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Refocus on Kashmir Black Day

NOVANEWS

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By Sajjad Shaukat

Although 27th of October is celebrated every year as the “Black Day” by the Pakistanis and the
Kashmiris all over the world as a protest against Indian illegal occupation of Kashmir on October
27, 1947, yet this time, this very day has come at time when the people of Kashmir have
accelerated their legitimate struggle in the aftermath of the martyrdom of the young Kashmir
leader Burhan Wani by the Indian security forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in wake
of continued sieges, prolonged curfews, arrests and detentions of the Kashmiri leaders. Since
July 8, 2016, Indian forces have martyred more than 200 innocent persons who have been
protesting against the martyrdom of Burhan Wani.

Some online authentic sources suggest that recent wave of Kashmiri intifada has witnessed
repression of Indian armed forces; large numbers of the dead and injured have been youngsters.
The pellet guns used by security forces have damaged the faces of 1600 people and more than
1100 people have partially or wholly lost their eyesight making 2016 as the year of dead eyes.
An Indian journalist Sagarika Ghose in her piece in “Times of India” admitted that India has
become a “de facto Hindu country” and “the boiling situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir is a
sign of triumph for Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Two-Nation theory”—also admitted that “Today
Kashmir is a cantonment, patrolled by lakhs of security forces.”

Another Indian journalist Santosh Bhartiya in an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Modi
published on ‘Rising Kashmir’ has claimed that although “the land of Kashmir is with us, the
people of Kashmir are not with us.” New York Times editorial “Cruelty and Cowardice in
Kashmir” also has the same shade commenting on an incident on the current situation in the
valley. Former chief of RAW, Dulat felt that “the ongoing unarmed uprising has worsened under
the current government due to alienation and the anger of youth; young Kashmiri minds have
gone out of control…There is a sense of hopelessness. They aren’t afraid to die. Villagers,
students and even girls are coming out on the streets. This has never happened in the past.”

While, by manipulating the false flag terror attacks at a military base in Uri and Baramulla, the
BJP-led Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has intensified war-hysteria against Pakistan.
After deployment of heavy arms and weapons at the Line of Control (LoC), Indian forces have
increased troops and continue shelling in Pakistani side of Azad Kashmir. New Delhi’s main aim
is to deflect the attention of the international community from the new phase of Kashmiri
Intifada, while in this regard; pressure has been mounting on the Modi government both
domestically and internationally to resolve the dispute of Kashmir with Pakistan.

However, during the partition of the Sub-continent, the people of the state of Jammu and
Kashmir (J&K) which comprised Muslim majority decided to join Pakistan according to the
British-led formula. But, Dogra Raja, Sir Hari Singh, a Hindu who was ruling over the J&K, in
connivance with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord
Mountbatten joined India.

The design to forcibly wrest Kashmir began to unfold on August 16, 1947, with the
announcement of the Radcliffe Boundary Award. It gave the Gurdaspur District—a majority
Muslim area to India to provide a land route to the Indian armed forces to move into Kashmir.
There was a rebellion in the state forces, which revolted against the Maharaja and were joined by
Pathan tribesmen. Lord Mountbatten ordered armed forces to land in Srinagar.

When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on December 31, 1947, India
made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire ultimately came into
effect on January 01, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir to
enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine whether they wish to join Pakistan or
India. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding plebiscite. Instead, in
March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India-an
integral part of the Indian union.

The very tragedy of Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their genuine right
of self-determination. They organized themselves against the injustices of India and launched a
war of liberation which New Delhi tried to crush through various forms of brutalities.

It is notable that since 1947, in order to maintain its illegal control, India has continued its
repressive regime in the Occupied Kashmir through various machinations.

Nevertheless, various forms of state terrorism have been part of a deliberate campaign by the
Indian army and paramilitary forces against Muslim Kashmiris, especially since 1989. It has
been manifested in brutal tactics like crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted
killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation
of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounter.

According to a report on human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, since 1989,
there have been deaths of 1,00000 innocent Kashmiris, 7,023 custodial killings, 1,22,771 arrests,
1,05,996 destruction of houses or buildings, 22,776 women widowed, 1,07,466 children
orphaned and 10,086 women gang-raped/molested. Indian brutal securities forces have continue
these atrocities.

In fact, Indian forces have employed various draconian laws like the Jammu and Kashmir
Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and
Public Safety Act in killing the Kashmiri people, and for the arbitrarily arrest of any individual
for an indefinite period.

Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out
grave human rights violations in the Indian controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim
majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security
forces.

In its report on July 2, 2015, the Amnesty International has highlighted extrajudicial killings of
the innocent persons at the hands of Indian security forces in the Indian Held Kashmir. The
report points out, “Tens of thousands of security forces are deployed in Indian-administered

Kashmir…the Armed Forces Special Powers Act allows troops to shoot to kill suspected
militants or arrest them without a warrant…not a single member of the armed forces has been
tried in a civilian court for violating human rights in Kashmir…this lack of accountability has in
turn facilitated other serious abuses…India has martyred one 100,000 people. More than 8,000
disappeared (while) in the custody of army and state police.”
In this respect, European Union has passed a resolution about human rights abuses committed by
Indian forces in the Indian held Kashmir.

It is of particular attention that in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages
across the northern regions of the Indian-held Kashmir. Then researchers and other groups
reported finding thousands of mass graves without markers. In this respect, in August, 2011,
Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission officially acknowledged in its
report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked
graves.

Notably, foreign sources and human rights organisations have revealed that unnamed graves
include those innocent persons, killed by the Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake
encounters including those who were tortured to death by the Indian secret agency RAW.
Indian authorities are not willing to talk with Kashmiri people on political grounds. New Delhi
reached to a conclusion that only bullet is the right way of dealing with Kashmiris, demanding
their right of self-determination. Surprisingly, Indian successive governments are trying to ignore
the dynamics of the freedom movement of Kashmiris for the sake of their alien rule.
But, New Delhi is still showing its intransigence in order to resolve Kashmir issue with Pakistan
by neglecting the fact that Kashmir remains a nuclear flashpoint between both the neighbouring
countries.

In this context, Egbert Jahn in his book, “Kashmir: Flashpoint for a Nuclear War or Even a Third
World War?” has pointed out, “The Kashmir conflict is embedded in the wider conflict over the
incomplete creation of nations and states on the Indian subcontinent, which during the east-west
conflict even threatened at times to escalate into a nuclear world war between Pakistan and the
USA on the one side and India and the USSR on the other. Until now, there have been three wars
between India and Pakistan over the Jammu and Kashmir: in 1947–49, 1965 and 1999… finally,
the Indo-Chinese border war of 1962…after these wars…and could unexpectedly again lead to a
regional and under certain circumstances…even a major nuclear war or a Third World War.”
Meanwhile, like the previous year, Pakistan’s recent serious and sincere effort at the annual
session of the United Nations—highlighting Indian atrocities, the Kashmir dispute and
demanding its solution has infused a new spirit among the Kashmiri people.

Although 27th of October is celebrated every year as the “Black Day” by the Pakistanis and the
Kashmiris, living on both sides of the LoC and all over the world as a protest against Indian
illegal occupation of Kashmir, yet the issue is still alive due to continued struggle of the
Kashmiri people.

 

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US may revoke Pakistan’s “Non-NATO Ally” status

NOVANEWS

James “Mad Dog” Mattis is threatening to do to Pakistan, something many in Pakistan want to do voluntarily.

US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis has just stated that the US is considering revoking Pakistan’s status as a non-NATO ally.

Pakistan joined a club of US partner which are given non-NATO ally status in 2004. Being classed as a non-NATO ally gives nations outside of Europe and Europe’s often controversial near-abroad, similar rankings and ostensibly privileges as formal members of the US led alliance. Other members of the non-NATO ally group include Israel, Japan, South Korea, Egypt and Jordan.

Mattis has stated that the US may kick Pakistan out of the group because of Pakistan’s alleged support of the Afghan Taliban.

Donald Trump and his cabinet colleagues have worked hard to push a narrative that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism and that in particular, Pakistan aids armed factions in neighbouring Afghanistan. The allegations which have thus far not been backed up by any evidence, are similar to the kinds of things said by Indian mass media and  Hindutva politicians.

However, Pakistan’s growing schism with the United States is, in reality, over a host of issues, all of which are related to Pakistan’s pivot away from the US and its related pivot towards China and Russia.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor build on the border between the two countries is arguably the most important part of One Belt–One Road. It is certainly the most involved and potentially rewarding part of One Belt–One Road which has been or is being built to-date.

In line with One Belt–One Road, Pakistan has been intensifying economic and political cooperation with China.

At the same time, Pakistan’s relations with Russia have reached an all time high. Pakistan’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which was attained this year (along with India) shows that Pakistan is now a full member of the geo-political security group whose most prominent founder members are China and Russia. By contrast, Pakistan’s effective junior membership of what amounts to ‘NATO Lite’ has been one fraught with bearing the burden of a failed US policy in Afghanistan, a policy that many Pakistanis have come to increasingly resent and for good reason, it has objectively failed to bring peace to Afghanistan and security to Pakistan.

China and Russia’s firm defence of Pakistan which came shortly after Donald Trump’s speech announcing a troop surge in Afghanistan, sent a clear message that China and Russia value their Pakistani ally and will diplomatically defend Islamabad against what amounts to baseless allegations from Washington.

As I wrote previously in The Duran

“Russia learned from experience what the US has failed to learn after nearly 16 years in Afghanistan: no peaceful solution can take place without the Pashtun majority having their interests accounted for. The strongest group around which many Pashtuns now rally is the Taliban and has been so for decades.

Russia who in the 1980s fought against the people who would come to support the Taliban in the 1990s, has realised that there is a time for war and a time for dialogue.

It was this approach that allowed Russia to accept Akhmad Kadyrov as a loyal subject to Russia even though he had been a supreme enemy of the state just years prior to this reconciliation. Likewise, in Afghanistan, Russia realises that the Taliban, the moderate rebels of modern Afghanistan, cannot be disregarded and nor can they be bombed into coming to the peace table, not least because many Taliban leaders have already made comparatively generous peace offers that Afghanistan’s neighbours such as Pakistan could easily work with.

Russia has let the ideological wars of the past slip into memory and Russia’s modern leaders have learned the lessons necessary to formulate a new Afghan policy. This new Russian policy of dialogue with the Taliban is in line with that of Pakistan which seeks a stable country free from American or Indian influence on its western border and it is also what China seeks as China requires a stable Pakistan and a comparatively placid Afghanistan in order to complete a crucial section of One Belt–One Road infrastructure in the region. Iran too has come to this realisation in more ways than one.

Ultimately, Russia’s pragmatic approach to Afghanistan is one of dialogue between the Taliban and Kabul. The Taliban’s  popularity among Pashtuns remains strong and most importantly, the Taliban commitment to dialogue is not theoretical but realistic, as many Taliban leaders have stated that they seek a negotiated peace with Kabul once the US vacates the country. This could also help forming a united front against ISIS in Afghanistan, a group opposed by both the Kabul government and the Taliban and of course also Russia, Pakistan and China.

As I wrote shortly after the initial troop surge announcement,

“Today, Pakistan is increasingly supportive of proposals by China and Russia which involve a negotiated settlement to the conflict which involves both the current fractious government as well as the increasingly powerful, influential and in many regions popular Taliban factions. Such proposals fit in with Pakistan’s long term strategy in Afghanistan and suit Islamabad’s contemporary regional desire for stability.

While in the 1980s and 1990s India tended to side with Russia, it is looking increasingly likely that India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to take a more American approach to the conflict.

 However, it remains far from certain whether India will commit troops to the recently announced ‘Trump surge’ or whether India can offer anything at a peace keeping table beyond joining with the United States to further alienate Pakistan, causing Islamabad to grow even closer to Beijing than it already is. In this context, growing closer to Beijing also means implicitly growing closer to Moscow as China and Russia have offered similar solutions to the conflict, both of which involve fostering dialogue between the government in Kabul and the Taliban.

China is all too aware that The United States is isolated in the region in respect of a peace process. Iran is increasingly seeing things along the same lines as Russia and China and in any case, the chances of Donald Trump working with Iran anywhere are nil. The lone exception to this pattern of isolation is India. Under Modi, New Delhi may use Trump’s offer to try and upset the status quo of the region in which all of the key powers are increasingly cooperating with China’s One Belt–One Road project, India being the lone country which under Modi is increasingly hellbent on antagonising China at every opportunity”.

Ultimately Trump’s plan of drawing India into the Afghan conflict in order to antagonise or ‘contain’ Pakistan, ultimately failed. India is happy to supply the rhetoric to such an endeavour but has not been eager to supply the men or material commitments.

Because of this, the US is now directly threatening Pakistan with a demotion from a US led alliance. The trouble for the US is that Pakistan is increasingly seeing such moves as a welcome change.

Popular Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan has been calling for Pakistan to distance itself from US military and geo-political power for many years and now mainstream opinion in Pakistan has largely caught up with such a notion.

Pakistan is no longer quietly seething about the US attitude towards Islamabad. Instead, Pakistan feeling confident in its own economic progress and having faith the good intentions of China and Russia, is moving closer to a position of withdrawing from America’s orbit of its own accord. In this sense, James “Mad Dog” Mattis has just threatened Pakistan with something that many in Pakistan want and want badly.

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Pakistan: Another “Major Strategic Partner” Now Fighting For Its Life

NOVANEWS

Can Pakistan survive a military intervention if it is to be announced yet another link of the so-called “axis of evil”

__________
New Eastern Outlook
Pakistan: Another “Major Strategic Partner” Now Fighting For Its Life

So the Trump White House is really on the ball now. After suddenly discovering what North Korea has always been, it has done the same with Pakistan, and is trying to cover its essential ignorance by saying how unhappy it is about it.

Rex Tillerson is threatening to cut aid to Pakistan on the grounds that it is “providing safe haven for terrorist groups“. He is careful to say however that this is an ongoing problem, and that as “relations have been deteriorating for several years” the damage was done before his appointment, and is therefore beyond the ability of the present State Department to reverse. This hardly indicates a genuine resolve to counter terrorism, but given the number of terrorists the US sponsors to suit itself this is not surprising.

Pakistan doesn’t seem worried, largely because it has been hearing all this for many years. It has never been a secret that since the Soviets took over Afghanistan in 1979 various groups have found shelter in Pakistan and then managed to arm themselves against the invaders. When the Soviet withdrawal was followed by civil war many combatants again based themselves in Pakistan, as they were never sure whether their friends in Afghanistan wouldn’t become enemies the following day when the pattern of alliances changed, as it frequently did.

Pakistan was always quick to point out that its various governments have not provided direct support, with funds, arms or personnel, to any of these combatants. This may be disingenuous, as Pakistan has also failed to properly investigate a number of murders of former Afghan combatants who have renounced violence and set up shops in Pakistan, and continues to repatriate refugees to areas where fighting is taking place, thus exporting conflict as they have no alternative but to take up arms to defend themselves. But it is up to the US to prove such allegations, and it has failed to do so despite their antiquity.

The reality is that Pakistan is fast becoming just another country which has been played and used by its Western friends. Of course it harbours unsavoury people: it was sponsored to do that. It suited the West to have a bad boy in the region, who could be blamed for everything and used as an excuse, and Pakistan was happy to fulfil that role to secure its own survival in a world where states based on religious preference were frowned upon, and increasingly pressurised to become the liberal democracy Pakistan has never pretended to be.

But now the West has new bogeymen: the same ISIS it happily funds and arms and recruits for, whose oil it buys and whose smuggling routes it controls. Pakistan is small potatoes now. The West doesn’t need an implied threat to other regional countries when these monsters are prowling around, consuming everything in their path, while little Pakistan insists on trying to be a fully-fledged member of the international community and build diplomatic relations with countries like China, who can offer it more than the US can materially.

Tillerson doesn’t care about fighting the Taliban, and Trump promised during his campaign to reduce US involvement in these expensive foreign conflicts. He is telling Pakistan that it is no longer useful in the battles the US wants to wage. So what is the country actually there for? Pakistanis realise the problems answering that question will raise, and are thus protesting about the “false narrative” being presented about their country, but are finding out the hard way that there is always an unacceptable price to pay for friendship with the US, and now it is time to pay it.

From white crescent to two fingers

As is well known, India gained its independence from the UK under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. One of the key pillars of Gandhi’s approach was Hindu-Muslim unity: he maintained, in effect, that being Indian was more important than belonging to this or that group of Indians. Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s All India Muslim League initially advocated the same thing, and Jinnah himself created the Lucknow Pact of 1916 which sealed this unity in the form of a demand for self-government which safeguarded Muslim rights.

The British attempted to counter this with the old tactic of splitting the opposition. Jinnah was well aware of why this was being done, but by 1947 was prepared to grant the British the partial victory of creating two new states instead of one, thus making it appear that their hypocritical complaints about “respecting the rights of Muslims” were justified.

