India/Pakistan/Kashmir 2019

Written by  //  September 27, 2019  //  India, Pakistan  //  No comments

India-Pakistan Relations – Terrorism, Kashmir, and Recent Issues
World Bank reveals Pakistan, India potential trade stands at $37 billion
About Kashmir
Article 370


A triangular relationship that Modi needs to manage
This divergence between Delhi and Washington over Pakistan’s support to terrorism and the perception about Iran is decades old and is unlikely to change despite the Houston fervour, writes C Uday Bhaskar for South Asia Monitor
India-US relations have traversed a wide spectrum over the last week, from high hope in Houston to a sobering reality check in Washington which is currently preoccupied with its own domestic politics. ‘Howdy Modi’ was the signature phrase for the first leg of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the USA for a diaspora event in Houston, Texas. On September 22, a large gathering of more than 50,000 members of the Indian diaspora – mostly US citizens, but also part of the core Modi constituency abroad – congregated to welcome the Indian leader. It was a spectacular event even by the Modi yardstick.
In an unprecedented gesture, Trump joined the Houston event, along with members of the US legislature – both Republican and Democrat – thereby giving the event a truly bilateral character. Both leaders praised each other in an expansive manner and, whether on trade, security or political orientation, for a brief moment it appeared as if the leaders of the world’s oldest and largest democracies were on the same page. Hence, all contentious bilateral issues would be taken forward or resolved at the earliest.
But this rosy perception was short-lived. In the days that followed, Trump’s meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and the September 24 meeting with Modi have served as a reality check about the abiding nature and constraints inherent to India-US bilateral ties. Contrary to some misplaced assertions that India and the USA have a convergence of interests, it merits recall that improvement in the bilateral is of recent origin. For 34 years, the two nations were deeply estranged over a wide range of issues that impinged on their security and strategic interests. The thaw is a decade old and the cautious engagement commenced only after 2005, during the George W Bush- Manmohan Singh period.

1 September
Bloomberg: Kashmir anger | All is quiet in Kashmir, but it’s far from peaceful. Businesses, schools and shops have been closed in the restive state since Aug. 5, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked almost seven decades of autonomy, Archana Chaudhary reports. With a heavy Indian military presence in the valley, the anger is palpable and Modi’s stated aim of bolstering Kashmir’s economy by taking direct control looks to be a tall order.

27 August
Some deft ‘Modiplomacy’ at G7, but Kashmir handling a challenge
The Kashmir issue may have been handled deftly at the global politico-diplomatic level, but the abiding challenge for India remains domestic, writes C Uday Bhaskar for South Asia Monitor
The G7 meeting… had a special relevance for India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the special invitees to this summit and the bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump was deemed critical in relation to the troubled Kashmir issue. … The Indian decision to radically alter the status of Jammu and Kashmir by revoking its ‘special status’ and reducing it to a union territory, and the continuing clampdown in Kashmir has elicited non-committal global attention, except for China. While the Modi government has asserted that the security situation warranted such an initiative and that Kashmir is an internal affair, the G7 meeting was the first such interaction for Modi with his global peers.
The Kashmir issue may have been handled deftly at the global politico-diplomatic level, but the abiding challenge for India remains domestic. This relates to the manner in which the anger and anguish in the valley is addressed, as and when the clampdown is lifted and the local population give vent to their feelings over the historic decisions of August 5.
Persuading the aggrieved and often alienated Indian Kashmiri citizens that their identity and aspiration will be accommodated under the Indian democratic ethos will be the benchmark for assessing the political acumen of the Modi government in its second term.
Badri Raina: What Makes Srinagar the World’s New ‘Forbidden City’
While basic freedoms in Kashmir are being curbed, protestors in Hong Kong continue to be allowed to gather and raise their voice on behalf of what they perceive to be their democratic prerogative
Just as the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed a “special status” in India, Hong Kong has formally been a part of China, but with special provisions to its political life.
Both regions have been struggling to retain these special provisions that were duly granted to them. In the Chinese case, the arrangement has been called ‘one country, two systems.’
… contrast the efficiency with which the Indian “democratic system” has dealt with Kashmiris.
This writer was in the Valley till the last day of June 2019, a witness to a flourishing tourist season. No “unrest” of any kind was either visible or in the offing.
Yet, without even the “mainstream” political leadership of the state knowing why, humongous measures began to be taken on one pretext or the other. A sniper gun mysteriously appeared en route to the Amarnath shrine that involved, as always, millions of visiting devotees. Overnight, government agencies, led by the honourable governor, began to suspect unprecedented  “security” concerns. Before long, the yatra was cancelled and devotees and tourists turned back.

