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South Asia

Can President Trump end unrelenting repression in Kashmir?



World today is facing a lot of serious problems for which USA is the chief cause and even instrumental. Two major issues- Palestine in West Asia and Kashmir in South Asia – continue to derail peace momentum globally. Of these, genocides of Kashmiris in Jammu Kashmir, being perpetrated by India, remain the crucial problem that has not received the attention it does deserve.

Like Israel, India also puts pressure n world powers not to interfere in Kashmir issue. Similarly, Indian sources do not let any news paper or media publish anything that supports the Kashmir cause or against Indian occupational crimes. Clearly, upon enduring constant repressive methods by Israel for decades of its occupation and proliferation of illegal settlement construction operations in Palestine, Palestinians are on their way to gain full and complete sovereignty from Israel by legal means as the UN has approved Palestine as a defacto member and now all-powerful UNSC passed a resolution to remove and end further Jewish settlements in Palestine.

For the first time in years since 1948 when Israel was imposed on Mideast, USA as refused to use its veto to protect Israel and defend its expansionist operations.

The establishment of Palestine sooner than later, thus, is a foregone conclusion. President Trump, though plays politics not to offend America’s close ally Israel, is reportedly supporting a sovereign Palestine state and two-nation solution in Mideast.

Probe of Indian occupational crimes

A recent civil society’ fact-finding report notes that the concentration of security forces in JK is among the heaviest in the world. An estimated 700,000 Indian Army, paramilitary and state police forces watch over a population of just 14 million. Literally every Muslim in Kashmir is under Indian military surveillance and terror cum fake encounter target.

Trump needs to address the problems Kashmiris face under Indian brutal occupation as Kashmiris face very similar problem as of Palestinians as its neighbor occupies their nation Kashmir and keeps attacking and killing Muslims there. Soon after the establishment of Palestine, USA should also take up the issue of Kashmiri struggle for sovereignty back and ensure security of Kashmiris Muslims as India, its military and media care only about security of Hindus living in JK, supporting Indian case in Kashmir. Indian media want every Muslims in Kashmir is killed if they don’t accept Indian brutality occupational crimes in Kashmir as their ill-fate. India simply cannot accept any protest in Kashmir.

The population of Jammu Kashmir, now India’s only Muslim-majority state, confronts unrelenting repression by heavily-armed central and state government security forces, including indiscriminate pellet-gun barrages, arbitrary and repeated arrests, and deliberate blinding and killing of unarmed protestors.

As Kashmir is reeling under continuous demonstrations and regular curfews imposed b the JK government to make life very difficult for the Kashmiris, last month a volunteer group, led by Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and Anuradha Bhasin of the Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PFPD), visited Muslim dominated Jammu and Kashmir, formerly a soverign nation but now India’s northern-most state for 10 days to study real situation in the most militarized zone on earth.

The expert report extensively documents widespread and shocking human rights violations by the Indian state and blatantly criminal behavior by security personnel.

For years, both the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party as ruling dispensation alternatively play mischief with Kashmiris. India’s Hindu supremacist BJP government and its local partner, the J&K People’s Democratic Party (PDP), responded with ferocious violence to the mass protests that convulsed the Kashmir Valley during much of the summer and fall.

While India targeted Muslims only in its occupied Jammu Kashmir, it never bothered about Azad Kashmir, the portion that is occupied by Pakistan, but of course without nay brutality meanly because Kashmiris do not oppose Pakistani occupation as a crime but a boon to protect themselves from Indian atrocities. In late September, the BJP government in India, seeking to increase its Hindu vote banks, plunged South Asia into its gravest war crisis in at least 15 years. Wanting to showcase its military prowess, New Delhi ordered illegal and highly provocative cross-border raids inside Pakistan-held Kashmir ostensibly in reputed retaliation for the September 18 attack on the Indian military base at Uri, then vowed it would continue to impose an ‘unacceptable’ price on Pakistan until all attacks on India from Pakistan ceased.

When the 25-member fact-finding group visited Kashmir between November 11 and 20, the Indian and Pakistani armies were mounting massive military barrages across the Line of Control that separates Indian- and Pakistan-held Kashmir, effectively blowing apart the shaky truce that has prevailed between the rival nuclear-armed states since 2003. Kashmiris on both side of LOC feel heavily terrorized.

Turning point

India for years has adopted different strategies to silence Kashmiris from raising objections to Indian military misrule of Jammu Kashmir but has failed. New Delhi could not successfully use its government in Sri Nagar to work for Indian cause in the region. But military misadventures have harmed Indian cause of continued occupation of Jammu Kashmir.

Even after seeing the secret graveyards in Kashmir, revealing what has happened to those Kashmir Muslims who fought against military of India and imposition of extra military laws to give a free hand to the state killers in Kashmir, Kashmiris continue their struggle for sovereignty.

The worst and strongest ever Kashmiri national protests erupted following the July 8 ‘encounter killing ’by summary execution by India, which cannot tolerate any opposition from Muslim leaders for state repression and murders, of a 21-year-old leader of an Islamist, Kashmiri separatist insurgent group, the Hizbul Mujahideen. Rattled by the size and tenacity of the protests, the BJP government blamed them on “Pakistan-supported ‘terrorists” and ratcheted up pressure on Washington and Islamabad.

Its aims were two-fold: to draw attention away from the popular protests in J&K and their brutal repression at the hands of the India state forces and fanatic media and to compel Pakistan to end all logistical support for the quarter-century long insurgency in Indian-held Kashmir.

The ‘civil society’ fact-finding report notes that the concentration of security forces in JK is among the heaviest in the world. An estimated 700,000 Indian Army, paramilitary and state police forces watch over a population of just 14 million. The fact-finding volunteers traveled to the Kashmir Valley districts where the recent protests have been most widespread and gathered much evidence of the violence and humiliations that the Indian military and state police have imposed on the local populace. Moreover, because of the legal immunity granted the state police under the JK Public Safety Act (1978) and the army and paramilitary forces in Kashmir under India’s notorious Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, they can and do act with impunity.

The report states ‘unarmed and symbolic protests in Kashmir have been met with sustained attack by the Indian army, police and paramilitary, including with the use of pellet guns, (chili-based) PAVA shells and firearms. Several deaths have been caused by targeted killings of unarmed civilians by armed forces even in the absence of protests or demonstrations.

The volunteers further found that most pellet-gun wounds have been above the waist, indicating that security forces have deliberately sought to blind and kill protesters. ‘Most deaths we came across’, say the volunteers, ‘have been caused by injuries waist-above, without any warning fire. Deaths and injuries caused by pellet guns too are all above the waist and preponderantly at eye level causing blinding or long-term ophthalmic damage.’

Indian security forces invariably justify their violence by dubbing its victims as ‘anti-national.’ In fact, this is a catch-all phrase that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP government routinely employ against persons or organizations expressing even sympathy with the victims of the state repression in Kashmir. The report documents how families that pursue legal remedies against the security personnel responsible for the killing of their loved ones are subjected to raids, repeated arrests and even torture from the out-of-control security establishment.

Casualty counts vary, as the government is trying to cover up the scale of its repression and families often fear informing authorities that a member has been injured for fear of reprisals. But close to a hundred civilians have been killed since the protests erupted in early July. Many thousands more — the J&K daily Greater Kashmir claims 15,000 — have been injured.

Collective punishments, including destruction of property and animals and revenge attacks, akin to those Israel’s security forces mete out to the Palestinians, are the norm in Kashmir. The fact-finding report bears witness to this: ‘In the towns and villages where there were killings by the Indian Army, police and paramilitary, we met with ordinary people who narrated a cycle of search and seizure raids following killings, and of indiscriminate firing, including at funerals and memorial gatherings. In several of these instances the Indian Army, police and paramilitary broke windows and destroyed household goods, livestock, and food rations in peoples’ homes.’

In several villages and towns they visited, the armed forces, during their search and seizure operations, routinely destroy the local electricity transformer or sub-station, denying the entire village or locality access to electricity.’ The mass character of the protests in the Kashmir Valley have given the lie to the Modi government’s claims that the opposition to Indian rule is simply or mainly the product of Pakistani intrigue and ‘Pakistani-sponsored terrorism.’ The Kashmiri separatist groups supported by Islamabad were in fact taken by surprise by this summer’s eruption of mass protests.

The report describes the widespread popular disaffection with an Indian state that has repeatedly violated JK’s special autonomous status within the Indian Union, imposed ‘presidential’ or central government rule, rigged elections, and for decades resorted to mass repression, including ‘disappearances’, torture and summary executions. ‘From common people’, says the report, ‘we heard articulate accounts of what they have faced from the Indian state and, in particular, of the sustained attack on their democratic rights from 1989 onwards. The failure of the Indian state and every government since independence to address the political sentiments of Kashmiri people is a source of both hurt and enormous resentment.’

Indian parties speak in one voice against Muslims

The Modi government’s violent repression of the popular protests in JK has been politically aided and abetted by the opposition parties, including the Stalinist Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its Left Front.

