When India is implementing several new projects to take Jammu and Kashmir to meet the demands of the post-Covid economy, the occupied part of Kashmir on the other side suffers with new influx of Chinese workers and corrupt politicians. The PoK is vastly an underdeveloped territory due to Islamabad treating it as a centre of terrorism, while New Delhi’s policy of development, peace and prosperity has turned Jammu and Kashmir into one of the most developed regions in the world …. Writes Dr Sakariya Kareem
There can be no comparison between Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Jammu and Kashmir. The PoK is vastly an underdeveloped territory due to Islamabad treating it as a centre of terrorism, while New Delhi’s policy of development, peace and prosperity has turned Jammu and Kashmir into one of the most developed regions in the world.
There is no comparison between PoK’s capital city Muzzafarabad with Srinagar or Jammu, twin capitals of J&K. It’s like comparing metropolitan cities of Mumbai and Kolkatta to a provincial town in India.
As per the Aadhar statistics the J&K population in 2021/2022 stood at 13,635,010 (13.64 Millions), while PoK’s population is approximately 52 lakhs.
The J&K has an area of 42241 square kilometers, while PoK is spread over 13, 297 square kilometers. J&K has 22 districts, while PoK has only 10. J&K has four airports, PoK has only 2. There are 35 universities in J & K and in PoK there are only 6. There exist about 2812 hospitals in J&K to provide free health care to people compared to 23 hospitals in PoK.
In J&K people can choose any medium for education i.e. Hindi, Dogri, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Urdu and English while in PoK only Urdu is in vogue one of the major reasons for people remaining uneducated and unskilled.
Average literacy rate in Jammu and Kashmir for urban regions is 77.12 percent in which males are 83.92% literate while female literacy stands at 56.65%. While in PoK literacy rate is around 70%. Most literates in PoK can only write and read Urdu, foreign languages are alien to them.
The condition of roads in PoK is pathetic. Everyday people plunge to their deaths in ravines in road accidents due to lack of safety walls. Many patients die each month due to lack of basic medical facilities and anti-venom vaccines.
In February this year Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented a Rs 1.12 lakh crore (13.33 billion US dollars apex) Budget for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the year 2022-23. The Budget aims at building the economy and creating jobs in the Himalayan region.
The J&K Budget focuses on education, home, public health engineering, with power development getting highest allocations for the financial year 2022-23.
The J&K’s economy is expected to grow by 7.5 per cent on current prices during 2021-22.
In J&K four National Highway projects are expected to be completed in 2022. Ten new road/tunnel projects have been agreed by MORTH under Bharatmala. The world’s highest 1315-meter long railway bridge over River Chenab is targeted for completion by September 2022.
Projects under the Prime Minister’s Development Package have seen expenditure of Rs 36,112 crore.
A total of 25 projects have been completed/substantially and another four projects are likely to be completed by the end of the current financial year.
For Industries and Commerce, capital expenditure in J&K is estimated to be Rs 555.80 crore. For the rural sector, an allocation of about Rs 4,627.85 crore has been made under Capital Expenditure for the year 2022-23. The capital expenditure for the power sector is estimated to be Rs 2,457.58 crore, while that for the school and higher education sector is estimated to be Rs 1,806.66 crore.
On the other hand the annual budget of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) in 2021-22 was 141 billion Pakistan rupees which is just over 78.55 million US dollars.
Recently PoK’s Finance Minister Abdul Majid Khan stated that the federal government slashed PoK’s development budget by Rs 5.2 billion, which Khan said, could lead to severe financial system disbalance.
Another PoK minister, Khawaja Farooq Ahmed accused the federal government of harbouring “deep animosity” towards the people of PoK and Gilgit Baltistan by imposing budget cuts in the territory.
The federal government in Pakistan was supposed to provide Rs 49.9 billion to PoK as its 3.64 per cent share in the federal taxes pool (variable grant) but that too has been slashed by Rs 4.4 billion.
The 3.64 per cent share from the federal taxes pool which was agreed under a financial arrangement between Islamabad and Muzaffarabad in 2018 is equalled to Rs 74.32 billion in Financial Year 2022-23, but the federal government had recently informed that it would provide only Rs 60 billion. This has created a shortfall of Rs 14 billion in PoK’s income which cannot be bridged from any other source.
The PoK ministers are of the opinion that the federal government’s decision to slash the budget allocations could affect PoK’s financial system beyond control and make the region poorer.
Denizens of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) are suffering silently as they are not allowed to raise their voice. The media is controlled by the government to ensure that human rights violations by the armed forces and the terrorists aren’t reported.
China has made inroads into PoK and is using the land to fulfill its ambitions. The federal government in Pakistan has gone out of way to appease China and is allowing its golden plan of forming a sea route through PoK. Thousands of Chinese engineers and workers are deployed in PoK.
The works being carried out by them have ruined the natural resources and beauty of Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The irony is that natives of PoK have to go and work as waiters, drivers and labourers in other cities of Pakistan, while the people of Chinese origin are earning their livelihood in PoK.
The debt ridden Pakistan Government cannot dare to ask China to employ the locals in its projects. The unemployment graph in PoK is on rise as the jobs which the locals could have got are being snatched by the outsiders.
Path of progress
Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 is fast turning into a hub of business and tourism activities. It has become the most preferred tourist destination as lakhs of tourists have thronged J&K during the past two years.
The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is on its way to become an express highway. 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.
People of J&K, especially Kashmir are no longer living in illusions created by the Pakistan stooges. After August 5, 2019—when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate so-called J&K’s special status and divided it into two Union Territories—Kashmir hasn’t witnessed any street protests and shutdowns.
The government during the past 2-years has advertised more than 20,000 vacancies.
The Union territory has received new investment proposals worth thousands of crores. Youth are being provided all possible help, including financial support, to set up business ventures and become successful entrepreneurs. The youth in J&K are shining in every field from sports to education. For people of J&K sky is the limit while for the citizens of PoK even managing two square meals in a day is becoming a difficult task.