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

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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“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.

READ MORE

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: 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

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

4 Ancient Cultures We Bet You’ve Never Heard Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

4 Ancient Cultures We Bet You’ve Never Heard Of

Unless you magically skipped world history in school, you’ve probably learned of the biggest ancient cultures over the years. Whether it was the Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans, or the aboriginal peoples of Australia, we know that this world has served as a home to shifting civilizations over the centuries. But while some cultures like those mentioned above tend to get consistent attention, others are lesser-known and are usually limited to academic communities. If you thought you knew about ancient cultures, here are four often-overlooked civilizations to expand your knowledge even further.

Caral Supe

Credit: Rudimencial / iStock

Location: Modern-day Peru

When you think of ancient cultures based in modern Latin America, we usually think of the Inca, Maya, and Aztec civilizations. And maybe if you’re more well-read on the topic, you might know of the Olmec. But the region is rich in distinctive Pre-Columbian civilizations, including the Caral Supe. This culture dates back to 5,000 BCE and is centralized around the Supe River in Peru. The Caral Supe are also known as the Note Chico. So, what makes this civilization so unique?

Even though the culture pre-dates the ceramic age, archeologists were able to find a major site called the Sacred City of Caral-Supe with intact structures that included six massive pyramids, numerous temples, various plazas, and an amphitheater. While the site was first “discovered” by earlier archeologists in 1905, it was left untouched until a 1994 excavation because it didn’t contain gold, silver, or pottery. In fact, those six pyramids are so massive that they were initially mistaken for hills. Today the Sacred City of Caral-Supe is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that you can visit.

Indus/Harappan

Credit: CRS PHOTO / Shutterstock.com

Location: Modern-day Pakistan & India

The Indus or Harappan civilization is one of the earliest recorded on the Indian subcontinent. However, not much is known about them since researchers have yet to crack their ancient language to translate any of their writings, drawings, or stone carvings. The culture existed between 3300 and 1600 BCE and occupied a region that stretched between Pakistan and India in the Indus Valley—hence their name.

Even though archeologists and anthropologists have been unable to decipher their language, the Harappan left behind structures that provide clear insight into their capabilities and ingenuity. This culture is best known for its advanced sewage and drainage systems, well-built granaries, and impressive walls. And according to artifacts, the Harappan believed in dentistry, too. So what happened to this culture? Experts believe climate change was the culprit that caused sustained rainfall reduction. This led to population decline as groups left in search of wetter regions.

Sanxingdui

Credit: bleakstar / iStock

Location: Modern-day China

Ancient cultures can be found nearly anywhere in the world. It can be hard to believe, in some cases, that there could be anything from pre-civilizations to long-standing cultures. But even in a country like China—which has a rich and ancient history—the current culture wasn’t the first. The Sanxingdui is a Bronze Age culture that lived in what is now the Sichuan province of China. So what do we know about this culture? Sadly, aside from beautiful artwork that has been discovered over the years, the Sanxingdui is a bit of an enigma. To date, no written words have ever been found from the archeological sites.

The culture is best known for creating massive carvings out of bronze and intricate engravings on delicate materials like jade. Artifacts from their settlements were first discovered in 1929 with later discoveries in 1986 unearthing eight-foot-tall statues. Experts theorize that geological events led to the settlement’s abandonment somewhere between 1200 to 1100 BCE. Geologic evidence shows that a possible earthquake and landslide took place 2,800 to 3,000 years ago that could have cut off their access to the Minjiang River. But a nearby settlement, Jinsha, features nearly identical artifacts that point to the possibility that the Sanxingdui relocated there.

The Bell-Beakers

Credit: nicolamargaret / iStock

Location: Modern-day Europe & northern Africa

Who built Stonehenge? Experts have proof that the Bell-Beakers heavily contributed to creating this unique structure. However, the culture is so obscure that they’re named purely for their most commonly-found artifact—shaped pottery that looks like an upside down bell. The Bell-Beakers are believed to have lived between 2800 and 1800 BCE and occupied lands across Europe from the present-day United Kingdom to the Czech Republic and as far south as northern Africa.

More recent research has shown that the Bell-Beakers weren’t the first people who inhabited the present-day U.K., but they ultimately became the dominant genetic contributors. DNA evidence of prehistoric skeletons reveal that a massive migration occurred over the course of hundreds of years, nearly replacing the previous Neolithic cultures. Present-day Brits have more in common genetically with the Bell-Beakers than the Neolithic peoples.

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Kashmir dispute: Residents attend Friday prayers amid lockdown

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Kashmir dispute: Residents attend Friday prayers amid lockdown

Media caption Young Kashmiris on India’s decision: “We’ve been pushed back into medieval times”

A security lockdown in Indian-administered Kashmir remains largely in place although residents have been allowed to attend Friday prayers in some local mosques.

However the main mosque in Srinagar is closed and tight restrictions continue.

