As the country gears up for the Closing Ceremony of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mohotsav and the 75th Independence Day around the corner, I would like to speak to you on the longest running dispute of territories between two nations and the way ahead. Before we go into the details let me take you back in history and show some facts with some ground work.
Let us for an instance remove politics that has grown over a period of 70 years. Let us look at the geography of Pakistan less the POK and Gilgit Baltistan. The country is land locked by Afghanistan on west and India to the east. The entire country is dependent on five rivers for agriculture and self sustenance. These rivers flow north to south and cover just one fifth of the total area of Pakistan. Apart from the Indus river basin, west of the basin the entire country is barren. This means that the country is heavily dependent on these rivers for all its needs. The source of these rivers is not in Pakistan but in the Kashmir or the Tibetian Plateau. Before their entry into Pakistan these rivers originate in India in Kashmir and subsequently flow through the state of Punjab. Both the countries have signed the Indus Water Treaty for distribution of water and surprisingly it is considered as one of the most successful water sharing endeavours in the world but due to the previous animosity and the seeds of divide and rule sowed by The British, both countries don’t trust each other. This makes the land of Kashmir a vital proposition, one which is central to the issue. When Kashmir was termed as the Jugular vein of Pakistan by Mr Jinnah, it was the farsightedness of the erstwhile leadership of Pakistan which saw that in an event of war with India, Pakistan may face flash floods or famine if the flow of these rivers in Kashmir are regulated Pakistan has no long lasting love for Kashmir or its people. Even today Pakistan treats the people who came from India during partition as outcast or Mohajirs. What do you think will Pakistan do to the Kashmiris in an event of amalgamation of Kashmir with Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Kashmiris would have served their purpose and left to fend for themselves by then. 75 years have passed by and there is no definite solution to this issue. Today, when I introspect I find the solution in the problem itself. The Kashmiris are the solution to the problem itself and this, I see as “The Way Ahead.”
Gone are those days when news from one part of the world would take days or many a times never ever travelled to the other part of the world. Today, thanks to internet and the smartphones, in just one finger press we see regimes fall and sensational content streaming live 24/7. People of Kashmir need to carry out a self analysis and decide for themselves. As used to be said in earlier days that there were three options in front of them India,Pakistan or Independence. They tried the later in 1947-48 to remain independent. The outcome was in public unemployment due to lack of industries and instability, loss of tourism and constant fear of terrorist attack. For the first two options let us discuss the present conditions and the achievements in the last 75 years of the two nations in various fields and the results will speak for themselves.
Science and Technology. Pakistan is no match to India in terms of Science and Technology. But for the sake of arguments let us just consider Space Research and IT. The Pakistani space agency or SUPARCO was established in the year 1961 to assist development of space science and research in Pakistan. It was primarily focused to compete with ISRO. On the other hand ISRO came into existence in 1969 approximately 8 years later. But today, it is one of the six government space agencies in the world which possess full launch capabilities,deploy cryogenic engines and operate large fleets of artificial satellites for self and friendly countries, none of which presently SUPARCO has even dreamed about.Today, India may be rightly called as the engine of the Global IT industry. Inspite of major political parties and their governments having ideological differences, Indian Government have understood the importance of Information and Technology in a very early stage. On the other hand Pakistan started a decade later. And just a minor comparison will prove the vast gap, Pakistan’s revenues from IT are estimated at $2.5 billion as of last year. Whereas, India’s Tata Consulting Services alone reported a revenue of more than $16.5 billion in the same duration.
Economy and Commerce. When Pakistan was busy hatching a strategy to bleed India with 1000 cuts, India was on its way to industrial revolution. Somewhere in the same time frame businesses like Reliance were established. Today, GDP of Pakistan is probably equivalent to the net turnover of single conglomerate like Tata’s and Reliance’s Empires. After the Pulwama attack India removed the MFN status of Pakistan and increased the duties on imports by 200%. In bilateral trade, Pakistan imported 80% from India and exported just 20%. The complete stop in trade did not even feel a pinch on Indian Economy. But it affected the neighbours so badly, that they had to lift reservations sanctioned on Indian Goods by their parliament as a protest to Abrogation of Article 370 from Indian Constitution to support the economy. Today, Pakistan’s economy is dwindling, they have been placed in FATF Grey list for third consecutive year. Their evergreen resource of foreign aid from the US has dried up. They are on a collision course with Sri Lanka with their current economic turmoil. But on the other hand India is pacing towards its goal of a 5 Trillion Economy.
Defence and World Opinion. Well there is not much to say about Defence as the history of past 75 years speak for themselves. Four wars and similar outcome each time. Presently, the flame of 1000 cuts policy is dying its own death with each passing day. World opinion needs no elaboration. In the past one year, the world witnessed the warm reception the Pakistanis gave the Taliban when US left Afghanistan. It showed the world how deep the ties between the terrorists like the Haqqanis, Maulana Masood and their likes with the ruling class of Pakistan run. Today, Pakistan is publicly branded as a failed state. Documentaries on popular online streaming services have branded Pakistan failed terror sponsoring state. On the other hand to name a few the world was fixated on India’s position on the present ongoing Russia Ukraine Conflict. If I can sum up and put modestly India’s External Policies have remarkable effect on World Order unlike Pakistan who’s policies are of grave concern to the world.From the above facts it is clear that there is practically no comparison possible between India and Pakistan. Even though both the countries had a same start line, India has left Pakistan far behind in the race of Growth and Development. Any sane Kashmiri can take a decision from the points stated above. Kashmir needs development. It is possible only through a stable environment in terms of governance and industrialisation. We can make up for the loss only by taking correct informed decisions. I know its a hard and tough road ahead but if we take a resolution on this 75th Independence Day we might be able to see fruitful changes by the Centenary Celebrations. This is the least that we can do for our future generations.