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Literary event pays tribute to glorious past of Kashmir

District Development Council Chairperson Tazeem Akhtar, DDC Members Rukhsana Kohli and Sohail Malik also participated in the event…reports Asian Lite News

The border district of Poonch in Jammu & Kashmir has a glorious past for literary and cultural activities, and has received wide recognition from the literary community at all levels. Literary seminars, conferences and mushairas of state and national levels are also organised here.

In memory of famous writer and poet of Poonch, Thakur Poonchi, a lecture was organised at Krishna Chandra Memorial Degree College Poonch on the occasion of the annual celebration of Hamdard organised by Hamdard Human Welfare Society.

Civil and police administration officers of Poonch district, academicians, intellectuals, political and social personalities and scholars participated in the event.

District Development Council Chairperson Tazeem Akhtar, DDC Members Rukhsana Kohli and Sohail Malik also participated in the event.

On the occasion, Hafiz Maqsood Ziai presented a thesis on the life and services of Jagannath Thakur and highlighted his services in Urdu literature. Dr Amjad Ali Babar gave the administrative duties. Ahmad Waqar, Sahail Imran, Adil Farhat, Nazrah Fareed, Toseef Tabish also received appreciation for their speeches.

On this occasion, Fakhr-e-Peer Panchal Award was given to Sheikh Ekhta in recognition of his services to the nation and humanity.

KAS officers Anjum Bashir Khattak, Waheed Ahmed, Ayaz Bhat besides Parvez Malik Afridi, Dr. Khaliq Anjum, Muhammad Deen Malik, Ishrat Khanum, Dr. Waheed, Tanveer Chaudhary, Fayaz Dewan, Tanveer Tantre, Nadeem Lone, Muhammad Wasim, Jameel Ahmed, and Rafiq Malik among others were also present during the event.

ALSO READ-Depicting the autumn in Kashmir

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Arts & Culture Lite Blogs

Depicting the autumn in Kashmir

According to Soni, who hails from Udhampur district, various forms of painting, including oil, water colour and 3D, were exhibited in the exhibition.…writes Zubair Qureshi

The three-day Autumn Art Exhibition concluded in Srinagar on Sunday in an effort to depict the attractive autumn scene in the Kashmir Valley through colours and to attract the youth towards painting.

The exhibition was organised by noted artist Deepa Soni in collaboration with the Department of Handicrafts and Handlooms at the Art Emporium in Srinagar. While the art pieces of Deepa Soni were put on display in the exhibition, live painting sessions were also conducted in which many young artists from the Valley participated.

According to Soni, who hails from Udhampur district, various forms of painting, including oil, water colour and 3D, were exhibited in the exhibition.

“The main objective of the exhibition was promotion and dissemination of art. Through this exhibition, we want to integrate art and the latest techniques to inspire the younger generation and keep them connected with folk art. We are trying to offer a unique approach,” she said.

Director of Handicrafts and Handlooms, Kashmir, Mahmood Ahmad Shah, said that the department is providing all possible support to those who are making such efforts in the Valley.

He said that Kashmir has had a great past and such art works are a clear proof of that.

“The new generation should come forward to preserve this wonderful heritage received from their ancestors. It is the need of the hour to make the whole world aware of this centuries-old heritage of the Kashmir Valley,” he said.

ALSO READ-Waves of art

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‘Loal Kashmir’

Conceived during the first wave of the Pandemic, the filmmaker got in touch with film professional friends as no shootings were being held and got working. Stressing that the movie is an amalgamation of stylized ideas, Jamal says it had to do with her mental and emotional space at that time…reports Asian Lite News

What happens to love in the time of conflict? Does it survive something like a complete communication blackout? Can conflict be seen through the prism of love, of longing?

Well, that is what Kashmiri filmmaker Mehak Jamal’s upcoming book ‘Loal Kashmir’ is about. The project started two years ago when she started collecting stories of love in the times of unrest in the Valley.

