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Pulwama Reactions; US-Taliban Talks; MBS in Pakistan

Is the tragic Pulwama attack in Kashmir a surprise? Are Modi's policies of relying on force alone contributing to rising violence in Kashmir and across India? Is blaming Pakistan just a distraction from the core issues in India? Why has India seen the world's highest number of bomb blasts, more than in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan in the last two years? And why does Chattisgarh top the list of places with the highest number of bomb blasts followed by Manipur, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Indian-occupied Kashmir? Does the Modi policy of crushing Maoists and Kashmiri resistance make any sense? Can India tackle these issues by force alone without a parallel political strategy and peace process?

Bomb Blast Stats in India. Source: Economic Times

Is it a mistake for Washington and Moscow to ignore President Ghani and his government in reaching peace deals with the Taliban? Should Islamabad try and bring the Ghani government reps into the process for lasting peace? Does the Ghani government really matter any more on the ground where it lacks credibility? What is the best long term arrangement to stabilize Afghanistan? Would it take a regional deal involving all of its neighbors as well as the US, China, Russia, and India?

Is there a link between Pakistan's help in US-Taliban talks and the willingness of Gulf Arabs and IMF to aid Pakistan in resolving its balance of payment crisis? Is ex-State Department official Vali Nasr right when he says: “Any Afghan settlement needs #Pakistan. Pakistan is playing ball with the US and that means Pakistan is in a position to make demands as well.”? Is Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Salman's visit to Pakistan a part of this larger picture?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with analysts Sabahat Ashraf (ifaqeer) and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://youtu.be/kF5zsUix_0s

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Comment by Riaz Haq on February 18, 2019 at 8:08am

'Stop #Pakistan Obsession, Set Our Own House in Order', Says Mehbooba on Centre's Approach to #India Occupied #Kashmir. #Pulwama #Modi https://www.news18.com/news/india/stop-pakistan-obsession-set-our-o...

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti Monday expressed condolences to the families of soldiers killed in the Pulwama encounter, saying the bloodshed will only stop when the Centre overhauls its approach to Jammu and Kashmir.

"Deepest condolences to the families. This bloodshed will only stop when GoI (Government of India) overhauls its approach (rather lack of it) towards J&K," the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said in a tweet.


She expressed the need to "stop the obsession with Pakistan" and "set our own house in order".


"Lets drop the obsession with Pakistan and get our own house in order. The current attitude will only worsen the situation & polarise the nation (sic)," she added.

Two Jaish terrorists, including a Pakistani commander of the group being investigated for his role in the February 14 CRPF bombing, and an Army major were among the seven people killed in an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on Monday, officials said.

At least six security personnel, including a Brigadier, a lieutenant colonel and a deputy inspector general, were injured in the gun battle in Pulwama's Pinglan area, about 12 km from where a suicide bomber belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammed drove his explosives-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus last week, killing 40 jawans.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 18, 2019 at 10:17am

#Pulwama explosives obtained locally, says #Indian commander. “It is not possible to bring such massive amounts of explosives by infiltrating the border” from #Pakistan, says an Indian military commander, Lt Gen D.S. Hooda. https://www.dawn.com/news/1464358

India blames Pakistan for Thursday’s suicide bombing in Pulwama that killed over 40 soldiers in India-held Kashmir. Pakistan has strongly rejected the Indian claim, urging New Delhi to avoid such “sad and baseless knee-jerk reactions”.

The Indian media reported that the suicide car-bomber Aadil Ahmad Dar used more than 750 pounds of explosives against the military convoy he targeted.

Gen Hooda, who commanded the Indian army’s Northern Command during a similar crisis in September 2016, told The New York Times on Saturday that “the material may have been taken from stashes of explosives” being used to broaden the Jammu highway where the attack occurred.

The newspaper also noted that India’s options for putting diplomatic pressure on Pakistan were limited, so were its options for a military response.

“Pakistan is largely shielded by its alliance with China, which has used its veto power at the United Nations Security Council to protect it,” said the NYT report while explaining why India did not have too many options for diplomatically isolating Pakistan.

“India’s options for a military response are also limited, analysts say, with the disputed border blanketed in thick snow and Pakistani troops on high alert,” the report added.

Diplomatic observers in Washington pointed out that the United States will also not like to isolate Pakistan, particularly now when it’s playing a key role in US-Taliban talks. A semi-official US media outlet, Voice of America, reported that American and Taliban officials are set to meet in Islamabad on Monday for a new round of direct peace negotiations aimed at paving the way for a political settlement to the war in Afghanistan.

