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India mixes Kashmir with Balochistan

Background Balochistan and Kashmir

Whenever Kashmir conflict begins to pressure India, it invites Baloch dissents and provides them requisite logistics & platform to malign Pakistan. As part of this campaign “Times of India” carried a lengthy interview of self-styled Professor Naela Quadri Baloch on May 02. She said about Baloch insurgency: “It is freedom struggle; we were occupied by Pakistan on March 27, 1948 and ever since we have been fighting against Pakistan to free ourselves. Balochistan was never a part of India or Iran or Afghanistan or any other country. Balochistan was always independent. So an independent country was occupied.” To a question as to how Balochistan’s freedom struggle is different from the separatist movement in Kashmir, she said: “Kashmir was never a country; it was a princely state under a Maharaja. Kashmir was always a part of greater India. Through a well thought out scheme, India mischievously mixes Kashmir and Balochistan.

It is an established fact that the northern areas of Balochistan including Bolan Pass, Quetta, Nushki and Naseerabad were leased out to Britain, which were later named as British Balochistan. However, more importantly, the Khan of Kallat had voluntarily acceded to Pakistan.

Naela Baloch also grossly exaggerated the figures of missing persons and she quoted figure of 25000 which is a lot more than what Mama Qadeer has been claiming. Pakistan had established a judicial commission headed by justice (retired) Javed Iqbal, it submitted a 204-page report, which was later handed over to the Supreme Court. The commission stated that “a total of 621 persons went missing while 359 persons had been recovered thence far. Most of the purported missing persons had reportedly links with different terrorist organizations, and due to fear of being arrested had moved to far-flung areas of KPK/Balochistan.

Whenever Pakistan engages or tries to engage with the leaders of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoK), it sends shivers down the spine of Indian rulers. However, due to immense international pressure, it is not possible for India to block such contacts. Indian External Affairs Ministry said on May 02 that there is no bar on the meetings of Kashmiri leaders with representatives of any country. “Since the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Union of India and these so-called Kashmiri ‘leaders’ are Indian citizens, there is no bar on their meetings with representatives of any country in India,” Minister of State for External Affairs, VK Singh said in a written reply to the parliament. However, Singh was quick to add that “India has consistently maintained that there is no role for a third party in the bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan as per the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration. India’s displeasure at Pakistan’s attempts to interfere in India’s internal affairs has been repeatedly conveyed to Pakistan”.

VK Singh is a former Indian army chief, he shot to fame after his absurd tweet while he was attending a function at Pakistan’s High Commission in India, as he felt “disgusted” seated next to All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leadership. Earlier he had exposed the myth of Indian electoral drama in IOK by saying that all these elections are engineered through under the table funding.

Pakistan considers Kashmiri people as the main stakeholder in the dispute and, therefore, it keeps contacts with the APHC leaders in order to not only acquaint them with the steps that Islamabad is taking to forcefully raise the dispute at international level but also reaffirm its moral, political and diplomatic support to them in just solution of the dispute. As a primary party to the dispute, Pakistan has also long been insisting that the leadership of Jammu and Kashmir should be included in the dialogue process but Indian side is opposing the move. Pakistan has always been of the view that pro-plebiscite leadership of Kashmir isn’t any third party but primary party to the dispute. Kashmir is not a regional, economic or a border issue, but purely a humanitarian and political issue, which needs apolitical remedy.

Chairman APHC (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has welcomed this development and said “it is good that New Delhi has realized that no red lines can be drawn on meeting people.” “It’s a good sign. Finally, New Delhi seems to have realized that there can be no lines drawn for meeting people. We reiterate that Kashmir is purely a political issue and can’t be linked with terror attacks like Pathankot which cast a shadow on dialogue…This is a welcome step,…Better late than never,” Mirwaiz added. One may expect that this clear shift in Indian policy will pave the way for APHC leaders to hold talks with Pakistan.

Mir Waiz Umar Farooq
Mir Waiz Umar Farooq Addresses a Rally in Srinagar

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has challenged the PDP-BJP to fight the pro-freedom camp on political turf rather than caging the leaders in homes and jails.  He reminded IOK Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of her 2010 street protests wherein she would demand “revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act” and call for “end to atrocities.” Mirwaiz also displayed photographs of Chief Minister wherein she is seeking revocation of AFSPA and calling for “stopping atrocities” during the protests of 2010. “These people talk in one language while they happen to be in opposition and change colours soon after they grab power,” he said. “But the present regime seems to have crossed all limits on this front. We are not allowed to offer Friday prayers, take part in religious gatherings, and recently we were barred from addressing a Seerat conference as well,” he said.  “The height of oppression is we were recently not allowed to offer funeral in absentia for JKLF founder Amanullah Khan.

