Pakistan dismisses India’s comments on bus service to China

A private company said that work was underway for a proposed bus service between Pakistan and China to be launched this week. If the plans see the light of day, it would ply buses from Lahore to Kashgar. (Photo courtesy: NSTN Facebook page)
Updated 02 November 2018

Pakistan dismisses India’s comments on bus service to China

  • Insists it was protesting against “frivolous issues”
  • New Delhi says initiative would be a “violation of India’s sovereignty”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday said it rejected India’s comments protesting the launch of a luxury bus service between Islamabad and Beijing, adding that by “raising frivolous issues,” New Delhi cannot “mislead the international community.”
“We reject the Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA) purported protest and statement regarding bus service through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India’s repeated regurgitation of claims over India-held Kashmir can neither change the facts of history nor the legality of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
A private company, namely the North-South Transport Network (NSTN), said that work was underway to kickstart the service this week, which would operate from Lahore to Kashgar in China, adding that it had undertaken the initiative under the flagship of the CPEC project.
Opposing the plans, India said on Wednesday: “We have lodged strong protests with China and Pakistan on the proposed bus service that will operate through Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir under the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’. It is Government of India’s consistent and well-known position that the so-called China-Pakistan "Boundary Agreement" of 1963 is illegal and invalid, and has never been recognized by the Government of India,” the Indian MEA said in a statement.
The statement added that any such bus service through Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir would be a “violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry responded by saying that as per the resolutions set by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed, the final status of which is to be determined through a democratic and impartial plebiscite to be held under the auspices of the UN.
“In complete violation of the UNSC resolutions, and against the wishes of the Kashmiri people, India continues to maintain its illegal hold over Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir through brutal use of force. It may be recalled that Indian leaders had committed to hold the plebiscite,” the statement said.
“We call upon India to vacate its illegal occupation. We also call upon India to allow the Commission of Inquiry (COI) recommended by the OHCHR to investigate human rights violations, and resolve the Jammu &Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people,” the statement added.
Pakistan and China are linked through a land route which is used for both trade and travel. In 2015, the two countries launched the CPEC, a flagship project worth $60 billion.
Both the countries maintain traditionally-close, cooperative and friendly ties in diverse fields and the CPEC involves a host of projects which connects China's Xinjiang province with Pakistan's Gwadar port in Balochistan province.

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

Updated 07 October 2019

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

  • Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades

NEW DELHI: Ravish Kumar is nervous about the “danger that Indian democracy is facing today” and how “a systematic attempt is being made by the ruling establishment in Delhi to suppress all the dissenting voices in the country.

“Journalism prepares you to face the unknown everyday, so I was not really surprised when I got the call from the (Magsaysay) award committee,” Kumar said.

“The problem was that I was asked to keep it a secret until they had made a public announcement. It was painful to keep quiet for almost a month,” he told Arab News with a smile.

“When the news became public, I realized what I had been bestowed with. I feel the award is a vindication of trust in good journalism. People felt as if the award had been bestowed on them,” he added.

It is this concern for democracy and its institutions that earned Kumar the prestigious Magsaysay award for 2019.

Instituted in 1957, it is awarded every year by the Philippine government in memory of its former president Ramon Magsaysay for “integrity in governance, courageous service to the people and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society.”

Kumar, who works as a managing editor of India’s leading bilingual TV channel, NDTV, has created a niche for himself in the world of journalism with his daily primetime show, which draws huge audiences from across India. 

At a time when most mainstream TV channels and newspapers have stopped questioning the government and challenging its narrative, Kumar’s reporting takes a critical approach to the lawmakers.

For this constant critique of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the government does not send any of its spokespersons on his show or the channel.

He laments that a large section of the Indian media has become “an extended arm of the government and the mouthpiece of the establishment.”

For his outspoken attitude, Kumar and his family have received threats from “people who are subsidized by the ruling party.”

“I don’t have any hope for the media. It is dead in the country. Just a few are holding the placard of fearless journalism,” he said, adding that “the death of independent media has affected true reporting from Jammu and Kashmir.

“The situation in the region is so bad that after the abrogation of its special status, even the significant moderate voices in India have been pushed to the militant camps,” he said.

Describing the government’s policy on Kashmir as “brazen,” he questioned the “audacity of the government to hold local body elections in the valley when there is a complete lockdown.

Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades, adding that he was aghast at the Supreme Court’s silence on the abrogation.

“Why is it taking so long for the apex court to intervene on the issue of the internet lockdown in the Kashmir valley? Can you imagine the American Supreme Court behaving the way the Indian judiciary is acting on such a crucial issue?” He asked.

He said that the decline of independent institutions such as the media, judiciary and election commission is gradually creating a democratic imbalance.

Kumar understands the award has given an extra responsibility on him and that he felt “burdened with expectations.” So great are those expectations, he has not ruled out entering politics.

“Politics is a good thing. I tell everyone to join politics,” he said, adding that his current responsibility is to “warn people about the danger that is lurking in Indian society.”