Vienna: 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.