Two Kashmirs, two catastrophes and international aid

Umar Shah
SRINAGAR: Ten years ago, an earthquake devastated Pakistan administered Kashmir. Pakistan approached the international community. Workers and companies from five countries have been rebuilding the region all these years.
On this side of the border, a devastating flood crippled the Valley last year. The country, which claims Kashmir to be its integral part and is one of the fastest growing economies, said it does not need international assistance. A year later, it has compensated, though many doubt it, only 2% of the losses assessed by the previous state government.
Economic Times recently reported that China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait are rebuilding infrastructure in PaK, which is also claimed by India as its integral part.
In fact, former PaK prime minister Farooq Haider told ET, “Foreign countries are in direct touch with the government here and donations come directly to us. They have already completed many projects.” At least 3,000 Chinese and 300 Korean workers were stationed in Muzaffarabad and adjacent areas.
In contrast, for the past six months, when the PDP-BJP coalition assumed power, reports surface every now and then that a ‘big financial package’ will be released by New Delhi soon. On Saturday, two days before the first anniversary of the flood, deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh again talked of a ‘big package’.
Exasperated, a cross section of the society says that if New Delhi had no funds, it should have followed in the footsteps of Pakistan.
Chairman Kashmir Economic Alliance Showkat Choudhary, which has called for a shutdown on September 7 against the government, said, “Why did India stop international aid? (Prime Minister) Modi’s attitude towards the flood victims made us realise that as long as we are slaves we can’t do anything.”
A top official, wishing anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that only Rs 1,000 crore has been distributed among the flood victims so far. Both government of India and state government claim about Rs 2300 crore have been released.
“The state government has so far provided financial relief from state disaster relief fund and chief minister’s relief fund. The central government has not approved a rupee sought by the previous or the current government,” official said.
The Omar Abdullah-led government had estimated a loss of about Rs 100,000 crore and requested for a financial assistance of Rs 44,000 crore. Finance minister Haseeb Drabu reportedly said that Rs 44,000 cr figure was “unrealistic” and it has been scaled down.
Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani told Kashmir Reader that by denying international aid to Kashmiris, New Delhi wants to “hit at their economy and make them dependent for every morsel of food”.
Renowned columnist Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, who teaches International Law at Central University of Kashmir, “Allowing international aid would not have affected the sovereignty of India, like it did not alter sovereignty of Pakistan or Nepal.”
JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik said the people have a right to seek international aid during the time of natural disasters.
“But in our case, the government failed to prevent the flood and rehabilitate the victims. And now they are collectively punishing them for their political beliefs,” said Malik.
Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq says efforts are being made by the government of India to crush the ongoing resistance movement by military means and by crippling the economy of the state.
In response to the calls for, and offers of, international aid, New Delhi had said it did not need financial assistance from the world community and pledged a “massive financial package”.