Thousands of troops are still patrolling the streets four days after the Indian government revoked the Muslim-majority state’s autonomy.

The area has been under a virtual communications blackout since Sunday.

Some people have reported that they are now able to access the internet, and mobile phone signals appear to be active in some parts of Srinagar – the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir. But connectivity is yet to be fully restored.

However, the BBC’s Aamir Peerzada in Srinagar says that a curfew imposed on Monday remains in place. PM Narendra Modi has promised Kashmiris that they will be able to celebrate the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha on Sunday.

India deployed tens of thousands of troops to Muslim-majority Kashmir ahead of Monday’s announcement that Article 370 – as the constitutional provision granting the region special status is known – was to be revoked.

Security personnel stand guard at a roadblock ahead of Muslim's Friday noon prayers in Jammu.Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption There are tens of thousands of troops in the region

Since that controversial announcement, it has detained hundreds of people including politicians, activists and academics in makeshift centers in an effort to quell protests.

But sporadic violence has already broken out. BBC reporters saw some protesters throwing stones at security forces, and spoke to residents who said they feared that the situation could worsen significantly.

In the past, Kashmir has witnessed protests after Friday prayers.

Media caption Baramulla resident: ‘Our livelihood is affected, nobody is at peace’

Despite an earlier police announcement about the easing of restrictions to facilitate prayers, Jama Masjid, Srinagar’s largest mosque, remains closed.

Correspondents say that this was ostensibly to avoid the gathering of a large crowd that could potentially turn violent.

It’s unclear if the mosque will open on Sunday for the beginning of Eid. A decision to keep it closed could trigger protests.

Kashmir map

Delhi has had a tumultuous relationship with the valley for decades – there has been an armed insurgency against Indian rule there since 1989, with thousands of lives lost. Massive protests have regularly broken out and Indian security forces have repeatedly been accused of human rights abuses in putting down demonstrations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on state media on Thursday to defend his government’s highly controversial decision and said a “new era” was beginning for the region, where “hindrances” to its development had been lifted.

“There will be a lot of development,” he said. “All the citizens will be given their rights.”

Media caption‘Kashmir is a volcano waiting to erupt’

Why is Kashmir controversial?

Kashmir is a Himalayan region that both India and Pakistan say is fully theirs.

The area was once a princely state called Jammu and Kashmir, but it joined India in 1947 when the sub-continent was divided up at the end of British rule.

India and Pakistan subsequently went to war over it and each came to control different parts of the territory with a ceasefire line agreed.

A policeman looks at trucks stranded on the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Nagrota, near Jammu, on August 9, 2019,Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe lockdown has left trucks stranded on the Jammu-Srinagar highway

How significant is Article 370?

The article allowed the state a certain amount of autonomy – its own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws. Foreign affairs, defence and communications remained the preserve of the central government.

As a result, Jammu and Kashmir could make its own rules relating to permanent residency, ownership of property and fundamental rights. It could also bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there.

The constitutional provision has underpinned India’s often fraught relationship with Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority region to join India when the sub-continent was partitioned.

India: Pakistan launched 8 Attacks On Indian Troops At Kashmir LOC In July/August

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

 

Pakistan launched 8 BAT attacks at LoC in July-August

Between July 13 and August 4, the Pakistan Army’s Mujahid and special services group (SSG) battalions, along with Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operatives, launched eight actions from the Uri to the Gurez and Tangdhar sectors.

INDIA Updated: Aug 05, 2019 07:35 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
New Delhi
Between July 13 and August 4, the Pakistan Army’s Mujahid and special services group (SSG) battalions, along with Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operatives, launched eight actions from the Uri to the Gurez and Tangdhar sectors.
Between July 13 and August 4, the Pakistan Army’s Mujahid and special services group (SSG) battalions, along with Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operatives, launched eight actions from the Uri to the Gurez and Tangdhar sectors.(AFP)

The Pakistan Army has been targeting the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir, launching eight attempts by border action teams (BAT) to strike Indian Army personnel deployed in the region even as Islamabad prepares to accuse India of military aggression at the UN General Assembly session next month, according to people familiar with the developments.

Between July 13 and August 4, the Pakistan Army’s Mujahid and special services group (SSG) battalions, along with Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) operatives, launched eight actions from the Uri to the Gurez and Tangdhar sectors. This led to India retaliating through depth shelling. Pakistan is estimated to have lost nine soldiers or terrorists in the incidents, while Indian Army sustained one loss at Machchil sector in the last week of July, the people cited above said.

According to senior military commanders based in Jammu & Kashmir and diplomats in New Delhi, the Pakistan foreign secretary briefed envoys from the US, France, Russia and China, accusing India of escalating tensions along the LoC by using prohibited cluster bombs.

The Indian Army, while reiterating its right to respond, has strongly denied it has used cluster bomb.

