Who gains from blocking Kashmir’s economic development

The motive leads to the killer

The brutal murder of an Indian Railway engineer by Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists is bound to disrupt the project to extend a railway network across Kashmir. The Indian government had decided to pump in US$1.3 billion (Rs 6000 crore) into this project. This major infrastructure project is aimed at bringing economic development and prosperity to the troubled region. Its clear who the losers are: the people of India in general and those of Jammu & Kashmir in particular.

The tactical beneficiaries of disrupting development work may be the terrorists – who get to further strengthen their reign of terror; but the strategic beneficiary is Pakistan. By throttling Kashmir’s growth, development and deeper economic integration with India, Pakistan can continue to create and exploit the disaffection to its advantage in the talks with India.

Addressing this challenge requires India to act simultaneously on two fronts: accelerate economic integration and crack down hard on terrorists. Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s state government needs to be held to account for providing security to the development workers, failing which central paramilitary forces need to be deployed. India’s determination to push economic development through in spite of the dangers and disruptions due to the terrorists will not go unnoticed.

With the shadow of the gun hanging over their heads now, one thing the authorities are counting on is that the fear of alienating the local populace may hinder the militants. ‘‘The local people,” points out an officer, “are looking forward to the link.’’ [Indian Expess]