Vienna: Comparing the socio-economic development of people on the Indian and Pakistan sides of Kashmir, the Kashmir Cultural Centre in Vienna has said that India spends at least 18 times more on their administered side as compared to Pakistan.

Kashmir Cultural Centre, Vienna, along with the SPO (Social Democratic Party) of Austria, organised a discussion session on "Socio-Economic Development in Kashmir-A People's Perspective" at their Political Academy WBA in Vienna.

The event was inaugurated by Wolgang Markytan, Federal Director of Education of Social Democratic Party of Austria Markytan introduced Naeem Khan, Director of Kashmir Cultural Centre, Vienna and spoke about his keen interest in the region of Kashmir.

Naeem Khan presented statistics by comparing the socio-economic development of people in Indian and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). 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 18 times more on Kashmit as compared to amount spent by Pakistan on PoK. He elaborated further that on education, India spends ten times more than that of Pakistan.

Around 15 young members from the SPO and from the WBA academy participated in this discussion. The discussion was mainly conducted in German. Naeem Khan started the session by playing two videos on Kashmir, focusing on the developments in Jammu and Kashmir by India. These videos highlighted the infrastructural development in J-K and also the latest initiatives related to women and youth empowerment.

Khan stressed that during the last three years, the focus of the Indian government has been fully on the socio-economic development of J-K. A 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 J-K and last year it hosted the largest number of tourists in the last two decades and this is growing year on year.

He mentioned that in PoK, the situation is completely opposite. There has been no investment in infrastructure development in the last few years.

This, coupled with widespread corruption and mismanagement of funds, has pushed inflation to sky-high levels, resulting in a significant rise in the cost of basic necessities for PoK people. People in PoK have been on the streets in large numbers, protesting against this mismanagement by Pakistan. Further, the status of Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan is even worse, as they have no jobs, no support from the government, and are living in poor conditions.

The speech by Naeem Khan was followed by a question-and-answer session wherein participants raised questions on the recent developments in Kashmir to Naeem Khan. It was an interactive discussion.

Wolgang Markytan concluded that SPO has planned to hold more such events on this topic with important participants from different departments of SPO.