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Saudi FM to visit Pakistan to discuss strained bilateral ties

MEMO | December 29, 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan Al-Saud will lead a high-level delegation, including business leaders, in a visit to Pakistan next month in an effort to discuss recently strained relations, according to the Pakistani daily the Express Tribune.

The kingdom’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz Bin Salman will join the delegation to discuss the establishment of a Saudi oil refinery in Pakistan.

Al Saud will hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in addition to meeting President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The visit comes amid tense relations between Riyadh and Islamabad since August when Qureshi criticised the Saudis over their lack of support on the issue of Kashmir over which Pakistan and rival India both claim in its entirety.

The Pakistani diplomat even stated that Islamabad would be “compelled” to “call a meeting of Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us”.

However, the Saudis who interpreted the statement as a veiled threat to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which is dominated by Riyadh, responded by requesting the earlier repayment of a $3 billion loan to Pakistan made two years ago and refused to renew deferred oil payments scheme which part of the loan agreement worth another $3.2 billion. Earlier this month, long-term ally China agreed to help Pakistan repay the debt.

Earlier this year Beijing also helped Pakistan repay $1 billion to the Saudis meaning Pakistan has thus far repaid $2 billion with $1 billion outstanding.

Meanwhile, the Saudis have been developing ties with India despite its traditional ties with Pakistan, with a historic visit by the head of the Indian military to Riyadh earlier this month aimed at strengthening their bilateral ties, particularly in defence.

Read also:

Railway link from Turkey to Pakistan, through Iran to start in 2021

December 29, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

India arrests 75 in restive Kashmir following local polls

Press TV | December 26, 2020

Indian authorities have arrested at least 75 Kashmiri political leaders and activists in anticipation of an uprising following the triumph of an alliance of Kashmir’s regional political parties in a local election, a senior police official unveiled.

Those arrested included pro-independence leaders and members of the banned Jamat-e-Islami group, who were rounded up in what the government described as preventive custody, the official told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

The detentions challenge the verdict of the people, said Imran Nabi Dar, spokesman for regional party, the National Conference, and a key member of the alliance.

The District Council election that ended early this week was the first such exercise since the government of India’s ultra-nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the special status of the Muslim-majority region under its control last year.

Authorities in New Delhi then waged a crackdown on opposition activists in the restive region and rounded up hundreds of people in purported efforts to forestall protests and violence.

The alliance’s latest victory confirms that Kashmiris have not accepted Modi’s decision to end Kashmir’s special status, said Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister and head of the National Conference.

Following their release from prolonged detention, Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, chief of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party, announced the alliance in October aimed at seeking a peaceful restoration of Kashmir’s autonomy.

Meanwhile, the elections in Kashmir appear to have paved the way for other electoral processes in the volatile region. However, many say this ballot has made people of Kashmir politically aware of the fact that New Delhi is trying to thrust such an electoral process in order to create the impression that normalcy has taken hold after it stripped Kashmir of its autonomy, without actually working on building trust and bridging the gaps.

India last year scrapped the semi-autonomy of its part of Kashmir. New Delhi unilaterally introduced a slew of laws that locals say are aimed at shifting the region’s demographics and economically disempowering local residents.

Modi’s government revoked the New Delhi-controlled Jammu and Kashmir’s special status last year and claimed at the time that ending Kashmir’s special status was necessary for closer integration of the territory into the rest of India.

New Delhi’s approach towards the region has been widely criticized as being an extension of its tolerating instances of egregious discrimination and occasional deadly attacks against Muslims on the mainland.

Kashmir has long been a flash point between India and Pakistan, which have fought three of their four wars over the disputed Himalayan territory. Both countries rule parts of Kashmir while claiming it in full. Thousands of people have been killed since early 1990s.

December 26, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Pakistan returns $1 bln of Saudi Arabia’s loan over Kashmir dispute

MEMO | December 16, 2020

Pakistan has returned $1 billion to Saudi Arabia as a second installment of a $3 billion soft loan, as Islamabad reaches out to Beijing for a commercial loan to help it offset pressure to repay another $1 billion to Riyadh next month, officials said on Wednesday according to a report by Reuters.

Analysts say it is unusual for Riyadh to press for the return of money. But relations have been strained lately between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, historically close friends.

