The News – Pakistan slams extrajudicial killing of 13 Kashmiris by Indian troops

Islamabad – Pakistan, 02 June 2020. Pakistan slams the extrajudicial killing of 13 Kashmiris in a single day by Indian troops in Indian-occupied Kashmir, a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

The ministry said Pakistan was deeply concerned over unabated extrajudicial killings of Kashmiri youth in fake encounters and so-called “anti-infiltration” operations.

“While the international community is preoccupied with fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, India is busy intensifying its brutalisation of the Kashmiri people,” it said, adding that the killing of the Kashmiris speaks volumes about Indian government’s continuing crimes against humanity.

“To hide these crimes, the Indian authorities use the oft-repeated, unsubstantiated allegations of ‘training’ and ‘infiltration’ of Kashmiri resistance fighters,” the Foreign Office said.

“India must realise that its malicious propaganda carries no credibility with the international community. The RSS-BJP combine stands exposed before the world for its illegal and inhuman actions and extremist ‘Hindutva’ agenda.”

The Foreign Office added, “India must realise that neither can its brutalisation break the will of the Kashmiri people nor can its anti-Pakistan propaganda divert attention from India’s state-terrorism and egregious violations of human rights in occupied Kashmir.”

It added the martyrdom of each Kashmiri will further fortify people’s resolve for freedom from Indian occupation.

“Kashmiris will never give up their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the UNSC resolutions and the leadership and people of Pakistan will never flinch in their commitment of full support for the Kashmiris towards that end.”

The Foreign Office further urged the international community to take immediate steps to stop India from committing serious crimes against the Kashmiri people and hold it accountable under international law and relevant human rights Conventions.

The Hindustan Times – Sikh community in J&K demands six assembly seats, implementation of minority commission

The community migrated from Pakistan in 1947 and was settled in Nowshera, Udhampur, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch districts.

HT Correspondent

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 31 May 2020. Sikh organisations, including the state Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee and Jammu district Prabhandak Committee, on Sunday demanded six assembly seats and implementation of minority commission to ensure political reservation and benefits to the community in Jammu and Kashmir.

While addressing mediapersons here, National Conference leader T S Wazir said, “Since the Delimitation Commission has set the process into motion, we demand that the Sikh community must get political representation.

The community migrated from Pakistan in 1947 and was settled in Nowshera, Udhampur, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch districts but we have not been given any political representation.”

“We have no political voice. We had a MLA in 1987 from Gandhi Nagar assembly constituency and since then there has been no representation.

We request Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Delimitation Commission to do justice with us.”

Wazir also demanded a minority commission in Jammu and Kashmir. “Why is the Centre reluctant in setting up a Delimitation Commission? Why minorities are being deprived of the benefits in J&K,” he said.

While Muslims constitute 68.31% of the total population of erstwhile J&K state as per Census 2011, Hindus comprise 28.44%, Christian 0.28%, Sikh 1.87%, Buddhist 0.90% and Jain 0.02 %.

Dawn – Navigating an unsettled world

Op/Ed Maleeha Lodhi, 01 June 2020. In an unsettled world where strategic tensions between big powers are mounting, Pakistan faces daunting foreign policy challenges in a turbulent global and regional environment.

The pandemic has injected greater volatility into an international landscape already afflicted by threats to multilateralism, trade and technology wars between big powers and attempts by regional powers to reshape the rules of the game in their neighbourhood.

Understanding the dynamics of a world in disarray where unilateral actions and rejection of international norms by big powers and populist leaders hold sway is important as they have implications for the pursuit of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Four key policy areas pose immediate challenges and have to be simultaneously addressed:
1) Navigating the US-China confrontation
2) Dealing with occupied Kashmir and managing relations with an implacably hostile India
3) Helping Afghanistan win the peace but also preparing for less hopeful scenarios
4) Balancing relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Rising tensions between the US and China have a direct bearing on Pakistan. Even as Islamabad does not want this stand-off to affect its relations with either of the two countries, that is easier said than done.

What has been described as a new cold war will intensify in a US election year when President Donald Trump has made China-bashing a central plank of his re-election campaign.

He is both playing off a bipartisan political consensus and fortifying anti-China public sentiment that preceded the pandemic and has been strengthened by it.

Pakistan faces daunting foreign policy challenges in a turbulent environment.

