Mythbusting Pakistan: Here is The Reality of Asia’s Most Resilient Nation

By Adam Garrie
Source

Whenever the Kashmir crisis re-enters international headlines, India’s perpetual narrative regarding the Pakistani state tends to get amplified outside of south Asia and unfortunately, Pakistan typically does little to counter the propaganda in a point-for-point manner. Below are some frequently repeated but unsubstantiated and materially false accusations against Pakistan (almost all of which are Indian in origin), following explanations of the truth behind the matter.

–“Pakistan funds terror organisations”

Such accusations require proof and lots of it. When it comers to detailing such proof, a good source is Wikileaks. This is the case due to the fact that Wikileaks has a well documented record of exposing regimes which in fact do fund terrorist groups, as well as a strong record of exposing war crimes committed by various regimes throughout the world.

Fortunately, there is a lot of information on Pakistan contained in the United States diplomatic cables leak which was first published by Julian Assange’s organisation between 2010 and 2011. A summary of the leaks demonstrates a high level of confidence in Pakistan’s military by US officials who were otherwise sceptical of Pakistan’s then PPP led government.

This should not be surprising due to the fact that while Pakistan’s Army excelled at repelling terrorist onslaughts that could have otherwise destroyed the entire nation, the PPP government was effectively useless.

Fortunately, since then, Pakistan’s governance has greatly improved, but the fact remains that even in the early 2000s, US officials privately admitted that Pakistan’s military was a strong counter-terrorist force, rather than the terrorist backer, funder and enabler that India consistently accuses it of being.

Even a sensationally headlined article from the Times of India called Wikileaks: Pakistan’s Worst Nightmare, fails to mention any linkage between Pakistani state institutions and terror groups. In hindsight, the article actually vindicates the position of the Pakistani Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as the November 2010 article reveals that American allies at the time were worried that non-state terror groups would take over all of Pakistan. Thanks to Pakistan repelling these terrorist forces, the fears of 2010 have been rendered redundant.

Finally, in 2009, Wikileaks published internal emails from the pro-Washington US based think tank Stratfor. Here, it was thought that Pakistan’s ISI was trying to promote the Khalistan movement in Indian Punjab. For the sake of context, Canada’s current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been scolded by New Delhi for his open associations with pro-Khalistan activists in both India and North America.

Of course, nothing came of the fears expressed in the Stratfor emails and today, the biggest centres of pro-Khalistan activism tend to be among NGOs and unaffiliated activists in Canada and Britain – not Pakistan.

“Pakistan allows terrorists to operate on its soil”

All nations are in danger of terrorists operating on their soil and in this sense, there is nothing exceptional about Pakistan. What is exceptional is how Pakistan’s duel-track approach to counter-extremism has turned the once ungovernable Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province into a place capable of good governance and economic renewal. While Pakistan’s Army and ISI worked for decades to stem the tide of terrorism in what was once called the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), 2013’s provincial election saw the dawning of a new era in the politics of what after 2010 became KP province.

In 2013, Imran Khan’s PTI led a regional coalition government which emphasised the need for civil institutions to work hand in hand with the Army and ISI, in order to eradicate the extremism that took hold in the province after terrorists from Afghanistan flooded the area after the US war on the Afghan Taliban government, which began in 2001.

The KP of today is very different than the KP of the past. In Imran Khan’s own words, the people of KP do not give politicians second chances as they know that the difference between good and poor government can literally be a matter of life or death. Today’s PTI majority provincial assembly continues to oversee expanded opportunities in the realms of education, medical care, the improved status of women and the elimination of local warlords and Afghan born terrorist leaders who in the past used a combination of material bribery and blackmail to stifle the freedoms of the population and retard the progress of healthy state institutions.

This is a clear example of Pakistan fighting terror with a root and branch approach and it is one that now serves as an internationally acknowledged model for counter-extremism.

In Pakistan’s south-west Balochistan province, the country has for decades faced terrorism from the BLA whose links with both India and in the 70s and 80s, the USSR, were well known. While the BLA still remains active thanks to its relationship with some foreign regimes, the group is far weaker than it once was. Furthermore, the economic renewal of Balochistan owing to the Chinese funded Gwadar port which forms the southern terminus of CPEC, has led many ordinary people to themselves join the fight against political extremism and anti-state violence, so that they can enjoy a peaceful and prosperous future that CPEC and related development projects can bring. Of note, infamous English anti-Islam hate preacher Tommy Robinson has been on record supporting anti-Pakistan separatism in Balochistan. This may help to contextualise the kinds of people who support anti-Pakistan terrorism for a western audience.

Of course, there are still some small al-Qaeda linked cells in parts of western Pakistan. This itself is largely the legacy of the disastrous Soviet and American wars in Afghanistan. That being said, contrary to much Indian propaganda, al-Qaeda and all related groups are proscribed as illegal by Pakistan and hundreds of Pakistani soldiers have been martyred in the fight against an international terror group that unfortunately still has members across all continents.

Pakistanis know full well of the dangers of such a terrorist presence and as such are well prepared to fight this terror either alone or with an honest and transparent partner. In this sense, Pakistan’s fight against terrorism continues and this fight against an internationally recognised terror group should be supported rather than undermined by Pakistan’s neighbours.

“Pakistan is run by its Army”

The history of armies leading countries out of dark periods and into those of renewal is well established throughout modern history. At a time when modern Turkey was threatened with western directed colonialism on all sides after 1918, it was Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s Turkish National Movement that reclaimed Turkey’s dignity and helped to form the modern Republic of Turkey. As it was Atatürk’s army that helped to create the modern state, so too did the army play a major role in shaping Turkey’s politics until very recent years when it became clear that the civilian government had sufficiently modernised itself and was up to the important task of overseeing stable governance. Yet few in the west nor in Asia have insulted the historic role of Turkey’s army in the way that they have done in respect of Pakistan.

In many ways, Pakistan’s 21st century war against a multitude of terror groups has been even more harrowing than the Turkish War of Independence. While for decades India had sponsored terror groups aiming to sever Pakistan’s national unity whilst no Afghan government has ever recognised Pakistan’s internationally acknowledged border along the Durand Line, it was the unleashing of George W. Bush’s “war on terror” that for Pakistan became a war for survival as extremist groups supported by Pakistan’s regional enemies swarmed across the border causing havoc throughout the country, but particularly in the north-west.

While America’s misguided war on Afghanistan after 2001 was supposed to be a war to avenge the 9/11 atrocity, this war unleashed onto Pakistan many micro-9/11s in which civilians were slaughtered by terror groups that were perversely aided by the fledgling Kabul forces that the US had installed. While US drone strikes in Pakistan killed civilians almost as frequently as they targeted actual terrorists, it was Pakistan’s Army that succeeded in turning groups like Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan from a force that threatened to plant the flag of terror in Islamabad into a rudderless, leaderless rump whose power has more or less been totally neutralised.

Between the period of 1999 and 2013, Pakistan’s Army was the one constant in a political system that ping-ponged between the Musharraf quasi-dictatorship and the corrupt 2008 election which re-established parliamentary democracy, but which failed to re-establish accountability. This is one of the reasons why PTI boycotted the 2008 election.

By 2013, Pakistan’s political system began to stabilise and in 2018, Pakistan held its second ever peaceful and democratic transition of power which saw a tired PML-N government give way to PTI’s first ever “third way” government in Pakistan.

While today, a competent government co-exists with a strong military in the same way that such a status quo exists in the US, Turkey, Russia and China, it is helpful to remember that between 1999 and recent years, the professionalism of the Army and ISI was literally the difference between Pakistan’s existence and the country being totally consumed by terrorism. Again, the US diplomatic cables leak published by Wikileaks ten years ago, underscores the fact that in private, American strategists acknowledged this as the dire reality of the early 2000s in Pakistan.

At a time when Pakistan’s political parties were heavily compromised, the Army and ISI kept the people safe so that democracy could one day be re-established. Today, that democracy has been re-established – so much so that the chattering classes of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi are living so well that they have little better to do than complain about minutiae.

“Pakistan funds terrorism in Kashmir”

This argument is worse than false, it is a cop-out. Like many parts of the world, Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) is home to an indigenous resistance against the presence of hundreds of thousands of heavily armed soldiers who have committed countless atrocities against the civilian population. These atrocities have frankly been far better documented by the United Nations than by the Pakistani state. To say that resistance to this occupation is Pakistan’s fault, implies that Kashmirs have no political agency and are somehow too weak or too stupid to demand the enforcement of their UN mandated right to self-determination. This is a dangerous distortion of reality and an insult to the human condition itself.

Furthermore, if one wonders why some groups in IOK have resorted to extreme measures, one should realise that in the words of Gandhi himself “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”. As such, violence begets violence and as Indian forces clearly have the upper hand against a local resistance incapable of full scale mobilisation, India has a unique responsibility to de-escalate the situation and allow a proper international dialogue to take place, with the aim of fomenting the peace process mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 47.

This will save both Kashmiri lives and the lives of Indian soldiers. This is a win-win solution that Pakistan publicly endorses.

To put it in a different context, while groups classified as extreme by Pakistan exist in IOK, India’s ruling BJP  exists as part of a consummate alliance with the militant Hindutva extremist group RSS. The contrast could not be more stark.

Finally, many in Pakistan who believe strongly in the cause of peaceful political self-determination for the people of IOK are very transparent about the fact that they believe Pakistan does too little on the Kashmir issue. In this sense, pro-Kashmiri activists themselves can help to expose the false Indian narrative which states that all anti-occupation Kashmiris are somehow tools of Islamabad.

Conclusion 

Pakistan has faced threats to its existence from the moment it achieved independent statehood. In spite of this, the Pakistani people have persevered against the odds and today look forward to continually developing their state on the 21st century model of peace through prosperity. Today’s Pakistan is one that looks to the future whilst sadly, others are stuck repeating the false anti-Pakistani epithets of the past.

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Iran’s Turning Into India’s Proxy By Taunting And Threatening Pakistan

By Andrew Korybko
Source

Major General Qassem Soleimani, the famed commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC), proved that his country is increasingly turning into India’s proxy after he taunted and threatened Pakistan, resulting in the Islamic Republic incredibly taking some of the same positions as its American and “Israeli” enemies (both of whom are its new Indian patron’s allies) in spite of its official “principled” opposition to every manifestation of their policies.  

Digging A Deeper Hole

Iran recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, but instead of marking this momentous occasion by showcasing its sovereign gains over the past four decades, it ended up being manipulated into becoming India’ s proxy and paradoxically undermining the very independence that it’s so proud to have supposedly achieved. The author wrote about this at length in his piece earlier this week about how “Iran’s Being Tricked Into Making Balochistan The New Kurdistan”, explaining that the Islamic Republic’s “deep state” divisions are being masterfully exploited by India in order to turn Iran against Pakistan in the aftermath of a recent terrorist attack along the two Muslim countries’ shared border in the transnational region of Balochistan.

Instead of de-escalating the situation behind the scenes by walking back some of its officials’ anti-Pakistani rhetoric and actively commencing joint anti-terrorist operations like the author suggested that it do in order to make the best out of a bad situation, Major General Qassem Soleimani – the famed commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – upped the ante by taunting and threatening Pakistan, proving that Iran is indeed on the path of becoming India’s proxy and apparently has no problem with this. His words dealt enormous damage to Pakistani-Iranian relations after he called into question the professionalism of his neighbor’s armed forces and portrayed the country as being on the brink of dissolution.

Soleimani’s Statement

Here are his abridged comments as reported by the Fars News Agency:

“We have always offered Pakistan help in the region, but I have this question from the Pakistani government: where are you heading to? You have caused unrest along borders with all your neighbors and do you have any other neighbor left that you want to stir insecurity for?

 Are you, who have atomic bombs, unable to destroy a terrorist group with several hundred members in the region? How many of your own people have been killed in different terrorist operations? We do not want your condolences, how could your condolence help the people of Iran?

I tell the Pakistani people that the Saudi cash has influenced Pakistan and they want to destroy Pakistan with such measures.

I warn you not to test Iran and anyone who has tested Iran has received firm response. We are speaking to Pakistan with a friendly tone and we are telling that country not to allow their borders to become a source of insecurity for the neighboring countries; anyone who has made this plot for Pakistan is seeking to disintegrate that country, the Islamic Republic of Iran will take revenge of its martyrs from those mercenaries who have committed this crime no matter where they are in the world.”

Soleimani’s statement revealed a lot about Iran’s current outlook and deserves to be analyzed in depth.

Interpreting Iran’s Intentions

Firstly, Soleimani implied that Pakistan backstabbed Iran after he said that Tehran always offered to help it, after which he remarked that Islamabad is responsible for regional unrest. The General then taunted the Pakistani Armed Forces by rhetorically asking why their nuclear weapons can’t defeat a small armed group that’s supposedly operating within its borders, despite knowing fully well that those armaments are irrelevant when dealing with hybrid threats. That was a cheap attack against the military and meant to make it an international laughingstock. He also portrayed Pakistan as hypocritical by reminding it of how many people it lost to this same type of terrorism that he says its government is responsible for, after which he disrespectfully rejected its condolences.

Soleimani then directly addressed the Pakistani people and tried to impugn Prime Minister Khan’s integrity by making it seem as though their leader is concealing an existentially dangerous conspiracy from them that involves Saudi Arabia paying the country to become a regional exporter of terrorism, which he implied the authorities recklessly agreed to even though he arrogantly predicted that this will result in Pakistan’s “disintegration”. He then proceeded to threaten Pakistan while disingenuously assuring it that he’s “speaking with a friendly tone” by promising that his military will “take revenge of its martyrs…no matter where they are in the world”, or in other words, might pull an Indian-like “surgical strike” against its neighbor (whether claiming it did or actually trying to).

Ruining The Regional Balance

Whether Iran realizes it or not, its representatives’ statements – and especially the latest ones from General Soleimani – have reversed the recent progress in bilateral relations with Pakistan and shown the world that their country has been successfully manipulated by a foreign power’s psy-ops into turning against its neighbor. Some members of the Iranian “deep state” probably don’t mind, however, since they might cynically believe that this serves the purpose of distracting their population from their many internal problems that have been exacerbated by the US’ unilateral re-implementation of sanctions and getting them to redirect their critical focus away from Iran’s setbacks in the Mashriq and towards the new externally aggravated fault line with Pakistan instead.

Worse still, all of this is occurring in the context of pronounced Indian-Pakistani tensions after the Pulwama attack, which suggests that Iran’s rhetoric is actually part of India’s regional Hybrid War against Pakistan and further reinforcing the notion that the Islamic Republic has become New Delhi’s proxy against Islamabad. This increasingly hostile state of affairs is making it impossible for Pakistan to maintain its desired balance between Iran and Saudi Arabia and mediate between them like Islamabad previously offered to do. As a result, pro-Saudi sentiment is surging in Pakistani society while previously friendly attitudes towards Iran are rapidly disappearing, which is no one’s fault other than Tehran’s for implementing such an irresponsibly partisan policy against Pakistan.

Indian Strategic Interests

India didn’t manipulate Iran’s response to the artificial security dilemma that the joint Indo-American Hybrid War on CPEC eventually created between it and Pakistan just for the sake of “deep state” satisfaction, but to achieve tangible strategic outcomes that work out to its long-term advantage. The worsening of Pakistani-Iranian relations greatly hinders the creation of the Golden Ring of Multipolar Great Powers between those two Muslim countries, Turkey, Russia, and China, and it gives India a direct inroad into this geopolitical construction’s Central Asian core through the trans-Iranian North-South Transport Corridor’s (NSTC)’s eastern branch. Furthermore, India could take advantage of this situation to obtain basing rights for its navy in Chabahar, as well as pull Iran away from the Taliban.

By unprecedentedly becoming strategically dependent on India, however, Iran is also coming under the indirect influence of its patron’s American and “Israeli” allies too. About that, it can be said that Iran has currently come to share the same position towards Pakistan as India’s two aforementioned allies despite being their sworn enemy after all four of them accused Islamabad of hosting terrorists and being responsible for regional unrest. It’s almost surreal that the Islamic Republic celebrated the 40th anniversary of its revolution by aligning itself with what it refers to as the “Great and Little Satans”, an outcome that was brought about by India’s clandestine “facilitation” and which the Islamic Republic might wrongly believe will relieve their growing pressure upon it.

Dealing With The “Devils’” Best Friend

It’s the height of hypocrisy that Iran is now on the same side as its American and “Israeli” enemies vis-à-vis Pakistan because it’s invested so heavily since the revolution to establish the international reputation that it will always oppose the manifestation of both of their policies on principle. This “politically incorrect” observation draws into question everything that the Iranian leadership said that it stood for since 1979 and confirms that there are indeed “exceptions” to its “principled stance” of never aligning with the “Great and Little Satans”. Apparently, it’s okay to do so as a form of protest against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s (MBS) recent visit to Pakistan and as a sign of appreciation for India’s NSTC investments.

Still, Iran didn’t overreact when MBS went to India afterwards, probably because New Delhi has basically “paid off” Iran with the promise (key word) of those said megaproject investments as a form of implicit sanctions relief. This, however, ignores the fact that the US’ NSTC sanctions waiver to India and Saudi Arabia’s planned energy deals with it both work out to the Islamic Republic’s long-term detriment by making it so that New Delhi achieves historically unparalleled “good cop/bad cop” influence over its economy. Tellingly, while Iran harshly criticizes Saudi Arabia for its secret ties with “Israel”, it’s silent about Modi publicly strollingwith Netanayhu barefoot on a Mediterranean beach in summer 2017, proving how “exceptional” Iran regards India as being.

Russia To The Rescue?

While it might seem like all hope is lost in Pakistani-Iranian relations after the latter danced along to America’s strategic choreography by becoming India’s proxy in exchange for the promise (key word) of de-facto sanctions relief, there’s a chance that Russia’s recent return to the region can at the very least stop the situation from reaching rock bottom. Russia is regarded as being just as “exceptional” as India is in Iran’s eyes and therefore “allowed” to enjoy high-level strategic relations with both of the Islamic Republic’s “Israeli” and Saudi foes (despite growing Russian-Iranian disagreements over Syria) because Tehran considers Moscow to be an irreplaceable “pressure valve” by virtue of its geography, impending free trade deal, and a possible $5 billion loan.

Russia is so indispensable to Iran that there’s no way that Tehran could pressure Moscow to suspend its planned $10 billion undersea pipeline between itself, Pakistan, and India until Pakistani-Iranian relations improve. Nor, for that matter, could it stop Russian businessmen from using the NSTC to facilitate their country’s trade with Pakistan, meaning that Moscow is unquestionably in a position to “balance” between both Muslim Great Powers in accordance with its envisaged 21st-century grand strategy and therefore keep the situation from spiraling out of control. In fact, Russia might even be able to exert some “moderating influence” over Iran and get it to reconsider its current hostility against Pakistan, which could eventually set the basis for it to broker a rapprochement.

Concluding Thoughts

Iran was surprisingly manipulated on the occasion of none other than the 40thanniversary of its revolution into abandoning its commitment to independent policies and becoming India’s proxy instead, which it did in response to New Delhi’s wildly successful psy-op after a recent terrorist attack and in exchange for the promise (key word) of de-facto sanctions relief. IRGC commander General Soleimani publicly taunted and threatened Pakistan as a sign of fealty to his country’s new patron, which ruined any chances of Islamabad mediating between Tehran and Riyadh like it previously offered to do in pursuit of regional peace and incredibly aligned the Islamic Republic with its American and “Israeli” enemies, all of which works out to India’s ultimate strategic benefit.

