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Politicising terror in Kashmir

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By K.N. Pandita

The resolution for clemency to Afzal Guru introduced in the Assembly by a private member has evoked unprecedented controversy and turned what could have been a historical debate into virtual “fish market” in the words of the Speaker. The much talked about resolution was anticipated to create ruckus and lines were sharply drawn. Reaction of the members was a mix of dirty politics, treachery and irresponsibility. BJP members questioned the jurisdiction of the Assembly and the Speaker in allowing the resolution in the business of the house. Introduction of the resolution resulted in strange combination and permutation among party members. There was virtual clash with BJP, NPP and Jammu Morcha making a common cause against the resolution. The role of the mainstream parties was more of ambiguity than of clear cut policy.  Continue Reading…

Mass grave bogey debunked

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By K.N. Pandita

For some weeks in the past, PDP and other opposition parties as well as separatist groups have raised unprecedented hue and cry on “unmarked graves” in Kashmir whose count they claim to be running in thousands. They tried to highlight the issue in a partisan manner indirectly indicting the government for conniving at the killing of thousands of Kashmiris as a result of raging armed insurgency since 1989. The issue of unmarked graves was first raked up by the State Human Rights Commission and the protestors took the cue from its report. It is mystifying that the SHRC never thought of reacting on many other incidents of blatant violation of human rights in Kashmir like the rise of armed insurgency, attacks on and killing of innocent members of religious minority and forced eviction of entire KP community from Kashmir, atrocities committed by armed insurgents against innocent people of Kashmir, siege and occupation of sufi shrines and other cultural or historical places, and many other categorised as violation of human rights. The organization has not been fair and equitably just; its credentials raise many questions.   Continue Reading…

Should the Indian Army talk?

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By K.N. Pandita

The idea that Indian Army should establish contacts with Pakistan Army and talk about Kashmir or even Indo-Pak relations has been making rounds in political circles for some time in the past. Only recently, in a seminar organized at the University of Jammu, Major General, Rakesh Sharma, GOC 10 Infantry Division favoured direct contact between the armies of India and Pakistan.

There could be others in civil society who would welcome the idea. The sum and substance of their argument is that since political leadership has not been able to make a breakthrough in Kashmir impasse for more than six decades, the army should play a role to break the ice. It is further argued that since real power in Pakistan rests in the hands of Army and it is the arbiter of the destiny of Pakistan, therefore it would not be out of place if our and their armies enter into bilateral talks.   Continue Reading…

A friendly visit

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By K.N. Pandita

Former ‘Prime Minister’ of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhary is on two-day visit to Kashmir. It is a private visit to attend the marriage function of the son of his local friend. But being a political heavyweight in PoK, Sultan Mehmood’s visit to Kashmir is more significant than what meets the eye. He has himself described his Kashmir visit as one of the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. Though he has not indicated any definite schedule of meeting with local political leaders either of mainstream or separatists and secessionists, yet he has not closed his doors to anybody wanting to see him. The former PM of PoK expressed his thanks to the Indian government for allowing him a visa to visit India. In Kashmir he has taken time to visit some tourist places like Dal Lake, Hazratbal shrine and the downtown Srinagar. His first impression about Kashmir is that it is of great scenic beauty and attraction.  Continue Reading…

A bizarre visit

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By K.N. Pandita

Former PoK Prime Minister and well-known political leader, Sardar Attique Khan will be visiting Kashmir on a private invitation of a Srinagar-based friend. State government circles are silently trying to facilitate his 24-member strong delegation’s travel via Muzaffarabad-Uri road in their own vehicles. Attique Khan will be lodged in a super-luxury hotel on Gupkar Road in Srinagar and is scheduled to meet almost all hues of political leadership in Kashmir; nationalist mainstream, opposition, separatists or militants.  It appears a mix of social and political visit and indicates the invisible hand of Track II diplomacy in progress. Attique Khan has changed his and his political party’s six decade long stance and accepted Omar Abdullah as the elected leader of the people. Does this indicate a thaw in strained relations between the two countries? We will be happy if the visit of Attique Khan helps in strengthening confidence building measures.    Continue Reading…

Communal Violence Bill

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By K.N. Pandita

The National Integration Council NIC chaired by the Prime Minister mounted attention on many important political and other issues hotly debated at various levels among political punditry. The one subject that generated considerable heat was the Communal Violence Bill drafted by Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council. Entire opposition in the Parliament represented by their respective delegations to the Council opposed the Bill calling it “dangerous” for the country and for peaceful coexistence among the people of the country. The chief ministers of BJP ruled states or such states as have coalition governments with BJP opposed the bill threadbare on the plea that instead of reducing the distance between various communities, the bill would only help widen the gap between them. More interestingly, the Trinamool Congress led by the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee also threw in its lot with the opposition calling the bill a dangerous step to destabilize the social fabric of the nation. Those who opposed the bill argued that the draft in its present form could create an impression that it was only the majority community that could be held responsible for fomenting communal violence in the country. Though the Prime Minister avoided direct involvement in this part of debate, yet he said that nothing would be done to undermine the integrity of the State.   Continue Reading…

Ladakh on top

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By K.N. Pandita

Located at a height of 11000 feet above sea level and encircled by the Himalayan Peaks, the plateau of Ladakh is fast becoming a much favorued and popular place for mountaineers all over the world. It is called the second roof of the world after Tibet. An unexpected boost in mountaineering expeditions of foreign adventurers has opened a new window on the economy of the region if the industry is properly handled. According to the in-charge of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, Leh, Sonam Wangyal, as many as 430 expeditions have visited the open zone areas of Ladakh till August. The number of expeditions has also increased from 297 last year to 430 this year. The number of expeditions has also increased from 297 last year to 430 this year.   Continue Reading…