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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid