Pakistan PM says world inaction on Kashmir like appeasing Hitler

Pakistani Christian shout slogans in support of Kashmiris at a rally in the connection of the country Independence Day in Quetta on August 11, 2019, after the Indian government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomy. (AFP)
Updated 11 August 2019

Pakistan PM says world inaction on Kashmir like appeasing Hitler

  • Kashmir has been under virtual lockdown since shortly before the move
  • Huge numbers of troops are patrolling the streets of major centers

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan asked Sunday if the international community was just standing by as Indian Hindu nationalism spread into Muslim-majority Kashmir, saying it was the same as appeasing Hitler.
His outrage on Twitter came as tensions simmered between the two countries over the divided Himalayan region after New Delhi last week rescinded years of autonomy enjoyed by the Indian-ruled part and gave full control to the central government.
Kashmir has been under virtual lockdown since shortly before the move, with a curfew across the region, and phone and Internet lines cut — ostensibly to prevent unrest.
Huge numbers of troops are patrolling the streets of major centers, and security forces used tear gas Friday to break up a demonstration against the government’s move by about 8,000 people.
Tensions also remain fraught in the mountainous Ladakh region, where a local activist told AFP dozens of protesters took part in rallies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with at least 10 people injured by security forces using tear gas and sticks.
State police chief Dilbagh Singh said late Saturday that “not a single incident of violence was reported from anywhere” in Kashmir, although this conflicted with independent sources.
Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947.
They have fought two wars over the former kingdom, while an insurgency against New Delhi’s rule in Indian-administered Kashmir has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the past three decades.
Khan tweeted Sunday that the “ideology of Hindu Supremacy, like the Nazi Aryan Supremacy, will not stop” in Kashmir.
Describing the move as “the Hindu Supremacists version of Hitler’s Lebensraum,” he said it would lead to “the suppression of Muslims in India & eventually lead to targeting of Pakistan.”
“Attempt is to change demography of Kashmir through ethnic cleansing,” he tweeted. “Question is: Will the world watch & appease as they did Hitler at Munich?“
He referred specifically to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ultra Hindu nationalist volunteer movement considered the parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Khan also telephoned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday “as part of his outreach to world leaders on the Kashmir situation,” a statement issued by his office said.
“Muslims of Kashmir must be able to use their legal rights and interests to be able to live in peace,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.
Officials said Khan would visit the Pakistan controlled part of Kashmir this week to show solidarity.
Residents in Indian controlled Kashmir, meanwhile, said they were struggling to celebrate the major Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha because of the security crackdown.
A mother who gave her named as Razia said she tried to explain to her daughter that she would not be able to buy her clothes to mark the occasion, as her husband fretted about feeding the family.
“What sort of Eid is this?” asked the 45-year-old in Srinagar.
“We are not even allowed to move outside. My husband is a daily wage laborer but hasn’t made any money for the last eight days.”
A sheep trader at a Srinagar market, who gave his name as Maqbool, said the number of people buying sacrificial animals for the holiday was sharply lower and he had gone from “huge profits” to a “big loss” this year.
Indian premier Modi insisted last week the decision to strip Kashmir of its autonomy was necessary for its economic development, and also to stop “terrorism.”
He said with Kashmir now fully part of the Indian union, the region would enjoy more jobs and less corruption and red tape, adding that key infrastructure projects would be expedited.
Previously, under its constitutional autonomy, Kashmiris enjoyed special privileges such as the sole right to own land or take government jobs and university scholarships.
Islamabad has been infuriated by New Delhi’s moves and has expelled the Indian ambassador, halted what little bilateral trade exists and suspended cross-border transport services.


Sri Lanka casts its vote under shadow of virus

Updated 06 August 2020

Sri Lanka casts its vote under shadow of virus

  • Security crackdown as more than 7,400 candidates contest twice-delayed election

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka went to the polls on Wednesday to elect 225 members to its 9th Parliament amid tight security and health precautions to limit the coronavirus pandemic.

The polls were twice-delayed after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved the assembly in March and postponed polls scheduled for April due to the outbreak, before finally deciding on Aug. 5 as the date for general elections.

Mahinda Deshapriya, chairman of the Sri Lanka Elections Commission (EC), said police had been given “shooting orders” in case of security breaches and strict health protocols had been introduced at polling booths.

Deshapriya said that all 12,985 polling booths had been sanitized as a preventive measure.

The elections were completed at an estimated cost of $48.6 million, up from the $37.8 million spent during last year’s presidential polls.

Speaking to Arab News on Wednesday, Samuel Ratnajeevan Hoole, an EC member, said that a 60 percent turnout by noon was a “good sign of voters’ response.”

“Our voters are matured and informed now, and they will choose whom they want irrespective of any racial or religious differences,” he said, adding that there were fewer poll-related complaints this year compared with previous elections.

There were 46 registered political parties and 313 independent groups vying for the 225-seat parliament, with a total of 7,452 candidates in the fray – 3,652 fielded by 46 parties and 3,800 representing 313 independent groups.

According to the EC, nearly 16,263,885 registered voters could make their choice at the elections.

At this election, 196 members are to be elected at the district level under the proportional representation system to the 225-member parliament, while 29 members will be chosen from the National List. Under the 1978 constitution, the members are elected to the 9th Parliament.

Dr. Ruwan Wijemuni, general director of health services in Colombo, credited the voters for “lending their cooperation in full to make it a grand success.” At the same time, police spokesman Jaliya Senaratne said there were no reports of violence from any part of the island.

“There were minor scuffles on the eve of the polls in some parts of the island which were settled then and there,” he added.

Ismathul Rahman, 57, from the coastal town of Negombo, told Arab News that this year people were “keen to elect the right people” for their respective electorate as it was “crucial for the country’s economy.”

“It was a peaceful poll without any remarkable incidents of violence. The EC has managed the show well,” said Khalid Farook, 70, former president of the All-Ceylon Young Men’s Muslim Association, Wednesday.