According to experts, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are breeding grounds for terrorists, have emerged as unsavoury joint ventures constituting several arms and narcotics traffickers, insurgent outfits and organised crime syndicates.

The Haqqani network was discussed in the Asialyst piece along with how close it is to the Pakistani intelligence agencies and how it materialises the connection between the criminal underworld and the nebula of radical terrorism.

‘The Convergence of the Narcotics Underworld and Extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Its Global Proliferation’ by David R Winston highlights a number of issues, including the Pakistan-Afghanistan Drug Trade in Historical Perspective.

The Narco-Insecurity, Inc. report claims that this was made possible with the aid of Pakistan’s ISI, which carried out a number of covert operations with sympathetic jihadist groups and launched the Balkan, northern, and southern routes of the global narcotics trafficking pipeline. These groups all heavily relied on drug trafficking to fund their operations.

The largest of these was the Haqqani network, a criminal organisation based on smuggling, that was located along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Given its position and connections to several jihadist organisations, the Haqqani network was seen by the ISI as a crucial ally. As a result, the ISI allegedly started funding its facilities and utilising it as a front for dealing with other non-state actors.

The report also articulates about the criminal world and narcotic traffickers that depend on state business or secret services and concentrate on the collusion of interests, along with the association of Afghan and Pakistani actors.

Since Afghanistan’s takeover by the Taliban in August last year, the Afghan drug industry is blossoming and now the close relations with Pakistan unite drug trafficking actors and those involved in radical violence and terrorism, particularly in Pakistan, the article reported citing the publication.

According to the publication, a strong network is developing as more and more radical, terrorist, and extremist organisations are being funded by today’s drug trade for their nefarious goals, such as attacks or assassinations. It jumbles up everyone’s duties and permits the funding of terrorist activities.

It also sheds light on the functioning of Afghan and Pakistan societies, along with the radical deviations, and double-dealing of the officials, adding that after the Taliban came to power in 1996, there was the expansion of poppy opium production and drug trafficking which was obligated to Pakistan and in particular, its intelligence services.

Terrorist and rug kingpin Dawood Ibrahim, who was involved in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, is said to be residing in a Pakistani territory despite their denial, the article read.

The publication cited the innovations that terrorist outfits use to launder their illegal income. They invest in genuine firms operating in real estate, construction or maritime transport to “protect” their assets as “good” asset managers along with the stock market, in particular in the financial centre of Karachi.

Kashmiris should take a serious note of the pathetic political, economic and security situation of Pakistan. For very long, people with beneficial Pakistani connections and vested interests have painted a false narrative of the sun of Azaadi rising from the Pakistani side. This false narrative has led to tremendous loss of lives over three decades. With Pakistan failing on all accounts, time has come for Kashmiris to slash the moorings of false dreams weaved by the Pakistani schemers and move on to the path of peace. We have to understand that Pakistan can give us nothing but blood and tears.

The security situation has worsened after Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan which was prematurely celebrated by Pakistan. The Taliban became assertive on the Durand Line and the reunification of Pashtun lands on both sides of the line started gaining ground. The TTP also got emboldened and started giving a bloody nose to Pakistan Army. The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has too become notably active and violent. Recently, it abducted and killed an officer of Pakistan Army.

Pakistan clearly is heading towards an implosion. These days, people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), are agitating on the roads against government’s apathy and abject neglect. Their so called Prime Minister cried during an official speech citing dire straits of affairs and total disregard of POK by the federal government. On accounts of prosperity, health, employment, development, business opportunities, civic amenities etc, POK lags behind abysmally. Recently in a significant gesture, people of POK protested against Pakistan Government in front of the UN troops. They are even expressing desire to get merged with Jammu and Kashmir. If Pakistan cannot look after the Kashmir it occupies, it would be naïve to believe in their lofty promises for us. Last month, Kashmiri students were brutally attacked at Islamabad’s Qaid-e- Azam University. Large numbers of Kashmiris are being forcefully settled faraway in Sindh. Gilgit-Baltistan is on sale to China. The TV interviews of people of Pakistan tell us that it is not Kashmiri people that Pakistan wants to embrace but their ulterior motive is to grab the natural resources especially rivers of Jammu and Kashmir. Why rivers? It is because, Pakistan ranks 14 out of 17 “extremely high water risk” countries in the world and more than 80 percent of the country’s population faces “severe water” economic situation is so pathetic that the country has approached IMF bailout for the twenty second time. The strict IMF preconditions have led to excessive price rise of essential commodities including fuel and cooking oil. Foreign reserves are barely enough for essential imports for two months. People have been advised to drink less tea to reduce import bills. Public is sick of the unprecedented inflation and corruption. Reportedly, half of Pakistan could not sacrifice goats during Eid this time due to the exorbitant prices. The political situation is as always wobbly. The ousted Prime Minister is hell bent to snatch back power from the ‘imported hukumat’ which in turn is being run on proxy from England by an ex Prime minister accused of graft.

In the fields of education, employment, health, women empowerment, trade, development and international reputation etc Pakistan has slipped to the lowest ranks. Unprecedented inflation, blatant corruption and unstable political situation have led to social unrest and people are even talking about possibility of a civil war in Pakistan.

