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.”


EU agrees first COVID-19 vaccine deal with AstraZeneca in WHO blow

Updated 14 August 2020

EU agrees first COVID-19 vaccine deal with AstraZeneca in WHO blow

  • The EU said over the past two weeks it was in advanced talks with Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi for their vaccines under development
  • The EU agreement follows an initial deal with AstraZeneca reached in June by Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance

BRUSSELS: The European Union has agreed to buy at least 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s potential COVID-19 vaccine in its first such advance purchase deal, which could weaken plans led by the World Health Organization for a global approach.
The European Commission, which is negotiating on behalf of all 27 EU member states, said the deal included an option to purchase 100 million additional doses from the British drugmaker should its vaccine prove safe and effective.
The EU’s bilateral deal mirrors moves by the United States and other wealthy states, some of which are critical of the WHO’s initiative, and further reduces the potentially available stock in the race to secure effective COVID-19 vaccines.
The EU agreement follows an initial deal with AstraZeneca reached in June by Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), a group formed by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands to secure vaccine doses for all member states.
The Commission did not disclose the terms of the new deal and declined to say whether it had replaced the IVA’s.
“This new agreement will give all EU member states the option to access the vaccine in an equitable manner at no profit during the pandemic,” AstraZeneca said in a statement.
The EU executive said its deals are aimed at financing part of the upfront costs to develop vaccines. The funding would be partial down-payments to secure the shots, but actual purchases would be decided at a later stage by each EU state.
The EU said over the past two weeks it was in advanced talks with Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi for their vaccines under development .
The EU move could make more difficult efforts led by the WHO and GAVI, a global alliance for vaccines, to buy shots on behalf of rich and developing countries with a separate scheme.
The Commission has urged EU states to shun the WHO-led initiative because it sees it as too expensive and slow, EU officials told Reuters in July.
Now the Commission is openly saying that vaccines bought from AstraZeneca, and from other vaccine makers, could be donated to poorer states, effectively taking on the very task that the WHO is pursuing with the so-called ACT-Accelerator Hub.
Brussels has publicly said that its purchasing scheme is complementary to the WHO’s, but in private told EU states that there may be legal issues if they joined the WHO program.