SRINAGAR, INDIA, May 16, 2017: A father and daughter were killed in the Indian part of the disputed Kashmir region Saturday by Pakistani army fire across the de facto border, and three of their relatives were wounded, an Indian military spokesman said.
It was the second major cease-fire violation in the area in days. A woman was killed and her husband wounded by Pakistani firing across the de facto border dividing Kashmir early Thursday.
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“Pakistani troops initiated indiscriminate firing,” said the Indian spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Manish Mehta, adding that Pakistani forces had fired with various weapons from small arms to large caliber mortars in the Nowshera sector.
A mortar bomb hit a home in a village near the Line of Control, which separates the two sides in Kashmir, inflicting the casualties, he said.
Indian forces retaliated “strongly and effectively,” he said, adding the authorities had closed all schools in the area.
A Pakistani military spokesman was not immediately available for comment. On Thursday, Pakistan condemned what it called unprovoked Indian firing in the area.
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India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.
Clashes between their forces in Kashmir largely stopped after a 2003 cease-fire, but exchanges of fire have been more common over the past couple of years.
Occasional efforts to improve ties between the nuclear-armed neighbors through talks have achieved little, while protests against Indian rule in its part of Kashmir have flared violently over the past year.
India accuses Muslim Pakistan of supporting separatist insurgents fighting security forces in Indian Kashmir. Pakistan denies that. (VOA)
Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.
The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.
The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.
The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.
No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.
The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.
“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.
The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.
A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.
The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.
Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.