A tale of two cities: Why prosperity rules in Jammu and Kashmir, poverty in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
While Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is allegedly used by Pakistan for cross border terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, being an integral part of India, is development-oriented.
With four airports, several universities, proper railway infrastructure, highway & tunnels, hospitals and bridges, Jammu and Kashmir is infrastructurally superior
Before Pakistan-sponsored militancy intensified in J&K in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmir’s economy and Kashmir was the favourite destination for Bollywood
One of the reasons of PoK being left behind in terms of development is the fact that for so long the region has been that it is been used more for training terrorists on various hidden launch pads than anything progressive
Indian government’s move to bifurcate the state of Jammu and Kashmir in two union territories has irked Pakistan. This move by India’s Parliament has thrown a spanner in the works of Pakistan, a nation which is constantly trying to create strife in the region by infiltrating armed and trained terrorists from across the border. Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the Bill to revoke to the contentious Article 370 and reorganise the erstwhile state of J&K politically.
The Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha and is tabled in Lok Sabha. There was a heated exchange of words in the lower house of Parliament as debate started on the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019; the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019; and the resolution revoking Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir.
After Congress leader, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury claimed that Jammu and Kashmir is not an internal matter as claimed by the government but a bilateral one, Amit Shah reacted by reiterating strongly that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India and that, in fact, even Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin (which is in China’s possession) are a part of India. With the Home Minister mentioning PoK, which also includes Gilgit-Baltistan, and Aksai Chin in his speech, the indications are clear that both the regions which are with Pakistan and China are on the agenda of the government.
How PoK came into being:
Pak Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is that part of Jammu Kashmir state of India which Pakistan had invaded and occupied in 1947. Pakistan has divided PoK into 2 parts i.e. AJK (ironically called Azad Jammu Kashmir – the free J&K) and Gilgit-Baltistan. However, the entire region is PoK for India. Following the 1949 cease-fire agreement with India, the Pakistan government divided the northern and western parts of Kashmir that it occupied at the time of cease-fire into two separately-controlled political entities commonly known as PoK.
Comparing the economy of PoK with Jammu and Kashmir:
Jammu & Kashmir:
As per the World Bank data, Jammu and Kashmir’s GDP was $18.7 billion in 2016. The GDP per capita income of J&K remained Rs 65,615 in FY18. The poverty rate in J&K is 10.35 per cent, which is almost half of the national average of around 21 per cent. The tourism sector plays a significantly important role in the state’s economy. However, despite the state’s unique culture and heritage assets, the tourism sector accounts for only around 6.98% of the state’s total GDP.
Human Development Index for Jammu & Kashmir, however, is higher than the national average. According to the Economic Survey for 2018-19, the minimum wage for unskilled labour is Rs 225/day in J&K. The literacy rate in the state is 67.16 per cent, according to the 2011 census data. The urban unemployment rate is 70 per cent, which is more than double the national average of 34 per cent.
Before militancy intensified in J&K in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmir’s economy and Kashmir was the favourite destination for Bollywood. The state has had 19 cinema halls which were closed due to enforced radicalisation exported by Pakistani agents operating within the Indian territory and also due to rising terrorism and unrest. The tourism economy in the Kashmir valley was the worst-hit. However, Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh, Vaishno Devi, Amarnath Yatra continue to remain popular pilgrimage and tourism destinations. Every year, thousands of tourists visit J&K, and this activity has a positive impact on the state’s economy.
GDP of PoK was $12.60 billion (Source: Wikipedia). Literacy rate in the whole PoK region was 46 per cent (avg) in 1998. Just in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, the literacy rate was 37.85%. ETNOWnews.com could not independently verify the figures mentioned in the Wikipedia article. Pakistan’s first-ever official report on multidimensional poverty was launched by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform in 2016. The report details Pakistan’s official Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). As per the report, poverty in Gilgit-Baltistan and Sindh was at 43 per cent at that time while poverty in the whole PoK region was 34 per cent (avg).
According to statistics released by the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), 1.72 million tourists visited the Gilgit Baltistan region, which was more than triple the number of tourists to visit in the previous year. Tourists have contributed Rs 300 million to the local economy in the past few years. The tourism boom in the region was expected to increase to 2.5 million visitors in 2018, and contribute more than Rs 450 million to the economy.
In terms of infrastructure, Jammu and Kashmir is way ahead of the unfortunate PoK region. With four airports, several universities, proper railway infrastructure, highway & tunnels, hospitals and bridges, Jammu and Kashmir is infrastructurally superior. While PoK is not well connected with Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir is well connected to the rest of India because of the vast highway, railway network.
A study paper by a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi on the 8 October 2005 earthquake in Kashmir compares the sharply contrasting scenarios in the two regions – PoK and Jammu and Kashmir.
“There are reports that the death toll in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Northern Territories could cross 50,000. The losses in India have been comparatively less, and despite the huge difficulties of terrain authorities have effectively engaged in overcoming the effects of the tragedy. The conditions in PoK however, have become unmanageable for the Pakistani state and have led to a desperate appeal for massive international aid… On its side, India has declined international aid as it had done earlier for the post-Tsunami relief and rehabilitation. In both instances, the Indian state, the armed forces, the local government and the civil society have shown a remarkable sense of confidence and ability to deal with disasters.” The lack of infrastructure and other civic amenities in PoK hindered approach, rescue and rehabilitation. Clearly, beyond holding on to PoK for its strategic importance, Pakistan has no plans to develop the place to benefit the residents of the region.
One of the reasons of PoK being left behind in terms of development is the fact that for so long the region has been used more so to train terrorists and to base training camps and launch pads for terrorists who infiltrate into India to create unrest in the state. Despite some of the highest peaks and longest glaciers in the region, Pakistan has failed to boost tourism in the area. In fact, the region allegedly has numerous terrorist launch pads.
In conclusion, it can be said that while Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is allegedly been used by Pakistan for cross border terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, being an integral part of India, is development-oriented.
18 Jul 20/Saturday Source: timesnownews