For the first time in Jammu and Kashmir contrasts are being drawn between this side and Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir on the other side of the Line of Control, something which was a taboo until recently. Something extraordinary has happened on this side that has changed the whole perception as to how the Kashmir issue should be understood and looked at through the prism of the future.

It’s a gigantic shift, which has been driven by three things: abrogation of Article 370, the work that needed to be done to tell one and all that the change has been good for the masses, and it also was a message to Pakistan that these changes will change the geo-strategic realities as it will have to answer questions about the territories of the erstwhile princely state under the illegal control of Pakistan.

The abrogation of Article 370 not only snapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir as a state but also demonstrated to the world that this constitutional change was a geostrategic necessity to change the international narrative on Kashmir, which, in turn also left a lesson for the world, how the inimical forces, external and internal can be tackled. A reality of achievable progress has been superimposed on conflict . The change in the constitution redefined the strategic outlook of the country. It showed a contrast, the theories and practices of the past to reach out to various sections which challenged Indian sovereignty were given a burial. The future, in the post Article 370 era, was promised. And it was not an easy task to shape the future in the promised manner, because unforeseen circumstances inflicted by Covid-19 injected new challenges.

As the events have shown that the work had to be undertaken with an unprecedented speed to match the expectations of the people, and also to live up to the promises made by the Modi government. The Home Ministry under the leadership of Amit Shah took upon itself how to make the changes palatable and palpable. The way out was to involve people in germinating the idea of instilling confidence among the people about their future. The people’s stake in ensuring predictability of future was a challenging task, which the UT administration under the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has been striving to accomplish. Many milestones have been scaled, and more are work in progress..

Third, Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir which had remained obscure from public scrutiny for the past over 75 years, and also started realising that the constitutional changes on this side of the LoC were charting a new course – the neglect of the basic issues concerning people were reversed. They were acquainted with the virtues of peace and the futility of the conflict. A lot of hard work went into this. The work had to be done at several levels, with the primary focus on countering terrorism to live up to the clarion call of zero-tolerance to terrorism. Simultaneously, the development had to take place to infuse a sense of belonging among the people that the much-needed development that J&K had been aspiring is not only coming but also the visual representation of that had to appear. The combination of these two things made the people to realise that how important it was for them to distance from the ideology and the ecosystem of conflict, as also to embrace the peace to live life of their dreams.

At the time when the dreams of the people of Kashmir were getting unfolded – windfall of tourist arrivals, more than 16 million, investment of Rs. 570 million – the people in PoJK were reeling from the lack of basic amenities. They were suffering from political and economic suppression. They watched what was happening on the Indian side of the LoC, and now they are raising voice to get similar treatment, but the Pakistani government is killing their voices and aspirations through military oppression.

The differences are becoming too obvious to be ignored.