India/Pakistan/Kashmir 2019

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

13 May
Violent Unrest Over Economic Strife Erupts in Pakistan’s Kashmir Region
Vast protests have broken out in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir, driven by outrage over soaring electricity bills and flour prices in a region that has long suffered economically because of its status as a conflict zone.
In an attempt to quell the growing unrest — which has led to a widespread strike and left one police officer dead and 90 injured — Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called an emergency meeting for Monday in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
As protesters planned to march this week to Muzaffarabad, the regional capital, the authorities suspended internet service in many areas and shut down schools in the city.
The picturesque but highly militarized Himalayan region of Kashmir, claimed by both Pakistan and India since their independence from Britain in 1947, has been the site of three wars between the estranged neighbors.
The current unrest poses a challenge for the Pakistani military, which maintains a heavy presence in the region, and the civilian leadership in Islamabad. Pakistan regards Kashmir as a disputed territory whose status should be resolved through a United Nations-mandated referendum to allow Kashmiris to choose between being part of Pakistan or India.
But the Pakistani government has faced criticism for suppressing local movements seeking complete independence.

India election 2024: Why isn’t Modi’s BJP fielding candidates in Kashmir?
The absence of the prime minister’s party from the electoral fray in the Muslim-majority region is seen as a sign of its unpopularity.
India election more than halfway through, Kashmir valley votes in Phase 4
Kashmir voters are expected to show their discontent with Modi’s cancellation of the region’s special status and security crackdown that followed in 2019.
(Al Jazeera) Millions of Indians across 96 constituencies have cast their ballots as the country’s gigantic, six-week-long election edges past its halfway mark.
Monday’s polling in the fourth round of election across nine states and one union territory is pivotal for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a third straight term but facing the voters’ fury over unemployment and inflation.
India’s mammoth election is more than halfway done as millions begin voting in fourth round
(AP) … Monday will also see the end of polling in the country’s five southern states, a region that has mostly rejected Modi’s BJP since it first came to power in 2014 but where winning more seats is crucial for the party’s campaign goal of securing a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
Opposition parties say the BJP’s decision not to contest the election is in contrast to its claims and that poll results may contradict the government’s narrative of success in Kashmir, which is now run by unelected government officials and bureaucrats.
Kashmir’s largest city, Srinagar, will also vote Monday in the first polls since Modi’s government stripped the disputed region of its semi-autonomy and took direct control of it in 2019. Despite hailing the move as a success that would bring economic development and peace to the restive region, the BJP is not contesting the polls in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, where anti-India sentiment runs deep, for the first time since 1996.
Instead, two regional parties — the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party — are the main contenders for the three seats in the valley and both are opposed to the BJP.

As India passes the halfway mark in its massive general election, voters from Indian-administered Kashmir are casting their ballots on Monday. It’s the first time the region is voting since the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed its semi-autonomous status in 2019. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the two nations’ independence from Britain in 1947. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party is not contesting in Kashmir. Authorities imposed restrictions on gatherings ahead of the vote in the militarized region. Opposition parties say their workers have been arrested with police denying those claims.

6 February
Indus Water Treaty and Region’s Peace
Abid Kakar
(Daily Times Pk) Indus River has been the lifeline of the populace of the subcontinent for years. The Indus waterway emerges from the foot of the Himalayas entering Kashmir and goes a long way to the Arabian Sea while passing Punjab. The Indus River is a vital resource for people in Pakistan and India.
In 1960, both countries concluded the ‘Indus Water Treaty (IWT),’ brokered by the World Bank. The treaty was an effort to address the issue of water sharing between Pakistan and India. It reflected a successful progressive move towards peaceful coexistence. As per the treaty, Pakistan was awarded the control of rivers Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. However, in passing years, India has tried to sabotage the treaty. India has built Salal and Baglihar dams on river Chenab, and Kishanganga on river Jhelum.
These acts by India are an outright violation of Indus Water Treaty. It is a theft of Pakistan’s share of water. It is a practical manifestation of India’s adversarial approach targeted at making Pakistan food insecure. The decrease in the flow of river waters will severely impact crop production in Pakistan. Pakistan has objected to India’s illegal building of dams on Chenab and Jhelum.