The pandemic has also reinforced US plans to reduce economic dependence on China by reconfiguring or diversifying global supply chains and pursuing a more overt contain-China policy.

When this gets underway it may result in India emerging as a stronger economic partner of Washington.

This will also bolster the longer-standing American strategy to project India as a strategic counterweight to China especially as India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems willing to play that role.

The implications for Pakistan of the US-India entente are already evident by Washington’s tepid response on Kashmir and continuing augmentation of India’s military and strategic capabilities.

Thus, closer US-India relations will confront Pakistan with a regional environment of greater strategic imbalance.

Concern about CPEC and China’s Belt and Road Initiative has prompted frequent US criticism of these megaprojects.

A White House report sent last month to Congress is more explicit, asserting that BRI will give China “undue political influence and military access”.

Statements by American officials that CPEC will impose a heavy debt burden on Islamabad represent unsubtle though vain efforts to drive a wedge between Pakistan and China.

While Islamabad will want to avoid getting in the cross hairs of US-China friction it is obvious that Pakistan’s strategic future lies with China.

CPEC is emblematic of China’s aim to strengthen Pakistan, economically and strategically, and must be our overriding priority.

Pakistan’s relations with China remain on a positive trajectory but will need regular reinforcement. Close consultation with Beijing on key global and regional issues, including Afghanistan, will be important.

Ties with the US have improved, but lack substantive content. For now, the main commonality is Afghanistan.

That too will be tested in coming months when hurdles are encountered in the fragile Afghan peace process. Nevertheless, it is important to keep engagement on a positive track while accepting the limits of the relationship.

On Afghanistan, Pakistan should extend whatever assistance it can to the much-delayed peace process, still facing a host of challenges.

The recent Eid ceasefire between the Taliban and Kabul and the accord between President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah have however brightened prospects.

What Pakistan’s establishment must come to terms with is President Trump’s intention to pull out US troops regardless of whether intra-Afghan talks advance or produce a negotiated end to the war.

The latest indications of this are the US military withdrawal proceeding ahead of schedule and Trump’s reiteration that it was time for Afghans “to police their own country”.

Washington’s stance is unlikely to change if Trump loses the November election to Joe Biden as they have similar views on disentangling the US from its costly involvement in Afghanistan.

Islamabad thus needs to think long term and prepare for different scenarios that might emerge in Afghanistan keeping in view machinations by regional countries acting as spoilers in Afghanistan’s peace effort.

Pakistan’s most imposing challenge however will remain managing relations with India where the Modi government is bent upon crushing the Kashmiri resistance by unprecedented levels of repression and orchestrating anti-Muslim sentiment and pogroms in India.

Dialogue with Delhi is ruled out by its brutal and illegal actions in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where even medical services have been denied during the pandemic, and India’s refusal to discuss the issue.

Aggressive moves by India on the Line of Control and covert actions in Balochistan represent a toxic mix that have sent tensions soaring with Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s repeated warnings about a possible false flag Indian operation underlines the growing danger.

Faced with this, Pakistan will have to avoid any engagement for the sake of engagement with India unless Pakistan’s concerns are accommodated in future talks. This is hard to see under Modi.

On Kashmir, Pakistan needs a strategic approach and a sustained diplomatic campaign, not an on-off approach. Tweets are not a diplomatic strategy. Noise is not a policy.

A strategy for a changed global environment should preserve our principled stance while mobilising international support for a peaceful Kashmir settlement.

This means pushing the boundaries at the international level. For a start, a virtual meeting of OIC foreign ministers should be sought, taking advantage of the rising concern among many OIC countries about India’s anti-Muslim actions.

Once the situation permits, Pakistan should also seek a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council exclusively on occupied Kashmir to refocus world attention on the egregious human rights violations there.

Space limits detailed consideration of policy towards the Middle East.

Most importantly, Pakistan should deftly balance its relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who remain locked in a tense stand-off, and stay the course on a policy that avoids being drawn into their rivalry, however challenging it may be given Pakistan’s increased financial reliance on Riyadh.

The writer is a former ambassador to the US, UK and UN. – Hurriyat Conference strongly condemns attack on Derby Gurdwara

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 27 May 2020. Strongly condemning the recent attack on Gurdwara Guru Arjan Dev in Derby (UK), the All Parties Hurriyat Conference has expressed solidarity with the Sikh community. The APHC asked the British government to take stern action against the attacker so that no one could dare to commit such a heinous act in the future.

All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is an alliance of 26 political, social and religious organizations formed on 9 March 1993, as a united political front to raise the cause of Kashmir.

In a press note shared with Sikh24, All Parties Hurriyat Conference’s spokesperson Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai has said that this attack was extremely painful as Sikhs have always stood for the cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Smelling Indian agencies’ hand behind this attack, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai said that Sikhs have always supported the Kashmiris.

“When the innocent Kashmiris were being assaulted by Hindu extremists in all parts of India in August last year, the Sikhs opened the doors of their Gurdwaras for the oppressed Kashmiri Muslims and provided them food and shelter,” Sehrai said while adding that the Kashmiris can’t even think of attacking Gurdwara.

He expressed hope that the Indian agencies will not succeed in its nefarious design focused on creating discord between Muslims and the Sikhs.

Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai’s son Junaid Sehrai was an active Kashmiri militant who recently lost his life in an encounter with the Indian forces in Srinagar’s Nawakadal area on May 19.

On 25 May a Muslim man of Pakistani origin named Mohammed Ibrar had attacked Gurdwara Guru Arjan Dev in Derby. He smashed the Gurdwara property causing damage worth thousands of pounds.

After the attack, he had left a written note in Gurdwara Sahib in which he had tried to depict that he launched this attack out of anger against the Indian government for oppressing Kashmiris. – Muslims should know Sikhs have always stood against the oppression of Kashmiris

Sikh24 Editors

New York – New York State – USA, 26 May 2020. On 25 May, a Muslim man of Pakistani origin attacked Gurdwara Guru Arjan Dev in Britain’s Derby. This attack occurred exactly on the day when the entire Muslim community was celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr and the worldwide Sikhs were greeting our Muslim brothers on this auspicious day.

Interestingly, this attack also occurred exactly a day before the 414th martyrdom anniversary of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji.

After smashing the property of Gurdwara premises worth thousands of pounds, the attacker left a handwritten note behind, in which he clearly revealed his disturbed mindset due to the ongoing oppression of Kashmiris by India.

It clearly shows that a religious place of Sikhs got attacked because the attacker mistook Sikhs as supporters of the Indian government which is continuously oppressing Kashmiris.

This attack occurred because the Sikhs lack their distinct identity as nationhood and for being a stateless community. The Sikhs got targeted for the excesses being committed by the Indian government on Kashmiris.

Initially, the Indian media didn’t pay heed towards this attack, but as soon as it came to the fore that the attacker was a Muslim man of Pakistani origin, the Indian media outlets started airing this news considering it a golden opportunity to infuse hate in Sikhs against Muslims.

Sikhs have always stood against the oppression of Kashmiris.

In August last year, SGPC appointed Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh had openly opposed the abrogation of Article 370 by the BJP led Indian government in Jammu & Kashmir.

In Canada, the National Democratic Party’s head Jagmeet Singh had strongly condemned the oppression of Kashmiri people by India.

Similarly, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Dal Khalsa had also condemned the abrogation of Article 370 by terming it a murder of democracy.

Muslims should know Sikhs have always stood against the oppression of Kashmiris

Hindustan Times – Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee prepares meals for people in quarantine centres in Kashmir

After the gurdwara committee received complaints about poor quality food being served at quarantine centres in the district, they decided to do something about it.

Idrees Bukhtiyar

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 15 May 2020. Amid the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, the Sikh community in Kashmir have started serving langar to people admitted in the quarantine centres.

Strict food hygiene practices such as maintaining social distancing and using face masks and gloves were observed while the food was prepared.

“We have started serving meals to the Muslim community at various quarantine centres in different districts of the Valley,” said Navtej Singh, secretary of Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (GPC) Srinagar.

He said that to date, they have provided meals to around 250 people in Srinagar district on Friday. “We will continue serving food to people in the coming time as well,” he said.

After the gurdwara committee received complaints about poor quality food being served at quarantine centres in the district, they decided to do something about it. “There were many people in such centres who were not getting food on time, so we decided to provide food packets to them,” said Balbir Singh, secretary of GPC in Budgam.

“A team visits the quarantine centres twice a day to deliver the food packets. They are happy with our service,” said Salinder Singh, president GPC Chatrogam, Tral.

