HERALDING A NEW, INCLUSIVE KASHMIR - The Daily Guardian
Connect with us

Defence

HERALDING A NEW, INCLUSIVE KASHMIR

Kashmir had been bereft of any serious development for many decades as a result of exclusive politics and policies. Now, with the abrogation of Article 370, it is imperative for the region’s polity to believe in the strength of the Indian nation, be aware of the disorder rampant across the border, and work towards the empowerment and evolution of the Valley.

Brig Krishna Raj Nambiar (Retd)

Published

on

Women

The recently proclaimed second Gupkar Declaration by an exclusive ‘Kashmir Valley’ composition of politicians mirrors the crowd participation in the recently concluded IPL, which was played to empty stadiums but delivered and telecast to audiences with pre-recorded cheering. By and large, the declaration’s lame attempt to synecdoche Kashmir separatism appears to be a dying echo in the backdrop of the vanishing Hurriyat legacy.

A glance at the Valley’s political smorgasbord, introspective of the changing times, it is indeed a comedown from the erstwhile “Hurriyat” that vied for secession from the Indian State or for independence, depending on which side of the Pir Panjal controlled the sway. For the Kashmir watchers, however, the declaration seems to be a step for moderation, another rung lower in the opposition to the ultimate and complete amalgamation. As the hues of the terrestrial surface evolve with each changing season, in geopolitical terms, a generation begins to see a change in the militant stance in the valley leadership. Historically speaking, in the 14th century, where it all began, even Shah Mir Alias Sultan Sham ud Din patiently took twenty years to morph a generation and turn the people away from Maharaj Suhadeva and Kota Rani’s Lohara dynasty’s rule. The progress orientation of a state is likewise bound to take time.  But the Middle Ages were dark all across the globe, and while the Shah Mir dynasty was wiping out the pristine heritage of Kashmiri society and religion, halfway across the globe, the ‘Black Death’ was wiping out a third of the European population.

Kashmir has Indian heritage stamped all over it; the pristine heritage is still there to see. As a relic of the past, across the Razdan pass, lies the Sharada Peeth on the banks of the Neelam valley, known in the 6th century as ‘Kashmira Vaasini Sharada Devi’. It is well known that, cradled in the ranges, the avowed shrine of the Sharada Peeth is now in ruins. The connection to mainland India lies deep enough, renewed yet again by the Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century CE from atop the hill overlooking the Dal Lake. 

A boy carries an old man on his back to cast vote in the first phase of the DDC elections, in Poonch on Saturday. (ANI Photo)

Back in August 1947, when the two nations were born, little was prophesied of the distant future. The accession of Kashmir and the battles valiantly fought, retaining the Valley and Ladakh. Kashmir was a chessboard of military precision; Colonel Manekshaw, then in the Military Operations Branch at Army HQ, clearly remembered the crisp orders that were delivered by Sardar Patel on the mobilization of troops, and rest is history. Within a day from when the Instrument of Accession was delivered at New Delhi and presented to the Governor General, Lord Mountbatten, the Indian Army landed at Srinagar with two Indian Army Battalions, namely, 1 Sikh and 4 Kumaon.  The Raiders were driven back from the gates of Shalateng near Srinagar all the way back to Uri.

Down till December 1948, a year and a half of battles and skirmishes followed, with gains in the Valley and to the south of Haji Pir pass, and less success in Gilgit and Baltistan. On Pt Nehru’s insistence, Sheikh Abdullah was taken on board for the complete accession of Kashmir. Time was running out and ‘The Sheikh’ was not interested in the Baltis. Jinnah’s dislike for the Sheikh paid off as the National Conference remained in favour of the accession, by and large. Subsequently, Indian Union Legislations were passed to govern Kashmir. A Sadr E Riyasat and a Wazir E Alam (PM) were appointed.

