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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Kashmir. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Kashmir. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday, May 18, 2013

'KASHMIR REMAINS THE CORE ISSUE TO PAKISTAN'

By Rajinder Puri / New Delhi

The prospect of a meaningful peace dialogue with Pakistan has become faintly visible after Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister of Pakistan. If India is serious about achieving a breakthrough in the dialogue this time around the moment to undertake some hard contingency planning is now. 

Whatever the modalities of a future dialogue, and however cooperative the Pakistan army might prove to be, no real breakthrough in the peace talks can occur without resolving the dispute over Kashmir. 

It is a real issue that will not disappear even given all the delusions that Indian politicians are habituated to indulging in. To pretend that the Kashmir dispute does not exist because Kashmir acceded to India in 1948 is like living in a pathetic dream world. A rude reminder of a few salient facts would be in order.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Still No Change On Kashmir, Politics Dominates On Issues

By Salahuddin Ayyubi | Srinagar

Two different political statements recently brought Kashmir back into focus in public discussion, provoking heated exchanges between political parties, protests and even vandalism. First, as he addressed a press conference in early January, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talked about a possible deal to resolve the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, saying that “at one time it appeared that an important breakthrough was in sight”.

Then, lawyer and leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, Prashant Bhushan, advocated a “referendum to decide whether or not the army should be deployed to deal with internal threats in Kashmir” and “whether people want AFSPA to continue in the Valley or not”.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Kashmir Conflict: India’s Thorny Crown Prickles Again

By Seema Sengupta / Srinagar

Is there a sinister side to the events that unfolded in Kashmir in the last few weeks? The deplorable attack on Muslim worshipers, offering Eid prayers, by Hindu fanatics in Indian administered Kashmir’s Kishtwar area suggests so. 

Previous incidences like massacre of unarmed civilians protesting against desecration of a mosque and Holy Qur’an by India’s paramilitary personnel, assault on a renowned Kashmiri cardiologist, eruption of sectarian clashes in Budgam and the latest border scrimmage also point toward a grand design to push Kashmir ever deeper into crisis.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Commentary: Are Kashmiri Shias The Next 'Bolo' Pandits?

By Sadat Hussaini | Srinagar

The Shia community has shrunk into small enclaves, gradually taking the shape of ghettos, a sharp contrast to earlier times when Shias and other Kashmiri minorities were scattered all along the interiors of Srinagar city.

Fatima received a fatal injury in police action during sectarian clashes that broke out in Budgam district of Kashmir valley in July this year. According to her relatives, Fatima was looking for her grandson outside her house when she was hit on the head by a policeman. Nearly a week later Fatima succumbed. 

Monday, March 02, 2009

Trade stalls across divided Kashmir

By Athar Parvaiz

Trade and travel between the Indian and Pakistan parts of Kashmir allowed to a limited extent as part of confidence-building measures between the two rival countries appear to have become a casualty of the terror attacks last November on India's financial center of Mumbai.

This is despite Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee immediately after the attacks vowing that the "Kashmir-centric" confidence-building measures would not be affected by the terror strikes, which left 180 people dead.

Trade between the divided parts of Kashmir, which had started in October 2008 but was struggling thanks to the lack of infrastructure and facilities, might have improved but for the renewed acrimony between India and Pakistan over the Mumbai attacks, according to traders.

Over the past three years, India and Pakistan began a number of confidence-building measures as part of a peace process. These included the reopening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway, sealed since 1947 when the disputed territory was carved up between India and Pakistan.

In 2005, India and Pakistan agreed to reopen the highway to allow families divided by the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border, to cross to meet their kith and kin. By 2008, warming relations between the two countries allowed the opening of the road across the LoC to trade as well.

The volume of trade cross the rugged terrain was limited and on a barter basis, but traders in Srinagar appreciated the measure and had hopes that it would expand with time.

"We were told that all the facilities regarding the facilitation of trade between the two parts of Kashmir would be put in place by the end of 2008, but nothing of the sort happened,'' Mubeen Shah, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Inter Press Service (IPS).

"The fact is we are yet to settle the account of the trade items which we have exchanged on the occasion of resumption of trade across the LoC on October 21, 2008.''

Several demands by the traders are pending. The most significant is the restoration of telephone links between the divided parts of Kashmir and the setting up of bank branches at cities such as Srinagar and Jammu in Indian-administered Kashmir and Muzaffarabad and Mirpur in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

"The chief minister [of India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir] Omar Abdullah has himself stated many times that trade across the LoC was meaningless unless traders were able to exchange phone calls. The government should do some practical work to ensure it,'' said Shah.

"Communication facilities for Kashmiris stand snapped for decades even as people elsewhere in India and Pakistan can make or receive phone calls to each other,'' said civil rights activist Hameeda Nayeem. ''People on this [Indian] side of the divided Kashmir can only receive calls from the other side, but can't make calls from here," she said.

Nayeem asserts that exchange of business ideas is a basic requirement for trade to flourish. "And it has not been helpful for confidence-building that there are no facilities to allow money transactions.''

Shah is worried by the fact that trade has been mostly confined to traders who happen to have relations on the other side of the LoC. "This is mainly because no trader wants to risk his goods. Traders need to be assured about costs and profits. Since there is no security, traders hesitate to send across goods,'' Shah said.
"At present, the trade goes on only in a cosmetic and subdued manner. We are having problems reconciling accounts. For example, our fruit growers sent fruit worth three million rupees [US$58,600] in the first consignment, but they didn't get what they consider the equivalent in return through the barter system."

Observers expect no improvement on this front at least until general elections in India slated for April are over as political parties focus more on rhetoric than on peace-making with Pakistan.

"The present United Progressive Alliance [UPA] government [a coalition of more than a dozen political parties led by the Congress party] - is wary of the opposition alliance, the National Democratic Alliance led by the right-wing, pro-Hindu Bhartiya Janata Party [BJP], which slams it for any softness regarding Pakistan or Pakistan-backed Kashmiri pro-freedom leadership," said political analyst Noor Baba.