Protesters shout Anti-Pakistan slogans in POK
Protesters shout Anti-Pakistan slogans in POK

In spite of being in such a quagmire, ISI and Pakistan army are still sending terrorists to Kashmir. They do it to remain relevant to the citizens and divert their attention from government’s total failure on all accounts. The dwindling support to terrorism in Kashmir has forced ISI and Pakistan Army to use novel and wicked ideas to disturb peace. They are now brain washing young Kashmiri boys to kill fellow Kashmiris. There is also an increase in number of attacks on police personnel. At the end of the day, Kashmiris are getting killed.

Akhir kabtak hum Pakistan ko Kashmir mein khoon bahanedenge? Our silence is our biggest fault. The perpetrators of terrorism take advantage of our silence and society’s fault lines of cast, social status and region. We cannot expect anything from our opportunist politicians who do not condemn terrorism…..or from the separatists who have their property and families abroad…..or from the cyber warriors who spread venom of hatred….or from the weak and scared intelligentsia. We the common people will have to raise our voice against violence and Pakistan sponsored terrorism. Even symbolic steps like candle light vigils and peaceful marches have the power to change things. The traditional attitude of leaving everything to the administration will be unwise. The society has to play its role. Student bodies, trade unions, market associations, civilian clubs and groups….everyone should condemn violence. Above all, we as parents must be talk of peace and positivity at homes.

Courtesy : Mir Mohsin

How could three terror modules succeed in gaining foothold in Jammu and Rajouri districts and how could series of arms consignments from across the border reach their destinations and how come drones mostly succeed in dropping such lethal consignments of arsenal must be clarified by our intelligence and Police authorities . While seven Lashkar-eToiba operatives have been captured comprising three from Jammu and four from Rajouri and the Police personnel deserve a pat on the back, at the same time , the question remains as to how the anti Indian and anti national enemies could reach this ”high” in their nefarious designs so as to have established terror modules and were busy hatching conspiracies and chalking strategies to effect target killings of prominent politicians and religious heads by using silencers fitted pistols . As per police version based on pointed inputs and information gathered , not only was the nefarious plot of disrupting Shree Amarnath pilgrimage by attacking it hatched but to rattle the city with blasts on August 15, the Independence day too was on the agenda of the terrorists. It is , however, a matter of great relief that the conspiracy now stands fully exposed and hence the terror modules smashed . It is equally surprising and astonishing that in the populous area of Talab Khatika in Jammu city , a huge cache of arms and ammunition should be found and seized from a residential house .

How it reached there and who in fact are involved in this entire structure of terror module must be fully known. It is likely that there could be more of such houses where arms could have been hidden to be retrieved for and at the time of executing acts of violence .The Drone ”syndrome” has become synonymous with the belligerent neighbour in extreme chicanery and satanic designs and intents and thus employed it as a fastest means to carry consignment of arms from across the border to drop in Indian side which their agents like the apprehended operatives picking up and ferrying up to the militant hideouts. It is really a matter of great concern that there have been as many as 20 such attempts of consignments of arms and explosives dropped by Pakistani drones quite ”successful” from across the border to the extent of ensuring the arsenal reached up to the destinations of militants . It is also a fact that many a time such attempts are thwarted by our security forces and vigilant villagers near the border.

Constantly changing the pattern and the strategies of Pakistani sponsored terrorism can be seen just by three things – one dropping arms and explosives through drones near different villages along the International border , two– small arms like pistols now used for acts of violence and top of it being the same fitted with silencers as silencer pistols have been recovered from the arrested militants and three — cash amounting to Rs.80000 to Rs.1 lakh carried by every drone thus circumventing to a larger extent, the impact of going strict on money laundering by the Government which has been a major source of funding terror activities and sustaining the spells of violence and blood spilling in Jammu and Kashmir. A total amount of Rs.25 lakh in genuine Indian currency having reportedly been received through these drones by the arrested terrorists has been confirmed by them though Rs.4-5 lakh in cash has been recovered too. However, the question is as to how long shall the scourge of this proxy war fought against the country by our belligerent neighbour go on continuously on our soil and how long shall it become a ”routine” for our police, security forces and other agencies to witness this satanic bloody ping pong being played all against us by Pakistan in utter disguise? When shall there be an end to reporting with heavy hearts but with indignation, through these columns, death and blood spilling on account of militant violence ? Can there be any such instance in any part of the world by any country to go on enduring this cancer for decades as if a fait accompli, to be honest, is to be answered more by the opposition parties of the country than by the Government. This country cannot carry on with this malaise indefinitely which is not only causing loss of lives both civilian as well as those of the security forces and property as also hampering the process of development but is a drain on the economy being the cost of fighting it out and taking pre-emptive measures . In any case, let it be resolutely reiterated that Jammu division on the whole cannot be allowed to go the Kashmir way , which, therefore, calls for going beyond routine mechanism of fighting the problem of growing tentacles of Pakistan sponsored terrorism very effectively and sternly.

The residents from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir stopped the United Nations’ vehicle and shouted “Pakistani forces go back go back”, “We want freedom” and “Stop killing in Kashmir.”

Sharing the video of the protest, an anonymous person tweeted, “People from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir are shouting slogans “Pakistani forces go back go back”, “We want freedom” and “Stop killiing in Kashmir”, stopping United Nations @UN vehicle in the middle of the road.”

