Srinagar: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said it was strange that Pakistan was allowing passenger flights over its air space from all Indian states except Jammu and Kashmir but expressed hope that improvement in relations between the two countries would remove this bottleneck.

"This is strange that our neighbour is allowing flights from any state of India over its air space except Jammu and Kashmir.

"We hope better relations between the two countries will help remove this bottleneck so that the people in J and K get benefited equally," Omar said during an interaction with civil society here.

He expressed hope that friendship ties between India and Pakistan would be further strengthened.

However, denial by Pakistan to allow flights from Srinagar over its air space to other countries had put big a question mark in this regard, Omar said.

The Chief Minister said during his recent meetings with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, he underlined the need of reducing security checks at Srinagar airport which were imposed at the time when militancy was in peak.

“Situation is now reverse demanding a re-look at the aspect to make travel of the people of the state and visitors hassle-free," he said.

Omar said cumbersome searches and burdensome security frisks needed to be eased in the changed circumstances.

"I also held talks with the Central leadership on the need to give total control of Srinagar civil airport to the Civil Aviation Authority relieving Air Force of the job. This will further help in restoring the civil status of Srinagar airport," Omar said.

He expressed satisfaction over the enhancement of flying schedule which begins at 7.00 am and ends at 5.30 p.m. On tourism, Omar said the sector is of significant economic importance for the state.

"We are concentrating on opening new destinations for tourists but equal thrust is being laid on development of adventure, sports and pilgrim tourism," he said.

Good roads and better tourist infrastructure along with best possible service are important ingredients for tourism to flourish, Omar said.

"Houseboat is the heritage of the state and its extinction will not be allowed at all," he said.

The government would provide all possible help to owners of the houseboats to extend best service to the visitors, the Chief Minister said.


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