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Indian coercive strategy has made Kashmiris more alienated than ever before

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] J [/yt_dropcap]ammu Kashmir was a sovereign nation until India and Pakistan invaded and occupied it after their own independence from Great Britain. Both India and Pakistan wanted to expand their territories by annexing neighboring Jammu Kashmir and they have done with blessings from their colonial master UK.

India and Pakistan have disputed the territory for nearly 70 years – since independence from Britain. Both countries claim the whole territory but control only parts of it. Two out of three wars fought between India and Pakistan centered on Kashmir. Since 1989 there has been an armed revolt in the Muslim-majority region against rule by India. High unemployment and complaints of heavy-handed tactics by security forces battling street protesters and fighting insurgents have aggravated the problem

Unable to tolerate Indian brutality, Kashmiris are on revolt against Indian occupational crimes. They want USA, UK and other veto members to consider the pathetic plight of Kashmiri Muslims and give them their sovereignty back so that at least their children could live in peace without having to face the Indian military brutality.

India is fast losing Jammu Kashmir as it hates Kashmiris for demanding freedom and sovereignty from occupying Indian military which now enjoys more draconian powers to target Kashmiris at will. Indian regime never cares for human rights violations by its military in Kashmir.

New Delhi has conveniently fooled Kashmiris on its promise of greater autonomy for the region for efficiency while core Indian media lords spread lies about Kashmiris through 24 hours in their TV channels.

Now India is using Kashmiris as military shield with more and more army’s intimidation, wrongful confinement of Kashmiri youth.

Instead of punishing the guilty in their ranks for misusing their powers by ruthlessly attacking Kashmiri Muslims through fake encounters, among other techniques, it honors the guilty with awards and more money for their “meritorious services”. This anomaly has annoyed Kashmiri leaders.

A Kashmir Muslim, Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was tied to an army jeep by military solders and used him as a human shield in India-occupied Kashmir has said he is “afraid” after the officer responsible for the incident was awarded a commendation by the military. “I was under the impression he would be punished. But he was given a reward,” Farooq Ahmad Dar told BBC. The decision, announced on Monday, was met with shock in Kashmir. The army officer responsible for the action said he did it to make India stronger.

Dar had just finished casting his vote at a polling booth when the incident took place. Tied to the jeep, he was driven around villages, as an “example” of what would happen to anyone who threw stones at armed forces. “I was persecuted even though I was one of the few who voted,” Dar said. “Since the day the officer was awarded, I’m even more afraid. Now he will return to the same camp, and I am in danger.”I am feeling under tremendous pressure. He will be back and my situation will worsen.”

The army officer at the centre of the controversy, Major Nitin Gogoi, in a rare departure from official protocol, was allowed to address a media conference and defended his actions. “With this new India idea, I have saved many peoples’ lives.”

The foremost leader of freedoms struggle Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of the Hurriyat – an umbrella group of separatists in Kashmir – called the army decision “distressing and shameful”. Amnesty International India also condemned the decision, saying it gave out the impression that the Indian army “condones human rights abuses”. But views on social media were sharply divided between those who criticised the army decision and those who said Major Gogoi was a hero.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah said the army decision was “wrong”. He said the consequences could be “disastrous”, adding that “the use of human shields is now officially fair and justified in a Kashmir that stands more alienated than ever before”. The Urdu language newspaper Kashmir Uzma saw the move as an “open warning”. “It seems that by honoring the officer, the authorities in New Delhi are trying to send a clear message to Kashmiris that they have reliable tactics for restoring order, even when it involves violating human rights,” it said.

For quite some time, India has been running from country to country and invites rulers from every country to inform that Kashmir has been a part of India for centuries and Pakistan is spoiling the minds of Kashmiris to protest against Indian misrule. New Delhi might think foreign leaders, like Indian media lords, have no knowledge of the past and history. .

Last summer was one of the bloodiest in the Muslim-dominated valley in recent years. Following the killing of influential freedom fighting militant Burhan Wani by Indian forces last July, more than 100 civilians lost their lives in clashes during a four-month-long security lockdown in the valley. It’s not looking very promising this summer.

