Farooq wants drive through Indo-Pak borders without checks

"There are no check posts, nobody asks for your passport, and nobody checks your car boot in Europe.

"I wish a day comes when I can drive past the border to Pakistan just like I can do in Europe today. Europe is one after a history of violence," Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy said here last night.

Pleading for Indo-Pak peace, Abdullah said that Kashmir would never go to Pakistan but still a solution had to be found which would satisfy the majority of people in the state and India and Pakistan.

Abdullah was speaking during a panel discussion--Can Kashmir ever be the same?-- at the release of a book 'Kashmiri cuisine -- Through the ages' by Sarla Razdan. The book was released by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in the presence of a distinguished gathering that included Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik.

"Hatred on both sides must go. SAARC nations, particularly India and Pakistan, can also do the same," Abdullah said. The former state Chief Minister also favoured increase of trade activities. "Enough is enough. We need to give peace a chance. The flame of peace has to be lit so that no one extinguishes it later. We have passed through a very bad phase but time has come for us to build a peaceful region," he said.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and noted film personality Anupam Kher also participated in the panel discussion which was moderated by senior journalist M J Akbar.

Eminent London-based industrialist Swraj Paul was among those present on the occasion. The senior Abdullah said "India and Pakistan could improve their relations by opening up their borders, promoting trade and cultural relations."

Recalling his days as a child when he used to sit on grandfather's (Sheikh Abdullah) lap and watch the festival of Dushera in Iqbal Park, Omar said though it was a distant dream to have a similar situation like that but his Government was working towards restoring normalcy in the state.

"I do not wish to comment on the Kashmir situation because it is a devastation of 20 years....I do not know what is going to happen tomorrow but the effort of my government is to restore peace and reduce the footprints of security forces," he said.

Praising Omar for doing a tough job, Dikshit said she has lot of expectations from him as he was the best bet. "After all it's the blood of his grandfather that runs through his veins. His grandfather was a towering personality and we hope that he fulfils his dreams of a peaceful Kashmir."

Kher said "I am an optimistic fellow as I believe that even a stop clock shows correct time twice a day but when it comes to Kashmir I do not know what future has in store". He recalled an incident when he was shooting for a film on liberation in the Valley but was surrounded by five security guards.

"I was just thinking how can I make a film on liberation when I am myself surrounded with security guards," he said. Concluding the discussion, Akbar complimented Omar for the improved situation in the Valley, evoking a reaction of surprise from the chief minister.

Akbar was quick enough to add that media was the mirror which shows the state of affairs in the society to the government. "If I was critical last year that was because of the political development taking place there (valley). This year things looks on the brighter side, so shall not refrain from appreciating the state government." he said.

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