India: Concerns over organised mass protests, possible attacks in Valley

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Concerns over organised mass protests, possible attacks in Valley

The communication blackout, which has caused a great deal of resentment in the local population, has also helped prevent the organisation of protests across the Kashmir Valley, people familiar with developments said.

INDIA Updated: Aug 23, 2019 16:41 IST

Smriti Kak Ramachandran and Rezaul H Laskar
Smriti Kak Ramachandran and Rezaul H Laskar

Hindustan Times, Srinagar
CRPF personnel stand guard in front of closed shops in Srinagar on Thursday. (ANI Photo)
CRPF personnel stand guard in front of closed shops in Srinagar on Thursday. (ANI Photo)

Organised mass protests and possible attacks by Pakistan-based terror groups are among the main concerns weighing on the minds of officials responsible for security in Jammu and Kashmir.

The communication blackout, which has caused a great deal of resentment in the local population, has also helped prevent the organisation of protests across the Kashmir Valley, people familiar with developments said.

“We are aware of the situation caused by the snapping of phone lines and the Internet and these are being gradually eased in parts of Srinagar. More restrictions will be removed in the time to come,” said a person who declined to be identified.

The people cited above pointed to the potential damage that could be caused by even one message that could be forwarded on messaging apps by elements intent on taking advantage of the existing situation.

The focus of security agencies has been on minimizing casualties and possible violent protests that could lead to confrontations, the people said.

 

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So far, the only death reported has been of a teenager who drowned in river Jhelum on August 5 while trying to evade paramilitary troopers, though there are reports that close to 100 people have been injured.

On Thursday, there were reports that pamphlets urging people to march towards the office of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) had been distributed in the hot spot of Soura. Hindustan Times couldn’t independently verify the reports.

The army also distributed pamphlets across the Kashmir Valley highlighting the benefits of the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35a of the Constitution.

Security agencies are also keeping an eye on all moves made by Islamabad’s military establishment and Pakistan-based terror groups, with the people pointing to the Jaish-e-Mohammed as the biggest concern.

“The Pakistani side did take some steps – for whatever reasons, including pressure from the FATF [Financial Action Task Force] – such as shutting down camps and cutting off financing. But none of this is irreversible,” said the first person cited above.

“More than the other groups, it is the Jaish-e-Mohammed that is the most active,” the person added.

Over the past few years, the number of terrorists being pushed across the Line of Control (LoC) has been an average of about 300 a year, the people said. Though the armed forces have been able to neutralise a number of these terrorists during infiltration attempts, others have managed to get through to the Kashmir Valley, they said.

Though Pakistan has taken steps to control the activities of terror groups and there continues to be pressure on the country from the international community — a crucial meeting of the FATF in Paris in October will decide whether Pakistan is to be placed on a blacklist for failing to counter terror financing – there continue to be concerns that Islamabad could again open the jihadi tap, the people said.

First Published: Aug 23, 2019 00:26 IST

Pakistan to take Kashmir issue with India to World Court

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Pakistan to take Kashmir issue with India to World Court

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told ARY News channel that the government had made an “in-principle decision” to take the Kashmir issue to the ICJ, and that it would be taken up “as soon as possible”.

WORLD Updated: Aug 20, 2019 22:39 IST

Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad

Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan said on Tuesday it would take the Kashmir issue with India to International Court of Justice.
Pakistan said on Tuesday it would take the Kashmir issue with India to International Court of Justice.(AP Photo)

Pakistan said on Tuesday it will take the Kashmir issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) following India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

The move came four days after the UN Security Council held closed and informal consultations on the Kashmir issue – the first time such a meeting was held since 1971 – though there was no formal outcome or statement. Pakistan’s leadership has already pledged to raise the issue at all international forums.

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told ARY News channel that the government had made an “in-principle decision” to take the Kashmir issue to the ICJ, and that it would be taken up “as soon as possible”.

“We had to see what were our legal options. We were examining the options and after that, we have come to the decision that we have a strong position and we can take it to the ICJ,” he said.

“After discussions, this decision has been made,” he added.

Asked by the channel whether Pakistan intended to take up human rights violations or the change of the status of Kashmir at the ICJ, Qureshi said legal details would be provided by the law ministry, but did not go into details.

Pakistan’s de facto information minister Firdous Ashiq Awan also told reporters following a cabinet meeting that the government had granted in-principle approval to the move to take the Kashmir issue to the UN’s principal judicial organ.

She said the case will be presented with a focus on human rights violations. A panel of internationally reputed lawyers will be engaged to pursue the case on behalf of Pakistan, she added.

There was no immediate response from Indian officials. However, people familiar with developments said New Delhi had made preparations for the possibility of Islamabad taking the Kashmir issue to the ICJ or any other international court before the Indian government announced its decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5.

In a separate development, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman spoke to Prime Minister Imran Khan over phone on Monday night. They exchanged views on the situation in Kashmir, media reports said. Khan told the crown prince about the latest situation in the region and the two leaders also discussed the regional security situation.

