Deployment of 10,000 fresh troops sparks fear in Indian Kashmir

Deployment of 10,000 fresh troops sparks fear in Indian Kashmir
The region has seen a resurgence of hostilities in recent years. (File/AFP)
Updated 28 July 2019

Deployment of 10,000 fresh troops sparks fear in Indian Kashmir

Deployment of 10,000 fresh troops sparks fear in Indian Kashmir
  • India maintains a deployment of 500,000 soldiers in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region
  • India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir, a part of which is also controlled by China, for decades

SRINAGAR: Tensions in Indian-administered Kashmir rose Sunday over the weekend deployment of at least 10,000 paramilitary troops to the troubled region despite authorities’ assertions the move was routine.
India maintains a deployment of 500,000 soldiers in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region, which has been divided between the South Asian nation and Pakistan since their split in 1947.
The region has seen a resurgence of hostilities in recent years, while locals are fearful about the loss of special privileges after India’s Supreme Court last year began hearing a case challenging a constitutional provision.
Officials said the movement of troops — set to rise to 20,000 — was to relieve exhausted personnel deployed since local civic polls last year and now monitoring an annual Hindu pilgrimage.
“Troops have been working constantly for seven months. Some have to go on leave and some for training outside,” Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh told AFP.
“We have requisitioned for 200 companies (20,000 troops), more might arrive.”
A senior security official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said the deployment was to guard against possible protests about a decision or event, without giving further details.
He added that India’s security set-up in Kashmir was “being re-oriented like never before.”
Locals told AFP they were worried Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government wanted to set aside a constitutional provision — Article 35A — which would allow Indians from outside the disputed territory to buy land there.
The deployment follows the uproar sparked by US President Donald Trump after he claimed during a meeting with Pakistani PM Imran Khan that Modi asked him to mediate in the Kashmir dispute.
India has long insisted the issue can only be resolved bilaterally, and strenuously denied Trump’s claims.
India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir, a part of which is also controlled by China, for decades.
In February, a suicide bombing claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group killed 41 Indian troops in Indian-controlled Kashmir, prompting tit-for-tat airstrikes between the two countries.
India’s part of Kashmir was brought under New Delhi’s direct rule in June 2018 after Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew support for its local partner and dissolved the elected local government.


Saudi crown prince undergoes successful operation

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful operation
Updated 9 min 57 sec ago

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful operation

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful operation

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman underwent a successful surgical procedure on Wednesday morning at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Developing 


Syrian war being forgotten in UK as poll shows growing apathy

The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of British people were aware the war in Syria was still going on. (Reuters/File Photo)
The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of British people were aware the war in Syria was still going on. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 35 min 52 sec ago

Syrian war being forgotten in UK as poll shows growing apathy

The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of British people were aware the war in Syria was still going on. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Brits have ‘turned off their minds’ to what is happening in Syria amid increasingly scarce media coverage

LONDON: The civil war in Syria is being forgotten by the British people as apathy toward the decade-long conflict grows, according to a UK-based charity.

The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of those polled were aware the war was still going on. A spokesman for Syria Relief said Britons have “turned off their minds” to what is happening in the country.

The poll, which marks the upcoming 10th anniversary of the start of the conflict, found 38 percent of 1,753 people questioned in the UK were not sure of the current status of the war, while four percent believed it had ended.

Public awareness of the conflict was higher in August 2019, when a survey found that 77 percent people knew about the conflict, according to Syria Relief.

“I believe that after 10 years the UK has become fatigued about the Syrian crisis because of its protracted nature,” Charles Lawley, head of communications and advocacy at Syria Relief, told Arab News. “They are accepting that this is a place where tragedies happen on a daily basis, so they turn their minds off to it — and this is a great tragedy.

“I think it is a symptom of British society becoming less concerned about issues beyond our own borders and, to be frank, it is almost as if the suffering of Syrians is boring them.”

This year also marks 10 years since the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad targeted 10 schools and a hospital in attacks that claimed the lives of more than 20 people, more than half of them children, something that would not be tolerated in the UK, Lawley said.

“If this would have happened in Britain it would have been treated akin to our 9/11: a national tragedy that would be remembered for generations,” he said. “Yet because it happened in Syria, no one knows about it.

“We wouldn’t tolerate children being bombed as they sit in the classrooms of British schools so why on earth do we tolerate it in Syria or anywhere else in the world?”

