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NC leader Farooq Abdullah calls for Central rule in Jammu Kashmir

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] S [/yt_dropcap]rinagar went to poll to elect a parliamentarian and National Conference leader and former CM of JK was declared elected to parliament.Eight people were shot dead by paramilitary troopers and police and over 150 were injured in clashes between people and forces on polling day (9 April), which saw a mere 7.14% voter turnout. A re-polling was held for 38 booths which recorded only 2.02% polling.

The winner Farooq said recent developments in JK had made it “amply clear” that the PDP-BJP government in the state had “failed in delivering on its promises and had created a very alarming political situation in the state”. “I would leave no stone unturned to strive for justice and peace and be the voice against injustice and oppression as an elected representative in the parliament,” he said. Asked about the lowest-ever poll percentage in Srinagar by polls, Abdullah said, “How does it matter? We have seen polls before also where hardly any percentage was there. And what do you say to people who have voted even if it may be 7 per cent with all the pressures on them.”

Crack in PDP-BJP idea in Kashmir

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah who won the by-poll to the Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary seat on anti-incumbency campaign that was marred by large-scale violence and very poor turnout on balloting day, called for imposition of central rule in the state.

Abdullah defeated the ruling People’s Democratic Party’s Nazir Ahmad Khan by a margin of 10,776 votes. Of the 89,865 votes cast, Farooq polled 48,555 while Khan polled 37,779. A total of 963 people voted for NOTA (none of the above), election officials said. There were nine candidates in the fray, but the main battle was between PDP’s Khan and Abdullah. Abdullah, 79, a two-time Chief Minister, will be Lok Sabha member for the third time. He had lost the Srinagar constituency to PDP’s Tariq Hameed Karra in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Karra’s resignation from the party led to the seat getting vacant. Octogenarian Abdullah had lost 2014 parliament elections to the then PDP candidate Tariq Karra (now with Congress). He took plunge into the election to make a comeback and take “avenge” of the defeat.

Soon after defeating ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Nazir Khan, Abdullah appealed President Pranab Mukherjee to dismiss the state government as it has “failed to deliver and hold peaceful election.” “Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti should step down immediately and the situation in the state merits the imposition of Governor’s rule. There is absolutely no doubt about this,” he added. “I appeal to the President of India to dismiss this government and impose Governor’s rule in the state. They have killed youth and put the lives of the people in danger,“ he told reporters at NC headquarters here after his poll victory.

Farooq said recent developments had made it “amply clear” that the PDP-BJP government in the state had “failed in delivering on its promises and had created a very alarming political situation in the state…I would leave no stone unturned to strive for justice and peace and be the voice against injustice and oppression as an elected representative in the parliament,” he said.

The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and a former key Federal minister urged the central government to impose Governor’s rule in the state, terming the election as the “bloodiest ever”. He also called for resumption of the dialogue for resolution of Kashmir at internal and external levels.

The NC supremo said it would not celebrate the victory because of the violence on polling day on April 9 in which eight civilians died in firing by security forces. Addressing reporters after his win, Abdullah urged the BJP-led central government to dismiss the ruling BJP-PDP alliance. “I request the Government of India and the President to dismiss the present government right away.

Governor’s rule should be imposed and elections conducted under Governor’s rule,” Farooq told the media. Thanking the people who supported him, he said: “This was the bloodiest election ever. I am not happy with the win. But results show that people are in favor of NC.”

In a statement issued by the NC party, spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said, “We won’t celebrate the victory in the by-poll in view of the deaths that occurred on balloting day.” Voting for the parliamentary seat saw a record low turnout of 7 per cent on April 9. Re-polling was held on April 13 for 38 polling stations in Budgam district that saw a mere 2 per cent balloting.

Anantnag

Abdullah also demanded that by poll for the upcoming Anantnag parliamentary seat should be held under Governor’s rule. “Otherwise people would not get justice,” he said.

Anantnag by poll has been deferred by the Election Commission of India till May 25 in the wake of the deteriorating situation in Kashmir. On the day of election to Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, eight civilians were killed and over 200 injured by government forces. Reacting to a video showing a man tied to an army vehicle as “human shield” against stone throwers, Abdullah said it “was shameful and bad act against democracy”. He called the eight people killed on poll day as “martyrs”. “Many others are in hospitals or jails. I have never seen such an election,” he said and thanked “the people who risked their lives to vote in such a difficult situation”. “Such things add to the fire. I request them not to do these things,” said Abdullah. He trashed the ‘rumors’ suggesting he would resign from Lok Sabha after today’s win. “I will follow what my party high command decides,” he said.