Pakistan Election: Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto lead PM race, Imran Khan still in jail — here’s their stance on India
(Mint) … Meanwhile, Pakistan is also India’s immediate neighbour (or rival) as several disputes remain unsolved between the two countries. India has often accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists, while Pakistan wants to fight India over the Kashmir issue and the Indus Waters Treaty.


11 December
India’s Supreme Court upholds decision to end Kashmir’s special status
Chief justice says government did not overreach its powers when it revoked autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019
(The Guardian) India’s supreme court has ruled that the government acted lawfully when it revoked the autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and brought it directly under control of the centre.
Article 370, which for almost 70 years had enshrined special rights for Jammu and Kashmir outside the Indian constitution, was revoked by the government of Narendra Modi in August 2019 through a presidential order, with no consultation with the Kashmiri people.
The abrogation of article 370 was enforced by a lengthy crackdown on the state, where the military was mobilised in huge numbers, political leaders were jailed, a strict curfew was imposed and the internet was shut down for 18 months. It was stripped of its statehood and its political representation was dissolved and has not been restored since.


22 October
When it comes to India-Pakistan dialogue, what comes first: Fixing the overarching bilateral relationship or discussing Kashmir?
Bashir Ali Abbas
(The Diplomat) The distilled truth of India and Pakistan’s current relationship is that they do not talk to each other, not formally at least. Unlike with China, India has no economic stakes with Pakistan. However, even without an active dialogue process, some shifts can be perceived in India’s priorities. Across the past two decades, the approach to dialogue has usually been dualistic — either focus on fixing the larger bilateral relationship to generate enough goodwill to discuss Kashmir distinctly, or let the latter lead to greater thaws in the ice for the larger relationship.
At present, this duality seems to be unraveling.
… if the nods to peace being made by the outgoing army chief in Pakistan are continued by his successor, then it would be in India’s interest to portray itself as willing to re-engage. Despite Islamabad making recent international forays about Kashmir, drawing Indian ire, it must be noted that Rawalpindi directs and executes policy, and its overtures carry authoritative value. Given India’s priorities in the Indo-Pacific, re-engaging with Pakistan would add more grist to the mill of India being a responsible regional power. Obviously, other variables could further enable, modify, or even disable such outcomes. But the jury for Indo-Pak re-engagement is still out.

15 August
India and Pakistan at 75: partition remains an open wound as new friction points arise
The global arena in which the nuclear-armed neighbours confront each other is changing radically
By Julian Borger, World affairs editor
(The Guardian) The attack on Salman Rushdie shone a light on where Pakistan and India, both now 75 years old, share common ground. Amid worldwide outrage, both governments were conspicuous by their silence. …
Intolerance of free speech is an area in which India is coming to be more like Pakistan as both countries celebrate their 75th birthdays. Under Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), political opponents are increasingly likely to be arrested and beaten, and the press and judiciary are under increasing political pressure. India’s democracy has been downgraded to “partly free” by the democratic advocacy group Freedom House, a category India now shares with Pakistan.
… The dispute over Kashmir dates back to Partition itself, but the global arena in which India and Pakistan confront each other is changing radically. The US has left Afghanistan, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has deepened the division and tension between the major powers, and most importantly China’s rising power and increasingly aggressive global stance bring it each day into more open confrontation with the US.

5 April
What Imran Khan’s exit could mean for India-Pakistan relationship

If Pakistan gets a new government, India can expect changes, but those are likely to be incremental and not sweeping … We cannot expect Pakistan’s support for terrorism or obsession with Kashmir to end overnight. Hatred for Hindus and rejection of India are hard-coded in its DNA.
But given the state of the nation’s economy and foreign relations, one can expect a more mellow and reconciliatory Pakistan in the short term.

23 March
The US and China are picking sides in one of the world’s most dangerous rivalries
Benjamin Brimelow, Business Insider
Relations between the US and India and between China and Pakistan are growing closer.
India and Pakistan are looking to boost their military capabilities, while the US and China are looking for support of their regional and global ambitions.
That trend adds another geopolitical layer to what is one of the world’s most intense rivalries.