Extensive media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit negotiations has meant that UK national news updates on the Syrian conflict have been increasingly rare in the past few years, which makes the efforts of charities to help the victims of the conflict much harder, Lawley said.

“It is so difficult for organizations like Syria Relief to get the UK or the world to care about suffering and death in Syria,” he said. “When we just allow Syria to be a place where bombs can be dropped on schools or hospitals, we devalue the lives of Syrians.

“But, tragically, our apathy to the plight of the Syrian people compounds their suffering as there is no pressure on governments to act to stop warring parties in the conflict from committing crimes against humanity.

“Ultimately, the British people need to remember that Syrians are people too. Their lives are just as valuable as any human life; the only different between them and (us) is where they were born. They didn’t ask for this.”

While the UK has pledged billions of pounds in aid for Syria since 2012, politicians and the media in the UK need to do more to shine a light on the conflict and the suffering of ordinary Syrians, Lawley said, especially after the government’s recent announcement of cuts to the aid budget.

“The UK government is the third-biggest donor to the Syrian humanitarian aid response and should be proud about the enormous amount of good it is doing to help the people impacted by the conflict,” he said.

“However, with the recent announcement of the government about plans to cut the aid budget, this is making us at Syria Relief, and many of our colleagues in the (nongovernmental organization) community very concerned about what this could mean to the Syrian people — many of whom are some of the most vulnerable people on the globe.

“I think the government should be shouting from the rooftops about the incredible things that the UK aid budget has achieved. If it had, I think there would have been more opposition from the public about the announcement to cut the budget.

“Being a global leader in helping the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people should be worn as a badge of national pride, not treated like a dirty little secret.”

The war in Syria began in 2011 amid pro-democracy protests in Deraa. Tensions escalated after the Assad regime crushed dissenters who staged a “day of rage” on March 15, which ultimately led to more people flooding city streets demanding the president step down.


US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department

US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department
Updated 20 min 12 sec ago

US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department

US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department

LONDON: US patience with Iran is not unlimited, the State Department's spokesman said on Wednesday.

Developing 


Jordan reimposes Friday curfew as virus surges

Jordan reimposes Friday curfew as virus surges
Updated 48 min 54 sec ago

Jordan reimposes Friday curfew as virus surges

Jordan reimposes Friday curfew as virus surges
  • An existing nightly curfew will begin at 10 p.m. instead of midnight
  • From Sunday a maximum of 30 percent of public-sector employees will be allowed at their workplace

AMMAN: Jordan has reimposed an all-day curfew on Fridays to stem the spread of coronavirus as cases rise, officials said Wednesday.
“Starting this week, the government is imposing a curfew throughout the kingdom from 10 p.m. (2000 GMT) Thursdays until 6 am Saturdays,” Information Minister Ali Al-Ayed said in a statement.
Walking to a mosque for Friday prayers, however, is permitted, he said.
An existing nightly curfew will begin at 10 p.m. instead of midnight, while from Sunday a maximum of 30 percent of public-sector employees will be allowed at their workplace.
The toughening of Covid-19 restrictions returns Jordan to rules imposed in March last year, and which were only eased last month.
“The kingdom has witnessed a rapid spread of Covid in recent weeks. This is why swift and strict measures are needed,” Health Minister Nazir Obeidat said.
Jordan, which began vaccinations last month, has officially recorded more than 376,000 novel coronavirus cases and over 4,600 deaths out of a population of 10.5 million people.


Bahrain sends delegate to Qatar for first time since ending rift

Bahrain sends delegate to Qatar for first time since ending rift
Updated 56 min 51 sec ago

Bahrain sends delegate to Qatar for first time since ending rift

Bahrain sends delegate to Qatar for first time since ending rift

CAIRO: A delegate from the Bahraini foreign ministry visited Doha on Wednesday in the first visit of its kind since an agreement last month to end a rift with Qatar. 

The ministry sent a a correspondence aimed at renewing an invitation to send an official delegation to start bilateral talks between both countries “regarding outstanding issues and topics,” read a statement on the state-run news agency BNA.

The message was delivered by the ministry’s Undersecretary Ambassador Waheed Mubarak Sayyar. 

The step comes as part of an implementation of the provisions of the Al-Ula agreement which was agreed in Saudi Arabia last month. 

Delegations from Egypt and UAE have met Qatari delegates in in Kuwait over the past few days for the first time since the al-Ula agreement. 

Since the agreement, air and travel links have resumed between Qatar and the four states -- Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.