Tag Archives: kashmirica

AJK’s transportation system

Dawn has reported today on 19 June 2015 that, at least seven people, including a woman, were killed and 11 others wounded when a passenger bus plunged into a ditch in Rawalakot district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). Traffic accidents are very common in Azad Kashmir due to its mountainous area poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving but there is no record available with any of the departments of AJK government of people being killed in road accidents in Azad Kashmir on monthly or annually bases. Which shows fundamental and structural faults in AJK’s administration. There is no bureau of statistics and minister of transport is perhaps without ministry of transport. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) says more than 9,000 road accidents are reported to the police every year since 2011, killing over 4,500 people on average in Pakistan but PBS has no record of accidents in Azad Kashmir.

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At least seven people, including a woman, were killed and 11 others wounded

Just to get an idea of accident if you google “accident in Azad Kashmir”, you will find more than forty thousand results in just a half second and search will literally show you results for every month from June to May of this year and backwards with at least one accident in each month of every year and in some cases more than one, two and even three accidents in just one month in one of the ten districts of Azad Kashmir. So the question is, how long bad roads and underdeveloped transportation system of AJK will kill Kashmiris on everyday bases?

Yasir Naveed, who lost his uncle, in this accident says, this is a nightmare for us. My uncle, Muhammad Sarwar was returning after forty year’s hardships of work in Saudi Arabia to live rest of his life with his family in Azad Kashmir. He says, 11 years before we lost our two other uncles on same spot near Goyee Nala in a similar accident. Another affected person talked about this accident and told that his four neighbors and relatives died in today and among them Zubair was one who got married just weeks ago.

It is important to note that this is third fatal accident which was reported by any online source in this month but number does not restrict to it. According to tribune at least one person died and three others were injured in separate road accidents on 9th June. Before that at least two persons were killed and three others injured in a road accident on 1st June. In May along with other four women were among five members of a family who were killed in a road accident in Mirpur district. And according to this same newspaper in the first three weeks of January alone of this year, more than 15 people lost their lives in road accidents in Muzaffarabad and Kotli districts of AJK.

It is worth noting that road tax in AJK is collected by Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council instead of AJK government which is often considered as supreme institution of AJK but headed by Pakistani president, often criticized as parallel government and takes biggest share of AJK budget. So is Pakistan simply escaping from the responsibility of building roads and improving AJK’s transportation system by installing there a puppet government with no rights and resources? As it has escaped and has forgotten its promise of building a railway station in Azad Kashmir in 1967 at the time of construction of Mangla Dam.

Writer is pursuing his Mphil at Iqra University Islamabad, blogs at Kashmirica.org and works with Institute for Social and Economic Justice (ISEJ). He can be reached at

@imrankhushaal
imrankhushaalraja@gmail.com
http://www.kashmirica.org

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LoC: A line that is the problem, not the solution

Two weeks of intense engagement in Keran sector mark the obvious that LoC-a temporary arrangement is not working. India and Pakistan continue to have a different take of any engagement on LoC.

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Accusations fly across the divide like volleys across the net, with an obvious difference…the engagement is far from sporting. While Indian army takes the latest engagement as infiltration plus BAT-implying the support factor provided by Pakistan regulars to infiltration bid, Pakistan army chief-Parvez Kayani dismisses Indian charges, calling such charges-unfounded and provocative. While scores die on this unfortunate line that runs through the heart of people of J&K state, while casualties mount, in moral terms the most marked casualty remains the TRUTH!

Truth being the casualty is marked by 30 to 40 persons reportedly making the infiltration bid. The initial reports, as the bid started a few days before Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers met about two weeks back coincided with a fidayeen attack in Akhnoor sector, not far from the junction of LoC and international border between Indian and Pakistani Punjab. Added to twelve or thirteen combatants losing their lives in Akhnoor sector, twelve militants were reported killed in Keran. The ones killed were not accounted for, with Indian army claiming that given the armed engagement, finding dead bodies is not a priority. As the reports mounted on a daily basis with infiltration bids reported from various points in Keran sector, it was subsequently reported that 30 to 40 militants have been killed. However, apart from some seven bodies being accounted for, the rest were speculated to be dragged across to the other side.

