Because Pakistan Defense Forums Fake News Issues their FB & Twitter Accounts Are Suspended

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Fake news, morphed pics get Pak Defense Forum’s Twitter, FB accounts suspended

Pakistan Defence Forum, which describes itself as “a one-stop resource for Pakistan defense, strategic affairs, security issues, world defense and military affairs” has been repeatedly accused of putting out anti-India propaganda.

WORLD Updated: Nov 19, 2017 07:51 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A doctored image of a student activist of Delhi University which was posted by Pakistan Defence Forum’s Twitter handle.
A doctored image of a student activist of Delhi University which was posted by Pakistan Defence Forum’s Twitter handle.(Photo courtesy: Twitter)

The Twitter account and Facebook page of Pakistan Defence Forum, one of the longest-running forums devoted to Pakistan’s armed forces, were suspended on Saturday shortly after it posted fake news involving Kulbhushan Jadhav and a morphed image of a Delhi University activist.

Over the years, Pakistan Defence Forum, which describes itself as “a one-stop resource for Pakistan defense, strategic affairs, security issues, world defense and military affairs” and is better known by its website url of “defense.pk”, has been repeatedly accused of putting out anti-India propaganda.

Though retired and serving Pakistani military personnel are among the forum’s members, it is not an official website of the armed forces.

Searches for the forum’s Twitter handle, which was verified, and their Facebook page turned up messages that they had both been suspended.

The message showing that Pakistan Defence Forum’s Facebook page has been suspended. (Facebook)

On Saturday, numerous Indian Twitter users complained about Pakistan Defence Forum’s Twitter handle when it posted a doctored image of Kawalpreet Kaur, a student activist of Delhi University that purported to show her standing in front of Delhi’s Jama Masjid with a poster that read: “I am an Indian but I hate India…”

The poster used by Kaur in an image that she had herself posted on Twitter on June 27 this year had read: “I am a citizen of India and I stand with secular values of our Constitution.” At the time, Kaur had said she was asking Indians to change their profile images to “protest mob lynching”.

True story, there goes the Defence of Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/HV4K9bwpUm

Other than running malicious campaigns against several Pakistani journalists/activists, defencepk was also morphing photos to further its propaganda: pic.twitter.com/qK7ZLQM29G

The issue of Kaur’s photo being doctored by flagged by Shehla Rashid, the former vice president of the JNU Students Union, who contended that forum should not use such images in the name of the Kashmir issue.

I hope this is not official defence page of Pakistan otherwise there is a real security concern if you use morphed pictures just to spread hate across nations. Please put it down.

Also on Saturday, Pakistan Defence Forum had tweeted that India had “refused to avail the generous offer made by #Pakistan to facilitate a meeting” between Kulbhushan Jadhav, sentenced to death by a military court for alleged involvement in espionage, and his wife.

The tweet posted by Pakistan Defence Forum about India purportedly refusing Pakistan’s offer to arrange a meeting between Kulbhushan Jadhav and his wife. (Twitter screengrab)

The reality was that India had accepted the offer and asked for Jadhav’s mother to be included in the meeting. Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman had even acknowledged, in a tweet, that India had sent in a reply to the offer to facilitate the meeting.

Indian Reply to Pakistan’s Humanitarian offer for Commander Jadhav received & is being considered

Following the suspension of the Twitter handle and Facebook pages, a thread on Pakistan Defence Forum was devoted to discussing the matter and numerous members hurled abuse at India and Indian nationals.

The various threads in Pakistan Defence Forum are devoted to discussing issues such as Pakistan’s politics, operations against terrorists, and also problems faced by Muslims around the world. The threads are also replete with the conspiracy theories that often find space in mainstream Pakistani media and discussions about India’s domestic politics.

In the past, Pakistan Defence Forum has also been accused of running malicious campaigns against Pakistani journalists, commentators, and activists who have been critical of the powerful military and intelligence agencies.

Pakistan Is Learning The Price Of Working With China: Their Sovereignty!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Not aware of Pakistan’s move to exclude PoK dam from CPEC, says China

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), runs through PoK and India has raised objections to the project.

