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Pakistan-India relations Timeline 2015 - 2019

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Note: The developments regarding Pakistan-India relations and the Kashmir Dispute since January 2015. The news regarding Kashmir is highlighted in green. Please note that the following timeline does not include ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary. The time line also does not include developments regarding Kulbhushan Jadhav case.  

Written by Muhammad Abdul Qadeer

YEAR 2017

DECEMBER 2017

On December 30, the Palestinian government recalled its Ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali saying his participation “in a rally in solidarity with Jerusalem in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism is an unintended mistake, but not justified”.

The development came a day after Palestinian Ambassador, Walid Abu Ali attended the ‘Tahaffuz-i-Baitul Muqddas’ rally of Difa-i-Pakistan Council along with Jamaat ul Dawa (JuD) Chief, Hafiz Saeed. The rally was held in Rawalpindi in support of Palestine and to protest US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Following the rally, Indian government conveyed its concern to the Palestinian Ambassador to India, Adnan Abu Al Haijs, insisting that the presence of Walid Abu Ali with Hafiz Saeed in the rally was “unacceptable.”



On December 19, Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik called for a shutdown in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) to protest against the killings of civilians, including two women by the Indian Occupied Forces.

The killings ignited strong protests in different parts of the region where hundreds of residents clashed with the Indian forces. According to media reports, soldiers fired live ammunition and pellets at protesters. In a separate development on December 31, 2017, four Indian soldiers and 32 three fighters were killed in clashes as rebels attacked the camp of India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in IOK.

 

NOVEMBER 2017

On November 22, a provincial review board consisting of judges from the Lahore High Court (LHC) directed the Punjab government to release Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) chief, Hafiz Saeed from house arrest, while rejecting the government’s request for an extension of his detention. The government had sought a three-month extension of Saeed’s detention.

India considers Saeed to be the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. However, Saeed denies any link to the attacks. In January 2017, the provincial government had detained him for a period of 90 days under Section 11-EEE (1) of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. However, Saeed had urged the court to order his release as no formal charges had been filed against him after months of detention. Earlier in October 2017, four of Saeed’s aides were released, when a similar review board deemed the government’s evidence for their continued detention to be insufficient.

On November 29, 2017, an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Islamabad summoned Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua along with other officials for a hearing on the Mumbai case. Janjua informed the court that a meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials is expected soon where developments regarding the 27 Indian witnesses will be discussed. The hearing of the case was adjourned until December 6, 2017. Pakistan has previously blamed India for the delay in Mumbai trials insisting that India’s lack of cooperation had complicated the case and weakened the prosecution. In January 2016, Pakistan had asked the Indian government to send the 24 witnesses to Pakistan to testify against the seven suspects. However, India was reluctant to send witnesses to Pakistan for testifying. Pakistan had said that material evidence and cross examination of prosecution witnesses was required for further proceedings in the trial as per the country’s law.

On November 23, 2017, India criticised Hafiz Saeed’s release and highlighted it as “Pakistan’s lack of seriousness in bringing perpetrators of terror to justice.” In response Prime Minister, Khaqan Abbasi asked India to prosecute Hafiz Saeed internationally if there were substance to the charges saying, “No evidence has been provided by India.” The move also met a backlash from the US, which urged Pakistan to re-arrest Saeed, calling for him to be prosecuted over the Mumbai attack. Washington also warned Pakistan that its, “inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistan’s global reputation.” Earlier in November 2017, media reports claimed that the US Department of Defence had convinced the US Congress to drop a provision linking reimbursements to Pakistan with an action against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Meanwhile, the Indian media reported that New Delhi was exploring options to give asylum to Brahamdagh Bugti, an exiled leader of the banned Baloch Republican Party (BRP), who currently lives in Switzerland. On November 22, 2017 the Swiss government rejected Bugti’s application for asylum because of his links with “incidents of terrorism, violence and militant activities.”



