Omar welcomes renewed bilateral engagement between India and Pakistan

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Srinagar, Mar 3 (PTI) National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah Wednesday welcomed the renewed bilateral engagement between India and Pakistan, saying the 'changed understanding' of the neighbouring countries about Jammu and Kashmir will act as forerunner of peace and prosperity in the region.

India and Pakistan had announced on February 25 that they have agreed to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors.

'It was a welcome step that must be carried forward positively,' Abdullah said, while interacting with party delegates here on Wednesday. The evolving situation, he said, has made it pretty clear that the outlook of both the countries towards J&K has undergone a 'big change and has been replaced with a policy of peaceful engagement'. 'The renewed outlook of both the countries gives an inkling of a changed mindset towards Jammu and Kashmir,' he added. He said his party had been pleading with the Centre, with no success, to restore the 4G mobile services over a period of time. But these services were restored all of a sudden, he said.

'The let-up in the woes of people wasn't confined to that measure only. Over the period of time, we saw how both the neighbouring countries came up with a DGMO level talk on the cessation of violence on the LOC, IB (International Border),” he said.

'It was much later, to our surprise, though that we were able to learn that the DGMO level formations were a product of diplomatic negotiations, which all of us were unmindful of,' he said.

Abdullah said reports of allowing Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to offer congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid after 18 months 'also gives an insinuation about the changed attitude we hail on account of it being in sync with our stated policy underscoring goodwill between India and Pakistan as a means to foster peace in J&K'.

The February 25 statement issued jointly in Islamabad and New Delhi had said the Director Generals of Military Operations of the two countries held discussions over the established mechanism of hotline contact and reviewed the situation along the LoC and all other sectors in a 'free, frank and cordial' atmosphere.

'Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight of February 24/25,' the joint statement had said.

Indian Army officials have, however, maintained there will be no let-up in the troop deployment as well its operations against terrorism and infiltration along Pakistan borders. PTI MIJ TIR TIR