Disparaging Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan on painting an “apocalyptic picture” of Center’s reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Ambassador to the United States Harsh Vardhan Shringla Thursday said, “Mr. Khan has, of course, every right to run his own economy into the ground. But his determination to inflict similar damage on the province of a neighboring country must be challenged by the international community.”
On Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution, Shringla in an opinion piece to the New York Times said the provision prevented the government from having any say in the affairs of J&K except in matters of defense, finance, foreign affairs and communications.
“This contributed to the province’s struggles: While the rest of India experienced strong social and economic development, Jammu and Kashmir lagged in terms of economic growth, employment, fighting corruption, gender equality, literacy and many other indicators,” he said.
Taking a dig at Khan, the Indian Ambassador to the US said that Pakistan’s PM finds it difficult to accept is that the Kashmir region is now back on the road to progress and prosperity. He said, under Khan’s watch, people of Pakistan are reeling under economic depression, with inflation at a five-year high, national debt exceeding gross domestic product and an International Monetary Fund bailout for the 22nd time.
“Pakistan has a vested interest in preventing prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir, and in the Ladakh area of Kashmir, because a weak economy fuels separatist sentiments in some quarters. This fits into Pakistan’s larger strategy of using terrorism as a political tool. This is a country whose fingerprints are on terrorist strikes across the world and that was home to Osama bin Laden in his last days. So it also opposes the repeal of Article 370, which legitimized discrimination and hindered economic progress,” Shringla said.
Stating that India’s decision to reorganise the province and rescind the law corrects a historic wrong, Shringla said this law was an obstacle to progressive legislation prevelant in the rest of India such as affirmative action, equal rights for women, juvenile protection and safeguards against domestic violence.
“It created an environment of vested interests, which made it difficult to check corruption,” he said.
Shringla: “Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, are now in transition. The changes introduced by India have challenged entrenched interests who benefited from the old system at a cost to the people. Incitement and support from across the border for violence and terrorism are to be expected. Many of the restrictions on travel and communications intended to ensure public order and safety have since been relaxed. Preventing loss of life is the highest priority.”