First Published: Aug 20, 2019 19:43 IST

India studying early Chinese proposals on boundary issue

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India studying early Chinese proposals on boundary issue

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is evaluating the “early harvest” proposals sent by Beijing to build trust between the two sides ahead of the meeting.

INDIA Updated: Aug 18, 2019 08:15 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, Beijing/ New Delhi
Senior Chinese diplomats said Beijing was very serious about getting the longstanding boundary issues with both India and Bhutan out of the way.
Senior Chinese diplomats said Beijing was very serious about getting the longstanding boundary issues with both India and Bhutan out of the way. (HT File Photo )

The 22nd round of the India-China Special Representatives dialogue on the boundary issue will take place in New Delhi in mid-September. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is evaluating the “early harvest” proposals sent by Beijing to build trust between the two sides ahead of the meeting.

Dates for the meeting between Doval and Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, the interlocutors, haven’t yet been finalised, Hindustan Times learns from Chinese and Indian diplomats.

The foreign ministers dialogue on August 11-13 in Beijing and the Special Representative talks are precursors to the October 11-12 informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in India for which Varanasi is being considered as the potential venue.

Senior Chinese diplomats said Beijing was very serious about getting the longstanding boundary issues with both India and Bhutan out of the way, and that Wang had sent “early harvest” proposals to India.

Neither side is willing to share the contents of the proposals. However, Beijing, as indicated by HT’s conversations with Chinese diplomats, is showing no signs of changing any positions with New Delhi, be it India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or full political support to its “all weather ally” Pakistan.

The trust factor between the two sides has also taken a hit after China, joined by the United Kingdom, still living in its imperial past, supported Pakistan in the informal United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Monday against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to nullify Article 370 and Article 35 A of the Indian Constitution pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir.

The overall sense from the UNSC meeting was that both countries were hopelessly outnumbered and outmanoeuvred in their quest for a formal outcome by the remaining 13 members led by the US and France.

In his meeting this month in Beijing with State Councillor Wang, who is also foreign minister, external affairs minister S Jaishankar had made it very clear that both countries should be sensitive to each other’s core concerns. “If Beijing wants India to support One China that includes Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, then it also must support One India,” said a top official.

Indian diplomats based in the US said the latest Chinese move in support of Pakistan on Kashmir will lead to a cooling of ties; Article 370 and Article 35 A have nothing to do with beaching either the UN Charter or the 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan, they say. Despite Chinese diplomats vehemently denying it, Beijing wants to play elder brother to South Asia as the dominant power in the region and will support Pakistan for its own economic and strategic interests.

In the circumstances, mutual trust between the two countries can only be built if President Xi, or Xi Dada (elder brother as he is called), can overrule the status quoits in Beijing and opt for a mutually beneficial and mutually acceptable solution to the long-pending dispute over the boundary.

First Published: Aug 18, 2019 07:07 IST

UN Security Council to discuss J&K in closed-door consultation today

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

UN Security Council to discuss J&K in closed-door consultation today

China on Wednesday threw its weight behind its all-weather ally Pakistan’s call for convening an “urgent meeting” of the Security Council to take up the agenda item “India-Pakistan Question” to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following India’s decision to end the state’s special status and split it into two Union Territories.

INDIA Updated: Aug 16, 2019 08:11 IST

Yashwant Raj and Rezaul H Laskar
Yashwant Raj and Rezaul H Laskar

Hindustan Times, Washington/New Delhi
Paramilitary soldiers stand guard in Srinagar on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019.
Paramilitary soldiers stand guard in Srinagar on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. (AP)

The UN Security Council is set to take up the situation in Kashmir during closed door informal consultations on Friday, instead of the open and formal meeting Islamabad sought along with the right to address it, people familiar with developments said on Thursday.

China on Wednesday threw its weight behind its all-weather ally Pakistan’s call for convening an “urgent meeting” of the Security Council to take up the agenda item “India-Pakistan Question” to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following India’s decision to end the state’s special status and split it into two Union Territories.

China’s statement backing Pakistan’s call for the meeting said the 15-member Security Council should hold “closed consultations under the agenda ‘India-Pakistan Question’” and invite the Department of Political and Peace building Affairs and Department of Peace Operations to brief the body. If China had wanted a broader formal meeting, it would have said so instead of seeking “consultations”, the people said.

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India’s External Affairs Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, is in China.
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“The UN Security Council will discuss the Jammu and Kashmir situation behind closed doors most likely on August 16,” Poland’s permanent representative to the UN and current Security Council president, Joanna Wronecka, was quoted as saying by Geo News channel. Poland holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency for August.

Russia’s acting UN envoy, Dmitry Polyansky, told reporters that Moscow did not object to the holding of such a meeting but that the issue should be discussed behind closed doors. Security Council members need to coordinate their positions first because the Kashmir issue hasn’t been on the agenda for quite a while, he added.