The Sheikh, after being self-appointed as the Prime Minister, tried to abolish the post of the Sadr E Riyasat,  but Dr Karan Singh and mainland India objected. The Sheikh was imprisoned in 1953.  Article 370 was accordingly introduced in 1954 as a constitutional mechanism. In and out of power for a decade, Sheikh Abdullah realized the futility of an anti-India stance with the defeat of Pakistan in the 1971 war. With many changes, finally a regular governance returned to the Valley with the Indira-Sheikh Accord in 1974, where he returned as the chief minister of J&K.

Till the late 1980s, the Valley settled down to a peaceful existence. It was the time when, for the Kashmiri residents of Srinagar, it was a matter of pride to have the honoured Army or IAS officer as a respected tenant in their bungalows.

THE INCEPTION OF EXTREMISM

The Pakistani Army has a line of infamous dictators who are known for their loss of face in confrontations with the Indian Army. Gen Zia Ul Haq, a Machiavellian dictator who lost the Siachen Glacier battlefield to India, was a man who went about not only radicalizing the Pakistan Army but also the youth of Kashmir, routing weapons into renegade hands in the Valley, much to the chagrin of India. For about a decade after General Zia eliminated the Pakistan PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977, he put into effect the operation TOPAC, which slowly changed the Kashmiri youth. In 1989, after the kidnapping and murder of two IAF officers in broad daylight in Srinagar, with slanderous slogans suddenly appearing across the valley, JKLF came to the fore. Terrorism ran its course for three decades after that.

After those three decades of turmoil in Kashmir, the rise and fall of various Tanzeems, the machinations of the Hurriyat, it is a long haul now back to a clear amalgamation of the Valley with mainland India. 

IMPLICATIONS OF THE NEW LEGALITIES

On 5 August 2019, in a constitutional move, Article 370 was abrogated and 35A was abolished. The most controversial part was that Article 35A prevented non-permanent residents of J&K from permanently settling in the state. Also, non-permanent residents of J & K could not buy immovable property, acquire land, apply for government jobs or any kind of scholarships and aids as well as other public welfare projects, which were exclusively reserved for Kashmiri people. Now, Indians from other states can own property in the Valley as in other parts of the country.

Secondly, the people of J&K will lose their permanent resident certificate and become a general citizen of India. However, the Permanent Residents Law had many restrictions, including the barring of a Kashmiri woman from having any rights to property if she married a person from outside the state. This restriction was extended to her children to have any succession rights over the property. With such restrictions gone, women in the Valley will have greater empowerment.

Thirdly, the state of Jammu and Kashmir will no longer have a separate constitution but shall abide by the Indian Constitution, much like any other state. All Indian laws will be automatically applied to Kashmiris and people from outside the state living in the region.

A separate Union Territory for Jammu and Kashmir is created that will function directly under the central government. Thus, the central government can have better control over the internal security situation in the region that was subject to cross-border terrorism. The Ladakh region, now a full-fledged UT, is on its way to clear the air and focus on local administration without diktats from Srinagar.

There will also be a change in legislative powers. In the future, the J & K Assembly cannot clear any bill on its own as it will require the central government’s nod to do so. In the absence of an elected government in the state, the state governor shall exercise the powers of the elected government. This clause was introduced in February 2019 and the same was exercised to remove Article 370 in August 2019.

Moreover, an agricultural orientation will be encouraged in the region. In 2006, Ganderbal, a small town of North Kashmir, became a district headquarters, as did three other small towns. There was a flurry of construction and urbanization was seen progressing at a fast clip, eroding farmlands. In the past six years alone, the farmlands lost to other purposes stood at 20%.  According to the Jammu and Kashmir Economic Survey report for 2014-15, the estimated contribution of agriculture to the State Gross Domestic Product has fallen from 28% in 2004-05 to 17%. While 70% of the population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture, the proportion of the labour force engaged in agriculture has declined from 85% in 1961, to 28% today, as per a Kashmir Observer article. Farmers have not found other work in J&K, due to the absence of a viable industrial and service sector.

