Ali Sukhanver

The writer is an Associate Professor of English at Govt College of Science, Multan

Revival of Terrorism – View from Pakistan

/
220 views
4 mins read

Some people might be misguided by the thought that the menace of terrorism in Pakistan was successfully crushed to the roots a few years back and after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan things have become quite normal but actually the situation is not that way.  Terrorists and terrorism both are still alive; it seems they had hibernated themselves for a very short period of time. Once again, they are out of their short sleep and ready to ‘do more’. The recent bomb attack on a mosque in Peshawar on 30th January seemsthe beginning of a fresh wave of terrorist activities in Pakistan. The terrorists have chosen a time when Pakistan is passing through the toughest period of its history with a lot of political and economic instability. Different experts on security affairs were already apprehendingoccurrence of such incidents. It is also being feared thatmore episodes of the same type could take place in near future. Certainly the law-enforcement agencies will have to be more active and more vigilant against the peace-destroyers.

Even the last year had not been very peaceful regarding terrorist activities in Pakistan. According to a think-tank based in Islamabad The Pak Institute for Peace Studies, Pakistan had to face 254 militant attacks in the year 2022. More than 400 Pakistanis lost their lives in these attacks. The Arab News said referring to the report prepared by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies that ‘The toll is significantly higher than last year 2021, when 335 people were killed by militants in 207 incidents, and in 2020, when 146 attacks killed 220.’ The most affected area had been Baluchistan where foreign-patronized terrorists targeted security forces and particularly the Chinese nationals working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project which is a multibillion-dollar project having a lot of possibility of strengthening Pakistan’s economy. Attacks on the Chinese nationals certainly effected the work on CPEC project as hovering security threats make things very difficult for the foreigners working on different development projects. It seems that the sole target of all terrorist activities was nothing but to create hurdles in the way to completion of the CPEC.

Now the beginning of 2023 does not seem very pleasant and hopeful with reference to the terrorist’s activities in Pakistan specifically in Baluchistan and KPK province. On 18th of January, according to the Voice of America, a militant attack from across the Iranian side of the border had killed four Pakistani soldiers.The attack took place in the remote Panjgur district in southwestern Baluchistan province. Sources say that the terrorists used Iranian soil to target a convoy of security forces patrolling along the border. The government of Pakistan, just after the incident, asked the Iranian side to hunt down the terrorists on their side. Whatever happened there at the Pak-Iran border was certainly very much unexpected and disappointing even for the Iranian government and the Iranian embassy in Islamabad strongly condemned the terrorist attack on Pakistani troops but this act of condemnation is not the solution to the problem. Without looking into the matter in detail, such incidents might reoccur in near and far-future.Panjgur district of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province is an area which borders Iran and Afghanistan. The area surrounding Panjgur had always been terrorists’ hot favourite. In 2019, both PakistanandIran had expressed their desire toform a joint quick reaction force to counter and combat militant activitiesalong the border. Unfortunately that desire has yet not been materialized. Though no terrorist group has yet claimed the responsibility of blood-shed in Panjgur. On December 19th 2022, in another incident of the same type four members of Iran’s security forces were killed in a firefight near the Pakistan border. The killed ones were members of The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. These four were killedafter a fight with an unnamed terrorist group, said the Aljazeerareferring to a statement released by the Iranian state media.The incident reportedly took place in Saravan, in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan, near the Pakistani border. The attackers allegedly fled to Pakistan when IRGC ground forces repelled the assault.

The situation in Afghanistan is also deteriorating with reference to the terrorist activities. Last year on 23rd September several people were killed and dozens more wounded when a car bomb went off at a mosque in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. The worshippers streaming out of the mosque afterthe ‘afternoon’ prayers were targeted. According to the Aljazeera,‘gunshots rang out several minutes after the explosion in Wazir Akbar Khan area which is the location of many foreign embassies and NATO. More than 15 people were killed and 41 wounded in that incident. Earlier on 18thAugust 2022, a huge explosion ripped through the crowded mosque during evening prayers, injuring 33 people and killing another 21. Prior to that in April 2022, two boys’ schools were targeted in the western Kabul. The targeted schools were Abdul Rahim Shahid high school and the nearby Mumtaz Education Centre, both located in the Dasht-e-Barchi area. More than ten students were killed and around 30 seriously wounded.