“Consultations” and an “open” or a “closed meeting” are technically and substantively different, reflecting the gravity of the issue. According to the UN’s definitions, both open and closed meetings are formal meetings of the Security Council, though closed meetings are not open to the public and no verbatim record of statements is kept and the council issues a communiqué. Consultations are informal meetings of the council members and aren’t covered in the repertoire.

The Security Council holds such consultations frequently, sometimes thrice a week, and members can raise any issue and several topics can come up at these discussions. China has inserted Kashmir into the agenda and it will be one of them on Friday, the people cited above said. The session will neither be recorded nor telecast live and Pakistan won’t get to address the members, they added.

France had even proposed the council should discuss the issue in a less formal manner – known as “any other business” – next week, Reuters quoted unnamed diplomats as saying.

Russia has already said India and Pakistan should address their differences bilaterally, a position also adopted by Poland and the European Union. The US, too, has ruled out mediation on the Kashmir issue and called for a dialogue between India and Pakistan.

A letter sent by Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to the Security Council president on August 13 said a representative of the Pakistani government should be allowed to join the meeting. Experts said if this request were to be accepted by the council, an Indian representative would also have to be allowed to participate in the discussions.

The experts said much depends on the format of discussions and their outcomes – such as whether there is a binding or non-binding resolution and whether the minutes are recorded.

The people cited above also said that though Pakistan had tried many times to internationalise the Kashmir issue, the situation on the ground had changed since the Indian government’s decision on August 5 to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

“In the past, such efforts to internationalise the matter were aimed at discussing the status of Kashmir. This is no longer the case now as the status has changed,” said a person who did not want to be identified.

The people noted that Pakistan was persisting with efforts to portray a “doomsday picture”, including Prime Minister Imran Khan’s public remarks and tweets, and Qureshi’s letter to the Security Council. Qureshi wrote in his letter that the situation in Kashmir poses “an imminent threat to international peace”. Qureshi also referred to Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, killed by security forces in 2016, as a “popular resistance leader”.

“There is, furthermore, a clear and present danger that India will provoke another conflict with Pakistan to divert attention from its recent actions in Jammu & Kashmir,” Qureshi wrote in the letter.

He added, “Pakistan will not provoke a conflict. But India should not mistake our restraint for weakness. If India chooses to resort again to the use of force, Pakistan will be obliged to respond, in self-defense, with all its capabilities.”

The Indian government hasn’t formally responded to the remarks by the Pakistani leadership and the people cited above said the changes in Kashmir were purely an internal issue.

First Published: Aug 15, 2019 23:28 IST

Kashmir cross-border fire ‘kills 3 Pakistani, 5 Indian soldiers’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL JAZEERA NEWS)

 

Kashmir cross-border fire ‘kills 3 Pakistani, 5 Indian soldiers’

India denies Pakistani army’s statement that five of its troops were killed in exchange of fire across Line of Control.

Indian soldiers patrolling near the LoC on Tuesday [Channi Anand/AP Photo]
Indian soldiers patrolling near the LoC on Tuesday [Channi Anand/AP Photo]

Pakistan‘s army has said at least three Pakistani and five Indian soldiers have been killed after a cross-border soldiers killed

exchange of fire in the disputed region of Kashmir, prompting a denial by New Delhi that there were fatalities among its forces.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesman of Pakistan armed forces, wrote on Twitter on Thursday that its three soldiers had died along with five of India’s when Indian forces opened fire along the contested border, known as the Line of Control (LOC).

“Intermittent exchange of fire continues,” Ghafoor tweeted.

He told Al Jazeera that three civilians were also killed on Thursday in the same cross-border firing at Batal sector on the Pakistani side of the LoC.

DG ISPR

@OfficialDGISPR

In efforts to divert attention from precarious situation in IOJ&K,Indian Army increases firing along LOC.
3 Pakistani soldiers embraced shahadat. Pakistan Army responded effectively. 5 Indian soldiers killed, many injured, bunkers damaged. Intermittent exchange of fire continues.

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An Indian army spokesperson denied the Pakistani army’s statement. “No casualties. This assertion is wrong,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

In a statement quoted by news agencies, the Indian army said that from around 7am Pakistan violated a ceasefire between the two nations in the heavily militarized LoC.

Kashmir status scrapped

The developments come during a period of increasing tensions between India and Pakistan after New Delhi’s Hindu nationalist government last week revoked special status for Indian-administered Kashmir.

The decision by India blocks the right of the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there.

Telephone lines, internet and television networks have been blocked and there are restrictions on movement and assembly.

READ MORE

Kashmir: India’s Modi hails ‘path-breaking’ changes amid lockdown

In the lead-up to its controversial move on August 5, India also deployed thousands of additional troops and arrested political leaders in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

“Details are emerging that there were some damage to homes in the area. Tensions remain high on this border,” Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, said.

“We’ve have been visiting some of these villages, where people have been telling us it is very difficult for normal life to continue there because they live under constant fear.”

On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the local legislative assembly of the Pakistani-administered Kashmir in Muzaffarabad.

