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Kashmir issue internationalised!

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Over the previous months, Kashmir has increasingly become a subject of international attention. Comity of nations is no longer ignoring the Indian brutalities, and the ensuing loss of innocent lives. Recently, Amnesty International has once again urged the Indian government to allow UN’s special representatives to visit occupied Kashmir for making a spot study of the cases of fake encounters and extra-judicial killings in the territory. It has also urged Indian Prime Minister to fulfil his promise of zero tolerance to human rights violations in the occupied territory by the Indian security apparatus.

While recently reporting on Kashmir, ‘Wall Street Journal’ has indicated that if India does not heed to the popular demand of Kashmiri people for their right of self-determination, the ongoing spate of protests would continue to intensify. Indian security forces have tried to suppress these protests with their typical brutality and state terrorism, which has led to the loss of life of over 60 peaceful protestors since June. To deceive the general public, Indian security forces have been conducting these acts of brutality while wearing blue headgear resembling UN forces’ headwear. UN has already launched its protest with the Indian government on this act of impersonation and has demanded that Indian security forces must desist from this practice.

Gradually, the international community is beginning to realise that it is the Indian state which is terrorist, and not those who are struggling against the Indian occupation of Kashmir. India should see the writing on the wall, and move towards UN-supervised plebiscite which it itself had agreed to, in the shape of acceptance of relevant UN Security Council resolutions. It is quite evident that its illegal occupation cannot continue, indefinitely. Recently, China denied visa to an Indian military delegation because delegation because it included Lt-Gen B S Jaswal, a senior filed commander of IHK. India’s Army chief was to head the delegation. As a consequence, India had to cancel the defence exchange visit to China. China has persistently maintained its principled stance over Kashmir issue and has a legitimate claim over Arunachal Pradesh. Chinese border dispute with India dates back to a 1914 conference, hosted by British colonial rulers. The ensuing demarcation of the border came to be known as McMahon Line. Ever since, China has never recognised this arbitrary line, and hence it rightfully claims around 90,000 sq km; inclusive of nearly entire landscape of Arunachal Pradesh. From Chinese perspective, McMahon Line is a legacy of colonial encroachment on their country. To counter balance China’s claim, India put forward a farce claim that China has occupied 8,000 sq km of its territory in Kashmir. By taking this position, India virtually axed her own feet by making China a party to the Kashmir dispute. China has always condemned Indian acts of state terrorism against peace loving people of Kashmir. India has always tried to draw a wedge between China and Pakistan. These days, a travesty claim is being raised that Chain has moved its troops into Gilgit-Baltistan area. A sponsored report authored by one Selig Harrison, an analyst well known for presenting Indian point of view, forms the basis of this claim. Moreover, RAW has since long been involved in target killing and harassment of Chinese workers commissioning various civil sector developmental projects in Kashmir. Now even an increasing number of US Congressmen are raising their voice about the gravity of Kashmir issue. They are frequently mentioning the issue of Kashmir and the urgent need for its settlement. ‘The Kashmiri-American Council and Association of Humanitarian Lawyers’ held its Annual International Kashmir Peace Conference in Washington. Theme of the conference was “India-Pakistan Relations: Breaking the Deadlock over Kashmir”. Conference unanimously adopted the Washington Declaration, its main thrust was: ‘there must be an early, just and durable resolution to the Jammu & Kashmir dispute taking into account the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir’. As a by product of Kashmir issue, water issue has emerged as another irritant between the Pakistan and India. Pakistan has to frequently refer these water disputes to neutral arbitrator for adjucation. Diversion of Pakistan’s share of water by India has surfaced so many times. Every time water issue is raised at international fora, the Kashmir dispute is highlighted automatically.

Saner voices from within India are advocating a political settlement to the dispute. There is a growing realization within Indian intelligentsia that use of brute force is not likely to bring peace to Kashmir. During a recent conference in New Delhi, high ranking participants have acknowledged the home grown nature of the uprising. They have expressed their consternation over the Indian establishment and the media for following a beaten approach of blaming Pakistan and cross border militant groups for sponsoring violent acts in Indian held Kashmir.

However, Indian establishment and a handful of Kashmiri politicians who are direct beneficiaries of Indian rule, continue to support status quo. Such politicians are fully aware that whenever people of Kashmir are given a chance of making a free and fair choice, their political business would be over. Therefore, they continue to support the suppression of movement through application of force. Though India has fielded around 700,000 troops in IHK, the best they could claim is a shaky stalemate.

Current surge of resistance owes its sustenance to the resilience of the people of Kashmir, who are now better aware of their legitimate rights. There is no indication that the UN will act in this regard in a foreseeable timeframe. United Nations’ protracted indifference towards implementation of its Kashmir related resolutions has attached a negative tag of impotence to UN in the context of resolution of this dispute. People of Kashmir feel that they have to themselves rise to the occasion, yet once again, to secure their inviolable right of self determination. Likewise, people of Kashmir view with utter dismay how the US has given up its effort to solve the issue; they also express their utter disappointment the way ‘Candidate Obama’ committed to the resolution of Kashmir issue has cowed down, as ‘President Obama’, in the face of expediencies.

Onus for solving the Kashmir dispute lies with India, Pakistan and the leadership of Kashmir. However, international community will have to exert its pressure on India. There is an urgent need that India adopts a clear approach to the dispute and effectively engages the Kashmiri leadership along with Pakistan. Gimmicks of farce negotiations on the Israel-Palestine pattern will not work.

A genuine political process would certainly provide yet another opportunity to work out a solution acceptable to all parties to the dispute. People of Kashmir are struggling to keep the issue alive. Pakistan needs to undertake a supportive campaign to correct the international perception and facilitate un-knotting this legitimate freedom struggle from an unjust stigma of terrorism. Likewise, UN needs to wake up to the reality and implement its resolutions on plebiscite.

Maoists winning the battle to control India

Friday’s train crash in India has been blamed on “sabotage” by Maoist rebels. It was the latest in a series of rebel attacks after the government launched an offensive against them. The BBC’s Soutik Biswas asks whether the rebels are gaining the upper hand.

It is not surprising that Maoist rebels are being blamed for the derailment of an express train in India’s West Bengal state, in which 71 passengers were killed.

The police claim they have found posters signed by a local Maoist militia claiming responsibility for removing part of the track, which led to the train skidding off and colliding with a freight train coming in the opposite direction.

West Midnapore district, where the incident happened, is the hotbed of Maoist rebellion in West Bengal, one of the states where the rebels have a presence.

Tribespeople dominate the district, especially the forested Junglemahal region bordering Jharkhand state.

They feel ignored and deprived by the Communist government which has been ruling the state since 1977. Most live in abject poverty. The only visible signs of “development” I spotted during a trip to the area some years ago were cheap liquor shops.

Strong support

Fed up with the state of affairs, Junglemahal’s tribespeople even agitated for a separate state.

When neighbouring Jharkhand was carved out as a separate state, their alienation grew and they were quick to welcome the Maoists, who wield most influence in areas which are poor and dominated by tribespeople.

The security forces are on the backfoot after a spree of rebel attacks
The Lalgarh area in Junglemahal is the rebels’ most formidable stronghold.
In February, they stormed a police camp in Lalgarh, killing 24 policemen.
Rebels love to describe Lalgarh as a “liberated zone” where the state has withered away – schools and medical centres have closed down because teachers and doctors are afraid to attend, and policemen are confined to the police stations fearing reprisals.

Friday’s incident in West Midnapore demonstrates how the rebels are taking the battle to their enemies ever since the federal government launched an offensive in what is known as India’s “red corridor” earlier this year.

This comprises 223 of India’s 636 districts in 20 states which the government says are “Maoist affected”, up from 55 districts in nine states six years ago.
Ninety of these affected districts, the government says, are experiencing “consistent violence.”

The rebels have been carrying out attacks with impunity in recent months – two major attacks Dantewada in Chhattisgarh state left more than 100 people dead, including 75 paramilitary troops.
But there are also theories that in this case the Maoist script went slightly awry.

Maoists frequently tamper with railway lines and often these lead to minor derailments; a number of such attempts have been caught well in time. There have been hijackings but no major attacks on civilian transport with such a death toll.

In the past year, Maoists have carried out 32 attacks on railways, mainly in Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Chhattisgarh – but no major casualties have been reported.

Support for the Maoist cause across India generally will be dented by such an attack, just as it was after the assault on troops in Dantewada.

Following the twin Dantewada attacks, the government said it was reviewing its strategy for fighting the rebels, who have refused to respond to repeated government offers for talks.

