Five things to know about Indian Kashmir’s changed status

An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard at a roadblock at Maisuma locality in Srinagar on August 4, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 05 August 2019

Five things to know about Indian Kashmir’s changed status

  • Artcle 370 gave Kashmir's assembly the power to vet national laws passed by New Delhi
  • Special status, in place since May 14, 1954, has helped Kashmiri Muslims preserve their strong sense of culture

NEW DELHI: The Indian government on Monday issued a presidential order to scrap the constitutionally mandated special status of Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority region.
Here are five things to know about the unprecedented move:
Article 370 gave Jammu and Kashmir state a special position in India’s union. The provision gave Kashmir’s assembly the power to vet national laws passed by New Delhi.
It also gave the state a separate constitution and a flag.
Under the provision, Indians outside the state were blocked from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs and securing education scholarships.
Under the changed status, the region will now be governed by the laws applicable to other Indian citizens.
The Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys a sizeable majority in parliament after dominating the polls in the April-May elections.
Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) can now push through parliament its key policy goals. This includes the BJP’s long-held promise to scrap Article 370, which it argues is necessary to integrate Kashmir with the rest of the country.
Critics say the BJP’s latest move is a part of its agenda to please core supporters and win more votes by stoking Hindu nationalist fervor.
The move is in line with its muscular approach toward Kashmir and Pakistan, which also claims the Himalayan kingdom.
The special status, which has been in place since May 14, 1954, has helped Kashmiri Muslims and other communities preserve their strong sense of culture.
The ditching of the status has highlighted long-running fears that the local way of life and customs could be lost amid migration from other parts of the country.
Analysts say the Indian government wants to change the region’s demographics by allowing non-Kashmiris, mostly Hindus, to buy land and settle there permanently.
It is also likely to worsen the simmering and bloody rebellion in Kashmir, where an insurgency over the past three decades has left more than 70,000 dead, mainly civilians.
The decision has a direct impact on relations between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan. Kashmir has been divided between the neighboring countries since 1947 and they have fought two out of three wars over the region.
In February the countries were on the brink of war after India launched air raids on Pakistan over a deadly bombing in Kashmir that killed 40 paramilitary troops.
Pakistan launched counter air strikes with the retaliations on both sides sending tensions to yet another high amid threats of a nuclear war.
India is meanwhile engaged in a protracted dialogue with China over the territory, which Beijing controls a part of.
The move could also affect the United States’ move to exit Afghanistan after an 18-year war, launched following the 2001 terror attacks.
Pakistan has been a key facilitator in direct talks between Washington and the Taliban in Afghanistan over the exit plans. If the Americans do not support Islamabad’s interests in Kashmir following India’s move, it could jeopardize the talks.
US President Donald Trump recently offered to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, but New Delhi has long insisted the issue can only be resolved bilaterally.
Up next is a bill proposing splitting the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir division, and Ladakh.
This means the entire region would lose its autonomous status and come under the direct rule of New Delhi.
The Jammu and Kashmir division will have its own assembly and elections but the national government will have control of local laws, including the maintenance of public order.
The tinderbox region was placed under a massive security lockdown and communications were cut ahead of Monday’s announcement, on fears it would trigger fresh unrest.


US blacklists former Karachi cop for ‘serious human rights abuse’

Updated 11 December 2019

US blacklists former Karachi cop for ‘serious human rights abuse’

  • Former district police chief Rao Anwar was granted bail in the Naqeebullah Mehsud murder case in July
  • Young Mehsud’s family welcomed the US decision, hoping he would also get justice in his own country

KARACHI: Family of Naqeebullah Mehsud, an aspiring model who was killed in a staged police encounter in January 2018, applauded the United States on Wednesday for adding former police officer Rao Anwar to its list of individuals responsible for committing human rights abuses in different parts of the world.

“During his tenure as the Senior Superintendent of Police in District Malir, Pakistan, Rao Anwar Khan (Anwar) was reportedly responsible for staging numerous fake police encounters in which individuals were killed by police, and was involved in over 190 police encounters that resulted in the deaths of over 400 people, including the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsood,” a handout circulated by the US Department of Treasury said.

Anwar, it further noted, led a network of police and criminal thugs that was allegedly involved in extortion, land grabbing, illegal drug trade, and murder.

“Anwar is designated for being responsible for or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuses,” the statement added.

The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, took action against 18 individuals based in Burma, Pakistan, Libya, Slovakia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan for their roles in serious human rights abuses.

“The United States will not tolerate torture, kidnapping, sexual violence, murder, or brutality against innocent civilians,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “America is the world leader in combating human rights abuse and we will hold perpetrators and enablers accountable wherever they operate.”

“Treasury’s action focuses on those who have killed, or ordered the killing of innocents who stood up for human rights including journalists, opposition members, and lawyers,” said Deputy Secretary Justin G. Muzinich.

Mehsud’s family said they were happy with the US decision and hoped they would also get justice in Pakistan.

Malik Hashim Mehsud, a member of the family, said the American move to sanction Anwar was commendable.

“The US sanctions against Rao Anwar or anyone violating human rights should be appreciated,” Mehsud told Arab News, adding that the case of Naqeebullah’s extra-judicial murder was pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and it was his family’s hope that justice would ultimately prevail.

“The sanctions imposed on Rao Anwar by the US treasury department should embarrass our criminal justice system and law enforcement agencies who have failed to provide justice so far and not launched an investigation into the killings of 444 individuals who were murdered by him,” a prominent activist and lawyer, Jibran Nasir, told Arab news.

Senior Superintendent of Police Rao Anwar claimed on January 13, 2018, that he had killed four terrorists who were associated with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Daesh.

Four days later, on January 17, friends of Nasimullah Mehsud, popularly known as Naqeebullah Mehsud, claimed on social media that one of Anwar’s victims was known to them, adding that the 24-year-old man was an aspiring model, not a terrorist.

Later, the Supreme Court of Pakistan decided to take a look into the matter, prompting Anwar to abscond.

He surrendered to the court in March 2018 and remained under house arrest until he was granted bail in July 2019. Soon after that, Mehsud’s father, Muhammad Khan Mehsud, who passed away earlier this month, requested the country’s judiciary to cancel the bail.