Srinagar: The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing increased momentum on the path to peace and development as the Indian government has remarkably curbed Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in the region. While economic and social activities are gaining momentum, the Indian election machinery is also gearing up for the assembly election in the UT late this year.

In fact, before Pakistani agents fanned separatism in a few pockets of the UT in the late 1980s, the UT participated in both national and provincial elections uninterruptedly since Independence. These elections established the people of Kashmir's unflinching faith and unbreakable integration with India like other princely States did.

These developments are creating unease in India's western neighbourhood as its own economy and polity are in shambles and the state is fast on the track of anarchy and failure. To divert the attention of the people from domestic failings and mislead the world, Islamabad continues to belittle the achievement of the Indian Government in the UT after the abrogation of Article 370.

First, Pakistan Foreign Minister raised the issue of human rights in Kashmir at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) on March 2 in Geneva, which was refuted by the Indian representative as a blatant lie and unwarranted interference in India's internal matters.

Subsequently, the Pak representative made a reference to Kashmir at the 145th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Bahrain (11-15 March), which witnessed a strong rebuttal by the Indian representative by reiterating India's firm and non-negotiable stand again that the UTs of J-K and Ladakh are integral and unalienable parts of India.

The Indian representative in the IPU wondered why a country which has itself earned the epithet of 'global exporter of terrorism' is blaming India for human rights violations in the UT.

Pak-sponsored terrorism has spilt the blood of hundreds of innocent people in Kashmir. The answer is easy to find. For Islamabad, it is not anything more than the ventilation of its frustration over the return of normalcy in the UT due to India's success in defeating the terror designs from across the border by beefing up security and increasing monitoring and supervision. The Indian representative sent a loud and clear message to the IPU that Pakistan has no locus standi to comment on India's internal affairs.

"We have repeatedly called upon it to vacate Indian territories under its illegal and forcible occupation with immediate effect."

There are reasons for Islamabad's frustration. It has been pushed on the verge of default and pauperization by the mismanagement and corruption of its own political leaders and the ruling elite. While the release of the IMF's USD 6.5 billion bailout is taking time and there is no certainty how long it may take, the people in the country are being pushed into darkness due to power outages; hunger and malnutrition due to shortage of food and medicine; and misery due to the intolerable cost of living amid ever spiralling inflation with no respite in near future.

Pakistan is witnessing galloping inflation with inflation ranging between 30-50 per cent. Import of basic and intermediate goals are on hold as the foreign exchange has shrunk to a low level of USD 3.1 billion while the time of more than USD 15 billion debt servicing in FY 23-24 is giving the Pak authorities sleepless nights. The nasty and ugly fight among the power-thirsty Pak leaders has shattered the hope of the people and the country is sharply divided while the lack of necessary funds to run the country has pushed them into begging and compromising on the freedom and sovereignty of the country.

The establishment in Islamabad as usual is continuing with its manufactured lies about threats from India, buying arms and ammunition on the pretext and seeking illegal cuts in the deals. While living conditions in Pakistan are deteriorating and terrorism is increasing, most of the Pak elites have their second home in places like London, Canberra and Sydney and the cities of the US and Europe. Such dwellings help the ruling elite to siphon their ill-begotten and corrupt money overseas.

Juxtaposed against the nightmare called Pakistan, Kashmir today is brimming with hope. The Indian government's efforts to defeat the Pak-sponsored terror are yielding results. The tourism sector, the main source of revenue, is now bristling with activities and tourists' footfalls are increasing. In the year 2022, 23 lakh tourists visited Kashmir.

This year also it seems that the tourist footfalls would be more than the previous year, especially when the Tulip Garden, on the banks of Dal lake, is attracting more and more tourists, apart from Kashmir's vales and mountains with unfathomable serenity and beauty. This aches the heart of India bashers in Pakistan. Kashmir has seen fast infrastructure development after the abrogation of Article 37.

With the sanctioning of 25 new national highway projects worth Rs 11721 crores coming up of the world's highest rail bridge over the Chenab and the indigenously built Vande Bharat train running between Jammu and Delhi, the dream of seamless connectivity is fast moving towards fruition. It is notable that poor connectivity was an impediment to the growth of economic activities in the UT.

But the problem is now about to be solved forever. An initiative of the National Highway Infrastructure Corporation (NHIC) is underway in which it is developing five tunnels in the UT at a cost of USD 3.42 million. An elevated light metro rail system is also planned to be built soon. The focus of the federal government of India has moved towards J-K in a very significant way as evidenced by an allocation of Rs. 1.42 lakh crore to the UT for FY 2022-23 with several new development initiatives.

In the same FY, the total development expenditure in J-K has stipulated at Rs 41,335 crores. For the last few years, investments is continuously picking up in the UT from within India and also India's development partners like the UAE. Several agreements have been signed with global investors as well, e.g. six agreements in 2020 and several MoUs with potential investors worth USD 3.17 billion in 2021.

The sincerity of the government could be gauged from the increased pace of project implementation in the State. From 9,229 projects that were completed in 2019, the number of completed projects increased three times to 50,267 in 2022.

Kashmir also presents a complete metamorphosis with the establishment of two big institutions on the pattern of All India Institute of Medical Science and good hospitals in all the districts of Kashmir, some completed and others in the process. An Indian Institute of Management has also become operational in the UT.

Power Sector projects including hydro and solar power (Pakal Dul HEP, Srinagar-Leh 200 KV transmission Line and two pilot solar power projects in Leh and Kargil) speak the truth which no propaganda could belie.

Life in Kashmir is becoming normal very fast, thanks to the Government of India's success in curbing Pak-sponsored terrorism.

Beginning of the film screening in the valley, apart from Sufi Congregations and trade fairs, the Indian heaven called Kashmir is getting freed from the evil designs of Pakistan and again started to enjoy and relish its old-time peace and normalcy. This is what is irking Pakistan.

While the cases of violation of human rights of the ethnic minorities, women in children and forced disappearance in Balochistan are increasing in Pakistan, it desires to seek vicarious pleasure by putting India in the same bracket.

But alas India is a democratic and secular country where fundamental rights given by Constitution are regarded as sacrosanct and respected and the government's genuine efforts have made the country the fastest growing in the world! Jealousy and envy of Pakistan are natural, but it would not help.

The better course for it to settle its political instability and resolve its economic crisis rather than living in a fool's paradise regarding Kashmir.