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New Delhi: As tension in the Kashmir valley continues to ride high in the wake of the public boycott of ongoing by-elections to two Lok Sabha constituencies, the spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference – one of the parties in fray for the Srinagar and Anantnag seats – has posted a video in which a Kashmiri civilian is shown strapped to the front of a jeep being driven as part of a convoy by the security forces in Gundipora, Beerwah.
Gundipora is in Budgam district, which originally voted on Sunday. Repolling was held in a number of booths on Thursday.
The shocking video of the army using a ‘human shield’ is 11 seconds long. Posted by NC spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu, it is not clear who shot it and when, nor are the license plates of the jeep and the truck which follows visible, though the tactical number 339 on the jeep would make it easy for the military to track the vehicle down.
According to the Indian Express, an unidentified man that the newspaper said is a soldier can be heard saying through a public address system, “Those who throw stones will meet the same fate.”
Reached for a response, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, the Srinagar-based spokesman of the Ministry of Defence told The Wire, “The contents of the video are being verified and investigated.”
The use of civilians as human shields is a common though reviled practice of the Israeli Defence Forces in the occupied Palestinian territories but this is the first time that visual evidence has emerged suggesting that the Indian army too has adopted a similar method of dealing with militant threats or hostile crowds.
The Israeli practice is regarded by lawyers as a gross violation of the international humanitarian law and of the Geneva Conventions.
If proven true, the use of civilians as a human shield would almost certainly fall foul of Indian law and the constitutional guarantees of the to life.
Last year, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, whose Peoples Democratic Party is in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state, told a public rally that the security forces used to use civilians as human shields in the late 1990s:
“Back then I would fight with army and police, when they would go for crackdown in villages. They would ask villagers to be in front of them to find militants from a house. People would fear that if the militant fired they would die in between. I have fought against this practice.”
On Friday morning, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, described the Beerwah incident as “just so shocking”.
August 9, 2013
Dealing with India
By Saeed Qureshi
According to the Times of India’s report dated July 15, a member of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation had accused incumbent Indian governments of “orchestrating” the terror attack on Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001 and the 2008 Mumbai attack carried out on 26 November 2008.
There is no apparent reason to discard this bombshell information disclosed by an Indian secret service operative. Ostensibly the atrocious aim behind these sinister plots was to project Pakistan as a terrorism sponsoring state and thus antagonize the international community against it.
India had been maliciously harping upon the bogey that the parliament building and Mumbai attacks carried out by the disparate militant groups and Ajmal Kasab band respectively, were sponsored by Pakistan and her intelligence outfits.
This was not for the first time that India had blamed the Pakistan based radical Islamic organizations for Mumbai calamity. Earlier, the Kashmiris freedom fighters were held responsible for the storming the Parliament building in New Delhi in December 2001. Some other similar attacks were also attributed to the Kashmir militants.
While India bracketed Pakistan government and its intelligence agencies as the accomplices in these activities with the militants, it conveniently forgets that Pakistan has also suffered enormously at the hands of these brutal radicals who treat India and Pakistan at par. They carry out suicide bombing and murderous ambushes to punish Pakistan for its partnership with United States in hunting down the perpetrators of the 9/11 mayhem.
In the aftermath of the parliament building episode, India demanded the unacceptable option of carrying out punitive air strikes on the chosen targets in Pakistan. For a neighbor to ask for such an unusual permission from the United Nations is as weird as it is lethal to the territorial integrity of a sovereign country. There seemed to be more than meets the eye in the Indian call for attacking the militants’ targets within Pakistan.
One would wonder if the Mumbai bloody melodrama was deliberately enacted to achieve the concealed yet coveted objective of having a walk over the territory of Pakistan and Kashmir and to glibly and indiscriminately bomb any place anywhere. In peace times, this untenable demand was made by India against such a neighbor that has gone a long way to normalize bilateral relations in all avenues with her.
At the behest of India, had Pakistan been subjected to the UN sanctions, then obviously India would have been free to also curb and crush with full might, the Kashmiris’ uprising against the Indian occupation, now apace for six decades. In that situation Pakistan would be severely constrained to use its army in support of Kashmiris and also to defend its territory from the Indian onslaughts. There couldn’t be better time for India to achieve this agenda as a time, when Pakistan army is bogged down for several years on the Western front and India has become a strategic partner with the United States.
Pakistan has already been under enormous burgeoning pressure from United States for using its armed forces to annihilate the radical Islamic militants in the regions starting from Afghanistan to the extreme periphery of Kashmir.
In the aftermath of these incidents, the call from India to go for the monstrous reprisal in the form of military aerial forays against Pakistan would have been a grievous folly entailing horrific consequences for the region. If India wanted to exploit the Mumbai attacks to squeeze Pakistan and to label it as a terrorism sponsor, then it is as brazen as malicious. But now that charade has exploded on the face of India when her own secret agents are spilling the beans and when as the proverb goes, “the cat is out of the bag”
India wants the same leverage and queer rights that Israel is exercising against the Palestinians, in that she kills, at will, the vulnerable Palestinians indiscriminately. But is Pakistan what Palestine is?
Pakistan is a sovereign state in existence and a member of the United Nations. The state of Palestine is yet to appear and take a physical shape. The kind of rift between Israel and Palestine is anchored on legitimate demand for the statehood of an uprooted people. India and Pakistan are already two independent states resulting from the partition of India via an established international covenant. The incident of Mumbai is no parallel to the deep rooted and historical conflict between Israel and the Palestinian nation.
The 9/11 event is also no match to the Mumbai incident. The 9/11 event is a mega sized act of terrorism and the Mumbai is a much smaller local event. The United States has not been able to conclusively establish the identities of the 9/11 perpetrators. Similarly the Indian government had been far from being candid and unambiguous about the individuals or backdoor abettors actually responsible for the Mumbai carnage or attack on the parliament
But the whole context and narrative of the Indian blame game against Pakistan turns upside down after the submission of the statement by the Indian secret service operative in the Indian Supreme Court. It is for the international community to understand the Indian diabolic designs for staging such clandestine vicious operations and then putting blame on Pakistan.
An objective assessment would lead a dispassionate observer to the conclusion that no matter how much Pakistan stoops low before the Indian conditionalities for peaceful coexistence, India would not relent in asking for more. The reason is that Pakistan has always been a thorn in the side of India. India displayed its historic animus towards Pakistan by dismembering the latter in 1971.
There cannot be a more sublime cause than to go down fighting for safeguarding the national honor and territorial integrity. But if Pakistan surrenders hands down, history will judge Pakistani leaders as spineless betrayers to a country and a nation that was carved out with a dogged spirit for freedom despite a combined opposition and treachery from Indians and the British imperialists.
Let Pakistan fight on all fronts and fight to the last. To procure peace by becoming a protégé and a client state of India is ignominious and must be discarded. It’s time to talk plainly also to the Americans to not drag us too much in a quagmire that would ultimately devour us as a united country. However if genuine desire on the part of India for making durable peace with Pakistan is discernible then there may be no harm in giving such an effort yet another trial.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat
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