18 March
What an Indian missile malfunction says about US-Pakistan relations
(The Hill) At around 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9, an Indian missile landed in Pakistani territory. No one was killed or hurt, and Pakistan chose to react responsibly. The Pakistan military spokesman made details of the missile’s flight path public, pointed out that it “endangered many national and international passenger flights both in Indian and Pakistani airspace, as well as human life and property on the ground,” and demanded an explanation from India.
India responded two days later, blaming a “technical malfunction” for the “accidental firing of a missile.” “It is learnt that the missile landed in an area of Pakistan,” said an official statement, which described the incident as “deeply regrettable” but stopped short of apologizing to Pakistan.
India and Pakistan both possess nuclear weapons, are constantly suspicious of each other and have fought four wars since their independence. An accidental missile launch, which is not immediately notified to the other side, could have started a fifth war under different circumstances. Every time India and Pakistan fight, there is fear of escalation to nuclear war.
In this instance, Pakistan’s restraint and India’s belated admission of its error avoided the worst fallout. But India’s decision to set up a high-level Court of Enquiry should not suffice for the matter to be set aside. Pakistan has a right to know what happened and what mechanisms India is now putting in place to avoid recurrence of similar accidental missile launches.


25 September
Pakistan and India trade angry accusations at the UNGA
Pakistani PM Imran Khan labels India’s government ‘fascist’, as India accuses its neighbour of nurturing ‘terror’.
Even for Pakistan, which routinely castigates India at the world body, Prime Minister Khan’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly was strikingly loaded
In a prerecorded speech aired during the evening, the Pakistani prime minister touched on a range of topics that included climate change, global Islamophobia and “the plunder of the developing world by their corrupt elites”.
But Khan reserved his harshest words for India, once again labelling Modi’s Hindu nationalist government “fascist”.
Separately Modi told the UNGA on Saturday that no country should exploit the turmoil in Afghanistan for its own advantage.
He called upon the international community to help the women, children and minorities of Afghanistan and said that it was imperative the country not be used as a base from which to spread terror.
“We … need to be alert and ensure that no country tries to take advantage of the delicate situation there, and use it as a tool for its own selfish interests,” he said in an apparent reference to Pakistan, wedged in between Afghanistan and India.

24 September
Radical leader of Pakistan’s Red Mosque emboldened by Taliban takeover of Afghanistan

15 April
Biden’s Afghan Pullout Is a Victory for Pakistan. But at What Cost?
If Afghanistan descends into chaos, Pakistanis are bound to feel the burden again just as they did after Afghanistan disintegrated in the 1990s following the Soviet withdrawal. Millions of Afghan refugees crossed the porous border to seek relative safety in Pakistan’s cities and towns.
And more: A Taliban return to power, either through a civil war or through a peace deal that gives them a share of power, would embolden the extremist movements in Pakistan that share the same source of ideological mentorship in the thousands of religious seminaries spread across Pakistan.

12 April
Under Biden, Pakistan and the US face a dilemma about the breadth of their relationship
Madiha Afzal
(Brookings) President Biden has not yet spoken to Prime Minister Imran Khan. Nor did Biden invite Pakistan to a planned leaders summit on climate change later this month, though the leaders of India and Bangladesh will be there, and Pakistan was the only country among the world’s 10 most populous to not receive an invitation. Its absence is all the more pointed given Pakistan’s efforts to mitigate climate change, including its commitment to plant a billion trees. Khan claims he’s not bothered. Biden’s Special Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry, meanwhile, is currently in the region — visiting India and Bangladesh, but not Pakistan. Separately, Pakistan continues to play a key role in the Afghan peace process.
In recent months, Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership have together been promoting a new focus on “geo-economics” — an approach that emphasizes regional trade and connectivity, and stresses that Pakistan is open for business. The new focus recognizes that a geostrategic approach only goes so far, and if Pakistan is to rise on the world stage (as its neighbor India has done), that position will have to be predicated on economic growth.

