J&K visit a confidence building measure: Ex-PoK PM

Sultan Mehmood Chaudhary said he was open to meeting leaders from both sides of the political spectrum in J&K.

Updated: Sep 18, 2011, 18:11 PM IST

Srinagar: Terming his visit to Kashmir as a "confidence building measure", former Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) Prime Minister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhary on Sunday said he was open to meeting leaders from both sides of the political spectrum in J&K.

"I have no formal programme (yet) for meeting any leaders here. However, I am open to meeting anyone who wishes to do so," Chaudhary, who is the highest ranking serving or retired official from PoK to visit the Valley, said.

“Although it is a private visit, there are no conditions in my visa (given by Indian High Commission in Islamabad) for other activities," Chaudhary, who will stay in the Valley for five days, said.

He said his visit was a "small confidence building measure" and could lead to bridging the gap between India and Pakistan.

"I believe that the restrictions on travel between the two sides (of Kashmir) should be removed and people of the state be able to travel freely. This will increase the people to people contact."

Chaudhary, who arrived here on the private visit this afternoon from New Delhi to attend a marriage ceremony, expressed hope that his visit will have a positive outcome on the Indo-Pak relations.

The leader from PoK, which India holds as its integral part, drove straight to the residence of businessman Zahoor Ahmad Wattali at Baghat-e-Barzulla to attend the marriage ceremony of his son Yasir Wattali.

Tariq Shafi, vice president and regional chairman of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, has also arrived in the Valley for the wedding.