Kashmiris reject India’s militant rehab plan

Kashmiris reject India’s militant rehab plan
India has tried similar rehabilitation programs in the past. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 14 August 2020

Kashmiris reject India’s militant rehab plan

Kashmiris reject India’s militant rehab plan
  • India’s rehabilitation policy will be “futile” unless it addresses the source of the problem: expert

NEW DELHI: An Indian military plan to end militancy in the region by resettling young Kashmiri fighters has been described as “meaningless” by both analysts and former fighters.
The rehabiliation program will fail unless the roots of unrest in the region — violence, alienation and betrayal — are addressed by New Delhi, they say.
India’s military commander in the Kashmir Valley, Lt. Gen. B.S. Raju, announced the rehabilitation program on Wednesday, saying advanced plans had been submitted to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Referring to the Kashmiri fighters as “young boys who need to be taken care of,” Raju said the policy “will help and give confidence to those who are opting to surrender.”
India has tried similar rehabilitation programs in the past, but some who took part have told Arab News they now regret their experience.
“They offered us jobs, some money, rehabilitation and training, but in the last 6 years I have received nothing,” former fighter Sanullah Dar, 44, said.
Dar  returned to Indian-administered Kashmir from Pakistan in 2014 when he was offered a place in rehabilitation scheme by the-then Kashmiri government. His Pakistani wife accompanied him.
“Even after 6 years my wife doesn’t have an Indian passport. My children are also denied passports. I was leading a peaceful life in Lahore, earning a living, doing some work. But here we are without hope.”
Dar left Kashmir in 1990 at the height of militant uprising in the valley, settled down in Lahore and married a Pakistani woman. After 24 years he decided to return to his homeland after the rehabilitation policy was announced.
Javed Ahmed, who returned from Karachi in 2007, also regrets his decision to respond to the Kashmir government’s call.
“There is no empathy or sympathy for us. No promise has been honored. My wife and I somehow survive eking out a living, but there are more that 400 families who are struggling to feed themselves,” Ahmed, who now works as bus driver, told Arab News.


Former fighters say previous amnesty ‘left us with nothing.’

“My wife is still treated as a foreigner, she cannot have an Indian passport. Legally, a foreign wife should become a legal citizen of the husband’s country within four or five years, but my wife and several women are living like stateless persons.”
Ahmed’s wife, Saira, said she is unable to return to Pakistan because she has no documents.
“My father is sick, but I cannot visit him because I don’t have a passport.”
Ahmed is worried about the future of his four children.
“My younger children get angry when they see our humiliation, and it is because of this humiliation that many in Kashmir pick up guns,”
he said.
“I am worried that they might become rebels when they grow up. Can you stop them?“
A Kashmir expert, retired Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, told Arab News that India’s rehabilitation policy will be “futile” unless it addresses the source of the problem, which is “alienation, anger, hatred and a sense of betrayal.”
The issue was exacerbated by the decision to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy, he said.
On Aug. 5 last year, New Delhi annulled Article 370 of India’s constitution, which had guaranteed Kashmir’s autonomy. Amid a military lockdown thousands of local political leaders and activists were detained, some of whom remain under arrest.
“These militants are not criminals. They are coming out to express dissent and protest at the way they have been treated by India for the past 30 years,” Kak said.
In the past seven months at least 135 fighters have been killed in the region. The Indian military says that about 200 militants are still active in the Kashmir Valley.
“There is a monetary reward for killing militants, which is an incentive for extrajudicial killings, and also leads to fake encounters in which civilians are killed and branded as militants,” said Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human
rights activist.
“If the government really wants to show change of approach, it must stop financial rewards for killing militants. The rehabilitation policies have been a disaster.” 
Zaffar Choudhary, a Srinagar-based political analyst and editor of online news magazine The Dispatch, told Arab News: “Militancy is never a mechanical process where the isolation of a few elements can change the course of a project.
“Militancy is in the mind,” he said. “A few become more visible as militants when they pick guns. So you have to deal not just with the militants but also wider society. It is the society that needs rehabilitation through political outreach.”
Despite repeated attempts by Arab News, Lt. Gen. B.S. Raju, who announced the rehabilitation policy, was unavailable for comment.


World Bank threatens to halt $200m Afghan aid over banking data row

Updated 30 min 2 sec ago

World Bank threatens to halt $200m Afghan aid over banking data row

World Bank threatens to halt $200m Afghan aid over banking data row
  • Letter sent to Afghan president comes amid corruption claims linked to new government controls on public-private partnerships

KABUL: The World Bank has threatened to close the taps on $200 million worth of aid to Afghanistan if Kabul fails to share banking sector data.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance on Wednesday said that the World Bank had warned the country’s President Ashraf Ghani that it would halt its assistance if the information was not forthcoming.
In a letter dated Nov. 23, Henry G. Kerali, the World Bank’s country director for Afghanistan, mentioned issues that “remain to be resolved” and “may impact” the bank’s capacity to disburse the full amount of $200 million.
The issues included the World Bank’s inability to obtain banking data from Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), the country’s central bank.
“The letter has actually been addressed to the president, and copies of it have been sent to relevant offices. The issue will be resolved in the coming week,” finance ministry spokesman, Shamroz Khan Masjidi, told Arab News.
“In the past, we would have shared a number of non-sensitive banking data with the World Bank. Now, a misunderstanding has appeared with the central bank which has not shared it with it (the World Bank) … the issue will be resolved.” The World Bank’s Kabul office declined to comment on whether the letter, a copy of which has been seen by Arab News, was a warning to Ghani. In an equivocal statement issued on Wednesday, the lender said: “No letter from the World Bank to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has been released to the public.” Ghani’s spokesman declined comment.
The World Bank’s purported threat comes amid complaints over increasing corruption after the presidential palace in recent months took control of public-private partnerships (PPP) from the Ministry of Finance through amendments to the country’s PPP law.
Reliant on international assistance, Afghanistan is considered one of the most corrupt countries.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the US government’s leading oversight authority on Afghanistan reconstruction, in a letter on Nov. 11 said that the Afghan government “often makes paper reforms, such as drafting regulations or holding meetings, rather than concrete actions that would reduce corruption, such as arresting powerful actors.” Even Ghani’s brother, Hashmat Ghani, spoke against the PPP law move. “Taking away PPP office and authority from the finance ministry has been a mistake. It should be reversed immediately,” he said in a tweet on Thursday.
Torek Farhadi, a former Afghan and International Monetary Fund adviser, said the World Bank’s letter was “not a good signal” for Afghanistan.
“The reason for which it is interrupting the payment is that the president wants to move a number of important state-owned enterprises and the management of PPP to the palace where there is no oversight of the parliament at the palace as opposed to the ministry (Finance Ministry),” he told Arab News.
“So, this is how corruption creeps in, and the international community is worried about what is going on and the World Bank expresses it in a diplomatic language in this letter.” Sediq Ahmad Usmani, a lawmaker from the parliamentary financial affairs committee, said: “The executive power, particularly, the presidency, has created another government of its special circle which deals with appointments and budget’s expenses. All the power lies with the president and without his knowledge they cannot do anything.” “This has been our concern and we have shared it with the donors and have asked them to prevent such wayward acts,” he added.
Ghani’s chief spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi, denied the existence of any “circle” under the president. “These MPs, I am sure they know the whole process and the authority of government officials and the president on budget spending. Budget issues must not be politicized.
“The government sends details of the budget to the parliament in a very transparent way and they have the legal right to oversee the spending. It is an open budget system, there is no circle.”