If Jinnah’s doctor had been professionally able to tell the world that he was already dying of lung cancer partition might have been avoided. But it also served a deeper purpose. Jinnah is revered amongst Pakistanis (referred to as Quaid-e-Azam, the “Great Leader”, just like Kim Jong-un). But he is seen as the villain of the piece by the many millions who revere Gandhi, and by the British who needed to blame someone else for losing their colony.

India was thus allowed to be independent as long as it ultimately continued to play the Western game. If it didn’t, the bad guys next door would come calling, and would have to answer to the West through them.

Pakistan was always unworkable because the majority Muslim population was on opposite sides of the Indian subcontinent. East Pakistan eventually became independent as Bangladesh, following a war in which it was supported by India, and there are ongoing disputes over the ownership of Kashmir. Its rightful borders are also disputed by Afghanistan, which has never accepted the Durand Line as delineating its own sovereign territory, and much of Pakistan has never been under the control of the central government at all: the heroin-producing areas have always been run by local warlords, who like ISIS are portrayed as invincible warriors by the Westerners who derive such profit from their products.

But the Muslim state wasn’t supposed to be workable, as this would encourage it to make its own decisions. It was merely an irritant to everyone else who might think they could evade Western protection. Everything given to India was matched by support to Pakistan, including nuclear capability derived from the West , whilst it continually endured the sort of governments, civilian or military, which the West continually says it has the right to remove when it suits it.

All this was successful in stopping the spread of Communism to the subcontinent. It has not prevented India emerging as a serious economic power however, at the expense of Pakistan. But other countries take Pakistan seriously, as it has been there 70 years and has industry and exports to offer. Its neighbours are no longer scared of it, and it is seen as relatively moderate in the Muslim world – contradicting the Western narrative about the inherent violence of Islam.

The West has other bad guys it is using to threaten everyone with. It doesn’t need Pakistan when it can blow up a few hotels in India or send the Chinese in to buy everything up. The Muslim state is being left to find a new way to make itself useful. If it doesn’t, it will go the way of so many others, as it doesn’t have the resources to prevent this.

Mirage without the desert

Pakistan was founded as the Muslim Homeland in the same way Israel is the Jewish Homeland. But Mecca and Medina are in Saudi Arabia. Any number of states are now more aligned with the Western narrative about Islam, and thus Pakistan can’t play that card internationally any more.

What other claim does it have to exist? Merely the fact that it is there. Its people are not ethnically different from millions of others who call themselves Indian or Afghan, regardless of which ethnicity they belong to within those national groups.

Nor is there a Pakistani language. It is standard practice for border agencies around the world to distinguish between Pakistani Pakhto and Afghan Pashto when assigning interpreters, but the differences between the two languages are so small the speakers of each don’t realise when a misunderstanding has occurred, and the resulting problem is ignored by those same border agencies.

Do Indian subcontinent Muslims, specifically, need a homeland? They already have them, on either side. The West helped create Bangladesh out of Pakistan, and many Pakistanis have family and fellow ethnics living there. The West also has a vested interest in making Afghanistan work, having intervened to secure this, and to keep it in moderate Muslim hands rather than let the Taliban regain power alone. Returning Pakistan to Afghanistan, which ruled it during the days of Ahmad Shah Durrani, would help achieve this objective if a diplomatic excuse could be found for doing this.

If Pakistan can’t profit from being the bad guy any more it has two choices. It could get even worse on its own account, and thus hasten its destruction in the name of “protecting the world”. Or it could be the good guy, the friend of one and all, and thus hasten its destruction because it serves no purpose. It has goods to offer, but not diplomacy. Getting into bed with Pakistan means getting involved in all its existing conflicts with India and Afghanistan and taking a position on them, which doesn’t help any of its neighbours win other friends, who are more useful in both trade and influence terms.

Therefore Pakistan is continuing to do what it has always been encouraged to do: play all sides at once, simply to keep conflicts going and prevent anyone developing their own resources. The difference now is that it is increasingly making the rules of this activity itself, seeing the West no longer needs Pakistan to do this as it once did. It decides for itself how far it wants to tolerate or help the Taliban and the other combatant groups in Afghanistan. It makes claims to Kashmir when it wants, not when the West wants it to.

Offering its people the same old Pakistan may prevent domestic revolt. It is doing precious little to help it in the rest of the world, but what other choice does it have? Even the old staple of blackmail – “We are your allies, you said we were good, so it will embarrass you if you don’t keep supporting us now” – won’t work when others are using all its old selling points more effectively, and reunification of part of the Indian subcontinent, however that is achieved, will be seen as a positive development by the international community.

Better the Devil you don’t know

Pakistan is seeking another guarantee of its legitimacy, and it is this which Tillerson is really objecting to. Long friendly with China, it is now prepared to allow Beijing to establish a naval base in the country, as a quid pro quo for being allowed to participate in the One Belt, One Road initiative , a supposedly economic scheme which looks remarkably similar to the “Road of Communist Conquest Ending in Australia” we were often warned about during Cold War times.

The idea is that if you allow another country to establish a base in yours, that country has an interest in maintaining the government and state which took this decision. It won’t want another country to take over, and possibly review this arrangement. That’s exactly how the US ended up with so many overseas bases in newly independent countries fighting for their identity, and why the US wants to stop others doing the same, having seen this work.

Pakistan doubtless expected the same benefits when it allowed the US to establish bases there from which to engage in conflict in Afghanistan. The US isn’t using Pakistan for this purpose any more because its presence there provoked anti-American riots led by radical Islamic groups, just like it did in Iran in 1979. The US remembers what happened there, and thinks the same might happen in Pakistan, and from there many other countries. It has scaled back its presence, but Pakistan has been weakened anyway by the experience, and is even less use than it was becoming already.

China needs nothing from Pakistan which it can’t get elsewhere, including a new naval base. In bilateral terms this new friendship exclusively favours China, but it blunts domestic discord because the concept of “Imperialist China” isn’t as evocative as “Imperialist America” because people haven’t had as much experience of it yet. The US would still rather destroy useless Pakistan than allow it to be useful to someone else, but at least this destruction is threatened by Imperialist non-Muslims without rather than radicals within, giving you better odds if you are the Pakistani government.

Pakistan is damned whichever way it looks because it has played the Western game, and thus expected Western protection, throughout its history. However big its army is, whatever deals it strikes, it has nowhere to go and nothing useful to do. The only question is whether other countries are prepared to fight wars over it, which is presently unlikely, or whether China will allow it to remain as a cautionary tale for those who wish to resist its own geopolitical games.

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US Threatens Pakistan as Part of New Afghan War Drive. Islamabad Seeks Beijing’s Support

US government officials have begun to spell out the meaning of Trump’s threat to punish Pakistan if it does not suppress Afghan insurgents operating from its border regions. These punishments include not just cuts to aid and payments for services rendered in fighting the Afghan war, but also encouraging India, Pakistan’s arch-rival, to play a larger role in Afghanistan, and a more pro-Indian stance on the seven-decade-old Kashmir dispute.

India has repeatedly boasted of its readiness to mount military raids inside Pakistan, even if they risk provoking all-out war between South Asia’s rival nuclear powers.

Rattled by Washington’s threats, Islamabad has turned to Beijing for support, further heightening tensions in a region where India and China are engaged in their most serious border stand-off since their 1962 border war, and Indian and Pakistani troops routinely exchange fatal artillery barrages across the Line of Control that separates Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

Trump insisted that Pakistan must “immediately” change course and stop “harboring criminals and terrorists” in his Monday evening speech outlining plans for a massive US escalation of the Afghan war. Elaborating on this, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a Tuesday press conference that Washington’s relations with Islamabad will henceforth be determined by whether it heeds US demands on the conduct of the Afghan war. Those who provide “safe haven” for terrorists have been “put on notice,” he declared, “warned (and) forewarned.”

Failure to comply, Tillerson suggested, would cost Islamabad financially and result in a further downgrading in relations, or worse. Asked what specific actions Washington might take against a recalcitrant Pakistan, he said,

“We have some leverage that’s been discussed in terms of the amount of aid and military assistance we give them; their status as a non-NATO alliance partner. All of that can be put on the table.”

Although Tillerson did not mention it, senior Trump administration officials are known to have considered threatening Pakistan with designation as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” Such a designation would automatically entail the loss of all US financial support and scrapping of all US arms sales, and likely lead to the sanctioning of government and military officials.

Lisa Curtis, who last month was named deputy assistant to the president and senior White House director for South and Central Asia, called, in a report issued by the Heritage Foundation last February, for the “terrorist state” designation to be held in reserve for use beyond the Trump administration’s “first year.”

Tillerson also indicated that the US will resume the drone strikes that have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians and terrorized the impoverished population of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The former Exxon CEO refused to directly answer a question at Tuesday’s press conference about the drone strikes, which are a flagrant violation of international law. But in sidestepping the question, he declared,

“We are going to attack terrorists wherever they live.”

