Kashmir crackdown will spur global extremism, says Pakistan PM

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a pro-Kashmir rally in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani Kashmir, Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (AP)
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People raise their hands as they react to the speech of Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan (unseen) during a rally to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir, in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, September 13, 2019. (Reuters)
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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, left, attends a pro-Kashmir rally with former cricketer Shahid Afridi in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani Kashmir, Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. (AP)
Updated 14 September 2019

Kashmir crackdown will spur global extremism, says Pakistan PM

  • Pakistan PM vows to defend Kashmiris’ cause at UN General Assembly
  • Imran Khan made the comments in his first speech to a rally in Pakistan-held Kashmir since the revocation of the special status of the disputed Himalayan region by India on Aug. 5

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: India's crackdown on protests and dissent in Kashmir will drive more of the world's Muslims into extremism, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said during a fiery speech on Friday, in the part of the disputed territory administered by Pakistan.

India revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5 and moved to quell unrest by clamping down on communications and freedom of movement. 

Authorities in Indian Kashmir have arrested nearly 4,000 people since then, government data seen by Reuters showed.

“When atrocities get to their peak, people would prefer that death is better than this insulting life,” Khan said at a rally of several thousand people in Muzaffarabad.

“I want to tell India that, by detaining thousands of people, you are pushing people into extremism,” he said.

“People will rise against India, and it is not just about Indian Muslims, there are 1.25 billion Muslims around the world. They all are watching this.”

Khan branded his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi “cowardly” and promised to raise New Delhi’s actions in Kashmir at next week’s UN General Assembly session.

“When you give a message to 200 million Indian Muslims that India is only for Hindus, you will push them to violence,” he warned.

“I particularly want to give a message from here to you, Narendra Modi, that only a cowardly man would suppress people” as India has done in Kashmir, he said.

BACKGROUND

• Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the world community to pressure India to give the right of self-determination to Kashmiris.

• In Thursday’s speech in Parliament, Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi called on India to immediately lift all restrictions on the people in Kashmir.

The prime minister urged people in Azad Kashmir not to approach the Line of Control that separates it from Indian-controlled Kashmir, but to wait for him to press their case in New York.

“I will attend the UN General Assembly next week and God willing will not disappoint the Kashmiri people. I will take a stand there that no one has ever taken.”

He also insisted that Pakistan does not want to go to war with India again — but said Islamabad will respond to any hostility.

He urged people in Azad Kashmir not to approach the Line of Control that separates it from Indian-controlled Kashmir, but to wait for him to press their case in New York.

On Tuesday, Pakistan's foreign minister told the UN human rights forum that India's military presence in Kashmir raised the spectre of genocide.

The Delhi government has said its abolition of Kashmir's special status, which had allowed it to write many of its own laws, is meant to help to combat terrorism and to boost the region's economic development.


Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

Updated 14 November 2019

Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

  • At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks
  • More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding
MOGADISHU, Somalia: Ahmed Sabrie woke up to find his house half-submerged in fast-rising flood waters.

Frightened and confused, he herded his sleepy family members onto the roof of their home in central Somalia as scores of thousands of people in the town, Beledweyne, scrambled for their lives. Clinging to an electric power pylon by the edge of their roof, the family watched as their possessions were washed away.

“I could hear people, perhaps my neighbors, screaming for help but I could only fight for the survival of my family,” the 38-year-old Sabrie, the father of four, recalled.

As one of his children, unfed, wailed the family waited for more than 10 hours before a passing rescue boat spotted them.

Authorities have not yet said how many people died in the Somalia flooding last month, the country’s worst in recent history and the latest reminder that the Horn of Africa nation must prepare for the extremes expected to come with a changing climate.

At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks. Local officials have said at least 22 people in all are presumed dead and that toll could rise.

“This is a catastrophic situation,” Mayor Safiyo Sheikh Ali said. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who visited the town and waded through submerged areas, called the devastation “beyond our capacity” and pleaded for more help from aid groups.

With no proper emergency response plan for natural disasters, local rescuers used rickety wooden dhows to reach trapped people while helicopters provided by the United Nations plucked people from rooftops. African Union and Somali forces have joined the rescue operations and the Somali government airlifted food.

“Many people are still trapped in their submerged houses and we have no capacity and enough equipment to cover all areas,” said Abdirashakur Ahmed, a local official helping to coordinate rescue operations. Hundreds are thought to still be stuck.

With more heavy rains and flash flooding expected, officials warned thousands of displaced people against returning too quickly to their homes.

More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Beledweyne town was the worst affected. Several thousand people were sheltering under trees or in tents.

“Floods have destroyed more than three-quarters of Beledweyne and submerged many surrounding villages,” said Victor Moses, the NRC’s country director.

Aid groups said farms, infrastructure and roads in some areas were destroyed. The destruction of farmland near rivers is expected to contribute to a hunger crisis.

The possibility of further damage from heavy rains in the coming days remains a concern, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Parts of the Lower Juba, Gedo and Bay regions, where IOM has supported displaced populations for years, have been affected. Many displaced people were stranded without food, latrines or shelter.

“In Baidoa, people have moved to high ground where they are in immediate need of support,” said Nasir Arush, the minister for humanitarian and disaster management for South West State.

Survivors like Sabrie now must struggle to rebuild their lives.

“We’re alive, which I am thankful to Allah for, but this flood disaster wreaked havoc on both our livelihoods and households so I see a tough road ahead of us,” he said from a makeshift shelter built on higher ground outside town.