All isn’t lost, however, since Russia could conceivably leverage its impressive influence over Iran and hefty investments in its economy (both current and forthcoming) to ensure that Pakistani-Iranian relations stabilize and avoid reaching rock bottom, though it’ll still remain immensely difficult for Moscow to counteract New Delhi’s influence and get Tehran to improve its ties with Islamabad in the near future. As unbelievable as it may sound, “Israel’s” Haaretz almost got the regional state of affairs right when it released an article titled “Pakistan Just Became Saudi Arabia’s Client State, and Turned Its Back on Tehran”, except they mixed up the subjects and it should have been that “Iran Just Became India’s Client State, and Turned Its Back on Islamabad”.

Just another Fit of Imbecile Bickering in South Asia or War?

By Zara Ali
Source

I resisted… I did not really want to be distracted from my ongoing essay and instead get sucked into the heated diplomatic warfare that has stormed the region over the past few days.  But then came the call of compulsion from within so here I go.

First it was the terrorist attack in Iran that killed 27 IRGC personnel and then another attack in Jammu Kashmir that killed 42 Indian troops.  To begin with I watched Tehran acting unhinged – a rather rare spectacle I must say – and then it was Delhi that acted demented – but that was a rather common recurrence much in keeping with Delhi’s diplomatic traditions when it comes to arch rival Pak.

Iran said or shall I say Iran yelled, she held Pakistan responsible for permitting a Salafi terrorist group by the name of Jaish-ul-Adl to carry out attacks in Iranian Sistan from her Baluchistan province.  And Iran also threatened Pakistan if she did not take action against this group, Iran will take ‘appropriate measures’.  Moreover Iran also indicated out loud she suspected Pakistan will not take the necessary action.

Before moving on to criticism of this rather unwise barrage of accusations, I feel compelled to add that for just a while I almost thought this was an outpouring from Delhi or Washington before it hit me this was indeed coming from Tehran.  And I would also like to admit my ignorance.  I hadn’t heard of this new ‘Jaish’ before.  Although I guess that may have less to do with my being uninformed and more to do with the ease and the frequency with which we have witnessed such mercenary groups sprout from nowhere – well sated upon cash, arms, and drugs not to mention an occasional supply of expensive liquor – these so-called Takfiri, Salafi and Wahhabi terrorist groups have had many a home and many a name, and many a parents, nonetheless more or less the same lineage.

Since Iran has been historically mistrustful of the nature of bi-lateral relations Pakistan has had with KSA, Iranian officials appear to find it quite unchallenging to believe Pakistan has wilfully permitted the said group to continue operating from Pak-Baluchistan into Iranian-Sistan.  They forget Pakistan has in fact herself suffered perhaps the most at the hands of these so-called Muslim extremist outfits since the 9/11 saga hence also fought a long and hard battle in the most unfriendly terrain on the map of the world to root out the menace of mercenary warfare from her territory.  And as for Baluchistan, which is the main hub of CPEC (the Jewel of the Crown of China’s OBOR), it is perhaps the last region within Pakistan’s borders where Pak Army shall relax its vigilance or allow such miscreants to not only continue finding shelter but also the freedom to cross over the border into Iran and conduct activities that may have potentially detrimental consequences for Pak.  No doubt the probability of militants crossing over from Pak into Iran and vice-versa shall always remain open given the nature of such clandestine mercenary operations, however to ask Pakistan to ‘do more’ sounds so unmistakably like Washington that it almost makes me suspicious of Iran.  Truth is the Pakistan Army has for long fought out CIA-RAW funded terrorist groups in Baluchistan in order to protect and secure the province from intended destabilisation – a foreign sponsored effort aimed at cutting off Baluchistan from Pak resulting in the creation of Greater Baluchistan that will include Iranian Sistan, and also force China out of Gwadar leaving CPEC prospects for Pak-China high and dry.

Had the Pak Army not been fighting foreign funded terrorism in its own territory Kulbushan Yadav would not have been captured in 2016 and the case would not have come to world’s attention – as little as it has.  Had Pak not left much undone in the diplomatic arena to highlight irrefutable evidence of direct Indian involvement in carrying out terrorist activities within her borders from a RAW backed cell operating out of Chabahar in Iran, perhaps Iran would have hesitated a little before letting loose its undue and unwise criticism.  I do not remember Pak throwing a tantrum at Iran for ‘permitting’ an Indian terrorist cell operate on Iranian soil in order to conduct terrorist activities in Baluchistan.  However I do remember Iranians say something on the lines “Oh we did not know this was happening.  We will take care of it”.

Here it must be added India has invested heavily in Chabahar in the hope of rivalling Pak-China Gwadar endeavour and Iran has welcomed India’s investment because the region is essentially Sunni Baluch and has remained one of the most under-developed in Iran for long.  For Indian RAW to conduct any sort of clandestine activity out of Chabahar is not an improbability rather India can avail from a perfect setting in order to carry out destabilising acts not only within Iran but also in Pakistan thereby embittering the relations between these two Muslim nations while serving the American agenda – after all have not Americans chosen not to sanction Arms deals with India despite continued Indian investment in Iran?

Perhaps the Iranian officials might have displayed more prudence and not used the sort of tone and language they have over the past few days had they not been highly disappointed if not angered by MBS’ visit to Pakistan with complete disregard towards Pakistan’s dire economic situation hence its priorities.  Maybe and only maybe if that were not the case they would have kept the Great Game in perspective before bashing Pak for not controlling the forces of darkness that have wreaked more havoc in Pakistan than Iran can ever come close to imagining.  If and only if they had connected the attack in Iran with the one that occurred the day after in Kashmir and realised this could be a multi-pronged trap namely set for Pakistan which they had walked into as accomplice.

As for the Kashmir terrorist attack let us just cut the crap and go straight to the bottom line.  This attack was reportedly carried out using a vehicle loaded with explosives.  And for those who know Kashmir’s is the only militant freedom movement that operates solely upon the merits of the AK47 simply because nothing more than that can be obtained by the Kashmiri freedom fighters under the siege of 700,000 Indian armed personnel, this definitely sounds like a cruel joke.  How did that vehicle loaded with explosives get there?  Did it cross over the most heavily guarded Line of Control in the world?  Or did it simply grow out of earth in one of the dense mountain forests of Kashmir where Alim Dar, the young brain-washed Kashmiri who went missing a year ago, located it and decided to explode it into the vehicle carrying Indian Armed personnel?  Not just that he also left behind an audio message telling about his terrorist affiliation as is the tradition of the so-called Islamist mercenary terrorist groups in our recent history.

