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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs