SRINAGAR: Wishing External Affairs Minister, S. M. Krishna very success and fruitful Pak visit in September this year, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah Thursday reaffirmed the necessity of continuous engagement by the two countries in dialogue process to amicably address all issues.
“We know the Kashmir-centric issues are so complex and long drawn that these cannot be resolved in a few meetings but the sustained talks to find out solution in a peaceful atmosphere is the only way forward”, he said adding that Indo-Pak relations have always direct bearing in the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. “The issues between the two countries cannot disappear overnight but efforts to engage in continuous dialogue should not stop”, he emphasized.
Speaking after jointly inaugurating Srinagar Passport Sewa Kerndra at Boulevard here with the External Affairs Minister, S. M. Krishna, the J&K Chief Minister urged EAM to take up smaller issues like transferring Cross LoC Trade from barter status to normal one by allowing financial transactions through banks and communication facilities to traders and simplifying VISA regime for Cross LoC travel to enhance the ambit of this people to people centric CBM, with his counterpart in Pakistan during his upcoming visit to that country.
Omar Abdullah also highlighted the importance of restoring direct Haj flights from Srinagar to Saudi Arabia for Haj pilgrims terming it a huge gift for people of Jammu and Kashmir. “This issue is also connected with Home and Civil Aviation Ministries and I would call for active support and help from Mr. Krishna and Dr. Farooq Abdullah in this regard at the Central level”, he maintained.
The Chief Minister said that the number of passport seekers is increasing year after year. He said his government has taken various measures to fast track the security clearance for issuance of passports by the CID. “We have cleared 51000 passport cases in 2010, 60000 in 2011-12 and 50000 this year so far. We have also cleared 6000 cases this year which were placed in black list. Passport clearance was also given to 2700 Haj pilgrims”, he said adding that government was considering possibility of bringing passport clearance by CID within the purview of Public Service Guarantee Act to make delivery of this service time bound.
Welcoming the launch of PSKs in Jammu and Srinagar and foundation laying of new Passport Office at Rajbagh, Srinagar, the Chief Minister said that it would facilitate hassle-free issuance of passports to passport seekers adding that the launch of PSKs across the country will prove biggest PR initiative at home by Union Ministry for External Affairs which is otherwise more or less engaged in external matters.
Union Minister for External Affairs, S. M. Krishna said that during his last meeting with Pak Foreign Minister, Hina Rubani, he had frank and candid discussion with her. “She told me that there is positive change in the mindset of people of Pakistan vis-a-vis relations with India.
Mr. Krishna also mentioned the cordial meeting between the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Pak President, Asif Ali Zardari at New Delhi when Mr. Zardari visited Ajmeer. He also referred the grand reception given to Pak sports contingent by the people of India when it participated in Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Mr. Krishna also talked about the improving trade relations and people to people contact between the two countries adding that he is looking forward hopefully for his upcoming visit to Pakistan.
Union External Affairs Minister complimented the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah and his government for laying solid foundation for economic development of the State. He appreciated the dynamism of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah to lead the State towards peace and development. He conveyed greetings and good wishes on his and on behalf of Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi to the people of Jammu and Kashmir on holy month of Ramdan.
Mr. Krishna underlined Government’s commitment of providing efficient delivery of passport services to Indian citizens in keeping with the PSP’s vision “to deliver all Passport-related services to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner & in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained & motivated workforce”.
He said that as compared to 30000 passports in 1950s the Passport Offices in the country have released issued 73 lakh passports last year. He said that CID clearance for passports is inevitable. “We are working to create digital linking of passport offices with the police stations throughout the country to further ease the process of delivery”, he said and added that the launch of PSKs in Jammu and Srinagar will fast track the issuance of passports to people.
In his speech, Dr. Farooq Abdullah also batted for good Indo-Pak relations and sustained dialogue. He said resolution of all issues through talks is only way forward.
Wishing success to S. M. Krishna in his visit to Pakistan and talks with Pak Government, Dr. Farooq Abdullah said that the New President of India, Pranab Mukherjee in his first speech has underlined terrorism equal to fourth world war. He said that India and Pakistan are neighbours and stability and peace in the two countries concern each other. He said there is urgent need that the friendship between the two countries gets further strengthened and issues are sorted out amicably and peacefully across the table.
Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah and Union Minister for External Affairs, S. M. Krishna later electronically inaugurated Jammu Passport Sewa Kendra (PSK) formally and laid foundation of Passport Bhawan, Srinagar at a function at SKICC here.
Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, Dr. Farroq Abdullah, J&K Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, Minister for Rural Development, Ali Mohammad Sagar, Minister for CAPD, Qama Ali Akhoon, Minister for Medical Education, R. S. Chib, Minister for Higher Education, Abdul Gani Malik, Minister of State for R&B, Javid Ahmad Dar, Vice Chairman Kissan Advisory Board, Rashpal Singh, Parliament Members, Sharief-ud-Din Shariq, Dr. Memboob Beg, Ghulam Nabi Rattanpuri, various legislators and senior officers from State and the Centre Government were present on the occasion.
The setting up and operationalization of 77 PSKs in the country has been envisioned under Passport Seva Project (PSP) – a high-impact citizen –centric e-Governance initiative as part of the National e-Governance Plan. The objective was achieved swiftly as the pilot projects had been launched in Bengaluru and Chandigarh in May 2010 and August 2010 respectively and after certification of the Project in January 2011 by the Standardisation, Testing & Quality Certification, the Third Part Audit Agency under the Department of Information Technology, the Project was cleared for launch across the country in June 2011. More than 36 lakh passport related services have been rendered under the new system so far.
The Project has been launched in PPP Mode with Tata Consultancy Services as Service Provider. The intended benefits to common man are service provisioning in a transparent manner within defined service levels, closer and larger number of access points for services, easy availability of a portfolio of on-line services (www.passportindia.gov.in) with real-time status tracking and enquiry, availability of excellent public facilities at PSKs and an effective system of grievance redressal. For assistance one can call toll-free helpline 1800-258-1800.
The Ministry of External Affairs has taken a big lead in the country in improving governance in Passport Offices by focusing on citizen-centricity, service orientation and transparency and setting up a new benchmark for project execution. The innovative measures like taking Govt decisions including verification of requisite documents and granting of passports are taken in presence of citizens.(KMW News)