The first thing that hit me was this was not the style of the Kashmiri freedom fighters – this was more like ISIS and the likes.  In fact I actually contemplated the probability of this being a staged act before details started to pour out.  Nothing to do with my being a little brainy rather a lot to do with the fact the Indian story was just not plausible from the point of view of simple common sense.  There were way too many loopholes.  Yet as is always the case, India cried out loud and the world heard her without questions – what the world did not hear or chose not to hear was the anti-Pak rhetoric that went rampant on the Indian MSM asking Modi – the Butcher of Gujrat – to take revenge from Pakistan – shouting if 42 were killed the Indian Amy must kill a 100 Pak Army personnel for each one of theirs’ – perpetrating acts of violence upon Kashmiri students studying in Indian universities – kicking out Pakistani nationals with valid visit visas out of their hotels in Indian cities – removing Khan’s portrait from an Indian Cricket Club so on and so forth.  I still remember myself multiplying to see how grave this could become and how far this could sprawl with the Indian General Elections ahead and the Hindutva mindset already on fire across India.

Next I thought of the possible detrimental repercussions for the people of Kashmir.  And suddenly I felt my heart sinking at the thought of the Indian army lashing out with formidable force against the unarmed Muslims of Kashmir.  I knew the Indian Army shall now be given free hand – not that it did not have a free hand prior to this rather staged atrocity – just that now any meek voice that was raised in the world in defence of the people of Kashmir shall be silenced and the plight of the Vale of Kashmir shall intensify a hundred folds – a tale of unmatched resilience, except of course by the Palestinians, in the face of extreme injustice.

So who was the beneficiary of the two terrorist attacks that followed in quick succession?

Pakistan.  Nah… that is if common sense prevails, she is the obvious target.

Iran?  Not really… it does not really make ‘common sense’ either.  They acted very imprudently to say the least, but it seems safe to presume they did not have an active part to play in orchestrating the attacks.

Well that leaves us with India.  And unfortunately this answer does not tend to defy common sense.  Especially given the facts pertaining to the Kashmir attack that have been revealed thus far and given the tradition predominant in Delhi – Delhi, deeply envious of Khan’s diplomatic success over the past six months, was certainly seeking to isolate Pak in the world community yet again by crying wolf.  Modi desperate to win the next term in office had nothing better than the ‘Pak/Kashmir card’ to play in order to ensure he cashed on the Hindutva sentiment and did not lose ground.

So yes India was most probably the culprit whose doings kicked off the latest bout of bickering in South Asia – overall nothing out of the ordinary – besides Iran going crazy – the same old shit.  These provocations shall indeed turn into a regional war perhaps a decade or so down the road, but it seems unlikely that at this point in time such an escalation of regional tensions will culminate into active war.  Before closing I would like to add though, I could not have imagined the intellectually advanced Iranians to indulge in such impulsive criticism.  Especially after the Kashmir attack they should have thought a little more critically and tried to connect all the dots… for only a fool would think the two attacks occurred as isolated incidents.

Kashmir: Nothing Happens in a Vacuum

By Adam Garrie
Source

Kashmir-c.jpg

2018 was the deadliest year for Kashmiri civilians for a decade. This fact was affirmed not only by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS)but by the Washington Post. The rising death toll among Kashmiris in 2018 was itself a culmination of an increasingly violent approach taken by the forces of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) since the late 1980s, whilst the overriding problems for Kashmiris are a result of being denied their international legal right to self-determination since 1947.

In Kashmir, nothing happens in a vacuum and this fact readily applies to today’s attack on an Indian military convoy by a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed. The very fact that Indian army convoys and soldiers armed to the teeth are present in IOK in order to subdue the very people that India tells the world are merely a minority of ‘reluctant Indians’, obfuscates the more self-evident reality on the ground. The reality is that if part of a nation must be under constant military occupation in order to remain within such a nation, such a place is not part of the nation in question at all.

Kashmir’s troubles are ultimately a conflict between the Indian authorities and Kashmiris themselves. If anyone doubted this to be the case, one must consider two things. First of all, Jaish-e-Mohammed has been banned in Pakistan since 2002. Secondly,  Pakistani voices that are raised in the name of justice for Kashmir tend to hold the view that far from Pakistan doing too much on the Kashmir issue, Islamabad actually does far too little and has done far too little for quite some time.

Many in India will not want to admit the following and many in Pakistan will not want to hear the following, but the reality must be laid bear all the same: although the crisis in IOK is one between India and the Kashmiri people, Pakistan does indeed have a role to play. This role is one that requires Islamabad to amplify the plight of Kashmiris to the rest of the world for the simple reason that there is no other country in the world that is in such a position to do so. The longer Pakistani elites retreat from this issue, the worse things will get not just for Kashmiris but for the wider region as a whole. The fact that India blames everything that happens in or around IOK on Islamabad is actually quite farcical because Pakistan’s real position vis-a-vis Kashmir is one that is all too detached. As a result, innocent people suffer and a cycle of violence is perpetuated because of an Indian culture of scapegoating Pakistan and a Pakistani culture of wishing troubles away, rather than facing them head on.

Had Pakistan forcefully told the United Nations, global civil society, all three global military superpowers and bilateral partners of the grave danger that IOK’s unresolved status poses, the Indian soldiers who died today would still be alive and furthermore, the scores of thousands of Kashmiri civilians gunned down in cold blood by Indian soldiers over the decades would also still be alive. In this sense, if the UN mandated plebiscite on Kashmiri national self-determination had already been held, there would be more people alive today in the region than there presently are. Every moment wasted therefore ought to sound like a tick on south Asia’s very own doomsday clock. With every further second that is ticked away, Kashmiris and Indians are both at risk of death or injury. No rational person in any country could label such a situation as acceptable.

While for the supporters of the Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, the issues surrounding the occupation are those involving unbridled jingoism and a battle that puts a quest for resources ahead of justice for civilians, for Kashmiris themselves, it is a matter of being denied their UN mandated right to national self-determination which they have been waiting for since 1947.

The pressing issue of Kashmir was one of the first major challenges presented to a young United Nations Security Council which in 1949 passed Resolution 47. This resolution called for a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to decide on their own future according to the principles of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was ratified in 1948.

Crucially, India continues to deny that Pakistan has followed the following clauses in the resolution:

“1. The Government of Pakistan should undertake to use its best endeavours:

(a) To secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting, and to prevent any intrusion into the State of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State;

(b) To make known to all concerned that the measures indicated in this and the following paragraphs provide full freedom to all subjects of the State, regardless of creed, caste, or party, to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State, and that therefore they should co-operate in the maintenance of peace and order”.

But while Pakistan has fulfilled its duties according to a precise reading of the Resolution, India maintains that Resolution 47 calls for Pakistan to abandon the civilian administration in Azad Kashmir. India has held fast to this obstructionist position in spite of the fact that the clauses in question do not make specific mention of the civilian administration in Azad Kashmir, beyond a general and reasonable call for non-native Kashmiris to vacate the territory for the specific and limited aim of holding a free and fair plebiscite based on the indigenous population as well as indigenous Kashmiris who were displayed during the war of 1947-48.

But while arguments continue to be made regarding interpretations of Resolution 47, Kashmiris continue to pay with their lives for 72 years of sustained injustice. The only solution is for the UN to take into account a reasonable interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 47 and force the issue of the need for an immediate plebiscite throughout the entirety of Kashmir. This is absolutely necessary in order to make it so that there can be no question about the long-term status of the region.

A further matter of importance becomes clear when one realises that arguments between New Delhi and Islamabad regarding differing interpretations of the 1949 era UN Resolution do not directly take into account the feelings of Kashmiris themselves. Ultimately, the Kashmir crisis is one between the Kashmiri people and their occupier. It is only up to the Kashmiri people to define who and what is an occupier and this is why their voices must be heard by the international community without prejudice. Any nation afraid of such a plebiscite can logically be concluded to be a state afraid that its interpretation of the situation in Kashmir is one that will be exposed as incompatible with the feelings of Kashmiris.

Furthermore, as India has physically occupied much of Kashmir since 1947, there has been plenty of time for New Delhi to convince Kashmiris that they are better off in India than as an independent sovereign state or as part of Pakistan. The uptick in the intensity of the conflict within Kashmir since 1989 in particular, has demonstrated that far from using the delayed execution of the UN Resolution in order to make peace with Kashmiris, Indian forces have done everything they can to make the case for Kashmir leaving India according to the democratic will of the Kashmiri people.

Former US President John F. Kennedy famously stated:

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

This quote could have been authored to describe the lingering deterioration of human rights and social cohesion in Kashmir as Kashmiris are pushing back only as much as they have been pushed. Contented populations are by definition not angry populations and likewise, no genuine uprising has ever been a result of prosperity, social harmony and a happy population. In this sense, the realities in Kashmir speak for themselves, not least because a genuinely contended population cannot be easily mobilised by external political proclamations.

The extent to which Kashmiris are suffering is therefore self-evident, in spite of the fact that the IOK authorities make it extremely difficult for international reporters to gain access to the streets where demonstrators are frequently beaten and killed for demanding a peaceful right to have the vote that the UN mandates that they must have.

Of course, there exists a strong temptation, perhaps an inevitable temptation for India’s ruling BJP to respond to today’s event by committing acts of completely unacceptable aggression against Pakistan. Yet such jingoistic appeals during an election season will only further teach the world a lesson that has long ago been handed down: violence begets violence.

If India truly wants events like that of today to become a thing of the past rather than a harbinger of a bleak future, India must work with its neighbour to give Kashmiris what the UN mandates that they have – a democratic and transparent say in their political future. This long overdue revelation itself comes at a time when the entire world, including the United States (but excluding India) has come to realise that Pakistan’s long held view of an all parties peace process in Afghanistan, is the only viable means to create stability in a country that in one way or another has been tearing itself apart since at least the 1970s. If the world has come to trust Pakistan’s peace agenda for Afghanistan, the only reason that something similar is supposedly not possible in respect of Kashmir, is due to a lack of will. Clearly, when peace lovers are silent, those who love the opposite of peace will make their voices heard.

While Mahatma Gandhi remains unpopular among the Hindtuva extremists that the BJP courts, it is wise to remember that he once said “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind“. In this case, New Delhi is blinding itself to the reality that a Kashmir under occupation will lead not only to literal blindness, maiming and death, but that the longer this cycle perpetuates, the worse things will get on all sides. Indian mothers should therefore consider why the government is sending their sons to be killed in a place that clearly wants to develop along the lines of a new political path. The Indian soldiers who have lost their lives Kashmir were not killed by Pakistan, these lives are being lost because of a policy that is one part murder and one part suicide – truly all have gone blind if they cannot see this for what it is.  If these matters are allowed to be discussed openly, then a broader dialogue on a peace process involving the UN mandated plebiscite can begin with sincerity.

Pakistan likewise must not allow itself to become scapegoated by New Delhi over the issue. Instead, Pakistan should reflect on its one area of guilt in the matter: the Pakistani state for far too long has acted as though it wished the Kashmir issue away. As such, is it any wonder that an ostrich with its head buried below the sand is a perfect target for an Indian state that needs someone to blame for a situation it has long been unable to control?

God willing, today’s attack will be the last such attack to ever happen in Kashmir, but such wishful thinking requires action steps in order for such a wish to transform itself into a strategic road map towards a sustainable peace. There is ultimately but one way to end the bloodshed and this is for Kashmir to be granted a full, free and fair plebiscite on its future. Until then, so long as Kashmir has no future, those attempting to undemocratically dictate Kashmir’s future will not be sailing through placid waters.

A commitment to peace must therefore be holistic and it must collectively rise above the constant finger pointing between politicians on all sides of all borders. India must not shy away from the fact that violence begets violence and that as such, today’s event has everything to do with the post-1947 history of Kashmir and nothing with the politics and actions of Pakistan. Likewise, Pakistan must ask itself how long will it wait before telling the world the truth about Kashmir, so that a harrowing occupation might be transformed into a new reality wherein the cries of peace ring out above the myopic cries for war.

Reading Between The Lines: India Has Sour Grapes Over America’s Afghan Peace Talks

By Andrew Korybko
Source

The clearest indication of how the Indian military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) truly feel about America’s Afghan peace talks with the Taliban can be seen in retired Major-General Harsha Kakar’s recent article on the topic for “The Statesman”, where the otherwise presumably serious former military official shows the sour grapes that his country has over this process by resorting to a chain of emotional arguments to make the implied point that the war must go on at all costs in order to advance India’s strategic interests vis-à-vis Pakistan at the US’ expense.

Intuiting India’s Interpretation

India, which hasn’t shied away from sounding off about all manner of international issues ever since Prime Minister Modi’s election in 2014, has been uncharacteristically tight-lipped about its attitude towards America’s Afghan peace talks with the Taliban, leading many observers to intuit that it’s extremely unhappy with this process but is applying the age-old wisdom about how “it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt” in order to avoid the ignoble distinction of being the only country in the world to condemn the latest steps taken to end this nearly two-decade-long conflict. These suspicions appear to be confirmed after reading retired Major-General Harsha Kakar’s recent article on this topic for “The Statesman”, where the otherwise presumably serious former military official shows the sour grapes that his country has over this process by resorting to a chain of emotional arguments to make the implied point that the war must go on at all costs in order to advance India’s strategic interests vis-à-vis Pakistan at the US’ expense.

Double Standards On Democracy

In his piece about “Who will be responsible for Afghanistan mess?”, Kakar hits the gate running by comparing the US’ possible withdrawal from Afghanistan to its prior one from Vietnam, remarking that “Donald Trump appears desperate to fulfil his campaign promise, ignoring sound advice.” Seeing as how Trump was democratically elected as President of the United States partly on his campaign promise to draw down America’s involvement in costly overseas conflicts, Kakar is implying that the will of the people should be ignored in order to promote the interests of the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracy (“deep state”), which is superficially hypocritical for someone from the self-professed “world’s largest democracy” to say but makes sense when one realizes that the Indian “deep state” (of which Kakar is a part) hijacked control of the country after Modi took office. For reasons of “narrative convenience”, Kakar ignores the fact that the withdrawal from Vietnam was extremely popular with average Americans, just like a similar one from Afghanistan would be as well.

Frustration Over “America First”

Another important factor that Kakar ignores is Trump’s signature “America First” foreign policy, as he writes that “It appears the US is presently only concerned about itself, rather than the people of Afghanistan and other states which have a stake in the country.” This should have been self-evident because Trump’s foreign policy is all about prioritizing US interests instead of ‘taking one for the team’ and ‘doing favors’ for its international ‘partners’ who he feels have been exploiting America for far too long by freeloading off of it. India, it can be said, is one such ‘partner’, at least when it comes to Afghanistan, though this will be returned to in the next section of the present article. Continuing along, Kakar’s next series of points touch upon his views on how wounded US and NATO veterans, as well as those who lost their brothers-in-arms in the conflict, might dislike that Trump’s withdrawing without a victory, but the Major-General seems to be out of touch with the rank and file because otherwise he’d know that this war is very unpopular with them.

For the second time in two paragraphs, he then whines about “America First” again by writing that “Trump has made up his mind and would follow his intuitions, the world be damned”, adding that “He did it in Syria and is repeating it here.” Once more, Kakar’s angle of approach to this issue is the same as Trump’s “deep state” foes’ in that he deliberately overlooks just how popular the President’s intention to withdraw from Syria is among average Americans in order to further his own ‘class’’ institutional interests at their expense. The next chain of interconnected points that he tries to make is that the Taliban will go back on its previously stated commitment to peace and inclusive governance as part of a preplanned conspiracy with Pakistan, though not before Islamabad “obtains US largesse, has doors for IMF loans opened and pressure…applied on India to pull out of Afghanistan.” It’s actually these three outcomes of Pakistan’s diplomatic facilitation of the peacemaking process that Kakar – and by extrapolation, the Indian “deep state” that he represents – is most fearful of.

Cutting Off India’s Free Ride In Afghanistan

The Major-General doesn’t really care about the US’ international reputation potentially taking a hit after its ‘second Vietnam’ or what its wounded veterans think about the withdrawal, but his emotional embellishment of these two topics appears to be nothing more than a poorly thought-out attempt to misportray Trump’s peace talks with the Taliban in the worst possible light because of how worried India is about the strategic consequences of their success. New Delhi knows that its interests in Afghanistan are only secured so long as the Pentagon is there to protect them and that the US’ possible withdrawal from the country would remove India’s strategic depth vis-à-vis Pakistan, therefore largely stabilizing the situation in South Asia to what New Delhi’s “deep state” believes would be their ultimate detriment per the “zero-sum” paradigm that guides their decisions. Put another way, despite the War on Afghanistan being a total military failure for the US, India wants Americans to continue dying for them in order to advance their country’s regional interests.

It was written earlier that Trump’s “America First” policy is aimed first and foremost at cutting off the US’ freeloaders, so bearing in mind the aforementioned insight about how India used the US all these years as its “cat’s paw” against Pakistan by strategically profiting off of its people’s sacrifices in blood and treasure, it can be said that the application of “America First” to the War on Afghanistan is a nightmare scenario for New Delhi. Fearing that the withdrawal of American troops will leave Indian investments without protection, Kakar suggests the deployment of historically ineffective UN peacekeeping forces as a desperate last-ditch measure to defeat the same National Liberation Movement that not even the US could crush with over 100,000 troops at the height of the Obama-era surge. Of note, for as much as he hypes up the US’ possible loss of face following any prospective withdrawal from Afghanistan, Kakar doesn’t talk about what a loss of face and money it would be for India if the Taliban seizes its many investments there in the aftermath.

The End Of An Empire, But Which One?

Right near the end, Kakar predicts that “Trump would have demitted office but would remain in history books for being responsible for the death of a nation”, concluding that “It would only prove the adage of ‘Afghanistan being the graveyard of empires’”, but the US might actually save itself from collapse by withdrawing from the war-torn state, reinvesting its money in domestic infrastructure and socio-economic projects instead, and getting out of the quagmire while it still can. On the other hand, the same can’t be said for Modi and his envisaged empire of “Akhand Bharat”, which might both be dealt political death blows ahead of India’s general elections in May if serious concern over the geopolitical consequences of a possibly impending American withdrawal from Afghanistan combines with other issues to convince voters to kick the hyper-jingoist Hindutva ideologues out of office before they lead their country to ruin. It’s little wonder then that India’s “deep state” has sour grapes over the US’ Pakistani-facilitated peacemaking progress in Afghanistan because it could end their dreams of a regional empire once and for all.

 

Shutdown on Modi’s visit to IOK eye-opener for India: JRL

By  Staff Reporter
Source

Pakistan’s continued support to Kashmir cause hailed

Srinagar, February 04 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the Joint Resistance Leadership has said that the exemplary shutdown observed on the occasion of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s visit to the territory, yesterday, should serve as an eye-opener for the Indian rulers that the Kashmiris reject India’s illegal occupation of their homeland.

The JRL comprising Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik in a statement issued in Srinagar said that claiming a visit conducted under the military siege and shadow of gun as successful was ridiculous. The resistance leaders said India’s national festivals and visits of high-profile dignitaries always bring more miseries and hardships for the people of occupied Kashmir. They said that the Kashmiris were engaged in a peaceful struggle to secure their right to self-determination and would take the ongoing movement to its logical conclusion.