In short, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, all are facing the worst situation regarding terrorist activities. In present scenario, any type of blame-game would simply add to the gravity of situation. Be it Afghanistan or Iran or Pakistan; terrorism is in the benefit of no one. We all will have to join our efforts with all possible devotion and dedication to curb this menace. The government of Afghanistan will have to play the most active role in resolving the situation as a consistent peaceful atmosphere is the most-required and most-needed ‘element’ for the stability and firmness of that war-torn country.The point to rememberis that the flames of terrorism never remain limited to some particular area or some specific region; they are like a pandemic which goes on and moves on from one place to other. We must never forget the Twin-Towers tragedy which was the most horrible episode in the long series of terrorist activities. All self-proclaimed ‘Super Powers’ including the US, China and others must step forward and try to ‘Do More’ against the revival of terrorist’s era particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

The Myanmar Tragedy

/
437 views
3 mins read

When Burmawas ruled by a monarchyin the pre-colonial era, its Army was given the name of ‘Tatmadaw’.In the Burmese language Tatmadaw means Royal Armed Forces.Today the Tatmadaw has lost all its popularity and public support because of its action of deposing the elected government on 1st February 2021. One could understand the public reaction against the Tatmadaw by going through an article of Desmond published in the ‘Irrawaddy’ on 25th May 2022. The writer is of the opinion that the name Tatmadaw must not be used for the present day Myanmar Military because it is not ‘Royal’. “The word is too good for Min Aung Hlaing’s army, which is just a group of armed men killing their own people. There is nothing ‘royal’ about the actions of the present-day Myanmar military. Instead of the term ‘Myanmar Military, the most suitable term would be ‘murderous military’, which captures the true nature of Min Aung Hlaing’s army.” According to the Wikipedia, ‘ Min Aung Hlaing is a Burmese politician and army general who has ruled Myanmar as the chairman of the State Administration Council since seizing power in the February 2021 coup d’état. He took the nominally civilian role of prime minister of Myanmar in August 2021 upon the formation of the Provisional Government.’

On 2nd February 2022, the BBC said in a report on Myanmar Army, “Since it overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government in a coup one year ago, Myanmar’s military – known as the Tatmadaw – has gone on to shock the world by killing hundreds of its own civilians, including dozens of children, in a brutal crackdown on protesters.” The report further narrated, “For Myanmar’s citizens, it has been a year of indiscriminate street killings and bloody village raids. In December 2021, a BBC investigation report discovered the Tatmadaw carried out a series of attacks that involved the torture and mass murder of opponents.More than 1,500 people have been killed by security forces since the coup in February 2021.”

Myanmar’s Nobel Peace laureate,Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi had been thecivilian leader of Myanmar since her party won election in 2015 but during all that period the Tatmadaw always remained more powerful and authoritative than the civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. It retained control over the armed forces by appointingkey cabinet ministers and its own commander in-chief.Moreover after the National League for Democracy’s landslide in November 2020, Tatmadaw generals refused to accept the outcome, arguing that the results were fraudulent. This stubborn attitude of the Tatmadaw was widely condemned and criticized internationally. Unfortunately, keeping aside all international disliking and criticism, India the ‘biggest democracy’ in the region, gave a warm welcome to the anti-democratic forces in Myanmar.

Between India and the current Myanmar regime,the warm relationship started soon after the coup in February 2021. While the regime was being internationally condemned for its coup, India was careful not to make any direct reference to the military takeover or to condemn it in its statements. Since coup there have been multiple engagements between India and Myanmar Military rulers. At the time when world was distancing itself from Military Junta of Myanmar, India extended invitation to Commander-In-Chief (Navy) Admiral Moe Aung of Myanmar to attend the third edition of Goa Maritime Conclave 2021 in Goa from 7th to 9th November. The Goa Maritime Conclave is hosted by Indian Navy once after every two years. During the visit the Commander-in-Chief had separate one to one meetings with India’s National Security Advisor, Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of the Naval Staff. The Commander-in-Chief participated in discussions on topics like active cooperation between Indian Navy and Tatmadaw maritime security and non-traditional security threats in Indian Ocean.On 22ndDecember 2021, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla paid a two-day official visit to Myanmar. That was country’s first official outreach to the military Junta that seized power in February 2021.

Ignoring all its claims of being caretaker of basic human rights, Indiahas been tryingits best not to antagonize the Junta which has killed more than 2,000 people for rejecting military rule. Despite international condemnation on the regime, India has been openly cooperating with the military Junta, extending diplomatic support and even assistance in organizing a general election that Min Aung Hlaing plans to hold this year. When world talks about isolating Myanmar military regime, discussion of its few allies tends to focus on Russia and China’s engagement with the Junta and support for it on UN Security Council. One country that has been strangely absent from this conversation, however, is India.

India’s support to the Military rule in Myanmar is in fact an effort of giving tough time to Chinese interests in Myanmar. The Aljazeera pointed out in an analysis that the growing conflict in Myanmar is undermining the investment environment for China. According to an analysis paper by the Institute for Strategy and Policy Myanmar, Chinese investments are facing growing risks as the anti-coup conflicts escalate across the country.“Of more than 7,800 clashes recorded nationwide since the coup in February 2021, at least 300 have taken place in areas where major Chinese projects are located or near potential project sites for Chinese investments.” says Aljazeera. By providing support to Myanmar’s military rulers, India is simply discouraging China’s presence in the country.In spite of the fact thatIndia is the major supporter of Myanmar Military regime, the international media remains silent on this pro-dictatorship approach of India. Myanmar is no doubt facing worst situation of human rights violation leading to a very agonizingpolitical chaos. Certainly this is the worst phase of Myanmar’s history, and this all is happening particularly in an era when so-called super powers ever seem determined to discourage all anti-democracy movements.But in case of Myanmar, the world’s self-claimed ‘biggest democracy’ ispatronizing the human rights exploiters.

