BBC News – Pakistan PM Khan : Kashmir issue ‘cannot keep boiling’

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has told the BBC that peace with India over the disputed territory of Kashmir would be “tremendous” for the wider region.

Mr Khan, a former cricketer who became leader eight months ago, said the nuclear-armed neighbours could only settle their differences with dialogue.

The comments come as India prepares to vote in a general election, weeks after an upsurge of violence in Kashmir.

A suicide attack against Indian forces triggered cross-border air strikes.

Asked what message he wanted to send to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his country, Mr Khan told the BBC’s John Simpson that the Kashmir issue “has to be settled” and “cannot keep boiling like it is”.

“The number-one tasks of the two governments is how are we going to reduce poverty and the way we reduce poverty is by settling our differences through dialogue and there is only one difference, which is Kashmir,” he said.

India’s prime minister has used anti-Pakistan rhetoric and stressed national-security themes during his re-election campaign.

Many see the election as a referendum on the polarising politics of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Voting will open on Thursday and continue into May.


Mr Khan also spoke about the dangers of confrontation between the two neighbours.

“Once you respond, no-one can predict where it can go from there,” he said.

If India had “come back and then again attacked Pakistan, Pakistan would have no choice but to respond,” he added.

“So in that situation, two nuclear-armed countries, I just felt it was very irresponsible.”

Also read :Hand of friendship’ on election eve

Analysis by the BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson

Also read : Why is there tension over Kashmir?

The published article and the two items mentioned above can be found at:

The Indian Express – No option but to abrogate Article 370, 35A if someone talks of separate PM for J&K: Rajnath Singh

Rajnath’s reaction came a week after National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had said that his party would reinstate the posts of ‘Sadr-e-Riyasat’ (President) and ‘Wazeer-e-Azam’ (Prime Minister) in the state, which also drew a sharp reaction from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

New Delhi – India, 08 April 2019. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Monday said the Centre will have no option other than abrogating articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution if “there is a talk of separate Prime Minister for Jammu and Kashmir.”

His reaction came a week after National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had said that his party would reinstate the posts of ‘Sadr-e-Riyasat’ (President) and ‘Wazeer-e-Azam’ (Prime Minister) in the state, which also drew a sharp reaction from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Addressing a rally at Suchetgarh in R S Pura sector situated along the international border, Singh, without taking any names, said he regretted that such statements.

Campaigning in Pattan, Abdullah had said the PM should “study how the constitution of India conferred upon the state certain allowances. The state had its own Prime Minister and president until 1965. We aren’t saying anything new; we are asking for what was infringed upon.”

Rejecting the demands, Singh asserted “aisa nahi chalega (This will not be allowed)”, adding that all the political parties must clear their stand on whether they also want two Prime Ministers in the country.

The BJP has reiterated its commitment to repeal Article 370, which gives Jammu and Kashmir a special status, and Article 35A, which allows the state’s legislature to define permanent residents, and pledged in its manifesto to work towards ensuring the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley.

The proposal has faced criticism in the valley, with both the PDP and NC opposing it vehemently citing accession terms. Former chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti had said removing the guarantees provided in the Constitution would “force us to reconsider whether we would like to continue with you or not”.

NC leader Farooq Abdullah today said the abrogation of the Articles would pave way for “freedom” for people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Included in the Constitution on 17 October 1949, Article 370 exempts J&K from the Indian Constitution (except Article 1 and Article 370 itself) and permits the state to draft its own Constitution. It restricts Parliament’s legislative powers in respect of J&K.

The BJP has termed it unconstitutional and “discriminatory” against non-permanent residents and women of Jammu and Kashmir, and has sought for its repeal.

The News – Chief of Indian-occupied Kashmir’s National Congress, Farooq Abdullah has called out Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ‘lying’ about the Balakot airstrike and downing Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) F-16.

The former chief minister of Indian Occupied Kashmir came forth on Saturday stating the Indian premier has distorted facts about the recent dogfight between India and Pakistan.

“Some people said 500 were killed and some others even said 700 were killed. Here if one person is killed, the whole world comes to know. Would no one know if 300 were killed?” he stated.

Abdullah, who will be contesting the Lok Sabha elections from the Srinagar constituency further stated: “He said we shot down their (Pakistan) fighter plane F-16. Now, the US has come up saying all the Pakistani F-16s are counted.

Not one has been shot down. There must be some basis for even lies, Modi ji. How long will you lie to people? And did you win (the battle)? Has Pakistan disappeared? Why are you lying? Do you think the Hindus will buy into all this?”