India occupied Kashmir has seen a fresh upsurge of violence in the past few months, with stone-throwing civilians pitted against military personnel. India is not happy that the youth has not taken real weapons so that Indian military could kill all of them and ask Indian core media lords, controlled by intelligence, to call the Kashmiris “TERRORISTS”.

As its usual safe tactic, whenever there is an upsurge in Sri Nagar, India quickly blames Pakistan for inciting the violence, a charge the latter dutifully denies.

This month’s parliamentary election in Srinagar was scarred by violence and a record-low turnout of voters. To add fuel to the fire, graphic social videos surfaced claiming to show abuses by security forces and young people who oppose Indian rule. A full-blown protest by students has now erupted on the streets; and, in a rare sight, even schoolgirls are throwing stones and hitting police vehicles.

JK Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who leads an awkward ruling coalition with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rushed to Delhi last week to urge the federal Modi government to “announce a dialogue and show reconciliatory gestures”.

India ignores the military atrocities on Kashmiri Muslims being ritually committed as a tool to silence the Kashmiri youth. Apparently, PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh told her that they could not “offer a dialogue with separatists and other restive groups in the valley” while fierce violence and militant attacks continued.

Former chief minister and leader of the regional National Conference party Farooq Abdullah warned India that it was “losing Kashmir”. What Abdullah suggested was unexceptionable: the government should begin talking with the stakeholders – Pakistan, the separatists, mainstream parties – and start “thinking of not a military solution, but a political way”. Ignoring the plight of Muslims in the valley, but only thinking only about Hindus in Kashmir as being propelled by Hindutva zealots in the media is not good.

Kashmir is one of most militarized zones on earth with military troops occupying almost every place so that any protest for freedom could be put done forthwith while informing the media to cook stories to make reports about “Muslim terrorists attacked or killed” type headings.

With more than 500,000 security forces in the region, India is unlikely to lose territory in Kashmir but Kashmiris are not with India. .Shekhar Gupta, a leading columnist, says that while Kashmir is “territorially secure, we are fast losing it emotionally and psychologically”. The abysmal 7% turnout in the Srinagar poll proved that “while your grip on the land is firm, you are losing its people”. So what is new about Kashmir that is worrying India and even provoking senior army officials to admit that the situation is fragile? Kashmiri youth is now politically matured and they know they need sovereignty for self development and regain dignity. .

For one, a more reckless and alienated younger generation of local youth is now leading the anti-India protests. More than 60% of the men in the valley are under 30. Many of them are angry and confused about what India plans and wants in Kashmir.

Hope has evaporated for his generation “in face of Indian oppression” and he and his friends did not “fear death”. When I took him aside after a while to ask about his ambitions in life, he said he wanted to become a bureaucrat and serve Kashmir. “It is wrong to say that the Kashmiri youth has become fearless. He just feels alienated, sidelined and humiliated. When he feels like that, fear takes a backseat, and he becomes reckless. This is irrational behavior,” says National Conference leader Junaid Azim Mattoo.

Secondly, the new younger militants are educated and come from relatively well-off families. Youthful Kashmiri leader Wani, who was killed last July as the militant, headed a prominent rebel group and came from a highly-educated upper-class Kashmiri family: his father is a government school teacher. Wani’s younger brother, Khalid, who was killed by security forces in 2013, was a student of political science. The new commander of the rebel group, Zakir Rashid Bhat, studied engineering in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.

The two-year-old fragile PDP-BJP ruling alliance, many say, has been unable to deliver on its promises. While BJP is trying to increase its base in Jammu Kashmir, PDP is fast losing popular faith in its ability to defend Muslims in Kashmir. An alliance between a regional party which advocates soft separatism (PDP) and a federal Hindutva nationalist party (BJP), they believe, makes for the strangest bedfellows, hobbled by two conflicting ideologies trying to work their way together in a contested, conflicted land. Both Congress and NC are trying to make maximum mileage from the weak government in Sri Nagar.

The federal government’s message on Kashmir appears to be backfiring.

When PM Modi recently said the youth in Kashmir had to choose between terrorism and tourism, many Kashmiris accused him of trivializing their “protracted struggle”. When BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told a newspaper that his government “would have choked” the valley people if it was against them, many locals said it was proof of the government’s arrogance.