19 – 21 August
Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government says its move to tighten control over Kashmir was necessary to integrate the area fully into India. Residents of the Kashmiri neighborhood of Soura are fighting back. Security forces detained 30 people overnight in Indian Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, local officials said, seeking to keep a tight lid on protests over the federal government’s decision to strip the region of its autonomy.
At least 2,300 detained in locked-down Indian-ruled Kashmir
By Aijaz Hussain, The Associated Press
Those arrested include anti-India protesters as well as pro-India Kashmiri leaders who have been held in jails and other makeshift facilities, according to three police officials. The officials have access to all police records but spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk to reporters and feared reprisals from superiors.
The crackdown began just before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government on Aug. 5 stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and its statehood, creating two federal territories.
Thousands of additional Indian troops were sent to man checkpoints in the Kashmir Valley, already one of the world’s most militarized regions. Telephone communications, cellphone coverage, broadband internet and cable TV services were cut for the valley’s 7 million people, although some communications have been gradually restored in places.
Pakistan to take Kashmir dispute with India to World Court
(Reuters) – Pakistan said on Tuesday it would take its dispute with India over Kashmir to the International Court of Justice, after New Delhi revoked the special status of its part of the region earlier this month.
Islamabad reacted with fury to that decision, cutting trade and transport links and expelling India’s ambassador.
India orders Kashmir government staff back to work amid protests
Troops have reportedly used teargas, chilli grenades and pellets to disperse crowds during weekend of clashes
At least two dozen people were reportedly admitted to hospitals with pellet injuries after violent clashes on Saturday night, almost two weeks on from the Indian government’s abrupt decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status. Indian troops also used teargas, chilli grenades and pellets to disperse protesters.
Jammu and Kashmir’s chief secretary had relaxed curfew rules on Friday, saying: “It is expected that over the next few days as the restrictions get eased, life in Jammu and Kashmir will become completely normal.”
Officials have downplayed the protests and maintain that the situation remains calm. Over the weekend, however, authorities reimposed heavy restrictions in some areas.

15 August
Pakistan observes ‘Black Day’ over Kashmir with march by militant group
(Reuters) – Pakistan observed a ‘Black Day’ on Thursday to coincide with India’s Independence Day celebrations, as one of the main militant groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir led a protest through Pakistan’s part of the disputed region.
Newspaper issues carried black borders and politicians, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, replaced their social media pictures with black squares. Flags on government buildings flew at half-mast.
Pakistan’s largely symbolic ‘Black Day’ comes amid growing frustration in Islamabad at the lack of international response over the Kashmir dispute.
The 15-member United Nations Security Council could discuss the dispute as soon as Thursday, but Pakistan says it only has guaranteed support from China, which also claims part of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state.

14 August
Kashmir: Imran Khan says Pakistan will ‘teach India a lesson’
Pakistan PM says army is preparing to respond to anticipated Indian aggression in region

