Archives  >  2019  >  August  >  21st

Pakistan, Unhappy

1. What’s the story?

In news that surprises no one, Pakistan is unhappy with India. Since India’s decision to revoke Article 370 from Kashmir last month, there has been a marked increase in tension between the neighbouring nations. And now, Pakistan has moved to the International Court of Justice in search of a resolution.
Tell me more.

Earlier this month, Pakistan had decided to send back the Indian envoy, end bilateral trade, and downgrade its diplomatic ties with India as retaliation to the Kashmir developments. Eventually, they also presented this matter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The UNSC held an informal, closed door meeting about the Kashmir situation four days ago – but there hasn’t been any formal statement as yet. Now, Pakistan is exploring yet another avenue – that of the International Court of Justice.

“Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday said his government has decided to take the Kashmir dispute with India to the International Court of Justice, Reuters reported

Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan told reporters after a Cabinet meeting that it had granted an in-principle approval to take the case to the world court. Awan said the case will be presented with a focus on “human rights violations”

In the meantime, declining relations between the neighbouring nations have made it hard for certain Indian families to cling to hope.

“High in the sunburned mountains that surround Pul-e-Khumri, beneath its parched earth and rock, Kali Mahato had dreamt he would find gold. Back in the small village of Bedam, Tenia Devi bid him farewell as he squeezed into the back of a jeep, beginning his 2,000-kilometre-long journey to northern Afghanistan. “I’ll send money every month,” Tenia Devi remembers her husband had said. “The most important thing is for you to make sure the children keep up with their education.”

Fifteen months on, Kali Mahato remains a prisoner of the Taliban, along with five other Indian power-sector workers like him.

Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the Riyasat-e Amniyat-e Milli, has been working overtime to ensure these people’s release. They even freed some terrorists from state custody to secure the release of one of the kidnapped men in March. But now, with India-Pakistan relations sharply deteriorating, fears are mounting for their safety.”   
So, what now?

The world is watching. According to reports, US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Modi had a lengthy telephone conversation about Kashmir on Monday. According to Modi, “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence” by some leaders have not been conducive to peace in the region – very obviously referring to his Pakistani counterpart, Imran Khan. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, however, declared his willingness to begin talks with Pakistan about Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir on Sunday.

“Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said at a rally in Haryana’s Kalka that if talks are held with Pakistan they will only be regarding Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). While he made the remark in a combative tone while thumping the podium, the statement can be construed as a softening of the Central government’s stand.”

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you posted about Pakistan’s next steps.

2. Where else should I be looking at?

Kashmir, that’s where. Things in the Valley are still tense, and schools – though open — remain deserted. Meanwhile, common people from across the nation have stepped up to help. Here is how a Delhi software engineer helped 32 Kashmiri girls return home safely.

“They were panicky,” he told … over the telephone. “I got a call from a woman named Rukaya, She told me that there were 32 Kashmiri girls, all from underprivileged families, just waiting to get back home, because of the recent government moves in Kashmir.”

The girls, who were between 17 and 22 years of age, were in Pune for a nursing training and placement programme as part of the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana. Ahluwalia said the girls told him that they just wanted to go back home as they couldn’t get in touch with the families due to all communication lines being disrupted.”

3. What more?

Congress’ woes seem to be never-ending. After a resounding defeat in the last Lok Sabha polls and with hoards of members changing alliances, the road ahead seems to be tough. Historically, though, Congress’ inability to accommodate “assertive satraaps” have come back to haunt them later. Here are four types of rebellion the party has faced, explained with 7 charts – beginning with the latest rebel – former Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

“In the past two decades, there are three major Congress satraps whose rebellion devastated the party in their respective states: Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, Neiphu Rio in Nagaland and YS Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh.

This crisis of the Congress isn’t so much due to the assertion of satraps. The main problem is that the party’s national leadership has become virtually incapable of pulling votes outside of religious minorities and states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

This is most acute in Northern and Western India which is where the maximum desertions in the party have taken place. Many state leaders feel they gain little by fighting under the Congress symbol or under the leadership of the Gandhis. There is also a fear that the Congress’ stand on issues like Article 370 could make matters difficult for leaders whose main opponent is the BJP. This is evident in the pro-government statements by leaders like Hooda, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Milind Deora and Bhubaneswar Kalita. Add to this the fear of central agencies and it becomes clear why several leaders are jumping ship.”

4. Anything else?

Andhra Pradesh’s remote village of Uppuluru is a curious case on social harmony. Ten generations of Dalit priests have lived and flourished there, despite repeated opposition from upper caste men.

“By permitting Malas – an outcast sub-sect of the Scheduled Castes – to be priests at Chennakesava Swamy temple for several centuries, the village of Uppuluru, inhabited by upper-caste Kapus, backward classes, Scheduled Castes and Christians, is carrying forward the 12th-century social reforms introduced by Bramha Naidu. Naidu, a minister in the court of Nalagama Raju – the king of Palnadu province – popularised “chaapa koodu,” a practice that allowed people of all castes to dine together on a mat, defying the caste hierarchy. The erstwhile province of Palnadu is currently under the Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh.

All the Mala Dasu families live on the premises of the temple, surrounded by affluent upper-caste people, in the heart of the village – again in contrast to the distance Dalit habitations had to maintain from villages populated by upper-caste landed communities.”

5. Is that all?

Uighurs, the persecuted Muslim minorities of China, have been under constant attack from the state for decades. Even an escape to Europe cannot stop the Chinese Government from getting to them. “Now, activists are sharing their stories and their grief – and Beijing is paying attention.”

“China wants to silence its critics, and so it confronts Uighur activists who live beyond its borders.

The EU’s border provides little extra protection: Uighurs in Germany, Finland, and Belgium also report being contacted by Chinese authorities. They say they are asked to spy or to reveal sensitive personal details including their home address, workplace, and national ID numbers. The offers, even if refused, breed distrust. Their friends, they are told, have accepted.

Other forms of intimidation are more public. One Uighur man I spoke with reported that he took part in a protest march in Belgium that was followed by a Chinese consular car with blacked-out windows. Halmurat reports that demonstrators in Helsinki have been photographed. According to the World Uyghur Congress, an advocacy group that represents Uighur interests from Munich, Beijing uses such photographs to punish the families of the protesters who remain in China.”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at this fascinating, centuries-old test that this monk must pass in order to become a full-fledged warrior monk from Shaolin.

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