 On November 14, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), General Zubair Hayat said, “Road to peace in South Asia goes through Kashmir.” He added that there is “no bypass.”

He was speaking at a seminar on “Regional Dynamics and Strategic Concerns in South Asia” organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). General Zubair stressed, “Pakistan’s credible minimum deterrence will remain dynamic to match the current level of overall strategic threat,” and warned “India is playing with fire.” General Hayat also talked about India’s reliance on “sub-conventional war” and warned that such actions could trigger a “larger conflict”. He said that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has established a new cell with a special allocation of over $500 million in 2015 to sabotage CPEC projects in Pakistan.” General Hayat’s comment comes at a time when there is a complete deadlock between India and Pakistan and there are no signs of easing tensions between the two nuclear armed neighbours. Earlier on November 9, 2017, Pakistan’s Foreign Office asked India to “engage in a meaningful dialogue aimed at agreeing on measures of restraint and military doctrines which are defensive in nature rather than seeking to create space for war.” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry stressed that India should respond positively to Pakistan. Meanwhile, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar said that the dialogue could only be 39 held in an, “environment, which is free of terrorism and free of terrorists getting support from Pakistan.”



On November 16, the UN General Assembly unanimously passed a Pakistan sponsored resolution reaffirming that the universal realisation of the right of peoples to self-determination was a fundamental condition for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights.

The resolution adopted in the Third Committee of the General Assembly was co-sponsored by 75 countries. Introducing the resolution, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi said, “the adoption of the resolution reaffirms the inviolability of the right to self-determination for all peoples without exception, including, the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.



On November 11, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Dr Muhammad Faisal rejected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allegations of interference in India’s state assembly elections in Gujrat saying, “India should stop dragging Pakistan into its electoral debate.”

During an election campaign in Gujrat on December 10, 2017, Narendra Modi alleged that Pakistan was meddling in the Gujarat assembly elections and was trying to influence the outcome, citing a meeting between Congress leaders and Pakistan’s High Commissioner at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence in New Delhi. Congress also rejected Modi’s allegations.



On November 8, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells said that the US is concerned about, “the threat to strategic stability in South Asia associated with the introduction of new nuclear capable ballistic or cruise missile systems in the region.”

She added, “The region and the world look to both Pakistan and India to safeguard against a nuclear conflict in South Asia.” She emphasised that the US is concerned about, “Pakistan’s growing fissile material stockpiles and its expanding and diversifying military nuclear and missile programmes.” Secretary Wells also asserted that the Trump Administration’s South Asia strategy also focuses on reducing tensions between Pakistan and India. However, she maintained that the US does not seek a role as a mediator between India and Pakistan, but “encourages both countries to restart dialogue.”



On November 3, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua summoned the British High Commissioner in Islamabad, Thomas Drew to protest against display of ‘Free Balochistan’ posters on London cabs.

According to Foreign Office statement, Secretary Janjua conveyed, “Pakistan’s serious concern at the display of slogans on London cabs that directly attack Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” The posters campaign is believed to be sponsored by the Free Balochistan Movement (FBM), whose leaders are based in Europe and are being supported by India. In 38 September, 2017, Free Balochistan posters also appeared in Geneva, which were sponsored by Balochistan House, a group linked with the banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).

 

OCTOBER 2017

On October 24, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria said that India’s appointment of an interlocutor for dialogue in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) was “unrealistic” and lacked “sincerity” and added that only a dialogue involving Pakistan and the Hurriyat Conference would give results.

The statement follows the Modi government decision to initiate “interaction and dialogue to understand legitimate aspirations of people in J&K”. New Delhi has also appointed former intelligence chief, Dineshwar Sharma to lead talks with “complete freedom” in IOK with all groups including elected representatives, political parties and other organisations. The Modi government had so far refused to include separatists in any dialogue, insisting it would talk only to those who recognised Kashmir as a part of India. Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised senior Congress leader, P. Chidambaram’s for his support for greater autonomy in IOK saying this was an insult to the “bravery and sacrifice of soldiers.” In a 39 separate development on October 24, 2017, scores of women held a protest to condemn the acts of braid-chopping in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).