Interestingly, all of them unequivocally defend the right of the Indian bourgeoisie to rule over Kashmir, have helped in the cover-up of the atrocities being carried out by Indian security forces in Kashmir, and have hailed the provocative military strikes that Indian Special Forces troops carried out inside Pakistan in late September.

India bases its claim not on the support of the Kashmiri people, but on the document of accession to the Indian Union signed by the last member of the British-backed Hindu princely dynasty that ruled Jammu and Kashmir.

India claims its prerogative to kill every Muslims in occupied Kashmir who refuses to accept Indian occupation. The reactionary character of the false Indian-Pakistani dispute over Kashmir is exemplified by the legal basis of their respective claims to ‘undivided’ Kashmir i.e., to all of the territories that had belonged, prior to Partition, to the British Indian Empire princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan’s claim is based on the reactionary ideology that underlies the Pakistani state: Kashmir is rightfully Pakistan’s because it is a majority-Muslim area contiguous to the Muslim ‘homeland’ in the subcontinents northwest.

Kashmiris, besieged between these two illogical claims, have been the target of both Indi and Pakistan.

Shockingly, the ruling as well as opposition parties are together when it comes to attack Muslims either in India or Kashmir or anywhere in the region.


As a mere formality, India continues to claim ownership of Jammu Kashmir and reiterates that Kashmir is an integrate part of India.

The Kashmir tragedy and the reactionary military-strategic rivalry between India and Pakistan with which it is inextricably enmeshed are the outcome of the reactionary communal Partition of South Asia. In 1947, South Asia’s departing British imperial overlords and the rival factions of the ‘national’ bourgeoisie divided the subcontinent into an expressly Muslim Pakistan and a predominantly Hindu India.

While the India ruling class and its state machinery have repressed the people of Jammu Kashmir, the Pakistani corporate lords have run roughshod over the basic rights of the people of Pakistan-held Kashmir and systematically sought to manipulate the Kashmir question for its own profit ends.

The democratic rights of the Kashmiri people will be secured and the threat of a catastrophic nuclear war between India and Pakistan lifted only through a joint struggle of the common masses of the subcontinent to put an end to capitalist rule and establish genuine the Socialist regional system. That could help end blood bath in the region, in Kashmir, end terror attacks, open the way for the improved governance for the causes of people.

Notwithstanding the pressure tactics from Indian government being applied directly and through its former rulers UK and US government directly as a so-called strategic partners in terror machinations, and through Israel, one hopes President Trump would rise to the occasion to help and save the remaining Kashmiri Muslims by forcing both India and Pakistan to allow the Kashmiris to have rebirth of Kashmir to exist as a soverign nation in South Asia.

Meanwhile, Indian and Pakistani governments and political calls need to consider the normalcy of the region that is being harmed by the nuclear race and LOC conflict, usually fanatic Indian media mischief to promote state arrogance towards Muslims and Kashmir.

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South Asia

India’s Military Spending and South Asian Security



Over the past several years, unprecedented military modernization in Pakistan’s immediate neighbour, India, has worsened South Asia’s security environment. India’s heavy military spending and its unstoppable quest for the acquisition of sophisticated weapons have threatened regional stability. Indian desire to acquire global power status through military means has further been intensified as a result of US assistance particularly in former’s defence sector. Within quick span of time, defence trade between India and the US has shot from $1 billion to over $15 billion leaving other regional powers in the state of security consciousness.

India’s obsession with its military build-up doesn’t end here. According to the Stockholm International peace Research Institute (SIPRI) a prestigious international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament, India, once again tops the list as world’s largest weapons importer. This is not a new development as previously, India also topped the list for the same reason.

As per SIPRI estimates, Russia remains top arms supplier to India. However, surprisingly arms deliveries from the US increased more than six-fold in the five-year period to the India. This trend in long run will definitely reduce market space for Russian arms and ammunition to India.

Despite the fact that, India’s unbridled military modernization is the primary impetus behind South Asian instability, global power’s economic expediencies in South Asia also undermines delicate conventional parity between India and Pakistan. For instance, Indo-US strategic partnership, which apparently touted as US’ China containment policy, seems more of a Pakistan containment policy. Much of the US provided weapon-tech to India is more useful against Pakistan in a conventional warfare. Almost 70% of Indian military troops and weapon system are deployed against Line of Control, (LOC). Interestingly, peaceful settlement of Docklam issue between China and India as well as sky-rocketing bilateral trade between both countries, which has reached to $84.44 billion last year, makes prospects of conflict almost impossible.

