Kashmir issue: Mehbooba Mufti welcomes PM's initiative, demands accountability

     People's Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Mehbooba Mufti has welcomed the fresh initiative unveiled by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to address the unrest in Kashmir and hopes it will be a critical step forward in facilitating peace in the Kashmir Valley. "The Prime Minister's statement has come after two months, following the killing of 51 locals. It is good that the Prime Minister has spoken about this issue, and, he has tried to reach out to the people," Mufti told reporters here. "We hope and believe that an initiative should take place at the Prime Minister's level. The second thing about political process that he is talking about should be fruitful and result-oriented. The people of different mindsets and opinions on the matter should be engaged in this process," Mufti added. Mufti, however, said that seeing the current situation prevailing in the valley, a political package was the need of the hour, and once the normalcy is restored, then economic packages could be looked into. "At this juncture, the priority of the Prime Minister should be towards a political package and a political resolution. As far as economic packages are concerned, it is being addressed since 1947, but at this present moment, the concern should be to rescue the people out of this prevailing situation," she added. Dr. Singh, in a televised address appealed to the people in the state to give peace a chance, promising infrastructure and development in the state. "I believe we need a political solution that can address the feeling of alienation in the people, and we are ready for dialogue," he added. Admitting that the government's Kashmir policy needs to do more, he hinted at reviewing and amending the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). He further said that he empathised with the youth of the state and that every effort will be made to meet their hopes and aspirations. He also announced the creation of an expert panel to seek ways to create jobs in the valley.

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