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Better chance of settling Kashmir if BJP wins: Imran endorses Modi

Press Trust of India

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Islamabad, Apr 10:  Pakistan’s Premier Imran Khan has said he believes there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and settle the Kashmir issue if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party BJP wins the general elections.

India will go to elections in seven phases beginning from Thursday (today).

“Perhaps if the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached,” Khan told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview.

 

He said other parties would be afraid of the right-wing backlash in case of settlement on the Kashmir issue. Khan said Kashmir was the central issue between the two countries.

Tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed over 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter operation, claiming to hit the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.

The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.

Khan has said that Pakistan was taking action against all militants groups including the JeM.

Khan said that groups like the JeM were being disarmed under a serious drive to eliminate militancy from Pakistan.

“We have taken the religious schools of these groups under state control. It is first serious effort to disarm the militant outfits”, he said.

Khan said action was taken because it was important for the future of Pakistan. He also rejected the impression that Pakistan was compelled by the world to take such an action.

He added that the Kashmir liberation movement was a political struggle and there was no military solution.

Imran reiterated that Islamabad was determined to dismantle all militant groups in the country and that the government had the full support of the army for the programme.

The premier said if the polls turned against Modi in the next few weeks, there was still a possibility that India could take military action against Pakistan to boost his party’s election campaign.

“It is vital for Pakistan to have peaceful ties with its neighbours, Afghanistan, India and Iran, if it was to have the kind of economy needed to pull 100 million people out of poverty,” he remarked.

Earlier, Imran accused India and Israel of moral bankruptcy over their election annexation pledges. He questioned whether the citizens of both countries felt outraged at their leaders’ “moral bankruptcy” as they defied international law to gain votes.

“When leaders in Israel and India show a moral bankruptcy in their readiness to annex occupied West Bank and IoK [Indian occupied Kashmir] in defiance of international law, United Nations Security Council resolutions, and their own Constitution for votes, don’t their people feel a sense of outrage and wonder how far they [the leaders] will go simply to win an election?” he asked in a tweet.

Israelis began voting in an election on Tuesday that could hand the conservative Netanyahu a record fifth term or see him dethroned by an ex-general who has pledged clean government and social cohesion. Netanyahu pledged last week to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins the upcoming general election.

India goes to polls next week where BJP would be trying its utmost to return with a thumping win while the main opposition Congress party would attempt to deny Modi’s party continuity in the saddle and to win a majority.

Opposition trolls PM

Pak officially allied with Modi: Cong; Bhakts scratching their heads: Mehbooba; PM will have to answer: Omar

Monitor News Desk

Srinagar, Apr 10: Hours after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was quoted as saying he sees a better chance of peace talks with India if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP wins the national election, reactions poured in from the opposition, which is often accused by the Prime Minister and the ruling BJP of “speaking Pakistan’s language”.

Leaders from the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Jammu and Kashmir politicians Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti seized the chance to get back at the PM and the ruling party.

Imran Khan has said if the next government in India were led by the Congress party, it might be “too scared” to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Kashmir, fearing a backlash. “Perhaps if the BJP – a right-wing party – wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached,” Imran Khan was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.

“Pakistan has officially allied with Modi! A vote for Modi is a vote for Pakistan,” tweeted Congress spokesperson Randeep Sing Surjewala. “Modi-ji, first Nawaz Sharif, now Imran Khan is your friend. The secret is out,” he added.

“Why does Pakistan want Modi-ji to win? PM Modi, please tell the nation how deep your relationship is with Pakitan? All Indians should know that if PM Modi wins then crackers will be burst in Pakistan,” tweeted AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal.

“Pakistan mein macha shor, Narendra Modi once more (There’s clamour in Pakistan for a second term for Narendra Modi)” Kejriwal said in another tweet.

Omar Abdullah, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, attacked by PM Modi over his recent comments on a separate PM for the state under the terms of accession, tweeted: “So much for Modi Sahib telling the country only Pakistan and its sympathisers want BJP to lose. Imran Khan has just endorsed him for a 2nd term”.

“Modi will have to answer that because it was Modi only who, till now, was saying that Pakistan and militants want the BJP to lose, but it has become clear today that it is the Pakistan which wants Modi to win again,” Omar told reporters here.

His state rival Mehbooba Mufti, the leader of the PDP and a former BJP ally, remarked: “Bhakts scratching their heads & at wit ends wondering if they should praise Imran Khan or not.”

Relations between Pakistan and India worsened dramatically in February after a suicide bombing killed over 40 soldiers in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14.

Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed the attack. Days later, India sent its fighter jets across the border to what it claimed was a strike a militant training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. Pakistan responded the next day by sending planes to target Indian military installations.

PM Modi and the BJP’s re-election bid are seen to have received a boost from a wave of patriotism after Pulwama and the government’s strong response.

Imran Khan, according to the Reuters report, said Islamabad was determined to dismantle all Pakistan-based militant groups in the country, and that the government had full support from Pakistan’s Army for the programme.


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Another spell of snow this week

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, Nov 10: Kashmir should brace up for a second spell of wet weather as officials have predicted widespread snow and rains on Friday and Saturday this week.

An official at the local Meteorological Department said there will be widespread snow and rain in Kashmir on November 15 and 16 (Friday and Saturday) even as the weather till then will remain cloudy with rainfall in isolated places.

“We are experiencing western disturbance over Kashmir which is going to worsen by the end of this week. There are chances of widespread snow and rainfall although its intensity would not be as much as last week’s snowfall,” the official told The Kashmir Monitor.  

 

Kashmir experienced a record breaking November snowfall last Thursday that took everyone by surprise and left a trail of death and destruction across the region.

With electricity and other essential supplies still erratic in most of the places, the heaps of snow on roads and lanes are not melting given that sunshine has stayed aloof these days.

Meanwhile, the so-called all-weather highway connecting Kashmir to the rest of the world was again blocked on Sunday.

Thousands of commuters were stranded on the highway after a massive landslide blocked the road in Ramban in the afternoon, only hours after traffic resumed on the route.

Traffic on the highway resumed around 3 am on Sunday after remaining suspended for over 13 hours following a massive landslide near Mahar – two kms short of Ramban town.

Road clearing agencies worked hard to ensure early opening of the road, but the fresh landslide, covering around 100 metres of the road with debris, played spoilsport, officials said.

The landslide struck near Digdole and at least 12 hours are needed to make the arterial road traffic-worthy. Men and machines have been pressed into service to clear the debris, they said.

According to the officials, hundreds of passenger vehicles and trucks carrying essential commodities to the Valley crossed the Jawahar Tunnel — the gateway to Kashmir — since Sunday morning.

However, the fresh landslide left over 1,300 vehicles stranded on the highway, they said.

Traffic on the highway remained suspended on Thursday and Friday after Kashmir Valley and high altitude areas of Jammu region, including Jawahar Tunnel, experienced first major snowfall.

Heavy rains, which lashed the highway from Banihal to Jammu, was causing frequent landslides, the officials said.

Meanwhile, the Mughal Road, which connects the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region with south Kashmir’s Shopian district, remained closed for the fifth day on Sunday, they said.

The road was closed for traffic on Wednesday after heavy snowfall between Pir Ki Gali and Shopian stretch.

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Snow fury: Patient inflow to hospitals drops by 10%

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Nov 10: Shedding snowflakes off his tweed pheran, 32-year-old Zubair Ahmad heaves a sigh of relief, as he enters the gates of SMHS hospital, Srinagar.

Hailing from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Zubair’s tryst with valley’s first snowfall began on a sad note. His mother developed a searing pain in the stomach on the night of November 7, when all the arterial roads were covered with thick layers of snow.

“Last week, my mother underwent gall bladder surgery. She was doing well until the night of November 7 when she suddenly complained of pain in her stomach. Despite our best efforts, my family members couldn’t ferry her to the hospital. The snow accumulated on the roads made the commute impossible,” he said.

 

Next morning, Zubair pleaded before several Sumo cab drivers to ferry his mother to the hospital, but it too turned out to be another herculean task.

“The roads remained covered with snow next day as well. All the drivers that I approached refused to undertake the journey. It was after a lot of persuasion that one of the drivers finally agreed but he charged Rs 1700,” he says.

Similarly, 40-year-old Mehraj-ud-din from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district suffered in equal measure due to heavy snowfall.  His sister’s surgery scheduled on November 8 got deferred as she was unable to reach the hospital.

“A lot of trees were uprooted outside our home. Besides, the snow clearance of roads was yet to start from our side. As a result, I was unable to take my sister to the hospital,” Mehraj narrates.

It was on the afternoon of November 9 that he finally managed to reach the hospital.  “After a lot of haggling, the Sumo driver settled at Rs 1200 to drop us at SMHS hospital.” he says.

On November 8, the unprecedented snowfall, one of the heaviest in recent years left a trail of death and destruction. More than nine people were killed and property worth 100 crore rupees got damaged due to the snowfall.

Consequently, the hospitals in the valley also witnessed a decreased patient inflow.

An official at the Government Super-Specialty hospital, Srinagar said only 30-40 percent patients have visited the hospital for last three days.

“The patients especially the ones who had to come from peripheral hospitals as referrals faced a lot of inconvenience. The administration has shown a lackadaisical approach in dealing with the snow crisis,” he said wishing not be named.

Medical Superintendent, SMHS Hospital Dr Nazir Chowdhary admitted that the patient inflow has dropped. “There has been 10 percent decline in patient inflow for the last three days,” Chowdhary said.

Medical Superintendent of SKIMS, Farooq Jan said: “We were fully geared up to deal with the crisis. However, patient inflow decreased by 10 percent since Wednesday.”

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Reverse migration:Life comes a cropper for non-locals in Kashmir

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Nov 10:  On a chilly November morning, tailor Suresh Kumar along with his four family members is busy loading his belongings including a switching machine into a cab at Tourist Reception Center, here.

Kumar, who has been living in Kashmir for the last 15 years, has cut-short his stay to leave for his home in Uttar Pradesh. Scared after 11 non-locals including truckers, apple trader and labourers were killed, Kumar decided to call it quits and leave for his hometown in UP.

“All my associates from Anantnag left for their homes. I don’t think it will be a wise decision to stay here especially when many non-locals have been attacked in the last one month,” he said.

 

Kumar has joined a long list of migrant workers who have either left or winding up their businesses to go home following attacks on non-locals in Kashmir.

A cab driver at TRC said on an average nearly 10 to 20 taxis leave for Jammu with migrant workers on board.   “Mostly non-locals would leave for their homes in mid-November.  In October, people, who would work in north or south Kashmir areas, have left for their homes,” he said.

Non-locals have been leaving the valley since August 5 when central government abrogated article 370 and bifurcated state in two union territories.

Official figures reveal three lakh migrant labourers left Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370. In August last year, five lakh migrant labourers were present in Kashmir. This August only two lakh labourers stayed in Kashmir.

Migrant labourers are the backbone of the workforce that performs different jobs including harvesting apples in Kashmir. Since local labourers are scarce, migrant labourers are skilled and inexpensive.

“Growers had to face immense hardship in absence of non-local labourers.  Even fruit markets where they would load apples, remained deserted this year,” said Ghulam Mohammad a grower from Pattan area of North Kashmir.

The migration of non-local labourers also hit developmental works in Kashmir. An official of Roads and Building Department said work on many of their projects have been stopped due to the absence of non-local workforce.

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