Pakistan’s opposition parties join hands on Kashmir crisis

In this May 23, 2007 file photo, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman can be seen addressing a gathering in Karachi. (Reuters)
Updated 20 August 2019

Pakistan’s opposition parties join hands on Kashmir crisis

  • Say the government failed to effectively advocated Kashmir issue at global forums
  • Term extension in the army chief’s tenure a routine matter

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s opposition parties on Monday vowed to stand with the people of Indian-administered Kashmir in the face of New Delhi’s two-week long security clampdown and communications blackout in the territory.
“We condemn the Indian atrocities in the occupied Kashmir in the strongest possible terms and urge it to lift the curfew and other restrictions immediately,” Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of politico-religious party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), said in a press conference after chairing a multiparty conference of the opposition bodies.
Representatives of mainstream and other opposition parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP) attended the conference convened to discuss the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir after New Delhi stripped the territory of special status earlier this month.
India’s revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir blocks the state’s right to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government argues that the old laws prohibiting people from outside Kashmir from buying property, settling there and taking up government jobs had hindered development in the valley.
“We hold our rulers responsible for the current state of Kashmir,” Rehman said while lambasting the government for what he called an “irresponsible attitude” toward the Indian actions against Kashmiris.
However, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari – leaders of two of Pakistan’s major opposition parties – could not attend the multiparty conference. A PML-N spokesperson said that Sharif could not attend the conference due to pain in his back while Zardari is visiting Gilgit-Baltistan to hold public rallies.
Commenting on their absence, Special Adviser to Prime Minister for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said the PML-N and PPP leadership had ditched Rehman by not showing up.
“Maulana [Fazlur Rehman] should better raise voice for Kashmiris as these fake coins [the PPP and PML-N leaders] are of no use,” she said in a twitter post.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from colonial power Great Britain in 1947. They came close to another one in February after a deadly attack on Indian police by a Pakistan-based militant group resulted in airstrikes by both countries. Pakistan denies state complicity in the attack and has since launched a widespread crackdown against violent and banned organizations within its borders.
Last week members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) met in over five decades to discuss the critical situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, urging both Islamabad and New Delhi to refrain from taking any unilateral action.
Prime Minister Khan welcomed the UNSC’s decision to discuss tensions in the disputed region of Kashmir. “I welcome the UNSC meeting to discuss the serious situation in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” Khan tweeted after the talks in New York.
“Addressing the suffering of the Kashmiri people & ensuring resolution of the dispute is the responsibility of this world body,” he added on Twitter.
The opposition parties, however, said the government has not raised the issue at international forums effectively. “We assure Kashmiris that we are with them through thick and thin,” Rehman said. “We will fight their case at every forum across the globe,” he added.


Pakistan army denies reports of joint border patrols with Iran

Updated 09 December 2019

Pakistan army denies reports of joint border patrols with Iran

  • Patrolling operations on respective sides are conducted by respective forces, military spokesman says
  • Last month, army chief visited Tehran for security talks

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army spokesperson on Monday rejected media reports suggesting that Pakistani and Iranian security forces conducted joint border patrolling.
“News published by Dawn today ('Pak-Iran Forces jointly conduct border patrolling') is factually incorrect,” Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said in a tweet.
He added that “there is no joint patrolling anywhere on Pakistani borders” as “patrolling operations if required are always on respective sides by respective forces through coordination.”

The English-language daily reported earlier on the day that Pakistan and Iran had conducted another joint patrol on the border near Taftan town in Chagai district, Balochistan.
Soon after Ghafoor's comment, Dawn's editor Zaffar Abbas clarified that “the confusion was caused by the official news agency APP, as the picture caption said ‘joint patrolling.’ Radio Pak also tweeted the same. But we will be carrying out correction in light of your statement.”

Border security has long been a major cause of distrust in Pakistan-Iran relations. 
In April, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the two countries would form a joint quick-reaction force to combat militant activity on their shared border, following a deadly attack on Pakistani security personnel on the coastal highway in southwestern Balochistan, where 14 soldiers lost their lives.
On Nov. 18, Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Tehran for security talks with Iran's political leadership and military leadership.
In May this year, Pakistan began the fencing of certain areas along the 950-kilometer border it shares with Iran.