Farooq Says February 1997 Pakistani Elections First Where Kashmir was not an Issue

Is the Entusiasm for Coming to Kashmir's Cause Suddenly Waning in Pakistan Now That Fewer Kashmiris are Left to be Killed at the Bidding of Pakistani Agencies?

17th February 1997
News Agencies

CHANDIGARH: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah expects improvement in Indo-Pakistan relations following the installation of a new government in Pakistan.He said it was the first time that Kashmir had ceased to be an issue in the general elections in Pakistan and none of the parties had tried to cash in on anti-Indian sentiments.

Mr Abdullah was here on Sunday to woo industrialists attending a seminar on the Industrial and Economic rivival of JK. He invited them to invest in the Jammu region since the Valley would be unable to meet the power requirements of industry. Besides, he added, "It will take us some time to put the Valley in order."

The chief minister admitted the state had been put back 50 years by the "tragic events" over the last seven years and asked the industrialists to help make a fresh beginning. Former president of the Confederation of Indian Industry Gurprit Singh recounted how industrialists continued to suffer even after the return of a popular government. They were given no relief and were threatened with penal rents and interest rates on loans taken over the years when their businesses were closed and their premises occupied by security forces. But Mr Abdullah blamed this on the bureaucracy. He said, "There are bureaucrats who keep their door closed but it's the people who ultimately suffer because of their attitude. But I am here to open the door in welcome."

The chief minister blamed the Union government, saying that he had sought justice from Delhi but the Union government had surrendered the rights of the state over river waters by entering into the Indus Valley treaty with Pakistan and starved the state of power by denying it its due.

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