Indian army’s take or Parvez Kyani’s stating it as unfounded is what is the staple, people of subcontinent are being fed with. In this exchange, it is difficult to make out, where the truth lies, however the only standing truth is that LoC is the problem, and could never be counted as a solution. Yet, it is often heard that providing a temporary arrangement-the very name LoC entails it, a permanency of sorts would solve the ‘K’ issue. Decades back in Simla, 1972 to be precise, India tried to put it down the throat of Pakistan. Presumption was that the country being virtually on the mat, Pakistan would be in no position to refuse it. Far from that, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto pressed hard preferred to pack and go home rather than submit to Indira Gandhi’s dictate. Indira was riding the high horse after Pakistan’s eastern wing had assumed new name-Bangladesh. Vajpayee in his oratorical fluency called her Durga.

Bhutto had decided the limits he could go to. He had an inkling that he has to accommodate Indian wishes, his daughter-the assassinated Benazir picks up the tale. As her father, the maverick, the mercurial, and the magnetic—Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took off for the Indian tourist resort–Simla in 1972 to meet Indira Gandhi, teenaged Benazir was with him. Benazir was on apprenticeship in the art of politics. Her father’s adversary on the diplomatic turf-Indira Gandhi had her apprenticeship much earlier. Asked on succession by Congress President—Kamraj, Nehru on hearing Indira’s name, said “Indu, perhaps later” [Kuldip Nayar: Between the Lines]. Kamraj took the cue, thus Indu followed Shastri. She had taken her political lessons as a young girl, marshalling her dolls against mighty English Empire.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto hardly got the chance to name his dynastic successor, a South Asian staple. However, as his plane took off on the short trip with Benazir on his side, the political pundits were left in no doubt on Bhutto’s preference. He had two sons. The feudal hierarchy to which he belonged has had the tradition of a male heir, however Zulfiqar, sharp and agile saw the potential and promoted it. Benazir was his choice. What would you do if Indira offered the choice of either return of land or POWs? Zulfiqar asked Benazir and provided the answer—she cannot retain POWs for long, so we may opt for return of land. Benazir was getting her early lessons; the apprenticeship had started in right earnest in a critical phase of Pakistan’s short history as a nation.

When it came to the crunch, a take it or leave it situation on ceasefire line becoming a permanent border, and as Bhutto started packing, cool heads like PN Haksar on the India side, A. Aziz on Pakistani side got to work. They put it to their principals-Indira Gandhi and Bhutto that an accommodations of sorts has to be worked out. While Indira’s team had some ethnic Kashmiris like DP Dhar and TN Koul, Pakistan too was not lacking in local advice. Bhutto’s secretary-Yusuf Bucch-a Kashmiri, pushed back to Pakistan administered Kashmir [PaK] in 1947; a level headed diplomat was a part of the delegation. Yusuf Bucch-now a nonagenarian was a revenue official in 1947, he rose to become an international civil servant in UN headquarters. Line of Control [LoC] turned to be the compromise worked out. ‘K’ issue until then multi-lateral was sought to be bi-lateralized. However here too, Bhutto escaped with a rider-bilateral affair, yet under UN auspices, it turned out to be an agreement both could sell to their constituents.

The Line of Control (LoC) whatever it might mean to Indians and Pakistanis, for the overwhelming majority of people of Jammu & Kashmiris on both sides of the divide, the line runs through their hearts. With recent flare-ups between the two countries, the millstone is getting heavier, the strangulating effect of noose tighter. Give the line any name, it makes little difference. The dividing line is unacceptable and unpalatable; call it ceasefire line-a pre-1972 Simla Agreement nomenclature or LoC–the name prescribed in Simla.

Indira Gandhi made it out to be an agreement whereby India and Pakistan would administer the parts retained by either, on a permanent basis. Multi-lateral ‘K’ issue with UN resolutions was projected as bi-lateral by Indian side following Simla–an Indian diplomatic staple. This was an old mantra worked out by Indian establishment, first applied to water sharing between India and Pakistan, immediately after partition. Eugene R Black, the then World Bank president had to go in circles pretending that he is not mediating, while exactly doing that. Facilitator is grudgingly acceptable in crunch situations, while mediator remains a diplomatic anathema. Indira Gandhi’s father and predecessor in Prime Ministerial office–Jawaharlal Nehru had been much criticized for taking ‘K’ issue to UN. Once India had pocketed the accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh, there was no need to take the case to UN, argue his critics. Post Simla, Indira thought she had helped erase the indecisive Indian dealing in Kashmir, her father stood accused of. Rider on bi-lateralization, which entailed under UN auspices, retained it as an issue on international agenda of unsolved disputes, whatever the pretensions to contrary. Even the much touted Indira-Abdullah 1975 accord, which had discord inherent in it could not accord permanency to Indian take on Jammu and Kashmir state.