Patronizing The Culprits?

/
641 views
3 mins read

Blaming some particular religion, caste or creed and patronizing hatred-based extremism is the worst kind of terrorism. Be it the Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam or even Atheism, all philosophies guide their followers to a path leading to just one theme ‘love-humanity’. We see that the followers of all these philosophies have been doing a lot for the betterment of mankind since ever. Philanthropic approach towards life is the only approach all religious philosophies convey to their followers. Religious philosophies are never limited to the betterment of a specific group of people; all religions have an innate desire of flourishing and expanding and this desire could never be fulfilled unless the message they convey has universality in it; no doubt ‘love-humanity’ is the most universal message.

In Pakistan, a Muslim country, there is a 550-bed hospital in Lahore named Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. This hospital was established in 1921 by a Hindu Civil Engineer Sir Ganga Ram. At the time of its establishment, Sir Ganga Ram never intended to specify it just for the Hindu patients; because it was established for the patients, not for the Hindu patients only. Today hundreds of patients are being benefitted from it and majority of the patients treated here are the Muslims. Same is the case with the Gulab Devi Hospital in Lahore. This hospital was established in 1934 by Indian freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai in the memory of his mother, Gulab Devi, who died due to tuberculosis in 1927. Another hospital in Lahore is Jan Ki Devi Jamiat Singh which was established by a Sikh doctor Jamiat Singh 85 years back. Multan is a very historical city in the South Punjab region of Pakistan. Here Women’s Christian Hospital is providing marvelous services to the women from surrounding areas. This hospital was established in 1899 by the Church Missionary Society. Same is the example of Aligarh Muslim University India which was established in 1875 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, a renowned Muslim educationist. Now-a-days this university is considered a public central university and regardless of their religious beliefs, thousands of students pass out of it every year.

The hatred-based extremism is always a mischievous act of a small number of notorious people who have their ulterior motives behind. Groups consisting of such people could be found in every society and every religious school of thought. If the government is serious, such groups are crushed at very initial stages but in case the government is non-serious rather supportive to them, things become horribly disastrous. We have the ever-worst example of the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ajodhya, India. That was 6th December 1992 when some Hindu extremist groups under the supervision of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party, ransacked the historic Babri mosque. The situation after this incident turned into a riot-like scenario and ultimately resulted in the killing of thousands of innocent people mostly the Muslims. The most pathetic fact with reference to this incident is the partial rather prejudice silence of the government of India. Indian Court acquitted all accused-figures particularly those who were very active members of the BJP. In other words the Indian judiciary denied justice and failed to hold people responsible for criminally razing down the mosque and to take to task all those who were responsible for this cruel lawlessness.

The partiality demonstrated by the Indian courts paved future-way for targeting of other Muslim religious sites especially in Kashi and Mathura in the Uttar Pradesh State. For the investigation of this sad incident a Commission was also set-up which concluded that the demolition of the Babri Mosque was meticulously planned and the mobilization of the cadres of RSS, Bajrang Dal, BJP and Shiv Sena in Ajodhya was neither “spontaneous or voluntary” but “orchestrated and planned.” The case of Demolition of the Babri Mosque had been under trial for many years, from inquiry commission to the lower courts and then to the Supreme Court but nothing could come out of as the courts intentionally ignored the on-ground realities. As a result of this intentional ignorance 32 accused, including senior RSS & BJP leaders like Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti were acquitted. In short justice was denied to more than 200 million Indian Muslims. In this way, the verdict by Indian court delivered victory to hate, intolerance and chauvinism and thus encouraged the Hindu extremists to be harsher, more narrow-minded and more prejudiced in their approach towards the minorities in India. This criminal biasedness of the Indian courts shamefully confirmed Indian judiciary connivance with Hindutva agenda.

Recently on November 22, Georgetown University USA published a report titled ‘Is a Genocide of Muslims underway in India?’  It was stated in the report that there are more than 200 million Muslims in India whom the Hindu extremists see as ‘an impediment of Hindu nationalist’s goal of remarking India as Hind-only nation.’ The said report was shared at different forums and it certainly gave rise to various questions. Unfortunately such reports never reach the US authorities; if such reports have reached them, they would certainly have shifted their kind ‘patronizing-hand’ from the tormenters to the crushed ones.

Views expressed are personal

Human Rights: 41 Session of The UPR

421 views
3 mins read

Kashmir Institute of International Relations, commonly known as KIIR, isa non-governmental organization established in 1993.“Peace through Dialogue” is the only motto of this organization and its only objective is to work for a peaceful South Asia. KIIR believes that there could be no peace in South Asia unless the Kashmir conflict is resolved through substantive dialogue: all stakeholders including Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir will have to become the part of that dialogue. But before getting into further discussion on the working of the KIIR, let us have a little glance over a ‘small-story’ published on KIIR’s web-page along with a painful picture of a young Kashmiri girl. “This is fourteen-year-old Miss Insha Malik, who had a dream to become a doctor, lies unconscious in the surgical ICU of the Sri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar, her eyes pierced by pellets. Her eyes have been ruptured and she will be blind in both eyes for her entire life, says the doctor of the hospital.”

Recently, the KIIR has submitted a report on human rights violations in IIOJK to UNHRC MECHANISM. This report was further forwarded to the 41st Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which is taking place at Geneva from 7th to 18th November 2022. During the session human rights situation of ten countries including India is being discussed. India’s first, second and third UPR reviews had taken place in April 2008, May 2012 and May 2017, respectively; this one is the fourth one. God knows better what results would be found out during the UPR session at Geneva after going through the report submitted by KIIR to the UNHRC MECHANISM. The said report contains a lot of heart rending facts regarding human rights violations in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu Kashmir including misuse of various draconian laws like AFSPA, PSA and UAPA, abrogation of Article 370 and 35/A, forced disappearances, rape, mass-graves, militarization of schools, hospitals and of so many other public institutions. The KIIR has submitted some recommendations too for bringing permanent peace to the occupied valley. These most important of these recommendations is unhindered access to UN special Rapporteurs and mandate holders to IIOJK so that they might be able to find on-ground realities there. The KIIR has recommended repealing of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu Kashmir Public Safety Act (JKPSA). Situation is really so horrible and frightening in the IIOJK that people feel they cannot even breathe their own.

The Amnesty International India organized a press conference in June 2022 in which grave concern was expressed regarding the human rights violation in IIOJK. Aakar Patel, chair of Amnesty International India Board said talking to the media-men that increase in unlawful killings in Jammu & Kashmir highlights Government’s failure to protect its minorities. He further said, “The Indian authorities must take urgent steps for the protection of the people of Kashmir. For decades, people of Jammu & Kashmir have suffered from gross human rights violations and abuses committed by both state and non-state actors. The sheer impunity with which the human rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir have been systematically disregarded by Indian authorities must end if we are to fulfil the rights of victims and help ensure that such abuses against civilians are not repeated.”

It is a sheer misconception that Jammu and Kashmir are home only to the Muslim community. It is also just a propaganda that only Muslims are being targeted by the security forces unlawfully deputed there. The security forces target everyone who talks about freedom and liberty and protests against the atrocities of the Indian security forces. Just at the end of last June a report was published in different newspapers of India which exposed that at least 19 civilians had been killed in 2022 since then by the security troops. Out of those 19, seven belonged to the Hindu community including a schoolteacher, shopkeeper, government employees and a casual daily worker.

Though the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been in worst condition for the last many decades but after the revocation of Jammu & Kashmir’s special status in 2019, things have become more horrible. Misusing the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the security forces are simply crushing the basic human rights of the local people. Every day, tens of human rights defenders, journalists and activists are being arrested without registering any FIR against them. Reports say that in the last few months at least 36 journalists have faced interrogation, physical assault, raids and threats or for their reporting on human rights violations. In spite of being a Hindu by creed, Aakar Patel, the chair of Amnesty International India Board, has a very honest and impartial approach towards the human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir. A few months back, he said in a statement, “It is not too late for the Government of India to take meaningful steps towards creating an inclusive and safe society instead of peddling a false notion of normalcy in the region and encouraging the perpetration of more abuses. Until then, the Indian government’s historical failure to protect the people of Kashmir will keep feeding into this never-ending cycle of abuses and impunity.” This statement must be an eye-opener not only to the government of India but also to the peace-keeping organization like UNHRC and all bitter realities exposed by Aakar Patel must be kept before while preparing the fourth Universal Periodic Review of India.

The Forsaken Spies: View from Pakistan

/
879 views
3 mins read

Safeguarding the secrecy of matters relevant to national interest and concealment of facts are altogether two different things; the first one is no doubt very sacred and very sublime but the second one is something which must be taken to task very rigidly and mercilessly. Recently the Qatari Government has arrested 8 so-called ‘retired’ Indian Navy Officers under charges of spying for the interest of Israel and India. These arrested spies were working in Qatar with a private firm and were providing training and other services to the Qatari Emiri Navy commonly known as QEN. The Qatari Emiri Naval Force is considered the strongest naval force of the region in terms of the size of its naval fleet. The said Indian officers were caught in the month of August 2022 for their involvement in spying, espionage and for planning, supporting and promoting international terrorist activities. One of these arrested officers was Commander Purnendu Tiwari who had been honoured with the ‘Pravasi Samman Award’ by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind in 2019. The Pravasi Samman is the Highest honored award usually bestowed upon the Overseas Indians for their services to the country. Tiwari played a key role in the whole story of espionage. The Qatri investigation agencies found him actively involved in transferring data of leading Gulf Muslim countries to Israel and India.