On Friday, Pakistan military issued additional evidence refuting the claims of India about downing Pakistan’s F-16.

The Asian Age – Mehbooba Mufti takes swipe at Arun Jaitley’s ‘separatist psyche’ comment

Mufti was reacting to Jaitley’s remarks on mainstream parties in Kashmir create ‘separatist psyche’ and were ‘not acceptable to new India’.

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 03 April 2019. A ‘new India’ where those who kill and lynch in the name of religion are feted and garlanded is “unacceptable”, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Wednesday.

The PDP president was reacting to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s remarks that statements of mainstream parties in Kashmir create “separatist psyche” and were “not acceptable to new India”.

Mehbooba Mufti, in a tweet, said if standing up for the people made her a separatist and anti-national, she would wear such a badge with honour.

“Unacceptable is a new India where those who kill and lynch in the name of religion are feted and garlanded. If standing up for my people makes me a separatist and anti-national, then its a badge I will wear with honour,” she said.

Taking on National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, Jaitley on Monday said his demand for revival of the post of prime minister and president in Jammu and Kashmir was intended to create a “separatist psyche” and asserted that new India would never allow any government to commit such blunders.

Dawn – Pakistan shares preliminary findings on Pulwama dossier with Indian government

Naveed Siddiqui

27 March 2019. The government on Wednesday shared with the Indian government its initial findings on the dossier handed over by Delhi on the Pulwama incident, a statement issued by the Foreign Office said.

According to the statement: “The Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Foreign Secretary and the findings on the Pulwama incident were shared with him.”

The prime minister had earlier offered cooperation in an investigation into the incident if Delhi shared any actionable evidence concerning the suicide bombing in occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama area, which had targeted Indian paramilitary soldiers.

In response to the premier’s offer, India had handed over documents to Pakistan on February 27 amidst soaring tensions.

“Pakistan has acted with a high sense of responsibility and extended full cooperation. We do so in the interest of regional peace and security,” the Foreign Office said in its statement.

“We have sought further information/evidence from India to take the process forward,” it added.

Escalating tensions between India and Pakistan

The handing over of the dossier came at a time when tensions between the two countries were at an all-time high since decades.

On 26 February, Indian airforce had violated the Line of Control (LoC), and claimed to have “struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Balakot” who Delhi alleged were behind the Pulwama attack.

Although ceasefire violations by India had virtually become a norm over the past few years with over 3,000 breaches being committed by Indian troops just last year, it was the first aerial intrusion from the Line of Control (LoC) side since 1971.

The Pakistani government maintained that the Indian planes had missed whatever they were aiming at and that no one died in the attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Balakot area.

The next day, on 27 February, Pakistan Air Force undertook strikes across the LoC from Pakistani airspace, downing two Indian aircraft and capturing an Indian pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, who was later released on the prime minister’s directives as a gesture of peace to India.

After the Foreign Office confirmed on February 28 that the dossier had been received, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in an interview with CNN had remarked:

“When this Pulwama tragic incident took place and I landed in Munich for the security conference and I learned about it, what did I do? I condemned, condoled and then the prime minister made a reasonable offer that ‘if you have actionable evidence, share it with us and we will honestly, sincerely investigate.’

“I wish India, instead of attacking Pakistan, had shared earlier the dossier, which we received today.”

The Telegraph – What soured the promise of Kashmir

The Centre’s impositions erode Jammu and Kashmir’s guaranteed autonomy

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 09 March 2019. It’s a paradox of politics that the world’s largest democracy should rely on a feudal fiat in the grim battle against terrorism. In bombing Balakot so that terrorists can never feel secure even in Pakistan’s remote and rocky Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, India should have enjoyed the vigorous support of the 14 million inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir.

Instead, it can cite only an authorization by the flamboyantly styled “Shriman Inder Mahander Rajrajeswar Maharajadhiraj Shri Hari Singhji, Jammu and Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibbet adi Deshadhipathi, Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir State” on what a British historian called “no more than a printed form, not unlike an application for a driving licence”.

Whether Hari Singh signed the accession document on October 26 or 27, its legality is above question. Its moral validity isn’t. People can depose a ruler; no ruler can abolish the people. Some of the assumptions on which the decision was based no longer exist. The maharaja was desperate to save Kashmir from the savagery of the Pakistan-backed invaders.

His prime minister, Mehr Chand Mahajan, warned Jawaharlal Nehru that if India didn’t respond, he would go to Mohammed Ali Jinnah. “Of course, Mahajan, you are not going to Pakistan,” retorted Vallabhbhai Patel. He could say that with confidence because he knew Nehru had forced Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the Dogra dynasty’s sworn enemy, on the ruler.

