China, India soldiers hurl stones at one another in Kashmir

Exile Tibetans listen to a speaker during a protest to show support with India Doklam standoff in New Delhi, India, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017. Tensions between Indian and China flared last month in the southernmost part of Tibet, in an area also claimed by Indian ally Bhutan, after Chinese teams began building a road onto the Doklam Plateau. The banners in local language read Tibet's independence is India's security. (AP)
Updated 18 August 2017

China, India soldiers hurl stones at one another in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India: Indian and Chinese soldiers yelled and hurled stones at one another in the high Himalayas in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Indian officials said Wednesday after the altercation that escalates tensions between two nations already engaged in a lengthy border standoff elsewhere.
The Chinese soldiers hurled stones while attempting to enter Ladakh region near Pangong Lake on Tuesday but were confronted by Indian soldiers, said a top police officer. The officer said Indian soldiers retaliated but neither side used guns.
China did not immediately comment.
An Indian intelligence officer said the confrontation occurred after Indian soldiers intercepted a Chinese patrol that veered into Indian-held territory after apparently it lost its way due to bad weather.
The officer said soon the soldiers began shouting at each other and later threw stones. He said some soldiers from both sides received minor injuries.
After nearly 30 minutes of facing off, the two sides retreated to their positions, he said.
An Indian military officer said the skirmish was brief but violent and for the first time stones were used.
All the officers spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Soldiers from the two countries are already locked in a bitter but non-violent standoff in Doklam, an area disputed between China and India’s ally Bhutan, where New Delhi sent its soldiers in June to stop China from constructing a strategic road.
China demands that Indian troops withdraw unilaterally from the Doklam standoff before any talks can be held, while New Delhi says each side should stand down. China and India fought a border war in 1962 and much of their frontier remains unsettled despite several rounds of official-level talks.
The website of New Delhi-based English weekly India Today quoted a report by the Indian military intelligence which said the use of stones was unprecedented and appeared intended to heighten tension without using lethal weapons. The report said the worst that has happened earlier was an isolated slap or pushing between soldiers from the two sides.
India’s worries over Chinese repeated border crossings into Kashmir’s Ladakh region has seen massive Indian army built up in the cold desert in recent years.
The disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir is divided between nuclear-armed India, Pakistan and China. The part held by China is contiguous to Tibet.


‘Political reconciliation’ with Pakistan top priority: Daudzai

Updated 17 min 43 sec ago

‘Political reconciliation’ with Pakistan top priority: Daudzai

  • Pakistan played positive role in US-Taliban peace talks, says diplomat

PESHAWAR: Afghanistan’s newly appointed special envoy for Pakistan has had put “mending political relations” between the two estranged nations as one of his top priorities.

Mohammed Umer Daudzai, on Tuesday said that his primary focus would be to ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan and maintain strong ties with Pakistan, especially after Islamabad’s key role in the Afghan peace process earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview, the diplomat told Arab News: “Two areas have been identified to focus on with renewed vigor, such as lasting peace in Afghanistan and cementing Pak-Afghan bilateral ties in economic, social, political and other areas.”

In order to achieve these aims, he said, efforts would be intensified “to mend political relations” between the neighboring countries.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2,600-kilometer porous border and have been at odds for years. Bonds between them have been particularly strained due to a deep mistrust and allegations of cross-border infiltration by militants.

Kabul has blamed Islamabad for harboring Taliban leaders after they were ousted from power in 2001. But Pakistan has denied the allegations and, instead, accused Kabul of providing refuge to anti-Pakistan militants – a claim rejected by Afghanistan.

Daudzai said his immediate priority would be to focus on “political reconciliation” between the two countries, especially in the backdrop of a historic peace agreement signed in February this year when Pakistan played a crucial role in facilitating a troop withdrawal deal between the US and the Taliban to end the decades-old Afghan conflict. “Afghanistan needs political reconciliation which the Afghan government has already been working on to achieve bottom-up harmony,” he added.

Daudzai’s appointment Monday by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took place days after Islamabad chose Mohammed Sadiq as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special representative for Afghanistan.

Reiterating the need to maintain strong bilateral ties with all of its neighbors, Daudzai said Pakistan’s role was of paramount importance to Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has a positive role in the US-Taliban peace talks, and now Islamabad could play a highly significant role in the imminent intra-Afghan talks. I will explore all options for a level-playing field for the success of all these initiatives,” he said, referring in part to crucial peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban which were delayed due to a stalemate in a prisoner exchange program – a key condition of the Feb. 29 peace deal.

Under the agreement, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and around 1,000 government prisoners were to be freed by March 10. So far, Afghanistan has released 3,000 prisoners, while the Taliban have freed 500. Daudzai said that while dates had yet to be finalized, the intra-Afghan dialogue could begin “within weeks.”

He added: “A date for intra-Afghan talks hasn’t been identified yet because there is a stalemate on prisoners’ release. But I am sure they (the talks) will be kicked off within weeks.”

Experts say Daudzai’s appointment could give “fresh momentum” to the stalled process and revitalize ties between the two estranged neighbors.

“Mohammed Sadiq’s appointment...could lead Kabul-Islamabad to a close liaison and better coordination,” Irfanullah Khan, an MPhil scholar and expert on Afghan affairs, told Arab News.

Daudzai said that he would be visiting Islamabad to kickstart the process as soon as the coronavirus disease-related travel restrictions were eased.

Prior to being appointed as the special envoy, he had served as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan from April 2011 to August 2013.

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