Analysts say that the strategy of “clearing, holding and developing” rebel-affected areas evidently inspired by the US strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan is not working.

‘Visible retreat’

One reason, they say, is that the surge of security forces and resources on the ground are not sufficient enough to take on the rebels who are spread over a vast swathe of remote mineral-rich forest lands.

Maoists call Lalgarh a “liberated zone”

The government is now in a “visible retreat” after a spree of rebel attacks, says security analyst Ajai Sahni.
He believes that a lack of adequate forces, training and intelligence is leading to these “disasters”.

“Unless local capacities for intelligence and operations are enormously augmented, this [offensive] can go nowhere, and lot of lives are going to be lost for no useful purpose,” Mr Sahni says.

But the under-equipped local police and intelligence-gathering networks remain Indian security’ s weakest link, and there no visible efforts to bolster them.

The government appears to be confused over how the rebels should be tackled – there are differences in the ruling Congress party itself on whether the state should strike hard against it’s own people.

Recently federal home minister P Chidambaram requested wider powers to deal with the rebels, saying that he had been given a “limited mandate.”
He said the chief ministers of some of the worst affected states have asked for air power to be used against the rebels – a measure that the government has refused to sanction.

Analysts believe that many states are not doing enough to take on the rebels, leading to a “centralisation” of the problem.

The train ‘”sabotage” was one of the biggest attacks launched by the rebels
“The principal responsibility for dealing with the Maoists remain that of the states; the first responders, the local police stations, have to be strengthened and equipped to deal with the task on their own.”

Till that happens, the rebels will be seen to have an upper hand in what promises to be long drawn out and bloody conflict, the like of which India has never seen.

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China says no to Delhi’s dream of Permanent UNSC seat

May 28, 2010 1 comment

China says no to Delhi’s dream of Permanent UNSC seat

China asked Bharat to withdraw from Chinese occupied South Tibet. It told Delhi that it could do nothing about the trade imbalance which heavily in China’s favor. Beijing did not support Delhi’s request for a positive signal on a permanent seat for Delhi in the UNSC. it did agree on the non-perm seat which rotates anyway. China today announced support to India’s candidature for the non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council during 2011-12, expressed understanding of India’s aspirations for a permanent seat, and offered to work together in the reform of global institutions.

Beijing’s welcome assurances came during President Pratibha Patil’s talks with Hu Jintao, President of China and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.

Patil, who arrived here on Wednesday, was given a ceremonial welcome at the Great Hall of the People, on the edge of Tiananmen Square. She met China’s highest leadership, including Premier Wen Jiabao and Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People’s Congress.

Briefing reporters on Patil’s talks, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the Chinese leadership understood India’s aspiration and desire to play a larger role, the patent need for Security Council China warms up to India aspirations at UN reform and enhanced representation of developing countries.

“They are listening very carefully to what we are saying, and there is increasing awareness of India’s legitimate concerns,” Rao said.

Given that UNSC reform is currently a matter of debate and many ideas are being generated, “this is a very opportune moment for countries like India and China to establish perfect communication on the issue”, Rao said.

China’s forward-leaning positions on India’s role in global governance is being seen here as part of the new warmth between the two countries after they surprised the world through successful cooperation at the Copenhagen summit on climate change last December. Patil and her Chinese interlocutors today agreed to continue with this spirit at the next round of climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

In calling for stronger economic and trade relations, Patil raised the question of India’s adverse trade balance with China. She pressed for better access to the Chinese market in various sectors, including pharma, engineering goods, IT and IT services, and agricultural goods.

The President underlined the importance of a larger Chinese banking presence in India. There are currently 11 Indian banks operating in China, but there are no Chinese banks in India.

Both sides welcomed the steady progress in the resolution of the boundary question, and stressed the need for peace and tranquility on the frontiers pending a settlement.

They placed stress on the need for greater educational and cultural ties, and dwelt on ancient and modern Buddhist links between India and China. President Hu announced Chinese support for a gallery on Tagore in China.

Three agreements were signed, on streamlining the visa process for airlines staff of both countries, on human resource exchange in the civil services and public sector (study trips, lectures, etc.) and on sports cooperation.

On the management of the Brahmaputra waters, Patil underscored the importance of effective bilateral mechanisms. On its part, China agreed to share lean season data with India.

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