Related to this, the shortfall in food grains, which was 32% in 1950-51, is now at 82% in the region. Almost all the food grains are brought in from Punjab and beyond. Cross-border trade is not only limited but economically unviable as the cost of food grains is much higher in Pakistan-occupied areas across the border where the PDS system is woefully short of its objectives. Self-sufficiency is not a virtue with the state of Kashmir, and amalgamation seemed to be the logical direction in such a scenario, as political responsibility has to rest on provision and productivity. The Kashmiri leaders know this well, and so does the public.

ASPECTS OF POLITY, ECONOMIC INFLUENCE AND MILITARY POWER

There are 10 districts in the Kashmir division with a population of nearly 70 lakhs, while the Jammu division has 54 lakhs in population. Together, the total is nearly equal to that of Uttarakhand. In a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, the population percentage share of the Valley is considerably small but it does have a distinct nature.

They also have been bereft of development or the awareness of economic ability, especially for improving the living conditions of its citizens.  The people of Kashmir are in an estrangement of sorts. But with the amalgamation with Indian side, when the polity is introduced to better amenities, the outcomes will evolve differently.

While the highly subsidized treatment of the state is at the cost of other states, the Kashmiris would also know the conditions across the Line of Control where the public distribution system is woefully short of any decent standards of living. The PDS in the entire nation of Pakistan is in total disarray.

The economic influence of the amalgamation will also be significant. Most Indian states have their signature products with an international reputation, for instance, spices from Kerala, basmati from Punjab, jute from Bengal, and many more.  The situation in Kashmir thus far has not allowed the commercial production of the cash-rich products of saffron and cashmere over the decades due to a lack of capital and the connected issues of acquiring larger equipment for farming.

Surprisingly, Iran and China figure as leading producers of saffron products too. Hopefully, the change of conditions in Kashmir would see Kashmiris stretch out on the infusion of capital from the mainland. Large saffron fields can change the economic profile of the place and Kashmiri farmers can take the full support of the national resources and financial institutions which are open to all.

Finally, there will be changes with the exercising of Indian military power too. The Indian forces wrested Kashmir from the clutches of the tribals in 1947-48. They then took back the Valley and Kargil by the end of 1948. The forces also denied any success to the Pakistani Army in 1965 by making a graveyard of Patton Tanks, and in 1971 as well, by creating an independent Bangladesh out of East Pakistan. The Pakistani Army could not achieve any military gains in Kashmir that they could hold on to. In 1984, they secured the Siachen Glacier and Saltoro ridge too, thus denying hold of the Nubra Valley. Yet again, in 1999, the Pakistan Army was thrown back from encroaching upon Kargil.

Throughout the years since 1990, the Indian forces have adopted a counter-terrorist posture. And over a period of time, right from the onset of the instigated unrest by Pakistan in the valley, our forces inside Kashmir have exercised restraint in the use of force against militancy.

Unlike this, the Pakistani government, in its OP Al Mizan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has bombed its Pakhtoon population using the PAF. That the Pakistan government took hasty decisions is clear, keeping in mind that the Pakistan forces have 20% Pashtoon troops, and it is a slow disaster unfolding now with the construction of a two-tier fence along the 2430 km long Durand Line with Afghanistan.

Such is the intransigence of the confused state, that the top leaders of Pakistan now even go to the desperate extent of blaming Indian agencies of operating terror outfits from Afghanistan and causing terror attacks inside Pakistan.

CHALLENGING THE CHARGE OF ANNEXATION

Anne Woods Patterson, an American diplomat and career Foreign Service Officer, served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from 2013 to 2017. The esteemed diplomat served as the United States Ambassador to Egypt until 2013 and as the United States Ambassador to Pakistan from July 2007 to October 2010.  On the controversial John Fredericks Show on August 9, 2019, while she did comment on Modi’s brilliant chess move in boxing in Trump on Kashmir, she stressed upon the term ‘annexation’. One can attribute this largely to her affinity to Pakistan as diplomats are likely to have a sympathetic attitude towards the country they served in abroad.