The US military-security establishment, along with Democratic and Republican Party leaders, has long blamed the resilience of the Afghan insurgency on Pakistan’s reputed failure to crack down on the Taliban and its allies, especially the Haqqani Network.

The reality is that Washington and its NATO allies are waging a brutal neo-colonial war of occupation, propping up a corrupt and reviled puppet government in Kabul with night raids, drone strikes and other acts of terror.

Consequently, the Taliban, notwithstanding its reactionary Islamist ideology, is able to draw on widespread popular support. Pentagon officials themselves concede that, despite the US spending close to a trillion dollars, losing more than 2,400 troops, and raining death on one of the world’s most impoverished countries for the past 16 years, the Taliban insurgency is the strongest it has been since American forces invaded the country in October 2001.

Mentioned only in passing by Tillerson on Tuesday was the other element in Washington’s double-pronged threat to Pakistan: Trump’s call for India to become more involved in Afghanistan, especially in the provision of economic assistance.

India lost no time in welcoming Trump’s new Afghan war strategy, which includes among its core elements removing all restraints on US commanders targeting civilian areas and otherwise using the US war machine as they see fit.

“We welcome President Trump’s determination to enhance efforts to overcome the challenges facing Afghanistan and confronting issues of safe havens and other forms of cross-border support enjoyed by terrorists,” said an Indian External Affairs Ministry statement.

India’s corporate media has lauded Trump’s endorsement of India in his Afghan speech as a “key security and economic partner” of US imperialism. In an op-ed column titled, “Donald Trump’s Afghanistan policy presents India a chance to increase sphere of influence in South Asia,” Firstpost senior editor Sreemoy Talukdar termed Trump’s Afghan policy a “loud” endorsement—one that has huge implications for India in South Asia, where it jostles for influence with a mercantile China.”

To the dismay of Pakistan’s ruling elite, New Delhi has supplanted Islamabad over the past dozen years as American imperialism’s principal regional ally. With the aim of building up India as a counter-weight to China, Washington has showered India with strategic favours,

Under Narendra Modi and his three year-old Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, the Indo-US strategic alliance has undergone a qualitative transformation. India has parroted Washington’s provocative stances on the South China Sea and North Korea disputes, dramatically increased its military-strategic cooperation with America’s principal Asia-Pacific allies, Japan and Australia, and thrown open its ports and bases to routine use by US warships and fighter jets.

The US establishment, be it National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and the rest of Trump’s cabal of generals, or the liberals of the New York Times, accuse Islamabad of playing a “double game”—that is, of fighting the Pakistan Taliban and providing logistical support to the US war in Afghanistan, while surreptitiously protecting the Haqqani Network and other elements of the Taliban with close ties to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

This is truly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. It was the CIA that instructed the Pakistani ISI in the use of Islamist militia as proxy forces. At America’s behest, Islamabad helped organize and train the Mujihadeen who were used to draw the Soviet Union into the Afghan civil war, then to bleed it militarily for the next decade.

Moreover, the US has repeatedly employed Islamist militia and terror groups, including in regime-change operations in Libya and Syria. And it has done so while cynically claiming they are the target of the “war on terror” that successive US administrations have invoked as the pretext for military interventions in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia and for sweeping attacks on democratic rights at home.

Pakistan’s maintenance of ties with sections of the Taliban is bound up with its strategic aim of securing a major say in any political settlement of the Afghan war and its mounting anxiety over the “global Indo-US strategic alliance.”

For years, Islamabad has been warning Washington that its strategic embrace of India is fueling an arms and nuclear arms race in South Asia and encouraging Indian belligerence. But these warnings have been curtly dismissed. At most, Washington would agree to somewhat curb India’s ambitions in Afghanistan. Now even that is being set aside.

As the US has downgraded its relations with Pakistan, Islamabad has increasingly turned to its “all-weather friend,” China, to offset Indian pressure. Beijing, for its part, long sought to woo New Delhi with offers of investment, including a leading role in its One Belt-One Road Eurasian infrastructure-building scheme. But with India under Modi emerging as a frontline state in Washington’s military-strategic offensive against China, Beijing’s stance has changed markedly.

Over the past two months, Chinese government officials and the state-owned media have repeatedly threatened India with a border war unless it withdraws its troops from a remote Himalayan ridge, long under Beijing’s control but also claimed by Bhutan.

Underscoring the extent to which the US drive to harness India to its war drive against China has drawn South Asia into the maelstrom of great power conflict and is polarizing the region along India-US versus China-Pakistan lines, Beijing has given Islamabad a strong show of support in the wake of Trump’s Afghan war speech.

First, a Chinese Foreign Ministry representative came to Pakistan’s defence, saying the country had made “great sacrifices” and “important contributions” to the fight against terrorism. Then, the Chinese foreign minister, who was already in Pakistan on a previously scheduled visit, agreed in meetings with the Pakistani leadership to “maintain the momentum” of high level military-security and economic cooperation. This is to include Beijing and Islamabad enhancing policy coordination in the “emerging global and regional situation” and pressing forward with the development of the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Russia has also made clear its opposition to Washington’s plans to intensify the Afghan War and bully Pakistan. Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said Tuesday,

“Putting pressure [on Pakistan] may seriously destabilize the region-wide security situation and result in negative consequences for Afghanistan.”

Traditionally, Russia has enjoyed very close relations with India. But New Delhi’s alignment with Washington is placing the Indo-Russian strategic partnership under severe strain.

Posted in USA, Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on US Threatens Pakistan as Part of New Afghan War Drive. Islamabad Seeks Beijing’s Support

So-called Baloch Independence Day

NOVANEWS


By Sajjad Shaukat

Every year, 11th Aug is celebrated by the Baloch Sub Nationalists (BSNs) as the so-called
Baloch Independence Day to pollute the minds of the patriot people of the Baluchistan province
against the federation of Pakistan.

During this day, shutter down strikes on small scale in the far-flung areas of Balochistan and
demonstrations of small attendance by exiled BSNs take place, including active social media
campaign.

The anti-Pakistan section of Baloch people propagate that Balochistan got independence from
British on 11th August 1947. The Khan of Kalat (KoK) rejected the idea of joining Pakistan.
Pakistan invaded Balochistan and took control by imprisoning Khan of Kalat and his family
members within the palace.

It is notable that the insurgency of 1948 which started by Shehzada Abdul Karim of Kakat on
small scale continued, because it was not supported by other realist Baloch leaders, and it was
based on misguided thoughts suggested by few Indian Congress leaders. The aim was to
destabilize Pakistan by creating militancy in Balochistan.

As these hostile elements, while following the foreign agenda of the anti-Pakistan countries
distort the historical facts; the Baloch must need to know the actual perspective about accession
of Kallat state with Pakistan.

No doubt, Baloch leaders and people of Balochistan played a vital role in creation of Pakistan,
and ultimately succeeded under the leadership and guidance of Quaid-e- Azam Muhammad Ali
Jinnah in achieving Pakistan as an independent state. In fact, Balochistan is an integral part of
Pakistan with a history of supporting Resolution of Pakistan-1940, which envisaged creation of a
separate homeland for Muslim majority areas of the Sub-continent, as the Baloch had strongly
opposed plan of the united India.

Unfortunately, there are still certain dissident elements which not only opposed the idea of Two
Nation Theory—the fundamental ideological base for creation of Pakistan, but also left no stone
unturned in misguiding the Baloch regarding Balochistan’s accession to Pakistan. In reality,
before the independence of Pakistan, the territories which are now consolidated into the province
of Balochistan did not constitute a settled province. Apart from Quetta District that was
administrated under civil law, the rest of the territory was under Frontier Crimes Regulations
(FCR). The then government of British India constituted a special body of tribal elders known as
“SHAHI JIRGA” for consultation by Assistant Governor General (AGG) on local issues relating
to British Balochistan. On June 29, 1947, “SHAHI JIRGA” of the British Balochistan as
representative body of AGG along with elected members of Quetta Municipal Body
unanimously passed a resolution of forming part of Pakistan. The State of Kalat had customary
over lordship on the princely states of Kharan, Makran and Lasbela. As these three states decided
to join Pakistan in March 1948, the Khan of Kalat also acceded with Pakistan on March 27,
1948. The brother of KoK Shehzada Abdul Karim of Kakat having mustered 130 tribesmen

started insurgency in 1948 which never took off ground and the matter was brought under
control.

Regretfully, Baloch Sub Nationalists (BSNs) distort history of accession of Kalat with Pakistan
and give reference of the so-called insurgency of 1948 by brother of KoK, whereas the document
of accession of State of Kalat with Pakistan was signed by KoK himself as legitimate ruler of
State of Kalat.