The NYT report also hinted that the bomber might have been motivated by domestic reasons to carry out the attack.

“The nature of Thursday’s bombing suggests the insurgency is adapting and becoming more homegrown, leaving observers to question how deep the links to Pakistan really run,” the newspaper observed.

It pointed out that Dar was from a village about six miles from where the Indian convoy was struck ... and the explosives he packed into his car appear to have been locally procured.

The report noted that “an insurgency that was once stoked by Pakistan may have taken on a life of its own, as Kashmiris become more disenfranchised and angry at the central government in Delhi and its use of force”.

Some of Dar’s friends told NYT that he turned to militancy after he was wounded at a protest in 2016, where his leg was struck by a bullet fired by the Central Reserve Police Force, a paramilitary unit. “Many Kashmiris loathe the paramilitary unit, viewing it as an occupying force recruited from across India to suppress them,” the report added.

It also noted that the attack had “prompted new questions about how tenable (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s hard-line strategy” in Kashmir was.

India has about 250,000 armed forces in Kashmir, making it one of the most militarised corners of the world. “The armed presence affects everyday life for most locals, whose farmland, homes or schools are overshadowed by the military presence,” NYT added.

Yet, a former White House adviser on South Asian affairs, Joshua White, warned that India could pursue “a limited military action, more useful for catharsis than deterrence”.

“The sad reality is that until and unless Pakistan itself makes a decision to stop harbouring groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad, there is little that India or the United States can do to diminish the threat of these devastating attacks,” he said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 21, 2019 at 7:27am

Chandrababu Naidu, CM of Andhra Pradesh, accuses #BJP of "belittling" #India with their "petty" actions and "wrongdoing". Naidu would not tolerate what he described as "jeopardizing" of national security for self-interest. #Pulwama #Modi https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/chandrababu-naidu-on-pulwama-... via @indiatoday

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu was commenting on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's statement on the terrorist attack in Pulwama, which he delivered in a televised address on Tuesday.

BJP leaders belittling India with petty actions: Chandrababu Naidu
Many apprehensions over Imran Khan's statement: Chandrababu Naidu
Tough action should be taken on terrorist attacks: Chandrababu Naidu
Chandrababu Naidu blames the BJP's "inefficiency" for what he describes as a threat to national security in the wake of Pakistan's reaction to criticism for last week's terrorist attack in Pulwama.

In comments published by ANI, the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh accused BJP leaders of "belittling" India with their "petty" actions and "wrongdoing". He said he would not tolerate what he described as the "jeopardising" of national security for self-interest.

On Tuesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan defended his country from blame for the Pulwama attack, carried out by the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed, in which 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers were martyred. In a televised address, he threatened to retaliate if India attacked Pakistan.


Chandrababu Naidu, who leads former NDA ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP), said there were "many apprehensions" over Imran Khan's statement. He said tough action should be taken on terrorist attacks.


ANI

@ANI
Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu: Will not tolerate jeopardizing National security for self-interests. Will not tolerate playing with Army for political gains. Tough action should be taken on terror attacks.

ANI

@ANI
Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu on Pakistan PM's statement on #PulwamaAttack: Many apprehensions over his statement. Threat to national security because of the inefficiency of the ruling party. BJP leaders are belittling the nation with their petty actions and wrongdoings.
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8:15 PM - Feb 19, 2019

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India has killed three terrorists in Kashmir in the wake of the attack in Pulwama, including the man who masterminded it. It has said the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammed and its leader, Masood Azhar, in Pakistan should be sufficient proof for Islamabad to take action.

"The prime minister of Pakistan has offered to investigate the matter if India provides proof. This is a lame excuse," the Ministry of External Affairs said on Tuesday. "In the horrific attack in Mumbai on 26/11, proof was provided to Pakistan. Despite this, the case has not progressed for the last more than 10 years. Likewise, on the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase, there has been no progress."

Meanwhile, the Indian Army has warned parents of Kashmiri terrorists that anyone who picks up a gun in the Valley will be killed, and urged them to ask their children to surrender.

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 22, 2019 at 7:05am

Deadly Kashmir Suicide Bombing Ratchets up India-Pakistan Tensions

by Laurel Miller

https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-asia/kashmir/deadly-kashmir-...


A 14 February suicide attack by Pakistan-based militants was their bloodiest strike in Indian-administered Kashmir in over three decades. In this Q&A, our Asia Program Director Laurel Miller warns that even a limited Indian retaliatory strike could spark a sharp escalation in conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours. 


Was Kashmiri homegrown militancy responsible for the Pulwama attack?

The 14 February suicide attacker, Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Adil Ahmad Dar (also known as Waqas Commando), was a young man from a village close to the attack site who had joined the group last year. His father claimed he had joined Jaish after Indian troops beat and humiliated him. India’s militarised response to growing local alienation and disaffection in J&K has resulted in an exponential rise in homegrown militancy and local support for the militants. The July 2016 killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a young charismatic Hizbul Mujahideen militant, accelerated these developments

Rampant rights abuses amid a climate of impunity, highlighted in the June 2018 UN report on Kashmir, and draconian laws such as the Armed Services Special Powers Act serve as recruiting tools for both Kashmiri separatist groups and Pakistani jihadist outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammed. Clearing operations by Indian security forces such as “Operation All Out”, launched in mid-2017, led to 2018 becoming the bloodiest year in J&K in a decade. Around 500 people were killed in Kashmir’s conflict-related violence, including militants, civilians and security personnel. Although more than half of those killed were militants, many non-combatants were also killed, injured or disappeared in military operations, resulting in more support by local communities for the militant cause.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 24, 2019 at 6:46pm

Making of militants in #India Occupied #Kashmir. Growing number of locally-born #Kashmiris are picking up arms. 400 locals have been recruited by militants since 2016, double the number in the previous 6 years, according to #Indian officials #Pulwama #Modi https://reut.rs/2uquHE9

Outside the narrow lane that leads to the Malik family home in Kulgam in southern Kashmir, children walk to school past shuttered shopfronts and walls spray-painted with the word “azadi”, the local word for “freedom”. The graveyard at the end of the lane has an area for militants, who are remembered as “martyrs”.

Dar’s family claims he’d been radicalized in 2016 after being beaten up by Indian troops on his way back from school for pelting stones at them.

“Since then, he wanted to join the militants,” said his father Ghulam Hassan Dar, a farmer.

India’s home and foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

In news conferences since the suicide bombing, Lt. Gen. K.J.S. Dhillon, India’s top military commander in Kashmir, has dismissed allegations of harassment and rights abuses by Indian troops as “propaganda”. He said the recent crackdown by security forces has resulted in the killing of the masterminds of the attack, and militant recruitment has dipped in recent months.

Syed Ata Hasnain, a retired army general who has served in Kashmir for over 20 years, said the rise in homegrown fighters does not surprise him. 

“Those who were born in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the conflict started, have now come of age,” he said. “This is a generation that has only seen the jackboot. The alienation of this generation is higher than the alienation of the previous generation.”

A 17th century Mughal emperor called Kashmir “paradise on earth”. But violence has ebbed and flowed in the valley since the subcontinent was divided into predominantly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan after independence from Britain in 1947.

The question of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, was never resolved, and it has been the catalyst for two wars and several violent clashes between the countries.

Tensions have risen after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in New Delhi in 2014. Modi promised a tougher approach to Pakistan and gave security forces the license to retaliate forcefully against the insurgency.

Around that time, many young Kashmiris started rallying around Burhan Wani, who had left home at the age of 15 to join the insurgency. Wani had a large following on social media, where he appeared in videos dressed in military fatigues and armed with an assault rifle, calling for an uprising against Indian rule. 

He and his brother were beaten by security forces when they were teenagers, his family told local media. Wani was 22 when he was killed by security forces in 2016 and thousands attended his funeral despite restrictions on the movement of people and traffic.

The United Nations said in a report last year that in trying to quell mass protests in Kashmir since 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to between 130 and 145 killings, according to civil society estimates.

Thousands were injured, including around 700 who sustained eye injuries from the use of pellet guns by security forces, it said. Thousands of people had simply disappeared since the insurgency began, it said.