30 March
A wave of infection in Pakistan reaches into senior ranks of the government.
A surge of new coronavirus cases is taking a heavy toll in Pakistan, with Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi among several senior officials to have contracted the virus recently, just as the nation struggles to stem the outbreak. As the number of cases soars, the federal government has imposed a ban on public gatherings, sports events and wedding ceremonies, starting in April.


9-11 September
Khalistan push exists only due to Pak backing: Expert
(Hindustan Times) The idea of a breakaway Sikh nation is a fantasy that exists only due to the backing of Pakistan to Khalistan extremists, says the author of an explosive report detailing Islamabad’s role in fomenting terrorism in Punjab.
MLI Releases “Khalistan: A Project OF Pakistan.” By Terry Milewski
In 2018, an international lobby campaign advocating for an independent Khalistan successfully removed references to “Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements,” from the Ministry of Public Safety’s Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada. In response, the federal government took the unprecedented step of amending its national security statement, placating a vocal domestic constituency, and replacing the original language with “Extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India.”
In the ensuing domestic debate, a more important issue was obscured. This was also the first time that Canada’s national security community elevated violent extremists advocating for an independent Khalistan into a top-five threat to Canadian national security.
In a new MLI publication, Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan,” veteran journalist Terry Milewski researches the Khalistan movement and discovers its reality as a geopolitical project nurtured by Pakistan, threatening the national security of Canadians and Indians. This week, reports from India continue to demonstrate the threat that Pakistan-sponsored Khalistani terrorism poses.
For Canadians, Pakistan’s actions pose a real and present national security risk. As the Khalistani cause has little traction in Punjab, Pakistan’s support of Khalistani extremists entails leveraging extremists based in Canada, including supporters with ties to terrorism. With a looming “referendum” scheduled for November 2020 by proponents of an independent Khalistan, there has been skepticism from Sikh communities around the world. For its part, the Canadian government has stated it will not recognize it. However, the report warns that the referendum provides oxygen that fuels extremist ideologies, radicalizes young Canadians, wreaks havoc on reconciliation, and usurps legislatures.

27 March
Pakistan teeters on the edge of potential disaster with the coronavirus
(Brookings) In this densely populated country of more than 210 million, with megacities Lahore and Karachi each teeming with more than 10 million people, the government took important steps early to stop the spread of the disease, and each of its provinces implemented varying levels of lockdown in the past week as the number of cases rose.
But the country also gravely mishandled the return of coronavirus-infected pilgrims from Iran, and its prime minister has waffled on messaging and implementing a full, federally mandated lockdown. …Pakistan’s mosques remain open. The country’s health system — with dated and limited public health facilities, and costly private hospitals inaccessible to all but the rich — is woefully unprepared to deal with COVID-19 and its influx of critically ill patients. Doctors lack personal protective equipment; at least one of the nine victims so far is a doctor.
The path of the first Pakistani who died from the virus is instructive. He returned to his village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on March 9 from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. He traveled while he was sick. His family held a 2,000-person feast to commemorate his pilgrimage, during which many people embraced him. For the next week, while he was ill, his sons continued his “health” practice — he was not a certified doctor — while they lived with him. After he was tested for the virus on March 16, he went home to his extended family of 13 people, despite the doctor asking him to stay. The next day, his test came back positive; he was placed into isolation, and died on March 18. His entire village of several thousand people is now under quarantine.
In a country of people living in huge extended families, with many refusing to self-quarantine, the virus will be hard to contain. And in overcrowded areas, social distancing may prove impossible.

25 January
At Border of 2 Nuclear-Armed Nations: Machine Guns, Anxiety and Dancing
Every evening along the India-Pakistan border, the two sides stage enormous nationalistic pep rallies, whose highlight is a military “stomp-off.”
(NYT) India is in the throes of a nationalist and populist surge, carefully primed by its Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr. Modi travels the world promoting India as a rising superpower. Back home, his government pushes policies that favor India’s Hindu majority. It revoked the statehood of Kashmir, which had been India’s only Muslim majority state, and recently passed a new citizenship law that helps non-Muslim immigrants. Pakistan has complained as loud as it can.
But Pakistan is in trouble. The economy is teetering on life support. The disasters are stacking up. Dozens of Pakistanis recently burned to death on a moving train and a thousand children were infected with H.I.V. from a doctor using dirty needles.
India has historically done a better job at creating a sense of national unity, even across a much bigger and more diverse space. One reason is Gandhi, who united the poorest of the poor to repel the British and liberate India.
But lately, many people fear, India’s national unity is not as solid as it used to be. Mr. Modi’s policies have alienated minorities, especially Muslims, provoking deadly protests.