However, in contrast to aforementioned facts, the influx of massive military hardware from western capitals to India continues and in certain cases the flow of arms has gained momentum. There are two primary motives behind India’s overwhelming spending in defence industry.

First, India aspires for greater role in global environment and in certain ways it has been demonstrating its will and capability to influence global dynamics. India’s successful test of Agni-5, a long-range ballistic missile, capable of carrying nuclear weapons with a strike range of more than 3,000 miles, is a practical demonstration of its military capabilities to influence other powers around the globe. For hawkish policy makers in New Delhi, a strong military power can extend India’s global influence.

Secondly, India is following a policy of coercion at regional level primarily, against Pakistan which shares history of hostility and violence due to longstanding territorial disputes such as Kashmir. There is growing perception in New Delhi that militarily strong India can dictate South Asian affairs. That’s why India has been consistently opposing diplomacy and dialogue for peaceful resolution of disputes. Therefore, to meet its foreign policy goals, which are based on coercion and usage of hard power, India spends massive in military build-up.

Ironically, South Asia is called as nuclear flashpoint due to history of animosity and violent conflicts between India and Pakistan. With its mighty military power, India has emerged as the most potent threat for not just Pakistan but also a security challenge for other powers in the region.

Given the advantage it has in terms of nuclear missiles, military hardware and submarine fleet, India has been trying to create an environment conducive to wage limited war against Pakistan. For that, India has not just developed its military doctrine, Cold Start Doctrine, but also initiated and sponsored sub conventional war in Pakistan’s chaotic province, Balochistan.

In such circumstances, Pakistan needs to maintain delicate conventional military balance vis-à-vis India. Despite the fact, Pakistan has been facing number of issues at national, regional and international levels which include on-going military operation in tribal areas to hostile border skirmishes; a robust military modernization plan has become inevitable. A militarily strong Pakistan will be able to maintain its territorial integrity against aggressive yet militarily mighty India.

It’s an open fact that Pakistan has consistently called for peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes and it has offered to resume diplomacy and dialogue over Kashmir dispute. Unfortunately, India’s cold response has not only restricted Pakistan’s peaceful overtures but also refused to accept third-party mediation in peaceful settlement of Kashmir issue. This clearly shows that, current ruling regime in India is not serious for peaceful settlement, rather more inclined to use of force and coercion. Under such circumstances, Pakistan needs to strengthen its force posture to pre-empt any kind of misadventure from its adversary. However, Pakistan, as it has done in past, must embrace peaceful overtures to bring stability in the region.

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South Asia

US Call for a New Relationship



U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad

‘Trust, but verify’ an Old Russian proverb that President Reagan liked to repeat often. Trump is neither the first President nor he is going to be the last to criticize Pakistan of deceit and threaten to cut off American assistance. Notwithstanding, the last six decades of the US support, the US has failed completely in cultivating an ally in Pakistan nor has it meaningfully changed the nature of its relationship with Pakistan, which can be best described as ‘transactional’. A quid-pro-quo relationship between the two has never been established with regards to the assistance they both offered to each other. In truth, United States has never really trusted Pakistan.

President Trump avowed in his New Afghan Strategy that the US has been paying Pakistan ‘billions of billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting for’ but the mantra should be put to a halt. Likewise, the US must be conveyed boldly to stop continuing its false claims that Pakistan shelters the ‘agents of chaos’ and be reminded that friends don’t put each other on notices.

Similarly, statements and avowals that India now is a strongest ally to the US, disturbs Pakistan, chiefly because of the irony at Trump administration’s part which only sees the glittering Indian market but pay no heed to the growing Indian cease fire violations across the LoC and the atrocities India commits against the unarmed civilians of the Indian held Kashmir.

The recent visits and statements however by the senior US officials and Trump’s aides reflect the US call for a new relationship between the US and Pakistan, which once used to be close allies in the US led ‘Global War on Terror’.

Pakistan’s foreign policy makers at this point in time must be mindful of the fact that the US is a major trading partner and should adhere to a relationship more than ‘transactional’. Moreover, the risks and fears at the US part of ‘rampant destabilization and civil war in Afghanistan’ increments further the region already devoid of trust. For, nobody actually knows whether the US will stay or eventually leave Afghanistan.

The Afghan war has now become a war of logistics, in words of Sun Tzu ‘the line between order and disorder lies in logistics’, Pakistani supply lines thus provide Islamabad with a leverage in absence of shorter, cheaper and acceptable alternative routes. Given these circumstances, Pakistan should make best use of the US call towards a more robust bilateral relationship.