He vowed the time had come to teach New Delhi a lesson and promised to “fight until the end” against any Indian aggression.

Khan has also likened India’s moves in Kashmir to Nazi Germany, accused them of ethnic cleansing, and appealed to the international community to take action.

Pakistan formally asked the United Nations Security Council late on Tuesday to hold an emergency session to address the situation.

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Indian activists release report after visiting ‘desolate’ Kashmir

Islamabad has also expelled the Indian ambassador, halted bilateral trade and suspended cross-border transport services.

“I think there is huge lack of trust on the part of the Kashmiri people and more importantly because India jailed a number of moderate pro-India politicians and leaders of the political party, there are really no intermediaries between the Muslim majority population of Indian citizens in the Kashmir valley,” Adnan Naseemullah, a senior lecturer at King’s College London, told Al Jazeera.

“That I think, the lack of ability for representation, to be part of this process, is also going to be very concerning in terms of economic development moving forward.”

Earlier this year Pakistan and India came close to all-out conflict yet again, after a militant attack in Indian-held Kashmir in February was claimed by a group based in Pakistan, igniting tit-for-tat air strikes.

UN to meet Pakistan and China

The UN Security Council is due to meet behind closed-doors on Friday at the request of China and Pakistan to discuss India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, diplomats said.

Any action by the 15-member council is unlikely as the United States traditionally backs India and China supports Pakistan.

READ MORE

Kashmir special status explained: What are Articles 370 and 35A?

“Pakistan will not provoke a conflict. But India should not mistake our restraint for weakness,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote in a letter to the Security Council on Tuesday.

“If India chooses to resort again to the use of force, Pakistan will be obliged to respond, in self-defense, with all its capabilities.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on India and Pakistan to refrain from any steps that could affect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Guterres also said he was concerned about reports of restrictions on the Indian side of Kashmir.

The Security Council adopted several resolutions in 1948 and in the 1950s on the dispute between India and Pakistan over the region, including one which says a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of the mostly Muslim Kashmir.

Another resolution also calls upon both sides to “refrain from making any statements and from doing or causing to be done or permitting any acts which might aggravate the situation”.

Is Pakistan able to counter India's move in Kashmir?

INSIDE STORY

Is Pakistan able to counter India’s move in Kashmir?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

India: Restrictions removed from Jammu, Kashmir to be in lockdown on I-Day

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Restrictions removed from Jammu, Kashmir to be in lockdown on I-Day

Additional director general of police Munir Khan said there were localised incidents in various parts of Srinagar and other districts in the Valley, but these were contained and dealt with locally.

INDIA Updated: Aug 14, 2019 23:49 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, Srinagar/Jammu
A Kashmiri man rides a bicycle through a deserted street during security lockdown in Srinagar. (Photo PTI)
A Kashmiri man rides a bicycle through a deserted street during security lockdown in Srinagar. (Photo PTI)

An unprecedented communications blackout and restrictions on movement and assembly will continue in Kashmir for some more time but the curbs were fully lifted in Jammu, the government announced on Wednesday as the restive region prepared to celebrate Independence Day.

Additional director general of police Munir Khan said there were localized incidents in various parts of Srinagar and other districts in the Valley, but these were contained and dealt with locally.

“Our biggest endeavor is to ensure there is no civilian casualty,” Khan added.

“Restrictions imposed in Jammu have been completely removed and schools and other establishments there are functioning. Restrictions will continue in some places of Kashmir for some time,” he told reporters.

He admitted to a “few” pellet injuries in Kashmir – the administration had previously not confirmed any injuries related to pellet guns — that were treated, but insisted that there had been no major injuries since the restrictions were clamped in Kashmir in the early hours of August 5.

Later that day, the central government moved to revoke Jammu & Kashmir’s special status and autonomy, and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.

Since then, large sections of Srinagar and other cities have been barricaded with barbed wires, streets deserted and shops shuttered. With phone lines dead and internet services suspended, local residents have reported difficulties in reaching family members and in procuring essential supplies.

More than 500 political workers have been detained in the past 10 days, and protests have rocked some parts of Kashmir, including in old Srinagar’s Soura region, where thousands of people took out a rally chanting slogans demanding “Azaadi”, according to local residents.

Asked about the number of people detained, Khan said he would not talk about individuals. “In a law and order situation like this, there are different kinds of detention… preventive detention to ensure the established miscreants do not vitiate the peaceful atmosphere… so you have to take preventive steps,” he said.

His comments came on a day Kashmiri politician and former IAS officer Shah Faesal was detained in Srinagar under the Public Safety Act (PSA) after he was sent back to Kashmir from Delhi airport, officials said.

Faesal, who was bound for Istanbul, was detained at the airport in the early hours of Wednesday, they said. His purpose of visiting Turkey was not immediately known, officials added.

The main focus of the administration and the police is now on Independence Day celebrations on Thursday, Khan said. “All arrangements are in place to ensure peaceful celebrations throughout the state,” he added.