The overwhelmingly dominant sentiment in Kashmir has never been affected by what New Delhi proposes or Islamabad disposes. In the paradigm of dominant sentiment, LoC is the problem rather than the solution. And state of Jammu & Kashmir craves to be a part of solution, rather than be a part of the problem. The craving had Kashmir erupt violently in 1989-90, changing the dynamics of how the prevailing situation is viewed. The resistance refuses to die down, in spite of what is attempted to counter it. Kashmir craves for room to breathe freely in the almost relentless Indo-Pak conflict and LoC symbolizes the conflict. The changed nomenclature has hardly had the desired impact. For years following Simla, frequent exchanges of fire and mines planted on either side led to innocent people dying on both sides. With initiation of militancy, pressures of other sort developed. Movement of men and arms across LoC grew. Militants in search of sanctuaries and the Indian Army bent upon drying up safe houses put additional strain on the residents staying in areas close to LoC, it did not end there. As militancy spread to other areas in the vale of Kashmir as well as the Chenab valley and Pir Panchal, the traumatized segments of the population grew in number, violations of human rights multiplied.

There was hope as decade long ceasefire worked out in 2003 more or less held, however the relative peace with dwindling scale of militancy could not be utilized for conflict resolution. It is back to square one with mounting pressures. People of J&K state on either side of LoC have to bear the brunt and pay the ultimate price, if the existent ugly situation turns uglier. As the situation stands, the noose that is LoC might be getting a bit tighter, the millstone that this line has become might be getting heavier.

Written by: Dr. Javid Iqbal

Published by: Kashmir Times

Top Hizbul commander arrested in Kashmir

Srinagar: A top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit has been arrested by security forces from Bandipora district of Kashmir Valley, police said Monday. 

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Junaid, who used aliases Manzoor and Arshad and was working with the outfit for the past 14 years, was arrested in Turkpora area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district last Wednesday, a police spokesman said.

On specific information about presence of a militant in a house in the area, Army and police had conducted a joint operation and cordoned off a house, where Junaid was hiding. He tried to break the cordon and escape, but he was overpowered and arrested, the spokesman said.

He said the forces recovered one AK-56 rifle with two magazines and 60 rounds from his possession.

Junaid, the police said, was also working as a guide and helped militant groups to cross the Line of Control in the Valley.

He had managed to escape last month from the neighbouring Ganderbal district when Army and police killed five militants in a nocturnal raid.

His arrest was kept under wraps due to ongoing anti-militancy operations based on the information provided by him to the police during questioning.

Pakistan says Indian shelling kills child in Kashmir

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The photo shows an Indian soldier near the Line of Control. — Photo by Reuters

MUZAFFARABAD: Indian troops fired mortars across the disputed border in Kashmir on Friday, killing a child and wounding three other people, Pakistani officials said.

The incident took place in Nakyal sector, along the Line of Control (LoC), the heavily militarised de facto border between Pakistan and India, in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

“An 11-year-old boy was killed and three others including two women were wounded in the Indian shelling,” in senior local administration official Masood-ur-Rehman told AFP.

A senior police official in the area, Muhammad Amin, confirmed the incident and casualties.

The latest incident came almost two weeks after the prime ministers of the two countries pledged to restore calm on their disputed border in Kashmir, at a meeting in New York.

A deadly flare-up along the LoC in January brought a halt to peace talks that had only just resumed following a three-year hiatus sparked by the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Fresh skirmishes erupted on the LoC after five Indian soldiers were killed in a raid in August.

Delhi blamed that ambush on the Pakistan army, but Islamabad denied the claims and has repeatedly called for restraint and dialogue.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority territory, is divided into Indian and Pakistani-administered sectors but is claimed in full by both sides.

Reported AFP Orignally Published by DAWN

Army to explain alleged lapses in recent Kashmir encounters

The encounter in Keran lasted for 14 days
The encounter in Keran lasted for 14 days

New Delhi: The Indian Army may have called off a two-week operation to hunt down infiltrators at the Keran sector in Kashmir and the dead bodies of those it claims were never recovered, the government wants an explanation for alleged lapses.

“Some lapses were there. We had information about possible infiltration attempts in the entire belt (Indo-Pak border along Jammu sector),” said Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde though he stressed that the intelligence alerts did not offer information specific to Keran.

The encounter in Keran, the largest in years, consisted of a series of gunbattles in which soldiers fought about 30 heavily-armed Pakistanis who crossed over the Line of Control for 14 days. India has accused the Pakistani army of links to the group. Five Indian soldiers were injured.

Before that, the Army said at least 12 infiltrators were killed in the village of Shala Batu, but no dead bodies have been recovered. Top government officials said that the army was perhaps “misled into believing” that it had been able to kill over 12 terrorist in the first few days of the operation.

The government has also asked for more information on how three terrorists stormed first into a police station and then an Army camp on September 26, killing 10 people including a Lieutenant Colonel in Samba near Jammu. The terrorists were shot dead.

Sources tell NDTV that initial inquires reveal that the three terrorists entered the camp without being put through any checks because they were wearing army fatigues.

A Quick Reaction Team of the Army, consisting of commandos, was dispatched to the police station though the terrorists had already moved towards the army camp.

“There was absolutely no information about the fact that Fidayeen’s had left the police station. The Jammu and Kashmir police didn’t raise an alarm; nor did the Army, which has many soldiers deployed in the area, warned that the terrorists had moved to another target,” a senior official told NDTV.

Written by Sudhi Ranjan Sen for NDTV.

This week, “KASHMIR” in ALJAZEERA, DAWN, REUTERS, WORLD BULLETIN and DECCAN CRONICLE

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The dilemma of Kashmir’s half-widows

Most 'half-widows' cannot remarry for four years under Islamic jurisprudence [Abid Bhat/ Al Jazeera]
Most ‘half-widows’ cannot remarry for four years under Islamic jurisprudence [Abid Bhat/ Al Jazeera]
Decked by thick deodar forests, terraced corn fields, apple orchards and jagged mountains, the hamlet of Dardpora tucked in the northern rim of Indian-administered Kashmir looks idyllic.

But scratch a little deeper and the wounds of decades of conflict sweeping across the region open up when its 300-odd widows and ‘half widows’ (women whose husbands have disappeared but not yet been declared deceased) describe the pain of losing their husbands in course of the ongoing rebellion. More on ALJAZEERA

India ends Kashmir operation

“I have given directions to call off the concerted search operation,” Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, a senior commander, told reporters after a visit to the Line of Control (LoC). — Photo by AFP
“I have given directions to call off the concerted search operation,” Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, a senior commander, told reporters after a visit to the Line of Control (LoC). — Photo by AFP

“I have given directions to call off the concerted search operation,” Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, a senior commander, told reporters after a visit to the Line of Control (LoC).

The general said that 59 heavy weapons had been recovered from the Keran area of India-held Kashmir, along with a large amount of ammunition and rations. More on DAWN

India says Pakistan army backing Kashmir incursions

Indian army soldiers stand behind a display of seized arms and ammunition at a garrison in Srinagar, October 7, 2013.
Indian army soldiers stand behind a display of seized arms and ammunition at a garrison in Srinagar, October 7, 2013.

Army chief General Bikram Singh’s remarks were the first direct allegation against Pakistan since the heavily-armed fighters crossed the Line of Control in Kashmir last month in a setback for a government already seen as soft and indecisive.

The men were holed up in an abandoned village in the Keran sector for nearly a fortnight, an Indian army source earlier told Reuters. That prompted comparisons with the Kargil conflict further north in 1999, when hundreds of Pakistan-backed irregular troops occupied bunkers along a vast swath of the frontier. More on REUTERS

Kashmir’s silent rape victims

Number of cases of sexual violence against women by members of the Indian armed forces is much higher than those by resistance militants over the two decade conflict
Number of cases of sexual violence against women by members of the Indian armed forces is much higher than those by resistance militants over the two decade conflict

The government of Indian-held-Kashmir (IHK) has admitted to registering more than 5,000 cases of rape and some 15,000 cases of molestation of women since 1989, when the armed rebellion against Indian rule began.

“Some 5,125 cases of rape and 14,953 cases of molestation have been reported across the state’s hundreds of police stations in the last 24 years,” Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah told the state legislative assembly on Tuesday. More on WORLD BULLETIN

Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Speaker tosummon Gen V.K. Singh over payoff remark

Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Mubarak Gul on Wednesday said he will summon former Army Chief V K Singh to explain his position on his controversial statement about payoffs to politicians in the state.
Speaker of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Mubarak Gul on Wednesday said he will summon former Army Chief V K Singh to explain his position on his controversial statement about payoffs to politicians in the state.

“I will summon him (Singh) very soon,” Gul said amidst uproar in the Assembly, which saw Opposition PDP storming the well of the House and demanding the Speaker set a time-frame for it.

The Speaker refused to spell out the time-frame for summoning Gen Singh, who had alleged that money was being paid to ministers in Jammu and Kashmir for getting certain jobs done, saying the proper procedure will be followed. More on DECCAN CRONICLE

Kashmir’s future, Fleeting chance: A brighter mood brings an opportunity. Expect India to squander it

ImageTHESE are unexpectedly happy days in conflict-torn Kashmir. Tourists flock from India’s sweaty plains to gasp the mountain air. Srinagar’s hotels, houseboats and cafés are crammed. Jetskis roar over the once-tranquil Dal lake. Hordes of Hindu pilgrims trek, unmolested, to a sacred penis-shaped lump of ice at Amarnath, a cave temple. And on roadsides Indian migrant labourers, mostly Biharis, line up to work in fields and on building-sites.

Amid the bustle there is glee. A father tells of his young children playing in streets that last year flew with stones and bullets. A man in Bandipur, a town north of Srinagar, previously protested against Indian occupiers but now worries more about cash: “tourism was gone last year, so now we need to make some money.”

Such pragmatism is welcome. Kashmir’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, sitting on a terrace in his Srinagar home, says that almost 80% of voters turned out for recentpanchayat (village) elections, though he concedes that the vote does not signify acceptance of Indian rule. Protests over the past three years led in 2010 to five months of curfews, boycotts of shops, offices and schools—known as hartals—and stone-throwing by youngsters. Brutal and ill-trained security men responded by shooting dead more than 110 Kashmiris.

People would doubtless do it again, if called out. But many are fed up with staying home or getting shot at for no gain. Parents fret that their children are flunking exams; traders worry about lost earnings. Some fear that traumatised youngsters may become extremists, swapping stones for bombs or guns.

The authorities have also grown cannier. More than 1,000 young men are said to have been locked away as a precaution. Many separatists are behind bars or, like the most notable leader, the octogenarian Syed Ali Shah Geelani, under house arrest. The police have been taught, at long last, to use non-lethal force against unarmed crowds. And officials, not stick-wielding security thugs, are now supposed to respond when humdrum grievances—a broken water pipe, say—bring people on to the street. Mr Abdullah, whose hair is fast turning grey, says “our entire exercise is in not giving these people a trigger to start the protests again.”

The wider background may help. Kashmir’s separatists were quick to condemn a triple bombing in Mumbai on July 13th that killed 20. In Kashmir itself there are still occasional clashes: on July 15th a handful of fighters, allegedly from Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group based in Pakistan, died in a shoot-out. But the army says militancy is down to a “subcritical” level. And though sullen-looking armed men in uniform are everywhere, dozens of military roadblocks that choked Srinagar last year have been cleared. Some soldiers might return to barracks, easing the locals’ sense of being under the Indian army boot.

Militants and pro-Pakistanis alike are also subdued because they fear that Pakistan is succumbing to dire economic and security problems. The talk is of “betrayal” by the government in Islamabad. When the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan hold rare bilateral talks in Delhi on July 27th, they will not discuss Kashmir’s status. Nor are Pakistan’s beleaguered army and spies likely to restore the backing for fighters in Kashmir which they reduced after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

As a result, India has space to do something on its own. Previous lulls were cues for it to neglect Kashmiri grievances, speeding up the return to protest. Possibly things might be different this time. Modest efforts to build trust are under way, such as allowing barter trade of farm goods with the Pakistani-run bit of Kashmir. That could be followed by letting more people cross the border to visit relatives. Braver steps would earn a response from moderate Kashmiris, whose most bitter complaints concern restrictions on daily life, rather than being part of India.

One step would be to hold India’s security services to account for last year’s killings. If Kashmiris thought the army and India’s politicians were concerned about their plight, they might be less resentful. Mr Abdullah says he expects prosecutions to follow current inquiries. The lifting of harsh emergency laws—both at the state level and under a centrally imposed armed forces act—is long overdue.

Timing matters. The Indian authorities move slowly, more worried about seeming soft on separatism to Indian voters than about winning the trust of Kashmiris. Yet delays raise the chances of renewed protest and play into the hands of hardliners. In April the moderate leader of a fundamentalist Wahhabi organisation, al-Hadith, was blown up as he arrived at a mosque in Srinagar. Suspicion points at extremists within the group, whose following is growing. Thankfully, neither bloody protests nor revenge attacks followed. Next time could be different.

From the Asian Print Eddition of The Economist