The protest in PoK region has become common now-a-days. Earlier, there were protests going on in Skardu, Gilgit and some other parts with the support of Anjuman-e-Imamia, Majlis-e-Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen, civil society and Jamaat-e-Islami, Baad-e-Shimal Edit newspaper reported.

Even though the government has convinced the protestors that the arrested persons would be released soon, several basic issues like load shedding, inflation, and the lease of lands need to be addressed on a war footing.

The Gilgit-Baltistan government is not making serious efforts despite people looking for a way out of their problems.

If the matter of the arrest of the Imamia community members is not resolved as soon as possible, it will be a challenge for the government writ which looks very weak, local media reported.

The people of Gilgit Baltistan have been resisting Pakistan for misuse of powers in the occupied territory for the past 74 years.

Recently, they held protests in Gilgit, condemning the arrest of 13 political activists on October 13, 2005. In 2009, a military court awarded them life sentences.

Earlier on Monday, the Jaffaria community chief Agha Rahat Hussein Al-Hussein expressed concern over the release of 13 youths who were given life imprisonment.

Anjuman-e-Imamiya also protested over the issue as the current Gilgit-Baltistan government had promised their release in two months but so far no action has been taken in this regard, reported local media.

Women and children from the Jaffaria community continued protests for the sixth day and Shia leaders have warned that if this issue was not resolved and the 13 men were not released, there would be protests everywhere.

Further talks about Gilgit-Baltistan’s constitutional status and rights were demanded by Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan vice president and Milli Yakjehti Council Sec-Gen Liaquat Baloch.

He said that the party in Gilgit-Baltistan will continue the struggle for constitutional status along with the rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Pakistani authorities have finalised a law (26th Constitutional Amendment Bill) to award provisional provincial status to strategically located Gilgit-Baltistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan is an autonomous region now and after the bill is passed, it will become the 5th province of the country.

Literal: O! sweet home. I shall sacrifice thousand homes to you, never to leave your door. There is an old Kashmir saying, Shayi Chukhi Zi Jayi Chukho, if you are at the home, you are in the safest palace.

In simple words, it denotes the love everyone has for his/her home so much so that one does not find so much comfort & happiness in thousand other homes as one has in his/her own home.

One does not consider thousand houses even worth one’s own home. So, it is that love for one’s home that one does not want to go away from it. One wants to be always near his home & family.

“Amid pleasures & palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there is no place like home” in the world, J H Payne’s famous lines. Wherever our destiny takes us in life, it is always the home which is close to our heart.

Homesickness also springs from the nostalgic home feeling & attachment. It is expression of natural human feeling & tendency to feel always at home within one’s home & with family.

Home gives a sense of safety & security which is real in terms of its application with the home. Its appropriate English equivalent is East or West; home is the best, which appeared in English literature in second half of the 19th century.

First time in 1859, an Anglophone linguist & translator, Kelly [d.1867] while compiling the proverbs in different languages used the proverb in English about affection & feeling of home.

French & Italian near to equal idiom is: “To every bird its nest is fair”. If a bird is taken hundreds of miles away, it will find its way back. “East & West, at home the best: goes translation of German proverb, “Ost und West, daheim das Best”, writes Kelly.

“The reek of my own house,” says the Spaniard, is better than the fire of another’s.” “The same feeling is expressed with less energy, but far more tenderly, in a beautiful Italian proverb, which loses greatly by translation:”

Home, my own home, tiny though thou be, to me thou seemest an abbey.” In the Italian language, there are two other analogous proverbs viz: “My home, my mother’s breast” & “Tie me hand and foot, and throw me among my own, “ Kelly adds.

It may not be out of place to mention here about a correlated interesting episode of pre-colonial days of the subcontinent. In the context of the countries that were likely to emerge & shape up in post-colonial period of India & Middle East, there is an interesting episode of pre-1947 days.

There was a Kashmiri who was mentally disturbed by drawing unnecessary comparison between small & big countries and swayed by the enormity of size and shape of the big ones.

One day, he met & asked a wiseman: If we have a country of our own, it will be a small, tiny country, geographically & topographically, I mean, & isn’t it better to merge with some big country of the world. The wiseman responded:

“East or West, home is the best, you have to remember! It is always better to have & live in one’s own home even if a shanty-hut than to rely on & live in the palaces of others which will be always having their royal eyes & guards there to watch & control your free movement”.

There is an old Afghan Pashto proverb about the beauty of Kashmir which everyone desires to have at home. Har châta khpal watan kashmir de. Its translation goes like this:

“To everyone his home is Kashmir — i.e., very good”. But, younger generations of Afghanistan feel proud of the “barren lands” of their country over lush green forests of the valley.

There are other proverbs related to home. They are: Gharih Ghate Te Mashidi Tchong which literally means darkness in home but light in the masjid. It connotes the idea of being miser & hard with the family, at home, but spendthrift & liberal with others, away from home.

Bad to one’s own, good to others, outward show but miserly at home, what is the utility of such show of goodness? There is a Hadith from the Holy Prophet [PBUH] that poor relatives should be given preference in distribution of Zakat which is obligatory in Islam. Its Western equivalent is charity should always begin at home.

In Kashmiri, an old idiom is, Bechin Iza, Te Putlin Puza, which literally means distress to the family-members, offerings to the idols. In English, it is, darkness in the hearth, while light in the church.