“The respondents were moved by the concept, after all when it comes to Kashmir, the overpowering narrative is always conflict. Also, love can be taboo to talk about sometimes. Personally, to look at the larger situation in Kashmir through the lens of love was peculiar and gratifying…”

Born to a Kashmiri father and a Maharashtrian mother, Jamal moved to Bengaluru for college in the year 2012 and graduated from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology with a specialisation in Film in 2016. In fact, her graduation film got her selected as a film fellow at the Dharamshala International Festival Festival (DIFF) some years ago.

This time, at the recently concluded DIFF, her first non-student Short ‘Bad Egg’ was screened.

In the film, Zoya receives a disturbing call from her mother — her sister Zara has gone missing during the pandemic. But, Zoya is not rattled enough. She’s hiding something, all of which leads back to the fateful night of a party. Throughout the film, Zoya interacts with her surroundings as if she is re-calibrating with them.

Conceived during the first wave of the Pandemic, the filmmaker got in touch with film professional friends as no shootings were being held and got working. Stressing that the movie is an amalgamation of stylized ideas, Jamal says it had to do with her mental and emotional space at that time.

“It is a psychological drama thriller, and that is something that I have always been interested in. There is always an urge to draw the audiences to experiences and tell them a ‘secret’, slowly giving them hints but not completely revealing till the ‘right’ moment. We had fewer resources, days, and people, and I wanted to make something that would work in that. The characters are twins, I also created them because I find twins very cinematic.”

‘Bad Egg’, which premiered at the Indian film festival in Germany and won the Audience Award was also shown at the Indian Festival of Melbourne and in Kerala.

Talking about the format of Shorts, she says it has a grammar of its own and when writing one, it is easy for her to see the end. “It allows me not to tell the audience everything and ask a lot of questions. If it was a feature, I would have to answer all the questions. I have the liberty to tell the story to the point I want to. You can play with the structure.”

Considering she is from Kashmir, is there not a certain internal pressure to work on stories from there?

“Yes, it does feel obligatory. But I also quite vary about it. I am interested in telling stories because there are so many, and conflict is such a major part. Sadly, most narratives that emerge from there are seen through the prism of the media. I would like to tell personal stories that carry inside them multiple metaphors,” she says.

Now that the valley has a multiplex, and book readings and intimate music concerts at cafes have become a norm, the filmmaker asserts: “It is a melting pot of talent. And there are so many young people who are opening cafes and a solid music scene is emerging. It is high time that people from there tell their stories and create more art.”

ALSO READ-Never ending Kashmir love story

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Bollywood Films Lite Blogs

Never ending Kashmir love story

Bollywood made a comeback to the Valley post 2000, when films like ‘Mission Kashmir’ and ‘Haider’ were shot in Kashmir…reports Zubair Qureshi

The love story between Kashmir and Bollywood began way back in 1949 when Raj Kapoor shot parts of his film ‘Barsaat’ in the Valley, taking its beauty to a wider audience. Ever since, the Kashmir Valley became the focus area of many film producers.

In the 60s and 70s, several Bollywood films, including ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’ (1964), ‘Jab Jab Phool Khile’ (1965) and ‘Bobby’ (1973), among many others, were shot in Kashmir. The songs of these films remained favourites for generations to come.

Not only this, there are many places in Kashmir which are known by movie names or characters, like the landmark ‘Bobby Hut’ in Gulmarg, where the song of the super hit movie ‘Bobby’ — ‘Hum tum ek kamray main…’ — was filmed, or the ‘Betab Valley’ in Pahalgam where the Sunny Deol-Amrita Singh starrer ‘Betaab’ was shot.

This beautiful relationship between Kashmir and Bollywood lasted until Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ‘Khamosh’ in 1985, after which the unfortunate circumstances that ensued due to terrorism in the region brought a temporary end to this love story.

Bollywood made a comeback to the Valley post 2000, when films like ‘Mission Kashmir’ and ‘Haider’ were shot in Kashmir.

This relationship is also unique because this time the subject of these films was not the beauty of the Valley, but Kashmir itself.

During the last few years, many popular Bollywood films and web series have been shot in Kashmir, while many local actors also rose to prominence. Notable among them are Mir Sarwar, who acted in films like “Qaisari” and “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, and Zaira Wasim, who acted in Aamir Khan’s “Dangal” and “Secret Superstar”, among others.