9 December
Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India
The Prime Minister’s Hindu-nationalist government has cast two hundred million Muslims as internal enemies.
By Dexter Filkins
(The New Yorker) The change in Kashmir upended more than half a century of careful politics, but the Indian press reacted with nearly uniform approval. Ever since Modi was first elected Prime Minister, in 2014, he has been recasting the story of India, from that of a secular democracy accommodating a uniquely diverse population to that of a Hindu nation that dominates its minorities, especially the country’s two hundred million Muslims. Modi and his allies have squeezed, bullied, and smothered the press into endorsing what they call the “New India.”

15 November
Protests in Pakistan could shake prime minister’s mandate.
The army’s position is unclear this time. It has issued multiple statements, claiming political neutrality and support for Pakistan’s elected governments. But it is understood that protests do not move forward in Pakistan without at least the military’s tacit approval.
(WaPo) Protesters allege that Pakistan’s 2018 election was rigged. Although there is consensus that the pre-election environment in 2018 was more or less set up (by the military establishment) to favor Khan’s party, independent evaluations have shown that the election itself was not more problematic than previous elections, and Khan’s mandate across the country is hard to deny, especially in terms of his support among Pakistan’s youth.
Second, protesters cite the poor state of the economy under Khan’s government. At the same time, the government is trying to widen the country’s almost nonexistent tax net — as a result, ordinary Pakistanis are suffering.
Finally, Rehman harbors personal resentment against Khan: He lost his parliamentary seat in the 2018 election to a politician from Khan’s party. … Rehman also highlights wider political victimization by Khan, especially in the jailing of leading opposition politicians, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari, on charges of corruption. (Khan came to power on an anti-corruption platform, and he maintains that he is merely holding opposition leaders accountable.) Rehman also alleges the government is run by a “Jewish lobby” — Khan’s former wife, Jemima Goldsmith, is Jewish — and that Islam is under attack in Khan’s administration.

5 November
Five things to know about Pakistan’s anti-government protests
(Al Jazeera) Protesters led by right-wing party have been camping in the capital since Thursday calling for PM Khan to step down.
Thousands of anti-government protesters, led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazi (Jui-F) party leader Fazl-ur-Rehman, have been camped out on a highway in the Pakistani capital since Thursday night, demanding that Prime Minister Imran Khan resign and fresh elections are held.
Khan’s PTI government inherited an economy on the ropes with a spiralling current account and fiscal deficits and rising inflation. While his finance team has managed to control the current account deficit by depreciating the country’s currency and depressing imports, there are still serious concerns about increasing the government’s revenue base amid a slowing economy.
India-Pakistan religious diplomacy amid bilateral acrimony
South Asian politics cannot be separated from religion and, as Mahatma Gandhi noted: “Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.”, writes C Uday Bhaskar for South Asia Monitor
Even as India and Pakistan exchanged bitter words at the Non-Aligned Novement (NAM) summit in Baku, Azerbaijan in end October, preparations are afoot for the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 that will link the two countries through a short six-kilometre stretch, as part of a major religious diplomacy initiative.
State-sponsored terrorism by the Pakistani intelligence agencies and army directed against India has become the biggest stumbling block to any meaningful movement forward in the strained bilateral relationship. That both India and Pakistan are nations with nuclear weapon capability only adds to global concerns about the possibility of any military tension escalating in an unanticipated manner. This has been artfully stoked by Islamabad to draw global attention to South Asia, particularly after the August 5 decision by the Modi government to change the status of Jammu & Kashmir led to a further deterioration in ties. This was reflected at the Baku NAM summit when the Indian Vice President Venkiah Naidu described Pakistan as the “epicentre of terrorism,” as Islamabad accused India of actions that were “illegal, immoral and unethical”.
Against such an acrimonious backdrop it is commendable at one level that both New Delhi and Islamabad have agreed to allow the regulated movement of a relatively large number of Indian pilgrims to cross the border – albeit for short pilgrimage related visits. There is an inherent symbolism about the manner in which the announcement about the Kartarpur Corridor was first made. On November 26, 2018 which, ironically, marked the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks on Mumbai, or 26/11, the Modi government announced that both sides had arrived at a preliminary agreement that the corridor would be put in place so that Indian pilgrims could visit the shrine in November 2019.