Saudi Arabia gave Pakistan a $3 billion loan and a $3.2 billion oil credit facility in late 2018. After Islamabad sought Riyadh’s support over alleged human rights violations by India in the disputed territory of Kashmir, Saudi Arabia has pushed Pakistan to repay the loan.

With the $1 billion flowing out, Pakistan – which has $13.3 billion in central bank foreign reserves – could face a balance of payments issue after clearing the next Saudi installment.

“China has come to our rescue,” a foreign ministry official told Reuters. A finance ministry official said Pakistan’s central bank was already in talks with Chinese commercial banks.

“We’ve sent $1 billion to Saudi Arabia,” he said. Another $1 billion will be repaid to Riyadh next month, he said. Islamabad had returned $1 billion in July.

Although a $1.2 billion surplus in its current account balance and a record $11.77 billion in remittances in the past five months have helped support the Pakistani economy, having to return the Saudi money is still a setback.

Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who visited Riyadh in August to ease the tensions, met the Saudi ambassador in Islamabad on Tuesday.

December 16, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Modi uses Israel’s ‘settler’ tactics to change Kashmir

Press TV – August 29, 2020

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is changing Indian Kashmir’s residency laws for the first time since 1947, in a bid to snuff out any challenge to the disputed territory belonging to India.

Drawing comparisons with Israel’s “settler” tactics in the Palestinian Territories, Modi’s Hindu nationalist government aims to change the demographic makeup and identity of the Muslim-majority region, critics say.

AFP looks at the background, what the new rules are and their implications for the area’s 14 million population.

What has Modi done in Kashmir so far?

The Himalayan former princely state has been split between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947.

In the Indian-administered part a conflict between separatist rebels and government forces has killed tens of thousands since 1989, mostly civilians.

More than 65 percent of the population is Muslim. In the Kashmir Valley, the main center of the rebellion, it is close to 100 percent.

On August 5, 2019 Modi’s government revoked articles in the Indian constitution that guaranteed Kashmir’s partial autonomy and other rights including its own flag and constitution.

A huge accompanying security operation saw tens of thousands of extra troops — adding to 500,000 already there — enforce a siege-like curfew. Thousands were arrested and telecommunications were cut for months.

Jammu & Kashmir state was demoted to a union territory governed directly from New Delhi, while the Ladakh region was carved out into a separate administrative area.

Creating such new “facts on the ground” in Kashmir has long been advocated by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the hardline Hindu parent organisation to Modi’s BJP party.

The move sent a further shudder through India’s 200-million Muslim minority and defenders of its secular traditions, who fear Modi wants to create a Hindu nation — something he denies.

“What I see unfolding is a Hindu settler colonial project in the making,” Mona Bhan, associate professor of anthropology at Syracuse University who has long researched Kashmir, told AFP.

What happened to Kashmir’s special rules?

Modi’s government tore up Kashmir’s special residence rules dating back to 1927 which had ensured only permanent residents could own land and property, secure government jobs and university places and vote in local elections.

Now a raft of different categories of people from anywhere in India can apply for domicile certificates, giving them access to all the above.

These include those living in Kashmir for 15 years, who include around 28,000 refugees who fled Pakistan and as many as 1.75 million migrant laborers — most of whom are Hindus.

In addition, civil servants who have worked in Kashmir for seven years and their children, or students who have taken certain exams, also qualify for domicile status.

The changes are “the most drastic imposed since 1947,” Siddiq Wahid, a historian and political analyst, told AFP. “It was done with the intent to open the gates to demographic flooding.”

What do locals have to do?

Locals too now have to apply for the new “domicile certificates” in order to qualify for permanent resident rights.

To get this, they have to produce their Permanent Resident Certificates (PRC), cherished documents valid since 1927, which then become worthless.

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, an engineering graduate said young Kashmiris were in effect being forced to give their political loyalty to India in exchange for a livelihood.

“They say, you want a job, OK, get the domicile document first,” he said.

Is anybody happy?

A few people. Bahadur Lal Prajapati, born in Indian Kashmir to Hindu refugees who fled Pakistan during its first war with India over Kashmir seven decades ago, is finally an official resident and has “never been so happy”.

