July 1999 News

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The Forgotten Kashmiris

12 July 1999
The Kashmir Times
By: Prof. Hari Om

Reports regularly emanating from the terror-stricken ravaged and bleeding Valley show that the Kashmiris are giving their unflinching support to all the Indian initiatives, military or otherwise, aimed at clearing our soil of all the Pakistani soldiers and Mujahideens(holy warriors) and establishing peace in the militant-infested Jammu and Kashmir. These also suggest that the Pakistani intrusion and military action in the strategically vital Kargil-Drass-Batalik sector have created widespread resentment among all, except in rather limited circle of the practically marginaliged Kul Jamait Hurriyat Conference separatist and fundamentalist leaders and their handful of supporters.

All this only serves to expose the hollowness of the no-holds-barred propaganda unleashed from across the border as early as in 1947 that the Kashmiris have all along yearned for Pakistan and that the Indian presence in the Valley is against their will and because of the army. But more than that, these developments constitute one of the several key factors which are helping New Delhi and our soldiers possessing legendary courage to score spectacular victories against the well-entrenched, well-organised, fully-equipped and highly indoctrinated Pakistani army and intruders. It is however, a different story that these significant but not altogether unexpected developments in the Valley have not attracted any publicity and attention from any quarter.

The reasons for the Kashmiris unstinted support for the India actions in Kargil and elsewhere in the state and their ire against Islamabad are not far to seek. And, the most important is their vehement opposition to the idea of the state becoming part of the essentially theocratic, feudalistic and medievalist Pakistan and their belief and fear that they would suffer grievous injuries and their plight would be not better than that of the over three million people of PoK and Northern Territories (NT) and other religious and ethnic minorities in Pakistan if Islamabad's sinister game plan meets with success.

These apprehensions of the Kashmiris just cannot be brushed aside as preposterous. Even a cursory look at the vital statistic as contained in such officially published documents Azad Kashmir at a glance (1991) would reveat that the life of the people of PoK and NT has never been one of economic aspirations, leave aside their little or no say at all in the region's political affairs, sham autonomy and almost war-time restrictions on their civil liberties, including the right to free movement.

Take, for example, the case of the southern part of PoK (Mirpur and Kotli). Even though plain and fertile, only 13 percent of the land is under cultivation. And, as for the area with irrigation facilities, it is partly 7 percent. All this appears pathetic when compared with the Indian part of Kashmir, where every conceivable step is taken by the state government to bring as much area under cultivation as possible and where 50 percent of the cultivable land has more than enough irrigation facilities. It is no wonder that the non-exploitation of agriculture sector has forced a large number of people in PoK to migrate to Afghanistan, Gulf countries and even to England and the United States to seek employment and means of subsistence.

Again, it may sound ludicrous but it is fact that PoK and NT do not have even a single major industrial unit. Contrast to this, Kashmir has as many as five big industrial units and all under public sector. These are HMT watch factory, television factory, telephone factory, cement factory and silk factory. These industrial establishments provide additional employment opportunities to the youth of the Valley. The story of the vital service sector is no different. While the governments of PoK and NT provide jobs to about 30,000 persons, over 1.75 lakh Kashmiris are working in the government and semi-government establishments all located in the Valley itself.

The neglect of PoK is also manifest in matters pertaining to power development and rural electrification, professional and technical institutions, health care and roads. PoK has only one power plant with an installed capacity of 101 MW as against five major state power plants and several gas turbines in the Valley producing approximately 400 MW of electricity. The Kashmir Valley has nine highly prestigious professional and technical institutions as against none in PoK and NT. These include Sher-e-Kashmir. Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Government Medical College, Jhelum Medical College, Dental College, Veterinary College, Sher-e-Kashmir Agriculture University, Institute of Hotel Management and Physical Training Institute. Likewise, PoK has 15 hospitals and 30 primary health centers (PHCs) as compared to 50 hospitals and nearly 300 PHCs in the Valley. The same story of neglect is true of roads also. In 1992, the length of metalled roads in Kashmir - having an area of 15,693 sq. kms. - was 6,480 kms. As against 2,675 kms. Of road in 1991 in PoK occupying a land area of 13,297 sq. kms.

Data on trade and commerce, small-scale and cottage industries, transport, communication network, educational institutions, tourism, veterinary institutions, fertilizer consumption, plan protection coverage, agricultural implements, civic amenities etal further demonstrates PoK's and NT's systematic neglect. The result of these colossal disparities between the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and the Indian Kashmir need no elucidation as the statistics are self-revealing.

But these constitute just a few of several such glaring instances which the highly educated and politically conscious Kashmiris quote while expressing themselves against Pakistan and Pakistan-backed terrorist masquerading as crusaders of Islam and in favor of India. The whole truth is the Pakistan and its armed Mujahideens have lost their game in Kashmir and shifted the center of their activities to Kargil in the coldesert Ladakh and the Muslim-majority Poonch and Rajouri districts in Jammu region with a view to forcibly realizing what may be termed as an unrealizable goal of annexation of Jammu and Kashmir. In effect, the Pakistani sponsored militants and mercenaries have lost their shine and are now denounced as rapists and hoodlums who vandalized almost everything in the Valley, made the life of the Kashmiris miserable and disturbed the age-old socio-religious equilibrium. The hostile attitude of the Kashmiris to Pakistan needs to be viewed in the context of what the latter did in the Valley during the last ten years as well as the raw deal meted out by it to their brethren in PoK Gilgit, Baltistan and so on which are undoubtedly Indian.

However to pen down all this is not to suggest that this is the first time the Kashmiris have displayed their anger against the Pakistani antics and extended unqualified support to India. They have been doing so ever since October 1947, when Pakistan attempted for the first time to annex Jammu and Kashmir by force and all in the name of Islam. To overlook their valuable contribution to the defense of the country during the earlier three Indo-Pak wars of 1947-48, 1965 and 1971 and their inspiring role in the war in Kargil would surely to be constructed as an affront to their self-respect. We would do well to remember that had the Kashmiris been lured by the Pakistani umpteen temptations, the picture of Kashmir would have been totally different. Kashmir certainly would have become part of Pakistan or Kosovo. Let us recognize their role and appreciate them. For, they, unlike the Pakistanis, are a community of emancipated people.

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This Archives is Maintained by Md. Sadiq, 1998

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