J&K Development: A comparative assessment

J&K fast turning into a preferred tourist destination has helped in reviving the ailing economy
Tourists take a selfie amid fresh snowfall at Tangmarg in north Kashmir's Baramulla district on 23 December, 2021. [File]
Tourists take a selfie amid fresh snowfall at Tangmarg in north Kashmir's Baramulla district on 23 December, 2021. [File] Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir witnessing massive development, after the abrogation of so-called special status and its transition into a Union Territory, is making a common Kashmiri realise that he was misled and misguided by his so-called leaders.

J&K fast turning into a most preferred tourist destination has helped in reviving the ailing economy of the Himalayan region. The major development projects aimed at connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country have brought it closer to Delhi.

The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is on way to become an express highway. Two tunnels, the 8.5 km long Navyug tunnel connecting Banihal with Qazigund and 9.2 km long ChenaniNashri tunnel have brought Srinagar closer to Jammu.

The travel time between the two cities has been reduced by many hours. Once the work on the last highway stretch between Banihal and Ramban is completed, distance will be reduced further.

The train to Kashmir is not that far-away and by 2024, the Valley will be connected with the rest of the country through a railway network also.

The steps taken by the Centre are an ample proof of its commitment to build “Naya Jammu and Kashmir” and guide the common man, who till August 5, 2019—when the Centre announced its decision to revoke Article 370, a temporary provision in Indian Constitution and divided J&K into two Union Territories— lived in illusions created by the Pakistan stooges and the Kashmir based mainstream politicians.

A common Kashmiri no longer takes to streets to pelt stones and shuts down shops for days together. He has understood that he paid a heavy price for getting carried away by the false propaganda and fake narrative.

The Centre has been regularly creating job avenues for the local J&K youth. In the past 2-years more than 20,000 vacancies were filled up in the government departments and thousands of new jobs have been announced.

The government is working hard to invite new investments into Jammu and Kashmir and after August 5, 2019, investment proposals worth thousands of crores have been received.

On the other hand all the possible help is being provided to J&K youth to set up business ventures and become successful entrepreneurs. From sports to education the opportunities are being provided in every field.

Jammu and Kashmir is all about success stories and development. On the other hand Pakistan Occupied Kashmir has been treated as a colony by Pakistan as no signs of development are visible there.

The PoK residents have never been allowed to open their mouths and express their political and socio-economic grievances.

The Pakistani federal government has neglected basic development needs in PoK, which suffers from poor infrastructure and a lack of available resources and technology. The Pakistan government has not taken sufficient measures to encourage development-oriented investment in the region, and the Pakistani military has kept the region’s people unprivileged.

The unemployment rate in PoK is high and the literacy rate is low. Rulers in Pakistan have not paid much attention towards developing any sector in the region. Rather they have emphasised on turning POK into training camps and launch pads. The POK natives migrate to Pakistan’s large cities in search of low-paying jobs at hotels, restaurants, and clothing stores as there are no avenues for them.

The POK residents also suffer from poor governance, an absence of political legitimacy, and disenfranchisement. The federal government has focused on securing its political hold over the region and has neglected actual governance in the process.

The local government in PoK has been granted with only limited resources and governing authority and it also lacks representation in the National Assembly of Pakistan. The PoK affairs are not managed by the local officials but by the ones sitting in Islamabad. These officials are unaware of grievances and problems of the natives.

The Punjabi Taliban network— a conglomerate of terrorist groups of Punjabi origin—sectarian as well as those focused on the conflict in Kashmir— is also using PoK as a safe haven for its activities.

This network is involved in buying and selling of arms, ammunition and narcotics. Their presence in the region has led to local youth getting involved in drug trafficking and terrorism. This amalgam has been responsible for turning PoK into a centre of illegal activities, and radicalising youth to become suicide bombers.

The Punjab based terrorist groups are using the territory as its base to set up terrorist training centers, transit point for pushing in drugs into India and a place to set up the schools where the youth can be brainwashed and turned into instruments to spread terror.

In a nutshell there is nothing constructive happening in PoK, it has been turned into a piece of land which is free for all and can be used for any activity.

The PoK people have tried to stage protests against the policies of Pakistani government and the terrorist groups but their voices were stifled before these could reach out to the world.

Denizens of Jammu and Kashmir have understood that people living in other Kashmir haven’t achieved anything during the past 70-years. Pakistan and its rulers have not paid any attention towards POK.

Had the raiders in 1947 succeeded in annexing Kashmir, the people of this Kashmir too would have lived a miserable life.

A common man in Kashmir is trying his best to shed off the label of being a militant or a stone-pelter as he has already boarded the bandwagon of peace and development.

During the past two years the mindset of a common Kashmiri has changed. He has rejected the slogans of separatism, autonomy and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan.

Slowly but surely a common Kashmiri is learning to call spade a spade and is not shying away by calling himself a proud Indian.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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