Kashmiri collective conscience rejects Pakistan’s bigotry, terrorism and radicalized narrative - Business Guardian
Connect with us

Policy&Politics

Kashmiri collective conscience rejects Pakistan’s bigotry, terrorism and radicalized narrative

Kashmir calls for peace and its people deserve justice to be seen as delivered as citizens of inclusive and democratic India.

Published

on

As terrorists recently killed many civilians,off duty policemen ,members of the Kashmiri Pandit and Hindu community, residing in Kashmir Valley, the response from the majority of community members shows that the soul of Kashmir is still intact. This came to the fore that soon after the targeted civilians killing series of inter-community dialogues known as “Kaath Baath” (dialogue) took place under the aegis of, the Kashmir Policy and Strategy Group.

They were attended by a galaxy of prominent civil societies activists of all age groups from both communities of Kashmir. The Kashmiris unitedly and vocally advocate the doctrine of peaceful coexistence and promoting human rights values among the communities. The civil society personalities unanimously say-the Kashmiri collective conscience rejects bigotry, terrorism and the radicalized narrative. The revival of our rich heritage, plurality, peace and human rights values is the befitting answer to the enemies of Kashmir. They say plurality is the keystone of our proud heritage and we shall unitedly endeavour to save it and revive it with societal unity and mutual trust and deep commitment.

It was once again highlighted that the soul and pristine of Kashmir is live and phenomenal aptly described by some poets in Persian:

GAR FIRAUS BAR-RUE ZAMIN AST, HAMI ASTO, HAMI AST

(If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here)

Therefore it is high time after the three decades of death and destruction suffered by all the Kashmiri communities, to look beyond the blame games and seriously discuss the ways and means for standing up unitedly against demons of doom and saving Kashmir by promoting Kashmiri’s proud heritage of coexistence, societal cohesion and progressive narrative. Peace-loving Kashmiris are striving for democracy and enjoyment of the peaceful right to life. Peace is the sine qua non for democracy and the promotion of human rights. The strength of civilizational ethos has defeated the evil forces that tried to thrust the alien socio-cultural narratives on Kashmiri Society. -Kashmir is the cradle of civilisation, innovation, science and technology for thousands of years, no terrorism and radicalism will ever succeed to obliterate that.-say the civil society leaders.

Some opine constituting, that a people’s truth and reconciliation commission may further strengthen the doctrine of reconciliation between the communities which has fallen apart for a variety of reasons and circumstances. Terrorism and the exodus of Kashmiri pandits have sharply divided the communities and there is a dire need to bridge the gulf and unitedly rebuild our robust plural society in the times ahead.

Kashmiris are waiting to warmly welcome the aborigines native exiled Kashmiri Pandit Community back home, as people say Kashmir is incomplete without the physical presence of this illustrious community, the Kashmiriyat is in peril and peace shall allude without them. The rich ethos of Kashmir and the humanitarian values are on display during the Shri Amar Nath Ji Yatra and nature’s wrath has brought the big tragedy of death and destruction by cloud burst near the holy cave. It has brought Kashmiris deep grief and condolence. People are hopeful that the Yatra resumes and people get the chance to display their humanitarian support to Yatris.

-Changing ground realities

The ground realities in Kashmir are people are sick of terrorists violence ,the huge participation of people in last panchayat and DDC elections demonstrates the People’s preference for peace ,democracy and development.possibly a mandate for moratorium to political rhetoric and negation of emotive blackmail by corruption and political ambivalence of traditional political class.

Kashmiris have huge expectations. The alienation caused psychologically by bifurcation of the State,into two union territories,ad-hocism and mismanagement of Kashmir affairs from time to time would be set right by the current dispensation as promised.The unrest in Kashmir actually is due to the unabated turmoil and political turbulence rooted deep in the denial of justice, disrespect to legitimate aspirations and skullduggery resorted to by New Delhi.It is compounded by dividing the glorious and prestigious State of Jammu & Kashmir that is perceived as robbing the Kashmir’s pride and its geo strategic importance.It is the high time that the Statehood is restored back urgently-say the thought leaders.

