News / Asia

Kashmir Clashes Prompt Calls for Ceasefire

Indian army soldiers patrol near the Line of Control (LOC), the line that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, in Churunda village, about 150 Kilometers (94 miles) northwest of Srinagar, India, January 15, 2013.
Indian army soldiers patrol near the Line of Control (LOC), the line that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, in Churunda village, about 150 Kilometers (94 miles) northwest of Srinagar, India, January 15, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan observed a state-sponsored annual “Kashmir Solidarity Day” on Tuesday to denounce Indian control of the disputed Himalayan region. Two of the three wars between the nuclear-armed rivals were triggered by the dispute over Kashmir. This year’s February 5 celebration comes just weeks after the worst military clashes between India and Pakistan in Kashmir since a ceasefire went into effect in 2003.
 
Pakistani leaders are reiterating support for the disputed region’s right to self-determination -- in line with U.N. resolutions that call for a plebiscite in Kashmir on whether it should be part of India or Pakistan.
 
The government observed one-minute of silence to officially begin the celebration and pay tribute to the thousands of people killed since a Muslim insurgency broke out in Indian-ruled Kashmir in 1989.
 
State-sponsored protest rallies, seminars and other special gatherings are held across the country and in the Pakistan-ruled portion of the disputed territory calling for Kashmir’s “freedom from Indian rule.”
 
Officials in India reject the celebration as Pakistani propaganda and accuse Islamabad of fueling the Muslim separatist insurgency in the Indian Kashmir, a charge Pakistan denies.
 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Last month’s Kashmir fighting was the worst outbreak of violence since 2003, when the two countries agreed to a ceasefire along the disputed border known as the Line of Control. The border clashes left three Pakistani soldiers dead, while New Delhi accused Pakistani troops of beheading an Indian soldier. Islamabad called the allegations propaganda and blamed New Delhi for ceasefire violations.   
 
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar says Pakistan was not responsible for the current tensions and it was committed to the dialogue process to normalize relations with India.
 
“Pakistan has remained consistent on this track," noted Khar. "Pakistan has never resorted to war-mongering or ratcheting up tensions. We have always remained steady on the course of our commitment to the dialogue process to normalization of relations to India. We have walked the talk on that.”
 
Although military tensions in Kashmir have subsided, critics such as independent Indian political analyst and journalist Amit Baruah urge both of the nuclear-armed countries to take further steps to strengthen the ceasefire deal in the disputed region.
 
“No further confidence building measures like contacts between sector commanders, contacts between the two armies, nothing of the kind has been put in place and I feel that the time has come to put a robust infrastructure of confidence building measures on the ground so that incidents of the kind that have happened [recently] in the LOC [Line of Control] are not repeated,” Baruah said.
 
The ceasefire India and Pakistan agreed to nine years ago has led to a significant improvement in business, travel and cultural ties.
 
It is estimated that trade between the two countries has increased nine-fold to nearly $3 billion. It is expected to increase further after the signing of several important agreements last year, including an unprecedented deal to ease visa restrictions.
 
But the recent clashes in Kashmir may have slowed that process. Pakistan had promised it would grant India “most favored nation” status by the end of 2012 to strengthen bilateral trade ties. But authorities withheld the announcement in the wake of the military tensions and resulting pressure from conservative and Islamic parties.
 
Amit Baruah believes that as long as the Kashmir border remains quiet, there is hope that the bilateral peace process will pick up again.
 
“There are hardliners on both sides and those hardliners don’t want this process to go ahead. But I feel that there is certain inevitability in the process, and sooner or later in this ideological battle between hardliners and soft-liners or pragmatists, I think the pragmatists are bound to win out,” Baruah said.
 
India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in its entirety. But some Kashmiri groups, and even Pakistani critics like peace activist Tahira Abdullah, favor total independence for the disputed region.
 
“If they want to be free let them be free," Abdullah said. "Kashmir is not about control over territory or a fight about water for the two water scarce countries of India and Pakistan. I think it is between human beings on both sides of the border. It is between divided families on both sides of the border, it is about restricted visa regimes on both sides of the border.”
 
India and Pakistan have in recent years launched bus services and allowed trading activity across the disputed Kashmir border to facilitate divided families and commercial activity on both sides. But travelers complain tough visa regulations imposed by both the governments discourage them from undertaking the journey.

You May Like

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid