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Posts Tagged ‘Muslim Majority Kashmir

BJP supporters vow to march to Kashmir

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Thousands of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters massed on a bridge to the disputed Kashmir region on Tuesday as officials sought to stop a flag-raising ceremony that could spark violence.


Workers of India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hold national flags and shout slogans during a protest on a bridge at Madhopur, in the northern Indian state of Punjab

Police faced off with flag-waving BJP workers as authorities sealed routes into Kashmir to thwart the planned raising of the national flag in the state that has been racked by unrest by Muslim separatists opposed to Indian rule.

Police forced about 7,000 marchers on to buses and drove them away, police sources said, while the remaining 2,500 protesters attempting to cross the border from the Jammu region into Kashmir faced arrest or detention.

Officials in Kashmir fear that the symbolic show of Indian cental control over the disputed region could reignite separatist protests in which more than 100 people were killed last year.

The BJP has gained political ground through recent pressure on the ruling coalition struggling with graft and it hopes to show the government’s weakness on Kashmir, a potent symbol of India’s territorial integrity, with state elections looming.

But the main oppostion party risks a backlash. The government has criticised it for “divisive politics” and its nationalistic rhetoric may alienate secular Indians and other political parties.

“There is no justification whatsoever to push a political agenda that will certainly affect peace and law and order in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Home Minister P. Chidamabaram said in a statement.

“It would be most unfortunate if the BJP leaders defy the restrictions placed by the state government or deliberately cause a breach of the peace.”

The state government, backed by the ruling Congress party, sealed all road links into the state, media reported, a day after BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were detained at the airport in the main Kashmiri city of Srinagar and sent back out.

Senior BJP officials have said raising the national flag in Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir, to celebrate India’s Republic Day on Wednesday, was a patriotic right, and have vowed to push on with their march to the city.

“We have started march towards J&K … We are marching in a group of 500 people holding tricolour (flag)… Huge police presence on the other side of the bridge,” Swaraj, the BJP leader in the lower house of parliament, posted on Twitter.

Republic Day has traditionally been a lightning rod for anti-Indian protests in the Himalayan region which is at the heart of hostilities between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, who both claim it.

“The (BJP’s) aggressive and adamant stand … betrays a dangerous inability to understand the subtlety and calibration needed in a place like Jammu and Kashmir,” the Indian Express newspaper said in an editorial.

“Aggressive postures aimed at little more than self-serving polarisation will do no good to any cause, least of all one proclaimed in the name of this country’s unity.”

Militants backed by Pakistan have been battling Indian security forces in Muslim-majority Kashmir since 1989. Tens of thosuands of people have been killed in the violence.

U.N. concerned over Kashmir unrest

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has expressed concern over the weeks of violent anti-government protests in Kashmir which have killed more than 30 people, dragged in more troops and locked down the disputed Himalayan region.

A separatist strike and security lockdown has dragged on for nearly a month-and-a-half in Muslim-majority Kashmir, a region at the core of a dispute between India and Pakistan.

“In relation to recent developments in Indian-administered Kashmir, the Secretary-General is concerned over the prevailing security situation there over the past month,” Farhan Haq, Ban Ki-Moon’s spokesperson said in a statement.

The Secretary-General has called on all concerned to exercise utmost restraint and address problems peacefully.

But security forces, to quell the daily street protests, have launched a major crackdown across Kashmir and detained at least 1,400 people. The arrests are fuelling more anger.

Most separatist leaders have been arrested or placed under house arrest.

The government has ordered a judicial probe into the deaths of 17 people, mostly protesters, in an attempt to end the crisis amid the biggest demonstrations against Indian rule in two years across the Valley.

But separatists have rejected the magisterial probe and termed it mere eyewash.

The Indian government has blamed separatists and Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group for stoking the latest protests but Kashmiris say the pro-freedom demonstrations are mostly spontaneous.

Most of those killed in the protests are teenagers and many who take part in daily protests are young. Kashmir’s new generation of radicalised separatists may prove a big challenge to New Delhi in future.

Analysts are worried that if New Delhi fails to check the growing protests, deaths and rights violations Kashmir could slide into a fresh phase of armed uprising that could hurt peace efforts between India and Pakistan.

Peace in Kashmir is seen as crucial for improving relations between the two. Both claim the Kashmir region in full but rule it in part.

According to the U.N. statement, Ban Ki-Moon has encouraged both India and Pakistan to rekindle the spirit of the composite dialogue, which was initiated in 2004.

One of the oldest U.N. missions, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), still monitors a 1949 ceasefire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

‘Trust deficit’ holding back Pak ties: Singh

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Pakistan calls for talks to build trust

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday that a cross-border “trust deficit” was the main obstacle holding back any improvement in relations between India and Pakistan.

“Prime Minister (Yousuf Raza) Gilani and I agreed that trust deficit was the problem blocking progress,” Singh told reporters, referring to recent discussions between the two men in the Bhutanese capital Thimphu.

“Pakistan is our neighbour. It is my firm belief that India cannot realise its full development potential till we have best relations with our neighbours,” he said, as he reviewed his year in power since re-election.

Pakistan calls for talks with India to build trust

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan called on Monday for “sustained and meaningful” dialogue with India after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said a trust deficit was the main obstacle in ties between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Speaking at a news conference in New Delhi, Singh said India was willing to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan but “the trust gap is (the) biggest problem”.
Pakistan said it agreed that mistrust should be dispelled.

“Obviously, there is a mutual trust deficit and we need to build trust between our two countries on solid foundations so that our two countries and our people can live in peace and prosperity,” said Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit.

“To this end, Pakistan looks forward to a sustained and meaningful engagement with India with a view to free our relations from all disputes and conflicts.”

Relations between the neighbours, who have fought three wars since 1947, went into a freeze after Pakistan-based militants attacked the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008, killing 166 people.

But Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani met on the sidelines of a regional conference last month and agreed to get talks going again to tackle their disputes.
For India, the main issue in its relations with Pakistan is security, with Islamist militants, who India says are backed by Pakistan, attacking Indian security forces in the disputed Kashmir region and launching attacks in Indian cities.

Pakistan says the core dispute is over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which both countries claim in full but rule in part.
Talking to leaders of Pakistan-ruled Kashmir, Gilani said his government remained committed to a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

“There is an imperative need to end the long legacy of hostility and distrust and to work towards a peaceful solution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir,” from prime minister’s office quoted him as saying in a statment.

Pakistan would continue to support the “just cause” of Kashmiri people, he said.
India accuses Pakistan of training and sending Muslim guerrillas across their de facto border in Kashmir to fight Indian rule.

Pakistan denies the charge and says it supports what it calls a freedom struggle by the people of Kashmir against what it sees as the brutal and illegitimate Indian occupation of the region.
In an illustration of the underlying mistrust between them, Pakistani and Indian forces traded fire across their de facto border in Kashmir on Saturday, and then swapped accusations over who started it.

One Pakistani soldier was killed in the clash, the Pakistani army said.
“We are going to make a beginning. The composite dialogue was suspended soon after attack on Mumbai,” Singh told reporters in New Delhi. “This is the first major effort to deal with underlying cause which is lack of adequate amount of trust,” he said, adding “I am hopeful that this process can move forward.”

He said a major diplomatic effort was under way to improve ties between India and Pakistan, and he was hopeful the talks would succeed. “A major effort is being made to bridge the trust deficit with Pakistan,” Singh told reporters at a rare news conference. “I’m hopeful this process can move forward,” he said. But he later tempered his optimism, saying, “Whether we succeed or not that, only future events can tell.”

He also reiterated India’s willingness to discuss “all outstanding issues” – a phrase seen as diplomatic code for the bitter dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir – as long as Pakistani territory is not used for attacks against India.

Singh also reached out to Kashmiri militant groups. “Our government is ready for a dialogue provided all these groups outside the political mainstream shed the path of violence,” he said.Meanwhile, Pakistan called on Monday for “sustained and meaningful” dialogue with India after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said a trust deficit was the main obstacle in ties between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Pakistan said it agreed that mistrust should be dispelled. “Obviously, there is a mutual trust deficit and we need to build trust between our two countries on solid foundations so that our two countries and our people can live in peace and prosperity,” said Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit. “To this end, Pakistan looks forward to a sustained and meaningful engagement with India with a view to free our relations from all disputes and conflicts.”