The move for a ‘new relationship’ and improved ties began last week with senior Trump aide’s visit to Islamabad to hold talks with Pakistani leaders.  Earlier also the impressions that Pakistan and the US were on a collision course were dispelled by a top US general. Likewise, US department’s acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice Wells asserted that the US was not thinking of cutting its ties rather assured that the US still cogitate Pakistan indispensable to the resolve in Afghanistan.

The aforesaid developments clearly indicate that the strained US-Pakistan relations would improve soon and that the suspension in the military aid is also not permanent.

To conclude, achieving long term stability and defeating the insurgency in the region will be difficult without Pakistan’s support and assistance.

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South Asia

Special Economic Zones and CPEC



Economic Expansion, high prices and inflation are the issues on which one can talk for hours. The scarcity of resources, energy crises and lack of industrial modernization are the challenges which Pakistan has been facing for past many decades. Despite the advantages of geographical setting, the country could not sufficiently expand its economy until 20thcentury. However, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has brought with it various infrastructural, energy, and industrial projects that show smooth progress in these sectors. One of the most significant developments is the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under the Long Term Plan (LTP) of CPEC.SEZ is a physically protected area with definite geographic boundaries under which the investors and the developers enjoy duty free benefits and streamlined procedures, set up by the government.  After the successful completion of the Early Harvest Program (EHP), the governments of China and Pakistan aspire to complete the Long Term Plan (LTP) of CPEC. As a key route to success, the LTP has been divided into three phases and the work on the first phase has already started. SEZs are on the first priority list of the first Phase of LTP. While utilizing the strategic location of Pakistan and the rich resources, the SEZ will contribute a framework for Pakistan’s domestic industries, and local economy.

The government has planned to establish nine Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in all the four provinces, federal areas and Gilgit-Baltistan under the framework of CPEC, which would be completed in a period of three years. Pakistan has conducted feasibilities of 5 SEZs which focuses only on the infrastructure. The three prioritized SEZs to be completed in the first phase of LTP are M3 Industrial City in Faisalabad, Punjab, Chinese SEZ Dhabeji, Sindh and Hattar SEZ in KP province. While the remaining six sites include Rashakai Economic Zone, M-1 Noshera, Bostan Industrial Zone District Pishin, AllamaIqbal Industrial City, Moqpondass SEZ in Gilgit-Baltistan, ICT Model Industrial Zone Islamabad, Development of Industrial Park on Pakistan Steel Mills Land at port Qasim near Karachi, Special Economic Zone at Mirpur AJK, Mohmand Marble city.

Although, there are general misunderstandings regarding the industrial ramifications of the SEZ’s under CPEC due to large number of Chinese firms and the exemption in the tax rates offered to them. However, the LTP of CPEC shows that these SEZ’s will offer the country with a great opportunity to accelerate industrialization because they are beneficial for all the international and domestic investors. So far in the history, SEZs have been the reason of economic boost in countries around the globe. Now this is a matter of concern that either these SEZs will make Pakistan a center of economic modernization and trade ventures or not. The economist and financial experts are optimistic about Pakistan’s emergence as one of the fast growing and promising global economy.

While stepping towards the era of industrialization, Pakistan faces a number of issues that have so far refrain the industries to understand their growth potential. Some of the chief hindrances to investment in Pakistan include poor security; non-availability of infrastructure and power crises, rent-seeking regulators, and cumbersome tax administration, etc. among many others.

Likewise the entrepreneurs in Pakistan have certain reservation with the incentives proposed by the government and SEZs for the investors and enterprises including ten-year exemption from all taxes on imported capital goods and exemption from tax on income accruable from development and operations in SEZs for a period of ten years. Although these incentives will be beneficial for the foreign investors at large but at the same time it will provide Pakistani enterprises with the opportunity to collaborate with the Chinese firms and launch joint ventures of mutual interests and benefits. This will be further beneficial for the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of Pakistan. Moreover it will bring Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country thus generating the foreign revenue.

Subsequently it is significant to keep in mind that in Pakistan there are certain security and political factors due to which the SEZ’s may face challenges. Hence forth to conquer these challenges provincial harmony among all the provinces and mutual consensus between the public sector and private sector is needed. SEZs under CPEC will be a life-time opportunity for Pakistani companies to work together with Chinese companies for the development of export-oriented manufacturing industries. Therefore, Pakistan should increase its products in the Chinese market and raise the ratio of its export while decreasing the trade deficit by lowering the imports.

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