8 August
Kashmir ‘will be freed from terror and given economic aid’, says Indian PM as Pakistan fury continues unabated
TV commentators noted that most Kashmiris couldn’t hear Modi’s words as they have been under lockdown for almost a week with no access to the internet or telecommunications networks
(The Telegraph via Canada.com) India’s prime minister yesterday invoked the country’s independence leaders as he claimed the revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy fulfilled their dreams of a united India.
In a historic address on live television, Narendra Modi said the government’s decision to scrap Article 370 of the constitution — which gave the state unique freedoms — “will rid Jammu and Kashmir of terror and separatism”.
The move “fulfils the dreams of Sardar Patel, BR Ambedkar [two independence leaders] and hundreds of thousands of patriots”, Mr Modi said.
The reaction to the law changes has transcended national borders, with Pakistan saying they are tantamount to human rights abuse against the majority Muslim inhabitants of the state.
On Wednesday, Islamabad expelled India’s top envoy and announced it would downgrade diplomatic relations. India responded by saying Kashmir was a “sovereign matter”.
Imran Khan, the prime minister, tweeted: “What should be obvious is the international community will be witnessing the genocide of the Kashmiris in IOK [‘Indian Occupied Kashmir’].
“Question is: will we watch another appeasement of fascism, this time in the garb of BJP government, or will the international community have the moral courage to stop this from happening?”

7 August
C. Uday Bhaskar: In Kashmir, Modi’s India may have won the battle but lost trust
In the Indian political narrative, the Kashmir issue is arguably a mistake to be rectified. But the high-handed manner in which the government revoked the autonomy of Kashmir will not help the image of Indian democracy
Although protecting national security is an imperative, the means to this end remains questionable. Bulldozing a major political decision, while bypassing debate and due consultation as required by the constitution, has tectonic implications for the federal structure of India.
(SCMP) In a dramatic move that has significant political, legal and security implications for India and South Asia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government on Monday revoked
the special status the state of Jammu and Kashmir had enjoyed for decades under Article 370 of the Indian constitution.
The state is the only Muslim-majority one in a predominantly Hindu India, comprising three distinct geographical areas with diverse religious communities: the Hindu-majority Jammu, the Muslim-dominant Kashmir Valley, and the large, sparsely populated Ladakh region which is home to Buddhists. The former princely state of Kashmir had reluctantly agreed to join India after the partition
of the subcontinent in August 1947.
In the political narrative of India, Kashmir has been interpreted by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other parties as a monumental blunder made by Nehru and the Congress party. To the detractors, this mistake was compounded by Article 370, which was inserted in 1952 as a temporary provision and which accorded special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The alienation of the Kashmiri populace was not suitably redressed, a major failure of the Congress party. Through the decades, Article 370 was perceived as a semi-permanent arrangement pending the resolution of the Kashmir dispute that now involves India, Pakistan and China – for Islamabad ceded part of this disputed territory to Beijing
in 1963.

5 August
Modi’s ideological project in Jammu and Kashmir
(Spectator, UK) Curfews, internet shutdowns, house arrest for opposition leaders. It’s the kind of list one normally hears in the world’s great authoritarian dictatorships. But today it is in fact the state of affairs in a part of India, the world’s largest democracy. Today the government of India announced that it was implementing direct rule and integrating the northwestern state of Jammu and Kashmir, one of the world’s hottest flash-points.
Until now, Indian-administered Kashmir has existed as an autonomous state within India. It had certain benefits from Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that no other states had, protecting its Muslim customs and other traditional systems. The Article in practice prevented laws applying to Kashmir that did not have presidential approval.
In today’s sudden change, Article 370 has been revoked, Kashmir has lost its autonomous status and it must now follow all Indian law. In place of local leaders and an assembly, Kashmir will become a Union Territory – administered by a governor appointed by the authorities in Delhi. This is similar to how Britain administers places such as Gibraltar. The state’s former Chief Minister Mehboob Mufti said that the move was ‘the darkest day for Indian democracy.’ The only problem is, almost no one in Kashmir has been told about it.
… His landslide re-election as Prime Minister earlier this year was seen by the country’s Muslims as a signal that Hindu nationalism was here to stay. The demotion of Kashmir, India’s only majority Muslim state into what will effectively be a colony ruled from Delhi, will only reinforce the growing view that in Modi’s India, Muslims are second class citizens.