“We got the right to live in this part of India as citizens after 72 years of struggle,” Prajapati, 55, told AFP from his home in Jammu, the Hindu-dominated district of the region.

One of the first people to receive the new domicile certificate was Navin Kumar Choudhary, a top bureaucrat from the Indian state of Bihar who worked in Kashmir for many years.

Photos on social media of Choudhary proudly holding the certificate sparked huge anger among Kashmiris but delight among Modi’s supporters.

What happens if people complain?

Some 430,000 new domicile certificates have been issued — despite the coronavirus pandemic. It is unclear how many of them are to people from outside and how many to locals.

Many locals are refusing to swap their old documents, even though this makes life harder. Some do it in secret for fear of censure from their neighbors.

Wary of being labelled “anti-national” by the authorities many Kashmiris are also scared to speak out openly. Some are deleting their Twitter accounts.

“It’s a travesty that I have to compete with outsiders for citizenship rights in my own homeland,” said a student — who also wished also to remain anonymous out of fear of problems with the authorities.

August 29, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

India introduces new Kashmir domicile law, raising fears of demographic manipulation

Press TV – April 2, 2020

India has introduced a new law that would make its citizens eligible to become permanent residents of the Indian-administered Kashmir, raising fears of demographic change in the Muslim-majority, Himalayan region.

The new law, which was announced by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday and which reportedly is not subject to parliamentary review, will deem any person who has resided in the Indian-controlled Kashmir for a period of 15 years or studied at certain school grades there as “domicile” of the territory.

The new law will also provide domicile status to the children of central government officials who have served in the Indian-controlled Kashmir for a total period of 10 years.

It will also open local jobs to non-residents.

The introduction of the law comes almost eight months after the Indian government stripped the disputed region of its limited autonomy. On August 5 last year, New Delhi revoked Article 370, a constitutional provision that had come into effect in 1949 and had granted special status to Kashmir, allowing it to have its own flag and constitution, among other rights.

In the lead-up to the revocation, India sent thousands of additional troops to the disputed region, imposed a curfew, arrested political leaders, and shut down telecommunication lines.

The new law also comes as the country of 1.3 billion people is under a 21-day lockdown in an attempt to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, raising speculation that the timing is intentional.

Legalizing settlements?

Residents in the Indian-controlled Kashmir fear that the new law would alter the demographic status of the region, with experts saying it will lead to “demographic flooding.”

“It is a lot to circumvent the law. I think it illustrates clearly that some will not stop from politicking during coronavirus [epidemic],” Siddiq Wahid, a political analyst based in the Indian-controlled Kashmir, said.

“Obviously it is an attempt to change the demographics, not only change but flood it. It will lead to demographic flooding,” Wahid said, according to Al Jazeera.

Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a professor of legal studies based in the region, said the move had already been in the offing.

“The whole purpose of revoking Article 370 was to settle outsiders here and change the demography of the [Jammu and Kashmir] state. Now this provides the modalities and entitles so many categories of Indians whose settlement will be legalized over here.”

India’s ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has denied that the new law is an attempt to change the demography of the region.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since partition in 1947. Both countries claim all of Kashmir and have fought three wars over the territory.

Meanwhile, Muslims elsewhere in India have also been facing abuse and violence.

April 2, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

Crippling lockdown on Kashmir surpasses 200 days

By Javed Rana – Press TV – February 21, 2020

The crippling security and communications lockdown in the Muslim-majority Indian disputed Kashmir region has entered its 200 days. Nearly 900,000 military and paramilitary troops are deployed to prevent mass agitation since August 5 last year when New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special status and forcibly annexed it into India.

The controversial merger of the disputed territory was in defiance of eleven UN Security Council resolutions which call for a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to decide on whether they want to stay with India or join Pakistan.

Since then, the top Kashmiri leaders including three former chief ministers have been imprisoned. In their absence, the second tier leaders held press conference in Islamabad to inform the world of what India seeks to hide.

India has banned the entry of independent journalists, human rights activists, observers and even many western politicians from entering into disputed Kashmir region.

Kashmiri leaders believe that the Indian government has been deliberately crippling the economy to create adverse conditions for Kashmiris to force them to sell their properties to Hindu businessmen. This, they say, is aimed at altering the demography of the Muslim-majority state.