"At this point in time, the UPA government would not like to take any risks which may give a handle to the BJP as the parties gear up for the elections,'' Baba said. ''It would rather focus on those issues which would better its prospects in the general elections."

The Indian government is putting pressure on Pakistan to do more on the Mumbai terror strikes. India believes the plan was entirely orchestrated in Pakistan, and Islamabad recently admitted that the plan was partially devised there.

"The Indian government cannot afford to relent and will try its best to sustain the pressure so as to better its chances in the upcoming elections," Baba told IPS. ''The Congress-led coalition government has to do this in order to deny leverage to the BJP."

The chances of the Indian government resuming peace talks with Kashmiri separatist leaders appear bleak, especially after the successful conclusion of state assembly elections.

During her recent visit to Kashmir, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi called on separatist leaders to take part in the democratic process, indicating the "massive people's participation" in the assembly elections - which saw a coalition of the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference and Gandhi's Congress party coming to power.

The central government and pro-India political parties were encouraged by the good voter turnout in Kashmir, especially when the elections were held amid a wave of anti-India sentiment triggered by the allotment of land to a Hindu shrine board in May 2008. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured in protests and clashes that followed.

Kashmir continues to simmer. On February 22, two youths were shot dead and another seriously injured allegedly without provocation by security forces. Earlier in the month, a youth was killed in Lolab, north Kashmir, and another in Kuil-Pulwama.

These killings have led to demands by political parties and rights activists for the revocation of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act. "The special powers give the security forces a sense of impunity and they go to any extent, including killing of innocent people,'' said Mehbooba Mufti, leader of the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party.

Trade stalls across divided Kashmir

By Athar Parvaiz

Trade and travel between the Indian and Pakistan parts of Kashmir allowed to a limited extent as part of confidence-building measures between the two rival countries appear to have become a casualty of the terror attacks last November on India's financial center of Mumbai.

This is despite Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee immediately after the attacks vowing that the "Kashmir-centric" confidence-building measures would not be affected by the terror strikes, which left 180 people dead.

Trade between the divided parts of Kashmir, which had started in October 2008 but was struggling thanks to the lack of infrastructure and facilities, might have improved but for the renewed acrimony between India and Pakistan over the Mumbai attacks, according to traders.

Over the past three years, India and Pakistan began a number of confidence-building measures as part of a peace process. These included the reopening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway, sealed since 1947 when the disputed territory was carved up between India and Pakistan.

In 2005, India and Pakistan agreed to reopen the highway to allow families divided by the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border, to cross to meet their kith and kin. By 2008, warming relations between the two countries allowed the opening of the road across the LoC to trade as well.

The volume of trade cross the rugged terrain was limited and on a barter basis, but traders in Srinagar appreciated the measure and had hopes that it would expand with time.

"We were told that all the facilities regarding the facilitation of trade between the two parts of Kashmir would be put in place by the end of 2008, but nothing of the sort happened,'' Mubeen Shah, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Inter Press Service (IPS).

"The fact is we are yet to settle the account of the trade items which we have exchanged on the occasion of resumption of trade across the LoC on October 21, 2008.''

Several demands by the traders are pending. The most significant is the restoration of telephone links between the divided parts of Kashmir and the setting up of bank branches at cities such as Srinagar and Jammu in Indian-administered Kashmir and Muzaffarabad and Mirpur in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

"The chief minister [of India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir] Omar Abdullah has himself stated many times that trade across the LoC was meaningless unless traders were able to exchange phone calls. The government should do some practical work to ensure it,'' said Shah.

"Communication facilities for Kashmiris stand snapped for decades even as people elsewhere in India and Pakistan can make or receive phone calls to each other,'' said civil rights activist Hameeda Nayeem. ''People on this [Indian] side of the divided Kashmir can only receive calls from the other side, but can't make calls from here," she said.

Nayeem asserts that exchange of business ideas is a basic requirement for trade to flourish. "And it has not been helpful for confidence-building that there are no facilities to allow money transactions.''

Shah is worried by the fact that trade has been mostly confined to traders who happen to have relations on the other side of the LoC. "This is mainly because no trader wants to risk his goods. Traders need to be assured about costs and profits. Since there is no security, traders hesitate to send across goods,'' Shah said.
"At present, the trade goes on only in a cosmetic and subdued manner. We are having problems reconciling accounts. For example, our fruit growers sent fruit worth three million rupees [US$58,600] in the first consignment, but they didn't get what they consider the equivalent in return through the barter system."

Observers expect no improvement on this front at least until general elections in India slated for April are over as political parties focus more on rhetoric than on peace-making with Pakistan.

"The present United Progressive Alliance [UPA] government [a coalition of more than a dozen political parties led by the Congress party] - is wary of the opposition alliance, the National Democratic Alliance led by the right-wing, pro-Hindu Bhartiya Janata Party [BJP], which slams it for any softness regarding Pakistan or Pakistan-backed Kashmiri pro-freedom leadership," said political analyst Noor Baba.

"At this point in time, the UPA government would not like to take any risks which may give a handle to the BJP as the parties gear up for the elections,'' Baba said. ''It would rather focus on those issues which would better its prospects in the general elections."

The Indian government is putting pressure on Pakistan to do more on the Mumbai terror strikes. India believes the plan was entirely orchestrated in Pakistan, and Islamabad recently admitted that the plan was partially devised there.

"The Indian government cannot afford to relent and will try its best to sustain the pressure so as to better its chances in the upcoming elections," Baba told IPS. ''The Congress-led coalition government has to do this in order to deny leverage to the BJP."

The chances of the Indian government resuming peace talks with Kashmiri separatist leaders appear bleak, especially after the successful conclusion of state assembly elections.

During her recent visit to Kashmir, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi called on separatist leaders to take part in the democratic process, indicating the "massive people's participation" in the assembly elections - which saw a coalition of the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference and Gandhi's Congress party coming to power.

The central government and pro-India political parties were encouraged by the good voter turnout in Kashmir, especially when the elections were held amid a wave of anti-India sentiment triggered by the allotment of land to a Hindu shrine board in May 2008. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured in protests and clashes that followed.

Kashmir continues to simmer. On February 22, two youths were shot dead and another seriously injured allegedly without provocation by security forces. Earlier in the month, a youth was killed in Lolab, north Kashmir, and another in Kuil-Pulwama.

These killings have led to demands by political parties and rights activists for the revocation of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act. "The special powers give the security forces a sense of impunity and they go to any extent, including killing of innocent people,'' said Mehbooba Mufti, leader of the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party.

Trade stalls across divided Kashmir

By Athar Parvaiz

Trade and travel between the Indian and Pakistan parts of Kashmir allowed to a limited extent as part of confidence-building measures between the two rival countries appear to have become a casualty of the terror attacks last November on India's financial center of Mumbai.

This is despite Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee immediately after the attacks vowing that the "Kashmir-centric" confidence-building measures would not be affected by the terror strikes, which left 180 people dead.

Trade between the divided parts of Kashmir, which had started in October 2008 but was struggling thanks to the lack of infrastructure and facilities, might have improved but for the renewed acrimony between India and Pakistan over the Mumbai attacks, according to traders.

Over the past three years, India and Pakistan began a number of confidence-building measures as part of a peace process. These included the reopening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway, sealed since 1947 when the disputed territory was carved up between India and Pakistan.

In 2005, India and Pakistan agreed to reopen the highway to allow families divided by the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border, to cross to meet their kith and kin. By 2008, warming relations between the two countries allowed the opening of the road across the LoC to trade as well.

The volume of trade cross the rugged terrain was limited and on a barter basis, but traders in Srinagar appreciated the measure and had hopes that it would expand with time.

"We were told that all the facilities regarding the facilitation of trade between the two parts of Kashmir would be put in place by the end of 2008, but nothing of the sort happened,'' Mubeen Shah, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Inter Press Service (IPS).

"The fact is we are yet to settle the account of the trade items which we have exchanged on the occasion of resumption of trade across the LoC on October 21, 2008.''

Several demands by the traders are pending. The most significant is the restoration of telephone links between the divided parts of Kashmir and the setting up of bank branches at cities such as Srinagar and Jammu in Indian-administered Kashmir and Muzaffarabad and Mirpur in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

"The chief minister [of India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir] Omar Abdullah has himself stated many times that trade across the LoC was meaningless unless traders were able to exchange phone calls. The government should do some practical work to ensure it,'' said Shah.

"Communication facilities for Kashmiris stand snapped for decades even as people elsewhere in India and Pakistan can make or receive phone calls to each other,'' said civil rights activist Hameeda Nayeem. ''People on this [Indian] side of the divided Kashmir can only receive calls from the other side, but can't make calls from here," she said.

Nayeem asserts that exchange of business ideas is a basic requirement for trade to flourish. "And it has not been helpful for confidence-building that there are no facilities to allow money transactions.''

Shah is worried by the fact that trade has been mostly confined to traders who happen to have relations on the other side of the LoC. "This is mainly because no trader wants to risk his goods. Traders need to be assured about costs and profits. Since there is no security, traders hesitate to send across goods,'' Shah said.
"At present, the trade goes on only in a cosmetic and subdued manner. We are having problems reconciling accounts. For example, our fruit growers sent fruit worth three million rupees [US$58,600] in the first consignment, but they didn't get what they consider the equivalent in return through the barter system."

Observers expect no improvement on this front at least until general elections in India slated for April are over as political parties focus more on rhetoric than on peace-making with Pakistan.

"The present United Progressive Alliance [UPA] government [a coalition of more than a dozen political parties led by the Congress party] - is wary of the opposition alliance, the National Democratic Alliance led by the right-wing, pro-Hindu Bhartiya Janata Party [BJP], which slams it for any softness regarding Pakistan or Pakistan-backed Kashmiri pro-freedom leadership," said political analyst Noor Baba.

"At this point in time, the UPA government would not like to take any risks which may give a handle to the BJP as the parties gear up for the elections,'' Baba said. ''It would rather focus on those issues which would better its prospects in the general elections."

The Indian government is putting pressure on Pakistan to do more on the Mumbai terror strikes. India believes the plan was entirely orchestrated in Pakistan, and Islamabad recently admitted that the plan was partially devised there.

"The Indian government cannot afford to relent and will try its best to sustain the pressure so as to better its chances in the upcoming elections," Baba told IPS. ''The Congress-led coalition government has to do this in order to deny leverage to the BJP."

The chances of the Indian government resuming peace talks with Kashmiri separatist leaders appear bleak, especially after the successful conclusion of state assembly elections.

During her recent visit to Kashmir, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi called on separatist leaders to take part in the democratic process, indicating the "massive people's participation" in the assembly elections - which saw a coalition of the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference and Gandhi's Congress party coming to power.

The central government and pro-India political parties were encouraged by the good voter turnout in Kashmir, especially when the elections were held amid a wave of anti-India sentiment triggered by the allotment of land to a Hindu shrine board in May 2008. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured in protests and clashes that followed.

Kashmir continues to simmer. On February 22, two youths were shot dead and another seriously injured allegedly without provocation by security forces. Earlier in the month, a youth was killed in Lolab, north Kashmir, and another in Kuil-Pulwama.

These killings have led to demands by political parties and rights activists for the revocation of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act. "The special powers give the security forces a sense of impunity and they go to any extent, including killing of innocent people,'' said Mehbooba Mufti, leader of the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Race to the death over Kashmir waters

By M H Ahssan

India and Pakistan, in an expensive winner-takes-all race to tap the power of the Kishenganga river in Kashmir, are separately aiming to build large hydro-electric projects just 70 kilometers apart on the same fast-flowing water on their respective sides of the divided region.

India's Kishenganga hydro-power project, which the government last February priced at US$740 million, involves a 330-megawatt plant in the Gurez Valley. That is about a third the capacity of the 963MW Neelum-Jhelum project planned at an estimated cost of US$2.16 billion in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the project name reflecting the change from Kishenganga to Neelum of the river's name as it crosses to the Pakistani side of the divided region.

According to the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) signed between the two countries in 1960, the country whose project is completed first will get the complete rights of this river. Despite the fear of losing billions of dollars and possible international embarrassment, both sides have taken up the gamble and speeded up construction work.

Changing climatic conditions add to the pathos of the race. Declining levels of snowfall and receding glaciers in the Himalayas are reducing the water level in most Kashmiri rivers.

Indian-administered Kashmir (IAK) sits at the head of major rivers feeding large parts of Pakistan. Sharing the water was a major problem after the two countries gained independence from Britain in 1947, until in the World Bank arbitrated between the two countries resulting in the signing of the IWT.

The pact grants India exclusive rights to the three major southern rivers of Ravi, Beas and Sutluj, while Pakistan has the rights to three large northern rivers that first flow through Indian-administered Kashmir - the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. The Jhelum and Kishenganga, by then known as the Neelum, join each other near Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The treaty has withstood two wars and numerous other conflicts between the two countries, but now the situation seems to be changing. The growing economies of both countries and increased energy needs are compelling exploitation of the rivers to the last drop, even if that means violating the IWT. Pakistan, being the lower riparian state, faces the disadvantage of geography.

The Indian project involves building a dam and a 16-kilometer diversion channel, which will change the river's course by 100km. On completion of the project, the Kishenganga waters will join Wular lake and ultimately the river Jhelum, still within Indian-administered Kashmir, before flowing on to the Pakistan-administered side. The diversion will raise the lake's water level as well as add 52 cubic meters of water to the downstream 480MW Uri I and 240 MW Uri II hydroelectric project on Indian side.

Pakistan's hydro project, with an underground power station, will be built at Nauseri, near Muzaffarabad. Pakistan has signed up the help of Chinese companies, namely the CGGC-CMEC Consortium China, to build the project with the aim of beating India to completion and securing priority rights for the river.

Pakistan fears that once India's Kishenganga project is complete it will have a devastating effect on the PAK's own hydro-power plans, the local economy and on the ecology. The Indian project, according to Pakistan, will curb water flow to the Pakistani project by 30%, besides affecting the local flora and fauna due to diversion of water from its original course. Pakistan also alleges that the project will adversely affect 133,209 hectares of agricultural land in the Neelum Valley and the Muzaffarabad district.

India recognizes the stakes involved. Federal Minister of Power Jairam Ramesh, during a recent visit to Kashmir, called the Kishenganga project of geostrategic importance to India.

"This is an issue with geostrategic and foreign policy implications," Ramesh said. The power minister said even he was not competent enough to talk on this sensitive issue.

The countries are already at loggerheads over the Baghlihar hydroelectric power project. Built by damming the Chenab River in Indian-administered Kashmir, this project has been controversial since construction began in 1999. The first phase, involving about half the planned 900 MW capacity, was recently inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The dispute peaked on August 20, 2008, when authorities in IAK issued a warning that the entire state would have acute power shortages for the next 48 hours, due to the filling of the Baghlihar dam. Water flow on the river was halted and power produced by a hydroelectric project downstream was almost stopped, causing the outages.

Pakistani monitoring agencies reportedly failed to check on this notification. Their officials pressed the panic button when levels on the Chenab plunged, threatening millions of hectares of standing crops. The river feeds water to 21 major canals and irrigates about 2.8 hectares of arable land in Pakistan.

Pakistan accused India of holding back large amounts of water for filling the 143-meter high, 317-meter wide dam, with a storage capacity of 15 billion cusecs, a standard measure. According to authorities in Pakistan, the Chenab's water flow more than halved to 22,200 cusecs from 55,000 cusecs.

Pakistan says this is a sheer violation of the Indus water treaty, by virtue of which Indian should not stem water flow below 55,000 cusecs. Pakistan insists that India compensate it for the loss of over 0.2 million acre feet (MAF), a measure of large volumes of water.

According to Pakistan, the dam will deprive the country of 321,000 MAF of water, adversely affecting 5.2 million hectare of irrigated land along the Chenab and Ravi rivers. "The water shortfall has severely affected 405 canals and 1,125 distributaries, leaving rice, wheat, sugarcane and fodder crops in many districts of Pakistan's Punjab and Sindh provinces to wither," said Babar Hassan Bharwana, Irrigation Secretary of Pakistan's Punjab province.

According to Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW), an economic think-tank, the Indian water stoppage has inflicted a loss of $1.5 billion on Pakistan with the prospect of damages growing by the day.

"Over five million acres [2 million hectare] of cotton and sugarcane are facing devastation and if closure of the Chenab continues, the winter crops, especially wheat, will be hit, which will have serious political and monetary consequences," said PEW president Murtaza Mughal.

Warning that the issue of water could trigger war between the two nuclear powers, he said: "India wanted to destabilize Pakistan and play havoc with the fate of poor farmers and common people." India has denied it stopped the water flow to Pakistan.

Pakistan feels that the Baglihar dam and every new project of a similar nature will add to India's arsenal of hydrological weapons. India plans to build nine hydro powerhouses on the Chenab to exploit its estimated potential of 16,000MW of electricity.

