Kashmir terror attack: Indian PM warns of strong action

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An activist of the youth wing of India's main opposition Congress party shouts slogans during a protest against the attack on a bus that killed 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in south Kashmir on Thursday, in New Delhi, India, February 15, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Activists of the youth wing of India's main opposition Congress party shout slogans during a protest against the attack on a bus that killed 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in south Kashmir on Thursday, in New Delhi, India, February 15, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Kashmir terror attack: Indian PM warns of strong action

  • Modi blames Pakistan for the deaths of 42 soldiers; Islamabad rejects allegations

NEW DELHI: India’s government on Friday held a high-level security meeting where it blamed Pakistan for the terror attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir that claimed the lives of 42 troops from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on Thursday.
“Those who did the heinous act will have to pay a heavy price. Those who supported it will definitely be punished,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after the meeting.
The Cabinet Committee on Security also decided to withdraw the Most Favored Nation status (MFN) accorded to Pakistan for the “support given to the Jaish-e-Mohammad,” a terror group that has claimed responsibility for the incident. The attack took place in the Lethpora village — along a highway in the Pulwama district of South Kashmir — when a suspected suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into a bus carrying paramilitary troopers.
Condemning Pakistan for the incident, Modi said that “our neighboring country thinks such terror attacks can weaken us, but their plans will not materialize. The security forces have been given complete freedom, the blood of the people is boiling.”
The main opposition Congress Party also held a press conference where former prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and the party’s president, Rahul Gandhi, took turns to address the gathering. “The entire Congress party and most of the opposition stands by the security forces and the government in this difficult time. We are not going to get into any other conversation,” Gandhi said.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry released a statement blaming Pakistan “for supporting terror groups.”
“We demand that Pakistan stop supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from their territory and dismantle the infrastructure operated by terrorist outfits to launch attacks in other countries,” the Foreign Ministry Affairs said.
Islamabad has rejected the allegations. “We have always condemned acts of violence anywhere in the world. We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian media and government that seek to link the attack to Pakistan without investigations,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Local security experts in Kashmir, however, said that such a suicide attack “marks a new normal in militancy in Kashmir.”
“Since 2014, the dialogue process has reached a dead-end from all sides. An atmosphere of fear has been unleashed in the Valley and that is the problem,” Gul Mohammed Wani, a professor at the University of Kashmir, said.
“Media reports say that the suicide bomber was from Pulwama only, a local boy. This points to desperation and a level of disconnect that Kashmiri youth have now. It is a new kind of militancy which is a matter of concern,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Srinagar-based political analyst and thinker, Prof. Siddiq Wahid, questioned “how long will both sides continue to mourn? It is senseless when you consider that it is the result of an arrogant power center refusing to talk, to engage in a dialogue. What does it take to accept that listening to the aspirations of people is a civilized norm?”
“The absence … and the rejection of dialogue has politically radicalized Kashmir. Not just among its youth but generally, too,” he told Arab News. “To blame Pakistan for it is to abdicate responsibility to understand, politically and socially, what a state is, and to look at India’s problems purely through the lens of some sort of strange and ironic victimhood for its population of more than a billion.”
Manoj Joshi of a New Delhi-based think tank, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), said that “this is the larger failure of the government because, for the last four years, the government has launched an operation all out to finish off militancy.”
“This is the most serious attack since the militancy started in the 1990s. Obviously, there is something wrong with the policy because the previous policy has managed to bring down the casualty and violence. But the violence has been going up for the last few years; it is a clear sign the policy of the present regime has failed,” he said, adding that an “all military strategy is the extension of political strategy and you have to have a political strategy before you think of having an effective military strategy.”
He criticized the government for creating a war hysteria, saying that “it’s easy to start the war but it’s difficult to predict what would be the outcome.” He, however, said that Pakistan cannot escape the responsibility. “If it’s serious about combatting terror it should hand over the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar to India,” he said.


Millions of women still landless despite global push for equality

Updated 9 min 55 sec ago
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Millions of women still landless despite global push for equality

  • Throughout rural areas in Zimbabwe, for example, widows routinely find themselves harassed and exploited by in-laws claiming the property their husbands left behind
WASHINGTON: Millions of women worldwide are still unable to access and own land despite laws recognizing their rights, researchers and campaigners said on Monday as they urged countries to bridge the gap between policy and practice.
Patriarchal attitudes toward women and girls and a lack of knowledge of their own rights “prevent millions of women from owning land,” said Victoria Stanley, senior rural development specialist at the World Bank.
“Only 30 percent of the world’s population own land titles, and women are often the least likely to have any land registered,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of a World Bank conference in Washington, D.C.
“Stand for her land,” a campaign launched on Monday by the World Bank and advocacy groups including Landesa and Habitat for Humanity International, aims to change that by promoting better implementation of land laws for women.
Globally, more than 400 million women farm, yet only about 15 percent of farmland is owned by women, according to Landesa.
That inequality exposes women to all manner of rights abuses, rights activists say.
Throughout rural areas in Zimbabwe, for example, widows routinely find themselves harassed and exploited by in-laws claiming the property their husbands left behind.
Although Zimbabwe’s constitution gives women and men equal rights to property and land, in many rural communities tradition overrides national legislation, experts say.
Godfrey Massey of Landesa Tanzania said the existence of laws in itself does not necessarily translate into better access to land for women.
“Women can own land just as men, but few women are aware of this in Tanzania,” he said, calling for more initiatives at the community level to raise awareness of land rights.
“We’ve seen trainings lead to a rise in women joining village land councils or realizing that their husband can’t mortgage the family land without their consent,” he said.
Rajan Samuel of Habitat for Humanity India said that efforts to improve land rights must acknowledge cultural norms like India’s centuries-old Hindu caste system.
“You can have all the policies in the world, if you don’t engage the community from day one you won’t succeed,” he said.