India Arrests 500 as Pakistan, China Warn of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ in Kashmir

The Associated Press
AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary

Pakistan this week announced plans to expel the Indian envoy and suspend trade with its neighbor after New Delhi dissolved the autonomy of the portion of Muslim-majority Kashmir it controls.

“We will call back our ambassador from Delhi and send back their envoy,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced on Wednesday, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency reported.

Qureshi delivered the speech as Islamabad released a statement declaring that Pakistan will suspend trade with India and review their bilateral ties, AFP noted.

According to the statement, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan indicated that he plans “to expose brutal Indian racist regime, design and human rights violations.”

Khan chaired a Wednesday meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee to discuss the “unilateral and illegal actions by the Indian government” in Kashmir, the statement reportedly declared, adding:

The Committee decided to take [the] following actions: 1. Downgrading of diplomatic relations with India. 2. Suspension of bilateral trade with India. 3. Review of bilateral arrangements. 4. Matter to be taken to the United Nations, including the Security Council.

Khan also urged the Pakistani military to remain vigilant against India.

Echoing a similar assessment from last year, a U.N. report released last month highlighted a rise in human rights violations and killing of civilians in India-administered Kashmir, where casualties (500-plus) last year reached the highest level in decades. New Delhi denied the accusations.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that Indian authorities have already arrested more than 500 people.

The arrests are part of the lockdown that ensued from India’s decision to tighten its grip over its only Muslim-majority region — Kashmir.

AP revealed:

Indian security forces have arrested more 500 people since New Delhi imposed a communications blackout and security clampdown in divided Kashmir, where people remained holed up in their homes for a fourth day.

State-run All India Radio, which reported on the arrests without details, also said that cross-border firing by Indian and Pakistani troops hit the Rajouri sector of the Indian-controlled Kashmir late on Aug. 7.

India is considered the largest democracy in the world. However, it officially rescinded Kashmir’s autonomy amid an indefinite security lockdown and a communication blackout, including blocking phone lines, internet, and news outlets.

“It’s hell,” an unnamed person in India-administered Kashmir reportedly told a local news channel, describing the crackdown.

“A petition was filed meanwhile in India’s top court challenging the lockdown,” AP pointed out.

AP noted that most residents of predominantly Muslim Kashmir oppose Indian rule.

India’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) considers revoking Kashmir’s autonomy a victory. It was part of a manifesto listing its goals.

Human rights groups and the U.S. government have accused BJP of failing to protect religious minorities like Christians and Muslims from Hindu extremist aggression.

The move to take away Kashmir’s special autonomy status has triggered protests across India.

To the dismay of Pakistan and its ally China, India approved legislation Tuesday to dissolve a constitutional provision, known as Article 370, which granted Kashmiris limited autonomy for about seven decades.

New Delhi also declared the portions of Kashmir administered by Pakistan and China to be part of India, angering Islamabad and Pakistan.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying declared:

China is always opposed to India’s inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction. … Recently India has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law. Such practice is unacceptable and will not come into force. We urge India to exercise prudence in words and deeds concerning the boundary question, strictly abide by relevant agreements concluded between the two sides and avoid taking any move that may further complicate the boundary question.

Pakistan warned that India’s decisions could lead to war and “ethnic cleansing” of the local Muslims, National Public Radio (NPR) reported.

“I fear they may initiate ethnic cleansing in Kashmir to wipe out the local population,” Khan said Tuesday.

The nuclear-armed neighboring countries of China, Pakistan, and India have competing claims to Kashmir. India and Pakistan, which has ceded some of its territories to China, claim Kashmir in its entirety.

India and Pakistan have already fought two wars and a minor conflict over Kashmir. This year, the two countries came to the brink of war, again over Kashmir.

China and India have also fought a war, in part over the area of Kashmir administered by Beijing —Aksai Chin.

In 2017, China and India also came close to another conflict at a different point of their border — known as Doklam to Indians and Donglang to China. Despite a 2003 ceasefire, bloody clashes between India and Pakistan along their LOC border in Kashmir continue.

For the most part, China stays in the shadows of Kashmir-related disputes between India and Pakistan, providing Islamabad military and economic support to defend its position.

In response to the latest Pakistan-India row over Kashmir, China urged restraint.

India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir since they gained their independence from the U.K. in 1947.

India accuses Pakistan of harboring terrorists and rebels fighting New Delhi rule in the portion it administers. Meanwhile, Pakistan accuses India of human rights violations against separatists, namely cracking down on dissenters fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

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