22 July
Trump: India Asked Me to Mediate Kashmir Conflict. India: No, We Didn’t.
India and Pakistan have been at daggers drawn over Kashmir for as long as both countries have existed. The two nuclear powers have fought several wars over the disputed territory as well as a decades-long low-grade proxy conflict. It is, in short, a very sensitive topic.
President Trump today announced, in a meeting with Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi had invited him to mediate the subject. India heatedly denied having extended such an offer, having long maintained that it will not accept outside mediation.
With Khan beside him, Trump shared his alleged private conversation with Modi. “He actually said, ‘Would you like to be a mediator or arbiter?’ I said, ‘Where?’ He said, ‘Kashmir.’ Because this has been going on for many, many years. I was surprised at how long. It’s been going on a long —” Khan gently reminded him, “Seventy years.”

6 March
Be worried, very worried, about what just happened in India and Pakistan
By Adil Najam, professor of international relations and the founding dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University
(The Hill) It has been a tense time for nuke-watchers in Asia. Just as the phantom hopes of a denuclearization agreement on the Korean Peninsula were being dashed in Vietnam, a very real escalation was taking place in South Asia between nuclear rivals — and neighbors — India and Pakistan.
After getting as close to a real nuclear conflagration as we probably have since the Cuban missile crisis, the good news is that tensions in South Asia now seem to be in de-escalation mode. This, of course, is a good thing. But this conflict most certainly will leave the world less safe than it was before. If the Doomsday Clock has not been reset yet, it should.
Pakistan mobilises additional troops, weaponry along LoC; Army issues warning: Officials

2 March
C Uday Bhaskar: No turning of the tide
It is unlikely that the Balakot air strike will prove to be an effective deterrent
The post-Pulwama-Balakot sequence of events has acquired a complex contour and is playing out on many tracks, including the most visible in the collective Indian consciousness — the status of the IAF pilot, Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman, and his return to India.
The more abiding challenge to India is the Balakot punctuation in reference to the proxy war being waged against the country, wherein terrorism, as represented by the Pulwama tragedy, is the manifestation.
Will Balakot and the resolve now being demonstrated by PM Modi make a tangible difference to prevent another attack? The answer is probably not.
… The deeper threat to India is the certitude in the GHQ Rawalpindi that Pakistan can continue to selectively nurture terror groups and that the impunity accorded to Islamabad by the global community will continue.
Thus, the Pakistani response after the Balakot strike is a familiar denial with little or no reference (forget acknowledgement) to the JeM and its leader Masood Azhar. In case Pakistan follows the Mumbai 26/11 path, where even after a decade there has been no tangible progress on identifying and bringing to book the perpetrators, and disparages the Pulwama dossier handed over to it — the prognosis is bleak.
28 February
India welcomes Pakistan’s return of captured pilot, as powers urge de-escalation
(Reuters) – Indian military officials said on Thursday they welcomed Pakistan’s planned return of a captured pilot, but refused to confirm they would de-escalate a conflict between the two nuclear powers. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said the pilot would be released on Friday, to the relief of many Indians, even as his military reported that four Pakistani civilians had been killed by India firing across the disputed border in Kashmir.

Pakistan Claims Kashmir’s ‘Moral High Ground’
The president of Pakistani Kashmir explains why his country deserves far more credit for its role in the disputed region.
(Foreign Policy) I think we have the moral high ground—the people of Jammu and Kashmir. And Pakistan also. For the past 71 years, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been making sacrifices to win their right to self-determination. India believes in coercion or state terrorism to subjugate the Kashmiri people. It has tried coercion, brute force, investing in economic development projects. But the hard fact is that even after these efforts, it has not been able to win the hearts and minds of the Kashmiris. Contrast that to Pakistan’s stance. We say that it is a political issue. This must be resolved through political and diplomatic means. War or militaristic means would not help us to solve this issue. That’s why we have the moral high ground.
“This attention should not be like a flash in the pan. The U.N. and international community should try to avert a war between the two countries, but at the same time they must realize that the core issue is the nonresolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. They should activate multilateral diplomacy for the implementation of the U.N. Security Council resolution on the dispute or find new ways to explore common ground for a win-win solution. As far as the people of Jammu and Kashmir are concerned, they want their aspirations to be respected and to be given a choice in determining their own political future.”
“The resolutions are already there, and they have described the methodologies for assessing the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The other scenarios—joint administration, soft borders, and so on—these have to be fleshed out. So, while on the one hand we have our solid solution for the resolution of the dispute, the buck doesn’t stop there. We have many options. Some people say we should experiment with some out-of-the-box solutions. My answer to that is that inside the box are the Kashmiris. Without their participation, any solution would not work. The crux of the matter must be respecting the right of self-determination.”