One should always practice his being liberal, kind & good at home with family members first & then he can be being so with others, as well. Gode Gov Panas Pate Genzravnas is its equivalent in Kashmiri.

What home means can be better explained by the homeless people who wander from place to place without a permanent abode of comfort for living.

The home is the fruit of a lot of struggle, labour, time, energy & money spent on its realisation which is like a dream coming true over period of years for most of the middle & lower-middle class people who raise it over several years.

Home is one among the basic needs of human beings. Many homes are lost to the vis major, the irresistible & inevitable acts of God, like floods & earthquakes.

Mysterious fires & conflagrations in the valley these days, & destruction of built-homes by bulldozers in Palestine & elsewhere, have reduced many homes to the ashes of tragic sadness & with that, the owners’ hard acquired possessions, valuables & other chattel have been completely destroyed in the blazes of the fires & conflagrations, & the blades of the State-bulldozers.

It is said that the State owns houses but not a home. Home is private enterprise. It is shocking & devastating for the victims who only know the pangs of losing homes that were built over decades and that valued emotionally much more than physical estimations of the loss.

Physical loss can be measured but there is no scale to measure the loss of emotions, hopes & dreams one attaches with one’s home. According to the reports of local Dailies, 560 Crore property has been damaged in fire incidents in last six years in Kashmir [KO 30-04-22] of which 2.5 billion rupees property has been lost in just first three months of 2022 in 146 fire incidents across Kashmir[RK 6-4-22].

A house has a corporeal existence. A home is much more than a physical entity. A house is built by bricks, stones & cement but a home is built by hearts, love & care. “Home is not merely four square walls…..Home is where affection calls.” (Charles Swain). Past-life was simple & honest, unlike today’s life fraught with excessive show off & ritzy inclination.

People lived in joint families with contentment about whatever little they had before the modern nuclear-families replaced them with unending farce competitions & mad race for insatiable accumulations.

People took pride in saying: My home may be small but my heart is big enough to accommodate many for a sound sleep which millions crave for in this age!

Courtesy : M. J. Aslam

Pakistan’s mixed warfare strategies in Jammu and Kashmir continue to pose a challenge to the security forces. When a neighbouring country is bent upon proxy warfare, constant alert and proactive strategy are vital for national security.

Earlier, Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir was mainly waged through infiltration of trained militants into the Valley. With social media, Pakistan has written new chapters on violent acts of extremism. Pakistan has intensified the dark spectacle of radical extremism, using e-jihad to brainwash and galvanize vulnerable youth. Narco terror is emerging as the fuel for this proxy war. This is evident from the drugs confiscated by the Army and the security forces, the investigations made by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), and the data available with the Jammu and Kashmir Department of Health. This strategy is double-edged. It is employed for direct creation of funds to finance terrorism in the Valley. It is also used to weaken the youth of Kashmir and make them fall prey to drugs.

Kashmir Youth Being Caught In The Drug Trap

Over the past several months, the army, police, and other agencies have conducted successful operations and have recovered not only weapons but also large consignments of narcotics. Army intelligence sources reveal that there are strong links between Kashmiri militants and drug trafficking in Punjab.

In the last few years, national media has focused much on the drug abuse among the youth of Punjab. But the scenario in Kashmir too is bad. Five years ago, a report published by the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) estimated that there are around 70,000 thousand people who are drug addicts in Kashmir division. Approximately 31% of them were stated to be women. The situation is worse now. It is mostly the Kashmiri youth which have been caught in the drug trap. According to the date at Government Psychiatric Hospital, Srinagar, about 90% drug abusers are in the age group of 17-35. There have been several media reports that opium cultivation is being taken up, especially in South Kashmir, to finance militant violence and foment trouble. The alarming trend of drug use among Kashmiri youth is partly due to the social and psychological effects of protracted conflict, unemployment and family/social problems. There is also a bigger design at work, with Pakistan intent on damaging the already stressed social and moral fabric of the Valley.

Proceeds from heroin smuggling used to finance militant activities

After the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan, there are fears that drug trafficking in Kashmir may increase. According to a 2018 report by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, the Taliban earned 60 percent of their income from the drug trade. These same narcotics are channeled into India through Pakistan. A senior police officer in Kashmir told KZINE that following serious action by law enforcement agencies against hawala operators in recent years, Pakistani agencies have crossed the Line of Control to push terrorism, narcotics trade and fake currency. In 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cited “illicit arms, drugs and counterfeit currency traps” as the reasons for the closure of trade across the LoC.

When trade across the LoC was shut down, narco-trading started flourishing. Some of those arrested in the drug trade were from terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. Proceeds from heroin smuggling are used to militant activities. In this connection, National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Afaq Ahmad Wani, a bank manager from Handwara in North Kashmir. Wani was stated to be part of a drug syndicate. 21 kg heroin and over Rs 1.35 crore in cash were seized from the drug syndicate. The total cash recovered as part of the investigations is said to be over Rs 200 crore. The police raid also uncovered a cash counting machine – commonly found in banks. This indicates that a large amount of money was transferred to terrorist networks.

In 2019, Jammu and Kashmir Police confiscated over 200 kg of heroin. Last year, 152 kg of heroin and 49 kg of brown sugar were seized from different parts of the tribal areas in the Union Territory.