Reports say that while working with Qatar Defense, Security and other Government agencies; the arrested officers had access to classified data and taking benefit of it they started sharing the sensitive information to Qatar’s adversaries; Tiwari was their leader. The most interesting fact of the whole story is that the government of India remained in a state of denial throughout with reference to the arrest of the eight Indian navy officers; just as it remained silent in case of Kalbushan Yadav, the Indian spy arrested by the security forces of Pakistan on 3rd March, 2016. Reports say that the arrested ones are not retired officers; they are still in service and the government of India had sent them to Qatar under cover. The arrest of these eight officers might remain in dark but the wife of one of these officers shared the news of her husband’s arrest in Qatar on social media on 25th October 2022. The purpose of that sharing was to request the Indian authorities to get the arrested ones released.

The same pathetic condition of the Indian spies sent across the borders by the Indian intelligence agencies was highlighted by Anand Katakam in an article published on April 18, 2017 in the Hindustan Times. The writer said specifically with reference to the Indian spy Kalbushan arrested in Pakistan, “The Punjab border districts of Gurdaspur and Ferozepur are replete with examples of men who crossed the Indo-Pakistan border for tidbits of intelligence for their handlers. Most of these men are captured by Pakistani security forces and end up languishing in jail for years because most are disavowed by their government. Many are impoverished men who are recruited as low-level informants for multiple Indian intelligence agencies including the R&AW.” Same complaint of helplessness was lodged in 2005 by a former Indian spy Kishori Lal who said talking to the Tribune, “Even if you escape death and are sent back, in your country you die a slow death as nobody is there to own you.”

Shihani and Ibrahim also have the same story to tell as they are also among those countless who serve for the Indian Intelligence Agencies in foreign lands but are left unattended after their arrest. These two were arrested and convicted by the UAE government on charges of spying for India somewhere in 2014-2015. The Abu Dhabi court judgment against Ibrahim said that he was proven of handing over confidential defense information of the State to Ajay Kumar and Rudranath Juha, the two intelligence officers of the Indian embassy. Currently Ibrahim and Shihani are serving a 10-year jail term at Al-Wathba prison. They two belong to Kerala. Their families have been raising their voices since after their arrest that they were used by Indian embassy officials to supply sensitive information. On being arrested, they were denied legal, diplomatic support despite laws mandating assistance from the government of India. According to the Hindustan Times, the relatives of the jailed Indians say they have been made scapegoats. A relative of Ibrahim said talking to media, “There was a lot of pressure from the two embassy officials on Ibrahim to divulge details about the movement of ships at the port. Initially the embassy put pressure on him by delaying the renewal of his and his son’s passports. Later these officials befriended him to obtain details.”

Indian citizen Daniel is also one of the worst examples of those who worked for the Indian Intelligence Agencies but by end of day were discarded like a used tissue-paper and thrown into a dustbin. According to an Indian news channel Pro Punjab, Daniel claimed that he worked for his country’s spy agency RAW, on lucrative promises of money and a government job, and was smuggled into Pakistan in 1992 to carry out the dirty work. He was arrested in Pakistan and had to serve there a four-year sentence. On his release from Pakistani jail and after his return to India, he found no one to take care of him. Life simply became horribly miserable for him. Now he drives a rickshaw to earn some livelihood while his wife works as a maid washing dishes. Moreover, like others belonging to the minority strata of the Indian society, he also has to face a lot of humiliation on daily basis. Maltreatment with the spies who put their lives in danger for their country is something highly pathetic and at the same time India’s efforts of creating problems for the Muslim countries like UAE and Pakistan by interfering in their internal matters is also condemnable.

Views expressed are personal

Kashmir: A Hungry Tiger Fights Fierce

/
619 views
3 mins read

It is a centuries old truth that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ but in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, the administrative authorities are trying their utmost to keep the apples away from the people.  For the last many months, the people of the Indian Occupied Kashmir are protesting that the Indian authorities are stopping their apple-laden trucks on the highways to India. In the name of security checking, the highway-police halts those trucks for days and days on the way and as a result of it, the apples get rotten.

Apple-growers of the Indian Occupied Kashmir say that it all is being done just to push them into an inferno of financial loss. They say that they don’t have any industry based financial activity or manufacturing units in their area and the only source of income for the local people is nothing but producing and selling the fruit specifically the apples. The BJP government thinks that by keeping the people of Kashmir engaged in ‘bread and butter’ related problems and by depriving them of all sources of earning, it can crush the desire as well as the struggle for independence in Occupied Kashmir.

Though China is the most prominent rather leading producer of Apples all over the world but Kashmiri Apples have a unique taste and a particular colour of their own and are considered the backbone of Kashmir’s Income. Experts say that the Kashmir Valley produces over 22 lakh metric tons of apple which is more than 70 per cent of the total apple production in the country. Besides halting the transit passage of apples from Occupied Kashmir, the government of India has managed to promote the import, legal as well as illegal, of apples from Iran. The growers of apples in Occupied Kashmir say that their produced fruit is already facing threat due to the Iranian apple invasion into the Indian market and the artificially created hurdles by the Indian government in transportation of their fruit is posing a serious challenge to them. Now they are so helpless that they could do nothing but protest.

The Aljazeera published a report on this situation in the last week of September which refers to the statement of a major union leader who said that thousands of trucks carrying apples of millions of dollars’ worth have been stopped on the highway. “The government says it all is because of routine construction work on the highway but the facts are otherwise. The government has ill-willingly planned this road-work in the days when this route is used for transportation of apples”, said another desperate grower. He further said talking to the media, “Highway repairs are causing extensive delays along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, which connects the disputed region to the rest of India, meaning huge losses.”

According to the Kashmir Media Service the government of India is not only creating hurdles for the trucks carrying Kashmiri apples via high-ways but on the bypass routes also. These routes include Mirbazar-Ashajipora road, Dooru-Verinag Road and Dalwach-Mehmoodabad road via Qazigund. The Indian authorities have imposed ban on the movement of heavy goods vehicles on all these three inner routes. The only purpose behind is to give the Kashmiri apple growers a real tough time and bar them from sending their fruit to the Indian central market.

The plan of snatching a better source of income from the people of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir is not limited to halting the fruit laden trucks on the highways and bypasses; there are some other cruelly inhuman measures also adopted by the Indian authorities; felling of grown up apple trees is also one of such measures. According to media details, farmers in Jammu and Kashmir are crying out in despair as the National Highways Authority of India has uprooted and felled trees from their orchards in order to build new roads. After abrogation of Article 370, land has been acquired rather grabbed from the farmers on the basis of laws that have been repealed.

Farmers are protesting that they have not been compensated according to current market rates. Mohammad Afzal, an apple-grower said talking to Raja Muzaffar of DownToEarth , “My 20 to 25-year-old fruit trees uprooted by the government would have given me livelihood for the next 20 to 30 years. But they were murdered mercilessly. Around mid-day on March 30, 2022, the earth movers of NKC Projects Pvt. Ltd, assisted by the site engineer of NHAI and the officials of land-record trespassed into our farm and started uprooting fruit trees which included plum, pear, apple and quince. The local police were also accompanying them.”  He added that all the uprooted trees were in full bloom, with huge flowers and were supposed to yield a bumper crop this season.

Reports say that some 600 acres of agricultural land has been acquired for a 62-kilometre highway connecting Pulwama with Ganderbal via Budgam as part of the Srinagar Ring Road project. This is the area which has apple-trees in abundance and designing the ring-road this way means there would remain not even a single apple tree in the area. The government of India is misguided by the thought that after being deprived of their basic source of income, the people of the valley would get engaged in searching for some other financial resources to earn their bread and in this way their attention from the independence movement would be diverted. But things are altogether different rather opposite to the ‘dream’ of the Indian government. This cruel decision of felling the apple-trees has made the people more aggressive and determined against the Indian atrocities in the valley. The point ignored by the Indian authorities is that ‘A hungry tiger fights fierce’.

Views expressed are personal

Atrocities against the Sikh Community

581 views
3 mins read

Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) is a US-based organization which has been striving and struggling for an independent Sikh land for the last many years. The basic demand of this organization is the secession of Punjab from India and the formulation of a separate homeland for the Sikh community. It was founded in October 2007 and primarily was headed by lawyer Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. With its head-quarter in New York, the organization was banned in India in 2019. Now this movement for a separate Sikh land run by the SFJ has become a worldwide movement and millions of Sikhs are providing all possible support to it. Recently on 19 September, a referendum for the independent Sikh land Khalistan was organized by the SFJ in Brampton, Canada. According to the media reports, more than 100,000 Canadian Sikhs took part in that voting. Canada is home to over one million Sikhs. It is something very interesting that there are more than 30 million Sikhs all over the world and out of these 30 million about 28 million live in India. It means that India is home to 90% of the total Sikh population but the handful of extremist Hindu elements has made their life hell there in India. Circumstances have compelled them to migrate to the countries like Canada where everyone enjoys equal rights, particularly regarding religious liberty. 

With reference to the Sikh referendum in Canada, the BJP government had many times urged the government of Canada to put a strict check on the leaders of the Khalistan movement in Canada but the Canadian government always plainly refused to do so. The Canadian government spokesman said that their country would never stop Canadian Sikhs from expressing their views by holding the Khalistan Referendum as the legal parameters of the country’s laws consider it a democratic process. He furthermore said that it all was a peaceful process. According to the media reports, even after that flat refusal, the Indian government did not stop urging but rather pressurizing the Canadian government to act against the rising pro-Khalistani sentiment in Canada.

