Pakistan Today – Merger of Gilgit-Baltistan would amount of stabbing Kashmiris in the back

Wise or unwise?

Ashiq Hussain Bhat

Lahore, 19 Feberuary 2017. Recent news reports from Pakistan suggest that the Nawaz government is mulling the merger of Gilgit-Baltistan with the federation of Pakistan. Such a measure on part of Islamabad would have serious consequences for the rest of Kashmir because it would set a precedent for India to merge Kashmir in a similar manner with the Indian Union.

Gilgit and Baltistan were two separate entities inside the former Princely State of Kashmir. Baltistan was part of Ladakh Wazarat right upto August 1948; and Gilgit was a separate Wazarat (district) headed, as was Ladakh, by a Waziri-Wazarat (a sort of Deputy Commissioner).

In March 1935 the Maharaja of Kashmir leased it out to the British government of India. Since then the British Agent at Gilgit exercised full authority there. In fact the Agent exercised greater control than the Wazir right from 1880s when the British set up an Agency there.

When in 1947 the British decided to withdraw from the sub-continent, and transfer power to Indian hands (Muslim majority Pakistan and non-Muslim majority India) all the agreements, including the Gilgit Lease, between the Indian princes and the British rulers were to lapse, under the provisions of States Memorandum of 12 May 1946, on 15 August, the day of Transfer of Power.

Accordingly, the Maharaja deputed Ghansara Singh, Waziri-Wazarat designate, to take over the administration of Gilgit Wazarat. Ghanara arrived there on 30 July 1947. However, he found himself unwelcome in Gilgit (p.116 Kashmir A Disputed Legacy, Alastair Lamb). He found that no administrative set-up existed in Gilgit, not even in name.

And the only authority that the people of Gilgit recognised was that of the Corps of Gilgit Scouts, a militia of local men raised by Gilgit Agent in 1913, who did not want to be part of the Maharaja’s Kashmir, or part of an Indian Kashmir.

The Indian army intervention in Kashmir on 27 October 1947 prompted the Scouts to take action. Openly supported by their British Officers, Major Brown and Captain Mathieson, and by the Muslim component of 6th Battalion of State Forces, they killed the Sikh component of the State Forces that manned the Janglote outpost; and forced Ghansara to surrender (p.240 The History of Jammu Kashmir Rifles Major Brahma K. Singh).

In the coming days, led by Colonel Shahzada Mataul-Mulk, the new free army of Gilgit, which comprised the Scouts, the Muslim component of the erstwhile State Forces, and other locals, and which they named as Azad Central Forces (ACF), headed towards Baltistan.

En route they liquated the Sikh component of State Forces guarding the Tsari Pass on the left bank of Indus River while as the Muslim component guarding the Tsari Pass on the right bank of the River joined hands with them voluntarily (pp.251 & 258 The History of JK Rifles Major B. K. Singh).

They fought pitched battles in February to May 1948 in and around Skardu with the Skardu Dogra garrison and the troop reinforcements sent from Srinagar and Kargil. Finally the ACF forced the Skardu garrison to surrender on 12 August 1948 (p. 259 The History of JK Rifles Major B. K. Singh).

The ACF had already gifted Gilgit in November 1947 to Pakistan on a plate. Now they gifted them Baltistan also.

Meanwhile, the 1948 Pakistan-India war over Kashmir ended in a ceasefire courtesy of United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP).

Next year, 1949, the two countries agreed upon demarcation of a ceasefire line (LOC since 1972) which passed through the erstwhile Princely State of Kashmir thereby partitioning it into three parts with Pakistan receiving, in addition to Gilgit and Baltistan, portions of Kashmir and Jammu provinces of the State, collectively referred to as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)” by Pakistan and “Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK)” by India.

The UNCIP also recommended a plebiscite for Kashmir State so that the final disposition of the State could be decided in accordance with the wishes of its people.

This ascertainment of peoples’ wishes was never effected, India accusing Pakistan of failing to withdraw its forces from State territory as laid down in the UNCIP Resolutions; and Pakistan accusing India of scuttling the process by stalling the appointment of UN-nominated plebiscite administrator.