Anti-Drug Task Force, De-Addiction Centers

Assessing the gravity of the problem, the Jammu and Kashmir government last year constituted an Anti-Drug Task Force (ANTF) to tackle the growing menace of drug terrorism in the region. But despite repeated campaigns, heroin use has reached alarming levels. The seriousness of the problem can be gauged from the admission to the De-Addiction Center (DDC) of Government Medical College, Srinagar. A total of 6,234 patients were admitted to the De-Addiction Center during the lockdown, from April 2020 to June 2021. More than 95% of them were addicted to heroin. Dr. Yasir Rather, DDC In-charge in Srinagar said that the number of people treated for heroin use is just a grain of a mustard seed compared to the total figure of addicts. The exact number of addicts is much higher. The easy availability of heroin over the past two or three years is a big reason for the spurt in cases,” said Dr. Yasir Rather.

Youngsters Introduced To Drugs By Peers – Case Study Of Ahmad And Manzoor Dar

Ahmad’s forays into drugs began in 2013, when he was pursuing MBA in Delhi. When he returned to Kashmir on a two-week leave in 2018, he was introduced to heroin. “Some of my childhood friends started taking heroin. They gave me the first two doses for a kick. The first time I took it in. The second time, it was injected into my veins,” Ahmad said. He was recently admitted to the de-addiction center in Srinagar.

In 2019, Ahmad became a regular drug addict and lost his job. “I got a call from an old acquaintance who had joined the militants. He offered me Rs 2 lakh to deliver me one kg of heroin in Shopian. I agreed. At the address where I delivered the packet, I was given Rs 18 lakh in cash, which I gave to my militant friend. He gave me Rs 2 lakh as reward,” said Ahmad. “A few weeks later, the militant was killed in a clash with the security forces. I continued to use heroin until last month, when my parents admitted me the de-addiction center.” Manzoor Dar (name changed) from North Kashmir’s Baramulla district is now 27. He started taking heroin in the company of friends. Manzoor says that he did not face shortage of money at home. But after he started taking drugs, he began making excuses to take more and more money from his parents. His mother brought him to the drug de-addiction centre, and he was able to quit drug abuse. Manzoor says he used to go to border areas to buy heroin, since it was easily available there.

Drugs “Bigger Challenge” Than Terrorism

Jammu and Kashmir Police has recognized the growing menace of narco-terrorism as a major challenge in the last few years. In early July 2018, Shesh Paul Vaid, then police chief of Jammu and Kashmir, had termed drugs as a “bigger challenge” than terrorism in the region. Police had to work 24X7 to address this menace. His successor Dilbag Singh had expressed similar concerns. The erstwhile state government provided land to the police to set up a full-fledged de-addiction center near Idgah in Srinagar. A similar facility was provided in Jammu. The government was considering the proposal to provide drug de-addiction sections in district hospitals all over the state. All these initiatives are good, but they are largely reactionary and defensive. The police and the security forces shall have to initiate concrete and proactive action to break the drug supply chain.

The history of terrorism in the Valley shows that social anarchy in Kashmir is a deliberate tactic adopted by Pakistan for decades. The proxy war is unlikely to end soon. First Kashmir lost its Pandits, and then we lost an entire generation to gun culture. It is tragic to witness that we are losing our youth to drug abuse.

Pakistan has continuously upgraded and calibrated its proxy and hybrid warfare strategies in Kashmir. The Indian state can no longer afford to be caught on the back foot. It is extremely important to initiate action that shall stem the evil designs of Pakistan in Kashmir.

While the rest of India witnessed strong social and economic development post-independence, Jammu and Kashmir, a bone of contention between India and Pakistan lagged in terms of economic growth, employment, gender equality, literacy and many other indices. This lack of progress can be attributed to prevailing law and order situation in erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. During the past two years, there has been change in trend and Kashmir is marching on the path of development. Various development measures have been taken by the incumbent government to bring prosperity and restore the glory and beauty of Kashmir. The common folklore might be aware about only Aarif Khan (represented India at the winter Olympics in Beijing), Sadia Tariq (winner of gold medal in Moscow Wushu Championship) and Umran Malik (sensational pace bowler in IPL) as they made the headlines of national and regional media. Apart from them, there has been a structural and progressive changes taking place in Kashmir which is bringing back the Kashmiriat in Kashmir. This land of unimaginable beauty is steadily progressing towards normalcy and more importantly the people of Kashmir are welcoming these changes.

The routine interaction with locals of Lolab in Kupuwara district which is part of my job indicates that law and order situation has significantly improved and Kashmir is on course of development. The Kashmiri youths are moving away from the clutches of Pakistan and its proxies. While interaction with the families of houses located in remotest corner of Surigam, I found their wards are pursuing higher education. Some of them have even gone to abroad. The children of that locality are filled with aspirations and even elders are trying to engage themselves gainfully to contribute towards the prosperity of their family which shows Kashmir’s holistic development. Even though the schools of my area of responsibility lack basic education facilities, they are filled with inquisitive children. The war of narrative propagated by Pakistan and its proxies are on waning phase. The narrative of “Azadi” is being redefined as “Azadi” from poverty, violence, nepotism, religious extremism and corruption. In totality there has been an overall decline in terror activities. There is almost a 33 percent drop in infiltration in 2021, 90 percent decrease in ceasefire violation, 61 percent decline in terrorism related incidents and almost 80 percent fall in abductions by terrorists. The above stated figures are manifestation of Kashmir’s slow and steady march to progress.