This latent issue has now been set alight before the world comity by the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. Constitutionally speaking, though not in the prime segment, being in the XIIIth schedule, Article 370 was to be a temporary measure. However, the article held back the amalgamation and nationalization of Jammu and Kashmir – a stage curtain for the nation of Pakistan to avoid state action.

In granting special status to J&K, Article 370 had, for the past seventy years, lent a get-away for a financially disabled nation like Pakistan, which fed the Kashmir rhetoric to all and sundry. The slogan was catchy – ‘Kashmir Banega Pakistan’ – and the unwitting masses lapped it up while it served the purpose of the ruling quasi-civilian government, its super rich elite and, last but not the least, the largest conglomerate of the Pakistani nation, the ubiquitous Pakistan Army.

A sense of disillusionment is rife in Pakistan. For the Pakistani leadership, the writing is on the wall. Going by what Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of the Pakistan People’s Party observed recently in his article post the abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan (and Imran Khan) should be worried about defending Muzaffarabad rather than taking Srinagar.

WELCOMING THE SUNRISE IN KASHMIR

Needless to say, the state of Kashmir had been bereft of any serious development for many decades largely as a result of exclusive politics and policies. The regional parties avoiding mainstream politics had been acting to the economic detriment of the state. They were kept out by vested interests which discouraged the spread of awareness about the Indian industrial potential in the Valley. The nation has come a long way in introducing the railways in the Valley and that has been spontaneously targeted by the separatists. The infusion of mainland Indian labour, capital and infrastructure and being subject to the Indian Penal Code, rather than an archaic system, will see a different tomorrow and be a harbinger of progress and prosperity in times to come.  Till then, it is imperative for the political will of the mainstream to convince the polity to believe in the strength of this nation and be aware of the economic and social precipice of the adversary across the Shamshabari.

The author is a veteran of the armed forces having served four tenures in Jammu and Kashmir including the 1999 Kargil conflict. He has also served in Ladakh and in the Siachen Glacier. He is now pursuing research in defence and strategic studies.

The Daily Guardian is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@thedailyguardian) and stay updated with the latest headlines.

For the latest news Download The Daily Guardian App.

Defence

INDIAN COAST GUARD ON ALERT OVER OIL SPILL FROM MV DEVON

Ashish Singh

Published

on

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) received information from MRCC Colombo in late hours of Thursday regarding a mid-sea oil spill about 450 Km South East of Chennai. On further investigation, it was revealed that a Portugese Flag Container ship MV Devon on passage from Colombo to Haldia (West Bengal), developed an underwater crack in the left side fuel tank containing about 120 KL of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO).

The crack resulted in spillage of about 10 KL of oil into sea before preventive action was taken and remaining oil in tank was transferred to another tank by ship’s crew. The vessel is carrying 10795 Tonnes of general cargo in 382 containers and manned by 17 crew of mixed nationality. The container ship is continuing her voyage to Haldia & likely to reach today. ICG is in continuous contact with MV Devon and master has reported that the vessel is stable. ICG pollution response team at Chennai has been alerted and kept standby. In addition, ICG ships & aircraft deployed at sea are also put on alert in pollution response configuration.

It may be recalled that, ICG ships & aircraft in a coordinated operation with Sri Lanka deployed vessels had successfully undertaken a major firefighting operation last month onboard MV X-Press Pearl off Colombo, thereby averting a major environmental disaster. The vessel now partially sunk off Colombo is under the supervision of Sri Lankan authorities and efforts are in hand for its salvage.

