Daily Briefs

Photo : The Nation

04 August 2020, Tuesday, Vol 1, No.96

Kashmir obsession in Pakistan

Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir: Pakistan's obsession in full swing, as it inaugurates a "Srinagar Highway" and releases a "Kashmir postal stamp" Abrogation of Article 370: One year later, what Pakistan has to say

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus

Kashmir, Kashmir, Kashmir: Pakistan's obsession in full swing, as it inaugurates a "Srinagar Highway" and releases a "Kashmir postal stamp"
Abrogation of Article 370: One year later, what Pakistan has to say

Pakistan government has decided to commemorate the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian government as ‘Yaum-i-Istehsal’ (Day of Exploitation). Numerous events have been scheduled to mark this day: the main event being Prime Minister Imran Khan’s addressing in Muzaffarabad’s AJK Assembly to reaffirm Pakistan’s support for Kashmir cause. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met with Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider to discuss the Kashmir issue; he said Kashmiris’ struggle would help liberate Kashmir from India. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said PM Khan’s campaign to globally expose the Indian BJP government’s Hindutva mindset and to liberate Kashmiris from India. (“Kashmiris reject India’s excesses, world silence: FM,” Dawn, 4 August 2020)

On 3 August, in honour of the sacrifices of the Kashmiris, Minister of Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed unveiled a commemorative ‘Youm-e-Istehsal’ postal stamp to mark one year of the abrogation of Article 370 and express solidarity with the people of Kashmir. He also officially rechristened the Kashmir Highway as “Srinagar Highway”. (“Govt issues Youm-e-Istehsal stamps,” The Express Tribune, 4 August 2020) (Postal stamp issued to honour Kashmiris’ sacrifices,” Dawn, 4 August 2020) On the same day, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, SAPM on National Security Moeed Yousuf, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and FM Qureshi visited the Line of Control in Pakistan occupied Kashmir to boost the troops’ morale. (“Pervez, Qureshi, Moeed visit LoC: Kashmiris will never be left alone,” The News International, 4 August 2020)

The Pakistan media houses and dailies were also vociferous. A plethora of articles and commentaries resonate Kashmir’s struggle. Common arguments/themes can be observed. First, attempts for demographic alteration by the Indian government through the issuing of domicile certificates for the larger motive – to make Kashmiri Muslims a minority in Kashmir by muzzling dissent. Second, systemic Indian invasion of Kashmir. Third, presenting of Modi as the diehard fascist proponent of the RSS’ Hindutva ideology, who not only trampled the Fourth Geneva Convention and violated UNSC resolutions in Kashmir, but also enacted national laws that were discriminatory against Muslim citizens of India. Some articles present the combination of NRC and CAA in this light. Last, the need for the international community to remove blinkers from its eyes and address the ‘Indian tyranny’, oppression and human rights violations in the Kashmir valley.

Dawn article by Muhammed Rafiq Dar criticized the populace of Jammu for relishing the “Hindu-Muslim game” despite bearing the brunt of the abrogation and cautioned that Islamabad was preparing to change PoK’s status quo by enacting the 14th Amendment to the 1974 AJK Interim Constitution Act and a complete annexation of “Gilgit-Baltistan to safeguard CPEC.” (“India-occupied Kashmir is on the brink of collapse,” Dawn, 4 August 2020)

Meanwhile, "AJK" President Sardar Masood Khan lamented that the granting of Kashmiri domiciles to Hindu residents of Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Haryana and Delhi were to displace and rob the rights of Kashmiris and vouched that all political forces would unanimously support Kashmiris in their struggle for self-determination (“All political forces unanimous in support of Kashmiris: AJK president,” The Nation, 4 August 2020); and Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed Kashmir with PM Khan when the former called to exchange Eid greetings on 3 August.