Reacting to a video showing a man tied to an army vehicle as “human shield” against stone throwers, Abdullah said it “was shameful and bad act against democracy”. He called the eight people killed on poll day as “martyrs”. “Many others are in hospitals or jails. I have never seen such an election,” he said and thanked “the people who risked their lives to vote in such a difficult situation”. “Such things add to the fire. I request them not to do these things,” said Abdullah. He trashed the ‘rumors’ suggesting he would resign from Lok Sabha after today’s win. “I will follow what my party high command decides,” he said.

Indo-Pak dialogue

Abdullah demanded resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue and talks with all stakeholders including the resistance leadership, saying “war wasn’t a solution”. “New Delhi and Islamabad have to talk and try to honesty resolve the Kashmir Issue. The people of Kashmir cannot be expected to suffer endlessly. There is no alternative to talk. You have to talk in an effort to find a solution,” Abdullah said. Talking to reporters after he was announced as winner of the Srinagar parliamentary seat, Abdullah said, “I appeal to the Governor and President of India to dismiss this government and impose Governor’s rule in the state. This is the only way to give some respite to people. The government even failed to hold peaceful elections,” said Abdullah.

Saying that dialogue is the only way forward between the nuclear states of South Asia, Abdullah called for resumption of Indo-Pak talks and dialogue with all stakeholders including separatist Hurriyat Conference. “War is not a solution to anything,” he said. Reacting to the video of a youth tied up to an army vehicle, Abdullah said it is very shameful and a very bad act against democracy. “I request them not to do such things which will add to the fire and render it uncontrollable,” Abdullah said.

“New Delhi and Islamabad have to talk and try to honesty resolve the Kashmir Issue. The people of Kashmir cannot be expected to suffer endlessly. There is no alternative to talk. You have to talk in an effort to find a solution,” Abdullah said. Asked about the lowest-ever poll percentage in Srinagar by polls, Abdullah said, “How does it matter? We have seen polls before also where hardly any percentage was there. And what do you say to people who have voted even if it may be 7 per cent with all the pressures on them.”

Dispelling rumours of his resignation, he said that he was not going to resign. “I have neither said such a thing nor will I resign,” Abdullah said. Rumours were flying thick and fast in Kashmir on Thursday that Abdullah will resign if he wins the by-poll. On the other hand, Khan who had joined PDP after parting ways with the Congress was fighting his maiden Lok Sabha election. In the wake of unprecedented poll boycott and clashes during voting for the Srinagar segment, the Election Commission deferred by-election for Anantnag parliamentary segment—which was scheduled on April 12—till May 25.

Observation

The victory of octogenarian Abdullah is seen as a major boost for the NC, who used every card from separatism to a soft pro-Pakistan line ahead of elections.

Defeat of the ruling PDP candidate reveals the anger of Kashmiris towards the PDP-BJP joint government, targeting Muslims.

Kashmir has for too long been searching for a genuine government to serve the cause of asovereign Jammu Kashmir where the people could live in peace and without fearing the military boots ofoccupation forces from neighboring countries. Both PDP and NC play tricks with Kashmiris by joining hands with BJP or Congress to form the government to advance their own interests. Even the so-called freedmen fighters try to betray the Kashmiris by working for foreign nations.

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Afghanistan and the Quest for Democracy Promotion: Symptoms of Post-Cold War Malaise

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The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan should be the first step in a reduced American overseas force posture. Democracy promotion in the form of perpetual force deployment and endless military engagements has resoundingly failed to deliver tangible benefits for the United States. Those who celebrated in the wake of the USSR’s collapse as an unqualified vindication of liberal democracy ignored the role of strategic overextension and deteriorating domestic affairs in the latter. The unipolar U.S. moment was bound to be ephemeral, and should have been used to reevaluate and refocus strategic goals in order to ensure we avoid the same fate of our ideological counterpart.

Instead, the United States dispensed with any notions of humility and allowed democratic peace theory to continue guiding its foreign policy decision-making. Even though it is true that democracies are less likely to engage in military confrontations with one another, only hubris could have led us to believe we could universally create this sufficient condition. Afghanistan is a definitive rebuke to the notion that we can simply will the circumstances for democratic peace—on our own terms and with no compromise—into existence.