Kashmir is also witnessing unprecedented development through various schemes of government. J & K is one of the first UT to implement Union Health Insurance coverage. Till end of October 2021, 76% of families in UT have at least one Ayushman Golden Card. More than 16.2 lakh and 38.4 lakh Golden card have been issued to the beneficiaries under AB-PMJAY and AB-PMJAY SEHAT respectively.

In the field of IT, several procedures have been framed such as providing “subsidy on rent” to the outside investors, building two large size IT parks-one each in Jammu and Srinagar. Premier educational institutes like IITs and IIMs are already functional. Similarly, in the medical field, two All India Institutes of Medical Science, seven new medical colleges, five new nursing colleges and a State Cancer Institute are planned.

J&K government has received proposal worth 150 billion rupees from around 40 companies from different sectors. In February 2020, central government approved 60 billion rupees for a multi-purpose irrigation cum power project in J& K’s Kathua district. six agreements with global investors were signed in EXPO 2020 Dubai for investments in real estate, infrastructure, tourism and healthcare.

To give a boost to saffron farming in Kashmir valley, a new Saffron Park has been started just for the sole purpose of processing and promoting the sale of saffron from Kashmir valley.

Infrastructure development in Jammu and Kashmir got a big push after the abrogation of article 370. The execution of new roads, tunnels and other basic infrastructure has gained momentum to ensure overall development of J&K. According to tourism department of Jammu and Kashmir, 700,000 tourists have visited the valley in the past four months- the highest in the last ten years and with Amarnath Yatra (pilgrimage) starting in June, the government expects the numbers to grow further. Some suggestions which will make the development measures adopted by government more sustainable and bring the Kashmir at par with mainland India are enumerated as under.

Kashmiri youth must be exposed to a course in critical thinking. Kashmiris by nature are scholars. Their natural skills in the softer aspects of life such as art, literature and emotions are very subtle and refined. Government should come up with schemes which will propel common Kashmiris to engage in such soft skills and further make it as source of employment.

The geographical location of state makes it ideal for developing players for winter sports. Although, government schemes like “Khelo India” are providing platforms but it has not penetrated in entire Kashmir and a lot of raw talent are remaining unexplored.

The Eco-tourism of valley still remains unexploited which should be promoted by government. In schools, the curriculum of Kashmiriyat and nationalism must be incorporated.

There is need to ensure that governance with accountability is provided with maximum focus on the people’s need and development of union territory. There will be shortcomings and issues in the short run but over the long horizon both UTs will be benefited from the changes made. It may take some time to catch up with the rest of India but they are on the way of road to progress.

“The guns have gone silent on the borders of Kashmir for over a year after the agreement of ceasefire was signed between India and Pakistan. The people living on the Line of Control are finally living a life in Peace. And now the government along with the locals is also promoting these bordering areas as the new tourist destinations.”

The bordering areas in North Kashmir have been thrown open for the public. Areas like Keran, Gurez, Tangdhar, Machil and Bangus are the new tourist destinations which have been added to the list by the tourism department.

With breathtaking views of Hills and water tributaries, these places are being promoted as the adventure tourism destinations.

”We have been witnessing to a lot of gunfire and shelling in this area. We used to have ceasefire violations every day and shelling on our homes. But with the ceasefire we are finally living a normal life. We are extremely happy after the ceasefire between the two countries. It has come as a blessing for us. We are finally breathing normally. We used to live in bunkers earlier and we are hoping that we don’t see those days again. We don’t have money to invest in making hotels. That’s why we have made homestays. This will give us employment and we will be able to generate income. The view that you get in Keran, I challenge you if you can find this view anywhere in the world.

The Indian army has played a major role in opening these areas for the Public. The whole security setup in these areas is under the Indian army and they are not only protecting these areas but also promoting them as tourist destinations. The locals of the area say that without the Indian army, it would not be possible to welcome tourists in these areas.

”We are thankful to the Indian army. We get a lot of support from the army, and they are with us 24/7. Tourism is also coming to this place because of the Indian army. It’s a beautiful place and we are making our homes into home stays. It’s completely peaceful here after the ceasefire and we hope people from across the country will visit us. ” Raja Suhail Khan, Nambardar.

The Tourist department of Jammu and Kashmir government recently added 75 new tourist destinations to their list. 38 destinations are in the Kashmir region while 37 are in Jammu. The government has drawn plans for these areas to build infrastructure keeping in view the ecosystem of these places. They are also providing opportunities for the locals of these areas to generate employment and economy.

”The main thrust is to promote rural tourism and in rural tourism also we have identified offbeat destinations 75 in total, out of which 38 from Kashmir and 37 from Jammu. The focus is to highlight these destinations. Border areas like Gurez, Keran Machil and Tangdhar. These are the areas falling under the scheme, the plans have been drawn and we are in consultation with district administration and India army to promote these areas for adventure tourism.

There is also an effort for the locals to have opportunities in the tourism sector. They can have homestays, become guides and introduce adventure sports. This will improve the economy and showcase these areas as good tourism spots. However, these are eco sensitive areas and we can’t have huge concrete structures in these areas. We are focusing on tents and home stays which will open opportunities for the locals in these areas. They can offer a homely experience to the tourists. For youth, tented accommodation can prove a game changer for them. ” G N Itoo, Director Tourism.