The food is also being served at quarantine centres in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district and more than 300 people have been covered under the initiative so far.

Pardeep Singh Dardi, a social activist said that Sikhs have always been the front runners in the troubled times across the world. “The community has provided personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, sanitisers, masks, medicines, dry ration and other essential items to the needy people in the valley so far,” he said.

“We have been following government guidelines to carry out the relief work. We don’t want anyone to suffer,” said Balwinder Singh, chairman of Sikh Welfare Trust, Kashmir.

A student who has been quarantined at a hotel in the city’s Lal Chowk area said, “We have always received a heart-warming response from the community.”

The Hindu – No violation of air space at Pangong Tso lake: IAF

No ongoing face-off or build up of armed troops: Army

Dinakar Peri

New Delhi – India, 12 May 2020. Helicopters of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) came close to the border during the face-off with the Indian Army near Pangong Tso lake in Eastern Ladakh last week, but there was no air space violation on either side, Indian Air Force (IAF) sources said on Tuesday.

Separately, Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said there was no ongoing face-off at the Pangong Tso lake or any “build up of armed troops in the area.”

“There was no border violation on either side. IAF SU-30MKI fighters were airborne in Ladakh on routine flying and were not scrambled in response to the helicopters,” IAF sources said.

Locally resolved

Stating that incidents of face-off and aggressive behaviour occur on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Colonel Anand said patrols disengage after local level interaction and dialogue.

“Temporary and short duration face-offs occur as boundary is not resolved. Troops resolve such incidents mutually as per established protocols,” he said in response to reports of an ongoing stand-off at the site.

There were two incidents of face-off between Indian and Chinese troops last week which resulted in injuries to several soldiers on both sides. The first incident occurred on 05 May near Pangong Tso in Eastern Ladakh while the second face-off occurred on 09 May at Naku La in Sikkim.

Army sources stated that the face-off at Pangong Tso occurred on the intervening night of 05 May patrol teams came across each other and was resolved by the morning of 06 May. Pangong Tso has seen such several incidents in the past including in 2017 and in 2019.

Aircraft restricted

As per existing agreements between India and China, operation of fighter aircraft and armed helicopters is restricted to a distance from the LAC. According to the ‘Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the LAC in India-China Border Area’ of 1996, “combat aircraft (to include fighter, bomber, reconnaissance, military trainer, armed helicopter and other armed aircraft) shall not fly within 10 km of the LAC.”

The Print – The USA is India’s enemy when it calls out our treatment of minorities, friend when Trump hugs Modi

Recently, USCIRF slammed India for violence by non-state actors committed against religious minorities, designating it as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’.

Bismee Taskin

New Delhi – India, 29 April 2020. India doesn’t care what the US Commission on International Religious Freedom says about how we treat our minorities. But don’t just blame Narendra Modi or the BJP for it. India has never cared much about this report in the past either.

Of late, Western institutions, scholars and media have criticised India over Article 370 dilution and clampdown in Kashmir, and over NRC and CAA. But India hasn’t been deterred. Instead, it has fed into the political narrative of ‘the West is biased against India’ and the ‘West is colluding with Indian liberals and anti-nationals’.

As long as Western leaders like Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron continued heaping praise on Modi and hugging him, it didn’t quite matter that the institutions in those countries thought otherwise.

Calling India out

Recently, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) slammed India in its report over the treatment of Muslims and other minorities, designating it as a “Country of Particular Concern” for “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations.”

“We are seeing impunity for violence by non-state actors committed against religious minorities (in India),” USCIRF chair Tony Perkins said.

The USCIRF put India on the list of 15 nations, which includes Pakistan, China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia among others, for the first time since 2004. But New Delhi has rejected the report, calling it “biased”, “tendentious” and “misrepresentation at new levels”.

New Delhi had similarly rejected the USCIRF report in 2015 highlighting the forcible “reconversion” of Christian minorities by Hindu groups, saying “the report appears to be based on limited understanding of India, its Constitution and its society”.

“We take no cognisance of the report,” then-foreign ministry spokesperson had said. Over the years, the Indian government, including under the Congress party, has dismissed the USCIRF’s report. The Manmohan Singh government in 2009 had termed the US panel’s move to place India under the ‘watch list’ as “regrettable”.