February 21, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

“Will Not Comment on Recent Events in Jammu & Kashmir”: Detainees Being Released Sign Gov’t Form

Sputnik | January 12, 2020

Thousands were detained under India’s Public Safety Act, a law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial, in Jammu and Kashmir before the Narendra Modi-led government revoked Articles 370 of the Constitution, stripping the state of its special status on 5 August.

The detained people, who are being released after five months of imprisonment, have to sign a bond where they say they will not make any comment or statement on the “recent events” in Jammu and Kashmir.

The bond, signed under Section 117 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), includes Section 107, which states that the executive magistrate has the power to apprehend any individual for not more than a year on information that a person is likely to disturb peace and public tranquillity.

“I undertake that in case of release from the detention, I will not make any comment(s) or statement(s) or make public speech(s), (or) hold or participate in public assembly(s) related to the recent events in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, at the present time, since it has the potential of endangering the peace and tranquillity and law and order in the State or any part thereof for a period of one year,” section two of the bond reads.

Nearly 4,000 people were arrested and some political leaders were detained after the revocation of Article 370, over fears of outbreaks of unrest and “most of them were flown out of Kashmir because prisons here have run out of capacity”, news agency AFP had quoted an official as saying.

The government bifurcated the state into two federally-administered territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The union territory then imposed a communications clampdown as new charges for mobile phone services were imposed. Postpaid mobile calling and messaging services along with broadband internet have been resumed, but internet services remain suspended. India’s apex court has termed the restrictions unconstitutional.

A delegation of envoys from 15 countries such as the United States, South Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Maldives, Morocco, Fiji, Norway, Philippines, Argentina, Peru, Niger, Nigeria, Togo and Guyana visited the Jammu and Kashmir on 9 January.

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Blocks State-run Radio Pakistan’s Live Streaming for Highlighting Kashmir Issue

Sputnik – December 30, 2019

For four months, the Pakistani government has been accusing Twitter of suspending hundreds of accounts of Pakistanis for raising issue related to Indian-administered part of Kashmir. The communication blockade entered its 148th day in Kashmir since the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by Modi’s government.

Pakistan’s government has criticised the American social media giant Facebook for blocking the live streaming of news bulletins run by state-run Radio Pakistan, terming it a violation of basic human rights.

Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Ministry Firdous Ashiq Awan said that government will “make efforts for the restoration of the live streaming of Radio Pakistan’s news on Facebook”.

The minister said every time the state-run radio service tries to highlight “human rights violations” in Kashmir on social media platforms, “the accounts are suspended”.Earlier in the day, Radio Pakistan said its live streaming service of news bulletins was blocked for highlighting “Indian atrocities in Kashmir”.

The news coverage exposing “continued atrocities, curfew and military lockdown” led to the blockage, the statement read.

Radio Pakistan has also shared a screenshot message reportedly sent by Facebook in which the American firm claimed that “your post goes against our Community Standards on dangerous individuals and organisations”.

A huge number of Pakistani nationals have been venting their ire on social media since the Indian parliament revoked the decades-old temporary special status of Jammu and Kashmir State on 5 August and bifurcated it later into two federally-administered Union Territories.

A number of accounts of Pakistani journalists, activists and even some of government officials were suspended in August, triggering outrage among the people.

The Kashmir region has been a bone of contention for India and Pakistan. Both the nuclear-armed neighbours claim Kashmir in full but rule only part of the region.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia reads the riot act to Imran Khan

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | December 17, 2019

The Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 hosted by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on December 18-21 was originally conceived as a landmark event in the politics of the Muslim world. It still is, albeit on a wet wicket struggling to tackle a nasty googly that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan threw at the event at the last minute.  

To recap, the idea of the KL Summit was born out of a trilateral pow-vow between Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed and Pakistan’s Imran Khan in September on the sidelines of the UN GA session in New York.

The common perception of the three countries was that the Muslim World failed to react forcefully enough to the emergent situation affecting the Kashmiri Muslims. Pakistan actively promoted the perception that the leadership of the ummah was not reacting forcefully enough over Muslim issues such as Kashmir.

On November 23, while announcing his decision to host the KL Summit, Mahathir said that the new platform hoped to bring together Islamic leaders, scholars and clerics who would propose solutions to the many problems facing the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims. He disclosed that dignitaries attending the KL Summit would include Erdogan, the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Imran Khan.