As Kashmir witnessed record breaking tourist arrivals in the last 4 months, all major tourist destinations in Kashmir Valley like Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Sonamarg are fully booked for the next two months. Government says with the promotion of these sites, it will help cater the huge influx of tourists coming to the Kashmir Valley.

Courtesy: Idrees Lone

            The Pahalgam incident of Aug 2000 drew international attention to the sadist violence, indulged in by the “Mujahids” against the innocent people- yatris, religious preachers. It explicitly points out the prejudices of terrorists for other regions. The major instance of religious intolerance from the side of separatist nexus and their gunmen faction. Though the Kashmir has got messed up in multiple versions of the same incident. However, policeman on duty identified them, one was from a Pahalgam village and other from Anantnag. But, one thing is common among the eye-witnesses said that the two bearded killers of 22 Amarnath pilgrims, 6 local civilians and 2 policemen, danced triumphantly while choosing death for themselves too. ”Their height was moderate and complexion whitish as is the case with the Kashmiris”. Fake identity cards and the new recruitment drive by LeT and Jaish-devil acts is the proxy-war in Kashmir. A plans to backstage Kashmir from the path of prosperity and development that other states of the country were going in the same period.

            Two youngsters-sporting beard, wearing olive green jackets and brandishing AK-47 rifles-emerged out of the jungle at around 1845 hours on Tuesday evening and began the massacre of pilgrims from a wooden culvert, called Manzim Bridge. The stream beneath , often seen in Bollywood movies of Rajesh Khanna, Asha Parekh period, was in spade. They sprayed bullets in all directions, stormed into a Meerut Langar, and finally took position on a metalled road on the left bank of Nullah Aru. After leaving a total of 30 dead and over 60 others Wounded, the assailants tossed seven grenades on the beautiful hutment of Hari Singh, the commanding officer of CRPF 61 Bn.”

            Another eye witness explained the act of violence as, “the terrorists reached the bridge, they opened indiscriminate fire, hitting a women in the leg. Then they ran towards the CRPF picket, firing indiscriminately at yatris and shopkeepers. In this torrential rain of bullets that lasted for about 25 minutes, thirteen yatris and shopkeepers were killed on the spot. The next destination of terrorists was the adjoining meerut Bhandar, where 900 yatris from Meerut were camping. Two grenades were tossed at a tent, Killing one yatri and injuring four others. As terrorists approached the camp, a BSF constable opened fire and scared them away. Terrorists were running and firing towards the camp on both sides of the road. A man, hit by a bullet on the bridge fell down into the Lidder stream flowing below.”

            The grenades tossed at the CRPF picket damaged a car standing there Meanwhile CO was contacted at his office but he failed it reach the spot due to heavy gunfire at his home. Sentry SC Choudhary engaged the terrorists and in the fierce encounter that followed, he felled down one, who had hid behind a car and a massive rock. The other militant, 100 yards away on the Aru road was gunned by a BSF soldier. “Calm prevailed but only after the duo danced while crying that they had accomplished their mission”.

            Prem Lata, a teacher from Ludhiana who saw the terrorists, wearing police uniform and firing indiscriminately alleged that the terrorists were selectively killing pilgrims only. She took cover in her bus the wind screen of which was damaged as the killers emptied their volley of bullets. Baba Naresh of Gujrat, another eyewitness claimed terrorists killed a Baba after entering his tent. Ravinder Kumar of Haryana said near Meerut Langer, where terrorist brandished their concealed weapons, a barber and his customers were the first targets. “A broken mirror, a blood drenched cap and the splattered blood on the spot gave the idea of their act”. Firing on the moving pilgrims, they moved towards the small bridge.  After crossing it, they entered the area where the Langer and tents were set up. There a heavy exchange of fire took place between the terrorists and security forces, leading to the killing of some pilgrims and local labourers in the cross-firing. However, the terrorists managed to escape from the area.

            Poonam Gayal from Meerut received three bullets in her leg and abdomen. Both her daughter and husband were injured, while her, missing son was presumably dead. Aravind Kumar Verma had multiple fractures in his left leg. Arun Kumar of Delhi, who ran a Langar said the terrorists held AK-47 rifles and one of them even changed his magazine while killing yatris.

            Kuldeep Kumar, driver of a bus damaged in the firing was hit by a bullet in the leg. He said that one of the terrorists firing from under the bus finally came out and was killed by a CRPF jawan. Around four thousand yatris were camping in Pahalgam at the time of attack. Ram Sahagal, a pilgrim from Delhi said the terrorists, as they engaged in indiscriminate firing roamed freely in a radius of about half a km. Bharath Sharma, a travel agency owner of Agra, told reporters that “the terrorists began firring from a hill top and also from underneath a bus”. One of Sikh Sewadars was hit by a burst of automatic fire standing beside him, collapsed in a pool of blood.

            The prompt response by paramilitary personnel killed two terrorists, while another escaped in a maruti van. He was also wearing police uniform. As the bullets rained all around, people scrambled under the parked vehicles or took shelter under the trees along the Lidder bank. CRPF personnel were seen advising yatris to remain calm. Many other managed to escape in waiting vehicles. A large number of vehicles, including cars and buses, also showed marks of the indiscriminate firing. While many glass panes stood broken, tyres were punctured due to the impacts of bullets. The bodies of the pilgrims and other civilians were removed by security forces men and pilgrims during the night itself while the “unclaimed bodies” of the terrorists were kept at the police station.

            The survivors with nightmarish experiences recalled the good job done by Srinagar doctors and Army, BSF and CRPF. They were bitter against JKP and said the state police looked the other way when terrorists struck.

            The Hindu, quoted a pilgrim as saying, “After the massacre, their personnel prevented us from helping the injured and taking them to hospital. Instead of helping the victims, they kept saying, “if you for the yatra, you’ll meet the face”. A senior officer of CRPF claimed that terrorists had hurled five grenades, used 19 magazines and fired 570 rounds 0f AK fire and 57 live bullets were recovered from the slain terrorists. Later, a three-members committee headed by corps commander of the Srinagar-based 15 corps, JR Mukherjee had been appointed to probe the Pahalgam killings. The other members of the committee include Messers C Phunsung, Home secretary and GA peer, Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag.

            The inhumane incident backed by the Pakistan and its nexus shown no value for the human rights, killing innocent religious preachers for their only cause of visiting their place of devotion. Such incidents are rotten stains on the face of so called romanticized terrorists, who had always been the cause for the misery and destabilization of peace and normalcy in the valley of Jammu and Kashmir. It had hid badly on the larger side of the economy- tourism which is the major source of the income and employment generation. The new economic ventures had been stuck in between due to these incidents of religious intolerance; violence pushed and supported by the terror factory. It thus proves the intentions of the Pakistan absolutely wrong; which they read as support for Kashmir. All Kashmiris should read and research about these incidents of utter violence that demolished the economy and employment generation avenues till the inception of these dastard attacks.

It is the world-wide known fact that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Time to time the Indian government has put this point across at all world forums firmly

“We cannot always build future of our youth but we can always build our youth for the future”. -Franklin D Roosevelt.
Nationalism is an ideology that is based upon the principle that an individual’s loyalty and love to the nation surpasses other individual interests. It is an emotional sentiment that believes that one’s nation is superior to all other. In other words, Nationalism is the glue that binds its entire populace having difference in terms of religion, caste, ethnicity, culture or language & builds a strong nation. All the inevitable differences hold no ground when the national integrity, loyalty & security are at stake. The National Flag, National Anthem are few of the symbols that unify a nation and fill its citizen with euphoria of nationalism. Only this is the force which motivates a soldier to even lay down his life on the line of duty. Only this is the force that propels a warrior to do unthinkable in defending his nation’s integrity. The Chapati and Lotus movement in 1857 is a perfect example that national symbols are important instruments to spring nationalism. In this movement the ubiquitous & harmless chapatti and lotus flower unified our citizens, motivated them for revolution and created restlessness & uneasiness amongst the British.

It is the world-wide known fact that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Time to time the Indian government has put this point across at all world forums firmly. Top Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JuH) said after the abrogation of article 370 “It is our belief that the welfare of the people of Kashmir lies in getting integrated with India. The inimical forces and the neighbouring country are bent upon destroying Kashmir. The oppressed and beleaguered people of Kashmir are stuck between opposing forces [i].” Pakistan has been using Kashmiris as shield to create unrest in the region. Indian government has taken scores of measures to include a common Kashmiri into the main stream. The Indian Army has been running Operation Sadbhavana, an unique humane initiative, in the State of Jammu & Kashmir to address aspirations of people affected by scrooge of terrorism, sponsored and abetted by Pakistan. The focus areas of Operation Sadbhavana are Infrastructure development, Health & Sanitation, Women & Youth Empowerment, Education and Community development projects. The Central Govt has announced several ambitious policies to boost development in Jammu and Kashmir. Various industrial zones have been identified in different districts of the UT. As per news, companies including Tata and Reliance, have shown interest in investment in Jammu and Kashmir in information technology, defence, renewable energy, tourism, skill development, education, hospitality and infrastructure and horticulture. Other flagship infrastructure projects, in the UT include the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Management. Other projects include the railway project at Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla, which will connect Kashmir to the rest of India.

A stable and peaceful environment in the Jammu & Kashmir will lead to economic and social development in the region. As reported by The Times of India on 01 Dec 2021 J&K witnessed record tourist arrivals in November 2021 highest in last seven years. This is the direct effect of peace in the valley.
The youth of Kashmir hold the key to build a better future. The youth have to analyse the trouble ridden past & must understand as to how they have been used by Pakistan for spreading hatred, violence & unrest in the valley. They must also understand at the end of the day we as a nation have suffered the most from the violence spread by Pakistan, who has nothing to lose in the process. The youth of Kashmir must nurture the spirit of nationalism. Heroes like Rifleman Aurangzeb & Sub-Inspector Arshid Ahmad, who laid down their life on the line of duty, should be the ideal of youth of Kashmir. To bring peace, stability and development in the valley, whereas the government is leaving no stones unturned, Nationalism should be the key factor amongst the youth of Kashmir which will serve as the strongest bond between them and the nation. The time is not far when the transformation will make Amir Khusrau’s following famous lines relevant & the youth are the best placed to lead this transformation.

“Gar firdaus, bar ruhezaminast,
haminasto, haminasto, haminast.”

Credits: Awami Itlaah