for working towards "bringing cheer in their lives" by fostering good relations.
He hoped Pakistan would respond positively and help in creating congenial atmosphere for taking forward the peace process.
He said the two countries have "no option but to talk" in the larger interest of peace and freeing the people from shackles of hatred and mistrust.
"Peace and friendly relations between India and Pakistan will enhance the quality of life of millions, who have paid dearly due to decades-long suspicion and hostilities," he said.
The National Conference President said peace and normalcy in the region will remain a distant dream as long as the two neighbours won't sort out issues in friendly atmosphere.
Abdullah also dwelt on local problems and expressed anguish over delay in compensation to people affected by the 2014 floods, besides those whose houses were damaged due to shelling in the border districts.
He said the government cannot abdicate its responsibilities towards the rehabilitation and well-being of people.
Interacting with a delegation of striking Public Health Engineering (PHE) workers who have been demanding regularisation of services, Abdullah said government must understand their plight and sought sought fulfillment of their demand.
He exhorted the cadre to reactivate the party at grassroots level and prepare in a big way for Urban Local Bodies and Panchayat elections.
"National Conference has all along strived for decentralisation of powers," he said reffering to the single line administration concept introduced in the late seventies.
He said empowerment of people at basic-level democratic institutions is imperative for decision making.
"This was essentially to involve the people at ground zero in development process and fixing priorities to various projects in their areas," he said.
He said robust Panchayats can be very useful for overall development of rural areas which is why people must elect honest and dedicated representatives whenever elections are held.