Fiscal autonomy must for strong, self-reliant Kashmir: Drabu

India should be sincere in reviving LoC trade: Qalandar

Noted economist, Dr Haseeb Drabu Tuesday said instead of pushing for political autonomy, Kashmir should get fiscal autonomy to be economically strong and self-reliant.
“We must first try and get fiscal autonomy because political autonomy without fiscal autonomy is not possible. I don’t want to live in Kashmir which is economically weak and where society is traumatized,” said Drabu.
He was speaking during an interaction session with students at Institute of Kashmir Studies (IKS), Kashmir University. Director IKS, Gul Muhammad Wani moderated the session.
“What if I wake up one fine morning and am told I am independent? What will we survive on? We will collapse as a nation,” Drabu said.
The former J&K Bank chairman said for last 40 years Kashmir has fought battle on entotical bombs without achieving anything. “We need more passion in protests. What have we achieved in last so many years by doing the same old stuff again and again?”
Talking about cross-LoC trade, Drabu said both sides should be declared free economic zones and dual currency formula should be applied to streamline the trade.
“First you need to abolish the visa aspect when it comes to Cross-LoC trade. Traders from both the sides should be allowed to visit freely to either side on permit basis. Second, there should be dual currency exchange between traders; it will create high value trading services.”
Drabu said Indian currency was used in Nepal till 1967. “The 10 rupee notes of India were used to be rubber stamped and used there. It is like using credit card. You can use it in any country of the world even in Pakistan. The only difference is you don’t see the money; it gets settled by respective banks. So what is the problem using dual currency?”
He stressed on the need for banking facility to ensure hassle-free LoC trade.
“J&K bank should open its branches at LoC. Both sides of Kashmir used to have banking facility till 1964. If it was then why can’t we have it now?”
Drabu said the beginning of a new relationship between India and Pakistan would be a major boost for the economy of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries.
“Both the leaders of India and Pakistan understand the value of economy. Nawaz Sharif is himself a big industrialist while Narendra Modi has a vision. By the virtue of these two leaders we will see a new era of economic growth in SAARC.”
Praising the Indian prime minister, Drabu said his move of inviting SAARC leaders for his oath ceremony was a positive move.
“It was an indication of economic growth and prosperity for South Asia. Economy plays a pivotal role in today’s world and the leadership of India and Pakistan has understood it.”
Drabu served as economic advisor to government during PDP regime between 2003 and 2008. As per sources, he is likely to contest election on PDP ticket for Amira Kadal constituency in the forthcoming assembly elections.
Speaking on the occasion, former president of Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) Shakeel Qalander said India should act as ‘big brother’ in SAARC.
“India is the largest (75 percent) contributor to SAARC economy while Pakistan contributes 12 percent and Nepal has only 2 percent contribution. So India should act like a big brother in SAARC,” said Qalandar.
He said instead of adopting rigid approach, India should be sincere in reviving the cross-LoC trade.
“India has never been sincere to do Cross LoC trade, despite our (traders) repeated attempts to revitalize it. We have only faced disappointment so far. I hope with new government at Centre it will change now.”
South East Asia has been kept hostage because of Kashmir dispute and it’s mandatory to be resolved for the betterment of the region,” Qalandar added.

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