Abdullah didn’t get on with Jinnah either. Jinnah, in turn, had been advised that Kashmiris weren’t “true Muslims”. Hari Singh must have signed the accession instrument and appointed his arch-enemy to head the government (relations were “tense and antagonistic” says Karan Singh) with gritted teeth.

The Sheikh supported him because he felt that the new nationalism called Kashmiriyat “which posited that Muslims and Hindus in the Kashmir region shared a distinct Kashmiri identity” would be safer in liberal, secular, democratic India than in a dominion born in the crucible of Jinnah’s two-nation theory.

The success of Kashmiriyat explains Kashmiri refusal to support Pakistani infiltrators in the Kargil war.

As grenades burst, blood flows and Kashmiris are beaten up, India needs popular sanction for its policies. According to some estimates, the terrorism, insurrection, rebellion, call it what you will, killed 80,000 people between 1989 and 2002 alone.

The return to ‘normalcy’ indicated by the promised resumption of talks on the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims doesn’t translate into peace on the ground. Villages along the Line of Control report intensified firing. India accuses Pakistan of violating the border ceasefire three to four times a day on average.

No doubt the other side paints an equally grim picture. The young mother and her two children aged five years and 10 months who were bombed out of existence on March 1 in Salotri village of Poonch or the 17-year-old youth who was blasted to death in Jammu on Thursday do not interest the applauding galleries packed by a well-heeled business community that has calculated it can maximize profits while the sun of the National Democratic Alliance shines.

In a sense, the problem is self-perpetuating. Separatist sentiment can claim to derive legitimacy from Article 35A and even a drastically attenuated Article 370. But the massive upheaval their abolition is bound to provoke might make the present conflict look like child’s play.

The solution (which China has tried in Xinjiang and Tibet) of letting Kashmir be “overrun by people whose sole qualification might be the possession of too much money and nothing else, who might buy up, and get the delectable places”, as Nehru put it when defending Article 35A, could mean worse bloodshed.

Ignoring the Pandits’ eviction in 1989-90 and the 2008 furore over allocating 99 acres of forest land in the valley for Hindu pilgrims, the NDA tested the waters three years ago.

A think tank reportedly with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh links challenged Article 35A in the courts. The controversy over the citizenship (amendment) bill confirms that the northeastern states would also resist an influx of outsiders.

But Sheikh Abdullah didn’t see accession in respect of only communications, defence and external affairs as the end of the road.

Whether or not he was engaged in conspiracy, two American diplomats he spoke to, Loy Henderson, ambassador to India, and Warren Austin, Security Council representative, confirmed that Indian suspicions about his political ambitions were not unfounded.

It may be relevant in this context that he turned down Nehru’s request to place the accession instrument before the constituent assembly in August 1952, probably fearing it might be rejected, a fear Nehru shared.

The assembly itself was of dubious standing since the election to it was widely criticized and the ruling National Conference held all 75 seats. This flawed institution finally voted on February 6, 1954 to ratify an instrument that had been signed seven years earlier.

Much water had flowed down the Jhelum and Chenab in those seven years. The Sheikh had been ousted and imprisoned. The wits said his successor, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, was Delhi’s golam.

Very little remains of the original compact between India and Kashmir. “Article 370 has been reduced to an empty shell, whereby 260 out of 395 Articles of the Indian constitution, 94 out of 97 entries in the Union list and 26 of the 47 entries in the concurrent list, have been extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in a brazen manner,” the state High Court Bar Association lamented.

The latest affront is from the extension to Kashmir of the new 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections as well as the Central law making Dalit and tribal state employees eligible for reservation in promotions.

The objection is not to the substance of these measures but that such impositions erode Kashmir’s guaranteed autonomy. What P. Chidambaram calls today’s “muscular, militaristic and majoritarian” approach shows no trace of the enlightenment of P V Narasimha Rao who replied “the sky’s the limit” when asked how much autonomy Kashmir should enjoy.

There are many reasons for revisiting the circumstances that soured the promise of Kashmir as an enthusiastic junior partner in realizing Nehru’s dream. As A S Dulat, the former chief spy, stresses in his book, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, “[T]he reason that people in Delhi have reservations about talking to separatists and Pakistanis are the very reasons we need to talk to them for.”