As far as the Khalistan movement is concerned, it is getting day by day stronger all over the world; since in Canada, there are more than one million Sikhs, the strength of this movement could be felt more there. The leaders of the Khalistan movement say that they are not against the Hindu community; they have no hatred against any religion but they hate the BJP extremists who don’t let them live in India. These extremists very bluntly and openly claim that India is only for the Hindus and no one from any other religious school of thought must strive and desire to stay in India; particularly the Sikhs and the Muslims. For the purpose of defaming these two communities, the Indian intelligence agencies are doing their utmost. Recently on 13th September, the walls of a prominent Hindu temple in Toronto Canada, known as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir were defaced by scrawling pro-Khalistan and anti-Indian slogans. The BJP government without wasting any time and without any proof and investigation started condemning the Sikh community living in Canada for defacing the temple walls. 

Some social media users started sharing a video of the defaced shrine where Khalistani sentiments can be seen written on the walls but according to Livemint, the legitimacy of the video could not be confirmed. On the other hand, the Canadian government simply rejected the Indian point of view by saying that Canadian nationals have every freedom to express their views under the country’s laws relating to the right to freedom of expression and the right to free speech and assembly. Here an important point to be noted is that this so-called ‘hate-incident’ took place just five days ahead of the Khalistan Referendum voting.

There is another side of the incident too. The Canadian police claimed that it had arrested an Indo-Canadian man for tearing a picture banner of the martyred Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the city of Caledon, Ontario. This incident occurred a few days before the defacing incident of the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. It means these two incidents were ‘designed’ in a very calculated manner. The perpetrators tried to target the peace and harmony of Canadian society where everyone is allowed to do anything living within the boundaries provided by the law of the country. Certainly, the BJP government is not happy with the Canadian government as it has granted legal freedom to the Sikh community of raising its voice for Sikh rights. It is a sheer misconception of the Indian government that by pressurizing the Canadian government, it would succeed in crushing the Sikh demand for a separate and independent Sikh homeland. The same cruel behaviour of the Indian government could be noticed in the Illegally Occupied valley of Kashmir where the local people are being treated as if they are slaves.

Trustless Companions

/
725 views
3 mins read

Just a few months back, it was in the news that the US authorities were considering imposing sanctions on India because of its trade ties with Russia. It was all being done as a part of US’ isolation strategy during the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine those days. Situation became more serious when India stood in the line of those 35 countries which abstained themselves from voting at the United Nations against the Russian advancement in Ukraine. Certainly the Indian decision of going against the US will and desire was not very much encouraging rather pleasing for the US authorities, military as well as political. At political level both the Democrats and Republicans raised their concerns about India’s stance of ‘going against the wind’ and it was being apprehended that this decision would create distances between the two countries. It was also in the air that the Biden administration might impose sanctions upon India under the ‘CAATSA law’ which imposes certain restrictions on the countries purchasing defense materials from Russia, North Korea and Iran. The abbreviation CAATSA stands for ‘Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act. But in spite of all these fears and apprehensions, according to some analysts, India is still the ‘blue-eyed boy’ of US and this misconception rather misunderstanding would prove a seriously painful shock to the US policy-makers, somewhere in near or far future.

Meenakshi Ahmed is a renowned expert on India-US relations. She is the author of ‘A Matter of Trust- U.S. India relations from Truman to Trump’. Recently she penned down an article in the Atlantic with the title, ‘America Has Never Really Understood India’. She said, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resurrected Cold War hostilities, harkening back to a world in which the United States saw itself pitted in a Manichaean struggle, facing a choice between good and evil. The U.S. is using similar rhetoric today to persuade countries to isolate and punish Moscow.” She further says, “President Joe Biden has garnered support among his NATO allies to impose crippling sanctions on Russia, but his efforts elsewhere have been only partially successful. Australia and Japan—which, along with the U.S., make up three-quarters of the Quad, a relatively new Asian-security grouping—have signed on, but India, the fourth member of the bloc, has declined to join the chorus of condemnation.” If India were a very serious and sincere partner of the US, it must have been the first one to offer all cooperation in this regard.

In March 2015, Crispin Rovere penned down an article in The Interpreter with the title, ‘India is no ally of the US’. The writer said, “As for India and the US, I find it astonishing that after more than 50 years of being repeatedly burned, some Americans still have not learned their lesson and continue insisting that China and India are ‘natural competitors’. This is false. China and India are historical competitors, but such competition is not necessarily ‘natural’ and certainly nothing like the strategic competition that exists between China and the US. After all, any Chinese expansion in the Western Pacific will be at America’s expense. It is hard to argue that India’s expansion into the Indian Ocean is being actively resisted by China. India is not a pro-Western democratic bulwark, and never will be.”

Last year on April 15, 2021, same apprehensions were expressed by Chirayu Thakkar regarding uncertainty of US-India relations in an article appeared in the Stimson. The writer said, “For the last 20 years, the United States has mostly overlooked its divergences with India in multilateral forums as the relationship paid economic, strategic, and political dividends bilaterally, whereas the costs of divergences at the multilateral level were negligible. In spite of such exceptionalism enjoyed by New Delhi, U.S. diplomats at all levels reminded their Indian counterparts that India’s “obstinate role at the UN was increasingly at odds with our emerging strategic proximity.” With a restructuring of the global order, continuous assault on rules-based order, and China’s rise as a common strategic adversary, the costs of their inability to work together in the global governance arena can be much higher for both countries today.”