Aug. 5, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked Article 370 of constitution, and with it, the region’s special status as a semiautonomous state is gone.The move divided the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories: a smaller Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Union government presented it as a patriotic project to bring economic development to the Kashmir Valley, the mountainous, area along the border with Pakistan that is also eyes annexation by Islamabad. Most Kashmiris say the change in the region’s status is part of an attempt by Modi’s administration to open up Valley for whole of the Country.Traditional mainstream polity is sceptical and say -the intend of current central Govt.is to change its demographics being the only Muslim-majority State in India.The change in Kashmir’s status is brought about without consulting local public and political opinion.

But the fact remains it was widely supported by Indians within Country and abroad.

-NORMALCY AND DEVELOPMENT ASSURANCE

PM Modi assured the people and said that while J&K would regain its statehood, the UT status for Ladakh will continue with the Centre seeing it as its special responsibility. He also minced no words in saying that Article 370 had been cast in the dustbin of history. This was seen as a move to assuage the sense of hurt over the downgrade to UT following the shock of the constitutional scheme of Article 370 being junked.

Modi promised that normalcy would return, saying, “I assure you that the situation will slowly normalise and your problems will reduce.” He said a handful of people were trying to foment trouble and they would be given a fitting reply by the people of J&K themselves after realising the benefits of complete integration.

Modi emphasised that doing away with Article 370 and the reorganisation of J&K was an internal matter of India. Saying that he understood that there would be different opinions and appealed for national unity, He appealed to the film industry, public and private enterprises to make J&K a part of their plans.

The PM Modi,said differences were part of democracy, but called on those who differed to keep national interest in mind and join hands with the government in imparting a new direction to J&K. He said the doing away of Article 370 and scrapping of Article 35A would soon see their negative effects fading away. He said important laws like right to education, minimum wages and political reservations for SCs and STs would apply to J&K and a large number of people who originally came to India from Pakistan would gain full rights as citizens.The people who have been living outside Kashmir due to terrorism shall be rehabilitated back in the Valley.

He said with Ladakh becoming a UT, its development was the “natural responsibility” of the Centre while development projects in J&K related to connectivity, like roads, railway lines and the modernisation of Srinagar airport, would be taken up speedily. He expressed confidence that panchayat members and heads elected last year would prove to be catalysts in increasing electrification and ODF status of villages.

Despite having a free hand for more about three years now to politically turn around Jammu and Kashmir, the Central government continues to enlist the support of local populations even as the India-China military stand-off continues in Ladakh. The alienation and despondency is on the decline.

The moot question arises is -has the removal of the special status brought Kashmir closer to India, reduced the sources of extremism and separatism, and undermined Pakistani influence in the Valley.The answer is -that the collective conscience of Kashmiris has rejected bigotry,terrorism and radicalised narrative.

-Militancy on decline

Most indicators show the terrorist violence in Kashmir have shown substantial decline.Mainstream Kashmiri politicians today are able to resume the political activities and the separatist politicians only are restive as they are fast loosing the relevance. Youngsters across South,north and central Kashmir are engaged in studies and sports activities etc.Pakistan is leaving no stone unturned to foment,aid and abet violence in the Valley but no takers,-for Rawalpindi, all bets are off on Kashmir. India’s national and strategic interest is best served by Kashmiris turning towards India for the bright future of current and future generations..

This is a worrying phenomenon for the parents and people,who are sick of militancy and killings of Kashmiri natives by their own trigger happy crazy Kashmiri youngsters.

The militancy in the Valley, however, has developed an autonomous raison d’etre in the absence of any political dialogue. Kashmir analysts are surprised that New Delhi’s policy and its political managers are so apolitical and naive, as not to be willing to leave any space or room for the Kashmiri leadership to exert a moderating influence that could prevent youngsters from taking up the gun.

The militancy in the Valley, however, has developed an autonomous raison d’etre in the absence of any political dialogue. Kashmir analysts are surprised that New Delhi’s policy and its political managers are so apolitical and naive, as not to be willing to leave any space or room for the Kashmiri leadership to exert a moderating influence that could prevent youngsters from taking up the gun.