Since then the State remained a bone of contention among Pakistan, India and Kashmiris which led to wars and internal revolts.

Since January 2016 reports started coming from Pakistan that suggested that the Nawaz Sharif government was seriously considering the issue of merger of Gilgit-Baltistan as the fifth province of the country in total disregard of the consequences this measure would have on the broader issue of Kashmir.

It was given out at that time that the Islamabad administration were concerned about the passage of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through internationally disputed Kashmir State territory of Gilgit and Baltistan. So, if they merged Gilgit-Baltistan with Pakistan, it would serve their economic interests better.

As of now, February 2017, such reports have again started making rounds. The most recent reports on this issue, published by Pakistani newspapers, suggest that the Nawaz government has finalised the plan to merge Gilgit-Baltistan with the endorsement of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly which was convened first time in 2009 under the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order.

Should that happen, the balloon of resistance in Kashmir Valley, nurtured by Pakistan itself, would be deflated. New Delhi administration would make merry.

Despite their long winded rhetoric that Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK belonged to India and were illegally occupied by Pakistan, and that they meant to liberate these by force, the reality seems to be that they fervently desire Islamabad administration to effect constitutional changes for merger of Gilgit-Baltistan (and also AJK) with Pakistan as provinces at par with other provinces of the federation, because this would create a precedent for them (New Delhi administration) to do likewise with the rest of the State which is under Indian administration.

They can easily obtain concurrence for required constitutional changes from the Legislative Assembly of Kashmir which is full of their own people. Probably some sort of nexus has developed on this issue between New Delhi and Islamabad, or Islamabad might not have thought of this merger.

Up until now the Kashmir resistance forces accused India of not allowing a plebiscite in the valley as laid down in the UNCIP resolutions and instead seeking its merger with the Union with the concurrence of unelected assemblies (the Constituent Assembly in 1950s and the Legislative Assembly since 1957).

Now Pakistan has set the process of merger of Kashmir State territories in motion.

They can hardly justify their action on the grounds that the Legislative Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan is supportive of these measures; and that people of Gilgit-Baltistan wish to be part of Pakistan.

Should they do so, then the New Delhi administration could embark upon a similar adventure; abrogate the Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India; obtain the concurrence of the Kashmir Legislative Assembly; and thereby finally merge Kashmir with the Union of India at par with other States of the Union.

If this were to happen, the people (read Muslims) of Kashmir would have two options available: Either accept the new dispensation hands down and curse Nawaz government; or fight back with more vigour.

If they settle for the second option, it will, in turn, prompt New Delhi administration to seriously consider their options.

They can either do with Kashmiris what Sri Lanka did with Tamils, knowing well that the State of Pakistan, which previously claimed to be the traditional protectors of Kashmiris, would be looking the other way, having themselves stabbed them in the back; and/or, kick out the intransigent elements among them (Kashmiris) across the “LoC” (which would have by now been accepted by Pakistan State as International Boundary) just as they (Indians) kicked out people in 1948-49 across Sucheetgarh into Pakistan.

The Hindu – IEDs kill more commoners than VIPs: NSG

Data show 55% of these devices are set off in public places; in 2016, only 7% of the attacks were targeted at VIPs

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 9 February 2017. Who are the primary targets of terrorists? VIPs? Security forces? Or ordinary people?

A detailed data analysis carried out by the National Security Guard, a counter-terror and counter-hijack force, show it is the unarmed civilians who often fall victim to IED (improvised explosive device) blasts set off by terrorists across India. The VIPs are the least targeted.

Between 2012 and 2016, anywhere between 49% and 72% of the attacks annually have been targeted at ordinary civilians. In contrast, attacks targeting VIPs were in the range of 1% to 7%.

Minor number

In 2016, only 7% of the IED attacks were targeted at the VIPs. In comparison, 55% of all IED explosions across India in 2016 were targeted at public places. The remaining 37% were against security forces.

The Union government provides security to more than 300 VIPs. While the Special Protection Group provides security to the Prime Minister, the former Prime Ministers and their close family members, the NSG commandos guard those like Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

The Centre justifies VIP security in the name of “security threats”, which are assessments made primarily through the Intelligence Bureau. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is a recent addition to the list of VIPs protected by the NSG.