Film screening also got a boost in the region this year with Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurating cinema halls in Srinagar, Shopian and Pulwama districts. Also, a new film policy has been implemented in Kashmir, besides the announcement by Sinha about opening cinema halls in every district of the UT.

With all these, the aspirations of local filmmakers and actors have also got a boost.

ALSO READ-Cultural shows replace sound of bullets in Kashmir

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India News

‘India spends 16 times more in Kashmir as compared to Pak’

After presenting the detailed comparative analysis, Naeem Khan stressed that Pakistan has to learn from India and work on the development aspects of Kashmir….reports Asian Lite News

After the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, India spends at least 16 times more as compared to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

In a seminar on “Socio-Economic Development in Kashmir- A People’s Perspective” inside Rathaus Hall organized by Kashmir Cultural Centre, Vienna along with SPO (Social Democratic Party) of Austria, speakers compared the growth trajectory of two Kashmir and lauded India’s developmental work in the region, reported Voice of Vienna.

Peter Florianschutz, member of Vienna State parliament and Chairman of State Committee for European and International Affairs, Safak Akcay, member of Vienna State parliament and member of Committee on Education, Youth, Integration and Transparency, Sennol Akilic, ex-member of Vienna State parliament and SPO party members participated in this seminar inside Rathaus Hall, the seat of the Vienna state government.

Speakers in this session include Naeem Khan, head of Kashmir Cultural Centre, Vienna, Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman, UKPNP, Nasir Aziz Khan and Sajid Hussain spoke during this seminar and discussed on the socio-economic development of Kashmir on both Indian and Pakistani sides.

Naeem Khan started the session by making a detailed presentation comparing the socio-economic development of people on the Indian and Pakistan sides of Kashmir.

He discussed the amount of budget allocation and actual spending on various spheres of society and the economy on both sides. He highlighted that India spends at least 16 times more on their administered side as compared to the amount spent by Pakistan, reported Voice of Vienna.

He elaborated further that India spends 9 times more on education than Pakistan. He stressed that during the last 2 years, the focus of the Indian government has been fully on the socio-economic development of Jammu and Kashmir.

A large number of infrastructure projects have been fast-tracked to give a solid infrastructural boost to the economy. He also noted that tourism is booming in J-K and last year it hosted the largest number of tourists in the previous two decades, reported Voice of Vienna.

After presenting the detailed comparative analysis, he stressed that Pakistan has to learn from India and work on the development aspects of Kashmir.

Nasir Aziz Khan, Spokesperson of UKPNP, stated that Kashmiris living in Pakistan don’t support terrorism and want peace and development in the region, reported Voice of Vienna.

“But Pakistan is only focusing on how terror can be flourished on the Indian side. For this they are using PoK as a launching pad to push terror elements into the Indian side,” said Khan.

As per him, Pakistan claims that PoK is a self-governing state and constitutionally not part of Pakistan, it is an irony that all natural resources of PoK are enjoyed by the people of Pakistan and not Kashmiris. The state of Kashmiris in Pakistan is more like second-class citizens who neither have rights nor access to resources.

Sajid Hussain, a Member of UKPNP highlighted that in the upcoming local government elections which are going to happen in November 2022, nationalist leaders such as Zulfikar Hyder Raja have not been allowed to contest as they refused to sign the affidavit of accession to Pakistan, reported Voice of Vienna.

“When Pakistan claims that PoK is a self-governing state and not part of the province of Pakistan and that they respect the rights and jurisdiction of Kashmiris, then why are they insisting on the signing of affidavit of accession to Pakistan for each and everything which is happening in PoK. This clearly brings out the double standards and false narrative pushed by Pakistan on Kashmir,” said Hussain.

The leaders in PoK don’t have any real powers and are fully dependent on Politicians. It is administered as per the whims and fancies of the Punjabi leaders of Pakistan. With Kashmir having rich natural resources, ideally, PoK should have been a developed state but that is not the case. This is solely due to the one-sided approach of Pakistan wherein the revenue generated from these natural resources has been used mainly in other provinces of Pakistan.

Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman, of UKPNP, mentioned that on the Indian side, the Government is making all possible efforts to ensure that the economic and social development of Kashmiris is the top priority, reported Voice of Vienna.

He mentioned even when there is any issue with the projects of the Indian Government, the civil society organisations and people protest and get the Government to understand the issues and bring out the required change.

He stated that this was not the case in PoK where the Pak army controls everything. Areas rich in natural resources have been brought directly under Pakistan Army control and nobody can raise any voice against this injustice.

He reiterated that Pakistan should learn from India and focus on the development of Kashmir. He mentioned that on the development scale, PoK is still more than 20 years behind India.

The members of the Vienna State Parliament mentioned that this session has provided them with a detailed insight into the latest developments on both sides of Kashmir and mentioned that it is important that many European leaders understand this reality. They also stated that they would also be taking this up at the EU level to keep the leaders well informed, reported Voice of Vienna. 

ALSO READ: Meet ‘Mr. Marvelous’ from Dal Lake Kashmir

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Meet ‘Mr. Marvelous’ from Dal Lake Kashmir

He sells local to international flower varieties in his small shikara boat to the tourists, who visit to experience the magical scenery of Kashmir…reports Asian Lite News

As early as 4.30 in the morning, there is a movement of shikaras in Dal Lake, Srinagar. Boats plying in Dal are called Shikaras in the local language, which is also the source of livelihood for hundreds.

The fruit and vegetable-laden shikaras often seen in prominent photographs of Srinagar are of the ‘Gudir’ that takes place at sunrise in Srinagar. The early morning vegetable market in Srinagar, locally called ‘Gudir’, attracts wholesalers and customers from across the city. In simple language, it is a market or market on boats in the lake. Apart from floating shops of local vegetables, fruits, food shops for the people who come to Gudir are also seen here on the hunts. Even before the first rays of the sun fall on the lake, people start commuting to the market to take lotus stem, Kashmiri red radish, greens, watermelon etc. and by six o’clock shikaras filled with vegetables start coming back from the market or floating market. Huh.

Kashmir is also known for its colorful, rare species of flowers. And people who filled their shikaras with the same flowers are also seen selling flower seeds in the Gudir. 24-year-old Sikandar Ali has been selling flowers in the magnificent Dal lake of Srinagar surrounded by the Zabarwan mountain range. The selling of flowers has become a routine day affair for Ali for the past seven years.

Once a German tourist visited the lake and was so mesmerized by Ali’s flowers that he named him ‘Mr. Marvelous’. Since then this pet name has been static with Ali. Every day, he sets his boat with beautiful flowers and proceeds to sail in Dal Lake. He sells local to international flower varieties in his small shikara boat to the tourists, who visit to experience the magical scenery of Kashmir.

Ali hails from Srinagar and doesn’t have big dreams. Several years ago while roaming in the Akhoon Mohalla, adjacent to NIT Srinagar, where he lives with his family, he decided to opt for selling flowers and earning cash for his family. Incidentally, his family also had been in the flower-selling business. Ali doesn’t aspire much but is quite content with selling flowers to tourists in his small shikara.

One of the high points of flowers sold by Ali is their shelf-life which varies from 10 days to as long as one year. The varieties that Ali sells range from Chrysanthemum to Cosmos, Floss Flower, Mealycup Sage, Orchid, Glardalia, African Daisy, Bluebell Flower, Aster Flower, Lotus Marigold, Carnations, Jasmine, Heart Flower, Bird of Paradise, Celosia and Lavender among others.

Sikandar told us that the life span of these flowers ranges from 10 days, 6 months to 1 year and it can go beyond that. Their beauty will remain the same. Some of them look artificial but they are real, he said.
Ali also has exuberant roses in his armour like blue, black, and green.

Sikander is of the view that the flower and plant market is on the rise in the Valley as more and more people are showing interest in horticulture. Ali, who is an undergraduate student at Gandhi Memorial College, sells about 350 varieties of flower plant seeds.

Ali explains, “People from every country come here. Anyone who comes to Srinagar once visits this floating market. Buying flower seeds early in the morning. All these flowers bloom even in 50-degree temperatures. Here flowers cannot survive in extreme frosts, but you can take these seeds with you wherever you go. We have flowers like Nargis, Lily, Lotus, Kashmiri Jasmine, Rose, Lavender, and many more.”

As the evening sets in, Ali wades through Dal Lake’s cold water to return home with only a handful of flowers left after the day’s sale and wishes to keep his family’s name going in the flower business.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with Daily good morning Kashmir)

ALSO READ-Purple Revolution Fuels Agri-Tech Start Ups in Kashmir

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Purple Revolution Fuels Agri-Tech Start Ups in Kashmir

Farmers are switching to lavender plantation in Kashmir as traditional crops yield poor results. The Purple Revolution is offering attractive agri-tech start-up options in Jammu & Kashmir…. A special report by Arifa Mohiyudeen

Lavender adds vivacity to the serene beauty of Jammu & Kashmir and now the Union Territory is witnessing ‘Purple Revolution’, which will offer attractive start-up options.

Mr Jitendra Singh, Indian Minister for Science and Technology, had said those who have entered the lavender sector are making a fortune out of it. But a wider publicity and awareness about these new opportunities of livelihood rolled out in recent years is required.

“The pace of innovation in India has assumed global scale, but the change of mindset also needs to be encouraged at the same pace,” he said.

Farmers in Bhaderwah — located in Jammu division of the union territory —switched to Lavender plantation from traditionally growing maize and other grains, which did not fetch them much income.

Singh said several pathbreaking decisions like new guidelines for geospatial technology and relaxation in the regulations for developing drone are also enabling provisions for today’s agriculture entrepreneurs and agri-startups.

 “Bhaderwah is the potential destination of agri-tech startups of the country,” the minister said. “Lavender Festival in the valley of Bhaderwah is the best example of the development of the present progressive government at the centre. Bhaderwah is the best place for lavender cultivation in terms of land and climate.”

Mr Jitendra Singh, Indian Minister for Science and Technology, inaugurating the Lavender Festival (File)

In 2010, these purple flowers were brought to the Jammu region from Kashmir, as part of the central government’s attempts to uplift the local farming community and attract start-ups and agriculturists from across the country.

This was done as part of the ‘Aroma Mission’ of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), under India’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

 “Policy makers and agricultural scientists in India are working hard on improving livelihoods and creating more and better jobs, including for women and youth, improving food security for all, including access to safe and nutritious food and making agriculture and food more sustainable and more climate-smart, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Singh said.

A group of farmers from Bhaderwah region were selected for a trial programme where they were given 2-3 kanals of land for cultivating Lavender.

These initiatives, coupled with the enthusiasm of the farmers, has boosted Lavender plantations in the Bhaderwah region, a growth coined as the ‘Purple Revolution’. Currently, there are more than 200 acres of land dedicated to Lavender cultivation in the region, which is projected to double by the end of the year, reported The Print.

In the region, villages of Tipri and Lehrote have 80 per cent farmers growing Lavender.

Singh had inaugurated India’s first ‘Lavender Festival’ at Bhaderwah.

“Lavender is an avenue of employment generation and research opening many paradigms of development for the region,” Singh had said at the time.

The minister had also inaugurated six distillation units for extraction of Lavender oil.

Bhaderwah, which is also known as ‘Chhota Kashmir’, has a mild cold climate during summers that is ideal for Lavender. These flowers grow in temperate areas and are drought-resistant crops. A single Lavender plant bears flowers for 15 years, needs low maintenance and can be used from the second year of plantation, according to The Print.

Under the Centre’s ‘One District, One Product’ scheme, Lavender has been designated as the Doda brand product.

The Bhaderwah region witnessed a boom of Lavender flower production with the introduction of nurseries. With the establishment of nurseries, planting material became easily available for the farmers, compared to earlier when the plants were brought from Kashmir.

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Kashmir Cultural Centre organises seminar on ‘Kashmir- A people’s perspective’

Mr. Naeem Khan started the session by making a detailed presentation comparing the socio-economic development of people on Indian and Pakistan side of Kashmir…reports Asian Lite News

Kashmir Cultural Centre, Vienna along with SPÖ (Social Democratic Party) of Austria organised a seminar on “Socio-Economic development in Kashmir- A people’s perspective” inside Rathaus Hall, the seat of the Vienna state government. Mr. Peter Florianschutz, member of Vienna State parliament and Chairman of State Committee for European and International Affairs, Ms. Safak Akcay, member of Vienna State parliament and member of Committee on Education, Youth, Integration and Transparency, Mr. Sennol Akilic, ex-member of Vienna State parliament and SPO party members participated in this seminar. Speakers in this session include Mr. Naeem Khan, head of Kashmir Cultural Centre, Vienna, Mr. Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman, UKPNP, Mr. Nasir Aziz Khan and Mr. Sajid Hussain spoke during this seminar and discussed on the socio-economic development of Kashmir on both Indian and Pakistani sides, reports Voice of Vienna.

Mr. Naeem Khan started the session by making a detailed presentation comparing the socio-economic development of people on Indian and Pakistan side of Kashmir. He discussed on the amount of budget allocation and actual spending on various spheres of society and economy on both sides. He highlighted that India spends at least 16 times more their administered side as compared to the amount spent by Pakistan on Pakistan administered Kashmir. He elaborated further that on education, India spends 9 times more than that of Pakistan. He stressed that during the last 2 years, the focus of the Indian government has been fully on socio-economic development of Jammu & Kashmir. Large number of infrastructure projects have been fast tracked to give a strong infrastructural boost to the economy. He also noted that tourism is booming in Jammu & Kashmir and last year J&K has hosted the largest number of tourists in the last two decades. After presenting the detailed comparative analysis, he stressed that Pakistan has to learn from India and work on development aspects of Kashmir. They have to shift their focus from separatism and terror to creating developmental opportunities for the people. Two videos focusing on the infrastructural development and on women & youth empowerment in India administered Kashmir since last 3 years was shown to the delegates.

Mr. Nasir Aziz Khan, Spokesperson of UKPNP, stated that Kashmiris living in Pakistan doesn’t support terrorism and want peace and development in the region. But Pakistan is only focusing on how terror can be flourished in the Indian side. For this they are using Pakistan administered Kashmir as a launching pad to push terror elements into Indian side. Though Pakistan claims that Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK – Pakistan administered Kashmir) is a self-governing state and constitutionally not part of Pakistan, it is an irony that all natural resources of Pakistan administered Kashmir are enjoyed by people of Pakistan and not Kashmiris. The state of Kashmiris in Pakistan administered Kashmir in more like a second-class citizens who neither have rights nor access to resources.

Mr. Sajid Hussain, Member of UKPNP highlighted that in the upcoming local government elections which is going to happen in 22/11/2022, nationalist leaders such as Zulfikar Hyder Raja have not been allowed to contest as they refused to sign the affidavit of accession to Pakistan. When Pakistan claims that AJK is a self-governing state and not part of province of Pakistan and that they respect the rights and jurisdiction of Kashmiris, then why are they insisting on signing of affidavit of accession to Pakistan for each and everything which is happening in Pakistan administer Kashmir. This clearly brings out the double standards and false narrative pushed by Pakistan on Kashmir. The leaders in AJK doesn’t have any real powers and are fully dependent on Politicians. AJK is administered as per the whims and fancies of the Punjabi leaders of Pakistan. With Kashmir having rich natural resources, ideally AJK should have been a developed state but that is not the case. This is solely due to one-sided approach of Pakistan wherein the revenue generated from these natural resources have been used mainly in other provinces of Pakistan.

Mr. Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman, UKPNP, mentioned that on the Indian side, Government is making all possible efforts to ensure that economic and social development of Kashmiris are the top priority. He mentioned even when there is any issue with the projects of Indian Government on Kashmir side, then the civil society organisations and people protest and get the Government to understand the issues and bring out the required change. He stated that this was not the case in Pakistan administered Kashmir where Army controls everything. Areas rich in natural resources have been brought directly under Pakistan Army control and nobody can raise any voice against this injustice. He reiterated that Pakistan should learn from India and focus on the development of Kashmir under their control. They should strive to improve the lifestyle of Kashmiris by providing them with economic and employment opportunities. He mentioned that on the development scale, Pakistan administered Kashmir is still more than 20 years behind the Indian administered one. Hence, Pakistan has to act fast without any delay otherwise India administered Kashmir would become a model state soon.

The members of the Vienna State Parliament mentioned that this session has provided them a detailed insight into the latest developments on both sides of Kashmir and mentioned that it is important the many European leaders understand this reality. They also stated that they would also be taking this up at the EU level to keep the leaders well informed.

ALSO READ-Purple Revolution Fuels Agri-Tech Start Ups in Kashmir

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Assembly polls a litmus test for J&K political parties

The big question is what would these parties sell? Their slogans of autonomy and self-rule have become obsolete in “Naya Jammu and Kashmir” as people have realised that for 70 years they were just fed with slogans…reports Asian Lite News

Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), infamous for being a “conflict zone”, has become a symbol of good governance in the country after the abrogation of Article 370, a temporary provision in the Indian Constitution.

After August 5, 2019 — when the Centre announced its decision to scrap J&K’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories — Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led regime without creating any hype, developed roads, health, tourism and other infrastructure to make the lives easy for people in the Himalayan region.

Very importantly, the government was able to create safe and secure environment without any fear of terrorists and stone-pelters, who used to take people hostage by disrupting their normal lives.

As peace has returned, the Centre has decided to hold Assembly elections in the Union Territory. Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his recent visit to J&K announced that polls in the Himalayan region would be held soon. There is every possibility that elections in J&K will be held early next year.

What would parties sell?

Political parties, including National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have started making preparations to jump in the poll fray. But the big question is what would these parties sell? Their slogans of autonomy and self-rule have become obsolete in “Naya Jammu and Kashmir” as people have realised that for 70 years they were just fed with slogans. They are least interested in rhetoric as they have experienced what good governance means.

As on date, J&K is moving on the path of peace, prosperity and development. Pakistan stooges who used to compel them to give up their daily chores and hit the streets to run after an illusion called “azadi” are nowhere to be seen. Mainstream politicians, who used to claim that J&K’s accession with India was not permanent, have become irrelevant.

These politicians are making yet another attempt to mislead the people by telling them that they would reverse the clock to August 4, 2019, and bring everything back. But someone needs to tell them that no one in J&K is interested in getting anything back.

People of J&K have endorsed the bold move of Prime Minister Modi-led dispensation to end the 70-year-old long status-quo and merge the Himalayan region into the Union of India completely.



Omar, Mehbooba to stay away from polls

Elections in J&K are on cards and without raising slogans politicians can’t lure the voters. Former J&K Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has announced that he won’t contest the polls till J&K’s statehood is restored, another former Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, too, has dropped enough hints about her staying away from the elections.

This means that NC and PDP want their second-rung leaders to become a part of the electoral process as they have realised that winning won’t be a cakewalk as it used to be in the past. Seeking restoration of J&K seems to be a face-saving measure as top leaders losing the elections could be a big setback for both the traditional parties in Kashmir.

Emergence of political formations like Altaf Bukhari-led Apni Party, Ghulam Nabi Azad-led Democratic Azad Party, Sajad Lone-led People’s Conference and others in Kashmir, too, have made things difficult for the NC and PDP. Both these parties are facing a daunting task.

Traditional parties which ruled J&K for 70 years couldn’t do much for the people as their leaders used to claim that Articles 370 and 35-A were shields which protected the identity and rights of people. Their narrative and politics revolved around safeguarding these articles.

However, time has proven them wrong. After the abrogation of these contentious articles one thing has become very clear that these provisions were nothing but big impediments in the path of progress and prosperity of J&K.

Social activists install the National flag atop a clock tower during Republic Day fuction at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. (Photo Nisar Malik IANS)



Poll preparations commence

Preparations for holding elections have commenced in J&K as the revision of electoral roll is in its final stages. The officials who will be a part of the exercise are being briefed about the duties they would be expected to perform. Deputy Commissioners are meeting the representatives of the political parties to give a final shape to the preparations.

Political parties are also holding rallies and are making an attempt to reach out to the people. But the common residents are not responding in a way they should have. They seem to have their own reasons. For them J&K’s transition into a Union Territory and the Centre managing the affairs directly has proven to be a blessing.

The projects which were in limbo for the past 70 years have either been completed or are nearing completion. The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is all set to become four-lane within next two years, the train to Kashmir is not that far away. The 500-bed children hospital in Srinagar which remained caught in different wrangles for nearly a decade has been thrown open for people. The electricity woes have ended. Unemployment issue stands addressed, and many other problems that were a part of lives for seven decades have been addressed.

Political parties face uphill task

Common people are asking political parties a simple question: what new they have to offer and even if they vote for them what’s the guarantee that they would continue the good work that the Centre has started?

Elections are an important part of any democratic setup and sooner or later these are going to be held in J&K. The ball is in the court of the political parties which have to contest the polls and become a part of the governance system. These political formations face an uphill task to convince the electorate that they would serve them and won’t give them a reason to complain.

In the Jammu region the political scenario is different. The Congress is struggling to regain its foothold as the veteran leader and former J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said goodbye to the grand old party of the country. He has floated his own party. Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party is not finding any takers in Jammu region.

Bharatiya Janata Party, which won 27 seats in 2014 Assembly elections in Jammu, seems to be better placed than other political formations. Elections in Jammu region will be contested between the national parties as regional parties are non-existent.

The redrawing of Assembly constituencies has brought Jammu region at par with Kashmir vis-a-vis distribution of the Assembly seats and people of Jammu are seeing the forthcoming polls as a golden opportunity to see a leader from their region becoming a J&K Chief Minister for the first time since 1947.

The maiden Assembly elections in the Union Territory of J&K are a litmus test for the political leaders of all parties as the administration led by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has set new benchmark. People are expecting that whenever the politicians assume the office they should be able to live upto their expectations and build on the foundation laid by LG Sinha.

ALSO READ: India will reclaim Pakistan-occupied Kashmir: Rajnath
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India rejects references to J&K in China-Pak statement

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the references were “unwarranted”…reports Asian Lite News

References to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in a China-Pakistan joint statement issued on Thursday during Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Beijing has been rejected by India.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the references were “unwarranted”.

Adding that India has consistently rejected such statements, Bagchi said that the union territories of J&K are and will remain India’s integral part.

The joint statement was issued after talks between Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Commenting on the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said India has consistently conveyed “protests and concerns” to China and Pakistan as it includes projects in the “sovereign territory” of India.

“We resolutely reject any attempts to utilise such projects to change the status quo in that area,” the spokesperson said.

Move to launch 3 new corridors

Pakistan and China have decided to launch three new corridors besides the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The three are China-Pakistan Green Corridor (CPGC), which will focus on agricultural environment, food security and green development; the China-Pakistan Health Corridor (CPHC), which will help Pakistan get efficiency in the medical field; and the China-Pakistan Digital Corridor (CPDC), which will boost Pakistan’s IT industry, The News reported.

This was announced by Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Moinul Haq, while talking to the China Economic Net (CEN) in Beijing.

Ambassador Haque said Pakistan has a rich repertoire of talent and human resources in different fields of science and technology and IT-based science and technology have become very important for Pakistan.

“We would be an important source of help for China in terms of software development. So, we are working together to set up training centres in Pakistan for developing software in different fields of IT,” he said.

The envoy attached great significance to the new projects that are being launched with great enthusiasm, The News reported.

The sources have indicated here that the formal launching of the projects could take place during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to China next month.

He has been invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The schedule and relevant details for the trip are being worked out through diplomatic channels on a priority basis, the sources said.

The new corridors would become sources of strengthening Pakistan-China ties and will provide a new unshakable bond of the proximity of the two nations, they added.

ALSO READ: India will reclaim Pakistan-occupied Kashmir: Rajnath