Jammu: Union Minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday batted for "softening" of borders between India and Pakistan to improve the relations between the two nations and enable people of either side to meet.
Pointing out at soft borders in the Europe, the Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy said, "This has transformed the socio-economic landscape of entire Europe and I don`t see any reason why Indo-Pak region will not progress and prosper once there is mutual trust and strong bonding between the two nations."
Insisting that Jammu and Kashmir, in particular, will reap the benefits of Indo-Pak friendship, Farooq said, "Bonds of friendship between the two neighbours will help in solving the problems of millions on either side of the border."
He added that the idea of opening of roads was not new.
"It dates back to the era of Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who strived for softening of borders for mitigating the problems of people and giving boost to trade and commerce," Abdullah said while addressing a public meeting at Mendhar in Poonch district.
The National Conference president while recalling his meeting with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan said that the Pakistan premier wanted to know why Sheikh Abdullah was so keen for opening of the Muzaffarabad Road.
"My reply to Bhutto was that Sher-e-Kashmir wanted the people of two countries to have wider interactions and to see for themselves change taking place in various sectors," he remembered.
"Opening of roads will herald a new era of understanding, give boost to trade, commerce and tourism and above all open new vistas of people to people contact, which he described held key to peace and stability in the region," he added.
The Union Minister also made a mention of Mughal Road and said that Sheikh Abdullah was keen to have it revived for the economic emancipation and easy mobility of the people of Poonch and Rajouri belts.
He expressed satisfaction over the pace of work at Mughal road, connecting Kashmir with Jammu region, and said the link will give tremendous boost to economic activity and open up new areas for tourism.
Referring to the peace and normalcy dawning across the state, especially during the past few years, the NC leader said that this "momentum has to be maintained".
"Jammu and Kashmir is getting liberal assistance for undertaking development and implementing various welfare measures," he told reporters on the sidelines of an event.
Rail link to Qazigund will be commissioned soon, he said.
"Work on the rail project across Banihal was progressing and the day was not far when Kashmir will be connected with other parts of the country," the minister said.