Continue Reading

Defence

NORTHERN COMMAND PAYS HOMAGE TO GALLANT SOLDIERS ON ITS 50TH RAISING DAY

Ashish Singh

Published

on

‘Golden Jubilee Raising Day of Northern Command’ was celebrated at Udhampur amidst strict COVID protocol. On this occasion, Lt Gen S Harimohan Iyer, COS, HQ Northern Command, on behalf of Lt Gen YK Joshi, Army Commander, Northern Command and all ranks, laid wreath at the Dhruva War Memorial and paid homage to the gallant soldiers of Northern Command who have made the supreme sacrifice for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country.

Northern Command was raised on 17 June 1972 and completed 50th Raising Day. In his message to the troops, the Army Commander stated that these glorious years are testimony to historic operational achievements of Northern Command in ‘Op Meghdoot’, ‘Op Parakarm’, ‘Op Vijay’ ‘Op Rakshak’ and ‘OP Snow Leopard’. The resolute response of the Indian Army against aggression on the LC & LAC has won numerous accolades. In addition, our firm yet people friendly sub-conventional operations have not only thwarted attempts by our Western adversary to destabilise the nation but also, won the hearts and minds of the local populace.

Northern Command has been at the forefront to assist the administration and people of UTs of J&K and Ladakh during every natural calamity like snow blizzards, earthquakes (2005), Cloudburst of Leh (2010), floods in Jammu & Kashmir (2014) and frequent avalanches. The current COVID-19 pandemic is yet another example when the Indian Army has gone out of its way to support the people, in their times of need.

The Army Commander in special order of the day complimented all ranks for their extraordinary leadership, courage and sacrifice to keep the flag of the Command, the Indian Army & Nation flying high and exhorted all ranks to rededicate towards safeguarding our Nation’s integrity and resolve to confront new challenges with exemplary professionalism and courage.

Continue Reading

Defence

INDIAN COAST GUARD SAVES 16 LIVES FROM SINKING BARGE MV MANGALAM NEAR REVDANDA PORT

Ashish Singh

Published

on

In a swift sea-air coordinated operation amid inclement monsoon weather, Indian Coast Guard ship and helicopters undertook successful rescue of all 16 crew on Thursday from sinking MV Mangalam near Revdanda port of Maharashtra. MRCC Mumbai received information from Second officer of Indian flagged MV Mangalam (IMO-9084619) intimating that the vessel was partially sinking with 16 crew onboard approximately 3 Km from Revdanda Port (Raigarh District), and the master was planning to abandon the vessel. The crew of the distressed vessel were in panic due to swelling water ingress and waves breaking over the ship. MRCC team initiated rescue action and convinced the master and crew to remain onboard with life jackets as Coast Guard ships were dispatched for assistance.

Indian Coast Guard Ship Subhadra Kumari Chauhan pressed into action and proceeded towards distressed vessel with best speed for rendering assistance. Meanwhile, two Indian Coast Guard Chetak Helicopters were also launched at 9:45 am from Indian Coast Guard Air Station Daman for evacuation of the crew from MV Mangalam. Braving rough seas, Indian Coast Guard ship Subhadra Kumari Chauhan quickly arrived at scene of distress and post assessment of situation lowered the rescue team in inflatable boat amidst challenging sea conditions. Meanwhile, Indian Coast Guard Helicopters also arrived at the location and despite gusting monsoon winds commenced airlifting of crew. Through daredevil operations, the ICG Ship & helicopters successfully rescued all 16 crew. The rescued crew were taken to Revdanda and administered first aid following COVID protocol. All crew were safe and healthy.

The timely co-ordination and rescue by ICG once again saved precious lives. On an average, Coast Guard saves one precious life every second day at sea. The incident once again showcased Indian Coast Guard’s resolve and commitment towards safety of life at sea, upholding its motto ‘We Protect’ and ready to undertake operations at sea 24×7 through the year.

