Pakistan observed a ‘Black Day’ on Thursday to coincide with India’s Independence Day celebrations, in protest at New Delhi’s decision to revoke special status for its portion of the contested Kashmir region. India’s decision this month, along with a communications blackout and curbs on the movement of those in Indian-administered Kashmir, caused fury in Pakistan, which cut trade and transport links and expelled India’s envoy in retaliation. Newspapers in Pakistan printed editions with black borders on Thursday and politicians, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, replaced their social media pictures with black squares. Protests are due to be held across the country, including Azad Kashmir, the wedge of territory in the west of the region that Pakistan controls. The largely symbolic move comes amid growing frustration in Islamabad at the lack of international response over the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan was isolated diplomatically and faced “a world in denial” over the situation in Kashmir, Dawn, the country’s most influential English language newspaper, said in an editorial. The 15-member United Nations Security Council could discuss the dispute as soon as Thursday, but Pakistan says it only has guaranteed support from China, which also claims part of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state. Permanent security council member Russia said on Wednesday it supported India’s stance that the dispute should be resolved through bilateral means, while the United States has called India’s decision an internal matter for New Delhi. In his Independence Day speech in the Indian capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the decision to
In India’s curfew-smothered Kashmir valley, even the freedom to mourn the dead has been shut down. When his father suddenly passed away this week in Srinagar, Irfan Ahmad Bhat’s grief was compounded by a military lockdown that not only prevented family members gathering to pay their respects, but also meant many could not be told he had died. “My greatest regret is that my father’s close relatives could not see his face one last time or perform his last rites,” Bhat told AFP. “This should not have happened.” Srinagar is coming up to one week without internet or phones — the city’s 1.5 million people cooped up in their homes unless they have a curfew pass. The lockdown and communications blackout is being enforced by tens of thousands of troops that New Delhi’s Hindu-nationalist government deployed to back its move on Monday to strip the Muslim-majority territory of its autonomy. So tight are the restrictions that Bhat said he had only been able to inform four family members who live in Srinagar that his 58-year-old father had passed away. The proper mourning period can only end when the whole family has been told, but “I don’t know how long that will take,” he added tearfully. Wired in Kashmiris are used to mourning. The region has been bedevilled by a three-decade-old insurgency that has left tens of thousands dead. But the inability to observe basic funeral rites is a stark illustration of the severity of the current clampdown that has transformed
Voters in the turbulent former tribal zones of northwestern Pakistan went to the polls on Saturday in the first provincial elections since the region lost the semi-autonomous status it had held since the British colonial era. The former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a mountainous cluster of seven districts and six towns along the Afghan border that resisted efforts at outside control for hundreds of years, were merged into the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last May. The result of the vote for the provincial assembly is unlikely to have much direct impact on national politics or Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government in Islamabad. But the election marks a significant milestone for a region that has been a byword for unrest since before the days of the British rulers of India, who generally left tribal elders to administer their own justice in a system that continued after Pakistan gained its independence in 1947. “It is a historic day,” said Ajmal Wazir, the government’s adviser on the tribal areas. “The polling process is continuing smoothly.” The elections will see 16 seats contested by 285 candidates from all the main national parties as well as independents. But the issue of how parliamentary democracy can be brought to a region that was for centuries governed by often harsh tribal custom has added uncertainty to the process. Tens of thousands of troops and special police units have been sent to the province for polling day but there were many complaints of vote-rigging and influence peddling
“The guided bomb achieved the desired range and hit the target with high precision. All the mission objectives have been met,” read a press release from the Indian military’s research and development division. It came two days after the test of the BrahMos, a cruise missile with a 300 km range.