Indian security forces have returned to attacking civilian targets in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, martyring at least one Pakistani soldier and six civilians in three border sectors on Sunday. Two more soldiers and nine civilians were injured by the Indian aggression, to which Pakistan responded by attacking and destroying two Indian bunkers, according to the director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations. The DG also tweeted that at least nine Indian soldiers had been killed in the Pakistani response.
Pakistani political leaders roundly condemned the attacks and the Indian envoy was summoned to the Foreign Office. Later, the FO issued a statement rejecting India’s claim of targeting terrorists as it pointed out that civilian populations along the LoC and the Working Boundary have been constantly targeted by India. It also said that the escalation in ceasefire violations by India had been continuing since 2017 when the Indian forces committed more than 1,970 ceasefire violations. It slammed the deliberate targeting of civilians as “deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws.”
The fresh Indian attacks reek of the need to change the news cycle to divert from Narendra Modi’s fledgling economy and increasing criticism, both foreign and domestic, of his oppressive policies in Kashmir. There are reports of some relaxation being given in the disputed state, disenchanted local youth still represent a powder keg. The occupied territory’s police estimated in 2014 that there were only 86 young Kashmiris in various armed groups, but Modi’s “zero tolerance for terrorism” policy led to the killing of 813 “militants” by January 2019, including 235 killed in 2018.
Former Hindustan Times Editor Prem Shankar Jha wrote in India’s The Wire recently that Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah’s blind devotion to creating a “Hindu Rashtra” based on the unitary nation-state model, which stands “discredited, and even despised, in Europe where it was born”, has brought India to the edge of an abyss. With a pliant media largely unwilling to inform the populace of the fatal flaws in such policies, India’s continuing aggression towards its neighbours and its own citizenry, if left uncorrected, is destined to have disastrous results for the country, and the region.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2019.