The NSG report said that three VIPs each were targeted in Northeast India and areas affected by Left-wing extremism, one in Jammu and Kashmir and remaining 16 in the rest of India.

In all, 337 bomb-related incidents were reported in the country, the highest in five years.

The States affected by Left-wing extremism contributed the most number of IED blasts at 159, followed by the north-eastern States at 59 and Jammu and Kashmir at 31.

“In 2016, the most preferred targets of Maoists, insurgents and terrorists were public and security forces. Overall, there was an increase in incidents when specifically security forces were the target,” the report said.

In 2016, the number of IED blasts rose from six to 33 in Kerala and from 12 to 32 in Tamil Nadu. Chhattisgarh saw an increase from 39 to 60.

The report was shared with mediapersons on Thursday at an international seminar organised by the bomb data centre of the NSG.

The report said Jammu and Kashmir saw an increase in number of blasts after the Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with the security forces.

Type of explosives

“High-grade explosives were used in 83% of all IED incidents. Considerable quantities of low explosives, especially petrol bombs, also saw an increase. From none in 2015 to 12 in 2016,” the report said. The security forces remained the prime target in J&K.

Director-General, NSG, Sudhir Pratap Singh said the force had been organising seminars on counter-terrorism for the past 16 years and this year, representatives from 12 countries attended the conference.

The News – Regional peace to remain elusive till resolution of Kashmir dispute: PM Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad, 5 February 2017. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that the dream of peace and prosperity of the people of Pakistan and India will remain elusive unless the Kashmir dispute is resolved in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“We urge India to stop bloodbath in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and allow the holding of free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspices,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a message on the Kashmir Solidarity Day.

The prime minister said Pakistan calls upon the international community to raise its voice in seeking an end to the gross violations of human rights and the reign of terror unleashed by Indian occupation forces in Indian occupied Kashmir (loK) and fulfill the promises it made with the people of Jammu and Kashmir 70 years ago.

The Jammu and Kashmir dispute, he said, was the unfinished agenda of partition and remained one of the oldest disputes in the UN Security Council.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the systemic state terrorism and brutal killings of the innocent people of IoK by Indian occupation forces”.

“Use of pellet guns has permanently blinded more than 150 people including women and young children,” he said.

The prime minister said the basic human rights of the innocent people of IoK including the right to life and peaceful assembly had been grossly violated by the Indian occupation forces.

He pointed out that senior Hurriyat leadership had been arrested or placed under house detention and in the last few months around 12000 people had been illegally detained without any charges.

The prime minister said for the last seven decades India had denied the valiant people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir the right to self determination promised to them by the international community through numerous UN Security Council resolutions.

“The people of Pakistan join their Kashmiri brothers and sisters in observing Kashmir Solidarity Day today to reaffirm our moral diplomatic and political support to their legitimate struggle for their basic human rights especially the right to self determination enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions”

Nawaz Sharif said the valiant resolute and determined people of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir had rendered unmatched sacrifices in their just struggle.

“However, all the Indian brutalities have failed to deter the people of IoK from their cause for freedom from Indian subjugation,” the prime minister said.

He said the people of Pakistan and the international community had utmost respect for the people of Kashmir for their unparalleled courage, bravery and persistence in facing the worst kind of state terrorism human rights abuses violence and suppression by the Indian state.

“I salute the sacrifices of the brave and courageous Kashmiri people and reaffirm our firm commitment to Pakistan’s principled stance on Jammu and Kashmir,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said.

The Times of India – PSGPC general secretary staged anti-India demonstration at Nankana Sahib

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar, 5 February 2017. Many Sikhs in Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Sikh’s first master Guru Nanak Dev, led by Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) General Secretary Gopal Singh Chawla held an anti-India demonstration on Sunday.

Chawla, during the anti-India protest which was attended by members of several Islamist militant groups, spewed venom against India and sang hosannas’ in favour of militants carrying out disruptive activities in Jammu & Kashmir.