The role of politics in development, food security, preserving national identity, and redistributing wealth were listed as other topics to be discussed, alongside the expulsion of Muslims from their homelands and the categorisation of Islam as the “religion of terrorism”.

In poignant remarks, Mahathir bemoaned that no Muslim country was fully developed, and that some Islamic nations were “failed states”. He said,

“Why is there this problem? There must be a reason behind this. We can only know the reason if we get the thinkers, the scholars, and the leaders to give their observations and viewpoints.

“Perhaps we can take that first step … to help Muslims recover their past glories, or at least to help them avoid the kind of humiliation and oppression that we see around the world today.”

Importantly, Mahathir described the summit as a meeting of minds that had the “same perception of Islam and the problems faced by the Muslims”.

From among the list of invitees, it now turns out that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be attending tomorrow’s summit, but King Salman of Saudi Arabia has regretted that the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) is being bypassed.

Mahathir disclosed that King Salman  conveyed to him in a phone conversation that it was better that the Muslim issues were discussed in a full-fledged OIC meeting. Mahathir said laconically,

“He (King Salman) wanted to tell me the reasons why he couldn’t make it. He’s afraid that something not good will happen to the Muslims. He has a different opinion from us. He feels that matters like these (Muslim issues) shouldn’t just be discussed by two or three countries, and there should be an OIC meeting and I agreed with him.”

The testy exchange signalled that the Saudi regime sees the KL Summit as a calculated challenge to its leadership of the ummah and as an initiative about laying the foundations for an Islamic alliance.

Mahathir is outspoken but what is less noticed is that his positions actually align closely with those of Turkey and Pakistan. These include the Palestinian question, the situation in Jammu & Kashmir and the persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar.

According to the Malaysian news agency Bernama, the KL Summit “aims to revive Islamic civilization, deliberate (over) and find new and workable solutions for problems afflicting the Muslim world, contribute (to) the improvement of the state of affairs among Muslims and Muslim nations, and form a global network between Islamic leaders, intellectuals, scholars, and thinkers.”

In sheer brain power, Saudi Arabia cannot match such an agenda. A sense of frustration has been building up over the past decade or so among the Muslim countries that the OIC is reduced to an appendage of the Saudi foreign policies. Saudi Arabia’s rift with Qatar, its rivalries with Iran, the brutal war in Yemen, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, etc.  also seriously dented Riyadh’s image in the most recent years.

Of course, Saudis hold a big purse and that still translates as influence but the new Islamic forum is poised to move in a direction that is progressive and far more inspiring, with plans to pursue joint projects, including, eventually, the introduction of a common currency.

Mahathir is on record that this mini-Islamic conference could turn into a much grander initiative down the road. Such optimism cannot be disregarded since a growing number of Muslim-majority countries harbour great unease over the near-term prospect of the ascendancy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the Saudi king and the next Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Saudi Arabia, anticipating the gambit being thrown down by Mahathir has reacted viciously to undercut the KL Summit. It tore into the summit’s ‘soft underbelly’ by reading the riot act to Imran Khan,  which put the fear of god into Imran Khan and how it happened we do not know, but the great cricketer panicked and has since called Mahathir to regret that he cannot attend the KL Summit.

No doubt, it is a big insult to Mahathir’s personal prestige but as the old adage says, beggars cannot be choosers and Imran Khan is left with no choice but to obey the Saudi diktat like a vassal.

With Imran Khan staying away, Mahathir is left to host his counterparts from Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Indonesia. The fizz has gone out of the KL Summit. Nonetheless, Mahathir is not the type of person to forget and forgive. His initial reaction to Imran Khan’s cowardly behaviour shows studied indifference, betraying his sense of hurt.

Pakistan is ultimately the loser here, as its credibility has been seriously dented. Imran Khan was the original promoter of the idea of the three-way axis of Turkey-Pakistan-Malaysia. But to be fair, his modest agenda was to create an exclusive India-baiting regional forum that he can use at will, whereas Mahathir turned it into an unprecedented Islamic forum that is independent of Saudi influence. Perhaps, Mahathir can only blame himself for the overreach.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

UN Security Council Meeting on Kashmir at China’s Request Postponed Indefinitely

Sputnik – December 17, 2019

A crucial closed-door meeting at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the Kashmir issue has been postponed for a month at least.