Luckily, there is still time to readjust the country’s strategic calculus and begin allocating its limited resources in a less myopic manner. Following through with withdrawal could be a starting point for a new trend of U.S. restraint. The most logical region of the world to address next would be its position in Europe. Relative European weakness at the end of World War 2 threatened the balance of power on the continent as the specter of Soviet Communism crept its way West. With Russia a shell of the Marxist empire, there is no logical reason for the United States to maintain its current outsized military presence in Europe; indeed, the EU collectively holds a GDP 11 times the size of Russia’s, has 3 ½ times the population size, and spends 4 times as much on defense.

The United States should demand that European allies adopt a share of their own defense that is more commensurate with this fact. The decision of the previous U.S. administration to remove 12,000 troops due to Germany’s inability to meet NATO spending targets was a good step. The current administration could continue to capitalize on this trend and set more targets for troop withdrawals. Withdrawal will also signal to countries that use political tension with Moscow to decrease their saber rattling. This includes Eastern European NATO members, as well as countries like Ukraine and Georgia. It must be made explicit to the latter two that they cannot engage in bellicose political brinkmanship, and then hope to simply rely on U.S. led NATO to come to their defense should the situation escalate. It may seem counterintuitive, but this may very well result in a more stable European security environment, at least in regard to its posture towards Russia.

This will also reverberate back into the European political arena, as there will be less incentive for inflating the Russian threat. Moscow acts strategically in accordance with its limited national security interests, anticipating Western responses and reactions. Clear signaling that the United States and NATO do not have the goal of encircling Russia and rendering it strategically inert will only serve to increase U.S.-Russian relations, as well as European-Russian relations. This will free up U.S. resources for more pressing national security interests such as preparing for strategic and economic competition with China. It will also decrease the incentive for closer Russian-Sino cooperation.

Ideally, this would cascade into a reevaluation of U.S. strategic postures in other regions as well, such as Southeastern Asia and the broader Middle East. The former is another area in which the United States could reduce its force presence and incentivize increased defense spending by allies. A decreased U.S. presence would also message to China that the United States does not inherently oppose Beijing as a threat. It should, however, be made explicit that aggression towards a U.S. treaty ally would be met with an asymmetric response, but that does not mean that increased tensions with China need to be the status quo. In the Middle East, large scale U.S. military withdrawal in exchange for a primarily diplomatic mission to the region could also serve to decrease one of the major sources of terrorist recruitment.

An interventionist foreign policy was perpetuated as the product of learning the wrong lessons from U.S. victory in the Cold War. A communist doctrine of proselytizing to the alienated masses with axiomatic dogmas and theological certainties failed not because of the weakness of its scripture (which would require a much different, longer article), but because its millenarian quest for world revolution led the Soviet empire to overextend itself beyond its economic means. Behind the façade of military might, the domestic population grew increasingly disillusioned and dissatisfied. Unfortunately, there are alarming parallels with the current domestic situation in the United States today.

Refusing to remain mired in Afghanistan could be an important catalyst in beginning to reevaluate U.S. foreign policy. If Washington focuses its resources on limited goals that prioritize key national security interests, it can better tend to the state of its own republican government and society. It might not be as romantic as crusading for democracy, but it could be essential in preserving the Union.

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What, in fact, is India’s stand on Kashmir?

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Women walking past Indian security forces in Srinagar, summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Nimisha Jaiswal/IRIN

At the UNGA, India’s first secretary Sneha Dubey said the entire Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh “were, are and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. She added, “Pakistan’s attempts to internationalise the Kashmir issue have gained no traction from the international community and the Member States, who maintain that Kashmir is a bilateral matter between the two countries (Pakistan is ‘arsonist’ disguising itself as ‘fire-fighter’: India at UNGA, the Hindu September 25, 2021).

It is difficult to make head or tail of India’s stand on Kashmir. India considers the whole of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir as its integral part. Yet, at the same time, admits it to be a bilateral matter still to be resolved between India and Pakistan.

What bars Pakistan from agitating the Kashmir dispute at international forums?

India presumes that the Simla accord debars Pakistan from “internationalizing” the Kashmir dispute. That’s not so. Avtar Singh Bhasin (India and Pakistan: Neighbours at Odd) is of the view that though Pakistan lost the war in East Pakistan, it won at Simla.

