Srinagar (Agencies): Advocating withdrawal of security forces from civilian areas, PDP on Saturday said people of Jammu and Kashmir on either side of Line of Control should be granted freedom for travel and trade and the erstwhile princely state be declared a "free economic zone" in the SAARC region.

"The SAARC countries have set 2020 deadline for coming closer. We demand that they should start by declaring Jammu and Kashmir as a free economic zone where currency of all member states will be acceptable," PDP president Mehbooba Mufti told reporters here.

She said while the people on either side of LoC should be able to live with dignity in their homes, they should also be "granted freedom to travel and trade with each other".

As far as political resolution is considered, Mehbooba said her party's 'self-rule' formula, which envisages setting up a joint council of various regions of Jammu and Kashmir for management of resources, development projects and tourism, was the ideal solution.

She said the borders have to be made irrelevant without making any changes in the sovereignty of India and Pakistan over their respective territories.

Mehbooba said all the cross-LoC routes and those routes which were used by travellers before independence of the country should be opened.

"People used to travel to Yarkand via Leh ... then there is Kargil-Skardu route which leads to Iran and Afghanistan. These routes should be opened for people of Jammu and Kashmir as it will open up new markets for them," she said.

Mehbooba said her party will hold rallies on Monday at Srinagar and Jammu, the twin capital cities of Jammu and Kashmir, to press for their demands which include withdrawal of security forces from civilian areas, revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), release of all political detenues and compensation for water resources of the state.

"The security forces have done their job and it is time they go back to barracks now. Even the security forces admit that infiltration is down, militancy is on decline ...the AFSPA should now be revoked," she said.

The PDP president said Jammu and Kashmir was losing an estimated Rs 50,000 crore annually due to Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan.

"With such enormous funds at our disposal, one can imagination the wonders that can be done in terms of development of infrastructure, employment generation and social security," she said adding the state should be compensated for these losses.

Mehbooba said the state government should stop "harassment" of youth as this could backfire in the long run.

"When you register an FIR against a youth, it has impact on his whole life. He can become a (walking) bomb in future if the harassment does not stop," she said.


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