Continuing from: Fight For Jammu & Kashmir: Pakistan’s Gains
Even though the gains of aggression to Pakistan were valuable and important, the territory still left with India was of much greater extent, value and importance. It included Kashmir Valley and parts of Uri and Titwal sub- divisions of Muzzafarabad district in Kashmir province, four eastern districts comprising the Duggar region of Jammu province together with the town of Poonch and some neighboring territory along the Cease Fire Line which belonged to the Punjabi speaking Western Zone, most of which had been occupied by Pakistan, and the whole of Laddakh and Kargil area lying between Laddakh and Baltistan proper across the Zojila Pass.
The total area of this territory was about 50,000 sq. miles including about 33000 sq. miles of Laddakh, about 12000 sq. miles of Jammu, about 3000 sq. miles of Kashmir Valley and about 2000 sq. miles of Uri and Tithwal area.
From the population point of view the Kashmir Valley with its 30 lakh population of which about 27 lakhs are Muslims is the most populous. Next comes Jammu with a population of about 30 lakhs of which about 20 lakhs are Hindus. The Muslim population of Jammu region is mainly concentrated on the West along the Cease Fire Line. Laddakh with a population of about two lakhs of which Buddhists form a large majority is the most sparsely populated.
Jammu and Laddakh being directly contiguous to each other as also to East Punjab and Himachal Pradesh form a compact bloc of about 45,000 sq. miles with a predominantly Hindu or Buddhist population. Kashmir valley and the adjoining areas of Uri and Tithwal form the only compact Muslim majority area on the Indian side of the Cease Fire Line.
Strategically, though not comparable to Gilgit because of its being the meeting ground of international frontiers of Afghanistan, USSR, Communist China and India, the territory held by India is yet of immense importance to her. Being the only link between India and the rest of the State including Kashmir Valley, the Jammu region has the greatest strategic importance for India. Its warlike Dogra population and hilly terrain make it an ideal frontier area separating Indian Punjab from North Western parts of Pakistan and Pakistan held territories of the State.
Gilgit and Baltistan having been lost to Pakistan, Laddakh rernained the only window in Indian hands opening into Central Asia. Though the town of Leh had ceased to be the nerve centre of central Asian trade since the ineorporation of the central Asian Khanates by USSR and China, yet its importance as a political and military outpost cannot be minimised. The strategic importance of this area for India has since been enhanced manifold by the Communist Chinese occupation of Tibet.
The strategic importance of Kashmir which is essentially a place of natural beauty lies in its being a vast stretch of plain land surrounded by the high Himalayan ranges which make it an ideal supply and air base for the defense of India’s Northern frontiers.
The economic potentiality of this territory is much greater. The magnificiant fir and deodar forests of the Jammu region whose valuable timber flows down the Chenab to Akhnoor near Jammu are among the best of their kind in the Himalayas. Saffron is produced in Kashmir Valley and Kishtwar in Jammu. This area also abounds in rare medicinal herbs and other kinds of forest produce. Silk and wool of high quality are also produced in large quantities and processed in the wool and silk factories at Srinagar and Jammu.
The Jammu region, particularly its Reasi area, is very rich in minerals. Large deposits of coal of good quality, bauxite, iron ore and copper and many other minerals have been found in this area. There are rich sapphire mines at Padar near Kishtwar. Lime stone and other clays suitable for cement and ceramics are found in large quantities in the Kandi areas. Laddakh too is known to be rich in minerals though exact assessment must await a detailed geological survey of the area.
Cheap hydro-electric power can be generated to exploit this rich mineral wealth by harnessing the waters of the Chenab and the Ravi and their numerous tributaries. In fact the scope for generating power is immense in the Jammu region. The Salal Scheme on the Chenab near Reasi which had long been under consideration of the the Government of Punjab and Kashmir before partition and the first phase of which has recently been completed by the Government of India can produce enough power to transform the economy of the entire area.
The economic potential of the Kashmir Valley as a tourist resort and as hcme of deft artisans whose handicraft have a world wide market is equally great. Jammu region also abounds in places like Sannasar and Bhadarwah which can be developed into great tourist centers.
Furthermore all the famous shrines and places of pilgrimage like the holy caves of Shri, Amar Nath and Vaishno Devi, the holy springs of Mattan and Khir Bhawani and great temples of Shankracharya and Martand which provide a base for the emotional attachment of the people of India with the Jammu Kashmir State remain in Indian hands.Statesmanship and realism demanded that India, while maintaining its legal claim over the whole state, took steps to consolidate her position in these territories.
But India’s handling of the Kashmir issue in its internal aspect has been as unrealistic as that of its external aspect in relation to Pakistan and U.N.O. The story of India’s bungling in this respect makes a sickening reading from the very beginning.