Kashmir parties question crackdown on dissidence

Indian paramilitary troopers stand guard as Kashmiri women walk past during the enforcement on restrictions of movement in Srinagar on March 10, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019
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Kashmir parties question crackdown on dissidence

  • In 2001, Malik was part of the dialogue process with the BJP government under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee

NEW DELHI: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have questioned the wisdom of a ban on the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and called the crackdown on civil society groups and political activists an election gimmick.
“For four-and-half years Yasin Malik (the head of the JKLF) isn’t a threat, Jamaat-e-Islami isn’t a threat, and Pakistan National Day is a function that must be attended. Now suddenly once an election is announced an immediate U-turn is executed,” says Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state and leader of the National Conference (NC).
The president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti, who headed Kashmir as chief minister for close to two years in alliance with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), says that “detrimental steps like these will only turn Kashmir into an open-air prison. Yasin Malik renounced violence as a way of resolving the Jammu and Kashmir issue a long time ago.”
She added: “He was treated as a stakeholder in a dialogue initiated by the then-PM (of India) Vajpayee ji. What will a ban on his organization achieve?”
Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq denounced the ban: “Such anti-Kashmir tactics will not change the reality of the Kashmir issue nor the urgency to resolve it.”
On Friday evening, the Indian government banned the JKLF under the anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba told the media that “the murders of Kashmiri Pandits by the JKLF in 1989 triggered their exodus from the Valley. Yasin Malik was the mastermind behind the purging of Kashmiri Pandits and is responsible for their genocide,” Mr. Gauba said.
The decision followed a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Two cases, including in the murder of Indian Air Force personnel, were registered by the Central Bureau Of Investigation. The National Investigative Agency has also registered a case which is under investigation. It is evident from these that JKLF continues to be actively engaged in supporting and inciting secessionism and terrorism,” he said.
The JKLF, which began as a militant organization in 1970 seeking independence for Kashmir, declared an indefinite cease-fire under the leadership of Malik in 1994.
He declared that he would pursue the Gandhian way of peaceful struggle.
His organization is part of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), a separatist alliance in the valley.
In 2001, Malik was part of the dialogue process with the BJP government under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee. In 2006, the JKLF was also part of the delegation of the separatist leaders who met Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to start the peace process with Pakistan.
“The Indian government is not concerned about Kashmir but only about the election. All this crackdown is to show to the voters in the mainstream that the Modi government is serious about containing terror,” says Professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain of the University Of Kashmir.
“The JKLF abdicated violence and has been following the peaceful resistance movement. Indian people should question the government why they pursuing this kind of destructive politics in the valley,” Hussain told Arab News.


US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

Updated 19 April 2019
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US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

  • A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend
  • The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group

KABUL: The US envoy for peace in Afghanistan expressed disappointment on Friday after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed some of the deep divisions hampering efforts to end the war.
A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend. The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.
“I’m disappointed Qatar’s intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, said on Twitter. “I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans.”
The collapse of the meeting before it had even started, described as a “fiasco” by one senior Western official, laid bare the tensions that have hampered moves toward opening formal peace negotiations.
Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-born diplomat, has held a series of meetings with Taliban representatives but the insurgents have so far refused to talk to the Western-backed government in Kabul, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.
The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the US-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.
President Ashraf Ghani’s office blamed Qatari authorities for the cancelation, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans.”
“This act is not acceptable for the people of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement on Friday.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Qatar, which had been facilitating the meeting, said there was no disagreement about the agenda.
“Rather, there is insufficient agreement around participation and representation to enable the conference to be a success,” he tweeted.
Preparations had already been undermined by disagreements on the government side about who should attend, as well as by suspicions among rival politicians ahead of presidential elections scheduled for September.
The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party.” Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend.
The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.