There is no other way. Despite Arthur Moore’s claim, which I have quoted before, that “there will never be satisfactory relations between India and Pakistan till the Kashmir issue is amicably settled”, long-embedded communal antagonism is unlikely to ever allow a normal diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

The Hindu-Muslim animosity no one mentions will ensure that if it’s not Kashmir, it will be something else. But, yes, Sheikh Abdullah had a point in claiming, “Unless India and Pakistan come close the Kashmir problem will remain.” It’s another way of saying Pakistan can always play the spoiler.

That remains a fact of life but the spoiler’s role would be less potent if pitted against an India backed by the popular will in the troubled state.

Kashmiris had no say in the decision that created what a Kashmiri calls “the most densely militarized zone in the world”. That answers Dulat’s question “Why can a Kashmiri not be an Indian?” Lord Mountbatten has been blamed for much, especially over Kashmir.

But his reply to Hari Singh accepting Kashmir’s accession makes the sound point that “it should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the state” Timor Leste and Bangladesh showed that it’s never too late for people’s power to assert itself. That is something New Delhi should bear in mind. It’s also worth asking amidst the din of controversy whether India can’t survive without a reluctant and recalcitrant Kashmir.

The Hindu – BJP turning Kashmir into a theatre of war: Mehbooba Mufti

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 09 March 2019. Peoples Democratic Party president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said the BJP was turning Jammu and Kashmir into a theatre of war for electoral gains by criminalising dissent, bundling people into jails and banning religious outfits.

“The repressive measures and the iron fist approach are being rigorously implemented, with the common masses being threatened, intimated and harassed by the government,” said Ms. Mufti, after chairing a meeting of party leaders in Srinagar.

She took exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertions that “air strikes against Pakistan was a pilot project.” “Whom is PM Modi trying to threaten with such warmongering?” She said the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami was undemocratic, as it “further shrinks the space for politics and dialogue”.

The Hindustan Times – Mirwaiz, Geelani summoned by NIA to Delhi tomorrow

The NIA on Saturday summoned Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Naseem Geelani, son of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, to Delhi on Monday for questioning in connection with a terror funding case.

Mir Ehsan

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 09 March 2019. The National Investigative Agency (NIA) on Saturday summoned Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Naseem Geelani, son of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, to Delhi on Monday for questioning in connection with a terror funding case.

Farooq’s secretary, Syed Rehman Shamas, confirmed receiving the summons. “Yes, NIA has summoned Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to Delhi,” he said.

On February 26, the NIA carried out searches at seven locations, including the residences of Farooq, Geelani, JKLF leader Yaseen Malik, Shabir Shah, Ashraf Sehrai and Zaffar Bhat in connection with the same case.

An NIA spokesperson said officials recovered incriminating documents, including property papers, financial transactions receipts and bank account details during the raids. Electronic devices, including laptops, e-tablets, mobile phones, pen drives, communication system and DVRs, were also seized, he added.

On Thursday, Malik was slapped with Public Safety Act and was shifted to a Jammu jail. The developments come in the backdrop of the government’s decision to withdraw the security cover of senior separatist leaders after the Pulwama attack.

The News – India’s divisive policies marginalising Muslims, other minorities: UN HR chief

New York – New York State – USA, 08 March 2019. United Nations Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet has warned India that its “divisive policies” have extensively marginalised Muslims and other minorities in the country.

“India’s narrow political agendas are marginalising Muslims and other minorities in an already unequal society,” she said in her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“I fear that these divisive policies will not only harm many individuals, but also undermine the success of India’s economic growth story.”

“We are receiving reports that indicate increasing harassment and targeting of minorities, in particular, Muslims and people from historically disadvantaged and marginalised groups, such as Dalits and Adivasis,” she said in her annual report.

Expressing concern over the ongoing tensions in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, she said her office was ready to investigate the situation on the ground.

“I remain concerned about the ongoing tensions in occupied Kashmir, as shelling and firing on both sides of Line of Control continue to contribute to loss of life and displacement,” Bachelet said.

“I encourage and invite both India and Pakistan to my office to monitor the situation on the ground, and to assist both the states to address the human rights issues that must be part of any solution to the conflict,” she added.

A day earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his call to Pakistan and India to “de-escalate the tensions” between them as the situation in the region continues to pose threat to peace and security.

“We are fully aware of the situation,” Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding that the UN chief was in touch with both sides at various levels to “express his concern and the need to do as much as anyone can to de-escalate the tensions.”

However, he added the secretary-general had not yet spoken to the prime ministers of the two countries, Imran Khan and Narendra Modi, “as far as I am aware.”