Intelligence sources told TOI on Sunday that Gopal Singh Chawla who is known to have close relations with terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed, currently under house arrest, took out an anti-India procession and also addressed a gathering assuring Pakistan’s Sikh’s support to militants operating in J&K. He also showed disrespect to Indian national flag.

Notably, every year on February 5th Kashmir Solidarity Day is observed in Pakistan both by Pakistan government and militant organisations spearheading a militant movement in the valley.

According to a video clip in possession with TOI Chawla praised Hafiz Saeed and termed him his ‘Jarnail’ who was fighting for the people of Kashmir.

Intelligence sources who are keeping a watch on the movement of Chawla, being as General Secretary of PSGPC, informed that he (Chawla) was involved in anti-India movement and had close links with Mumbai terror blast Hafiz Saeed.

Sources informed that they apprehend that Chawla could initiate recruitment of Sikh youth from both India and Pakistan for Saeeds’ Jammat Ud Dawa which was now been re-branded as Tehreek Azadi Jammu & Kashmir for militant operations in Valley.

Sources further informed that Pakistan’s ISI had been looking for soft targets among Sikh’s during their pilgrimage to Pakistan on various religious occasions.

“We have already warned about the activities of Chawla who is using a religious platform to implement Saeed’s anti-India plans’ said sources adding that they apprehend Chawla’s attempt to lure gullible Sikhs during upcoming Sikh pilgrims visit Pakistan on the occasion of Baisakhi.

Dawn – Kashmir Day to be observed today

Tariq Naqash

Muzaffarabad, 5 February 2017. The people of Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) will observe the ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ on Sunday to reaffirm their support for the struggle of the people of India-held Kashmir for their right to self-determination pledged under several UN Security Council resolutions.

Pakistanis and Kashmiris have been observing the Kashmir Day every year on 5 February without any discontinuity since 1990.

The call to observe this day was first given by then emir of Jamaat-i-Islami Qazi Hussain Ahmed and it was endorsed by then prime minister Benazir Bhutto and then chief minister of Punjab Nawaz Sharif.

On Sunday, rallies, seminars, demonstrations and other events, such as speech and essay competitions in educational institutions, will be organised across Pakistan and AJK, notwithstanding the harshness of weather, as an expression of unwavering support to the struggle of Kashmiris.

However, the main event of the day will be the formation of symbolic human chains at five or six points linking AJK with Pakistan, in a loud and clear message to the international community in general and India in particular that Pakistanis and Kashmiris are like “one soul in two hearts”.

Pakistani and Kashmiri expatriates in different parts of the world, mainly the United Kingdom and United States, also hold rallies to voice their support for the oppressed but resilient people of India-held Kashmir.

A special joint session of the AJK Legislative Assembly and the AJK Council has also been convened to meet here at 2pm on Sunday.

Weather permitting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would address the special session and in case he fails to make it to Muzaffarabad owing to inclement weather, his message would be read out.

A special function in connection with the Kashmir Day will be held in Convention Centre Islamabad with Pakistani and Kashmiri leaders among the speakers.

Prime Minister Sharif will host a dinner in the honour of Kashmiri leadership from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) on Sunday night.

On Saturday, AJK ministers and lawmakers visited different camps of Kashmiri refugees and distributed ration packages among them with the cooperation of the federal ministry of Kashmir affairs.

Messages from Srinagar

In their messages on the eve of the Kashmir Day, pro-freedom leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Syed Shabbir Ahmed Shah expressed their gratitude for the government, people and armed forces of Pakistan for their unflinching support to the Kashmiris’ struggle.

“People in India-held Jammu and Kashmir are challenging a big power and Pakistan is the only country that acknowledges our right to self-determination and extends its persistent support to us,” Mr Geelani said.

“But we hope that Pakistan will play more effective and active role in this regard,” he said, asking Islamabad to activate all of its foreign missions to highlight the Kashmir issue and human rights violations in an operative method.

In his message, incarcerated chairman of Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Ahmad Shah said that observance of 5 February as ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ was “encouraging and praiseworthy”.