Continue Reading

Defence

DEFENCE MINISTER INAUGURATES 12 ROADS BUILT BY BRO IN NORTHERN AND EASTERN BORDER AREAS

Ashish Singh

Published

on

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh dedicated to the nation 12 roads, built by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in the Northern and Eastern border areas on Thursday. At an event organised in Lakhimpur district of Assam, the Raksha Mantri e-inaugurated a 20-km long double lane Kimin-Potin road, along with nine other roads in Arunachal Pradesh and one each in the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir. The roads have been constructed under ‘Arunank’, ‘Vartak’, ‘Brahmank’, ‘Udayak’, ‘Himank’ and ‘Sampark’ projects of BRO.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajnath Singh lauded BRO for its contribution in infrastructure development of remote border areas of the country, especially amid the COVID-19 restrictions. He said the roads inaugurated today hold strategic and socio-economic importance as they will play an important role in strengthening national security as well as promoting development of the North-East region. “These roads will be helpful in fulfilling the needs of our Armed Forces and transporting necessities like medicines and ration to remote areas,” he said. The Raksha Mantri added that these road projects are part of the ‘Act East Policy’ of the Government wherein special emphasis is being laid on the overall development of the border areas. He reiterated the resolve of the Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for the development of North-east, describing the region as the gateway to not only the overall development of the country, but also to the nation’s relations with East Asian countries. Rajnath Singh paid tribute to the soldiers who showed exemplary courage during the Galwan Valley incident last year and made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation. He said India is a peace-loving nation but its response to aggression has been resolute.

Chief Minister of Assam Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Mr. Pema Khandu, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs & Sports, Minority Affairs and Ayush (Independent Charge) Mr. Kiren Rijiju and Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region & Minister of State for PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh were among the dignitaries who attended the event virtually. The Raksha Mantri also touched upon some of the major reforms undertaken by the Government, including appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, measures to boost self- reliance in defence manufacturing and Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). These reforms are proving to be a game changer in the military preparedness in the rapidly changing times, he said.

Rajnath Singh underlined the constant efforts of the Government to make India self-reliant in defence manufacturing under the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ envisioned by the Prime Minister. “We are actively working towards making India a defence manufacturing hub. Self-reliance in defence production will reduce our dependence on imports, increase exports and strengthen our economy,” he said. In his address, DG Border Roads Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry gave a brief overview of the achievements of BRO and reiterated the commitment of the organisation towards infrastructural development of border areas.

Continue Reading

Defence

SWARNIM VIJAY VARSH CELEBRATIONS AT RASHTRIYA RIFLES SECTOR HEADQUARTERS

Ashish Singh

Published

on

NEW DELHI: The Swarnim Vijay Varsh Victory Flame after having entered the serene Kashmir Valley through the Navyug Tunnel on Tuesday, continued its journey and made its way to Anantnag City, also known as the ‘Land of Infinite Springs’. The Victory flame was received by Commanding Officer of Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, Wuzur and travelled to Khanabal, Anantnag via Mir Bazar, Khudwani and Wampoh and reached Rashtriya Rifles Sector Headquarter, Khanabal.

The flame was received with tremendous fervour by school children, local youth, 13 Veer Naris, 55 ex-servicemen, personnel from Security Forces & Law Enforcement Agencies and many other civilian dignitaries from the local administration. Thereafter, the Victory Flame was escorted through the Khanabal Junction, proudly carried by military personnel & civilians alike before entering the Khanabal Military Garrison. Later, the Victory Flame was handed over to the Commander, Sector Rashtriya Rifles, Khanabal at the War Memorial. Wreaths were laid to pay homage to the unsung War Heroes, by the visiting dignitaries, including Mr Hilal Ahmed Shah, Mayor Anantnag, Mr Ghulam Hussain Sheikh, IAS, Additional DC Anantnag, Mr Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, SSP Anantnag, Mr DP Upadhyay, DIG CRPF, Mr Abdul Jabbar, IPS, DIG (South Kashmir) and Commander Sector Rashtriya Rifles, Khanabal, followed by a ceremonial Guard of Honour. Post the solemn event, the celebrations continued with cultural performances by school children and local artists, followed by the felicitation of Veer Naris, Veer Matas & veterans by the dignitaries present.