Pro-plebiscite activists are being asked to get registered with police and visit their respective police stations every week. In some police stations, photographs of pro-freedom activists have been kept alongside those of criminals. Mehbooba is projecting the situation as if all is well in Kashmir by inviting tourists to visit Kashmir. One wonders as to what happened to her late father’s “battle of ideas” and healing touch policy”. Other Kashmiri leaders have also welcomed the Indian decision of allowing them to meet Pakistan, hoping India will not create any red lines on the matter.

If one may look at the recent past, the Indian side has always opposed Pakistan’s direct talks with the APHC leadership. In 2014, it had even called off Foreign Secretary level talks with Islamabad in protest against Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s meeting with Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah

Earlier Hurriyat Conference (G) termed BJP leader Jitendra Singh’s remarks on Kashmir as “ridiculous” and “bereft of any historical background”. Jitendra had said on that ‘Kashmir has always been an integral part of India and will continue to do so’ and had cited an “evidence” of passing of a Parliament resolution in 1994 in this regard. A Hurriyat (G) spokesman said: “Kashmir can neither become an integral part of India by passing resolutions in the parliament nor can the freedom sentiments of Kashmiris be suppressed this way. Pakistan hasn’t occupied that part of Kashmir and has never opposed the right to self-determination of Kashmiris”.

Conclusion

The 13th OIC Summit, held in Istanbul from 10-15 April, called on India to implement pending UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, and called upon the United Nations for implementation of the Security Council’s relevant Resolutions on Kashmir. It called upon India to allow the OIC Fact Finding Mission and the international human rights groups and humanitarian organizations access to IOK. Indian leadership needs to recognize the Kashmir is Kashmir and Balochistan is Balochistan. The difference is well understood by the comity of nations. Such Indian gimmicks would neither make Kashmir a part of India nor would stall China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

 

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Blasphemy issue needs a permanent solution

The good sense has prevailed, an imminent catastrophe has receded. In a written statement issued on August 30, Geert Wilders announced "not to let the cartoon contest go ahead.” The contest was to be held at the tightly guarded offices of his Party for Freedom in the Dutch parliament building. Meanwhile, the Netherlands government had been at pains to distance itself from the contest. Prime Minister Mark Rutte questioned Wilders' motive for organising the contest. Pakistan’s foreign minister congratulated the nation and Muslim Ummah on their moral victory and termed the cancellation of the contest a victory for Pakistan on the diplomatic front. Cancellation announcement came within days after Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a statement saying the act was hurting the sentiments of Muslims living all around the world. Condemning the blasphemous cartoon competition in the Netherlands, Prime Minister Imran Khan had blamed the recurrence of such incidents a collective failure of the Muslim world, saying he would take up the matter at the United Nations General Assembly’s upcoming session. After the publication of Salman Rushdi’s blasphemous book ‘Satanic Verses’, it has become very easy to malign Muslims in the West, the prime minister said. “And they have been successfully doing it.” If they [Western countries] feel pained discussing the Holocaust, why haven’t we been able to convey to the West how much we feel pained when they do blasphemous things against Islam and our beloved Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him)?” Pakistan’s foreign office is undertaking a hectic diplomatic campaign to avert the exhibition of profane cartoons in November. Hopefully the good sense would prevail. Time and again, Western Christian countries purposefully hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims through public display of profane audio-visual and print material about Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), under the pretext of their so called doctrine of freedom of expression. In a stark contradiction, same very European States immediately imprison anyone questioning the veracity of ‘Holocaust’, while Muslims and their religion don’t get the similar preferential treatment. While earlier such incidents in Netherlands were an act of non-state actors, this time parliamentary permission to hold the forthcoming exhibition inside parliament premises had made the government of Netherlands a party to this nefarious act of religious extremism. Opposition leader Greet Wilders has a track history of airing anti-Muslim sentiment. In December 2017, he proposed that European countries should adopt Donald Trump-style travel bans to counter a wave of Islamisation, according to him, sweeping the continent. Wilders also urged Europe to adopt Australia’s tactics in turning back migrant boats and to build new border walls, as Trump had vowed to do along the US frontier with Mexico. Wilders is the parliamentary leader of his party in the House of Representatives. During his election campaign, Wilders had published a one-page election manifesto calling for a ban on all asylum seekers and migrants from Islamic nations, and urged his country to leave the European Union. Wilders also stands for banning the Quran and closing all mosques and Islamic schools. Political environment in Netherlands is quite murky and thoroughly mired in populist rhetoric, where both the government and the opposition are, more often than not, competing to appear more racist and exclusionist. Wilders was defeated in March 2017 elections by Mark Rutte. According to Guardian “cost of latter’s victory against Geert Wilders’ anti-EU, anti-immigration, anti-Islam Freedom PVV party was a pyrrhic victory”. Mark Rutte’s VVD party had adopted the very rhetoric of Wilders to beat him. Rutte had said: “something wrong with our country” and claimed “the silent majority” would no longer tolerate immigrants who come and “abuse our freedom”. Close to end of his previous tenure as Prime Minster, Rutte thought that being tough on Turkey would fetch him more votes, therefore he “happily sparked a mini-international crisis for the sake of votes”. While during the electoral campaign, Rutte said stopping Wilders was about stopping the “wrong sort of populism”. Situation is akin to India where both BJP and Congress compete to articulate more pro Hindu rhetoric to encash Hindu vote bank. Pakistan had approached Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to lodge a protest against this planned cartoon competition in Netherlands. Former caretaker Foreign Minister Abdullah Haroon had set the dice rolling by writing a letter to the OIC Secretary General seeking his leadership for a collective action to register a protest of OIC countries with the Dutch authorities, who in turn had written to the Dutch foreign minister, on behalf of 57 Muslim countries, protesting against this abominable event. It is not the first time that the Netherlands is holding such competition. In the past also such acts have frequently been committed by this country with a malicious intent to target the noblest personality of the Holy Prophet (Pbuh). Pakistan has called upon the Dutch Ambassador to Pakistan and the EU Ambassador, who represents 28 European countries, to register the protest. “We have conveyed our condemnation of this deliberate attempt to vilify Islam. Such incidents should not go unpunished,” Foreign office spokesperson said. Pakistan’s new government had taken forth the process. During its first meeting, cabinet decided to take up the matter at bilateral level. Pakistan lodged a strong protest with the Netherlands over an announcement of holding a competition of blasphemous caricatures. “The charge d’affaires of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was summoned to the Foreign Office on August 13, and a strong protest was lodged”, Foreign office stated. Deep concern was conveyed at this deliberate and malicious attempt to defame Islam. “Pakistan’s ambassador in Hague has been instructed to forcefully raise the issue with the Dutch government along with ambassadors of OIC member states,” the Foreign Office went on to add. Foreign minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi also spoke to his Dutch counterpart. Pakistan’s permanent representatives to the United Nations in New York and Geneva were directed to take up the matter with the UN Secretary General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN bodies and procedures. The issue would also be discussed in the forthcoming meeting of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers, scheduled to be held on the side-lines of forthcoming 73rd ministerial session of the UNGA. Though the triggering issue is behind us, OIC should not lower its guards, it should firm up an action plan if any individual or government attempts such a misadventure in future. During this meeting the Muslim countries should send a loud and clear message that the despoliation of Muslim holy personalities is not acceptable to them. The silver lining is that there have been saner voices from within Dutch civil society. Demonstrations were held by Dutch nationals to show solidarity with Muslims. During March 2017, Dutch citizens gathered at a mosque in Amsterdam, to show solidarity with the country’s Muslim population. People representing a broad coalition against racism gathered at the central Al-Kabir mosque to show opposition to anti-Muslim sentiments in the country. “We as a Muslim community pose no danger whatsoever to society,” said Najem Ouladali while addressing the gathering. “We believe that what Wilders is doing is very dangerous to our society,” Ouladali added. Najem was one of the organizers of the gathering. Pakistan should continue to work closely with all the OIC member states to find a permanent solution to this recurring issue. Matter should be persistently raised at the relevant international fora until a sustainable way is found by the international community for preventing such abhorrent acts.

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