Notably, as a result of the general elections 2013, the government led by the nationalist leader
Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch was established in Balochistan, while on
December 7, 2013; local bodies elections were largely held in a peaceful manner in the province.
However, these elections proved that majority of the Baloch are loyal to the federation, and do
not favour separation of the Balachistan, as they have rejected the case of separatists, being
projected by anti-Pakistan powers.

Even a Gallup survey of the UK official body, DFID, conducted on July 20, 212, had disclosed
that the vast majority of the Baloch people oppose the idea of an independent Balochistan. This
survey has also proved that some external entities have been conducting acts of sabotage in the
province by backing the minority groups.

It is due to the progressive works of Pak Army in the province that a division has been created
among the militant groups’ leaders in Balochistan. On 2011, I had visited Balochistan along with
other journalists. I saw a number of institutes, set up by army, and these were providing
education, especially technical training to thousands of Balochis. Besides other developments
works, Pak Army was also imparting army training to the Baloch youth. So, the purpose of army
is to uplift of the Baloch people with creation of jobs and to bring them in the mainstream of the
country. However, I had also a trip to far-flung areas of the province and witnessed various mega
projects and mineral sites, protected by armed forces. People also told me that subversive events
are being arranged by the minority separatist elements so as to create chaotic situation in the
province.

Similarly, CPEC which is a game changer, will not only develop Balochistan, but will also
provide employment to the Baloch.

As regards the deteriorating situation of Balochistan and the missing persons, everyone knows
that Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Baloch Salvation Front (BSF) and their affiliated
outfits, including another group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have been fighting for
secession of the province gets logistic support from American CIA, Indian RAW, and Israeli
Mossad.

In this respect, in the recent past, new wave of terrorism in Pakistan, especially Balochistan
killed several innocent people, while various terrorist outfits, particularly the Islamic State group
(Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL), and the affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan
(TTP), the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur- Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) claimed
responsibility for these brutal acts. TTP based in Afghanistan has its connections with ISIL and
other terrorist organizations and affiliated terror groups, including Baloch separatist elements,

and all these outfits are promoting the anti-Pakistan agenda of the foreign entities against
Pakistan. As part of the double game, CIA, RAW, Mossad and Afghan intelligence agency,
National Directorate of Security (NDS) which are in collaboration, are using these terror outfits
in destabilizing Pakistan and particularly Balochistan in order to fulfill the covert strategic aims
of the US-led India and Israel against Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran.

These external secret agencies are especially supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and
Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP is behind several terror
activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has also become center of the Great Game due to the ideal
location of Balochistan. With the tactical assistance of CIA, particularly, RAW is trying to
damage Pak-China CPEC project.

In the past few years, these militants kidnapped and killed many innocent people and the security
personnel in Balochistan. They also massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb
blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. Therefore, they are responsible for dumped
bodies and extrajudicial killings in the province. On a number of occasions, these insurgent
groups claimed responsibility for their subversive acts. A majority of the disappeared individuals
are also in the detention centers (Farrari Camps) which are being run by foreign-assisted Baloch
feudal lords (Sardars) who want to continue old system of feudalism in the province so as to
maintain their status, prestige and influence at the cost of people of the province.

It is mentionable that India, the US and Israel have been internationalizing the Balochistan issue
in accordance with their secret goals. In this context, in connivance with the Baloch separatist
leaders who have taken refuge in Switzerland, Sweden, US and London, these foreign elements
use media, various NGOs and human rights organizations for false propaganda against
Pakistan’s security agencies in relation to extrajudicial killings, mutilated bodies and the missing
persons.

It noteworthy that the armed forces of Pakistan have successfully broken the backbone of the
foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operations Zarb-e- Azb and Radd-ul- Fasaad
which have also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan. And
Pakistan’s primarily intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by
capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts.
Besides, since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and
protection to the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their
leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and
peace has been restored in Balochistan.

But, recent blasts in Balochistan and other regions of the country show that the US-led India,
Afghanistan and Israel have again started acts of sabotage to weaken Pakistan and to damage the
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Taking cognizance of historical facts, the idea of observing the as the so-called Baloch
Independence Day must be denounced by all the segments of society, while, every year, the
majority of the Baloch reject the call for shutter down strike in relation to this day. But, theseanti-Pakistan aims of the separatist elements also needs to be countered by our own historians,
analysts and media persons and through social media by giving true perspective of history and
denouncing the hostile elements who distort the facts in order to advance their vested interests in
accordance with the direction of the external entities who want to destablise the federation of the
country.

These internal entities of the country must point out that People of Balochistan, especially the
youth are very loyal and patriotic Pakistanis who believe in unity and sovereignty of the country.
They cannot be misled by elusive designs of greedy leaders who plan to observe August 11 as
the so-called Independence Day.

Particularly, media must proactively project the role of Baloch leaders in creation of Pakistan
and in defending the state of Pakistan. For the purpose, talk shows must be held giving correct
perspective of historical records by explaining the process of accession of State of Kalat with
Pakistan and internal rift between KoK and his brother.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,
Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on So-called Baloch Independence Day

Indian Independence Day: Black Day for Kashmiris

NOVANEWS


By Sajjad Shaukat

Every year when India celebrates Independence Day on August 15, Kashmiris on both sides of the
Line of Control and the world over observe it as the Black Day to convey the message to the
international community that India continues to usurp their inalienable right to self- determination.

At present, this very day has come at a time, when the Indian-Occupied Kashmir is bracing continued sieges and prolonged curfews, while Indian security forces have martyred more than 200 innocent persons who have been protesting since July 8, 2016 against the martyrdom of the young Kashmir leader Burhan Wani by the Indian security forces.

However, every year, Indian Independence Day is marked by complete shutdown, as deserted streets, closed businesses and security patrolling the streets could be seen in the Indian-Held Kashmir.

Noting intensity in the war of liberation and hoisting of Pakistani flags by the Kashmiri protesters in the aftermath of martyrdom of Burhan Wani, this time too, Indian occupation authorities will impose stringent restrictions in Srinagar and other towns by deploying heavy contingents of police and troops to prevent people from holding anti-India demonstrations.

But, indigenous freedom movement by Kashmiri people against the Indian occupation forces have
accelerated since the Indian forces martyred Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani.

It is notable that during the partition of the Sub-continent in 1947, the people of the state of Jammu
and Kashmir (J&K) which comprised Muslim majority decided to join Pakistan according to the British-led formula. But, Dogra Raja, Sir Hari Singh, a Hindu who was ruling over the J&K, in connivance with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord Mountbatten joined India.

The Radcliffe Boundary Award gave the Gurdaspur District—a majority Muslim area to India to
provide a land route to the Indian armed forces to move into Kashmir. There was a rebellion in the
state forces, which revolted against the Maharaja and were joined by Pathan tribesmen. Lord
Mountbatten ordered armed forces to land in Srinagar.

Indian forces invaded Srinagar on 27 October 1947 and forcibly occupied Jammu and Kashmir in
utter violation of the partition plan and against the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on December 31, 1947, India
made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire ultimately came into effect
on January 01, 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir.
On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding plebiscite. Instead, in March 1965,
the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India-an integral part of the
Indian union.

Kashmiris organized themselves against the injustices of India and launched a war of liberation
which New Delhi tried to suppress through various forms of state terrorism. Passing through various phases, the struggle of Kashmiris which has become an interaction between the Indian state terrorism led by the Indian security forces and war of liberation by the freedom fighters keeps on going unabated.

It is mentionable that since 1947, in order to maintain its illegal control, India has continued its
repressive regime in the Occupied Kashmir through various machinations.
Nevertheless, various forms of state terrorism have been part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army and paramilitary forces against Muslim Kashmiris, especially since 1989. It has been
manifested in brutal tactics like crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings,
sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim
women and killing of persons through fake encounter.

According to a report on human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, since 1989, there
have been deaths of 1,00000 innocent Kashmiris, 7,023 custodial killings, 1,22,771 arrests, 1,05,996
destruction of houses or buildings, 22,776 women widowed, 1,07,466 children orphaned and 10,086 women gang-raped/molested. Indian brutal securities forces have continue these atrocities.
In fact, Indian forces have employed various draconian laws like the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act in killing the Kashmiri people, and for the arbitrarily arrest of any individual for an indefinite period.

Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out
grave human rights violations in the Indian controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim majority
population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security forces.
In its report on July 2, 2015, the Amnesty International has highlighted extrajudicial killings of the
innocent persons at the hands of Indian security forces in the Indian Held Kashmir. The report points out, “Tens of thousands of security forces are deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir…the Armed Forces Special Powers Act allows troops to shoot to kill suspected militants or arrest them without a warrant…not a single member of the armed forces has been tried in a civilian court for violating human rights in Kashmir…this lack of accountability has in turn facilitated other serious
abuses…India has martyred one 100,000 people. More than 8,000 disappeared (while) in the custody of army and state police.”

In this respect, European Union has passed a resolution about human rights abuses committed by
Indian forces in the Indian held Kashmir.

It is of particular attention that in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the northern regions of the Indian-held Kashmir. Then researchers and other groups reported finding thousands of mass graves without markers. In this context, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves.
Notably, foreign sources and human rights organisations have revealed that unnamed graves include those innocent persons, killed by the Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake encounters including those who were tortured to death by the Indian secret agency RAW.

Indian authorities are not willing to talk with Kashmiri people on political grounds. New Delhi
reached to a conclusion that only bullet is the right way of dealing with Kashmiris, demanding their
right of self-determination. Surprisingly, Indian successive governments are trying to ignore the
dynamics of the freedom movement of Kashmiris for the sake of their alien rule.

Nonetheless, August 15 which is the Independence Day for India, is Black Day for the Kashmiris and their brethren in Pakistan including those living all over the world, as they re-affirm their
commitment to continue their struggle against Indian illicit occupation, and till the attainment of this liberation.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,
Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Indian Independence Day: Black Day for Kashmiris

Who is Behind Afghanistan’s Blame Game against Pakistan?

NOVANEWS

Senator’s McCain and Graham in South Waziristan, Pakistan

     By Sajjad Shaukat for Veterans Today

Terrorist outfits such as the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) and its affiliated militant groups which are being backed by American CIA and Israeli Mossad arranged several acts of terrorism in the Middle East, especially Syria. ISIS through its linked militant groups has, also, been conducted acts of sabotage in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

When any terror attack occurs in Afghanistan, Afghan government revives old blame game against Pakistan.

On May 31, this year, a massive truck bombing of the Afghan capital’s diplomatic section killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds of others, including foreigners. It was the deadliest terror attack in the 16-year-old conflict.

Taliban denied responsibility for the terror attack. But, Afghanistan’s intelligence service accused the Haqqani network by saying that a Taliban-affiliated group in Pakistan, carried out the attack. Addressing the conference-the “Kabul Process on Peace and Security Cooperation”, held in Kabul on June 6, 2017, which was attended by representatives from 26 countries and international organizations,Afghan President Ashraf Ghani criticized Pakistan for a lack of cooperation in promoting Afghan peace and alleged that Taliban insurgents are using sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to wage the insurgency in Afghanistan.

In the same speech, President Ghani offered peace talks to the Afghan Taliban by reiterating his preconditions such as recognition of the Afghan constitution, continuity of the reforms of educating and advancing the rights of women, and renunciation of violence and linkages with terrorist groups.

A Taliban spokesman rejected Ghani’s offer of a peace dialogue by stating that it is another attempt to endorse and to prolong foreign occupation of Afghanistan.

However, during the same conference, a powerful bomb went off at a main mosque in the western city of Herat, killing at least 10 people. Again, Taliban spokesman denied its involvement in connection with the explosion.

On the other side, Pakistan’s special Corps Commander Conference took the stern notice of Afghanistan’s allegations and threats and vowed to defend the country with full forces.

According to the press release of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), issued on June 6, 2017, the “Special Corps Commanders Conference presided over by Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa called for Afghanistan to introspect and not allege Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism…the conference reviewed the security situation…Strongly condemning the Kabul blast…meeting has expressed complete solidarity with Afghan government…instead of blaming Pakistan, Afghanistan needs to look forward and identify the real issues…Armed forces will defend the country from each challenge and will continue work to establish peace in the region.”

ISPR statement further reported that the meeting reaffirming continued support to regional peace and stability, the forum reiterated military’s resolve to defend the motherland against all types of threat.

Nevertheless, we need to know that who is behind Afghanistan’s blame game against Pakistan and why the same continues unabated in wake of terrorism-related assaults in Pakistan.

It mentionable that the armed forces of Pakistan have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad which have also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s primarily intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts.

Besides, since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and peace has been restored in Balochistan.

Peace has also been restored in Karachi and other provinces of Pakistan, including the tribal areas. But, recent blasts in Balochistan and other regions of the country show that the US-led India, Afghanistan and Israel have again started acts of sabotage to destabilize Pakistan and to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

In this regard, as part of the latest wave of terrorism, at least 35 people, including nine police men were killed and several others injured in a suicide blast near Arfa Tower on Ferozpur Road in Lahore on July 24, 2017.

On the same day, ISPR statement said that Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa raised concerns with the visiting Commander Resolute Support Mission (RSM) and US Forces in Afghanistan, General John W. Nicholson, over “the blame game perpetrated by some quarters in Afghanistan and United States to undermine Pakistan’s contribution to the war on terror.

The army chief elaborated, “This theme is being played at a time when policy review is being undertaken in USA…despite provocations, Pakistan will continue to act positively as we consider defeat of terrorism as national interest.”

The ISPR statement further pointed out that Nicholson reiterated his appreciation of Pakistan Army’s professionalism and admiration for resilience of the people. Both agreed on need for continuous engagement and coordination for peace and stability in the region.

Notably, a visiting United States (US) Congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain was taken on a tour of South Waziristan by Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on July 3, this year.

During their visit to South Waziristan, the delegation was briefed on recent measures taken for the improvement of the fencing of the Pak-Afghan border and enhanced surveillance.

Speaking at the event, Senator McCain stressed the importance of continued cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Senator Graham expressed his satisfaction with the progress against the fight against terrorism by stating, “I cannot stress how impressed I am with what’s happened in the last two years. It speaks well of the Pakistani Army and the people in this region”. Senator Whitehouse also lauded the military’s efforts in curbing terrorism.

As a matter of fact, the US and India do not want to see peace and prosperity in the region. Sadly, Pakistan’s dominant role in Afghanistan’s peace process under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) has, deliberately, been sabotaged by killing of the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur in CIA-operated drone attack in Balochistan. After the incident, Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. While, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan.

Owing to America’s double game, trust deficit deepened between Islamabad and Washington. Therefore, on June 10, 2016, a high-level delegation of the US visited Islamabad and met the Pakistan’s former Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif and Adviser to the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz separately.

During the meeting, expressing his serious concern on the US drone strike in Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Pakistan’s former Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif highlighted as to how it had impacted the mutual trust and was counterproductive in consolidating the gains of Operation Zarb-i-Azb against terrorists. He explained, “All stakeholders need to understand Pakistan’s challenges-inter-tribal linkages and decades—old presence of over three million refugees—blaming Pakistan for instability in Afghanistan is unfortunate”.

US ambivalent policy about Islamabad could also be judged from some other development. In this respect, another delegation of US Senators including Senator Lindsey Graham led by Senator John McCain, Chairman of US Senate Arms Services committee visited Islamabad and North Waziristan Agency (NWA) on July 3, 2016. The US Senators visited areas cleared of terrorists during Operation Zarb-e-Azb. American delegation appreciated the Pakistan Army’s accomplishment of cleansing the entire area of NWA right up to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, after witnessing the terrorists’ hideouts and communication infrastructure dismantled by the Pakistan Army.

Outwardly, American top officials have been appreciating the capabilities of Pakistan’s security agencies against terrorism, but inwardly, they are not pleased in relation to the successes, achieved by the armed forces of Pakistan against the militants, because America is acting upon a dual strategy in relation to Islamabad—also due to the reason that Pakistan in the only nuclear country in the Islamic World, which irritates America and its allies-India and Israeli.

In this context, in the recent past, new wave of terrorism in Pakistan killed several innocent people, while various terrorist outfits, especially the ISIS, and the affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) claimed responsibility for these brutal acts. TTP based in Afghanistan has its connections with ISIL and other terrorist organizations and affiliated terror groups, including Baloch separatist elements, and all these outfits are promoting the anti-Pakistan agenda of the foreign entities against Pakistan. As part of the double game, American CIA, Indian RAW, Israeli Mossad and Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) which are in collaboration, are using these terror outfits in destabilizing Pakistan and particularly Balochistan, including Afghanistan through various acts of terrorism in order to fulfill the covert strategic aims of the US-led India and Israel against Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran.

These external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP is behind several terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has also become center of the Great Game due to the ideal location of Balochistan. With the tactical assistance of CIA, particularly, Indian RAW is trying todamage Pak-China CPEC project.

While, India, the US and puppet rulers of Afghanistan have always blamed Islamabad for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan to divert attention from the acts of sabotage, which they have been arranging in Pakistan. Main purpose behind is also to pacify their public, as the US-led countries have failed in their fight against the Taliban who are waging a war of liberation against the occupying forces.