‘The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World’ is no doubt a book which must be an eye-opener to all those who are misguided by the notion that India would always remain an ally of the US, keeping all its national interest aside. The book is written by India’s external affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. He has very emphatically tried to explain that India has no plan to align itself fully with either the U.S. or China. He says, “This is a time for us to engage America, manage China, reassure Russia, and bring Japan into play.” Dov S. Zakheim is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and vice chairman of the board for the Foreign Policy Research Institute. In September 2021, his review on Shankar’s book was published in the Hill, in which he tried to make his readers realize that whatever Jaishankar said in his book, must not be taken for granted as he had been a former ambassador to both Washington and Beijing; moreover he is the son of Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam who is recognized as the ‘father of India’s nuclear program’. Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam is the person who maintained close ties with Moscow even as he was perhaps the leading advocate of the 2007 Indo-U.S. Agreement on Civilian Nuclear Cooperation. If such a well-informed and well-connected person does not find harmony in American and Indian interests, it means the actual situation is altogether different from what apparently seems. If India is not fair in its relationship with US, why US is wasting its resources on making India ‘the regional god-father’.

Remission Awarded To The Rapists

/
848 views
3 mins read

What else could be more brutal than gang rape of a pregnant woman and murder of seven members of her family including her toddler daughter? That was 3 March 2002 and it all happened in a village near Ahmedabad India during the Gujarat Riots. The name of that 21-year-old unlucky Muslim woman is Bilkis Bano. 11 convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment for that brutality; now on India’s76th Independence Day, they all have been released by the Gujarat government under its remission policy.

Mockingly the culprits had to stay in Godhra jail for 15 years for their heinous crime. And more pathetic is the fact that the released culprits were given a very warm rather passionate welcome by their relatives and friends outside the Godhra jail. According to the Hindustan Times, a committee was formed a few months back to look into the matter of the 11 convicts which unanimously recommended ‘the remission of all the 11 convicts in the case. Later the recommendations were sent to the state government for final approval which issued the orders for their release. Injustice leading to cruelty, suppression and violation of basic human rights has been the most grievous issue of Indian society at the hands of the government. Though a large portion of the Indian society comprises people having a very moderate approach towards life a handful of extremist mindsets is also always there; unfortunately that extremist mindset is getting stronger and stronger and prevailing over the whole society simply because of the support and supervision of the BJP government.

Whatever happened there in the Illegally Indian Occupied State of Jammu Kashmir on 5th August 2019 is the worst example of the unethical and immoral support and supervision provided to the extremist element by the BJP government. That was the day when India took a very inhuman step against the people of the Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 and Article 35-A. Article 35A of the Indian Constitution was an article that empowered the Jammu and Kashmir state legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them. These privileges included the ability to purchase land and immovable property, the ability to vote and contest elections, seeking government employment and availing of other state benefits such as higher education and health care.

Non-permanent residents of the state were not entitled to these privileges even if they were Indian citizens. The female permanent residents would be deprived of these privileges if they married someone out of state; said to Article 35-A. On 5 August 2019, the President of India Ram Nath Kovind issued a new Presidential Order which nullified Article 35-A and took back all privileges earlier given to the people of Jammu-Kashmir State. The helpless people of the State raised their protesting voices against that abrogation but their voices were crushed by using military force.

After the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A, things are now at their worst in the Jammu-Kashmir valley. The Territory was given a special autonomous status through Article 35-Aand all the provisions of the Indian Constitution, which were applicable to the Indian states did not apply to the territory. Due to this Article, Jammu and Kashmir was a region, that (despite being a part of the Indian Union under the so-called Instrument of Accession) enjoyed a separate constitution, flag and official language. It was only because of this Article that except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, the Indian Parliament needed the concurrence of the so-called government of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, the abrogated Article debarred non-Kashmiris from acquiring property and jobs in government institutions in the territory.

According to various media reports, since 5th August 2019, more than 2 million non-local voters have been added to the voters’ lists in IIOJK. Experts are of the opinion that this new induction to the list of voters would simply change the demographics of the State and directly affect the right of self-determination of the native residents of the valley. This unfair addition of non-locals to electoral rolls will enable BJP &RSS to implement their fascist agenda more emphatically. Ultimately the fascist Modi government shall succeed in installing a puppet BJP Chief Minister in IIOJK to subjugate the masses. More shocking is the fact that India is doing all that injustice by violating the UNSC resolution and disregarding international norms. It seems no one is there to stop this ‘genocide’ and even the so-called ‘international peacekeepers are providing support to the Indian hegemonic designs with their criminal quietness. Silence over injustice in itself is a heinous crime and it simply encourages the ‘future criminals’.Providing favour and support to any criminal simply means encouragement of crime. The unjust remission ‘awarded’ to the criminals involved in the gang rape of Bilkis Bano would encourage other rapists behind the bars and they all would wait anxiously for the Independence Day of India every year.

Views are personal