Bhasin says, `At the end, Bhutto the “dramatist” carried the day at Simla. The Agreement signed in Simla did no more than call for `respecting the Line of Control emerging from the ceasefire of 17 December 1971. As the Foreign Secretary TN Kaul [of India] said at briefing of the heads of foreign mission in New Delhi on 4 July 1972, the recognition of the new ceasefire line ended the United Nations’ Military Observers’ Group on India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) role in Kashmir, created specifically  for the supervision of the UN sponsored ceasefire line of 1949, since that line existed no more. Having said that India once again faltered for not asking the UN to withdraw its team from Kashmir, or withdrawing its own recognition to it and its privileges (Document No. 0712 in Bhasin’s India-Pakistan Relations 1947-207).

Following Simla Accord (1972), India, in frustration, stopped reporting ceasefire skirmishes to the UN. But, Pakistan has been consistently reporting all such violations to the UN. India feigns it does not recognise the UNMOGIP. But, then it provides logistic support to the UMOGIP on its side of the LOC.

India keeps harassing the UNMOGIP vehicles occasionally. Not long ago, three members of the UNMOGIP had a close call along the LoC in Azad Jammu and Kashmir after Indian troops shot at and injured two locals who were briefing them on the situation after ceasefire violations.

India even asked UNMOGIP to vacate 1/AB, Purina Lila Road, Connaught Place, from where it has been functioning since 1949.

Bhasin says (p.257-259), `The Pakistan Radio broadcasts and…commentators took special pains to highlight …the fact: (i) That India have accepted Kashmir to be a disputed territory and Pakistan a party to the dispute. (ii) That the UNSC resolutions had not been nullified and contrarily (iii) Kashmir remained the core issue between the two countries and that there could not be permanent peace without a just solution based on the principle of self-determination for the people of Kashmir. And Pakistan was right in its assessment. It lost the war won the peace. At the end India was left askance at its own wisdom’.

Obviously, if the UNSC resolutions are intact, then Pakistan has the right to raise the Kashmir dispute at international forums.

India’s shifting stands on Kashmir

At heart, the wily Jawaharlal Lal Nehru never cared a fig for the disputed state’s constituent assembly, Indian parliament or the UN. This truth is interspersed in Avtar Singh Basin’s 10-volume documentary study (2012) of India-Pakistan Relations 1947-2007.  It contains 3649 official documents, accessed from archives of India’s external-affairs ministry.  These papers gave new perspectives on Nehru’s vacillating state of perfidious mind concerning the Kashmir dispute. In his 2018 book (published after six years of his earlier work), India, Pakistan: Neighbours at Odds (Bloomsbury India, New Delhi, 2018), Bhasin discusses Nehru’s perfidy on Kashmir in Chapter 5 titled Kashmir, India’s Constitution and Nehru’s Vacillation (pages 51-64). The book is based on Selected Works of Jawaharlal (SWJ) Nehru and author’s own compendium of documents on India-Pak relations. Let us lay bare a few of Nehru’s somersaults

Nehru disowns Kashmir assembly’s “accession”, owns Security Council resolutions

Initially, Nehru banked on so-called Instrument of Accession and its authentication by `Constituent Assembly. Yet, in a volte-face he reiterated in New Delhi on November3, 1951 that `we have made it perfectly clear before the Security Council that the Kashmir Constituent Assembly does not [insofar] as we are concerned come in the way of a decision by the Security Council, or the United Nations’(SWJ: Volume 4: page 292, Bhasin p.228). Again, at a press conference on June 11, 1951, he was asked `if the proposed constituent assembly of Kashmir “decides in favour of acceding to Pakistan, what will be the position?”’ he reiterated,  `We have made it perfectly clear that the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir was not meant to decide finally any such question , and it is not in the way of any decision which may ultimate flow from the Security Council proceedings’ (SWJ: Volume 15:, Part II, page 394. Bhasin page 56). He re-emphasised his view once again at a press conference in New Delhi On November 3, 1951.

Nehru does not label Pakistan an aggressor at the UN

And then labels it so in Parliament

He never labeled Pakistan an aggressor at the UN. Yet, he told parliament on March 1, 1954 `that “aggression” took place in Kashmir six and a half years ago with dire consequences. Nevertheless the United States have thus far not condemned it and we are asked not to press this point in the interest of peace (Bhasin pp. 55-56).

Nehru disowns the Security Council as just a non-binding mediator

On July 24 1952, Nehru said, `Unless the Security Council functioned under some other Sections of the Charter, it cannot take a decision which is binding upon us unless we agree to it. They are functioning as mediators and a mediator means getting people to agree (SWJ, Volume 19, page 241. Bhasin page 56).