As regards the terrorism-related incidents inside Afghanistan, India, Israel and the Afghan government want to prolong the stay of the US-led NATO forces in that country and are using the militant outfits to create further unrest there, while shifting the blame game towards Islamabad.

In this regard, suicide bombers attacked a Shiite mosque in the western Afghan city of Herat on August 1, this year killing at least 20 people. The Taliban denied that they were behind the attack, while the ISIS group took the responsibility. While the majority-Sunni country has been relatively free of sectarian violence, the ISIS terrorists have repeatedly targeted gatherings of Shiites, so that sectarian riots could be erupted in the war-ravaged country.

ISIS on July 31, 2017 claimed responsibility for an attack on the Iraqi Embassy in Kabul, which began with a suicide bomber blowing him up at the main gate, allowing gunmen to enter the building and battle security forces. Similarly, a car suicide bomb exploded in western Kabul July 24, 2017, killing at least 27 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Besides various terror assaults, on January 10, 2017, an explosion took place in Governor House Kandhar (Afghanistan) where diplomats of United Arab Emirates (UAE) were also present along with the Governor, Deputy Governor, Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other dignities. The blast killed 12 people—five UAE diplomats and injured 18 persons, including Governor of Kandhar and UAE Ambassador to Afghanistan. IGP Abdul Razziq went outside the hall few minutes before the blast. IGP Razziq put blame on Pakistan’s Haqqani network and its primary intelligence agency, ISI on the very next day. The matter was investigated by two committees, consisting of NDS and Afghan government and UAE, including Scotland Yard. IGP Razziq did not cooperate with the investigation teams, even though he was responsible for the security of Governor House.

It is mentionable that the US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress on July 13, 2017 that the United States “is not winning the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan”, promising to brief lawmakers on “a new war strategy to call for thousands more U.S. troops.” Now, American President Donald Trump has decided to dispatch more troops in Afghanistan.

According to data released by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, “The Afghan government was assessed by the US military to control or influence just 59.7 percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts as of Feb. 20, a nearly 11 percentage-point decrease from the same time in 2016.”

In fact, Taliban who are fighting against the US-led NATO countries for the liberation of their country are targeting their installations and military personnel. In this connection, two US soldiers of NATO were killed and six others were wounded when a suicide bomber attacked their patrol on August 3, 2017 in eastern Afghanistan, marking the second incident in just as many days when insurgent attacks have killed Western troops. But, in order to divert attention of their public from NATO’s defeatism in Afghanistan and the prolonged war of the 16 years, some of these countries shift the blame game towards Pakistan and Russia.

In this respect, at a news conference in Kabul, on April 24, 2017, the US Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. John Nicholson, the American commander in Afghanistan supposedly stated that Russia was providing weapons to the Taliban. But, Moscow denied these false allegations.

Especially, the US is behind Afghanistan’s blame game against Pakistan in relation to terrorism.

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India’s Bloodless War against Pakistan

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat for Veterans Today

Although India has been targeting the civilians and military personnel near the border of Pakistani side of Azad Kashmir by continuously violating the Line of Control, yet India has, also, been waging the bloodless war against Pakistan by stopping the water-flow of rivers to Pakistan.

Unlike the past wars, being fought through the traditional armies with tanks and machine guns, the arena of war has changed, encompassing all the spheres. In the modern era, electronics have made it difficult for the military to serve as the automatic dominant sphere in every war, covering all the land, sea and space domains. Now, war with non-lethal weapons can be more harmful in damaging the interest of a rival country or enemy. It will be conducted in non-war spheres, entailing non-military means and tactics as part of the new warfare.

New technology is being utilized by the new warriors to carry out all forms of financial, network and media attacks. Most of these attacks are of non-military-types, yet they can be completely viewed as equal to warfare actions. In other words, bloody warfare has been replaced by bloodless warfare as much as possible.

Judging in these terms, New Delhi’s construction of several dams and new plans for more dams in the Indian Occupied Kashmir is part of its most dangerous scheme of bloodless warfare, being conducted against Islamabad in order to further harm all political, economic, financial and social spheres of Pakistan.

It is notable that in March, 2011, speaking in diplomatic language, Indus Water Commissioner of India G. Ranganathan denied that India’s decision to build dams on rivers led to water shortage in Pakistan. He also rejected Islamabad’s concerns at water theft by New Delhi or violation of the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, assuring his counterpart, Syed Jamaat Ali Shah that all issues relating to water would be resolved through dialogue. However, ground realties are quite different from what Ranganathan maintained.

Besides other permanent issues and, especially the dispute of Kashmir which has always been used by India to malign and pressurize Pakistan, water of rivers has become a matter of life and death for every Pakistani, as New Delhi has been employing it as a tool of terrorism to blackmail Pakistan.

In this regard, Indian decision to construct two hydro-electric projects on River Neelam which is called Krishanganga is a blatant violation of the Indus Basin Water Treaty. The World Bank, itself, is the mediator and signatory for the treaty. After the partition, owing to war-like situation, India deliberately stopped the flow of Pakistan’s rivers which originate from the Indian-Held Kashmir. Even at that time, Indian rulers had used water as a tool of aggression against Pakistan. However, due to Indian illogical stand, Islamabad sought the help of international arbitration. The Indus Basin Treaty allocates waters of three western rivers of Indus, Jhelum and Chenab to Pakistan, while India has rights over eastern rivers of Ravi, Sutlej and Beas.

Since the settlement of the dispute, India has always violated the treaty intermittently to create economic crisis in Pakistan. In 1984, India began construction of the Wullar Barrage on river Jhelum in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.

In the past, the issue of Wullar Barrage has also been discussed in various rounds of talks, being held under composite dialogue process between the two rivals, but Indian intransigence has continued. In the mid-1990s India started another violation by constructing the Baglihar dam on the Chenab River. In 2005, Pakistan had again sought the World Bank’s help to stop construction of the Baglihar dam. Although WB allowed India to go ahead with the project after a few modifications, yet it did not permit the interruption of the agreed quota of water flow to Pakistan.

In 2008, India suddenly reduced water flow of the Chenab River to give a greater setback to Pakistan’s autumnal crops. Islamabad on September 17, 2008 threatened to seek the World Bank’s intervention on the plea that New Delhi had not responded to its repeated complaints on the issue appropriately. But, India did nothing to address the problem.

It is mentionable that India has been using water as an instrument to pressurize Islamabad with a view to getting leverage in the Pak-India dialogue especially regarding Indian-Held Kashmir where a new phase of protests against the Indian illegitimate occupation has accelerated. In this respect, the then Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said on February 8, 2010 that Pakistan’s case on Kashmir and water was based on truth, and the government would fight it with full strength.

Indian diplomacy of bloodless war could also be judged from some other development. Online reports suggest that New Delhi has secretly offered technical assistance to the Afghan government in order to construct a dam over Kabul River which is a main water contributor to Indus River.

In fact, India wants to keep its control on Kashmir which is located in the Indus River basin area, and which contributes to the flow of all the major rivers, entering Pakistan. It is determined to bring about political, economic and social problems of grave nature in Pakistan.

In this context, China Daily News Group wrote in 2005: “Another added complication is that in building a dam upstream of Pakistan, India will possess the ability to flood or starve Pakistan at will. This ability was witnessed in July of 2004 when India, without warning, released water into the Chenab River, flooding large portions of Pakistan. The history of conflict between these two nations makes it possible for New Delhi to use nature as a real weapon against Islamabad.”

According to an estimate, unlike India, Pakistan is highly dependent on agriculture, which in turn is dependent on water. Of the 79.6 million hectares of land that makeup Pakistan, 20 million are available for agriculture. Of those 20 million hectares, 16 million are dependent on irrigation. So, almost 80% of Pakistan’s agriculture is dependent on irrigation.

Notably, many of Pakistan’s industries are agro-based such as the textiles industry. Besides, 80% of Pakistan’s food needs are fulfilled domestically. Thus an interruption of water supply would have broad-ranging effects. For example, when the country suffered a drought from 1998 to 2001, there were violent riots in Karachi.

It is noteworthy that half of Pakistan’s energy comes from hydroelectricity, and at present, our country has been facing a severe crisis of loadshedding which is the result of power-shortage in the country. During the recent past summers, people in a number of cities like Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad etc. lodged violent protests against the loadshedding, culminating into loss of property and life.

It is of particular attention that Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif warned on February 10, 2015 that although the electricity shortage in the country would be overcome within two to three years, the scarcity of water is another issue looming in the country.

