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Kashmir Violence: Curfew and shutdown in Kashmir continues on 12th day

Two protesters were killed on July 18, when a violent mob attacked an army patrol in Qazigund area of Anantnag district

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Curfew in Kashmir continues for 14th day. Image Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com
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  • Two protesters were killed on Monday when a violent mob attacked an army patrol in Qazigund area of Anantnag district
  • Limited mobile phone connectivity is, however, available to subscribers on postpaid mobile phones provided by BSNL
  • Opposition National Conference, Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist and others have been invited to the meeting

While separatists extended the protest shutdown for another three days here in Jammu and Kashmir, authorities had decided to impose curfew in the Valley on Tuesday, July 19, for the 12th day.

A senior police officer told IANS curfew will continue in parts of the Valley for the 12th day running on Tuesday to maintain law and order.

Curfew in kashmir continues for 12th day. Image Source: www.scoopwhoop.com
Curfew in kashmir continues for the 12th day. Image Source: www.scoopwhoop.com

Two protesters were killed on Monday when a violent mob attacked an army patrol in Qazigund area of Anantnag district.

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Police said four other persons were injured in the firing incident.

At least 45 people, including 43 civilian protesters and two policemen, have been killed in the spiralling violence that began in the Valley after a Hizbul commander was killed along with two of his associates in a gunfight with the security forces on July 7.

Violence in Kashmir started after killing of Burhan Wani. Image Source: defence.pk
Violence in Kashmir started after killing of Burhan Wani. Image Source: defence.pk

Authorities have snapped all mobile Internet connectivity and also suspended calling facility on mobile phones across the Valley.

Limited mobile phone connectivity is, however, available to subscribers on postpaid mobile phones provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).

No vernacular or English language newspaper has been published in the Valley for the last three days.

Amitabh Mattoo, the advisor to the state Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, told media that the decision to ban publication of newspapers was not taken at the instance of the Chief Minister.

Mattoo said the decision was taken at “the local level and heads would soon roll for taking such a harsh decision”.

In a related development, the state government on Monday shifted Senior Superintendent of police (SSP) Badgam, Fayaz Ahmad as sources said he had been transferred for stopping the printing of some local newspapers whose establishments are situated in Badgam district.

Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed- CM of Jammu and Kashmir. Image Source: www.youthconnect.in
Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed- CM of Jammu and Kashmir. Image Source: www.youthconnect.in

Mufti has convened an all-party meeting in summer capital Srinagar on July 21 to discuss the prevailing law and order situation in the Valley.

Opposition National Conference, Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist and others have been invited to the meeting.

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Addressing a meeting of senior bureaucrats in summer capital Srinagar on Monday, Mehbooba Mufti stressed the importance of opening educational institutions as soon as possible to protect the future of students.

Schools, colleges and universities have been closed by the authorities until July 25 because of the prevailing law and order situation in the Valley.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Image Source: www.youtube.com
Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Image Source: www.youtube.com

Meanwhile, the separatists including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik have announced an extension of the protest shutdown till Friday.

Security has been further tightened in the Valley as Pakistan government has announced to observe a “Black Day” on Tuesday to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir. (IANS)

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Emergence of Radical Political Groups Raises Concern in Pakistan

Concerns are being voiced about how a few radical groups with proven terror ties have been allowed to re-brand themselves as political parties.

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Rising concerns in Pakistan regarding radical terrorist groups establishing themselves as political parties. VOA
Rising concerns in Pakistan regarding radical terrorist groups establishing themselves as political parties. VOA
  • Tension in Pakistan increasing due to emergence of Radical Political Groups.
  • Extremist groups are gaining a footing in Country’s politics.
  • According to reports, goverment’s efforts are not enough to stop the emerging radicalism in Pakistan.

Concerns are being voiced in Pakistan about how a few radical groups with proven terror ties have been allowed to re-brand themselves as political parties.

Taj Haider, one of the prominent and founding members of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which has been in power five times since 1970, told VOA the country is again seeing the trend of extremist groups camouflaging themselves to enter into politics.

“Religion and politics cannot go hand in hand, but unfortunately this is our new reality. We have seen the recent by-elections in Lahore and Peshawar where militant-turned-political parties were able to mobilize people and gather votes,” Haider said. “And these so-called new political parties, with proven terror records, look determined to contest the upcoming elections in 2018.”

In a recent high-level party meeting presided by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Pakistan’s slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the government was sharply criticized on its inability to forcefully implement the National Action Plan and bar proscribed groups from entering the political sphere.

The National Action Plan is a 20-point strategy devised to combat extremism in 2015 that clearly states no banned groups can operate in the country by changing their names or identity.

Analysts say many other political parties are also agitated and wary about the recent political dynamic that has allowed radicalized groups to enter the political arena.

“The government has repeatedly said it will not allow the hardliners to enter into politics, but the reality is different, these parties are going into masses,” Rasul Baksh Raees, a prominent analyst from Pakistan told VOA.

“As long as these proscribed groups stick to their extreme ideologies and violence, they will be a danger to the society and democracy itself.”

Hafiz Saeed
Hafiz Saeed, head of the Pakistani religious party. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

PPP’s acute criticism came as Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), inaugurated the office of his newly launched political party Milli Muslim League (MML) in the eastern city of Lahore.

Pakistan’s Election Commission rejected MML’s party registration application in October, citing its link to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S. designated terror-sponsoring organization.

But MML looks determined to contest the upcoming state and provincial elections. The party has several offices, has launched a website, and has a social media team spreading its messages through Facebook and Twitter.

Pakistan’s government has repeatedly emphasized it will not tolerate any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to use democracy and political means to spread their extreme ideologies.

But critics still say the government is not doing enough to stop radical groups from entering politics.

“Look what happened in Lahore’s recent by-election and who can forget the power show by extremists on the roads of Islamabad. The government was totally helpless,” Raees said.

During the Lahore election in September, a MML backed independent candidate secured the fourth position in the race. The by-election was also contested by Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TeL), another extremist religious party created to carry-on Mumtaz Qadri’s mission, the bodyguard who killed Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer in 2011 after he had demanded reforms in the controversial blasphemy law. Mumtaz Qadri was later sentenced to death.

Islamic Extremists
Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labaik party (VOA)

In November, thousands of followers of the Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labaik blocked Islamabad roads for weeks and demanded the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid, after accusing him of blasphemy. The government eventually surrendered to hardliners’ demands after Pakistan’s military played the role of mediator.

The experts say the emerging trend of politicizing militancy is a danger to democracy. They also point out the sectarian and hardline rationale will further complicate the situation in the country that has been trying to combat terrorism for more than a decade.

“Imagine when these hardliners, through political parties, will spread their extreme views on the grassroots level. What will be the future of this country?” Raees said.

But some politicians dismiss the blending of radicalized groups into politics. Haider believes the people of Pakistan can differentiate between politicians and extremists and will not allow militant-turned-politicians to thrive.

“If you look at the past, the religious parties including the Jamaat-i-Islami [an old religious party], despite having a huge following, were never able to clean sweep or get majority in the electoral process of the country,” said Haider.

“Even now, with all these efforts, I believe Milli Muslim League or Tehreek-e-Labaik will not be able to pull large numbers during the general elections. Religious or sectarian votes are scattered in the country and can’t be unified and will not help these newly established political parties to win a prominent number of seats.” VOA