WORLD Updated: Nov 16, 2017 18:54 IST

Press Trust of India, Beijing
In this photograph taken on October 4, 2017, Pakistani naval personnel stand guard near a ship carrying containers at Gwadar Port. Remote and impoverished, Pakistan's Gwadar port at first glance seems an unlikely crown jewel in a multi-billion dollar development project. with China aiming at constructing a 21st century Silk Road.
In this photograph taken on October 4, 2017, Pakistani naval personnel stands guard near a ship carrying containers at Gwadar Port. Remote and impoverished, Pakistan’s Gwadar port at first glance seems an unlikely crown jewel in a multi-billion dollar development project. with China aiming at constructing a 21st century Silk Road.(AFP)

Amid reports of Pakistan’s move to withdraw its bid to include Diamer-Bhasha Dam in PoK from the CPEC framework, China said on Thursday it was not aware of Islamabad’s decision but the project to connect Xinjiang and Gwadar port is “progressing smoothly for the time being”.

Pakistan’s water and power development authority (Wapda) chairman Muzammil Hussain was on Wednesday quoted by the Pakistan media as saying that “Chinese conditions for financing the Diamer-Bhasha Dam were not doable and against our interests.”

“I am not aware of the information mentioned by you,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media in Beijing when asked about Pakistan’s decision to take the dam project off the table contending that the conditions proposed by Beijing is “not doable” and goes against its interest.

“I can tell you that China and Pakistan cooperation is extensive and profound,” Geng said. “As far as I know CPEC is progressing smoothly for the time being.”

Read more

Briefing the Public Accounts Committee on the status of the mega water and power project, Hussain had said the Chinese conditions were about taking ownership of the project, operation and maintenance cost and securitization of the Diamer-Bhasha project by pledging another operational dam.

These conditions were unacceptable, therefore, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi approved a report to finance the dam from the country’s own resources, Hussain said.

Pakistan’s decision to publicise Chinese conditions came as a surprise, considering it shares close and “all weather” ties with China.

The announcement by the Pakistan government came days before the 7th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting with China, which is scheduled for November 21 in Islamabad.

The JCC is the highest decision-making body of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through which China is infusing over $50 billion cash into Pakistan financing a host of energy projects. The CPEC passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Defending the connectivity project, Geng said “as for the CPEC we follow the principle of extensive consultation and joint shared benefits to promote the building of the CPEC. It is conducive to promote connectivity of the two countries and connectivity of the whole region. As far as I know CPEC is progressing smoothly for the time being.”

Pakistan has been struggling to raise money from international institutions like the World Bank in the face of Indian opposition to the project on the Indus River in PoK.

Neither the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) nor China would finance the dam, therefore, the government decided to construct the reservoir from its own resources, Pakistan’s Express Tribune daily yesterday quoted Water Resources Secretary Shumail Khawaja as saying.

Pakistani Senators Express Concern Over Disappearances Of People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWS AGENCY DAWN)

 

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Human Rights on Thursday expressed severe concerns over the issue of missing persons and said that those responsible were yet to be identified.

Senator Nasreen Jalil, who was chairing a meeting of the committee, asked who was behind the disappearances of people.

“People were gone missing but still those responsible have not been identified, ” she noted, adding that it was a matter of grave concern.

It is also condemnable that registration of the First Information Reports in such cases is often denied, she said.

“The issue of missing persons is still ongoing in the country as another list of 131 missing persons has surfaced,” she added.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that according to international laws, a country was bound to protect the rights of people living there. He, however, confessed that as a state they have failed to ensure the provision of human rights to people.

Referring to the violations of human rights in Punjab, Senator Mir Kabeer said that more than 100 labourers in Mandi Bahahuddin had sold their kidneys to pay back loans their parents took.

Senator Nisar Mohammad Khan also expressed concerns over violations of the rights of children and women.

In an earlier meeting, the committee had held law enforcement agencies responsible for the ‘disappearing’ of people.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court too had called for a detailed report on all missing persons detained at all government facilities.

Why The West Grew Rich

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWS AGENCY ‘DAWN’)

 

ABOUT 1,000 years ago, when Europe was supposedly traversing through its dark ages, the Muslim empire was the envy of the world. Its wealth and material standards were such that Cordoba alone was pronounced as the ‘ornament of the world’ by Hrotsvitha, a mediaeval German writer and Nun. By 1500, it was China and India whose riches and wealth became the stuff of fables. By the 17th century, the tide had started turning in favor of northern European nations. By the mid-19th century, this turnaround was complete. What accounts for this transformation?

The literature on this topic, suffice to say, is so vast as to be almost incomprehensible. One can, though, make a general distinction. Some of this literature concerns the question of ‘how’, the other concerns the question ‘why’, with the remaining being a combination of both. In this article, I want to briefly share the findings of two excellent new books on this topic by Jared Rubin (Rulers, Religion and Riches) and Joel Mokyr (A Culture of Growth), that tackle the question of ‘why’.