The changing character of the insurgency/militancy is a serious warning signal for the reason people are in Introspection mode as to what is best way forward to exit from the death & destruction syndrome unleashed by terrorists and Pakistan,and bring about secured & better life for future generations.People expect the LG administration for a policy correction at all levels of governance, and a strategic shift, urgently to prevent drift,despondency and societal radicalisation.

The unrest in Kashmir has always been attributed to cross-border hostilities and terrorism. But actually the unabated turmoil and political turbulence in Kashmir is rooted deep in the denial of justice, disrespect to legitimate aspirations by various State governments and skullduggery resorted to by New Delhi from time to time.

-STATESMAN VISION NECESSARY

Kashmir deserves to be managed by a “Statesman’s Vision” that can encompass a comprehensive process,instead of misinformation,dithering and use of muscle power alone.Humane face of Indian democracy nurtured by freedom fighters,Mahatma Gandhi,Pt Nehru,& humanitarian approach of Vajpayee and

MODI-doctrine- Dil Ki Aur Dili ki Duri Mitanni Hia -is being extended to Kashmir as a vision to finally resolve the imbroglio.There is a dire strategic necessity for the restitution,return and rehabilitation of the exiled Kashmiri Pandit Community living out of Kashmir for more than three decades payba in the Valley or else the process of idea of India in Kashmir and restoration of peace would seemingly be flawed,faulty and incomplete.The aborigines Pandit Community has an existential stake in the Valley for their roots are engraved for more than 5000 years in the soil of Kashmir.Kashmiri Pandits are the bulwark against radicalisation and have enormous contribution in Kashmiri history and development.

One of the causes of the new age turbulence is attributed to the betrayal of democratic expectations. The youth had participated in large numbers in the electoral process in the 2014 state Assembly elections and voted out the incumbent government headed by Omar Abdullah. The experimentation of BJP-PDP combine government failed for its unholiness,contradictions within and mistrust.Consequently the governance went for a toss and regional/communal political polarisation deepened.

CHANGING PUBLIC PERCEPTION

Kashmir has been on the boil for more than 30 years. Tens of thousands of people, both civilians and soldiers have died and the population of Kashmiri Pandits exiled. Kashmir affairs seemingly messed up due to Pakistan’s proxy war.Terrorism has rendered the state, especially the Valley, without liberty and individuality. It has devastated the economy, education and normal living pattern, the plural ethos, and imperilled institutions. The societal psyche is turning cynical and despondent and that is what Pakistan and militancy have managed to do with the people of Kashmir. In the name of so called self-determination people have no voice of their own and the emotions are controlled and charged by proxies. People know the disastrous consequences of the harm Pakistan and terrorists have done to the current and future generations of Kashmir. But the anti-India sentiment that has grown over the years has seeped in that people refuse to see the logic.

The government has an understanding that use of military option alone is not a solution to the complex situation of Kashmir. It has to be a blend of engagement and dialogue with all the stakeholders. It is the psychological, attitudinal, social, political and economic grievances that need to be addressed. Therefore, the government should worry more about winning back the trust of the people and let the terrorism be handled by the security forces.

The Line of Control remains perpetually hot. Sometimes the unusual escalation results in a high death toll.The collateral damage to civilians living in the border areas is colossal. On the Indian side alone thousands of civilians had to be evacuated, makeshift camps set up to house them at safe distances, economic activities disrupted and schools closed in the areas adjoining the LoC and International Border. Besides the loss of human lives, houses were destroyed and damaged, cattle killed and injured and local water and electricity infrastructure disrupted.Inflitration of terrorists though marginal is on & on through borders.In recent times because of ceasefire agreement the LOC firings have substantially reduced.

PAKISTAN ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

People are making a connection between the heating up of the LoC and terrorist attacks in the state and proxies of the Pakistan Army. The argument goes that by using terrorist proxies, the Pakistan Army distances itself from terrorist attacks and pays no price for its subterfuge. The ‘robust’ response of the Indian Army this time around, it is said, is meant to punish the other side by specifically targeting Pakistani Army posts.Despite this policy qua Pakistan the Kashmir continues to bleed -30 years it has been facing the terrorists violence unabated. After all how long -Kashmiri’s as on date have rejected Pakistan’s relevance in Kashmir affairs.