But this international criticism has its roots in the 2002 Gujarat riots and in the accusations against Modi for his “reluctance” in taking action against the perpetrators, since the USCIRF had first listed India among the ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ in 2004.
The group had also criticised India’s treatment of Christian missionaries, and included the 1999 murder of Graham Staines and his two children by Hindu extremists in Orissa (now Odisha).

The 2020 report highlights the fall in India’s religious tolerance after the BJP returned to power in May 2019, calls out Home Minister Amit Shah’s reference to Muslim migrants as ‘termites’, Yogi Adityanath’s comment that the anti-CAA-NRC protesters in Shaheen Bagh must be fed bullets and not biryani, and the failure of the Delhi Police to protect Muslim citizens when their neighbourhoods were set ablaze in February 2020.

The USCIRF accused the BJP of having “allowed violence against minorities and their houses of worship” and engaging in hate speeches that incite violence.

US is India’s enemy when it calls out treatment of minorities, friend when Trump hugs Modi – Press freedom in Kashmir under seize, observes Dal Khalsa

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 24 April 2020. Dal Khalsa has observed that press freedom is under seize in Kashmir as three journalists namely Masrat Zehra, Peerzada, Gowhar Geelani have been booked under draconian law UAPA in the last 48 hours.

As the world fights coronavirus, the priorities of the state remain to target and fix Kashmiri journalists, who dares to call a spade a spade, said party president Harpal Singh Cheema. Expressing solidarity with them, he said invoking UAPA against journalists was outrageous.

The motive of the state seems to strike terror into journalists and also to frighten others to toe Government’s line and thinking, said he.

He said ever since the abrogation of article 370, there’s undeclared censorship on the entire media. Now, the state has started targeting individuals, said party leader.

Intimidation of journalists has exposed lies of the Indian state that “everything in Kashmir is “normal.”

Kashmiri journalists have been the target of the Indian state in the past as well and been persecuted in jail. Asif Sultan, a journalist in Kashmiri magazine Kashmir Narrator, has been in jail for many years.

Earlier Junaid Dar was detained under UAPA. Also, Kashmir Observer journalist Mushtaq Ahmed and The Print reporter Azaan Javaid were beaten-up.

By and large the civil society and civil rights defenders are maintaining silence. He asked the government to “drop all charges against three of them and to stop abusing the lock-down.

The leader of the Sikh body hailed the statement of Amnesty in which the international body has asked the government of India to not muzzle the press and drop all charges against journalists Masrat Zehra, Peerzada, Gowhar Geelani and release those, who remain incarcerated solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and refrain from abusing its power in this time of crisis.”

He said mere statement of condemnation by Editors Guild of India wasn’t enough and urged the body to pro-actively fight for the rights and justice of Kashmiri journalists.

Press freedom in Kashmir under seize, observes Dal Khalsa

The Hindustan Times – Ex-CM Mehbooba Mufti shifted out of jail after 8 months, remains in detention at home in Kashmir

Mehbooba Mufti, who was charged under the Public Safety Act, has been under detention since 05 August last year, when the Constitution’s Article 370 was scrapped and Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union territories.

Smriti Kak Ramachandran

New Delhi – India, 07 April 2020. Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and PDP head, has been shifted to her residence in Srinagar, where she will continue to remain under detention, an official order issued on Tuesday said.

The government order said the Peoples Democratic Party leader is being moved from a subsidiary jail on MA Road in Srinagar to her Fairview residence that will serve as a subsidiary jail.

Mehbooba Mufti, who was charged under the Public Safety Act, has been under detention since 05 August last year, when the Constitution’s Article 370 was scrapped and Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union territories.

Mufti’s daughter, Iltija Mufti, tweeted to thank the media and ask for privacy.

“My gratitude to the media in Kashmir for their concern & well wishes. May I please humbly request that you give the family privacy as we wait for her to come home today. Please remember this isn’t a release & the house has been declared as a subsidiary jail,” she said.

While two other former chief ministers and National Conference leaders, Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, were released earlier, Mufti continues to remain under detention.

“@MehboobaMufti must be set free. Shifting her home while continuing to keep her detained is a cop out (sic),” Omar Abdullah tweeted reacting to the news of her being shifted.

Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti, too, has moved the Supreme Court challenging her mother’s detention and leaders across the political spectrum in J&K have sought the release of Mufti and a host of other political leaders including Bilal Lone, Shah Feasal and Naeem Akhtar.