The Baglihar water row has a precedent dating to just after independence. According to Professor Shaista Tabassum of Karachi University, India stopped its canal waters from flowing into Pakistan on April 1, 1948, leaving about 5.5% of west Pakistan's planted area and nearly 8% of its cultivated area without irrigation at the start of the crucial summer season. The blockage bought the countries to the brink of war.

IAK has a total hydroelectric potential of 20,000MW and India is readying to exploit this in its entirety. The federal government in India meanwhile has effectively blocked moves by state authorities in IAK to construct large hydroelectric projects on its own, aware of the potential leverage these offer in the country's larger dealings with Pakistan.

The state government had earlier secured funding from various international financial institutions to construct hydroelectric projects, including the Kishenganga dam, but India refused to give counter guarantees, forcing the proposal to be handed over to a federal company, the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC).

NHPC, sometimes referred to as the East India Company of Kashmir for the imperial manner in which it exploits resources in the region, is strongly disliked as most of its income comes from its Kashmir-based power projects, while Kashmir itself reels in darkness.

NHPC owns three power projects in Kashmir, generating a total of 1,560MW of electricity. It is constructing seven more projects with a combined capacity of 2,797MW. Kashmir has a 12% stake in these projects, compared with the 50-50 partnerships formed for such projects in other states. Kashmir on its own has only managed to construct projects generating 750MW, far short of the demand for 2,000MW.

The Indus water treaty has been under strain following the accusation by all the three stakeholders of discriminatory attitudes.

The people of Kashmir are vehemently against this treaty, which according to them has made them a sacrificial goat. Kashmir annually looses 60 billion Indian rupees (US$1.3 billion) on account of the prohibitions of the IWT by virtue of which Kashmir cannot store water for generating electricity or for irrigation purposes.

All hydro-electric projects in IAK are costly and less efficient "run of the river" type, which do not alter the existing flow or water levels. An estimated 1.37 million hectares of land is also devoid of irrigation facilities in IAK due to restrictions imposed by the water treaty.

The Human Rights Society (HRS) of Pakistan last year filed a petition with the Islamabad High Court urging the government to submit a report on the disruption of river flow caused by Indian dams and their impact on local agriculture. HRS chairman Kowkab Iqbal claimed that India was constructing 62 water reservoirs, including the Baghlihar and Kishenganga dams, besides using 80% of the water in the Jhelum, creating a drought-like situation in Pakistan.

Pakistan's water availability has decreased to 1,200 cubic meters per person from 5,000 cubic meters in 1947 and is forecast to plunge to 800 cubic meters by 2020.

Such is the intensity of the water conflict that former Pakistan prime minister Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain warned that the water row will lead to all-out war between the two countries. He called for the immediate amendments of the Indus Water Treaty to make it relevant for present times.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Exclusive: The Other Side Of Kashmiri Craft 'Pashmina'

By Arif Wani | Srinagar

SPECIAL REPORT Kashmiri crafts have been omnipresent from street to luxury yet least geared for new fashion markets. This is likely to change soon.

At a crafts display at New Delhi’s India International Centre, Mahvash Masood from Srinagar displays stoles with hand embroidery so delicate that only a magnifying glass can zoom into the details. “I want to tap into the global luxury market with these,” says Masood, who is working with a development consultant to price her designs.

Friday, February 22, 2013

'The Man Released At Kandahar' - Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar

Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, 46, Commander-In-Chief, Al-Umar Mujahideen is the chief of pro-Pakistan Al-Umar Mujahideen, which had 700 militants when the Kashmiri insurgency was at its peak in the 1990s. Zargar, who comes from a copper polishing family, crossed the LoC in 1988, and rose to lead Al-Umar after breaking away from pro-azaadi JKLF in 1990. Al-Umar’s key men were killed in gunfights and Zargar was arrested from his hideout on 15 May 1992. He is believed to be involved in 40 murder cases and money laundering cases. Zargar’s importance to the militant cause can be gauged from the fact that four high-profile kidnappings were made in a bid to secure his release. But Zargar remained in jail until the hijackers of IC 814 in 1999 secured his release, along with Jaish-e-Muhammad leaders Maulana Masood Azhar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (who was later convicted for murdering The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan), in exchange for 150-odd hostages. Zargar had kept a low profile after his release. But emboldened by the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Zargar tells HNN Correspondent on telephone from an undisclosed location that a fresh wave of fighting will soon singe the Kashmir Valley.

EDITED EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

After your release, nothing much was heard about you. What were you up to?
Al-Umar Mujahideen has been carrying out operations against Indian troops in a limited manner. Sometimes, we wouldn’t even claim the responsibility. India may have hanged Afzal Guru, but it’s no longer an impediment. Even if New Delhi hangs men, women and children en masse, we won’t give up what is ours. India must remember that the US has been defeated in Afghanistan. It’s a success for Al-Umar Mujahideen too. In four months’ time, India will see what we are capable of. Kashmir will be merged with Pakistan and there is nothing India can do about it.

How can Al-Umar claim credit for the US withdrawal?
Wherever Muslims face oppression, we have been going there and we will continue to go there. We are fighting in the name of Allah. After Kashmir, we will fight in Chechnya and Palestine.

The Hurriyat factions and the JKLF believe in peacefully resolving the Kashmir conflict. How will you convince them?
I don’t care what they think. The Kashmir dispute will be resolved only through an armed struggle. Our organisation doesn’t believe in talks. Moulvi Yousuf Shah (Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s uncle) wanted to solve the dispute in a peaceful manner. In reply, he was sent into exile.

Many Kashmiri leaders say that a non-violent struggle is the only potent weapon. They have also offered conditional talks.
But that isn’t my ideology. I took up a gun in 1988 in the name of Allah. The path of jihad is laid with thorns. One faces a lot of problems. Those who are tired must say that they can’t continue with the struggle. I won’t criticise those who want to hold talks with New Delhi. If they can solve the dispute with talks, let them do it. But I know they won’t be able to succeed in their efforts.

Hurriyat leaders Maulana Abbas Ansari and Abdul Gani Bhat say that no solution can come from the barrel of a gun. Aren’t they being realistic?
It’s their misunderstanding if they think that guns aren’t a solution. It’s actually the guns that made them and their political careers. Who knew them in Kashmir before 1989? It was only after the jihad that people came to know about Bhat sahab, Ansari sahab and other sahabs.

But Pakistan too seems to be pushing for peace. It wants talks and trade with India.
We don’t have a problem. Pakistan can always hold talks on Kashmir and trade with India. However, this doesn’t mean Pakistan’s stance has changed. Look at China and the US. Both countries maintain hostilities and trade relations at the same time.

What if Pakistan stops backing militants?
Pakistan has always given us political, diplomatic and moral support. That’s enough. Regarding money, men and guns, we can get it from anywhere. We still run training centres on both sides of the LoC. Nothing has changed on the ground.

You joined militancy in 1988. It’s been almost 24 years since. What changes have you effected on the ground?
Militancy highlighted the plight of Kashmiris. Earlier, no one knew what was going on inside Kashmir. Now everybody knows that India has occupied it.

Why did the IC 814 hijackers demand only your release when other Kashmiri militant leaders were also in jail?
Whatever they deemed wise, they did it. I won’t go into the details. In mid-1990s, Al-Umar kidnapped former Bihar MLA Pankaj Kumar. My boys kept him hostage for more than a year until he was rescued by the troops. My release was demanded at that time. Sheikh Omar kidnapped four western tourists in New Delhi in 1994. My release was demanded then as well. Al-Faran, which kidnapped western tourists in Pahalgam in 1995, had also sought my release. The mujahideen had always fought for my release.

The state government says militancy has ebbed. What do you think?
There are crests and troughs in every movement. In 1994, the armed struggle was at its peak. In 1995, it faded a little, but only till 1999. It was again at its peak till 2004, when the then Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee made three ceasefire offers, which we rejected.

The 2008 Assembly poll saw a big turnout. Recently, 36,000 panches and sarpanches were voted to power. New Delhi sees these as a vote against militancy.
These are sham polls. India has many puppets in the Valley. What kind of voting takes place in the shadow of guns? If India thinks these polls were votes in its favour, why is the entire state under curfew on 26 January and 15 August? Why are the police detaining children and raiding houses? The policemen must understand that their families also live in Kashmir. If they continue to oppress Kashmiris, their families will be forced to migrate.

Why don’t you support a political dialogue on Kashmir?
More than 1 lakh people have been killed and many are buried in mass graves. Thousands of women have been raped. What kind of dialogue is New Delhi talking about?

Will the militant leadership announce ceasefire?
We will never lay down guns.

Is Kashmir a religious fight? Isn’t it a political question?
Our goal is to expel India and establish Nizam-e-Mustafa (Allah’s rule) because it is a Muslim-majority region.

How about Kashmir’s minorities under Nizam-E-Mustafa?
Nizam-E-Mustafa gives enough freedom to minorities. Sikhs, Hindus and Christians will get more freedom than they have now.

The conflict saw Kashmiri Pandits migrating elsewhere. Many Muslims also migrated to Muzaffarabad? Will Al-Umar call for their return?
Pandits left the Valley on the call of Governor Jagmohan who wanted to teach the Kashmiri Muslims a lesson. Muslims left because the army oppressed them. The Pandits didn’t leave Kashmir on my call. They left on their own; they can also come back on their own.

There are allegations that you killed Kashmiri Pandits.
I deny this claim. I have never killed a Kashmiri Pandit. They were Kashmiris like me.


Al-Umar was carved out of the JKLF. Is it true that differences with pro-Azadi JKLF led to its formation?
No, it’s not true. Al-Umar was formed in 1988. It was only in 1990 that we started claiming attacks on Indian military and government installations. Before that, even Ehsan Dar, the founder of Hizbul Mujahideen, would launch attacks and give credit to the JKLF.

But isn’t it true that Yasin Malik was for independent Kashmir, something which you don’t believe in?Yasin Malik is just like my brother, in fact more than that. There were no differences between him and me. When the armed struggle was launched JKLF was being guided by four men including Yasin Malik. Al-Umar and other organisation would operate separately but never claim responsibility. Everyone would assume that all these attacks were launched by JKLF. JKLF would also claim responsibilities of attacks which we carried out. We were never angry at it. That was a part of strategy. But in 1990 we began taking responsibilities of attacks.

Some observers say Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had offered tactic support to Al-Umar after whom the group is named.We respect Mirwiaz because he is a religious cleric. But Al-Umar was named after second Caliph of Islam. It’s not true to say that Al-Umar had Mirwaiz’s tactic endorsement.

How strong is Al-Umar now?
I won’t reveal anything about our strength. You will soon realise how strong our group is. Just give me four months.

Many former militants returned from Muzaffarabad to lead normal lives in Kashmir. Doesn’t this reflect a weariness among the militants?
Armed struggle is like walking on a thorny path, with nothing to feel sad or excited about. Those who get tired of it, give up. Those who want to carry on, keep up the fight. Jihad is a long journey that many give up in the beginning or the middle. We aren’t angry with them. It happens.

Former militants have warned against foreigners hijacking the struggle. Even now, it’s the Lashkar-e-Toiba that is increasingly leading the fight.
Militants are often dubbed as foreigners. In reality, these are men whose parents migrated from Kashmir in 1947. Jaish-e-Mohammad and Al-Umar are pro-Pakistan, but our boys are from Kashmir.

Do you support Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Kashmir Jihad call. Recently TTP called Pakistan to revive Jihad in Kashmir and also offered to fight in the Valley? TTP is a foreign group?Those waging holy Jihad against oppressors of Muslims will go anywhere. They pick up guns because of Allah’s will. Be it Taliban (TTP) or any other group, they’ll come. I welcome them. When we fight in other places be it Afghanistan or Palestine, our boys are welcomed. Why won’t I welcome them? I will. Such fighters are our brothers.