However, not everyone is on board with the new stamp or the rechristening of Islamabad’s Kashmir Highway as ‘Srinagar Highway’. Malik Muhammad Ashraf, in his Opinion article titled “Year of Tyranny”, points out fault lines in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy over the years. First, “the non-state actor option of the 1990s” that has caused the dead weight of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM); second, the ‘normalization’ option of the 2000s that aimed to normalize “Indian hegemony” and Pakistan’s “strategic retreat”; and third, the symbolic gestures option (such as observing silence, singing songs, issuing stamps and so on) which commenced in 2014. According to Ashraf, the post-5 August policy of symbolic gestures such as the new stamp and the renaming the highway may just be the best of Pakistan’s limited options considering Pakistan’s limitations and Pakistan’s domestic extremism problem which is, unlike India’s, not international in nature. (“Year of tyranny,” The News International, 4 August 2020) He argues that while Indian extremism or Hindutva rage is fuelled by an inferiority complex in comparison with the West, embarrassing cross-border failures with the Chinese and failed diplomatic efforts to control Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh, Pakistan’s extremism problem rises from classes, involves tribal codes and most importantly both the victims and perpetrators are often Muslims. Thus, Pakistan’s domestic extremism does not influence national policies on “Sir Creek, Kashmir, Siachen, the Samjhota Express terror attacks, or the predations of Indian spies in Kabul, Herat or Mazar-e-Sharif.” The identified common problem, however, is that of a mismatch between ambitions and realities/capabilities. (“Kashmir repression,” Dawn, 4 August 2020)

The larger Pakistani opinion of India’s motive regarding the Indian manoeuvres in Kashmir, since 5 August 2019, was captured by Muhammad Rafiq Dar. He wrote, “put Kashmiris behind locks, muzzle voices of dissent on one hand, and on the other, continue with the settler-colonial regime — bring devotees to glorify the conquest and then bring settlers in the form of labourers.” (“India-occupied Kashmir is on the brink of collapse,” Dawn, 4 August 2020)

In Brief
PkMAP leader on the role of undemocratic forces in the affairs and politics of the country
On 3 August, Mehmood Khan Achakzai chairman of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) said, “The real issue of the country is not Imran Khan, but the unconstitutional role and interference of undemocratic forces in the affairs and politics of the country.” He also said, that “the existing system could not run anymore, and it was about to collapse, as the basic concept of justice was being ignored and civil authority did not exist in the country.” The leader also demanded resolution on the Baloch-Pashtoon issue, saying “We need a separate Pashtoon unit. As long as the Pashtoon-Baloch issue is not resolved, the country will not progress. The Baloch are sitting in the assembly by force. We demand a united Pashtoon assembly”. (“No progress achievable without supremacy of Constitution: Achakzai,” Dawn, 4 August 2020)  

Another hectic week for the Parliament 
The National Assembly and Senate are set to have another busy week commencing from 5 August after completing a hectic schedule that remained in session for almost two months. The two houses are to take up Kashmir and FATF-related legislation for discussion during this session. Further, a joint sitting of parliament has been convened by President Arif Alvi for 6 August. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs stated that the main focus would be on passing the FATF-related bills and some other legislations of national significance. Further, the Senate has called for a special session tomorrow on the occasion of the first anniversary the removal of Article 370. The minister stated that the main purpose of the Senate session was “to send a national call and cry to the rest of the world and the institutions” on the situation in Kashmir. (Amir Wasim, “Parliament to have another hectic week,” Dawn, 4 August 2020)

Moazzam Ahmad Khan made the HC for UK and Moin-ul-Haq has been appointed as ambassador to China 
The Special Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Moazzam Ahmad Khan has been appointed as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Moin-ul-Haq as Pakistan’s new ambassador to China. Ambassador Moin-ul-Haq has assumed assignment in Beijing with a determination that the two countries would resist hegemonic designs which are increasing in the region. Moin-ul-Haq who was the former ambassador to France is said to carry out Islamabad’s desire for maintaining peace in the region with dignity and joining hands China for the cause. Moin-ul-Haq has replaced Ms Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi who has attained superannuation and stands retired after returning from Beijing. During her tenure she is said to have promoted and strengthened Pakistan's deep-rooted friendship with China, cemented economic and trade ties and took immense steps to promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges under the two countries’ All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership. She is also said to have supervised measures to protect the lives of Pakistani nationals stranded in Wuhan during the pandemic. (Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, “Moin becomes envoy to China, Moazzam made HC for UK,” The News International, 4 August 2020)

