India-Pakistan hostilities brief

Issues at play:

  • Kashmir is disputed territory controlled by India, Pakistan and China
  • India and Pakistan are nuclear powers that formally engaged in military operations against one another in late February
  • Kashmir’s glaciers are an important source of water for all of Pakistan, for eastern India and for southern China
  • Pakistan is run by the military, even though it is ostensibly recognised as a democracy. India is run by the ultra-right Hindu nationalist BJP party. Both entities’ raison d’etre is defined by hostility towards one another
  • Kashmiris are oppressed by the Indian state. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has found the Indian state guilty of the following in Kashmir:
    • Using ‘excessive force that has led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries’
    • Allowing off-duty police and army personnel impunity of human rights violations (they have been accused of killing 16-20 civilians between 2016-18), and denying access to justice to Kashmiris Arbitrary arrests and detention, including of children
      • The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1990
        • prohibits the prosecution of security forces personnel unless the Government of India grants a prior permission to prosecute
        • allows any army officer to use lethal force against any person contravening laws or being in an ‘assembly of five or more persons’
      • Torture and kidnappings
      • Violations of the right to health and education
      • Restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, reprisals against human rights defenders and restrictions on journalists

Booker-prize winner turned human rights activist Arundhati Roy has said that ‘the people of Kashmir […] live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world’

  • Western intelligence officers have said that Pakistani security services allow anti-India militants to operate in Pakistan

 

Key background recent events:

  • In 2007, before other events unseated Musharraf, ‘Indian and Pakistani envoys agreed to make the Line of Control irrelevant by giving Kashmiris the right to free movement & trade; to autonomy to Kashmir’s subregions and drawing down forces as violence receded’ (Ahmed Rashid in the NYT)
  • 26-29 November, 2008 Mumbai attacks: Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group from Pakistan led by Hafiz Saaed murders ≥ 174 civilians in Mumbai. Like Narendra Modi, Hafiz Saeed walks free
  • Narendra Modi, the BJP Hindu-nationalist who as Gujarati chief minister may have allowed or even abetted riots that killed c.1,000 Muslims (see The Economist) became Indian Prime Minister in 2014. Since then, civilian, security forces and militant deaths from violence in Kashmir have escalated:
    • 2012: 99 deaths
    • 2013: 135 deaths Before Modi
    • 2014: ≥ 185 deaths Modi took office in late May 2014
    • 2015: 130 deaths
    • 2016: 247 deaths:
    • 2017: ≥ 384 deaths
    • 2018: ≥ 413 (India Today, from which all stats above are also), ≥ 500 (BBC)
  • The spike in violence perpetuated by the Indian state on Kashmiris since 2016 prompted the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on the state of human rights quoted above
  • 14 February, 2019: Adil Ahmad Dar, a 20-year-old suicide-bomber from a village in Indian Kashmir, rammed a car full of explosives at Pulwama into a convoy of Indian paramilitary police and killed 44 paramilitary police. He became radicalised and joined a militant group 3 years earlier when paramilitary police had beaten him up (UK Reuters)
    • Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility
    • India’s general elections are expected in April or May, 2019
  • 16 February, 2019: Indian PM Narendra Modi instructed the Indian army to decide on the time and place of India’s response to the attack on Indian paramilitary police and promised to return the damage done ‘with interest’
    • 26 February, 2019: Indian air force sent a dozen warplanes into Pakistan airspace. The Indian military claimed to have dropped bombs on Pakistani territory
    • 27 February, 2019: Pakistan air force flew planes into Indian airspace, shot down an Indian plane in Pakistani airspace, captured the pilot
    • 1 March, 2019: The Pakistani government returned to India the captured Indian pilot as a “peace gesture”
    • 5 March, 2019: Government of Pakistan passed a regulation authorising the seizure of assets of armed groups that have been sanctioned by the UN and listed under Pakistani domestic anti-terrorism laws. This extends to Jaish-e-Mohammad and organisations associated with Hafiz Saeed who was linked to the Mumbai attacks
    • No international condemnation of Indian aggression on Pakistani territory
      • Instead the opposite – India’s foreign secretary speaks at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation hosted in the UAE on 1-2 March, against the Pakistan foreign secretary’s protests and subsequent boycott

Recommendations

Recommend in PMQs that HM’s government joins us in the following condemnations, call and request:

  1. Condemn the Indian state for its military incursions into and bombardment of a foreign sovereign nation, risking nuclear fall-out;
  2. Condemn the Pakistani state for doing too little too late in combatting ostensibly non-state militants within its territory;
  3. Condemn the impunity given to Indian security forces under the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, and call for the repeal of this Act;
  4. Call for the competence of the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission to be expanded to investigate all human rights violations in the state, including those allegedly committed by central security forces as advocated by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (p49);
  5. Call for, as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights does (p49), for the right to self-determination by the people of Kashmir in Indian and Pakistan administered Kashmir, and at the least hope to execute the 2007 plan of free movement between the partitioned Kashmirs, autonomy of subregions and demilitarisation

 

 

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