The meeting was scheduled on Tuesday to discuss the humanitarian situation in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Previously, a first such meeting was held in August this year in the aftermath of India’s decision to revoke the seven decades old special status of Kashmir on 5 August. However, the provisional schedule and daily meetings of the UNSC don’t mention the consultative meeting on Kashmir.

In its August programming schedule, the UNSC clearly mentioned the closed door consultation on India and Pakistan. But in December’s schedule no such meeting is planned. Two diplomats have also confirmed the development.

Currently, the decision to postpone the meeting on Kashmir came ahead of crucial boundary dispute talks between India and China.

India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi are expected to meet on 20-21 December to stabilise relations and discuss the contentious boundary issues between the two nations during Special Representatives-level talks.

The boundary discussion was stalled for months due to strained relations between the two Asian giants over Kashmir. Beijing termed the Indian decision to revoke the special status of Kashmir as unilateral and impinged upon the sovereignty of China.

The last time the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was on the UNSC agenda was during a meeting on 21 December 1971. It was followed by the adoption of a resolution calling for a durable ceasefire, the halt of all hostilities in conflict areas, and the provision of international assistance to refugees impacted by the territorial dispute.

In a related development, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has also cancelled his scheduled visit to Malaysia to participate in a meeting on Kashmir.The development comes two days after Khan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in Riyadh, during which matters related to bilateral relations were discussed.

A summit of Muslim leaders is expected to deliberate upon a shared agenda of Islamic countries and their collective challenges in a highly interconnected world.

India and Pakistan have contended for the Kashmir region, the southern part of which lies in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state (now a union territory), since the end of British rule in 1947. Despite a ceasefire being reached in 2003 following several armed conflicts, instability has continued, leading to the emergence of various extremist groups.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

The ballad of India’s Kashmir and Israel’s Palestine

Palestinian children play outside their dwelling in al-Eizariya town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank with the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim in the background.
By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | November 29, 2019

“I believe the security situation will improve (in J&K), it will allow the refugees to go back, and in your lifetime, you will be able to go back … and you will be able to find security, because we already have a model in the world.”

“I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it.” 

The above reported remarks by India’s consul-general in New York Sandeep Chakravorty while addressing an audience of Kashmiri Pandits raised some dust in the Indian media. But his job or career is no mortal danger.

For, Chakravorty must be an intelligent man and probably estimated that he was only articulating from a Track 1.5 platform the Modi government’s surreptitious policy in J&K  — following the Israeli footfalls of forcible occupation and colonisation of lands inhabited by alienated people. 

Whether the policy is doable or not is for time to tell. To my mind, the final word is not yet available whether even the brutal Israeli policy will work or not. Besides, circumstances are vastly different, and Kashmir is not an analogous situation. 

The main difference is that although the Indian state resorted to the use of force, much like Israel had done in Palestinian lands, the security situation has only deteriorated over the years, over decades. There are no two opinions that even half a million troops could not achieve anything by way of enduring results in the Kashmir valley. 

The ground realities in the valley militate against repression and state terrorism as viable policy option for a country such as India. The stark evidence of it lies in the government’s decision in August to change the status of J&K, which is an admission of failure rather than a mark of triumphant glory. 

Consul-general Chakravorty seems unaware how Israel went about systematically to prepare an external environment first by subduing the Arab countries that surrounded it and harboured sympathy, and were willing to support the Palestinian cause. Arguably, India too should begin with defeating and subduing Pakistan first? But, honestly, such an option is not available for India in our thermonuclear era, now or ever, the bravado of our ruling elite and their acolytes notwithstanding. 

Then, there is the western support for Israel, which helps it to get away with murder. The underlying factors here are complex and deep rooted in history. At its core, the western countries are constantly forced into an attitude of atonement for their anti-semitism that has a long and loathsome history dating back centuries. Remember the notorious Dreyfus affair in France — leave alone the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust, which makes Angela Merkel wobbly in the legs even today when she mentions Israel. 