 According to The Indian Express on October 5, Air Chief Marshal, B.S. Dhanoa said the Indian Air Force is prepared to effectively counter any threat from China while confronting a two-front war also involving Pakistan.

He, however, said the possibility of such a scenario was “low”. B.S. Dhanoa also warned that if India needed to carry out a surgical strike, his aircraft could target Pakistan’s nuclear installations. While speaking at a press conference ahead of Air Force Day, Dhaona said, “We need 42 squadrons to carry out full spectrum operations, but it doesn’t mean we can’t fight a two-front scenario.” On being asked about concerns over Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons and whether the IAF would be able to disarm Islamabad of its nuclear arsenals if necessary, he said, “the IAF has the ability to locate, fix and strike and that is not only for tactical nuclear weapons but for other targets across the border (as well).” Responding to Indian threat of a surgical strike against Pakistan’s nuclear installations, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif warned that nobody should expect restraint from Pakistan. Pakistan’s Army Chief also warned the enemy against any misadventure saying, “regardless of its size and scale, it will have to pay an unbearable cost.” Regarding the Doklam issue, Indian Air Chief said that the Chinese forces were still present in Tibet’s Chumbi Valley and have not withdrawn completely.

 

SEPTEMBER 2017

In her address to the UN General Assembly on September 23, India’s Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj called Pakistan “the pre-eminent export factory for terror.”

The main part of Swaraj’s speech remained focused on Pakistan. Responding to Pakistani PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi accusations that Delhi is involved in state-sponsored terrorism in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), Swaraj rejected the allegations and said that while India is fighting poverty, Pakistan is fighting India. Talking about “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue” between India and Pakistan, she stressed that the proposed talks between Pakistan and India could only be held in a bilateral framework and rejected any third-party involvement. She added that the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration call upon India and Pakistan to resolve all their issues bilaterally. Referring to UN resolutions on Kashmir, Swaraj said, “PM Abbasi has recalled old resolutions that have been long overtaken by events.” Exercising her right to reply, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi termed India as the “mother of terrorism” in South Asia. She also informed the international community to act against India if it wanted to avoid a dangerous escalation between the two neighbours. Ambassador Lodhi further said if Pakistan and India fail to resolve the Kashmir dispute, the UN and the international community have the right and the obligation to help to resolve it.



Addressing the UN General Assembly on September 22, Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urged for “a just, peaceful and expeditious resolution of the dispute over Kashmir and called on the Security Council to secure the implementation of its own resolution on the region.”

Abbasi also demanded that an international investigation mechanism be sent to Kashmir “to verify the nature and extent of India’s human rights violations” and hold it accountable. Abbasi accused India of indulging in terror activities against his country and warned of a “matching response” if India “ventures across the Line of Control or acts upon its doctrine of “limited war” against Pakistan. The Premier further said that any strategy to combat global terrorism must focus on addressing the root causes behind such violence and stressed that it is, “galling for Pakistan to be blamed for the military or political stalemate in Afghanistan.” He reiterated, “We are not prepared to be anyone’s scapegoat.” PM Abbasi also termed China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative as a “clear path to prosperity as well as a model of South-South cooperation.” Exercising its right to reply after Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s address at the UN General Assembly, India said, “the State of Jammu and Kashmir is and will always remain an integral part of India.” India also called Pakistan a “terroristan”, and said it has become “a geography synonymous with terror.”