The Indian government has rejected the report as false. Indian forces have long been accused of rights abuses and torture in custody in Kashmir, but officials routinely deny the charges.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 24, 2019 at 7:07pm

Making of militants in #India Occupied #Kashmir. Growing number of locally-born #Kashmiris are picking up arms. 400 locals have been recruited by militants since 2016, double the number in the previous 6 years, according to #Indian officials #Pulwama #Modi https://reut.rs/2uquHE9

Outside the narrow lane that leads to the Malik family home in Kulgam in southern Kashmir, children walk to school past shuttered shopfronts and walls spray-painted with the word “azadi”, the local word for “freedom”. The graveyard at the end of the lane has an area for militants, who are remembered as “martyrs”.

Dar’s family claims he’d been radicalized in 2016 after being beaten up by Indian troops on his way back from school for pelting stones at them.

“Since then, he wanted to join the militants,” said his father Ghulam Hassan Dar, a farmer.

India’s home and foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

In news conferences since the suicide bombing, Lt. Gen. K.J.S. Dhillon, India’s top military commander in Kashmir, has dismissed allegations of harassment and rights abuses by Indian troops as “propaganda”. He said the recent crackdown by security forces has resulted in the killing of the masterminds of the attack, and militant recruitment has dipped in recent months.

Syed Ata Hasnain, a retired army general who has served in Kashmir for over 20 years, said the rise in homegrown fighters does not surprise him. 

“Those who were born in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the conflict started, have now come of age,” he said. “This is a generation that has only seen the jackboot. The alienation of this generation is higher than the alienation of the previous generation.”

A 17th century Mughal emperor called Kashmir “paradise on earth”. But violence has ebbed and flowed in the valley since the subcontinent was divided into predominantly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan after independence from Britain in 1947.

The question of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, was never resolved, and it has been the catalyst for two wars and several violent clashes between the countries.

Tensions have risen after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in New Delhi in 2014. Modi promised a tougher approach to Pakistan and gave security forces the license to retaliate forcefully against the insurgency.

Around that time, many young Kashmiris started rallying around Burhan Wani, who had left home at the age of 15 to join the insurgency. Wani had a large following on social media, where he appeared in videos dressed in military fatigues and armed with an assault rifle, calling for an uprising against Indian rule. 

He and his brother were beaten by security forces when they were teenagers, his family told local media. Wani was 22 when he was killed by security forces in 2016 and thousands attended his funeral despite restrictions on the movement of people and traffic.

The United Nations said in a report last year that in trying to quell mass protests in Kashmir since 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to between 130 and 145 killings, according to civil society estimates.

Thousands were injured, including around 700 who sustained eye injuries from the use of pellet guns by security forces, it said. Thousands of people had simply disappeared since the insurgency began, it said.

The Indian government has rejected the report as false. Indian forces have long been accused of rights abuses and torture in custody in Kashmir, but officials routinely deny the charges.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 1, 2019 at 10:31am

15 #Indian elite commandos, driver killed in #Maoist attack. Insurgents torched over 30 vehicles in Gadchiroli #Maharashtra. Indian forces have been fighting Maoists rebels for decades in several areas, in an insurgency that has killed tens of thousands https://gn24.ae/7f427111ea7f000

Mumbai: A suspected bomb attack by Maoist rebels killed 15 Indian elite commandos and their driver on Wednesday, police said, the latest incident of election-time violence in a decades-long insurgency.

"Maoists attacked a team of commandos travelling in a private vehicle to inspect an earlier attack. So far 16 men have died," an official at police headquarters in the western state of Maharashtra told AFP.

"More teams have been sent to site for rescue and combat operations," said the officer, who did not want to give his name.

India is holding elections and attacks by Maoist rebels, who are active in several states, often spike as the country goes to the polls.

A second police official put the death toll in the latest incident in the Gadchiroli region of Maharashtra at 15.

"Maoists torched over 30 vehicles in Gadchiroli today at 12.30pm (0700 GMT). In another blast, 15 security officers were killed and rescue operations are ongoing to ascertain the damage," Gadchiroli police official Prashant Dute told AFP.

Indian forces have been fighting Maoists rebels for decades in several areas, in an insurgency that has killed tens of thousands.

The Maoists are believed to be present in at least 20 Indian states but are most active in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand - and Maharashtra.

India's nationwide election began on April 11 and runs until May 19.

Last weekend rebels opened fire on Indian police, killing two constables and wounding a villager in the central state of Chhattisgarh, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported.

One constable and an assistant constable died at the scene and the villager, shot in the chest, was taken by local residents for treatment, PTI reported.

A roadside bomb attack on a political convoy in early April killed five people in Chhattisgarh, two days before the world's biggest election began.

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