Fair plebiscite

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has urged India to stop bloodbath in held Kashmir and allow holding of free and fair plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations, adds APP.

He said in a message for the last seven decades India had denied valiant Kashmiris the right to self-determination promised to them by the international community through numerous UN Security Council resolutions.

The prime minister said the people of Pakistan joined their Kashmiri brothers and sisters in observing the “Kashmir Solidarity Day” to reaffirm the country’s moral, diplomatic and political support to their legitimate struggle for their basic human rights, especially the right to self-determination, enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain has said the dream for peace in the region would remain elusive until resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiris.

In a message, Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that the Kashmir Day had special significance this year because the recent uprising in India-held Kashmir, following the July 8 extra-judicial killing of popular youth leader Burhan Muzaffar Wani had shaken the conscience of the international community.

The Hindu – Jammu & Kashmir: Before Zaira, there were sports champions and IAS topper

But just a week later, a picture with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti made her a villain overnight

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar, 22 January 2017. On January 12, Dangal actor Zaira Wasim, 16, posted a message on Facebook, “I have also cleared [Class 10 exams]. Don’t know how!”. She was greeted with a torrent of congratulatory messages, with no trolling.

But just a week later, a picture with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti made her a villain overnight.

The disenchanted and alienated population of Kashmir, besides religious extremists, suddenly saw Ms. Wasim as a target for their anger over the prolonged curfew and death of over 90 civilians in the unrest in the summer of 2016. It was easy and just a click away.

The young actor is not the first person to struggle to come to terms with this unpredictable behaviour.

From 27-year-old cricketer Pervaiz Rasool, who has played for India, to IAS topper Shah Faesal and eight-year-old kick-boxing wizard Tajamul Islam, who has been trained by the Army, there has been an attempt by a sizeable number to use such achievers as targets for their their disenchantment with the State and to score a political point.

Several people set on fire a calendar featuring young Tajamul recently. Cricketer Rasool is often confronted with a barrage of questions on the nature of politics.

‘Getting mixed up’

Mr. Faesal, whose house resounded with firecrackers burst by the local people to celebrate his success in the IAS examinations in 2010, said, “My feat was celebrated again and again.

However, of late, people’s achievements get mixed up with local politics. There is a vocal minority that undermines peoples’ achievements and questions whether to celebrate it.”

Lampooned online often for his political views, Mr. Faesal said, “I have thousands of followers on social media with whom I engage through my posts … In Zaira’s case, many people rallied behind her.

So, it’s a new beginning where people have started celebrating success. Earlier, there was an overriding thought of the State sponsoring the talent. The paradigm is shifting.”

Gowhar Geelani, a columnist and political commentator, blames the narratives emanating from mainland India for reactions here.

“We stood for our young achievers in every field. We stood for pellet-hit Insha and others who died in 2016 … But we refuse to be part of the crafty grand narratives and hollow ‘surgical strikes’ of the Indian liberal class that only wake up when it suits them,” Mr. Geelani said.

Separatist leaders like Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have maintained a distance from the controversy, only saying “We have nothing to do with it”

Focus on Mehbooba

Hameeda Nayeem, a Professor of English at Kashmir University and wife of Hurriyat leader Nayeem Khan, sees no role of separatists in the Zaira controversy.

“The media is grossly misrepresenting the case. Nobody is against Zaira acting. Some youngsters have shown displeasure with her meeting the CM, who is using any opportunity to bolster her own position after what happened in 2016,” said Ms. Nayeem.

“The Zaira episode is symbolic of how the Indian apparatus sees every little Kashmiri endeavour, be it in education, entertainment or sports, as a tool to be used to show how Kashmiris are “integrating”.

The Indian Express – Separate homeland demand for Pandits gets right wing backing

At a convention here to mark the 27th anniversary of exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley due to militancy, all the delegates endorsed the demand of Panun Kashmir organisation.

Several right wing organisations from various states today backed the demand for creation of Union Territory in Kashmir valley for displaced Kashmiri Pandits for their rehabilitation and breaking the state into four parts.