Senior APHC leader, Agha Syed Hassan Al-Moosvi Al-Safvi, the Grand Mufti-Designate, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, the patron of Tehreek-e-Wahdat-e-Islami, Syed Hussain, and the Jammu and Kashmir Tanzeem-e-Azadi said that observance of 5th February, every year, as Kashmir Solidarity Day by the government and people of Pakistan was a source of encouragement for the Kashmiris in their just freedom struggle. Agha Hassan Al-Moosvi said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were challenging a big power and Pakistan was the only country that extended its continued support to their cause.

The Illegally detained senior APHC leader and the Chairman of Democratic Freedom Party, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, in a message from New Delhi’s Tihar Jail said that there could be no peace in South Asia unless the Kashmir dispute was addressed and resolved in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations.

The Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference in a meeting of its central executive committee and presided over by its Chairman, Shabbir Ahmed Dar, in Srinagar deplored that instead of respecting the sentiments of Kashmiri people, India was using its military might to suppress the Kashmiris’ ongoing liberation movement.

Hurriyat leaders, Zafar Akbar Butt and Mukhtar Ahmed Waza, addressing condolence and corner meetings in different areas of Srinagar and South Kashmir called for settling the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people to mitigate their sufferings.

Forceful demonstrations erupted in Tarigam village of Kulgam district, today, after Indian troops launched a cordon and search operation in the area. Indian police and troops used brute force to disperse the demonstrators, triggering clashes between the protesters and the forces’ personnel.

Kashmiris launch calendar to remember disappeared loves ones

By Riffat Fareed
Source

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Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir –Safiya Azad, 43, dreads forgetting her husband. She doesn’t know whether he is dead or alive. 

Every day, for the past 26 years, she has tried to remember him.

On a Spring afternoon in April 1993, Humayun Azad, a businessman, disappeared after he was picked up by Indian paramilitary forces a kilometre away from his home in Indian-administered Kashmir‘s main city of Srinagar.

Under the banner of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), on January 15, Safiya and a group of other Kashmiris whose relatives have disappeared launched a calendar with sketches and stories of their missing family members.

Parveena Ahanger, now 65, started the APDP when her son disappeared in the early 1990s.

“This is a unique way for them to keep remembering and looking for their family members as they await their return,” she told Al Jazeera.

“The dead dies, he has a grave. The disappeared, they do not let us mourn properly. They ache in us every moment,” she added, through tears.

The calendar features 12 disappeared people – one for each month. A blood stain marks the day of their disappearance.

Among the disappeared are a student, farmer, labourer, tailor and a driver.

I even saved a half-burned cigarette that he had smoked on the morning of his disappearance. Until a few years ago, his clothes remained hanging in the wardrobe.

SAFIYA AZAD, WIFE OF  BUSINESSMAN HUMAYUN AZAD

The case of Humayun Azad, a broad-faced man with a thin moustache, is highlighted in April.

Next to his sketch are the words: “I buried you, again and again, in my heart once, in my soul twice and in my memory every once in a while.”

According to Suhail Naqshbandi, the artist who sketched the men, “it was an emotional experience.”

He told Al Jazeera: “The pictures were very small and blurry. And the existence of these young [men] seems to be blurry too. I had to imagine and guess the details. You do not know what has happened to this man.”

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Human rights groups say at least 8,000 have disappeared since 1989.

Some were picked up by paramilitary forces, according to witnesses, and others simply left their homes and never returned. 

Most disappearances, the rights groups say, took place in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the armed-conflict was at its peak in the restive region.

People like Safiya have been seeking answers for more than two decades. 

“I was 16 when I got married to him. He was 24,” she said.

Their son, Dawood Ahmad, was six months old when Humayan was last seen.

“From police stations to jails … I looked for him everywhere,” she said.

She now lives at her in-laws’ home in Srinagar. 

“It might have happened 20 years ago or more. It might not be a story for people to hear any more. But for me, everything is so fresh in my memory.”

‘Half-widows’

A “half-widow” , a term specifically for women whose husbands have disappeared, Safiya was married for two years before Humayan went missing. 

On that day, a neighbour told Safiya that her partner had been taken away.

“After that, we never saw him.”

She clung to hope when some prisoners said they saw her husband in an infamous interrogation centre in Srinagar known as Papa 1.

The centre had been used to extract information from rebels in the 1990s when the armed rebellion against Indian rule began in the disputed territory.

“It elevated my hope that he was alive. I went to the torture centre every day. I sat there from morning to evening. I would take grapes for him or something else and hand it over to the security guards at the gate to give him. But I never got a glimpse of him,” said Safiya.

Once, she sent him a packed suitcase.

“I sent him clothes, toothpaste, soap, a towel, slippers. He was fond of chewing gum and I sent a pack of chewing gum too,” she said, “but I do not know whether it reached him.”

She claimed that a legal case she filed offered no results, so she joined APDP.

Every 10th day of the month, relatives of the disappeared hold a sit-in protest, demanding the whereabouts of their loved ones.

“Until 2000, I would get a message from someone, saying that they saw him in the torture centre. Then the messages suddenly stopped,” said Safiya.

Despondent, she wrote poetry and letters to her husband.

“I lost all of my writing when the flood hit Kashmir in 2014. I even saved a half-burned cigarette that he had smoked on the morning of his disappearance. Until a few years ago, his clothes remained hanging in the wardrobe. With me, everything at home waited for him,” she said.

Safiya worked at a nursery, which provided income and an education for their son, who is now in his twenties.

“In all these years and today, I still have only hope that [Humayun] is alive and will return. 

“I have kept my son away from this struggle because it consumes a person.”

Khurram Parvez, a Kashmir-based human rights activist and chairman of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFID), blamed the government for inaction.

“Cases linger,” he said. “In many cases, the perpetrators have also been identified but no justice has been delivered.” 

But Vijay Kumar, adviser to the governor of Jammu and Kashmir state, told Al Jazeera: “There is a proper system in place in the administration if someone has a complaint or asks for an inquiry.

“There are always set mechanisms in the government of India and other places to monitor some of these cases. Many cases have been enquired.” 

In June last year, the United Nations, in its first-ever human rights report on Kashmir, said: “There is also almost total impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances, with little movement towards credibly investigating complaints, including into alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region.”

While families face a long legal struggle, Safiya said the more challenging battle is emotional.

“Whenever there is a knock on the door,” she said, “I feel it’s him.”

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