While, Pakistan has already been facing multiple challenges of grave nature coupled with phenomenon of terrorism like suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings etc., committed by the militants who are being backed by Indian secret agency, RAW. As part of the double game, based in Afghanistan, US-led CIA and Israeli Mossad are also in connivance with RAW and the militant outfits such as ISIS and are supporting acts of terrorism in Pakistan like Syria and Iran.

In this connection, as part of the latest wave of terrorism, at least 26 people were killed and several others injured in a suicide blast near Arfa Karim Tower on Ferozpur Road in Lahore, today (In the afternoon of July 24, 2017). Details regarding the casualties are still coming.

However, New Delhi also employs water as an instrument by increasing its scarcity, making life too often miserable for Pakistanis with the ultimate aim of creating poverty which could produce more terrorism in turn. And, India is likely to deepen differences among Pakistan’s provinces over various issues which are directly or indirectly related to water.

It is worth-mentioning that in January, this year even the US administration has initiated the process for peacefully resolving the water dispute between India and Pakistan—the latest dispute which concerns two hydroelectric power plants—Kishanganga and Ratle, which India is building on the Indus rivers system.

In this backdrop, after a pause of two years and ‘water war threats’ from the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan and India on March 20, 2017 resumed talks in Islamabad over the water issues with Pakistan welcoming the development, but vowing to defend its rights with ‘full zeal and vigour’. The two-day talks of Indus water commissioners of the two countries marked the first formal engagement between the arch rivals, during the Mod-led India. Under the Indus Waters Treaty, New Delhi is bound to hold such meetings with Islamabad. Notably, last year, Premier Modi had threatened to revoke the water accord with Pakistan.

Nonetheless, since the 9/11 tragedy, international community has been taking war against terrorism seriously, while there are also other forms of bloodless wars, being waged in the world and the same are like terrorism. Political experts opine that modern terrorism has many meanings like violent acts, economic terrorism etc., but its main aim is to achieve political, economic and social ends. In these terms, India’s bloodless war against Pakistan amounts to water terrorism.

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Why Controversy over JIT Accelerates?

NOVANEWS

Image result for Sharif PAKISTAN PHOTO

By Sajjad Shaukat

Deliberately created controversy over the Joint Investigation team (JIT) set up on April 20, 2017 by the Supreme Court (SC) to probe the business dealings of the Sharif family abroad in connection with the Panama Papers’ verdict accelerated on June 12, this year, when the JIT team told the SC that some governmental departments have shown reluctance in handing over relevant records.

Media reports said that the JIT informed the Supreme Court of Pakistan that some state institutions are tampering the record and creating impediments in its way, besides threatening some members of team.

Earlier, the JIT has submitted a report in the SC with in relation to difficulties, hurdles and pressure on it during the course of its investigations.

In its report, the team of investigators alleged Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) chairman and executive director of record-tampering and non-cooperation.

The JIT also accused Intelligence Bureau (IB) personnel of threatening JIT member, Bilal Rasool, and trying to hack Rasool and his family’s Facebook accounts. It alleged that IB personnel were seen near the residence of Bilal Rasool on May 24, where they also threatened his servant.

According to these reports, “The JIT asked the SECP for record of Chaudhry Sugar Mills and all past inquiries against Sharif family. But, the SECP denied any inquiries held against Sharif family in the past, while a witness told that the SECP chairman directed not to search the record of inquiries…The SECP chief also ordered tampering of record of Chaudhry Sugar Mills and Executive Director Ali Azeem changed it from past dates. Azeem was also nominated by the SECP chairman for inclusion in the JIT to sabotage investigations.”

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was also accused of pressurizing JIT member, Irfan Mangi. In this regard, these reports further said, “The NAB issued a show cause notice to Mangi on April 25, 2017 for his deputation in the anti-graft body in 2004, and asked to submit an explanation in 15 days.

The investigation team also accused the government of leaking details of JIT correspondence with concerned institutions—the case has been asking witnesses to testify in their favour—“The chairman of Ittefaq Group directed Tariq Shafi to visit PM House before his appearance before the JIT, wherein he was asked to submit a statement according to their directives.”

It was pointed out that the leaking of secret correspondence to media was aimed at making investigations controversial—and “making information public this way raises concerns for witnesses’ security.”

The court expressed its concern that the JIT will not be able to complete the investigation within the timeframe of 60 days, if obstacles are created in the probe.

However, some politicians and media analysts are creating uncertainty in the country by making the JIT controversial through their irresponsible statements.

Everyone knows that the three-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan had finalized the members of the JIT, while, its members have been selected by the apex court entirely on merit by taking cognizance of their impartial and clean record.

And, Pakistan People’s Party has already rejected the Joint Investigation Team, formed by Supreme Court over the issue of the Panama leaks. In this respect, Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah have stated that if all the five judges declared Qatari letter as a false one, there was need to form the JIT. He further said that JIT should comprise Supreme Court judges—the court cannot investigate in such matters and has to depend on other departments which are bound to assist the apex court.

Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan have again said that the JIT cannot investigate Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif family’s offshore wealth since Nawaz Sharif remains in power, as all the concerned departments are under the control of the prime minister. He has also given a call to his party workers to be prepared for street protests, if the ruling party tried to attack the premises of the Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, all the politicians of the country must take note of the fact that the JIT has not been formed by the government, but the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and it would monitor the proceedings of the team on weekly basis. Hence, leaders of the ruling parties and those of the opposition parties must have trust in SC as well as the JIT.

Notably, the SC’s verdict on the Panama case was divided—3-2 among a five-judge bench, with the two judges—Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed had given ruling against PM Nawaz Sharif, saying he should be disqualified, while the other three Judges Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan had said in their verdicts that a JIT should be formed in this regard.

It was in this background that the Supreme Court asked the JIT to trace and investigate the money of the prime minister and his children.

The case had started after the documents, leaked from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm, which disclosed that Nawaz Sharif’s daughter and his two sons owned offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy properties in London.

In this regard, the Supreme Court had begun investigation regarding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif family’s offshore wealth after opposition leader Imran Khan filed a petition in the apex court.

Although the name of the prime minister is not directly mentioned in the Panama documents, yet, his addresses to the people, clarifying his own position, as pursued by PML-N top leaders’ outspoken statements had further complicated the case. However, Supreme Court had ruled that there was insufficient evidence of corruption to remove Nawaz Sharif from the office of prime minister. Therefore, it ordered a further inquiry about his money trail.

In is mentionable that in its verdict, the SC had quoted, “The Godfather behind every big fortune—there is a crime”. Some analysts and politicians had interpreted the renowned quote as an indication of Sharif family’s corruption.

Nonetheless, Imran Khan had appreciated the verdict of the five-member bench of the Supreme Court regarding the formation of the JIT. Now, the SC has to give its final verdict in light of the JIT investigation. Hence, leaders of the ruling parties as well as those of the opposition parties should not make the JIT controversial. In this connection, some recent statements of the leader of

the ruling party shows that they are deliberately creating controversy over the JII, as stated by Imran Khan. In this respect, media speculations and rumour-mongering are also likely to impact negatively on the functioning of the JIT. This practice must also be abandoned.

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35 Civilians Injured After Indian Forces Clash with Protesters in Kashmir

NOVANEWS

35 Civilians Injured After Indian Forces Clash with Protesters in Kashmir

At least 35 civilians were injured after clashes broke out between protesters and security forces across the Indian-controlled Kashmir, police and witnesses said Tuesday.

The protests erupted after police raided Southern Bahmnoo village, police Inspector-General Muneer Ahmed Khan said. Witnesses said troops blasted and destroyed three civilian homes during the fighting, Star Tribune reported.

Khan said three people were killed during the fightings and soldiers were searching for the body of a fourth militant in the debris. At least six police and soldiers were injured in the fighting.

The gunfight triggered intense clashes after hundreds of civilians marched near the site to help the trapped militants escape.

Government forces fired bullets, shotgun pellets and tear gas to stop the march by rock-throwing protesters who were chanted slogans like “Go India, go back” and “We want freedom.”

At least 35 civilians were injured and five among them were reported to have sustained bullet wounds.

In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India forces and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants.

The anti-India protests and clashes have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that “tough action” would be taken against stone throwers during counterinsurgency operations.

India and Pakistan control part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir’s independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting and the ensuing Indian crackdown.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep among the region’s mostly Muslim population and most people support the cause against Indian rule despite a decades-long military crackdown to fight the armed rebellion.

India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the kashmiri forces, which Pakistan denies.

Kashmiri groups have largely been suppressed by Indian forces in recent years and public opposition to Indian rule is now principally expressed through street protests.

Posted in India, Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on 35 Civilians Injured After Indian Forces Clash with Protesters in Kashmir

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