New Delhi is now attempting to approach the issues keeping in sight the fact that India’s strategic interests are intertwined with the goodwill of the Valley’s ordinary people including Kashmiri Pandits, and not the land alone. Before the new age violent unrest and upsurge gets further out of hand, New Delhi deals with the issues with a party independent “Stateman Vision.”

The Union of India is determined to act now and engage with the youth of today and Kashmir’s leadership in a serious dialogue. Political dialogue with all the stakeholders is an internationally recognised jurisprudence for conflict resolution. For New Delhi, sees it as the prudent and astute political & strategic approach for a resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio.Earlier central governments have always flip-floped on political and diplomatic efforts that never brought peace in Kashmir. Therefore, a course correction and a policy perception of Modi:2:0 -Sab Ka Saath and Dil ke Doori & Dili ki Doori Mitanni hia is the only way forward. Kashmir calls for peace and its people deserve justice,democracy and peaceful coexistence to enjoy fully the human rights .

Ashok Bhan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India And; Chairman,Kashmir (Policy and Strategy)Group

The Daily Guardian is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@thedailyguardian) and stay updated with the latest headlines.

For the latest news Download The Daily Guardian App.

Policy&Politics

Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968

Published

on

Election Commission declares 253 RUPPs as inactive, bars them from availing benefits of the Symbol Order, 1968

Additional 86 Non-existent RUPPs shall be deleted from the list and benefits under the Symbols Order (1968) withdrawnAction against these 339 (86+253) non-compliant. RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022

In continuation of the earlier action initiated on May 25, 2022 for enforcing due compliances by Registered Unrecognized Political Parties (RUPPs), the Election Commission of India led by Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Shri Anup Chandra Pandey today further delisted 86 non-existent RUPPs and declared additional 253 as ‘Inactive RUPPs’. This action against 339 non-compliant RUPPs takes the tally to 537 defaulting RUPPs since May 25, 2022.

As per statutory requirements under section 29A of the RP Act, every political party has to communicate any change in its name, head office, office bearers, address, PAN to the Commission without delay. 86 RUPPs have been found to be non-existent either after a physical verification carried out by the respective Chief Electoral Officers of concerned States/UTs or based on report of undelivered letters/notices from Postal Authority sent to the registered address of concerned RUPP. It may be recalled that ECI had delisted 87 RUPPs and 111 RUPPs vide orders dated May 25, 2022 and June 20, 2022, thus totalling the number of delisted RUPPs to 284.

This decision against 253 non-compliant RUPPs has been taken based on reports received from Chief Electoral Officers of seven states namely Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana & Uttar Pradesh. These 253 RUPPs have been declared inactive, as they have not responded to the letter/notice delivered to them and have not contested a single election either to the General Assembly of a State or the Parliament Election 2014 & 2019. These RUPPs have failed to comply with statutory requirements for more than 16 compliance steps since 2015 and are continuing to default.

It is also noted that of the above 253 parties, 66 RUPPs actually applied for a common symbol as per para 10B of the Symbol’s Order 1968 and did not contest the respective elections. It is pertinent to note that privilege of a common symbol is given to RUPP based upon an undertaking for putting up at least 5 percent of total candidates with regard to said legislative assembly election of a State. Possibility of such parties occupying the available pre-election political space by taking benefits of admissible entitlements without contesting elections cannot be ruled out.

Continue Reading

Policy&Politics

Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh

Published

on

Coastal clean-up campaign receives a huge response: Dr. Jitendra Singh

The 75-day long ongoing Coastal Clean Up Campaign is receiving a huge response from across the sections of society and besides others, Governors, Chief Ministers, Union Ministers, celebrities, film and sports personalities, civil society groups etc. are joining the campaign with overwhelming enthusiasm and pledging their support to the longest and largest beach cleaning campaign in the world titled “Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar”, coordinated by Union Ministry of Earth Sciences with collaboration from all the other Union Ministries, departments as well as governments of the coastal States.