According to Radio Pakistan on September 18, Swiss Ambassador to Pakistan was summoned by the Foreign Office in Islamabad to lodge protest over the “Free Balochistan” advertisement campaign in Geneva.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to UN at Geneva, Farrukh Amil in his letter to his Swiss counterpart, Ambassador Valentin Zellweger asked the Swiss government to take firm action against those involved in this act. He noted that the use of Swiss soil by terrorist and violent secessionists was “totally unacceptable.” He also said that a Swiss advertising agency APG SA was involved in the display of posters which mentioned the name of “Baluchistan House” as sponsor. He said that the Baluchistan House (BH) was an affiliate of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which is a listed terrorist organisation under the laws of Pakistan and other countries, including the UK. Pakistan’s Foreign Office accused India of funding the antiPakistan campaign in Geneva. In a related development, posters demanding the freedom of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and the Indian states of Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura also appeared in Geneva during the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).



According to Dawn on September 17, Pakistan asked the World Bank to establish a court of arbitration to settle its water dispute with India after the latest round of talks ended without an agreement.

The request follows India-Pakistan talks in Washington on the Ratle and Kishanganga hydroelectric projects, located in Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK), over which Islamabad has raised objections. The World Bank said it would continue to work with both countries to resolve the issue. Pakistan says that the construction of Kishanganga and Ratle violates the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) and insist that the existing designs of the projects are not in line with the criteria laid down under the IWT. India has asked for the appointment of a neutral expert to look 33 into the issues and maintains that the concerns raised by Pakistan are “technical” ones. According to media reports, India has refused to accept any of the amendments proposed by Pakistan and also refused to agree to any of the dispute settlement options suggested by the World Bank.



According to India Today on September 6, Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat said that a two-front war with Pakistan and China could not be ruled out. General Rawat also said that there is little hope for reconciliation with Pakistan.

He added that nuclear weapons did not take away the threat of war. The Army Chief said that if Indian troops were engaged with China on the northern border of the country, there was a possibility Pakistan would try to “take advantage of the situation”. Following General Rawat’s comments, the Chinese state run Global Times, in its editorial titled “Rawat’s arrogance taints India’s image”, said that the timing of his comments, coming as they did after “positive signals about bilateral ties” at BRICS meet, “sent the completely opposite message” about India-China relations. The editorial further hinted that India wouldn’t be able to handle both China and Pakistan as its adversaries at the same time. However, in a departure from his earlier statement, Indian Army Chief said during an event in Dehradun on September 9, 2017, “neither China nor Pakistan is an imminent threat to the country”.

 

AUGUST 2017

On August 29, Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif said that India is not fulfilling its commitments regarding the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) and urged the World Bank to play its role in ensuring the implementation of the Accord.

The Foreign Minister was speaking at a seminar on IWT organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI). He stressed that Pakistan would not accept any unilateral plan by India to modify the terms of the Treaty. Khawaja Asif further said that Pakistan has conveyed its concerns regarding construction of hydroelectric and storage projects by India.



On August 16, the United States designated Hizbul Mujahideen as a terrorist organisation led by an internationally recognised terrorist. In a related development on August 17, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria said the designation of Kashmiri group Hizbul Mujahideen as a terrorist organisation is “completely unjustified.”

Zakaria reiterated Pakistan’s “moral, diplomatic and political support to Kashmiri people’s struggle” and said the US decision did not take into account “the 70-year struggle of Kashmiris.” He said it is India which is responsible for human rights violations in Kashmir and stressed that the primary issue in Pakistan-India relations is that of Kashmir “which has to be resolved through dialogue”. Hizbul Mujahideen, formed in 1989, is an indigenous Kashmiri group fighting in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), against Indian rule.



During an Independence Day speech on August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India can defend itself from anyone who seeks “to act against our country”.

Narendra Modi also said, “When the surgical strike was carried out, the world came to know about the power that India possesses.” Earlier on September 29, 2016, the Indian military claimed it had conducted “surgical strikes” against “terrorist launch pads” in Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK). Pakistan rejected Indian claims as an “illusion”.



The Times of India reported on August 6 that a section of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sympathisers is pushing the party’s less-noticed promise of altering Article 35A of the Indian Constitution.

