Tag Archives: Jammu and Kashmir

Pakistani PM urges UN action on Kashmir

Reiterating Islamabad’s demand for international intervention in Indian-administered Kashmir, Pakistani prime minister on Tuesday appealed to the “world’s conscience” to act against the “illegal annexation” of the valley with New Delhi.

On the World Human Rights Day, Khan condemned the “gross” human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, especially after New Delhi’s controversial revocation of the valley’s long-standing special rights last August, which sparked worldwide criticism.

Human Rights Day has been observed every year on Dec. 10 since 1948, when nations in the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“On Human Rights day we must appeal to the world’s conscience, to upholders of international law & to the UNSC [UN Security Council] to act against the illegal annexation of IOJK [Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir] by the Indian Occupation govt.,” Khan said on twitter.

Condemning the Indian government’s “siege” of Kashmir, he demanded “an end to the gross abuse & atrocities being inflicted on Kashmiri men, women & children by Indian Occupation forces in violation of all Int Humanitarian & Human Rights Laws.”

“We salute & stand resolutely with the brave Kashmiris struggling for their right of self determination,” Khan added.

Meanwhile, the day is being observed as a “black day” by several groups in the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir, against New Delhi’s controversial move.

Long-fraught ties between the two nuclear rivals have plummeted to a new low following the India move of scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which is divided between the two neighbors in parts with both claiming it in full.

Many fear this step was an attempt to change the demography of the Muslim-majority state.

Since partition in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir, in addition to a three-week long Kargil skirmish in 1999.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.


India runs Kashmir council vote despite lockdown and boycott

Village council elections are being conducted Thursday in Indian-controlled Kashmir, but the absence of mainstream local politicians leaves worry the polls will install puppets of the central Hindu-nationalist government that revoked the disputed region’s semi-autonomous status in early August.

Officials are hoping the elections of leaders for more than 300 councils will lend credibility amid a political vacuum and contend they will represent local interests better than former corrupt state-level government officials.

But the elections are being boycotted by most political parties, including those whose leaders had been sympathetic to the central government but are now in makeshift jails or under house arrest. India’s main opposition Congress party is boycotting as well, possibly allowing a clean sweep for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP has a very small base in the Kashmir valley, the heart of a decades-old anti-India insurgency in the region of about 12 million people.

Predominantly Muslim Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan, with both countries claiming the region in its entirety. Insurgents in the Indian-controlled portion demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.

In the elections, members of the more than 300 Block Development Councils formed last year will choose chairs. Each block comprises a cluster of villages across Jammu and Kashmir, a state that India’s Parliament downgraded in August to a federal territory, a change that takes effect on Oct. 31.

About 1,000 people are running. In at least 25 councils, candidates are running unopposed.

Most of the candidates and thousands of council members, the electorate for Thursday’s vote, have lived for months in hotels in Srinagar, the region’s main city, over security concerns. In the past, militants fighting against Indian rule have targeted poll contestants.

Officials tout the councils, which will be responsible for allocating government funds, as grassroots democracy.

But observers say the system lacks legitimacy in Kashmir.

Political scientist Dr. Noor Ahmed Baba said the exercise, at least in theory, is an “important layer of democracy” but questioned conducting it in “extremely difficult and abnormal times.”

“When most people are bothered about their basic freedoms and livelihood, facing crushing restrictions, you’ve these elections,” Baba said. “This is more like completing a formality. It looks more like an artificial exercise.”

The council elections held last December were boycotted by separatist leaders and armed rebel groups who challenge India’s sovereignty over Kashmir. Both rebels and separatists in the past have called elections in Kashmir an illegitimate exercise under military occupation.

About 60% of the 21,208 village council seats in the Kashmir valley are vacant because no one ran for them. The winners of another 30% were elected unopposed.

Police chief Dilbagh Singh said authorities have made security arrangements for the Thursday’s elections to be conducted smoothly.

Before downgrading Kashmir’s status, New Delhi sent tens of thousands of additional troops to the already heavily militarized regions, imposed a sweeping curfew, arrested thousands, and cut virtually all communications.

Authorities have since eased some restrictions, lifting roadblocks and restoring landlines and some mobile phones. They have encouraged students to return to school and businesses to reopen, but Kashmiris have largely stayed home, in defiance or fear amid threats of violence.

The Modi government says removing a constitutional provision that had given Kashmir some measure of autonomy since independence from British rule in 1947 was necessary to give rights afforded other Indian citizens, to usher in greater economic development and do away with the sense of separateness that BJP leaders say has cultivated the separatist movement.

But as the crackdown continues, Kashmiris have quietly refused to resume their normal lives, confounding India at their own economic expense.

Shops have adopted new, limited hours of operation in the early morning and evening. Taxi drivers haven’t returned to the roads.

Shailendra Kumar, the chief electoral officer, said the government had planned for the polls in June.

Conducting the polls amid an ongoing crackdown “could be a discussion point,” Kumar said, “but should we delay it for another year? I don’t think so. This is a clear-cut system governed by rules, and rules don’t ask me to gauge mood and sentiments but to facilitate the process.”

Some Kashmiris view the polls cynically, as a move to create a new political elite loyal to the Modi government that found its plans widely rejected in the region.

“Every election here is meant to pull wool over eyes of Kashmiris and create a smoke screen that everything is fine here,” said Mohammed Abdullah, a college teacher. “It’s also meant to convey to the world that India is a democracy and Kashmir is part of this vibrant democracy.”

To Abdullah and other Kashmiris still reeling from the changes in the region, Thursday’s polls suggest the opposite.


Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan Declares Holy War Over Kashmir

New Delhi (Sputnik): After his campaign on behalf of Kashmiris at the United Nations National Assembly and with world leaders, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan returned to Islamabad on Sunday (29 September) to a rousing welcome by his cabinet and party colleagues, as well as a large number of party workers.

On his arrival, Khan alleged there were eight million Kashmiris in Indian-occupied territory being held as hostage by Indian troops. He encouraged his countrymen not to get disappointed, as the people of Kashmir are looking to them and he has promised to be their ambassador.

“Whether or not the world stands with the Kashmiris, Pakistan will stand with them. This is a holy war (jihad). We are with them (Kashmiris), because we want to please the Almighty (Allah),” said Khan. “I will unmask the RSS government of Narendra Modi at all forums.”

In the Pakistani Prime Minister’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly, which far exceeded his allotted time, he demanded that India must lift the “inhuman curfew” in Kashmir and release all “political prisoners”. He warned that if there is a face-off between the two nuclear-capable South Asian neighbours, it would have consequences reaching far beyond their borders.

Pakistan, which claims to be a stakeholder in Kashmir, was incensed at India’s decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special quasi-autonomous status by amending Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution.

India revoked the special status with a Presidential decree on 5 August and partitioned the restive state into two federally-administered territories in a move which was later ratified by the nation’s parliament.

India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over Kashmir since they attained freedom from British colonial rule in 1947. Both countries rule part of Kashmir, while claiming the entire territory. They have also fought three wars since independence; two were over Kashmir.

Indian leaders have been asserting that the entirety of Jammu and Kashmir, including the Pakistan-occupied portion of Kashmir, is part of the country and the unfinished agenda now is to integrate the occupied territory with the rest of Indian Republic.

“Pak-occupied Kashmir belongs to India. It is under illegal occupation by Pakistan. We have expressed our bipartisan commitment to resolve that contentious issue and get the occupied Kashmir rid of Pakistan,” asserted India’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s General Secretary Ram Madhav, in an interview last week.


Security forces kill 4 militants in Indian Kashmir

Security forces killed four militants in Indian-administered Kashmir on Saturday, police said, as the disputed Muslim-majority territory simmers under a lockdown imposed by New Delhi after it revoked its constitutional autonomy in August.

Three militants were killed in the Batote market area of Jammu where, according to officials, they had taken a local civilian hostage inside his house.

The hostage was recued unharmed, a spokesman for the central reserve police force told journalists.

Another militant was killed in an encounter in Kangan in the north of the region, Dilbagh Singh, director general of Jammu and Kashmir police told the media.

Singh also said militants had thrown a grenade in the Safakadal area of Srinagar city but that no one was injured in the incident.

Security forces had tightened restrictions in Kashmir and the Hindu-majority Jammu region on Friday, fearing protests ahead of speeches at the UN by the leaders of India and Pakistan.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the body that his country’s dispute with India over Kashmir could escalate into an all-out nuclear war that would have consequences for the world.

The divided Kashmir region has been source of major tension and conflict between India and Pakistan since 1947.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government has faced criticism and calls to restore communications and ease restrictions in Kashmir, where many mainstream and separatist leaders have been in detention.

India has repeatedly insisted that Kashmir is purely an internal matter and has bristled at outside comment or suggestions of mediation.


26 Dead, 300 Injured As Strong Earthquake Jolts Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir

The death toll mounted to 26 in a powerful 5.8-magnitude earthquake that jolted Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and several cities. At least 300 people were injured.

The epicentre of the earthquake was near New Mirpur in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which was severely affected by the quake. The depth of the quake, which occurred at 4.02 pm (local time), was at 10 kilometres, according to the US Geological Survey.

According to the Home Department, 26 people were killed and over 300 injured in Mirpur and surrounding areas due to the powerful quake.

Pakistan Meteorological Department’s earthquake centre said the 5.8-magnitude earthquake was located near the mountainous city of Jehlum in Punjab province. However, Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry said that the intensity of the quake was 7.1.

Some houses collapsed in Mirpur following the earthquake, Deputy Commissioner Raja Qaiser said. Parts of a mosque also collapsed in the area. Emergency has been declared in hospitals across PoK.

TV channels showed the footage of heavily damaged roads in Mirpur, with many vehicles overturned. Several cars fell into the deep cracks on the roads. The building of the state-run Broadcasting House in Mirpur was badly damaged.

The quake was powerful and created panic as people ran out of the building, eyewitnesses said.

Several cities including Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Skardu, Kohat, Charsadda, Kasur, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Sialkot, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Chitral, Malakand, Multan, Shangla, Okara, Nowshera, Attock and Jhang felt the tremor.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly session, expressed grief over the loss of human life. He directed all the concerned departments to provide immediate assistance to the quake-hit areas. President Arif Alvi also expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives.

Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa directed “immediate rescue operation in aid of civil administration” for victims of the earthquake in PoK. Army troops with aviation and medical support teams have been dispatched, the media wing of the army tweeted.

“Pakistan Army aviation helicopters have completed an aerial survey for damage assessment in Mirpur, Jarikas and Jatlan areas. Army teams have reached earthquake-hit areas of Mirpur, Jatlan and Jarikas. Rescue efforts initiated,” state-run PTV tweeted.

Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal, chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, said that most of the damage was done in Mirpur and Jhelum.

He said all departments, including NDMA, Pakistan Army, and State Disaster Management have started rescue operation in quake-affected areas.

Afzal said Mangla to Jatalan road and three bridges were damaged in the quake. “We have enough resources to cope with the disaster,” he said.

He said the exact magnitude of disaster will be known by Wednesday.

Pakistan’s major water reservoir Mangla Dam located near Mirpur remained safe, officials said. Mangla dam powerhouse has been closed, cutting off 900 MW power supply to the national grid, they said.

However, the Upper Jhelum canal was damaged and water inundated various villages. The breach in the Upper Jhelum Canal was fixed due to the timely intervention of officials, PoK Information Minister Mushtaq Minhas said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief at the loss of lives and damage to property due to the earthquake.


‘Human rights violations worsening in Kashmir’

A senior Turkish lawmaker on Tuesday called on the Indian government to end the worsening human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir “as immediately as possible.”

“Human rights violations have shown a massive increase in Jammu and Kashmir since Aug. 5, 2019,” Hakan Cavusoglu, the head of parliament’s Human Rights Commission, said in a statement.

Cavusoglu mentioned how thousands of troops were deployed to the region in early August before India took the sudden, unprecedented move of revoking the region’s special status.

Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir has been facing a communications blackout since Aug. 5, when New Delhi stripped the disputed region of special provisions guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

“I call on the Indian government to end the human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir as immediately as possible,” he said.

Cavusoglu said the recent incidents in the region “turned Kashmir into one of the most sensitive regions in the world.”

From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian Constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws.

The provisions also protected the region’s citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

After New Delhi’s move of scrapping Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, it has been under a near-complete lockdown since Aug. 5.

Several rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.

Indian authorities, however, claim that daytime restrictions have been lifted in 90% of the region.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.


US urges India to engage with Kashmiri leaders

WASHINGTON: The US State Department has urged India to resume political engagement with Kashmiri leaders and schedule promised elections in their occupied region as soon as possible.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump reiterated his offer to help India and Pakistan in resolving the Kashmir dispute, although he also noted that tension over occupied Kashmir was “a little less heated” now in comparison to two weeks ago.

And a day before the 9/11 anniversary, Mr Trump issued an executive order that added Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief, along with 10 others, to a new list of global terrorists. The order enhanced the administration’s ability to go after suspected terrorists and their financiers and supporters.

In a statement to the media, US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus urged India to take some key steps to bring normalcy to occupied Kashmir, which has been suffering under relentless curfew imposed on Aug 5, when New Delhi unilaterally annexed the disputed territory.

“We look forward to the Indian government’s resumption of political engagement with local leaders and the scheduling of promised elections at the earliest opportunity,” she said.

Ms Ortagus said the United States “continue(s) to be very concerned by widespread detentions, including of local political and business leaders, and the restrictions on the residents” of occupied Kashmir.

“We are also concerned about reports that internet and mobile phone access continues to be blocked in certain regions,” she added. “We urge authorities to respect human rights and restore access to services such as the internet and mobile networks.”

The demand for political reforms — although unlikely to fully redress the grievances of the people of occupied Kashmir who want an end to India’s illegal occupation — shows Washington’s continued concern about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. It also indicates that the US is not buying India’s claim that the occupied region is calm.

At a White House press talk on Monday, President Trump used a question to reiterate his offer to help reduce tensions between India and Pakistan over occupied Kashmir. India opposes mediation in its disputes with Pakistan, but Mr Trump’s repeated offers show that like many in Washington he fears the Kashmir issue has the potential of causing yet another war between India and Pakistan.

“India and Pakistan are having a conflict over Kashmir as you know. I think it’s a little bit less heated right now than it was two weeks ago and I’m willing to help them,” he said.

“I get along with both countries very well. I’m willing to help them if they want, they know that is out there,” he added.

Diplomatic observers in Washington point out that Mr Trump’s decision to continue offering to media despite India’s strong objections also underline growing global concerns on the situation in occupied Kashmir.

Also, the US decision to list TTP chief as a global terrorist is being interpreted in Washington as a gesture aimed at assuring Islamabad that the United States is against all terrorist groups, whether they target Afghanistan, Pakistan or India.


Pakistan sees risk of ‘accidental war’ over Kashmir

Pakistan’s foreign minister warned on Wednesday that the situation in Indian Kashmir risked sparking an “accidental war,” and urged UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to visit the troubled region.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he believed both Pakistan and India “understand the consequences of a conflict.”

But with tensions soaring since New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s autonomy last month, he warned that “you cannot rule out an accidental war.”

“If the situation persists… then anything is possible,” Qureshi said.

India imposed a military clampdown on Kashmir from August 5 to prevent unrest as New Delhi revoked the disputed region’s autonomy.

Mobile phone networks and the internet are still cut off in all but a few pockets.

Tensions over Kashmir, split between India and Pakistan since 1947, have sparked two major wars and countless clashes between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals.

Qureshi, who on Tuesday appealed to the Human Rights Council to launch an international investigation into the situation in Indian Kashmir, told reporters that he had spoken with Bachelet and had invited her to visit both the Indian and Pakistani parts of the region.

“She should visit both places and report as objectively as she can so that the world knows what the true… situation is,” he said.

The minister said Bachelet had said she “was keen to visit.” Her office could not immediately be reached for confirmation.

Qureshi meanwhile ruled out the possibility of bilateral talks to resolve the tensions.

“In this environment and with the mindset that we see in New Delhi today, I do not see any room for a bilateral engagement,” he said, adding that a multilateral forum or a third-party mediator would likely be needed.

“If the US plays a role, that can be important because they have a considerable influence” in the region, he said.

New Delhi, meanwhile, has insisted that the situation in Kashmir is an internal Indian affair, rejecting all international interference in the region.


US media showing one-sided perspective on Kashmir: Indian envoy

Some sections of the American media, especially the liberal media, is focussed on a perspective on Kashmir that has being “pushed forward” by those who are “inimical” to India’s interest, the country’s ambassador to the United States has said.

Harsh Vardhan Shringla said New Delhi’s move to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir’s special status last month and bifurcate it into Union territories was done for the “benefit” of the people.

In an interview to PTI, the top Indian diplomat called Article 370, which gave special status to the state, an “anachronistic provision” that was “stifling the economy and encouraging the inflow of Pakistani terrorism”.

“Unfortunately, some of the media in the United States — particularly the liberal media — have, for reasons of their own, chosen not to provide this perspective, which is very important,” Shringla said. “Instead (they have) focused on a perspective that has been pushed forward by those who are inimical to our interest.”

Shringla said he and the Indian Embassy here had started a massive outreach to the members of the Congress, senators and the think-tank community about the factual positions on India.

According to the Indian ambassador, the recent changes in Kashmir would bring change for the better and in the interests of the residents of Jammu and Kashmir. It will help them get rights that have been “denied to them for many decades”.

“That is the point of view that we are trying to bring across,” said Shringla, who had posted a lengthy video on YouTube last week to reflect on the “real reasons” for changes in the status of Jammu and Kashmir.

“As we go along, this perspective — with the restoration of services, more than 90 per cent of Jammu and Kashmir being free of any restrictions without any violence, without any shot being fired — are important signals to the international community that a lot is being done in a manner that is in the best interest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.


Iranian cleric says people in Kashmir must stand for their right

Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri-Hamedani has urged Kashmiri people to firmly stand for their right, assuring them that the Islamic Republic will support them in this regard.

The Indian-controlled Kashmir has been the scene of protests and military crackdown and restrictions since early June, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a surprise move, revoked Article 370 in the Indian constitution that had granted Kashmir special autonomy, the most far-reaching political move on the disputed region in nearly 70 years.

The controversial move not only infuriated India’s nuclear-armed Pakistan, which controls parts of Kashmir, but also sparked strong anger among the local population, who want their Muslim-majority region to merge with Pakistan, prompting protest rallies that faced a brutal police response.

“If you want to secure your right, you must be prepared for martyrdom and fight,” said Ayatollah Nouri-Hamedani on Saturday, during his meeting with a group of Kashmiri students studying at seminary schools.

“Our government, the Leader [Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei], all of us will help you,” the top cleric vowed, stressing that Kashmiri clerics, in particular, must be prepared to sacrifice their lives if they want to obtain the people’s right, reminding them of Iranian clerics who were marching in the front lines of protests during Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.  

Ayatollah Nouri-Hamedani also urged the student to set Imam Hossein (peace be upon him), the Third Shia Imam and the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as an example for their cause.

Imam Hossein and his companions were martyred in the Battle of Karbala, in southern Iraq, in 680 AD after fighting courageously for justice against the much larger army of the Umayyad caliph, Yazid I, which some historians estimate to have been 100,000-strong.

The Shia Imam and his companions were martyred in Ashura, the 10th day of the lunar month of Muharram.

Ashura, which is the culmination of a 10-day annual mourning period, is commemorated by Shia Muslims in many countries across the world, including in Iran in particular. This day will be observed in Iran on Tuesday.