SRINAGAR: In a significant departure from his party's policies Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said Thursday that the future of the state lies with India.

“Mahatma Gandhi saw a ray of hope in J&K when the entire country was burning in a communal frenzy. Our state is a bouquet of three distinct cultures where people of all faiths have lived in complete harmony for decades. The future of our state lies with India,” he said.

Sayeed, whose Peoples Democratic Party has been advocating "self-rule" for the divided Kashmir, described J&K as a "symbol of Indian diversity", stressing that the state holds a special place as the only Muslim majority state in India.

He, however, added that that Jammu and Kashmir “enjoys a special status under the Indian Constitution”.

Sayeed said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is focused on the development of Jammu and Kashmir, “Prime Minister has a vision for equitable development of the state. Together, we will make J&K a model state of the country," he said.

Crediting the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for restoring confidence in democratic institutions among the people of J&K, Sayeed said dialogue between India and Pakistan is the only way forward to resolve the dispute.

“Dialogue is the only way forward. Violence is not a solution to any problem. If India has to emerge as a global power, it will have to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours, including Pakistan,” he said.

The chief minister was speaking to a gathering after inaugurating the Pahalgam Club in south Kashmir’s tourist resort which has been upgraded with facilities like separate gyms for ladies and men, a beauty parlour, swimming pools, bowling alleys and other recreational facilities.

Referring to turmoil of the last two decades, the chief minister said the elements of brotherhood and coexistence remained unscathed in all these years. "It is a tribute to the people of the state. The years of turmoil forced people to leave their home and hearth. I look forward to the day when those sons of soil will return to their native place,” he said.