Article 35A empowers the government of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) to provide special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of the state and restrict non-residents from purchasing land in the state. However, the ruling BJP has been attempting to erode the special status of IOK, as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. IOK Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has warned New Delhi against tampering with article 35A. Meanwhile, on August 10, 2017, Pakistan’s Foreign Office alleged that India was trying to convert the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) region into a Muslim minority region.



On August 3, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan wants a sustained, meaningful and result oriented dialogue with India that addresses all issues particularly Jammu and Kashmir.

He also warned, “Peace in the region is not possible without resolving the Kashmir dispute.” On Afghanistan Zakaria said that there are parts of “ungoverned territories” in the country and that Daesh militant group and other terrorist outfits are gaining ground as a result. According to US military estimates the Afghan government controls only 57 % of the country.



On August 1, Indian and Pakistani officials met in Washington under the auspices of World Bank to discuss technical issues related to the Indus Water Treaty (IWT).

The World Bank said, “The meetings were held in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.” Pakistan has objections over the construction of the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants being built by India in occupied Kashmir. India iterates that the development is not in conflict with the Indus Water Treaty whereas Islamabad argues that the technical design features of the two plants breach the Indus Waters Treaty.

 

JULY 2017

On 29th July 2017, Indian Occupied Kashmir’s (IOK) Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, warned that her government would not allow any move to close cross-LoC trade and the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road link.

Chief Minister Mufti also said that she would continue to work towards opening more routes across the LoC with AJK. She also called for the nomination of individuals from AJK to the state’s legislature and joint sittings of the Assembly “in this Kashmir and that Kashmir”. Further, she criticised the arrest of leaders and activists of the Hurriyat Conference stating: “You cannot imprison an idea, you cannot kill an idea.”



On July 13, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesman, Gopal Baglay rejected Pakistani allegations that India is using chemical weapons in Kashmir, saying the country is against the use of chemical weapon “anywhere by anyone in any situation”.



On July 12, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang said that the situation in Kashmir “has attracted the attention of the international community,” and added that Beijing is willing to play a “constructive role” in improving relations between India and Pakistan.

On July 13, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesman, Gopal Baglay, rejected China’s offer to mediate and help resolve the Kashmir issue, saying, “India is ready to talk on Kashmir with Pakistan under a bilateral framework,” adding, “India’s position of addressing all issues, including the Kashmir issue, in a bilateral framework has not changed.” · In a related development on July 13, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson, Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan welcomes China’s offer for mediation between Pakistan and India. He said India’s “belligerent attitude” is a “threat to regional peace and security.” and that Pakistan shares “the international community’s growing concern over the deteriorating situation on the Line of Control (LoC).” China had previously expressed concerns over the growing tensions between Pakistan and India on the Line of Control (LoC), saying that the tensions pose a grave threat to peace and stability in the region. In a veiled reference to Pakistan, India’s External Ministry spokesman said that “cross-border terrorism” was the key issue and also that it is coming from a particular source, which is threatening peace. The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s comments follow increased tensions that emerged between China and India after the Indian military obstructed Chinese efforts to construct a road in the Doklam area near Sikkim. The region is situated at a junction between China, the Indian state of Sikkim and Bhutan. There is a dispute between China and Bhutan over the region. India supports Bhutan’s claim over it and cites its treaties with Bhutan for deploying its troops in the area despite calls by Beijing to vacate the region. On July 9, 2017, an op-ed in the Chinese state-run Global Times titled “India breaks international law over unwarranted fears” said that a “third country’s” Army could enter Kashmir at Pakistan’s request, using the 28 “same logic” the Indian Army used to stop the Chinese military from constructing the road in Doklam area. According to Pakistan, “The United Nations Secretary General, US president, Chinese leadership and others have expressed concern and offered to play role in resolving the core issue of Kashmir, which Pakistan has welcomed.”



On July 10, at least seven Hindu pilgrims were killed in Anantnag district in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) after militants attacked their bus. According to Indian authorities, the pilgrims were on their way back from the Amarnath cave, a shrine deep within IOK, when their bus came under attack in the crossfire between militants and security forces.