Reopening of the Chaman border crossing
On 4 August, Pakistan decided to reopen its border with Afghanistan at Chaman. The decision came after a flag meeting of military commanders of the two countries was held on 3 August at the Friendship Gate on the Pak-Afghan border. Commandant of Frontier Corps at Chaman, along with other officials, represented Pakistan, while Col Sharif headed the Afghan delegation at the flag meeting. Both sides submitted several proposals to resolve the issue. The border had been closed after violent incidents in Chaman which claimed at least seven lives and left many others injured. (“Pakistan to reopen Chaman border crossing today,” Dawn, 4 August 2020)

Afghan Government should pursue peace with Taliban: PM Imran Khan
On 3 August, PM Imran Khan urged the Afghan government to pursue peace with the Taliban despite the various challenges. After a telephonic conversation between the PM Khan and President Ashraf Ghani, in a statement released by the Prime Minister Office stated, “The prime minister expressed the hope that the current momentum would be further built to implement the US-Taliban peace agreement in its entirety leading to Intra-Afghan negotiations at the earliest.” Further, the two leaders discussed the latest stages of the Afghan talks and PM Khan reiterated the positive role of Pakistan in the process, strongly emphasizing that peace in Afghanistan is of paramount importance. Further, this conversation was also important as it came after the deadly border clash between the forces of the two countries. (“PM urges Afghanistan to pursue peace with Taliban at the earliest,” Dawn, 4 August 2020) 

PM Imran Khan on mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia
On 03 August, Prime Minister Imran Khan made a statement in an interview with Al Jazeera, “Our mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia have not stopped and we are making progress, but slowly”. He also added, “We have done our best to avoid a military confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and our efforts have succeeded”. The US-Iranian relations worsened after President Donald Trump’s administration withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions in mid-2018. (“Efforts still under way for mediation between Iran, Saudi Arabia: PM,” Dawn, 4 August 2020) 

IHC appointed three lawyers for the Kulbhushan Jadhav case
On 04 August, the Islam­abad High Court (IHC) appointed leading lawyers as amici curiae in Kulbhushan Jad­hav case and had asked Khalid Jawed Khan Attorney General for Pakistan to once again seek a response from the Indian government and Kulbhushan Jadhav regarding the appointment of counsel for his defence. Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, IHC division said, everyone, must keep in mind right to a fair trial while issuing statements related to Jadhav”. The court also said, “We appoint Mr Abid Hassan Manto, Mr Hamid Khan, Senior Advocates of the Supreme Court and former presidents of the Sup­reme Court Bar Association, and Mr Makhdoom Ali Khan, Senior Advocate Sup­reme Court, and former Att­orney General of Pakistan, as amici curiae for our legal assistance in general and, in particular, to ensure that the judgment of the Inter­national Court is effectively implemented”. (“Three top lawyers to assist IHC in Indian spy case,” Dawn, 4 August 2020)

Pakistan inaugurates a "Srinagar Highway" with the sign board showing distance to Srinagar and Leh. (Source: Dawn)

"One year after India’s revocation of Articles 370 and 35A, the situation in India-held Kashmir remains a powder keg of anger and repression. Ravaged by a brutal curfew that included complete shutting down of internet services, Kashmir today continues to suffocate under unprecedented military presence. The Hindu supremacist government of BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had boasted on Aug 5 last year that the annexation of Kashmir would bring peace and prosperity to the people of the region. A year later all such predictions have proved wrong. Thousands of Kashmiris have been imprisoned, tortured and made to disappear, and yet the population remains defiant"

-  Editorial, Dawn (Dawn)

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