Continue Reading

Defence

CHINA’S NEW BRI: BRIDE RESUPPLY INITIATIVE

Ashish Singh

Published

on

China is facing a mammoth problem due to a huge gender imbalance, with the male population exceeding the female population by more than 30 million, as per the data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics. The imbalance in the post-2000s and population of marriageable age have become incrementally vicious & even more urgent.

In 2020, the sex ratio of the total population in China was 105.302 males per 100 females as per data provided by Statistic Times. In total, there are 738,247,340 or 738.25 million males and 701,076,434 or 701.08 million females in China. The percentage of the female population is 48.71 percent compared to 51.29 percent male population.

The most influential factor behind such skewed figures has been the erstwhile infamous “one-child” policy of China from 1979 to 2015, which prompted many parents to decide that their sole child must be a boy. Though China reversed it in 2016 to allow families to have two children as fears grew about the country’s fast-ageing population and shrinking workforce, the change has not yet resulted in a baby boom, with Chinese women often delaying or avoiding childbirth and young couples blaming rising costs and insufficient policy support for families.

China now has a huge, and growing, gender gap among the generations most likely to be seeking a spouse—a bride shortage. As on date there are around 35 million males more than females and this figure is expected to grow by almost 5% every year (as per present sex ratio), meaning that China will have more than 50 million ‘Extra Men’ within next five years. Experts project that many of these extra men will never marry; others may go to extreme measures to do so. The difficulty that these Chinese men now face in finding wives, combined with a lack of protections in China, is driving a brutal business of selling women and girls from neighbouring countries.

BRIDE RESUPPLY INITIATIVE

It has emerged that agents in China and Pakistan have used the garb of CPEC to literally kidnap girls from lower socio-economic backgrounds, especially from minority communities such as Christians, Hindus and marry them off to Chinese men. US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback during a statement in Dec 2020 mentioned this as one of the reasons for designating Pakistan as a country of particular concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act.

Most of these Pakistani brides are given inflated information about the socio-economic status of these Chinese grooms which turns out to be false. These women and girls are typically tricked by brokers who promise well-paid employment across the border in China. Once in China, they find themselves at the mercy of the brokers, who sell them for around $3,000 to $13,000 to Chinese families. Once purchased they may be held prisoner and pressured to produce babies as quickly as possible. Similar stories have been documented by journalists and researchers in some other countries too like Cambodia, North Korea, Myanmar, and Vietnam, among others, although on a relatively smaller scale.

As part of the Belt and Road Initiative’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Pakistan received a $ 62-billion infrastructural investment package to develop major works, from roads to power plants. Quite naturally, the Pak government has sought to curtail investigations, putting “immense pressure” on officials from the Federal Investigation Agency pursuing trafficking networks fearing such efforts could sour relationships with the country’s all weather ally- China, says Saleem Iqbal, a Christian activist who has helped parents rescue several young girls from China and prevented others from being sent there. Other countries with trafficked brides face similar asymmetrical power and economic relationships with China, and analysts doubt these nations will discuss difficult topics like action against bride trafficking in negotiations with their powerful neighbour.

The Chinese government’s main response for many years seemed to be simply to ignore growing allegations about authorities’ complicity in these crimes. But the problem is becoming too big to ignore; the government’s stonewalling is gradually being replaced by a mixture of criminal justice and propaganda responses, neither of which get to the real issue of gender discrimination.

As per experts’ calculations, it will take about 50 to 60 years to slowly resolve the gender imbalance formed 20 to 30 years ago if some concrete steps are taken today. Well, while that might be true, Xi Jinping does not need to bother much having a sidekick like Pakistan under his thumb. With a sinking economy, ever rising pile of debts with some requiring immediate payback and the FATF sword looming on is neck since ages, Pakistan is left with very little choice other than complying with the Chinese demands even if that’s at the cost of its daughters.

Continue Reading

Trending