India moving from occupation to annexation, says Pakistan

Pakistani Kashmiri shout anti-Indian slogans during a protest in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, on August 8, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 08 August 2019

India moving from occupation to annexation, says Pakistan

  • As tensions continued to rise, Pakistan on Thursday suspended its Friendship Express train service to India

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has accused India of moving from “occupation to annexation” over its revocation of Kashmir’s special status.

And with the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir still in lockdown following New Delhi’s move to scrap its autonomous standing, Islamabad demanded a plebiscite for Kashmiris on the issue.

As tensions continued to rise, Pakistan on Thursday suspended its Friendship Express train service to India, a day after it downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, and suspended trade with its eastern neighbor.

Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman, Dr. Mohammad Faisal, told Arab News that although Pakistan had never accepted the now scrapped Article 370 of India’s constitution, it acknowledged that it had theoretically provided special status to Indian-run Kashmir.

However, he described the article’s repeal by the Indian government as a step from “occupation to annexation” and an attempt to turn the globally recognized disputed territory into a province, in violation of international law and UN Security Council Resolution 47 (adopted in 1948, concerning the Kashmir conflict).

Bilateral dialogue between Pakistan and India has remained suspended since the first term in office of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over the years, but India’s latest move puts regional peace at stake.

Faisal said there was now uncertainty as to whether Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan would participate in the 74th session of the UN General Assembly next month.

“At this point nobody knows whether he will go because the situation may deteriorate to such a level where he may not be able to leave the country. The foreign minister had to come back from Hajj as well. At this point, we don’t know what will happen next week.”

The spokesman added: “India has stationed 900,000 troops; one soldier is deployed at every household (in Kashmir) – what is this? If India says it is doing this for the betterment of the people, then it should hold a plebiscite instead.”

Foreign policy expert, Dr. Zafar Jaspal, told Arab News that Pakistan had a number of options at its disposal. “We can extend our political and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brothers and deepen our relationship with China, as it’s also a part of this conflict. Pakistan can also take its case to the UN.”

On the issue of Pakistan providing consular access to convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, Jaspal said it would not be favorable for Pakistan’s campaign against India to disrupt the process and that Islamabad “should continue to act as a responsible state.”


Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

Updated 22 August 2019

Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

  • The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa
  • The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia

JAKARTA: The inaugural Jakarta International Literary Festival commenced on Tuesday evening with a focus on bringing together writers and literary works from the Global South. 

Festival Director Yusi Avianto Pareanom said that the organizer, the Literary Committee of the Jakarta Arts Council, wanted to emphasize the importance of creating balance in a discourse that has been dominated by work from the Global North.

The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa, such as Legodle Seganabeng from Botswana, Adania Shibli from Palestine, Bejan Matur from Turkey, Zainab Priya Dala from South Africa, Shenaz Patel from Mauritius, Momtaza Mehri from Somalia and many authors from Southeast Asian countries.

The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia at the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts and cultural center in Jakarta between Aug. 20 and 24.  

“Our theme ‘Fence’ highlights that we want to unlock and deconstruct the barriers that separate us, so that these writers can get to know each other,” Yusi told Arab News. 

“From authors like Adania Shibli, we can enrich our knowledge about Palestine and its literary scene. There are plenty of ways to portray a situation. Through Shibli, we can get understand Palestine through its literary side.

“By featuring Bejan Matur, we know that there is another prominent Turk author apart from the world-renowned Orhan Pamuk,” he added. 

Shibli delivered her keynote speech titled “I am not to speak my language” at the opening of the festival, in which she described how the Israeli occupation has silenced Arabic-speaking Palestinians.

“The phenomenon of Palestinians taking refuge in silence whenever they are around Hebrew speakers in Palestine or Israel is not unfamiliar,” Shibli said.

She added that decades of military occupation had made speaking in Arabic a fraught experience. 

“Colonialism, however, does not only show contempt toward the colonized, their history and their culture by silencing them, but also toward their language,” she said.  

Shibli described how the nationality law, which the Israeli government passed in July 2018, strips Arabic of its designation as an official language and downgrades it to a special status. 

“Arabic was downgraded from a language into a threat a long time ago,” she added. 

Yusi said that what Shibli described in her speech is relevant to similar situations in other countries, including Indonesia. 

Multilingual Indonesia has more than 700 actively spoken local dialects, with 652 of them verified by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Many of the remaining dialects are in danger of dying out due to diminishing speakers, especially among the younger generation.