Pakistan summons Afghan, Indian diplomats after soldiers, civilian killed

Pakistan Army soldiers patrol on the Line of Control. (AP/ File)
Updated 15 September 2019

Pakistan summons Afghan, Indian diplomats after soldiers, civilian killed

  • Foreign Office tells Afghan diplomat Kabul responsible for securing its side of the border
  • Pakistan also blamed India for targeting civilian areas deliberately

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has summoned diplomats from Afghanistan and India after several shooting incidents along two different borders killed four Pakistani soldiers and a civilian woman.
Accusations of firing by both sides across the Afghan-Pakistani border, and by both Indian and Pakistani forces across an old cease-fire line dividing their areas in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir are common.
The latest incidents come at an especially tense time between Pakistan and India, and as talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban have broken down.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned an Afghan diplomat on Saturday to account for what it said was firing into Pakistan by militants in Afghanistan, a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The militants shot and killed a Pakistani soldier on patrol in one incident late on Friday. In a second incident, Pakistani forces fencing a section of the border were attacked and three were killed, the ministry said on Saturday.
Both incidents occurred in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Pakistan underscored in its meeting with the Afghan diplomat that Afghanistan was responsible for securing its side of the border.
An Afghan government spokesman could not be immediately reached. Afghan officials have in recent weeks accused the Pakistani military of several incidents of heavy artillery fire into Afghanistan.
Both of the uneasy neighbors are battling militant factions along their largely porous border and each accuses the other of harboring their militant enemies.
Pakistan also summoned an Indian diplomat on Saturday after it said firing by Indian forces across the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed territory of Kashmir killed a 40-year-old woman from the village of Balakot.
The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.
The LoC, an old cease-fire line, is the de facto border between the parts of Kashmir that India and Pakistan administer.
Tensions between the two countries have flared since Aug. 5 when New Delhi flooded Indian-administered Kashmir with troops to quell unrest after it revoked the region’s special status.
Pakistan foreign affairs spokesman Mohammad Faisal said in a statement on Saturday that India deliberately targets civilian areas. A spokesman for India’s external affairs ministry could not be immediately reached.
India has long accused Pakistan of supporting militant groups fighting Indian security forces in its part of Kashmir. Pakistan denies that.


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.”