The shrill anti-Muslim rhetoric by radical Hindutva groups and politics of incidents of cow protection attacking Muslim cattle traders in other parts of India could end up further polarising people in the valley. “The danger,” a prominent leader told me, “is that the moderate Kashmiri Muslim is becoming sidelined, and he is being politically radicalized.”

The security forces Kashmir, now adhering to Hindutva politics, differ and say they are actually worried about rising “religious radicalization” among the youth in the valley. A top army official in Kashmir, Lt-Gen JS Sadhu, told a newspaper that the “public support to terrorists, their glorification and increased radicalization are issues of concern”. Kashmiri public does not the government or governor or New Delhi masters. One army official said that religious radicalization was a “bigger challenge than stone pelting protesters”. He even claims that some 3,000 Saudi-inspired Wahhabi sect mosques had sprung up in Kashmir in the past decade. The military is eager to build some Hindu structures in Kashmir valley al s well.

Most Kashmiris say the government should be more worried about the cause of “political radicalization” of the young, and that fears of religious radicalization were exaggerated and overblown. Also, the low turnout in this month’s elections has rattled the region’s mainstream parties. “If mainstream politics is delegitimized and people refuse to vote for them, the vacuum will be obviously filled up with a disorganized mob-led constituency,” Mattoo of the National Conference said.

In his memoirs, Amarjit Singh Daulat, the former chief of India’s spy agency RAW wrote that “nothing is constant; least of all Kashmir”. But right now, the anomie and anger of the youth, and a worrying people’s revolt against Indian rule, appear to be the only constants.

If New Delhi still believes that Indian military in Kashmir could solve the Kashmir problems by Zionist or Indian guns there it is mistaken- it is ridiculous for any regime which is serious about democracy to think of a military solution. Kashmir requires political solution. If India still think Kashmiris want to be controlled by Indian military, then, a referendum should be organized under the UN flag.

As India’s most restive region JK stares down the abyss of what a commentator calls another “hot summer of violence”, the doom-laden headline has returned with a vengeance: Should India let Kashmiris live on their own as a sovereign nation?

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South Asia

Is Indian Democracy Dying?

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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The prominent journalist and editor, Shujaat Bukhari was leaving work when he and his two bodyguards were shot and killed.  Suffice to say newspapers are the lifeblood of democracy and Indian administered Kashmir under the decades-long grip of a half-million strong security force has a questionable claim.  Yet brave journalists, unafraid, write and sometimes pay the consequences.

Following Mr. Bukhari’s murder and the thousands attending his funeral, the security services have raided presses shutting down newspapers.  The internet is not quite as easily controlled, so some have been busy updating their sites.

Since Gauari Lankesh was brutally murdered at her doorstep in September 2017, another four journalists have lost their lives.  She, too, espoused views contrary to the ruling party’s current philosophy of an India aligned only with the mores of upper-caste Hindus.

Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhi, the principal Indian leaders who fought many decades for independence would have been appalled.  Gandhi protected low caste untouchables referring to them as the ‘children of god’; they are now known as Dalits.  Nehru, a Brahmin by birth, was a socialist in belief.  His dream was of a secular, socialist India.  The latter is long over, the former under vicious attack as Muslim and Christian minorities are marginalized.  In addition to journalists, three heavyweight intellectuals have been killed.  All were rationalists, the Indian word for atheists.

Gandhi was assassinated less than six months after independence by a right-wing Hindu nationalist who was angry at Gandhi’s moderate attitude toward Muslims.  The assassin Nathuram Godse was a member of the extreme-right Hindu Mahasabha political party, and had his roots in the paramilitary, Hindutva-promoting Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).  Its militancy has led to its being banned three times:  after the Gandhi assassination, during the Indira Gandhi emergency rule in the mid-1970s, and for its role in the Babri Mosque demolition.  The British also found its beliefs beyond the pale and banned it during their rule.

Not only is the RSS flourishing now but it serves openly as the ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  Together they continue to push their agenda for a Hindu India tolerating only Hindu culture or beliefs, in other words, Hindutva or Hindu hegemony.

Hindutva scholar Shridhar D. Damle confirms what is quite well known, that the RSS is now exerting its influence in academia, government and cultural organizations.  The laws restricting cow slaughter are not a Narendra Modi whim.  Mr. Modi joined the RSS at the age of eight, was nurtured and nourished by it, the philosophy seeping into his bones like mother’s milk; any moderation necessitated only by political considerations.

The RSS infiltration of academia is pervasive.  Last year, its think tank, Prajnah Pravah, summoned 700 academics including 51 university vice-chancellors (presidents) to Delhi to attend a workshop on the importance of a Hindu narrative in higher education; just one example of influencing what can be taught.  A gradual loss of academic freedom has been the frightening consequence of constant interference backed up by its militancy — frightening because dying with intellectual freedom, journalists, writers and thinkers is also Indian democracy … slowly but surely, unless the voters stand up to the RSS sharkhas (volunteers) at the next election.

Nobody knows who killed Mr. Bukhari.  But when the standards have been set and a certain climate prevails, does it mean much?

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US- North Korea talks: A role model for Pakistan and India?

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Shahbaz Sharif — Former PM Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother, current PML-N President, Former CM of Punjab (Pakistan) and the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the general election — while reacting to the meeting between US President, Donald Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, stated that India and Pakistan should seek to emulate both countries, and explore the possibility of resuming dialogue.

Tweeted Shahbaz Sharif: ‘The US and North Korea talks should be a role model for Pakistan and Indian. If they can return from their previous hostile positions of attacking each other, Pakistan and India can also resume composite dialogue,’

Shahbaz, an astute politician and a capable administrator has generally refrained from commenting on India. More so, after his elder brother, had got into trouble after his remarks on the Mumbai attacks In an interview to Dawn, the former PM had said:

‘Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai”.. Why can’t we complete the trial?’

Nawaz Sharif drew flak not just from the National Security Committee (which includes top civil servants and defense officials). NSC issued a statement, saying:

‘The participants observed that it was very unfortunate that the opinion arising out of either misconceptions or grievances was being presented in disregard of concrete facts and realities. The participants unanimously rejected the allegations and condemned the fallacious assertions.

Some parliamentarians of the PML-N, also said that Sharif’s remarks were ‘inappropriate’. They had to be assuaged by Shahbaz

What are the precise implications of Shahbaz’s statements at this time?

Shahbaz Sharif’s statement is significant because the Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa has sought to extend an olive branch to India via his statements — though the ground situation across the LoC has not witnessed a significant change .

Shahbaz Sharif on his part is seeking to send the signal, that he is all for a better relationship with India, and this will go down well with large sections of the population in Punjab (this includes not just members of Civil Society, but the business community as well). As Chief Minister of Punjab (Pakistan), he had visited India (December 2013), and met with then PM, Dr Manmohan Singh, while also visiting his ancestral village Jatti Umrah in (Punjab, India). Shahbaz had also attended the inauguration of the Integrated Check Post at Attari in April 2012. Shahbaz has sought to strengthen people to people as well as economic ties with Indian Punjab.

In 2017, when both Punjab’s and North India was engulfed in smog, Shahbaz had also written to his counterpart in Indian Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh,  seeking a mechanism to tackle the issue of smog, as well as environmental pollution.  Said Sharif, ‘..Let us join hands for securing a prosperous future for the people of our two provinces,”

At the same time, in his recent tweet, Shahbaz also raised the Kashmir issue, and does not want to appear excessively soft or a ‘sell-out’. Especially, vis-à-vis the hardliners and the military. Shahbaz Sharif had tweeted:

‘If the United States and North Korea can return from the brink of a nuclear flashpoint, there is no reason why Pakistan and India cannot do the same, beginning with a dialogue on Kashmir whose heroic people have resisted and rejected Indian occupation.

In April 2018, at a rally Shahbaz had raised the Kashmir issue, saying ‘..we will make Kashmir part of Pakistan,”

Fourth, Shahbaz wants to ensure, that the PML-N sets the agenda of the election campaign with this statement he has also ensured, that PTI will need to make its stance on ties with India clear

Mixed signals from Imran Khan

Imran Khan has so far given mixed signals, on many issues including ties with India. Khan has attacked Sharif’s for being soft on the Kashmir issue, and stated that he will be far more vocal and raise the issue on International Forums. At a rally in 2016, the  Pakistan-Tehreek-E-Insaaf PTI Chief and former cricketer stated:

“Human rights are being trampled in Kashmir…And no matter what, we will support Kashmiris morally and politically.

Imran Khan also accused Sharif of having a close rapport with Modi and bartering away Pakistan’s interests in the process. The PTI Chief has also sought an enquiry into Nawaz Sharif’s ‘business interests’ in India on more than one occasion.

On the other hand on occasions, Khan has spoken about the need for improving India-Pakistan ties. Interestingly, during a visit to India in December 2015, Imran had called on Modi, and claimed to have had a constructive conversation on bilateral issues.

Conclusion

What is clearly evident is that Shahbaz, a consummate politician, will essentially follow his brother’s approach of wanting to improve ties with India, while not ruffling feathers with the Pakistan army. Shahbaz, also wants to send a message to both the opposition (especially the PTI) and the establishment (Pakistan military and ISI). While the message to the PTI, is that he will not allow it to set the agenda for the election.  To the establishment, Shahbaz Sharif’s message is that he is ready to work with them, but will not play second fiddle.

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South Asia

Pakistan & India’s NSG membership: Challenges and prospects

Uzge A. Saleem

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Both the front runners of South Asia have found a new interest in becoming a part of the international non-proliferation regime. This desire was made public when both the states applied for membership in May 2016. So far both have faced disappointment and as the NSG 28th plenary meeting approaches the debate of whether there will be one winner, two winners or no winner at all, rekindles. The decision is crucial for both because they have their own set of concerns riding on this membership. Indian Prime Minister Modi has made the NSG membership the single most important foreign policy agenda for his regime while Pakistan does not want to be blocked out of the trade group by India if it becomes a member.

With the waiver India gained from NSG somehow got stuck in an illusion that this special treatment will apply to all the aspects of Indo-NSG understanding. The hope was killed when no decision was made in the 2016 plenary meeting. However India being India, did not register this clear signal. Part of its lobbying tactics was to become a part of MTCR. The agenda here was two fold: a)it wanted the support of the 34 MTCR members in NSG and; b). it wanted to help China become a part of MTCR (which it was previously rejected) so that China softens its stance on India’s NSG membership. The latter goal has not been met yet. The real problem is not India’s membership into NSG but its vision of itself as the driving force for the region, and as soon as it is able to get  NSG membership, this agenda will be on top of its ‘to do list’ to block Pakistan out. If India was to play on fair lines it wouldn’t be as much of a problem. Its desire of blocking Pakistan out is clear by its insistence on a merit based approach through which it assumes Pakistan will be left out for not fulfilling the merit. What it doesn’t realize is that even to set a merit there needs to be a certain criteria for that.

Coming towards the second candidate for the membership i.e. Pakistan, it has maintained a principle stance over the membership of the trade group. If Pakistan cannot become a part of the NSG because the state is not party to NPT then the same applies to India as well and any special treatment would be nothing more than discrimination. What the international community needs to be communicated is that they it cannot have a biased approach for the state of Pakistan solely for the US and India’s strategic interests. The membership needs to be granted to both the South Asian states otherwise the asymmetry will further increase which will destabilize the peace and security of the South Asian region. Furthermore it needs to be brought into consideration that by granting membership to Pakistan, its nuclear program can be streamlined along with the rest of the recognized nuclear weapon states which will bring it under the rules and regulations of NSG. This is something the international community would want for Pakistan because apparently it has reservations regarding the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear program so why not bring it at par with the rest of the programs where the skepticism regarding illegal proliferation can be eradicated once and for all?

Considering the case of both the states the only rational solution which China advocates in the NSG openly is that first of all the factor of states being NPT members must not be ignored since it is an important cornerstone for NSG however if it is to be overlooked then it must be overlooked for all aspirants alike and country specific approach should not be an option. Joining NSG can solve many issues for Pakistan including its problem of energy shortage as well as financial backwardness. Such an opportunity can prove to be beneficial for Pakistan as well as to the other states of NSG because the forum can also be used for confidence building and mutual understanding of each other’s circumstances. However India would not like this to happen so easily because that means compromising the leverage it gets by becoming the front runner in South Asian politics.

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