While Indian-controlled Kashmir is gripped with a new wave of unrest triggered by the killing of a young separatist leader, India’s foreign minister accused Pakistan of ‘fuelling violence’ in the disputed Himalayan region.
“Pakistan has given the pain of terrorism there [in Kashmir],” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in a statement carried by the state-run Press Trust of India news agency and several Indian media outlets. “Pakistan is perpetrating terror activities through [Jamaatud Dawa founder] Hafiz Saeed and other terrorists in an area which is [an] integral part of India.”
Not long before Kashmir becomes part of Pakistan: Nawaz
Sushma’s statement came a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistanis were waiting for the day when Jammu and Kashmir would become a part of Pakistan. Speaking at a rally in Muzaffarabad after the PML-N’s electoral victory, he urged Kashmiris in Pakistan “not to forget those in [Indian] held Kashmir who are sacrificing their lives to their movement for freedom”.
“Pakistan has a dangerous dream that one day Kashmir will become a part of it. It will never come to reality,” Sushma said. “Jammu and Kashmir is India’s integral part. Pakistan will never be able to make it a terror-hell for Kashmiris.”
Over 50 Kashmiris have been killed and thousands injured in the fresh wave of unrest in Indian-administered Kashmir triggered by the killing of a young Kashmir separatist Burhan Wani in a reported gunfight with police on July 8. Premier Nawaz called him a ‘martyr’ of an indigenous freedom struggle in the disputed region.
“Doesn’t he know that Burhan Wani was a Hizbul Mujahideen commander?” Sushma said, referring to one of the largest homegrown militant groups fighting Indian rule in the region. Wani used social media effectively and expansively to recruit young men like himself who accuse the state of indiscriminate force in dealing with dissent.
Islamabad has strongly condemned the atrocities of Indian security forces against unarmed civilians in the disputed region, and pledged to continue moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris in the struggle for their right to self-determination. July 20 was marked as ‘black day’ across Pakistan against India’s reign of terror in Kashmir.
Briefings were also arranged at the Foreign Office for diplomats of foreign countries on the worsening situation in Kashmir. The UN Security Council has been asked to get its resolution promising Kashmiris a plebiscite implemented. On Friday, Pakistan decided to approach the United Nations with a request to send its observers on a fact-finding mission to Indian Kashmir for investigating the ‘slaughter’ of innocent civilians.
India lambasts Pakistan as tensions flare over Kashmir
Meanwhile, hundreds of Kashmiri civilians are being treated for eye injuries caused by pellets from non-lethal weapons used by Indian security forces. A curfew was lifted from four districts and parts of Srinagar city on Saturday as India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in the disputed state for a two-day visit to take stock of the situation and find a way out of the current crisis.
Reports say the minister is going to spend his weekend in the valley meeting locals and holding meetings with the officials. Singh would also meet the political leaders and members from trade fraternity of the state.
Although the curfew has been lifted from Bandipora, Baramulla, Budgam and Ganderbal, the assembly of four or more people under Section 144 Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is still prohibited in the four districts.
The curfew, however, remains in force in Anantnag, Kulgam, Kupwara, Pulwama and Shopian districts of the Valley and eight police stations of the city.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2016.