Addressing a press conference today, three days ahead of “International Coastal Clean-up Day” on 17th September, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said, he will join the campaign at Juhu beach in Mumbai on 17th September and informed that Governor Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and several personalities as well as NGOs will also join at Juhu.

The Minister also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support through social media. The PM has stressed on keeping India’s coasts clean as he praised efforts of volunteers to remove garbage from the Juhu beach in Mumbai. Responding to a video posted by Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh about the clean-up at the beach, Modi tweeted, “Commendable… I appreciate all those involved in this effort. India is blessed with a long and beautiful coastline and it is important we focus on keeping our coasts clean”. The Minister said, “A cleanathon was organised at Juhu Beach in Mumbai, saw participation in large numbers especially by youngsters and Civil Society.

Dr Jitendra Singh informed that Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will take a lead in the clean-up campaign at world famous Puri beach, while Pratap Chandra Sarangi, former union minister will be at Chandipur. BJP MP from Hooghly, West Bengal Ms Locket Chatterjee will be at Digha on D-Day. R.K.Mission head will lead the campaign at Bakkhali in southern Bengal.

Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendrabhai Patel will be at Porbandar (Madhavpur), while Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Khodabhai Rupala will join the clean-up operation at Jafrabad, Amreli.

Governor of Goa P. S. Sreedharan Pillai and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant will take part in beach cleaning campaign in South and North Goa beaches on 17th September.

Similarly, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan will be at Kochi, while MoS External Affairs V. Muraleedharan will be at Kovalam beach at Thiruvananthapuram.

Governor of Karnataka Thawar Chand Gehlot will join the campaign at Panambur beach in Mangalore, while the Governor of Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan will lend her helping hand at Puducherry beach.

Governor of Mizoram Dr. K. Hari Babu will take part in Vizag beach while L. Murugan, Union MoS, Information and Broadcasting will join the event at Chennai

Dr Jitendra Singh informed that the campaign has entered the mode of whole of Government approach plus whole of nation participation.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, apart from active cooperation of Ministries of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Jal Shakti, Health and Family Welfare, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, External Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, organisations and associations like National Service Scheme (NSS), Indian Coast Guard, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Seema Jagran Manch, SFD, Paryavaran Sanrakshan Gatividhi (PSG), along with other social organizations and educational institutions are participating in the clean-up campaign.

The MPs of coastal states have also pledged full support to the first-of-its-kind and longest running coastal clean-up campaign in the world and they also advised the Ministry of Earth Sciences to undertake a variety of activities by involving local NGOs.

Continue Reading

Policy&Politics

DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH

Published

on

DASHBOARD TO BE SET UP SOON TO SHARE THE BEST TECH PRACTICES AMONG THE CENTRE & THE STATES: UNION MINISTER JITENDRA SINGH

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today announced setting up of a Dashboard to share the best technology practices among the Centre and the States.

Presiding over the concluding session of the two-day “Centre-State Science Conclave” at Science City in Ahmedabad, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that a high level mechanism will be developed by the Department of Science and Technology to monitor and coordinate the follow up action of the conclave. The Minister also asked the States to appoint a Nodal officer in each of the States to coordinate and cooperate with the Special Committee for knowing and sharing the best practices.

Giving the example of heli-borne technology launched from Jodhpur, Rajasthan in October, 2021, Dr Jitendra Singh said, to start with, the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana were taken up for this latest heli-borne survey.

The Minister pointed out that if the same technology is uploaded on Dashboard, other States may join and share this CSIR technology from source finding to water treatment and thus benefit millions of people across the country.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, it will also positively contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal” as well as “doubling farmer’s income” goals. He said, the latest state-of-the-art technology is being employed by Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) for mapping groundwater sources in arid regions and thus help utilise groundwater for drinking purposes.

The 2-day ‘Centre-State Science Conclave’ was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Science City, Ahmedabad, yesterday. Dr Jitendra Singh expressed satisfaction that important plenary sessions with State S&T Ministers discussed in detail on issues like Agriculture, Innovation for producing portable drinking water including application of technologies like Desalination, Heli borne methods developed by DST, Clean Energy for All including S&T role in Hydrogen mission, Deep Sea Mission of MoES and its relevance for Coastal States/UT, Digital healthcare for All and Synergizing Science with National Education Policy.

A special session with the CEOs of over 100 Start-Ups and industry at the Centre-State Science Conclave’ in Ahmedabad came up with scientific solutions in the field of agriculture, drone, artificial intelligence, biotechnological solutions, single-use plastic alternates, irrigation and digital health amongst others.

Many of the State governments have shown keen interest in some of the technologies and agreed to partner with some of the startups for State-specific technological solutions.

Continue Reading

Policy&Politics

Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity

Published

on

By

Floods, economic crisis and political bickerings: A saga of Pakistan’s mismanagement & insensitivity

The worst floods in several decades have wreaked havoc in Pakistan, one of the most populous countries of South Asia. The floods have touched the country’s 220 million people’s lives directly or indirectly. More than 1,300 people have died with 81 out of 160 districts directly affected by the floods, leaving at least 33 million people homeless.

The heat waves followed by rains and glacial melting has been a global trend this year bringing out the stark reality that despite all talks and conventions, the world community has failed to contain and reverse climatic change. But Pakistan’s case is unique.

Beyond the human losses, the country’s economic managers have the most challenging task ahead as floods ravaged the country’s road and communication network, damaged an incalculable number of houses, and destroyed millions of hectares of crops.

Niaz Murtaza, a political economist, describes present crisis as “a triple whammy”, putting together economic, political and natural. “The poor had been suffering the first two months because of inflation, job loss and political paralysis. Now the floods have pushed millions into ruin,” he said.

Despite this, the political masters are not only busy in bickering and allegations against each other, but have also triggered a blame game on social media as usual, pointing fingers on India for the flood havoc. The bombardment of propaganda, nevertheless, cannot change the reality that Pakistan government and its institutions have utterly failed in fulfilling their duties towards its citizens.

Ludicrous as it is, it cannot absolve the leadership of Pakistan that has failed people in terms of economic mismanagement, entrenched corruption and naked cronyism in the system. Added to these are the wrong policies and priorities of Islamabad which have been instrumental in bringing economic crisis and political instability. The floods have only abetted it.

The natural disaster has struck Pakistan while economy is passing through the difficult phase of multiple challenges including Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis, heavy debt burden and solvency-related issues. The protracted economic crisis is likely to deepen further despite conclusion of talks with the IMF for release of Extended Fund Facility credit.

While Finance Minister Miftah Ismail estimates that the country has incurred a total loss of “at least $10 billion”, independent analysts, including Uzar Younus, Director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia centre and economist Ammar Habib Khan, put the figure between $15-20 billion, and expect it to rise further as information is coming with a great lag.

Existing infrastructure is collapsing with the flooding submerging one-third of the country, pushing 37 per cent of population into poverty. Pakistan is literally and figuratively under deep water, writes Nasir Jamal. It may take a few more months before the damages can be assessed. Even before the flooding, 60 per cent of the population was suffering from hunger, malnutrition and related diseases and the figures are bound to shoot up now.

In view of the mammoth loss, the IMF’s $1.2 billion credit now seems to be a peanut. Pakistan was earlier wounded and now it is bleeding. Floods will exacerbate the economic crisis that had shown initial signs of abating with the IMF deal. Twin deficits, growth prospects and inflationary expectations will be worsening, inflicting misery on the poor. Despite increasing gravity of the situation, saving people’s life and livelihood have not still become the priorities among the political class who are revealing in an ugly slugfest.

The real cost of the natural calamity is being borne by millions of poor kids, pregnant women, elderly and sick persons crowded under the open sky or tents, prone to hunger, diseases and insecurity as they wait for aid. It will be weeks before many can even return to their villages as the land drains and dries. It will take months, even years, to recover from the loss of housing, animals, crops and cultivable land.

Covid-19 had only disrupted economic exchange without damaging the economic base. But the flood has destroyed crops, land, animals, bridges, etc. negatively impacting deeper on the poor and the economy. And the insensitive political class in Pakistan is still deeply engrossed in political maneuver and cunning tricks against each other rather than presenting a united face at the time of calamity. That is the character of Pakistan’s politics.

In view of the contribution of agriculture to the extent of one fourth of the GDP, the country would have to face major revenue loss due to crop losses. As per the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s August 29 report, almost 80 per cent of crops in Sindh, which produces roughly 30% of Pakistan’s cotton output, were destroyed.

Close to 70 per cent of Pakistan’s textile industry, an important source of employment and foreign exchange, uses the cotton produced in the country. Floods are likely to cause severe shortage of cotton, said Abdul Rahim Nasir, Chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association. He added that instead of earlier average import of cotton estimated at about 4 million bales, Pakistan would now need to import just the double of that figure, at a potential cost of $3 billion.

Shahrukh Wani, an Oxford economist, says the flood will make it terribly difficult for the government to reduce the trade deficit because while the country will need to import food to “compensate” for lost crops, the textile sector will find itself struggling due to “potential shortage” of cotton crop.

The biting inflation which rose to 25% in the month of July from a year earlier, the highest since May 1975, is taking its own toll on the living conditions of masses. The flooding would further push up the inflation and accentuate the scarcity of even essentials.

Amreen Soorani, Head of Research at JS Global Capital Ltd, said that “the main concern from the floods is the impact on inflation”. Even the IMF warned that the runaway inflation could trigger protests and instability.

Islamabad secured funds from the IMF for immediate bailout of the economy from the saturating forex crisis. However, the problems would be far from over for Islamabad. As the advanced countries are focused more on the impact of Ukraine-Russia war and trying to cope with recessionary pressures while some of the development partners including Middle Eastern countries and China are down with donor fatigue, Islamabad has scant probability to get any major international relief.

For now, the immediate challenge that government will face is to fulfil the conditions of raising taxes and applying austerity measures as part of its agreement with the IMF for its bailout package. This might turn out a politically unpopular move and could flare up the political bickering. The condition is rife for mass protests in view of increasing cost of living for many months now, which opposition could take advantage of. Anger is rising across Pakistan over the slow pace of government relief efforts.

The catastrophic floods have put a downward pressure on growth prospectus. Initial estimates suggest that the economic growth rate may slow down to just 2 per cent. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the recent floods caused more damage than the 2010 calamity wherein the economic losses had been estimated at $9.7 billion. The floods have already caused supply chain-related issues.

Even during natural calamity, politicians are concerned about their political agenda rather than allowing international aid agencies to import essential food items from the neighbouring country. Cases after cases of corruption are cropping up, “you reveal mine, I will reveal yours”, an unending slugfest continues.

Instead of fighting the fallout of the devastating natural calamity united, they are engrossed in manoeuvre and cunning tricks and a regressive thought process whether or not to allow aid flow from India. Some of the government top officials have suggested importing essential commodities such as food and medicine from India, while others are still the victim of the old rigidities and anti-India mindset.

India is an undoable reality of being the most potent vehicle of South Asia’s growth vision as it is a responsible regional power and the fastest growing economy of the world, which offers a big market for exports and sourcing imports. Islamabad needs to understand that cooperation with neighbours does not reduce the stature of a calamity hit country.

Continue Reading

Policy&Politics

Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite

Published

on

By

Separated in 1947, Sikh brother meets sister reunite

The Kartarpur Corridor has once again reunited another family after a man who separated from his parents when he was only a few months old in 1947, finally met his sister in Pakistan.

Amarjit Singh was left out in India along with his sister while his Muslim parents came to Pakistan. All eyes went teary as they saw the emotional scenes of the brother-sister reunion in Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Geo News reported.

Amarjit Singh arrived in Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa to meet his Muslim sister and to remain as her guest.

His sister, 65-year-old Kulsoom Akhtar, could not control her emotions after seeing Amarjit.

Both hugged each other and kept crying. She had travelled from her hometown in Faisalabad along with her son Shahzad Ahmed and other family members to meet her brother.

Kulsoom said that her parents came to Pakistan from the suburbs of the Jalandhar region of India in 1947, leaving behind her younger brother and a sister, Express Tribune reported.

Kulsoom said she was born in Pakistan and used to hear about her lost brother and a sister from her mother. She said that her mother used to cry every time whenever she remembered her missing children. Kulsoom said that she did not expect that she would ever be able to meet her brother and sister. However, a few years ago, a friend of her father Sardar Dara Singh came to Pakistan from India.

Kulsoom’s mother told Singh about her son and daughter she left behind in India. She also told him the name of their village and the location of their house in the neighbouring country.

Amarjit then visited her house in Padawan village of Jalandhar and informed her that her son was alive but her daughter was dead. Her son was named Amarjit Singh who was adopted by a Sikh family back then in 1947, The Express Tribune reported.

After getting the brother’s information, Amarjit and Kulsoom Akhtar contacted on WhatsApp and using the Kartarpur Corridor and the meeting between the two siblings became a reality.

Now an elderly man, Sardar Amarjit Singh came to Gurdwara Sahib in a wheelchair. Kulsoom Akhtar also could not travel due to back pain, but she showed courage and reached Kartarpur from Faisalabad along with her son. Both the siblings kept crying while embracing each other and remembering their parents.

Amarjit said that when he first learned that his real parents were in Pakistan and were Muslims, it was a shock to him. However, he comforted his heart that many families were separated from each other in addition to his own family.

Many Muslim children became Sikhs and many Sikh children became Muslims, Express Tribune reported.

He said that he always wanted to meet his real sister and brothers. He said that he is happy to know that three of his brothers are alive. However, one brother who was in Germany has passed away.

He said he will now come to Pakistan via the Wagah border with a visa and spend time with his family. He also said that he will take his family to India as well so that they could meet their Sikh family. Both the siblings had brought many gifts for each other.

Shahzad Ahmad, son of Kulsoom, said that he used to hear about his uncle from his grandmother and mother. He said that all of the siblings were very young at the time of Partition and no name was given to Amarjit or perhaps, after so many years, the name had slipped out of mind.

“I understand that since my uncle was brought up by a Sikh family, he happens to be a Sikh, and my family and I have no problem with this,” he added.

Shahzad said that he is happy that even after 75 years his mother has found her lost brother.

Continue Reading

Policy&Politics

22 officers of different cadres to serve in J&K

Published

on

By

The Centre has relaxed Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) deputation rules to encourage IAS and other all-India service officers as well as those of the Central Services get posted in Jammu & Kashmir, in a bid to address the shortage of officers in the Union Territory.

Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said that due to relaxation of DoPT rules, 22 officers belonging to various services and different cadres have been posted in Jammu & Kashmir at various levels at a crucial time.

He said that DoPT has played a major role in facilitating induction of Jammu & Kashmir Administrative Services officers into the IAS by coordinating with UT administration, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the UPSC.

As a result, recently 16 officers from JKAS have been inducted into IAS and another 8 such vacancies will be filled up shortly giving opportunities to the JKAS officers to become part of prestigious IAS service after a long gap of 12 years.

The Minister added that mid-career training of JKAS officers of various seniority was carried out in collaboration with the LBSNAA and this has provided a new level of exposure to the JKAS Officers and more than 200 offices. Some other initiatives by the Ministry include special concessions or incentives to the Central government employees working in the Kashmir Valley in attached and subordinate offices or PSUs falling under control of the Central government.

They have been extended special concessions for a period of 3 years with effect from August 1, 2021 and the incentives include an additional house rent allowance, composite transfer grant, per diem allowance, incentive for period of temporary duty, messing allowance, and facility to draw pension at place of settlement in relaxation of relevant provisions.

Besides, facilities for retention of general pool accommodation available to officers who have served in the Central government has also been extended to officers posted in Jammu & Kashmir on the pattern of northeastern states.

Continue Reading

Trending