as a whole are also changing with the qualitatively new interface that has developed between Pakistan and China in recent years.
Ananta Aspen Centre organized an interactive session on “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Cross Border Linkages” with Ambassador S K Lambah, Chairman, Ananta Aspen Centre and Former Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India, Ambassador TCA Raghavan, Adviser, Ananta Centre and Former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan and Dr. Ashok Behuria, Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the South Asia Centre, The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).
Ambassador Lambah in his remarks took us back to the history and establishment of PoK. What is PoK? Why is it such a sensitive subject to both Pakistan and India? He shared that PoK is divided into 3 major parts: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Northern Kashmir and Pakistan. He mentioned that Azad Jammu and Kashmir council heads PoK which is governed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. According to him the biggest failure of the Indian Foreign Services has been its inability to project the condition of PoK to the world.
A vital part of the session was the discussion about Gilgit Baltistan. Ambassador Raghavan pointed out that Gilgit Baltistan was only the Shia majority of Pakistan. This has reduced from 85% to 65% in recent years. Gilgit Baltistan was formed in 1993 due to judicial process and not due to popular protests. Ambassador Raghavan quoted “Gilgit Baltistan was a sacrificial goat for AJK”. We should remember that the people of Gilgit Baltistan do not like to be absorbed into AJK.
They consider themselves a different entity. Protests have been taking place in Baltistan on “No Taxation without representation”. Dr Ashok Behuria provided detailed remarks on the governance of different regions of PoK and
mentioned that China is now reluctant to invest in Pakistan. It was observed that the SinoPakistan relations are now dominated by economic and not political ties. The Karakoram Highway was built by the governments of Pakistan and China. It was started in 1959 and was opened to the public in 1979. This highway connected the Gilgit Baltistan region to the ancient Silk Road from Kashgar to Abbottabad. 80% of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) route will pass through Gilgit Baltistan. The implications of this scenario were discussed in the session. It is
speculated that people are demanding inclusion of Giglit Baltistan in Pakistan because of Chinese influence.
About Ananta Aspen Centre:
Engaging India, Nurturing Change Ananta Aspen Centre is an educational and policy studies organisation based in New Delhi. It focusses on values based leadership and open dialogue on challenges facing Indian society to help foster its transformation. The Centre engages civil society, business, governments and other key stakeholders to share ideas and bring a wide range of perspectives on issues important to India’s development, foreign policy, strategic affairs and national security. Ananta Aspen Centre is an independent non-profit organization registered under the Indian Trusts Act and under 12A and 80G of the Income Tax Act.
For more information, contact: Ms Vaishnavi Mulay | Mobile: +91 8920 871106 /011-40733312
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- Demonetisation was a complete failure– We all know whose decision was it. It’s clear now that Demo had negligibleimpact on black money, and ended upcreating an unprecedented crisis in agriculture and SME sectors. The unprecedented spate of farm loan waivers by several state governments are the legacy of demonetisation. Overall, 15 lakh jobs were lost and 150 people died due to hardship caused by demonetisation. Who is answerable for this man-made disaster?
- Botched up GST design and rollout– GST was widely accepted as a positive reform for the Indian economy. But thanks to this government’s incompetence, today we have among the most complicated GST structure globally which is causing severe compliance issues, lower than expected tax collections and a crisis-like situation in sectors such as textile.Moreover, tax slabs of many items are as high as 28%. In comparison, Delhi’s experience – based on sound economics – shows that reducing tax rates to 5% or 10% increases compliance and overall tax collections.
- Raid Raj– Post demonetisation and GST rollout, Raid Raj is now an accepted way of functioning in the Finance Ministry. In February this year, Section 132 of the IT Act was amended to legalise tax raids on people based on mere suspicion or unsubstantiated rumour. In comparison, Delhi has shown in the last 2 years that putting a complete stop to Raid Raj only boosts confidence among the traders and industry and spurts economic growth.
- Formation of Economic Advisory Council after 3 years– acceptance that decisions in past 3 years were devoid of sound economics
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- However, over the last 3 years, a climate of hate and intolerance is being systematically propagated by the ruling party. Journalists are being killed, media has been become state puppet and opposition parties are being victimised through state institutions.
- Even the former RBI governor and one of world’s topmost economists, Raghuram Rajan, said earlier this month that intolerance will derail India’s economic growth.
- Issue of NPAs– Right from when this government took charge in 2014, it was clear that NPA issue in Indian Banking sector was the severest in its history. Three years have passed, and the problem has only worsened and reach to the point of Rs 8 lakh crore in loan defaults. This is adversely affecting private investment and job growth
- Black money– Tall claims have been made that this government was serious is tackling black money. Yet, there has been no action on the Swiss bank accounts and Panama papers issue.
- Monetary Policy– RBI has been too inflation focused leading to artificially high interest rates and dampening of investment and consumption
- Minimum wages– Private consumption will increase only if there is more disposable income in each household. While the Centre has accepted the 7th Pay Commission Recommendations, what about minimum wages in all sectors including for NREGA workers? Earlier this year, Delhi government took a historic decision on this front and increased minimum wages for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers by 37%