Aren’t you worried that the struggle runs the risk of being branded as terrorism?
The world can say anything. It doesn’t matter. Allah shouldn’t consider us terrorists. If we are terrorists, then what about Bhagat Singh who fought against the British?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kashmir Militancy: Young, Educated, Armed And Dangerous

By Rehmatullah Bisht / Srinagar

As cross-border militancy wanes, youth in the state pick up arms to keep the jihad alive. On 30 May, Muhammad Yusuf Mir was on his way home when his phone started ringing. It was a call from the local police and he was scared to answer it. Mir had already heard about an ongoing encounter between militants and security forces in the area and he feared the worst. He was right.

The officer on line had a grim message to deliver. Security forces were battling two militants 3 km from Mir’s village in the south Kashmir district of Pulwama; one of them was his 25-year-old son Sajad Ahmad.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Insight: Kashmiri Pandits, Forgotten Refugees Of India

By Naureen Wani | Srinagar

Kashmiri Pandits are refugees who have been subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing but have been ignored by their own country.

The Mughal Emperor Jahangir is purported to have said: “If there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here.” For Kashmiri Pandits, the original inhabitants of the valley, Kashmir has been anything but heaven in recent years. Persecuted by extreme Islamists and deserted by their own countrymen, they have fled Kashmir and live in squalor elsewhere in the country.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Modi And Article 370: Does It Highlight BJP’s Confusion?

By M H Ahssan | INN Live

Vociferous voices from all ranks of the Bharatiya Janata Party have reached a crescendo as they unitedly struggle to convince the people that what BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi uttered at a political rally in Jammu on the contentious issue of Article 370 was not a departure from the party’s original stand on the law. 

At his first ever rally in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, Modi demanded a debate on Article 370 of the Constitution, (granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir) blaming it for preventing gender equality and progress in the state. The Gujarat chief minister even went to the extent of attacking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

'Terror On Holi Day': Delhi Police 'Unstable' Statements Far From 'Reality'

Liaqat Shah arrived at the Sanauli check-point on the India-Nepal border with his family last weekend, travelling with his wife Akhtar-un-Nisa Geelani, and teenage daughter, Zabeena Geelani.  The family was on an extraordinary journey from Muzaffarabad to their village in northern Kashmir, a stone’s throw across the Line of Control—travelling over a thousand kilometres, through Karachi and Kathmandu. Home was just one train ride away.

But then, at the check-point, something happened.  Shah was taken aside by a small group of men in plainclothes and arrested.  Shah, the Delhi Police said on Friday, is a top Hizb-ul-Mujahideen operative, tasked with conducting a strike that could have claimed dozens of lives before Holi.  The police claim to have recovered an assault rifle and three grenades meant for the attack.

There are a mass of reasons, though, to doubt this account. Unless a credible explanation surfaces, the arrest could explode into a scandal which could undermine the credibility of the Delhi Police’s already-controversial counter-terrorism operations.

Shah’s story began in 1995, when he left his home in the small north Kashmir village of Dardpora in Kupwara district, and crossed the Line of Control to train at a Hizb-ul-Mujahideen camp in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.  He returned home late in 1996, the Jammu and Kashmir Police say, to serve with a Hizb unit operating in the Kupwara area. There are no charges, though, that  Shah participated in any terrorist act. In 1997, he crossed the Line of Control again, now fleeing police pressure, leaving behind first wife Amina  Shah.

Like hundreds of one-time jihadists,  Shah discovered Pakistan wasn’t all he’d imagined it to be.  The Hizb-ul-Mujahideen was in decay, torn apart by internal dissensions and diminishing support from Pakistan’s intelligence services. Family members say Shah’s wife, to add to her husband’s woes, flatly refused to leave Kashmir.  Shah was reduced to eking out a living as a labourer—not fighting in the victorious army of liberation of his imagination.

Shah tried, evidently, to settle in. In 2006, he married again—this time, the widow of Noor Hasan Geelani, a Hizb insurgent killed by the Indian Army in 1995.  Geelani’s wife, accompanied by her 19-year-old daughter Zabeena Geelani, travelled to be with her new husband that year, on a legitimate Indian passport.

Geelani, family members have told Firstpost, soon tired of her life, and insisted the family return home to Kashmir. Hundreds of others in the same situation have been making the same choice. This year alone, Jammu and Kashmir government figures show, 14 one-time jihadists have returned, along with 25 family members. Last year, over 150 ex-jihadists and their families returned to Kashmir; the year before, the figure was 140.  In several cases, the families included Pakistani nationals. India and Pakistan have come to a quiet agreement to facilitate these flows—though national laws in both countries continue to deem such crossings illegal.

The Delhi Police, however, claims  Shah’s motives for returning home were less than benign. In a press release issued on Friday, it said the United Jihad Council, the apex organisational alliance of Kashmir jihadist groups, met in January to consider new offensive plans.  Following the meeting, it said, two Hizb operatives told  Shah “that he had been chosen to supervise young fidayeen recruits who would commit spectacular terrorist strikes in Delhi”. Following the attack,  Khan was  to “return to the valley to settle down and to engage himself in talent spotting, i.e. finding new recruits and facilitating their cross border travel”.

Elements of the media have latched on the January date, to suggest it is inconsistent with separate claims that the plot was meant to avenge Parliament attacker Afzal Guru’s execution. “Police said a meeting was held in January to plan this attack,” one account asks triumphantly. “How would the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen have prior knowledge of  Guru’s hanging which took place in February”?