The use of cluster bombs, which emit deadly exploding shrapnel, or smaller bomblets, is prohibited under several international treaties.

One of the people cited above said that, according to reports reaching India, the Pakistan has already mobilised troops along the LoC as well as put its air force on operational alert in Pak-occupied Kashmir and the northern areas.

After BAT actions being repelled from northern Kashmir, intelligence reports indicate that at least four SSG teams — of four to five commandos — are camping in Bhimber, Kotli, Kel, and Lipa brigade headquarters of the Pakistan Army with the objective of carrying out BAT, sniper or IED action against Indian troops in the Bhimber, Kota, Lipa, and Neelum sectors south of Pir Panjal.

According to a Pakistan watcher who asked not to be named, Rawalpindi GHQ have been emboldened after the mediation offer by US President Donald Trump, and decided to escalate military tensions on the LoC so that the international community (particularly Washington) puts pressure on India to talk to Islamabad. “Pakistan will again rake up Kashmir in UNGA, as in the past, when the session starts on September 17. Since it knows that India will never accept mediation, the objective would be to ensure that PM Narendra Modi talks to Pakistan,” said a senior Indian diplomat.

PM Modi is also expected to be in the US for the UNGA in New York and a bilateral meeting with Trump in Washington.

The BAT action in north Kashmir began just before Pakistan PM Imran Khan was scheduled to go to Washington last month, and increased in frequency since then. There was an IED blast at the LoC near Uri on July 13; three BAT actions in Tangdhar on July 14, 21 and August 2; two BAT actions in Machchil sector on July 27 and August 4; and one BAT action in Gurez on July 30.

On August 13, the BAT action at Manjit Forward Post held by the 2 Assam Regiment was heavily retaliated by the Indian defenders as a result of which five to seven Pakistani personnel lost their lives.

First Published: Aug 05, 2019 05:46 IST

India: Terrorists moved by Pak ahead of Imran Khan’s US visit are back at LoC

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

 

Terrorists moved by Pak ahead of Imran Khan’s US visit are back at LoC

Imran Khan met US President Donald Trump last week on July 22. For the first time, a Pakistani prime minister was accompanied by the country’s army chief, General Qamar Bajwa and spy agency Inter services Intelligence’s chief, Faiz Hameed.

INDIA Updated: Aug 03, 2019 09:10 IST

Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Fresh intelligence reports now indicate that 200 to 250 terrorists are back at the launch pads waiting to infiltrate into India. (AP File Photo)
Fresh intelligence reports now indicate that 200 to 250 terrorists are back at the launch pads waiting to infiltrate into India. (AP File Photo)

Intelligence reports and satellite imagery of the line of control bordering Pakistan reveal that the country cleared all launch pads of terrorists in the run-up to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Washington last week – and then brought them back after his return.

“For several days, we got reports saying there are no terrorists at the launch pads waiting to infiltrate into India. It was very surprising because the period between May and October is when infiltration bids are made,” a senior army officer who has seen the intelligence reports said on condition of anonymity.

Khan met US President Donald Trump last week on July 22. For the first time, a Pakistani prime minister was accompanied by the country’s army chief, General Qamar Bajwa and spy agency Inter services Intelligence’s chief, Faiz Hameed. The assessment in Delhi is that Pakistan did not want any skirmish on LoC to spoil the high-level meeting, a first since 2015.

Fresh intelligence reports now indicate that 200 to 250 terrorists are back at the launch pads waiting to infiltrate into India, the army official added. The ceasefire violation in the Valley’s Gurez sector on Tuesday was an infiltration attempt, the army officer confirmed. “We could see two bodies (of terrorists) lying (there) ,” he said.

An intelligence official confirmed that the launch pads were vacated and the terrorists shifted to villages close to the line of control for the duration of about two weeks. “The border has become active again and we are expecting more ceasefire violations,” this person added on condition of anonymity.

Also read|‘Foiled Pak Army’s bid to attack Amarnath Yatra,’ Army says with proof

Heavy artillery fire duels between India and Pakistan too escalated this week in the Tangdhar and Keran sector. In another ceasefire violation in the Sunderbani sector, one Indian soldier was killed.

At a press conference in Srinagar on Friday, Chinar Corps Commander, Lt Gen KJS Sandhu said Pakistan was continuing with its infiltration bids and was trying to “disrupt peace in the Valley.”

There was a spike in ceasefire violations after the Balakot air strike at a Jaish-e-Mohammed facility in February, soon after the attack in Pulwama, in which a vehicle laden with explosives rammed into a CRPF convoy, killing 40 troopers.

The border has come alive once again and the thinking in the Indian security establishment is that Pakistan will up the ante. “The assessment in Pakistan is that they had a good trip to Washington and are happy with Trump’s offer to mediate on Kashmir,” an Indian official said, asking not to be identified.

First Published: Aug 03, 2019 05:45 IST