At a convention here to mark the 27th anniversary of exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley due to militancy, all the delegates endorsed the demand of Panun Kashmir organisation for creation of UT in Kashmir valley to the North and East of River Jhelum along with rehabilitation of all Kashmiri Hindus living all over India, Pramod Muthalik, founder of Sri Ram Sena, told reporters here.

Muthalik, who had shot to limelight after an attack on a pub in Mangalore a few years back, addressed a joint press conference along with Tapan Ghosh, a firebrand nationalist ideologue from West Bengal, Charu Dutt Pingale, a social and cultural activist from Maharashtra, Ramesh Shinde, founder of Hindu Jagruti Samiti, Murli Sharma of Odisha-based Bharat Raksha Manch, Radha Krishen of Shiv Sena and Agnishekher, convener of Panun Kashmir.

“We demand the Reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir into 4 parts, separating Jammu and Ladakh and creating a union territory of Panun Kashmir,” Karnataka-based Muthalik said.

He said that all leaders who attended the three-day convention will carry forward the “Ek Bharat Kashmir Kee Aur” and educate people about the struggle of Kashmiri Hindus and goal of Panun Kashmir.

All delegates resolved to mobilise the whole nation at the grassroots level in support of creation of Union Territory of Panun Kashmir, said a statement issued after the meet.

The delegates have taken stock of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and are alarmed by the drift which is taking place in the state away from India, the statement said.

“Separatist sentiment is pervading the entire political class and mainstream political parties are now brazenly supporting the separatist objectives one way or the other,” it said.

It further said that the Situation has drifted to the extent, that even the state legislative assembly is being used for giving flip to separatist interests.

The delegates wanted to remind the whole nation that more than 6 million Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists are living in J & K and there is a grave conspiracy to present their numbers far less than the actual, the statement said.

“We all will mobilise opinion against the demographic assault in the whole nation and in rest of the world,” it said.

The News – Pakistan forces to respond with full force in case of any surgical strikes: Khawaja Asif

Islamabad, 16 January 2017. Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif Monday reiterated that Pakistan armed forces would respond with full force if India tries to carry out any surgical strikes inside Pakistan.

Winding up debate on a motion regarding situation arising out of continuing Indian violations of Line of Control (LoC) and ceasefire on Working Boundary (WB), the minister said If India dares to carry out surgical strike inside Pakistan, it will forget to conduct even fake and false strike.

He said India had also claimed to carry out surgical strikes in recent past but this claim was baseless and false.

He said Kashmir’s indigenous freedom struggle, India’s internal political compulsion and unwillingness to dialogue were three major reasons behind Indian unprovoked firing along LoC and WB.

Khawja Asif said India was making failed attempts to link Kashmir’s indigenous freedom movement with cross border infiltration and terrorism.

Khawja Asif said India was also afraid of Pakistan’s success in fight against terrorism.

He said Pakistan’s success had been recognized by the international community, adding that country’s armed forces have successfully rooted out terrorists and their all safe sanctuaries in north Waziristan.

He said India carried out 330 ceasefire violations till December last year.

The minister said 45 civilians were killed and 138 injured in these violations.

He said the frequency of the violations had been reduced after December.

However, the minister, said the violations were effectively responded by Pakistan’s armed forces.

“These violations were also reported to United Nations Military Observer Group (UNMOG) and appraised the UN for investigations,” the defence minister told the house.

He said the ministry of foreign affairs also raised the issue at the diplomatic and bilateral levels. .

The Hindu – We reserve right to retaliate on Pakistan actions: Army chief

Dinakar Peri

New Delhi, 14 January 2017. Army chief Bipin Rawat on Friday said India awaited Pakistan’s response on maintaining peace in Jammu and Kashmir but cautioned that in case “they act wrongly, we reserve the right to retaliate.”

Blaming Pakistan for disturbing the secular fabric of the country through continued proxy war, General Rawat said the Army was willing to go the extra mile to ensure safety of people and their properties. “We should see that Jammu & Kashmir reverses to pre-1989 with everyone there living in harmony,” he observed at his first media interaction.

To ensure peace and tranquillity on the border, General Rawat said, “We are making this offer of peace to the adversary.”

