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Facilitate rehabilitation of KPs back to their roots: Bhan

Geo-strategic expert and known columnist Ashok Bhan said Pakistan’s continued confrontation and its policy against India is dangerous for the peace, stability and economics in South Asia.

Post by on Wednesday, February 10, 2021

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Webinar on ‘Evolving Politico-Security Paradigm in J&K’

Geo-strategic expert and known columnist Ashok Bhan said Pakistan’s continued confrontation and its policy against India is dangerous for the peace, stability and economics in South Asia.

He was speaking during a webinar recently organized by United Service Institution (USI) of India organised on the topic “Evolving Politico-Security Paradigm in J&K”.

The focus of discussion was on the current geopolitical and security scenario in the strategically important state of J&K following the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in 2019.

This event was chaired by Maj Gen BK Sharma, AVSM, SM (Retd), Director USI and moderated by Dr Roshan Khanijo, Assistant Director Research, (CS3).

The panelists were Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, PVSM, AVSM & BAR, YSM, SM (Retd), Former GOC-in-C Northern Command, Hamid Bashani, Javed Beigh, Mr. Ashok Bhan, Senior Advocate,

Supreme Court of India and Anil Goswami, Former Union Home Secretary of India.

He said the consequences of Pakistan’s interference in Kashmir have far more dangers to the security for the SAARC countries.

“J&K people have exercised the preference for democratic means to advocate their legitimate issues. Kashmir's future is destined with India and its democracy and secular ethos.”

Bhan said Kashmiri Pandits who form the second largest ethnic group in the UT have not been the part of this ecosystem for more than 30 years.

He said the Indian State must provide requisite conditions to facilitate the process of rehabilitation of the minority groups back to their roots.

“Any positive step in this direction would require initiating a dialogue with all the stakeholders and then attempting to reach a consensus. Additionally, it’s equally important that any possible plan of rehabilitation should lay emphasis on developing composite smart cities, rather than proposing isolated communities for the resettlement of the minorities.”

Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, (Retd), Former GOC-in-C Northern Command spoke on a military and strategic perspective.

He said for the past several decades, Pakistan’s foreign policy towards India has been reactionary in nature to India’s administrative and or strategic decisions.

This was evident when post abrogation Pakistan’s PM made a statement that they won’t engage in any dialogue with India until the autonomous status of the region is restored, he said.

“However, post 5th August 2020, Pakistan has not been able to increase infiltration in Kashmir Valley, primarily due to the existence of a multi-tier counter-insurgency grid.”

He said Pakistan’s future strategy would largely be to internationalize the Kashmir issue, focusing more on innovation and technology to give momentum to proxy war, and attempting to activate the resistance groups within the Kashmir Valley.

He said India could use its position in diplomatic forums like the United Nations (UN) to expose Pakistan’s real objectives and get the latter blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

He said people of Pakistan – administered – Kashmir including Gilgit Baltistan (GB) have been a victim of Pakistan’s hegemony over the region.

Civil society activist Javed Beigh said the regional political parties harbouring nationalistic Kashmiri sentiments face oppression.

He said there has been no devaluation of power at the grassroots level.

Barrister Hamid Bashani of Pakistan Administered Kashmir said their legally belongs to India.

“Thus far Pakistan has been proactive in flagging the Kashmir issue at the UN. The time has come for India to call Pakistan’s bluff at the UN and bolster its legitimate claims to the entire region, including the Shaksgam Valley. There is a need to expose Pakistan’s duplicitous behaviour and discrimination towards the people of PaK and GB.”

Former Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami while highlighting the Indian government’s response said the annulment of Article 370 and 35A meant that the Constitution of India was fully applicable to the Union Territories (UT) of J&K and Ladakh.

“As a result, about 170 state laws stood null and void. Ever since the Abrogation, the government’s focus has been to usher in economic prosperity and development in the region by not just extending the ongoing Union policies and programmes, but also, by bringing in novel region specific reforms.”

In an effort to provide a much needed boost to the economy, GoI has fast-tracked a development package worth Rs 80,000 crores which was initially announced in 2015, he said.

He said 20 of the 63 projects have been completed so far while the remaining are to be completed by 2022.

He said the significant advancements have been made in the health sector, seven news colleges have been opened in areas such as Baramulla, Anantnag etc and setting up of AIIMS at Avantipur in Kashmir Valley and Samba in Jammu is in progress “For the past 70 years, J&K has only been able to harness 3,500MW of hydroelectric of its total potential of 25,000MW. Work has been initiated to raise the present capacity by another 3,000MW. Moreover, to fully realise the potential of Ladakh becoming a carbon neutral unity of the country, a 7,500MW solar park is envisaged to be set up.

Recently, the UT conducted District Development Council Elections in J&K, which were fair and violence-free, thereby; witnessed the strengthening of democracy at the grassroots level.”

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