This makes no sense: the plain language of the Delhi Police press release makes clear the attack plot wasn’t conceived as a response to Guru’s execution.  It ought not be implausible to newspaper-readers—a category that hopefully includes journalists—that the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen was planning a strike in January. This is because Hizb chief Mohammad Yusuf Shah—who prefers the vainglorious pseudonym Syed Salahuddin—publicly promised one in a speech made on January 24. Pakistan’s Daily Ausaf newspaper quotes him as threatening to “relaunch the Kashmir jihad”.

But that’s as far as the Delhi Police story can stand up.

Precisely what evidence the Delhi Police has to back up its claim that  Shah was in on this plot is about as clear as mud. Intelligence sources have told Firstpost, information on the alleged plot involving  Shah was first generated by the Research and Analysis Wing. Precisely what it was, though, no-one will say—which means its unlikely to be produced in court. Following the Sanauli arrests, the sources said, the Intelligence Bureau asked the Delhi Police why exactly Shah had been held.  It was told that the police was aware of the background, and was facilitating his return to Kashmir—something we now know to be a flat-out lie.

Now, if the Delhi Police knew  Shah was in contact with the Jammu and Kashmir Police, there is no explanation for why it was never consulted on the investigation.  Shah’s credentials, any half-competent investigator knows, ought to have been verified—something that would have needed nothing more than a phone call.  It is also mystifying that his wife and daughter, who are material witnesses to the alleged plot, were allowed to proceed home to Kupwara. The man who is alleged to have brought the weapon recovered in Delhi, conveniently for investigators, has eluded arrest—and there is thus nothing on record to link him to  Shah.

It isn’t inconceivable that the Delhi Police, backed by RAW, did stumble on a significant terror plot. The Delhi Police’s conduct so far, though, does nothing to inspire confidence.  Part of the problem is the force, just like other elements of government, is addicted to deviousness—engaging in crook-like behaviour even when there’s a straightforward way to deal with a problem. I’ve argued earlier that the Delhi Police’s counter-terrorism operations get a bad rap, and this is why. There is either mind-boggling incompetence at work here—or, of course, worse.  Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar needs to come up with credible answers, fast.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Analysis: 'The Fading Communal Politics Of Kashmir'

By Kishore Prakash / Srinagar

In another place and another time, perhaps the only thing that would matter is this: that four men are dead, for no very good reason, and at least 11 others are fighting for their lives in hospital. In another place and another time, it would matter that the very same morning, an eminent cardiologist was shot while taking a walk, losing his eyesight—and the two men tasked with guarding him, their lives. It ought not matter what their faith was, or their cause.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Between 'Azadi' And 'National Interest': Half-Truths On Kashmir Widen The Gulf Of Ignorance And Hated

By LIKHAVEER| INNLIVE

'The more biased, the better,' seems to be the credo of polarised media platforms as each seeks to pander to its niche audience.

Old-school journalism textbooks used to describe news as an acronym for North-East-West-South. News, they said, must take a 360 degree view of all sides. Facts were sacred, they added: there must be no opinion or bias in a news report. Call it a fuddy-duddy view if you will, but attempts at objectivity and trying to present different aspects of a complex reality was considered an essential part of the job of a journalist.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Focus: Sexual Violence And Culture Of Impunity In Kashmir

By Ayesha Pervez (Guest Writer)

KASHMIR REPORT The present discourse addressing the culture of impunity regarding sexual violence by security forces in Kashmir suffers from a structural limitation - its fixation on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1990, and the institution that this law protects. 

The experiences and fate of many cases of sexual violence, where survivors have attempted to access the justice system, suggest a more complex structure of violence and impunity; AFSPA is only a small cog in this giant machinery of institutionalised repression.

What followed the public interest litigation (PIL) in the ­Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) High Court in April last year, demanding the reopening of and reinvestigation into the infamous Kunan-Poshpora “mass rape” case, is a déjà vu of sorts for Kashmiris, for it echoes a familiar series of responses which the survivors of sexual violence from the villages of Kunan and Poshpora had witnessed in 1991 – that investigation process had been handled with much callousness and inherent ­biases. 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Why Asia’s Largest Fresh Water Lake Is Dying A Slow Death

By Sameer Yasir (Guest Writer)

ENVIRONMENT CONCERN On a chilly Sunday evening, 35-year-old Tanveer Ahmad Dar, a resident of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district, watched a fisherman from the balcony of his house rowing a boat on the waters of Wullar, Asia’s second largest freshwater lake, as the sun began its descent behind the tall mountains. As the boat rowed ahead towards the left side of the lake and Dar’s eyes followed its path, piles of garbage lying on the shores blocked his view.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Special Report: Jammu Is A Barometer Of Modi’s Fortunes

By Ashraf Jani / Srinagar

To gauge the success of Hindutva politics across India, this is the region to watch. Jammu & Kashmir may be India’s only Muslim-majority state but Jammu, the state’s winter capital, was one of the fountainheads of Hindu nationalist politics in the country. It was here that Balraj Madhok formed the Praja Parishad Party in 1949 and later merged it with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, founded by Syama Prasad Mookerjee in 1951 and the forerunner of the BJP. Mookerjee died in a Kashmir jail while protesting the special status given to the state under Article 370 of the Constitution. In fact, the Jana Sangh’s slogan of Ek Vidhan, Ek Nishan, Ek Pradhan (One Law, One Symbol, One Leader) emerged from its opposition to J&K’s special status.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Focus: Is Hizbul Attack In Srinagar A New Dawn For Jihad?

By M H Ahssan / Srinagar

Even as the army absorbs the lessons of its worst loss of life in Kashmir for five years—and the worst attack its ever suffered in Srinagar—there’s one stark fact which stands out: for the first time since the near-war of 2001-2002, Indian security force fatalities have increased. In the first six months of 2013, India has already lost more police and military personnel than it did in all of 2012, and more than it did in 2011. This is, moreover, the first time that any index of violence has shown an uptick since 2002, when a dramatic year-on-year choking of the Kashmir jihad began.