Dawn – Pulwama: verify the facts

Najmuddin A Shaikh

Op/Ed 07 March 2019. While the armed forces on both sides remain in a state of high alert and are distrustful of each other’s intentions it does seem that some back channels contacts have brought acceptable assurances and permitted the resumption of bus and train services, and of contact on the Kartarpur Corridor.

Proving himself to be a statesman, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the release of the Indian pilot that Pakistan had captured after his plane was brought down and, in my view, facilitated the de-escalation that sane people on both sides desire and that had been the consistent endeavour of the major players of the international community.

Inflammatory rhetoric may remain part of the election campaign in India for another few months but, hopefully, it will not be allowed to get out of hand and will not provoke similar rhetoric in Pakistan.

‘Give peace a chance’: Prime Minister Khan responds to Modi

Many may argue that it is too early to expect objectivity but I believe it is now time for officials in both Pakistan and India to look closely at what actually happened in Pulwama on 14 February. They must see who the perpetrator was and how an organisation in Pakistan took it upon itself, in its various publications, to take credit for what, in terms of the language associated with militant incidents, was a ‘lone wolf’ operation by a Kashmiri freedom fighter/militant/terrorist.

Both Pakistan and India know that if there is to be economic development and stability in the region, then a reasoned approach has to be adopted.

Going by press reports, it would appear that an individual named Adil Ahmad Dar, with the help of local Kashmiris in India-held Kashmir, procured a Maruti van, packed it with 30 kilos of explosives (RDX) and rammed it into one of the vehicles of a convoy of military vehicles carrying personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force, killing himself and 40 CRPF men in the process.

In a video recording released shortly after, he is said to have said that he was associated with the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

A report in the Kashmir Times of 10 September 2017, had reported that one militant named Adil Ahmad Dar had been arrested and had been termed as a Hizbul Mujahideen fighter. Was this the same Adil Ahmad Dar who carried out the suicide attack or was there another Adil Ahmad Dar?

If this was another Adil then the police in India-held Kashmir should be able to say that the man arrested in 2017 is still in their custody and let him be interviewed. If, on the other hand, he is the same man who was arrested in 2017, one has to ascertain why he was released and why he was not under constant surveillance.

In either case, it seems that as of 19 February 2019, the US State Department relying presumably on its vast intelligence network was of the view that only the perpetrator had named himself as a JeM member. No Pakistan-based JeM connection was apparently known to the State Department.

Instead, the spokesman said, “As far as Pakistan goes, we’ve been in contact with Pakistan on this issue. We urge Pakistan to fully cooperate with the investigation into the attack and to punish anyone responsible”.

He did this after emphasising “we have a close, cooperative relationship with India, a security relationship, and that includes counter-terrorism operations”.

It is certainly true, as a perusal of the JeM publications after 19 February shows, that they claimed credit but this is exactly what Al Qaeda and the militant Islamic State group and other terrorist organisations repeatedly did when attacks were carried out in their name.

They even claimed attacks that had not been explicitly associated with them. Still, that was to be expected and should have been recognised as such rather than leading to an assertion in virtually every report that the JeM’s claim of responsibility was established and provided the justification for a violation of Pakistan’s sovereign territory.

Pakistan must, however, take this element into account as it examines the dossier on the JeM that it has belatedly received from India. We must do so also if we are to make our National Action Plan fully operational and if we are to rectify the shortcomings pointed out in the recent deliberations of the Financial Action Task Force within the given time frame.

In one of his dispatches, this paper’s Delhi correspondent Jawed Naqvi talked of “truth being the first casualty” in times such as we have seen over the last three weeks. That has certainly been established by the nature of the coverage Pulwama and its aftermath have received.

And yet both sides know that if there is to be economic development in the region, if there is to be the sorely needed connectivity in the region, if there is to be the stability in the region that every potential investor, both domestic and foreign, is going to look for, then this has to change and a more reasoned approach adopted.

Pulwama was a tragedy but it should be seen not as JeM terrorism; rather it is a stark indicator of the total alienation of the Kashmiri people not just with the Indian occupation forces but with India itself. Recent attacks on Kashmiris in mainland India suggest an equal alienation of the Indians with Kashmiris.

The Kashmiris will see this as India wanting the land of Kashmir but not the people of Kashmir, an add-on to the extremist Hindutva view that Indian Muslims really belong in Pakistan.

India, even Modi’s India, must recognise not only what this will do to the polity in India but also the polity of the region. Talks are necessary between the three parties – the Kashmiri people, India and Pakistan and cannot be delayed for too long.

The writer is a former foreign secretary.