Jammu and Kashmir principal secretary Rohit Kansal said the overall situation in the region remained calm. “Further relaxations in prohibitory orders have been given in a large number of areas, including in Srinagar, and these relaxations will continue to be given till this afternoon,” he said.

On all fronts — civil supplies, national highways, airport, medical facilities — the situation was normal, Kansal said, underlining that there was no shortage of essential supplies.

“Local authorities, as before, are keeping a close watch on the situation and offering relaxations wherever the situation warrants it,” he added.

Khan said curbs were imposed after assessing the overall situation of that particular area.

“It is not like restrictions are imposed in a generalized manner. After assessing the situation of a particular area, restrictions are imposed… relaxation is also given after assessing the situation (of the area concerned),” the ADG said.

It is for the district administration — the district magistrate and the superintendent of police — to assess the situation and take steps necessary to maintain peace, and law and order.

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 23:48 IST

India: Pakistan plays Afghanistan card to get US support on Kashmir

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Pakistan plays Afghanistan card to get US support on Kashmir

Asad Majeed Khan’s comments came against the backdrop of little support for Pakistan’s demand for intervention by the world community following India’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

INDIA Updated: Aug 14, 2019 08:45 IST

HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents

Hindustan Times, Washington/Islamabad
Srinagar: Security personnel stand guard during restrictions, in Srinagar.
Srinagar: Security personnel stand guard during restrictions, in Srinagar.(PTI)

Pakistan’s envoy to the US has threatened that his country might redeploy troops from the Afghanistan border to the Indian frontier, a move that can complicate peace talks with the Taliban, even as he called on Washington to mediate on the Kashmir issue.

Asad Majeed Khan’s comments came against the backdrop of little support for Pakistan’s demand for intervention by the world community following India’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

India has already dismissed Pakistan’s efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue by describing the changes in Jammu and Kashmir as an internal matter. India’s envoy to the US, Harsh Shringla, has also said President Donald Trump’s recent offer to mediate on Kashmir is no longer on the table.

Poland, the current president of the UN Security Council, said on Tuesday that India and Pakistan should bilaterally resolve the Kashmir issue, aligning itself with the European Union and the UN in rebuffing Pakistan’s efforts to seek third-party mediation.

“We hope that both countries can work out a mutually beneficial solution bilaterally,” Poland’s foreign minister Jacek Czaputowicz told reporters at the UN in New York. The strained ties between India and Pakistan impact South Asia and could lead to “serious political and security consequences”, he added.

Poland, he said, agrees with the EU’s position on this issue. After its foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini spoke on phone with the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers last week, the EU had said it “supports a bilateral political solution between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, which remains the only way to solve a long-lasting dispute that causes instability and insecurity in the region”.

Czaputowicz said the Security Council had received Pakistan’s letter and Poland’s permanent representative will “start consultations” about it soon. He spoke of the Security Council discussing the letter, but it could not be immediately ascertained if the body will meet to discuss Kashmir, as sought by Pakistan, or it will hold consultations to determine its response.

In an interview with The New York Times, Khan said India’s decisions on Kashmir “could not have come at a worse time for us” because Pakistan had tried to strengthen military control along the Afghan border, which has long been infiltrated by the Taliban, as part of efforts to end the war in Afghanistan.

“We have our hands full” on the western border, Khan said, adding: “If the situation escalates on the eastern border, we will have to undertake redeployments.” Pakistan was “not thinking about anything but what is happening on our eastern border”, he said.

Such a possibility could add a new element to peace negotiations between the US and the Taliban, which are believed to be in the final stages. Pakistan is “doing all that we can and will continue” to back the peace talks, Khan said.

India’s move to end Kashmir’s special status and split the state into two union territories sparked fresh tensions with Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties, suspended bilateral trade and stopped several cross-border train and bus services. Khan said the crisis “unfortunately, I suspect, is going to get worse”.

In an article in the Washington Post, Khan referred to the offer made by Trump to mediate on Kashmir during a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan last month and said it was a “sign of immense goodwill that the people of Kashmir enthusiastically applauded”.

“The time is now for the US to make good on Trump’s offer of mediation – not for Pakistan’s sake or for India’s sake, but for the sake of the only people who have not been heard since India gagged them a week ago: the people of Kashmir themselves,” he wrote.

Khan contended India’s actions had put “South Asia on the brink of conflict for the second time in less than six months” and Imran Khan had warned the world community of “catastrophic consequences should India’s latest act of recklessness lead to conflict”. However, India’s ambassador to the US, Shringla, said on Monday Trump’s offer to mediate on Kashmir had been rejected by New Delhi. “President Trump has made it very clear that his offer to mediate on Jammu and Kashmir is dependent on both India and Pakistan accepting it. Since India has not accepted the offer of mediation, President Trump has made it clear that this is not on the table anymore,” he said in an interview with Fox News. “That has been the US’s long-standing policy. The UN Secretary-General was also very clear – he says this issue has to be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan in keeping with the agreements that the two countries have signed, the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration. This is not an issue that is to be settled with third parties and I think that was something President Trump clarified.”

The US state department has clarified that there has been no change in its policy on Kashmir as it called on India and Pakistan to hold a dialogue to resolve their differences.

In a related development, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said it won’t be easy for Islamabad to get the support of the UN Security Council and Muslim countries on the Kashmir issue.

“You should not in live in a fool’s paradise. Nobody will be standing there (in the UN Security Council) with garlands in their hands…Nobody will be there waiting for you,” he told the media in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, on Monday.

He said the Ummah (Islamic community) might not back Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. “Different people in the world have their own interests. India is a market of a billion people…A lot of people have invested there. We often talk about the Ummah and Islam but the guardians of the Ummah have also made investments there and they have their own interests,” he said.

During a phone call with Qureshi on Monday, the Polish foreign minister had said the Kashmir issue “could only be solved through dialogue, as also called for by the European Union”, according to a readout from Poland’s foreign ministry.

First Published: Aug 13, 2019 23:56 IST

Quiet Eid in Kashmir, people offer prayers at local mosques amid tight security

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Quiet Eid in Kashmir, people offer prayers at local mosques amid tight security

Some markets, banks and ATMs remained open on Sunday, with the state administration saying it was taking steps to facilitate the availability of essentials and for people to offer prayers at mosques on Monday.

INDIA Updated: Aug 12, 2019 11:12 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, Srinagar/Jammu
People offered namaz in the morning at Mohalla mosques in various parts of Srinagar on Eid on Monday.
People offered namaz in the morning at Mohalla mosques in various parts of Srinagar on Eid on Monday. (ANI Photo)

People in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday marked Eid al-Adha or Bakrid amid massive security scale-up and continuous communication blackout after its special status was revoked last week.

People could be seen flocking to local mosques to offer prayers in small groups. Large groups of people were not allowed to assemble and traffic restrictions were also in place, reports ANI.

Senior state administrative and police officials — divisional commissioner Baseer Khan, inspector general of police Swayam Prakash Pani and Srinagar’s district magistrate Shahid Choudhary — held a meeting with local clerics on Sunday to oversee prayer arrangements and ensure peaceful celebrations.

Choudhary had posted on Twitter on Sunday, saying he visited some of the mosques and grounds where prayers are being offered.

 

Embedded video

ANI

@ANI

SRINAGAR: People offered namaz in the morning at Mohalla mosques on , today; J&K police officials greet people outside a neighbourhood mosque

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“I am conscious of the fact it needs a lot more for a normal and enjoyable Eid. We are trying to reduce inconveniencies and ease facilities. Just had an elaborate meeting with Imaams for prayer arrangements. Visited venues (sic),” he tweeted along with photographs from the meeting.

The bureaucrat also said that more than 250 ATMs have been made functional in Srinagar and bank branches were also open.

Baseer Khan said the administration was doing everything to ensure a peaceful Eid.

Authorities had on Sunday eased the restrictions put in place before the Narendra Modi-led central government in some areas on Sunday to facilitate preparations for the festival, officials said.

“The situation in the state has remained normal so far. No untoward incident has been reported from anywhere so far,” said a tweet by the official handle of the J-K police on Sunday.

At least two reports said that security was stepped up in some parts of Srinagar on Sunday. Television news channel NDTV said police vehicles were seen making announcements asking people to return to their homes. News agency Reuters said its reporter saw a police van driving around one part of Srinagar announcing that restrictions had been imposed again after being relaxed earlier in the day.

There was, however, no official confirmation on the restrictions being reimposed in the city.

Authorities said that while there were reports of sporadic protests, no violence was reported anywhere in the Valley.

“Everything is peaceful. The restrictions have eased and there has been a lot of improvement in public and transport movement,” Choudhary said.

In Jammu, life appeared to be returning to normal as restrictions under section 144 of CrPc were completely lifted in five districts. In the other five districts, restrictions were relaxed to facilitate Eid preparations, according to an official who did not wish to be named.

Magistrates have been deployed at critical spots to act as facilitators for the convenience of the general public, an official statement said. Jammu and Kashmir governor’s administration issued an advisory saying that 300 special telephone booths were being established to help people communicate with their kin.

The district administrations were constantly reviewing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and they would facilitate people to offer prayers at mosques during Eid, an official told PTI, asking not to be named.

Last Friday, people were allowed to visit neighbourhood mosques and offer prayers there. However, large gatherings were not allowed in any part of the Valley.

“The government is conscious of the ground situation and doing utmost so that there is a minimum inconvenience to the people. Every day something or the other restrictions are relaxed. We will take decisions on lifting restrictions on phones as early as possible,” the official added.

District magistrates have made arrangements for Eid-ul-Azha, the official statement said, adding that treasuries, banks and ATMs were made functional even on a holiday in the run-up to the festival.

Authorities in Srinagar said there have been sporadic instances of stone-pelting by protesters but no gun firing by security forces in the past six days. Television images showed cars and people moving in some parts of Kashmir.

All India Radio quoted chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam as saying that people were coming out of their homes for Eid shopping.

Union minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy said on Saturday he hoped prohibitory orders would be “fully peaceful in the coming 10-15 days”.

While officials said that the Valley remained peaceful, Eid festivities largely remained missing on the streets on Sunday.

“Earlier, Eid used to be celebrated with great fervour. This time, very few people are on the streets and people are not buying things like previous years,” said Gowhar Ahmad, a resident of the old city.

“Though restrictions were eased in the morning, most shops didn’t open despite Eid,” said Fayaz Ahmad, owner of a readymade clothes store at Srinagar’s Regal Chowk.

Restrictions were imposed in Jammu and Kashmir to prevent security threats as Parliament effectively revoked Article 370 last week, ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and passed a bill bifurcating it into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh. All communication links have been disrupted since August 5, after the Centre’s decision on Article 370.

The move triggered protests by some opposition parties that alleged the government had carried out the preparation for the move under a veil of secrecy.

First Published: Aug 11, 2019 23:53 IST

Kashmir: How Line of Control has changed in 70 years

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA TODAY NEWS AGENCY)

 

Kashmir: How Line of Control has changed in 70 years

In 1947, 65 per cent area of Jammu and Kashmir was under India’s control. Today, only 45 per cent of princely state area is under its control.

Siachen Line of Control

Indian Army jawans performing yoga drills in Siachen. (Photo: PTI)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Karachi Agreement of 1949 brought first war to end and defined ceasefire line
  • Ceasefire line was formalised as Line of Control in Shimla Agreement of 1972
  • India established its base in Siachen in 1984 to thwart Pakistan’s surreptitious design

In August 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state of the size of 2.06 lakh square miles – bigger than California (US) and comparable with the UK. Two months later, Pakistan invaded Jammu and Kashmir despite having signed a standstill agreement with the princely state, which turned to India for help and signed the Instrument of Accession.

India’s response to Pakistani intrusion resulted in a war that was declared over in 1949 with the United Nations intervening and accepting that the merger of Jammu and Kashmir with India was legal. A ceasefire line (CFL) was drawn depending on the actual positions held by the two armies — led on both sides by British generals.

The ceasefire line temporarily bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir with India getting control of about 65 per cent of the state and Pakistan the rest 35 per cent.

The ceasefire line was to begin from a point at Manawar — south of Chenab river – in Jammu and move northward till Keran. And, from Keran, the ceasefire line was to run northward till last then recognisable point known as NJ9842 and follow the mountain crestline further north up to international border with China.

This NJ9842 can be considered as the base for Siachen glacier. This demarcation was based on the impression that the crestline follows a northward direction. The high mountains in the trans-Himalayan region had not yet been fully explored.

The ceasefire line was formalized in a Karachi Agreement signed in July 1949 between India and Pakistan with two UN observers signing as witnesses. It has been reported that Jawaharlal Nehru had briefed the Indian delegation going to Karachi on UN resolution.

This resolution meant, Nehru told the delegation, that any “no man’s land” – if left undemarcated by the ceasefire line agreement — would belong to India on account of Jammu and Kashmir’s legal merger with India.

The sanctity of the ceasefire line was to be maintained till the final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue. However, two incidents altered status quo on Jammu and Kashmir during 1960s — the India-China War of 1962 and India-Pakistan War of 1965.

China humbled India in 1962 war and captured nearly 20 per cent area of the princely state. This area is called Aksai Chin and China denies India’s sovereignty over the cold desert region.

Further in 1963, Pakistan signed an agreement with China and handed over about 2,000 sq miles area in northern Kashmir to China, which has held all of that since then.

Map of Jammu and Kashmir with demarcations for areas occupied by Pakistan and also captured by China. (Photo: Twitter/@PraveenOni)

The 1965 war saw both India and Pakistan occupying each other’s territories – India capturing over 750 sq miles while Pakistan taking over about 200 sq miles. But with Tashkent agreement, both militaries returned to their previous positions including along the Line of Control.

It was the 1971 war between India and Pakistan over the question of Bangladesh that turned the ceasefire line into the Line of Control (LoC), as it is known today. There was no LoC before 1972 Shimla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan. This agreement also practically junked the UN resolution as the two countries agreed to resolve all disputes through bilateral talks.

The Line of Control, thus drawn, gave Pakistan control over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, which Pakistan has since declared the Northern Areas and rules directly. Rest of the Jammu and Kashmir minus Aksai Chin is situated on the Indian side of Line of Control.

The Line of Control changed further in 1984 to thwart Pakistan’s surreptitious design to capture Siachen glacier. Siachen glacier came in the focus of the Pakistan Army in 1970s, following the massive defeat in 1971 war.

An Indian colonel Narendra Kumar is said to have read in an international mountaineering magazine about Pakistan’s attempt over Siachen glacier. This prompted him to lead a team to Siachen glacier in 1981. His team scaled several peaks in the area and reached up to Indira Col (not named after Indira Gandhi).

Col is a pass in high mountains. The Indira Col was named so by an American geographer in 1912 (Indira Gandhi was born in 1917) after one of the names of Goddess Lakshami.

Map of Siachen glacier showing the Line of Control running from NJ9842 to Indira Col. (Photo: WikiCommons)

Pakistanis got to know about this Indian expedition to Siachen glacier a little later when they found a crumbled packet of made-in-India cigarette. They went about their plan to capture Siachen aggressively now and ordered a full range of mountaineering gear from a London-based firm, which was a supplier to Indian Army.

The information leaked to India and the Indian Army launched Operation Meghdoot to turn Siachen into as one of its bases. Siachen is the largest glacier in trans-Himalayan region. It is a triangular bloc of 76 km length.

Pakistan claims that Siachen glacier belongs to the part of Jammu and Kashmir given to its control under the ceasefire line (Karachi 1949) and the Line of Control (Shimla 1972) agreements. Accordingly, the Line of Control should run from NJ9842 to northward till Karakoram Pass, the meeting point of India’s boundary with China.

However, the Indian argument has been that the crestline beyond NJ9842 follows a northwest direction and ends with Indira Col of Siachen glacier. Indira Col is the area where territories of Jammu and Kashmir meet the lands occupied (1947) by Pakistan and gifted (1963) to China.

The existing Line of Control runs from Manawar in Jammu to Indira Col on the tri-junction in Karakoram mountain range. The Indian and Pakistani troops have to maintain a no-man’s land of 500 yards on each side of the Line of Control.

No relaxation in Kashmir curbs today, likely to be lifted day before Eid

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

No relaxation in Kashmir curbs today, likely to be lifted day before Eid

While the administration is keen to restore normalcy, there is an apprehension that the congregation at Friday prayers could turn violent.

INDIA Updated: Aug 09, 2019 16:56 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A security force personnel patrols a deserted road during restrictions in Srinagar.
A security force personnel patrols a deserted road during restrictions in Srinagar. (REUTERS)

Restriction on movements and gatherings in Jammu and Kashmir will not be lifted for Friday prayers, senior officials who did not want to be named said, adding that “curbs will be released on August 11, a day before Eid -ul Zoha, to allow people to prepare for the festival.”

“We have received no orders to relax the restrictions tomorrow,” a senior CRPF official said. But he added that there were more civilian vehicles out on Thursday in Srinagar.

While the administration is keen to restore normalcy, there is an apprehension that the congregation at Friday prayers could turn violent. “Selectively easing restrictions” in areas where the chances of violence are low is, being “actively considered,” but there is no decision as yet, a second senior official who did not want to be named said.

The Indian Army has also drawn up a list of places where it expects trouble. Among others, these include the districts of Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag and Sopore according to senior military official.

The Kashmir valley has been under lockdown since Sunday midnight. On Monday, the government moved to bifurcate the state and also scrap articles giving it special status and its permanent residents, special privileges. By Tuesday, both Houses of Parliament had passed the changes.

Isolated incidents of stone-throwing have been reported in the past few days, the officials said. “There have been around five incidents in North Kashmir and two in South Kashmir in the last 48 hours,” a senior official said, adding that there were also some stray incidents in Srinagar on Thursday. ” But, unlike in the past, the group of stone throwers were (made up of) fewer than 25 people.” Importantly, the hinterland is quiet and in places, shops and markets were partially open, a third official who did not want to be named said.

The Union Home Ministry, which is now supervising law and order in the valley, did not officially clarify when restrictions and curbs imposed in the valley are likely to be removed. “There will be security arrangements in place to ensure that Friday prayers take place in a smooth and peaceful manner. The administration will facilitate people,” an MHA official who did not want to be named said.

Earlier on Thursday, National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval reviewed the situation in a meeting held in the Police Control Room of the J&K Police. The NSA has been camping in Kashmir since Monday when the government moved the Parliament to scarp Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.

A few landlines and leased line connections of some key government departments were restored today. “More are likely to be restored,” in the next few days, a fourth senior official who asked not to be named said.

In a related development, Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh today said Pakistan is unhappy with the government’s decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status but the armed forces were “fully prepared to meet any threat.” The Minister was addressing the Annual General Body meet of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. The groundwork for removing Article 370 was “laid during the first Modi government.”

Meanwhile, in Jammu, Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir, B V R Subrahmanyam asked all government employees, working at divisional level, district level and those serving in civil secretariat Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar, to report back to their duties with immediate effect.

“It is further intimated that necessary arrangements regarding smooth and secure working environment for the employees have been made by the administration,” said an official statement.

For any assistance, the employees can contact office of Deputy Commissioner Jammu and Regional Transport Office Jammu at 2571616, 2571912 and 2520542, it added.

First Published: Aug 08, 2019 23:41 IST