Israel plays the “anti-semitic card’ very effectively. In actual practice, any criticism of Israeli state violations against Palestinians is instantly discredited as being “antisemitic”. Today, US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn are in the crosshairs of the Israeli lobby for this reason. Corbyn’s sin is that he has pledged to cut military trade with Israel and move to officially recognise a Palestinian state, if elected to power. 

The well-known commentator Finian Cunningham recently wrote, “This conflation of valid criticism of the Israeli state with being “anti-Jew” is a cynical distortion which is wielded to give Israel impunity from international law. It plays on moral blackmail of critics by equating the historical persecution of Jews and in particular the Nazi holocaust with the sanctity of the modern Israeli state.” 

Unfortunately, there is a notion even amongst educated Indians (including bureaucrats in the Indian Foreign Service) that linking up with the Jewish organisations would enable India to piggy ride on the Israeli lobby in the US. The false notion largely stems from sinister claims about the influence of “Jewish money” — and, it is not of recent origin. Didn’t Brajesh Mishra, the NSA under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, envisage a US-Israel-India condominium? 

The heart of the matter is that India is not Israel. Unlike Judaism, Hinduism is not an Abrahamic religion and it is not joined at the hips with the Christian world. This is one thing. Second, while large sections of Hindus too have suffered cruel persecution through centuries, it happened to be at the hands of their co-religionists. Clearly, there is no reason for atonement on the part of the West. 

Third, while Indian-Americans are a prosperous community relatively, their clout in the Wall Street is minimal. Unlike the “Jewish lobby”. Simply put, following the Israeli footfall on the occupation and colonisation of the Palestinian homeland or the territories illegally annexed during wars will not take India very far in regard of the J&K situation. 

The bottom line is that the western opinion on Kashmir is supportive of neither India nor Pakistan. It always rooted for the “Third Option” — an independent and sovereign state of Kashmir. The official US position, in particular, always made it a point to stress that any solution should take into account the “wishes of the Kashmiri people.” 

In the prevailing geopolitical situation in Asia, an independent Kashmir state will be a strategic asset for Washington. Surely, any colonisation of Kashmir Valley by non-Kashmiris grates against the US interests. Israel, on the contrary, is itself a western creation on the map of the Middle East and the US condones Israel’s war crimes and aggressive state policies as a matter of regional strategy. 

One would imagine that an Indian diplomat of the rank of ambassador would know that discretion is the better part of valour. Yet, he voiced maverick opinions like a run-of-the mill rabble-rouser on the Hindutva platform, which, he should be intelligent enough to grasp, would only serve to confirm Pakistani allegations regarding the Modi government’s intentions behind the change of status of J&K. The politicisation of the Foreign Service, which such sordid episodes highlight, won’t serve any good.

November 29, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Kashmir after India’s unilateral move: A story of fear and hopelessness

By Shahana Butt | Press TV | Nov 15, 2019

Indian-Administered Kashmir – More than 100 days have passed since India stripped Kashmir of its autonomous status and divided the state into two federally-ruled territories. The region has been observing a protest close down ever since; with shops, businesses and schools shunned by the people in protest against New Delhi’s move.

Although India has promised the return of normalcy in the region through equal rights and development; rumors are moving the other way round.

The return of check posts and eruption of new security bunkers across the Muslim majority region has pulled back the horror scenes of 1990’s in Kashmir and has all together made it more difficult for the people living in the world’s largest militarized zone.

In the past 100 plus days hundreds of bunkers have been built in addition to the existing security vigil; the prevailing circumstances have further silenced the people of Kashmir.

Press TV spoke to a cross section of people in Kashmir to know how they see this new Kashmir and what they faced in the past 100 plus days.

Since august 5 people of Kashmir are living in a controlled communication zone; with no internet facilities and limited cellular network that was provided after the intervention of India’s top court and international criticism.

In the absence of international concern and given New Delhi’s ‘not so clear’ Kashmir agenda people of Kashmir are caught in skepticism, doubt and fear.

Sooner or later so called ‘normalcy’ might return to the valley of Kashmir. But India’s unilateral move and the world’s turning a blind eye to the issue has left a deep-rooted impact on the lives of people here. This has added to the existing alienation of Kashmir, where people accuse both India and Pakistan of playing the Kashmir card for political and strategic gains.

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November 15, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment