A webinar was recently organised on the topic titled Vision New Age Naya Kashmir; A Forward Movement for Peace and Progress was organized (Aug 4, 2021) by Kashmir Policy and Strategy Group. Moderated by Ashok Bhan, Chairman, KPSG, the Webinar was attended by eminent panelists and participants who spoke on the issue.
Welcoming the participants and accomplished panel; speakers, Ashok Bhan, Chairman KPSG opened the discussion with reference to PM’s honest and passionate statement that “ not only the treasury of tax payers of the country but peoples’ heart also beat for the people of Kashmir”. He added that while allocation of Rs. 800 billion has been made to J&K, the UT of J&K is likely to get Rs. 150 billion from 40 corporate house for investment as corporate funding in various sectors like tourism, renewable energy, hospitality, education and infrastructure.
Dr. Bhan said that while the people lost time due to Covid-19 situation and the related lockdown, the current administration has been pushing with development projects at a remarkable speed. Consolidation of grass root institutions like Panchayat Raj and empowerment of district Development Councils (DDCs) has instilled faith and confidence of youth in the country’s constitutional democracy. He further added that the commencement of political process alongside development is beneficial for the people of J&K. He averred that the recent all J&K political parties meet with PM Modi had set an agenda for elections in J&K. Therefore, the UT was on the path of development and progress due to changes ushered.
Speaking on the subject, Manzoor Ahmad Shah, a native from Pulwama practicing law in England, emphasized the need for Kashmiri politicians particularly the separatist leadership to play a constructive role rather than misleading the People. He said that they need to understand the real ground situation adding that mere hollow slogans had done utmost damage and brought death and destruction to Kashmiris. Mr. Shah said that the people especially the youth of Kashmir, understand dimensions of being positive in life .
Ghulam Hassan Mir, the former minister, emphasized the need on conducting elections saying that violence has no place in a peaceful society and Kashmiris have rejected violence and separatist way of polity. He added that there is a need for healing touch policy and all the trust deficit between Delhi and Kashmir has to end. He welcomed the PM’s statement of “Dil Ki Doori and Dilli ki Doori ko hatana hai”. He further said that the efforts were to create a new narrative for peace and progress in the best interests of people of J&K.
Barrister Hamid Bashani, a native from Pakistan administred Kashmir criticized Pakistan’s constitutional amendments viz-a-viz status to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and in Kashmir . He praised the development saying that it is in the interest of people of J&K. Bashani said that the people of GB have been agitating against the abolition of ‘State Subject Law” by Pakistan, which has adversely affected the demographic character of GB. These changes, he said, can be gauged by observing Shias who constituted more that 80% of GB population in 1948 and had been reduced to less than 40%. The locals of this region are agitating. protesting and frequently raising demands seeking constitutional and political rights and such protests have been met with brute force. Bashani said that Pakistan had made a mockery of system as the aspiring election candidates were pre-screened to ensure entry of only those who supported annexation with Pakistan. He asserted that the voices for rights in GB are suppressed by law enforcement agencies and the nationalist leaders are subjected to torture and imprisonment for peaceful protests. Barrister Bashani said that on Sept 14, 2012, the GB Legislative Assembly passed a resolution demanding complete provincial status in Pakistan, which was rebuffed with Legislative Assembly of PoJK passing of a resolution (11 Dec 2014) rejection GB resolution.
Maj Gen BK Sharma, a native of Bhaderwah Jammu and director of a Prestigious think tank USI, said the idea of Naya Kashmir has to be delivered at grass root level on a fast track basis. The Situation of J&K needs to be seen from an angle of national security and the narrative of needs to be addressed. While a lot is happening on good governance, development cannot happen alongside of uncertainty. Administration has lost time leveraging tourist places outside valley, in Jammu province. There are picturesque places in Chenab valley and other areas of Jammu. There is a need for a dialogue to emphasize the importance of Kashmiri heritage viz-a-viz rest of Central Axis and build a narrative around the same. A sustained and honest dialogue will unlock the potential of J&K and here is an opportunity that vision Naya Kashmir will be offering. He also highlighted the importance of J&K in geo strategic dynamics especially when Pakistan-China axis is getting stronger.