Security Council re-owned

Bhasin points out (page 57 op. cit.) `At the same press conference on 24 July, 1952 when asked what the necessity of plebiscite was now that he had got the Constituent Assembly [approval], he replied “Maybe theoretically you may be right. But we have given them [UN] an assurance and we stand by it (SWJ: Volume 19, pp. 240-241. Bhasin, p. 57, Bhasin pages 256-257).

Concluding remarks

Pakistan’s recourse to the UN is India’s Achilles Heel. So it is as India’s stand on disputed Kashmir is a rigmarole of inconsistent myths.

To avoid internationalization of the Kashmir issue, India’s own former foreign secretary Jagat Singh Mehta offered proposals (rebranded by Pervez Musharraf’s) to soften the LOC in exchange for non-internationalisation of the Kashmir dispute for 10 years. Mehta presented his ideas in an article, ‘Resolving Kashmir in the International Context of the 1990s’.

India had no consistent stand on Kashmir. There was a time when Sardar Patel presented Kashmir to Pakistan in exchange for Hyderabad and Junagadh. Reportedly, the offer was declined as Pakistan’s prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan thought it could retain not only Kashmir but also Junagadh and Hyderabad. Jawaharlal Nehru approached the United Nations’ for mediation. He kept harping his commitment to the plebiscite.

It is eerie that the whole architecture of India’s stand on Kashmir is erected on the mythical `instrument of accession’ and its endorsement by the disputed state’s assembly, Accession documents are un-registered with the UN. The Simla Accord text makes crystal clear reference to the UN charter.

Let India know that a state that flouts international treaties is a rogue state: pacta sunt servanda, treaties are to be observed and are binding on parties. Self-determination is not only a political but also a legal right in disputed lands. Sans talks with Pakistan, and UN or third-party mediation, what else is India’s recipe for imprisoned Kashmiris? A nuclear Armageddon or divine intervention?

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Afghanistan may face famine because of anti-Taliban sanctions

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Food and blankets are handed out to people in need in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, by © WFP/Arete

Afghanistan may face a food crisis under the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) rule because this movement is under sanctions of both individual states and the United Nations, Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, told TASS on Monday.

“A food crisis and famine in Afghanistan are not ruled out. Indeed, Afghanistan is now on life support, with assistance mostly coming from international development institutes, as well as from the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States, i.e. from Western sources and institutes close to the West,” he said. “The Taliban is under international sanctions, not only unilateral US and EU sanctions, but also under UN sanctions. That is why, in formal terms, the Taliban coming to power may mean that these sanctions could be expanded to the entire country, and it will entail serious food problems. Food deliveries from the World Food Program and other international organizations may be at risk.”

According to the expert, statistics from recent years show that annual assistance to Afghanistan amounts to about five billion US dollars, but this sum is not enough to satisfy the needs of the country’s population. “It is believed that a minimal sum needed by Afghanistan to maintain basic social institutions to avoid hunger in certain regions stands at one billion US dollars a month, i.e. 12 billion a year,” Kortunov noted. “Some say that twice as much is needed, taking into account that population growth in Afghanistan is among the world’s highest and life expectancy is among the lowest. And around half of Afghan children under five are undernourished.”

He noted that despite the fact that the issue of further food supplies to Afghanistan is not settled, some countries, for instance, China, continue to help Afghanistan but a consolidated position of the international community is needed to prevent a food and humanitarian crisis. “A common position of the international community is needed and it should be committed to paper in corresponding resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, which should provide for reservations concerning food assistance in any case,” he added.

However, in his words, the key question is who will control the distribution of humanitarian and food assistance inside the country. “There were such precedents when countries and regimes under sanctions were granted reservations and received food assistance. But a logical question arises about who will control the distribution of this assistance. This has always been a stumbling block for programs of assistance to Syria, as the West claimed that if everything is left to Damascus’ discretion, assistance will be distributed in the interests of [President Bashar] Assad and his inner circle rather than in the interests of the Syrian people. It is not ruled out that the same position will be taken in respect of the Taliban,” Kortunov went on to say. “It means that the international community will be ready to provide food assistance but on condition that unimpeded access will be granted to the areas in need and everything will not be handed over to the Taliban who will decide about whom to help.”

After the US announced the end of its operation in Afghanistan and the beginning of its troop withdrawal, the Taliban launched an offensive against Afghan government forces. On August 15, Taliban militants swept into Kabul without encountering any resistance, establishing full control over the country’s capital within a few hours. Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said he had stepped down to prevent any bloodshed and subsequently fled the country. US troops left Afghanistan on August 31.

From our partner RIAC

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