India bans Kashmiri Islamist party amid conflict with Pakistan
(Reuters) – India banned a Kashmir-based Islamist political party called Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) for five years on Thursday, accusing it of supporting militancy in the disputed region that is at the heart of an escalating conflict with rival Pakistan.
A police officer said Indian authorities arrested about 300 JeI leaders and activists in recent days in a crackdown on militancy in the state after a suicide bomber killed 40 paramilitary police on Feb. 14 in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
The attack was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group, leading to strikes and counter strikes by the air forces of the two nuclear-armed countries.

27 February
Bloomberg analysis:
India and Pakistan have skirmished for decades over a disputed border in the restive region of Kashmir. But tensions between the nuclear powers have taken a sudden, nasty turn, marking increasingly tricky terrain for leaders Imran Khan and Narendra Modi.
The action has moved from the ground to the air after a suicide bomber killed 40 Indian soldiers earlier this month. Pakistan said today it shot down two Indian aircraft and arrested the pilots. India confirmed the loss of one plane and the capture of one pilot, and said it shot down a Pakistani fighter.
It’s one of the worst escalations since a war in 1971, hitting markets and leading to the suspension of commercial flights in the area.
Neither side wants a full-blown conflict. Equally, it’s risky for either Khan or Modi to be seen to be backing down entirely.
Sounding tough helps Khan at home as the economy struggles and Pakistan’s military continues to doubt the former cricketer’s bona fides. Modi is just weeks from a tough election, and nationalist fervor in India is high.
Both leaders may now claim a moral victory and attempt to leave it at that, with Khan warning India can’t be “the judge, jury and executioner,” while also saying that he’s ready to talk.
But it wouldn’t take much to turn the long-simmering problem into something far more dangerous.
– Rosalind Mathieson and Iain Marlow

26 February
US urges India, Pakistan to ‘avoid escalation at any cost’
Mike Pompeo speaks separately with top diplomats of India and Pakistan, urges neighbours to ‘exercise restraint’.
His comments on Tuesday came a day after Pakistan said it reserved the right to respond to Indian air raids that struck near the northern Pakistani village of Jaba, located about 10km west of the border with Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and 60km from the Line of Control that divides Indian and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Separately, four people, including two children, were killed and seven others wounded on Tuesday in an exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops in Pakistan-administered Kashmir’s district of Kotli, according to officials.

India launches airstrike inside Pakistan; Islamabad denies militant camp hit
(Reuters) The airstrike near the town of Balakot, some 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the frontier was the deepest cross-border raid launched by India since the last of its three wars with Pakistan in 1971.
Pakistan condemned the Indian action and said it would respond at a time and place of its choice.
The airstrikes, according to the Indian government, hit a training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the group that claimed credit for a suicide car bomb attack killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir on Feb. 14. The action was ordered as India said it had intelligence that Jaish was planning more attacks.
A senior Indian government source said that 300 militants had been killed in the strikes and that the warplanes had ventured as far as 80 km (50 miles) inside Pakistan. But no evidence was immediately provided to back up the claims of militant casualties.

16 February
Pulwama attack: Need for a radical review of internal security, foreign policy
At the end of the day, the long term solution to the tangled Kashmir issue lies in the socio-political domain – within J&K ; between Delhi and Srinagar ; and between India-Pakistan and China. The stance adopted by Beijing in shielding the Pakistani ‘deep state’ (read military and security establishment) in its support to both terror groups and the ideology that nurtures it has been a major obstacle and this will be an abiding challenge for Delhi irrespective of who is the next Prime Minister of India, writes C Uday Bhaskar for South Asia Monitor

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