If Pakistan reciprocates in the same manner and accepts it, then the “necessity to conduct surgical strikes should not arise,” he said.

“But if the offer of peace and tranquillity is not reciprocated in an appropriate manner… then this method of execution of operations (surgical strikes) will continue,” General Rawat cautioned.

Terming social media a “two-sided weapon” which sometimes had a “detrimental effect,” General Rawat observed, “We prefer that they (personnel) communicate directly rather than through the social media.”

He strongly defended the sahayak system in the army saying that it was an important and was a personal system between the officer and jawan.

On comments by Eastern Army Commander Lt. General Praveen Bakshi that there was a conspiracy to prevent him from becoming Army chief, General Rawat said if he [Lt. General Bakshi] puts forward his concerns they would be looked into.

“We have reached out to each other…If there is anything that needs to be investigated, if it is brought to my notice, we will look into it,” General Rawat stated. He added: “Lt. General Bakshi has been supportive of me and I will be supportive of him.”

Addressing officers of the Eastern Command in Kolkata on December 31, Lt. General Bakshi had said there “has been a malicious campaign to smear my name” to prevent him from becoming the Army Chief.

“I am not going to resign because I want to get to the bottom of this and who is behind it,” he said. An audio recording of his speech was made public by a private TV channel.

Kashmir situation

Blaming Pakistan for disturbing disputing the secular fabric of the country through continued proxy war, General Rawat said the Army was willing to go the extra mile “beyond their mandate” to ensure safety of people and their properties.

“We should see that Jammu & Kashmir reverses to pre-1989 with everyone there living in harmony,” he observed.

To ensure peace and tranquillity on the border, General Rawat said, “We are making this offer of peace to the adversary.” If Pakistan reciprocates in the same manner and accepts it, then the “necessity to conduct surgical strikes should not arise,” he said.

“But if the offer of peace and tranquillity is not reciprocated in an appropriate manner… then this method of execution of operations (surgical strikes) will continue,” Gen Rawat cautioned.

On the much talked of “cold start” doctrine, he said the Army is mandated to preserve territorial integrity and not all tasks under it can be defensive. As future wars will be short and intense they [the forces] have to act fast. “You can term it whatever way you want,” he stated without calling it a “cold start”.

The Hindu – Anger raging in Kashmir, says Sinha panel

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar, 8 January 2017. A team from New Delhi, headed by former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, has warned of growing anger in rural Kashmir and vanishing faith in the institution of dialogue among the people of the State.

The second report of the Concerned Citizens Group led by Mr. Sinha, compiled after its second visit to the Valley, said, “There is a crisis of acknowledgement of the Kashmir problem with the Indian state. People feel India refuses to recognise that Kashmir is a political problem. Almost every Kashmiri we met said that there was a need for a one-time political settlement.”

The report pointed out that anger in the rural areas was “palpably greater than in Srinagar and raw”.

“Kashmiris see the visits of emissaries of Government of India and civil society groups as farcical exercises and part of a diversionary tactic to handle disturbances in Kashmir,” it said.

Because of the record of the Indian State, there is scepticism about even non-governmental initiatives, it said.

According to the report, people even objected to the language used to describe the situation in Kashmir, “unrest”, they say, is the wrong term to use because Kashmir has never been at rest since 1947; “peace and normalcy” are the most abused words in the State as no one knows what they are meant to signify; and while the government talks of “anger and alienation” of the Kashmiris, those are not the issues that need to be addressed, the problem is political and cries out for a political solution.

India, many believe, is deliberately pretending to be ignorant of the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

Most Kashmiris say their protests are neither “sponsored” by anyone nor are their youngsters being paid to come out in the streets.

The policies of India to deal with sporadic bursts of protests and anger in Kashmir are described as “time-buying techniques”, which have only worsened the situation.

It also underlined that the statements of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq on the issue of beef resonated during the conversations with the people.

The team, which held two rounds of dialogue with various stakeholders including separatists comprises Wajahat Habibullah, Air-Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retired), journalist Bharat Bhushan and Sushobha Barve, who is the director of the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation.