Kashmir gains momentum as foreign investors show increasing interest in the region

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FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN KASHMIR
EU delegates in Kashmir in 2019 (Photo: Social Media)

Investment entails acquisition of assets or items with the primary objective of generating income or for the purposes of wealth appreciation. However, since successful investment is dependent on a host of factors-both quantifiable and undeterminable, it’s a risky business. Furthermore, the fact that the capital invested can’t be withdrawn prematurely without incurring substantial [if not catastrophic] losses, further aggravate an investor’s worries.

The flip side is that since probability of profit accruing from an investment is directly related to the risk the proposal portends, investors aren’t put off easily, especially where profit-making prospects are promising. So, given the excellent and wide-ranging scope for investment that J&K provides, one would have expected foreign investors making a beeline to cash upon the same. However, meaningful foreign investment eluded J&K, and the reason for this anomaly isn’t too hard to find.

The violence in Kashmir isn’t just a temporary phenomenon triggered by public resentment or anger that could be assuaged through reconciliation. What Kashmir has been experiencing for more than three decades is actually a full-blown and protracted proxy war unleashed by the Pakistan Army’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence [ISI]. Being a classic case of state sponsored terrorism, the tense situation in J&K defied any resolution and with no prospects of the situation improving, investors were [expectedly] discouraged.

Through use of its proxies like the All Parties Hurriyat Conference [APHC] to orchestrate public unrest and enforce frequent shutdowns, the Pakistan army’s intelligence wing Inter-Services Intelligence succeeded in creating an atmosphere detrimental to commercial activity in Kashmir. To make matters worse, instead of focussing on development and meaningful welfare-oriented programmes, successive governments in the erstwhile state of J&K pursued populist policies to woo their vote bank creating an unpromising environment for investment.

However, things started changing once the center started choking the separatists’ illegal supply of funds from Pakistan. The near simultaneous crackdown on terror financing in Kashmir Valley and an end to the scourge of frequent public protests and rampant incidents of stone pelting can’t be a mere coincidence. Au contraire, it’s yet another unambiguous confirmation of the fact that demonstrations  were orchestrated by making lavish payments to the participants.

With the abrogation of Article 370, decks for extending central laws and people-oriented welfare schemes to J&K were cleared and bifurcation J&K and its reconstitution as Union Territory [UT] helped the government machinery to ensure time-bound implementation of various infrastructural and developmental programmes. Positives of the decision to abrogate Article 370 have started yielding results and the people of Kashmir are a much happier lot.

Kashmiris have finally seen-through APHC’s perfidy and are no longer willing to be swayed by the diktats of this conglomerate, which under the garb of working for the bright future of Kashmiris, is only interested in furthering Pakistan’s motivated agenda. The locals have also understood that the so-called ‘armed struggle’ and emergence of terrorist groups like The Resistance Front which are targeting minority community members, are ISI proxies tasked to destroy Kashmir’s pluralistic and secular fabric and impede return of normalcy.

While this realisation has generated a strong dislike for the ongoing spate of senseless violence, the people-friendly approach of security forces and law enforcement agencies have re-instilled public confidence in these forces. Since locals earnestly yearn for peace and perceive terrorists as disruptors of peace, they are more forthcoming in providing information regarding their whereabouts to the security forces.

While the pro-Pakistan lobby would reject these fact-based inferences, the undeniable fact is that there’s a marked improvement in the overall situation in Kashmir Valley. Why else would various renowned investors from the United Arab Emirate [UAE] enter into an agreement with J&K government in 2021 for infrastructure development by commissioning several projects like industrial parks, IT towers, multi-purpose towers, a shopping mall, logistics centres, a medical college as well and a speciality hospital?

While UAE isn’t the only foreign investor in J&K, but being an OIC member, its decision to invest in J&K is of special significance as it outrightly demolishes Pakistan’s incredulous claim of India’s so called “illegal occupation” of Kashmir and institutionalised persecution of its Muslim citizens. Had there been even an iota of doubt [leave alone truth] in Pakistan’s claim, then UAE most certainly wouldn’t have invested a single Dirham in an area which was disputed or where Muslims were being persecuted!

J&K’s march towards prosperity has recommenced in real earnest and while the government and investors are doing their bit, it’s the solemn duty of every Kashmiri to stay away from disruptive activities that threaten peace and prosperity in the UT. To further their own vested interests, some Kashmiris have sold their conscience and by doing ISI’s bidding brought about great misery and devastation in J&K. Those, who for their own self-serving interests have ruined the lives of millions of Kashmiris need to be shunned and exposed.

After more than three decades of suffering ISI orchestrated terrorism in J&K, the one absolutely clear lesson is that violence cannot achieve any desired result. Pakistan’s failure to get to the UN, the international community or OIC support for its unconvincing stand on Kashmir has proved beyond any doubts that its claims have no takers. Hence, come what may, Pakistan can never ever get hold of J&K and this reality is actually a boon, because how can a country that can’t even provide basic amenities to its own people, take adequate care for the people of Kashmir?

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