Rubin’s book concentrates its analysis on the divergence between the West and the Muslim world (especially the Middle East), and what factors gave rise to disparity in development outcomes. He debunks the idea of ‘backwardness’ of the Islamic faith, which supposedly held back the Muslim world. If that were the case, he argues, there never would have been a wealthy Muslim Spain. In general, he traces the great divergence between the West and the Middle East in the way that religion and government interacted over time.

The separation of religion from statecraft set the stage for European ascent.

Before the divergence began, the Christian West and the Muslim East used to derive their authority and legitimacy from religion. The real source of power lay with religious figureheads like the pope, followed by the rulers and their cohorts. Whatever economic activity there was, it was shaped in a way to benefit these entrenched groups. But then Europe gradually broke away from religion as its source of legitimacy. As the tight bond between religion and state loosened, economic and financial concerns became top priorities.

As nation states like Britain and the Netherlands adopted the parliamentary system of governance, the hold of the entrenched classes started to relax since parliamentary legitimacy required participation of the common man. This participation meant they could now stake a claim in the state’s riches, and also realise it through good policies.

What accentuated this break between religion and the state in Europe? One of the most iconic inventions of history, the printing press! In 1440, Gutenberg invented the printing press, revolutionising the spread of knowledge and ideas. Once restricted to only the church, knowledge now began to spread to all parts of Europe as books and pamphlets became easily available to the public. This, over time, gave rise to a movement (reformation and enlightenment) that gradually withered the grip of papacy and kings.

This marvellous invention, however, did not make it to the Muslim world till 1727 as leading religious figures saw it as a threat to their monopoly. They convinced successive sultans not to let this ‘un-Islamic’ invention enter their blessed lands. This 300-year gap, Rubin argues, is one of the most important factors (though not the only one) in explaining the divergence in wealth between the West and the East. At a time when Europe moved towards economic empowerment, technological change and inclusion, the Muslim world’s energies were focused on preserving orthodoxy and exclusion of people from the fruits of knowledge and empowerment.

Mokyr’s book, in contrast, focuses on reformation and enlightenment that drove Europe ahead of others. Why did these not occur in China or the Muslim world and only in Europe? His narration revolves around the political fragmentation in Europe that beset it in the wake of the rise of nation states. Political fragmentation gave rise to fierce competition, not just in commerce and trade but also in ideas which spread as innovations like the printing press made their presence felt.

Nation states, as they raced to embrace science and technology, also competed for leading scholars and thinkers. This spawned a culture of openness, not just in science but also in ideas. No longer did it remain possible to repress ideas and criticism since critics could now always find refuge in another state open to ideas and criticism. This cycle of openness became unstoppable with time, and complemented advances in technology and knowledge. This, argues Mokyr, explains to a large degree why European nation states were able to leave others behind.

To summarise, for Rubin, the answer lies in legitimacy derived from religion changing to legitimacy derived through people. This was made possible by inventions like the printing press, which tilted the balance in favour of trade, commerce and the people. For Mokyr, the answer is to be found in a cultural change brought on by the rise of nation states, their intense competition in various spheres of life and political fragmentation within Europe. Importantly, a common strand in both these books is to be found in the separation of religion from statecraft which set the stage for European ascent.

The above is but a tiny fraction of the wealth of knowledge available on this particular topic, and in no way does justice to such an important question. Interested readers can access hundreds of books and other material to contemplate this issue, such as the outstanding Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, or How the West Grew Rich by Nathan Rosenberg. What can be concluded is that there is no single factor that can explain the rise of the West. It’s the coming together of a host of factors that propelled economic growth. What we also know is that almost 500 years since this divergence in Europe’s favour is supposed to have begun, the pendulum is now again swinging towards the East (China and India, for example). Their rise is another interesting story, perhaps worthy of a future column.

The writer is an economist.

[email protected]

Twitter:@ShahidMohmand79

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

 

 

Karachi Pakistan Named Among Least Safe Cities In The World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTAN NEWSPAPER ‘DAWN’)

 

Karachi has been named among the least safe cities of the world in a report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) — the research and analysis division of The Economist Group.

The report is based on the second iteration of the index, which ranks 60 cities across 49 indicators covering digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security.

Asia and the Middle East and Africa dominate the bottom of the index as Dhaka, Yangon and Karachi are at the bottom of the list.

Of the ten cities at the bottom of the overall index, three are in South-east Asia; Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta, two are in South Asia; Dhaka and Karachi while two are in the Middle East and Africa; Cairo and Tehran.

Karachi was ranked 60, with 38.77 points, among all the 60 cities mentioned in the report. Karachi was added in the list in 2017.

“Although it performs poorly across all of the categories, it was dragged down by a very low level of personal security. This is a reflection of a number of factors, but the main reason is that among the cities in the index, it experiences by far the most frequent and most severe terrorist attacks,” reads the report.

Karachi ranked 43.22 points and stood at 54th in terms of digital security. Marked as a low-income city, Karachi is placed on the last slot [60th] with 39.92 points when it comes to health security.

As far as infrastructure security is concerned, the megalopolis was placed at 59th spot with only 40.11 points above Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Furthermore, lower-income cities—Mumbai, Delhi, Manila, Yangon, Karachi and Dhaka — all feature in the bottom 10 in this category.

Only five cities across the globe were placed above Karachi in the category of deaths from natural disasters. Annually, more than four people among one million lost their life in Karachi due to natural disasters.

More than 500 people were either killed or wounded every year in Karachi due to terrorist attacks. The average might be less than the estimates and they were based on global terrorism database’s figure during 2007 to 2016.The city was ranked the last in the category of personal security.

Senators raise questions over Gen Rizwan Akhtar’s premature retirement

(THIS ARTICLE IS FROM THE ‘DAWN’ NEWS PAPER IN KARACHI PAKISTAN)

 

The premature retirement of former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar echoed in the Senate on Tuesday as Senators raised question over the causes behind the sudden move.

Rizwan Akhtar on Saturday requested for early retirement from Pakistan Army citing “pressing personal commitments”.

He, in a letter, asked for “premature release” starting Oct 9, 2017, after nearly 35 years of active commissioned service in the armed forces.

Akhtar, who was replaced by Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar as director general (DG) ISI, was posted as president of the National Defence University two weeks after Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa took oath last year.

JUI-F’sSenator Hafiz Hamdullah said was there any political party which could ask why a seasoned senior general opted for early retirement and what were the reasons behind this move.

Without naming Rizwan Akhtar, he raised the question that why a senior general who had served on a crucial post in Karachi resigned from his post.

He went on to say that no one will ask a question in this regard because all know that it might make “them” angry, putting their political career in jeopardy.

PPP’s Senator Saleem Zia said that people would be camping outside the residence of a minister had he or she resigned, but no one will ask a question if an army officer resigns.

No one will even dare to pass by the residence of that officer.

LoC: Line Of Control, Really? Then Us It! Kashmir-Jammu

My Philosophy On This Issue

This commentary is admittedly by a person who has never stepped foot in the region. My opinions formed are from thousands of miles away, formed by TV News slots and articles I have read. I look for only one thing, and that is peace. I look for the day that no one will ever need to defend themselves, because it is the day there is no such thing as an aggressor. I am realistic to the lack of love between segments of Pakistan and India. There has been bitter issues throughout the region for centuries, there is little love loss between many of the people who favor Islam and those who favor Hindu or even the Buddhist  Seventy years ago when India and Pakistan were formed it was a bitter and bloody divide.

 

As you probably know, most of the people on the Pakistan side of the LoC are people who believe in Islam. Also, almost all of the people on the India side of the LoC are Hindu. If the LoC has any real meaning, if it has been good enough for a temporary fix, cement the foundation in concrete and use it now, mark it with a forever marker. Here in the U.S. this would not be Constitutional but maybe there? Can the two governments work out a deal where all Hindu people in Pakistan are given free, peaceful, safe passage out of Pakistan to India on the India side of the LoC. India should do exactly the same thing, all of the people who are believers in Islam and would prefer to be citizens of Pakistan should go and do so. My suggestion for the leaders of Pakistan and of India, make the LoC, the final border between the two Countries. This is a harsh thing that I suggest I guess you call this segregation but in some cases of physical hatred, safety of all must come first. Learn to grow, to become peaceful neighbors and trading partners. Or, you can just go on as is, hating and killing, you, your wife, your kids. I pray that we can all find peace, before and after we die.

 

 

13 killed as wagon collides with bus in Balochistan’s Mastung

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWSPAPER ‘DAWN’)

 

The wreckage of the vehicle following the accident.— DawnNews
The wreckage of the vehicle following the accident.— DawnNews

At least 13 people were killed and several others injured when a passenger wagon collided with a bus in Balochistan’s Mastung district on Saturday.

Levies officials said the driver of the van lost control due to over-speeding and collided with a bus coming from the opposite side.

The injured were rushed to Civil Hospital Quetta for treatment. The condition of seven injured is to be critical and doctors fear an increase in the number of dead.

In Pakistan, around 9,000 road accidents are reported to the police every year since 2011, killing more than 4,500 people on average, according to figures from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

Death toll from Jhal Magsi blast climbs to 21

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWS AGENCY ‘DAWN’)

 

The death toll from Thursday’s deadly suicide bombing in Jhal Magsi rose to 21 after another victim succumbed to his injuries at Larkana Hospital on Friday, DawnNews reported.

Several people, including a police constable, had died on Thursday in the attack, which occurred at the entrance of the Dargah Pir Rakhel Shah in Fatehpur, a small town in the Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan.

A First Information Report was lodged against unidentified persons by Station House Officer at the Gandawah police station, an officer who wished to remain anonymous told Dawn on Friday. Security agencies and police are investigating the incident.

Deputy Commissioner Jhal Magsi Asadullah Kakar said on Friday that the victims of the blast, including the police constable, had been buried in different parts of the district amid tight security.

Currently, nine people are under treatment in the Larkana Hospital while 14 are admitted at Gandawah District Headquarters Hospital. A dozen patients, who had received minor injuries, were discharged from Gandawah Hospital after receiving treatment. One injured woman had been shifted to the Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi.

The deputy commissioner assured that the hospitals are taking “good care” of the injured.

The bombing was the second deadly attack on a shrine in Pakistan in 2017. In February this year, another suicide bomber had killed more than 80 people and injured more than 250 in an attack targeting the busy Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan, Sindh.

This was also the second attack on the Pir Rakhel Shah shrine. On March 19, 2005, at least 35 people were killed and many injured when a suicide bomber exploded himself at the shrine. The dead had included devotees from different sects who frequented the shrine seeking spiritual relief.

Hate And Fear For Villagers Living Near The ‘Line Of Control” (LOC)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

An unending ordeal for Kashmiri villagers on ‘live’ Indo-Pak border

Villagers barely two to three kilometers away from the zero line and in the direct line of fire have witnessed maximum number of skirmishes and casualties.

INDIA Updated: Oct 05, 2017 08:10 IST

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Allah/Arnia
Villagers say the tender minds of children, getting exposed to bloodshed and deaths at a young age, are left with a permanent scar.
Villagers say the tender minds of children, getting exposed to bloodshed and deaths at a young age, are left with a permanent scar.(Nitin Kanotra/HT File Photo)

More than 45,000 people across 42 villages and the most-populated border town of Arnia on Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir see themselves as sitting ducks for Pakistani artillery.

Some of the villages in Arnia sub-sector of Jammu district that witnessed skirmishes from September 13 to September 23 are barely two to three kilometres away from the zero line and are in the line of direct fire.

Guns on either side of 198-km long Indo-Pak international border fall silent intermittently, but villagers are sceptical of the fragile peace and live in a constant fear.

The two nuclear neighbours had agreed to a ceasefire in November 2003 but that now lies in tatters, as different parts of the line of control and the International Border whistle to the sound of mortar shelling. The arc has widened but Arnia remains in the constant gaze of Pakistan.

Artillery horror

Chuni Lal, 63, a marginal farmer in Allah village, who lost his wife Ratno Devi, 50, on the intervening night of September 16 and 17 to a Pakistani mortar, recounts the spine-chilling horror.

“Pakistan was raining mortars that night. All of us… my wife, two married sons, their wives and my six grand-children had huddled inside a room. Electricity had snapped after a mortar hit transmission lines. Around 2 am I shifted to an adjoining lobby as it was hot and sultry inside the room. Around 2.30 am my wife and daughter-in-law (Rajni Devi) came to lobby and had just opened the door when a mortar exploded with a deafening sound in our verandah. My wife’s left ankle was blown away and she suffered serious injuries in her abdomen too. Rajni was also bleeding profusely.”

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Lal sought a neighbour’s help, who drove his car for nearly two hours to shift Lal, Ratno Devi and Rajni Devi to a hospital in Jammu city where Ratno died.

Besides Ratno Devi, a BSF jawan Brijendra Bahadur was killed and over a dozen villagers were injured in Arnia in Pakistani firing that began on September 13.

Lal’s two sons Om Prakash, 46, and Subhash Chander, 40, work as labourers and do petty jobs to support the family.

Traumatised children

Subhash’s wife Rajni Devi, who had suffered serious injuries, along with her two daughters Mamta, 15, Janvi, 13, and son Nitish, 9, have been living in a relative’s house in a safe village, away from Pakistan’s firing range and away from their school as well.

Pakistan had rained 82 mm and 120 mm mortars — battalion level low trajectory weapons — on hapless villagers.

“The children are traumatised from what they saw that night. They don’t want to return home and we also are apprehensive of this fragile peace. Death stalks us all the time but we don’t have any option” says Subhash.

Grim future

Forget children’s education, the people in the border belt of Arnia are deprived of a normal life, says Subhash.

In Arnia sub-sector, the state government has shut 33 government schools with a total enrolment of around 1500 students within five km radius of the border.

Read more

Fifty-year-old Gopal Dass, a small farmer in Allah village says, “Education is important, rather indispensable in present times but how could our children pursue it in such a hostile and uncertain atmosphere?”

Dass divulges another aspect of the shelling. “At very young age these children get exposed to loud explosions, bloodshed and deaths. It leaves a permanent scar on their tender minds but then who cares for the children of a lesser God?”

HT came across a group of small children aged between 5 to 12 years at Pindi Charakan village.

When asked why they weren’t in their schools, six-year-old Tannu replied, “Pakistan bomb chalata hai na. School band hain. Humko chupna padta hai. (“Pakistan bombs us. Schools are closed. We have to go into hiding during shelling).”

Farming hit hard

Another farmer Rattan Lal, 63, says, “While a family (of Chuni Lal) has been ruined, unexploded shells are still lying in the agricultural fields. The farmers are still not going to their fields because you never know when Pakistan starts firing at us. They cannot be trusted. Initially, heavy shelling destroyed our paddy crop, especially in the fields beyond barbed fence (towards Pakistani territory), and now out of fear, we are not able to irrigate whatever is left.”

Lal, like several other villagers, feels that they are caught in a Catch-22 situation. Farming, by and large, is the major source of livelihood in the border areas.

Thoru Ram, 56, informs that though there has been no firing since September 23, the BSF as a precautionary measure, was not allowing farmers to go to their fields beyond the barbed fence.

“Farmers on other side (in Pakistan) are also not coming to their fields,” he says.

7,000 people, one bunker

Allah village with a population of 7,000 has only one bunker where an optimum of 30 people can take refuge during shelling.

The villagers dubbed it a cruel joke as water seeps in and fills almost half the bunker during monsoons. “It turns into a pool of water and is of no use. The government has spent Rs 5 lakh on it but it would have been far better and practical had the government constructed individual bunkers in the houses of the villagers,” says Thoru Ram, 56.

“When mortars are being rained, how could one think of reaching one corner of the village to get into the bunker? I think government of the day should apply some mind,” he mocks.

In Rajouri district, hundred bunkers are being constructed while the state government has submitted a proposal to the Centre for constructing 621 community bunkers at a cost of Rs 6 lakh each and 8,197 individual bunkers at a cost of Rs 2.40 lakh each.

Pakistan’s arc of fire

Since May 1, when Pakistani Border Action Teams killed and beheaded two Indian soldiers — JCO Paramjit Singh and BSF head constable Prem Sagar — in Krishna Ghati (KG) sector of Poonch district, there has been no let up in Pakistani firing and shelling in Rajouri and Poonch border districts.

In Nowshera sector of Rajouri, incessant Pakistani shelling triggered migration of over 4,000 villagers to six relief camps in Nowshera town in May.

Pakistan also opened other fronts along the international border in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts from August onwards.

“It has been a pattern of the enemy (Pakistan). During summers when there is no snow on the mountains and passes, Pakistan tries to push terrorists via LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts and in winters their focus shifts to international border in Jammu region, usually Hiranagar, RS Pura, Arnia and Ramgarh. In the process they adopt all ploys of opening unprovoked fire on our posts and then flaring up the situation by targeting villages,” says a senior Army officer.

A police officer said that Arnia, the largest border town of the state just three km from the border is a soft target for Pakistan. The town has a population of nearly 20,000.

“They (Pakistan Rangers) are known for targeting hapless villagers and they know it is thickly populated,” the officer adds.

However, defence officials say there are other reasons, which can’t be shared in public domain.