31 October
Jammu and Kashmir: India formally divides flashpoint state
India has formally divided the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two new federally-administered territories.
(BBC) In the new arrangement, Jammu and Kashmir is one territory, and Ladakh, which borders China, is separate.
The two new union territories are now ruled directly from the capital Delhi.
It’s part of a controversial move announced in August to tighten the Indian government’s control over the part of Kashmir it administers.
R K Mathur and Girish Chandra Murmu were sworn in as lieutenant governors of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir respectively on Thursday.
“Now the real participation of co-operative federalism will be seen. New highways, new railway lines, new schools, new hospitals will take the development of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to new heights,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a public rally in the western state of Gujarat.
Anxious and Cooped Up, 1.5 Million Kashmiri Children Are Still Out of School
With soldiers and militants claiming the streets, and most schools simply shuttered, education has been on hold through months of crisis in Kashmir.
(NYT) Thirteen weeks after India unilaterally revoked Kashmir’s autonomy, education stands as one of the crisis’s most glaring casualties. Parents in the Kashmir Valley say they are terrified of sending their children out with troops everywhere and separatist militants on the prowl for trouble. The militants are demanding that civilians boycott work and school, and they have killed several people to assert their resistance to tightening Indian rule.
The Indian government’s move in August to strip statehood away from Jammu and Kashmir became official on Thursday, turning what was once an Indian state into federally controlled enclaves. People are angry and scared that India’s move could lead to another war with Pakistan, which also claims the area, or to pitched combat with an intensifying militant movement. No one knows what will happen next.

29 October
UN extremely concerned at rights deprivation in Kashmir
(Al Jazeera) The UN human rights office says that Kashmiris continue to be deprived of a wide range of human rights.
“We urge the Indian authorities to unlock the situation and fully restore the rights that are currently being denied,” said Rupert Colville, speaking at a UN press briefing. … He said that the undeclared curfew imposed by the authorities in the region was lifted from much of Jammu and Ladakh region within a few days but is reportedly still in place in large parts of the Kashmir Valley.
“This prevents the free movement of people, as well as hampering their ability to exercise their right to peaceful assembly, and restricting their rights to health, education, and freedom of religion and belief,” said the UN rights office spokesperson.

27 September
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.

22 August
When India’s government abuses power, the media cheer
Reporting on Kashmir is a travesty
(The Economist print edition/Aug 24) Ending Kashmir’s special status, and (as a subtext) humiliating its Muslim population, has long been a goal of India’s Hindu nationalists, whom Mr Modi leads. Yet when, on August 8th, the prime minister appeared on television to explain why India should celebrate while Kashmir lay incarcerated, gone was the jaw-jutting nationalist. Instead, as Arundhati Roy put it in the New York Times, he spoke with “the tenderness of a young mother…his most chilling avatar to date”. Even former critics of Mr Modi filled the next day’s column-inches with gushing praise.
Reporting on what is really going on in Kashmir is hard. Foreign journalists are hindered from going there. The Kashmiri press is stymied from getting its story out. This month Delhi’s Press Club of India succumbed to pressure not to show a documentary, “Kashmir Caged”, that carried testimony of Kashmiris’ treatment at the hands of the security forces. It is only thanks to brave Kashmiri and other Indian journalists filing for foreign news outlets that any picture at all of the benighted region is possible.

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 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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