Normalization of Indo-Pak ties hurts Kashmir cause: Salahuddin

Updated 08 July 2012

Normalization of Indo-Pak ties hurts Kashmir cause: Salahuddin

Recent developments with regard to Pakistan's normalization of relations with India have made Kashmir's struggle for the right of self-determination disenchanted as this new approach of the Pakistani political leadership has stunned top Kashmiri leaders.
Pakistan bestowed on India the title of its “Most Favored Nation” (MFN status) besides opening several trade routes along the line of control as well as on the settled boundaries, giving a clear signal to Kashmiri political and militant leaders that Pakistan needs business with India.
However, the obvious question that arises is: At what cost does Pakistan seek peace and under what strategy will it follow the peace process? Syed Salahuddin, head of Hizbul Mujahideen, a separatist organization, and head of Mutahidda Jihad Council (MJC), an umbrella organization of all militant groups, seeking freedom through armed struggle against India, says he is desperate and agitated with this new approach taken by Pakistan.
"Kashmir has been the key issue but now it has become peripheral as all claims of supporting our struggle politically, diplomatically and morally are nothing but lip service," Syed Salahuddin told Arab News.
Salahuddin, in his late 60s, hailing from Budgam district of the Indian side of Kashmir, is considered to be the architect of the modern armed struggle against the 'Indian occupation' in Kashmir. Kashmir has been a bone of contention between the two archrivals in the subcontinent. Existing as peaceful neighbors is important for both the nuclear-armed countries so as to avoid any unrest in the region.
Several successive governments in Pakistan, starting from Benazir Bhutto to Nawaz Sharif, then Gen. Musharraf and now Asif Ali Zardari, have all adopted the policy of normalizing relations besides continuing to discuss the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir with India at bilateral level talks.
More than a dozen such talks have brought no fruit. The process started in Musharraf's era supported by the Americans for deescalating tensions successfully brought down militancy in Kashmir, but for many this strategic shift damaged Pakistan a lot. "We are fighting Pakistan's war in Kashmir and if it withdraws its support, the war would be fought inside Pakistan," said Salahuddin.
He believes that militancy alone is the solution of the Kashmir crisis. "All those who were involved in the so-called peace talks eventually admitted that India is not serious and that it gained more and more time to implement its own design for the region," he said.
The existing dichotomy on the Kashmir issue has placed the Pakistanis in a dilemma on whether to support militancy or the peace process. Salahuddin believes that this is why the Pakistanis are silent and irreverent, while believing that the Pakistani masses must play a vital role in mounting pressure for the cause and for forcing the government to withdraw its new approach, which he says is hurting the Kashmir struggle.
Salahuddin said the movement cannot be wrapped up on the negotiation table. "Who negotiated for the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan? Were there any talks in Iraq and Afghanistan? The US is compelled by the situation to withdraw its forces in the absence of any negotiation and we would follow the same strategy in Kashmir," he said.
Like the rest of the religious schools of thought in Pakistan, the MJC head also believed that opening trade and business relations with India would benefit only India and instead would be counterproductive for Pakistan and its economy. "Pakistan is doing all this without keeping its own interest as prime due to foreign and Western pressures without analyzing its disastrous consequences," Salahuddin concluded.

Arrests follow rape of Indian anti-trafficking activists

Updated 27 min 56 sec ago

Arrests follow rape of Indian anti-trafficking activists

  • At least 60 NGOS in four networks are working on a memorandum asking the state to protect activists
  • More recently it brought in the death penalty for those who rape children under the age of 12 following a national outcry over the gang rape

NEW DELHI: Police have made a series of arrests in connection with the abduction and rape at gunpoint of five anti-trafficking campaigners in the central Indian state of Jharkhand early this week.

Khunti police station officials, where the incident happened, told Arab News that three people have been arrested, including the head of the school where the play was being performed. 

Police superintendent Ashwini Kumar Sinha said a leader of a local movement called Pathalgadi instigated the accused, saying that the play performers were against the movement and should be taught a lesson. 

Pathalgadi is a political movement whose followers recognize their village councils as the only sovereign authority and views all outsiders suspiciously.

Activists working in the area say the incident has left them shocked and worried for their safety.

Earlier this week, nine activists were abducted while performing a street play in Kochang village and driven into a forest, where they were beaten and the women raped.

The activists were from the nonprofit organization Asha Kiran, which runs a shelter in the Khunti district for young women rescued from trafficking. Activists say that while such incidents are rare, the abductions have shaken the community.

“There is definitely fear now,” said Rajan Kumar, of Sinduartola Gramodaya Vikas Vidyalaya, a nonprofit group campaigning against people trafficking in the district. 

“But people have to work. We need to do more to take members of the village council into our confidence.”

Rajiv Ranjan Sinha, of the Jharkhand Anti-Trafficking Network, a coalition of 14 organizations, said the incident has frightened everyone.

“We’ve never had to face this before,” Sinha said. “But it will definitely have an implication. New people will be scared to go into the field.”

On Saturday, several non-profit organizations called for a silent protest march at 10 a.m. in the state capital Ranchi on Sunday.

At least 60 NGOS in four networks are working on a memorandum asking the state to protect activists and to take seriously the issue of violence against women.

“We are not only NGO workers, but we are female also,” a spokeswoman said. “There is a lot of fear among workers now.”

India has a poor record of sexual violence against women — at least 39,000 cases were reported in 2016, the latest government data available. Activists say many more incidents go unreported.

The country changed its rape laws and introduced Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences legislation after the rape and murder of a 19-year-old student in December 2012 in the Indian capital.

More recently it brought in the death penalty for those who rape children under the age of 12 following a national outcry over the gang rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in the northern state of Kashmir.

The girl was kidnapped, drugged and raped in a temple where she was held captive for several days before being beaten to death.