The assault was the first major attack on pilgrims in the area since 2000, when 30 people were killed. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. However, India has accused Lashkar-e-Taiba for orchestrating the attack. Indian authorities also claimed that two of the suspected attackers, including its mastermind Abu-Ismail, were Pakistanis. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria condemned the attack on June 13, 2017 saying, “India had been killing local Kashmiris in fake encounters using false pretext of infiltration from LoC and the bogey of terrorism”. He also accused Indian agencies of having a track record of staging false flag operations.



On July 7, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) in Islamabad. Following the meeting, Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders reiterated that regional peace and progress is directly linked with the resolution of all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

On the same day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also chaired a special meeting of the National Security Committee of the Cabinet during which the participants expressed concern on the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. They also rejected the “baseless allegations on Pakistan in that context.” It was also stated that Pakistan has shown “exceptional restraint even when Afghan territory was used for terrorist acts in Pakistan,” and added that the country remains fully aware of “institutional collaboration” by the hostile elements to Pakistan.” The meetings were convened at a time when the Afghan leadership has upped the ante against Pakistan accusing it of being responsible for the worsening security situation in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Trump Administration had also ratcheted up pressure on Pakistan to act against the Haqqani network, claiming that terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan are being used for carrying out attacks in Afghanistan.



According to Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria on July 6, Indian forces are using “ammunition containing chemical agents and precursors to kill Kashmiri youth and destroy Kashmiris’ properties.

He added, “Charred bodies of Kashmiri youth were found in the debris of five houses destroyed by Indian forces at Bahmnoo and Kakpora in Pulwama.” Zakaria also asked the international community “to initiate investigations into these reports”. India is facing massive resistance in Kashmir since July 2016, when Indian security forces killed Burhan Wani, a commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. Since then, the Indian forces killed more than 150 people and also used pellet ammunition, blinding hundreds of Kashmiri civilians. Pakistan has long called on the international community to investigate these incidents of human rights violations in IOK.



According to Dawn on July 1, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed disappointment over the “complete silence” in a US-India joint statement on the atrocities being committed by Indian forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

On June 26, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi visited Washington and met US President Donald Trump. The Indo-US joint statement that was issued after the meeting called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory was not being used for terrorist attacks on other countries. It also called on Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai and Pathankot attacks. However, the joint statement did not mention the Kashmir issue prompting strong criticism of the Trump Administration in Pakistan. Earlier on June 26, 2017, the US State Department also declared Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin a “specially designated global terrorist” alleging that under Salahuddin’s tenure as senior Hizbul Mujahideen leader, the group had claimed responsibility for several attacks. India welcomed the designation, saying it “vindicated” its long-standing position that cross-border terrorism perpetrated from outfits based in Pakistan was behind disturbances in Kashmir. Pakistan maintains that it would continue to support the Kashmiris struggle for the right to self-determination and for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute as per the UNSC resolutions. Islamabad warned that, “Any attempt to equate the Kashmiri struggle with terrorism, and to designate individuals supporting the right to self-determination as terrorists is unacceptable.”

 

JUNE 2017

On June 26, 2017, the US State Department also declared Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin a “specially designated global terrorist” alleging that under Salahuddin’s tenure as senior Hizbul Mujahideen leader, the group had claimed responsibility for several attacks.

India welcomed the designation, saying it “vindicated” its long-standing position that cross-border terrorism perpetrated from outfits based in Pakistan was behind disturbances in Kashmir. Pakistan maintains that it would continue to support the Kashmiris struggle for the right to self-determination and for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute as per the UNSC resolutions. Islamabad warned that, “Any attempt to equate the Kashmiri struggle with terrorism, and to designate individuals supporting the right to self-determination as terrorists is unacceptable.” On July 1, the US State Department said that the designation of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist does not reflect a change in the US policy on Kashmir.



During his visit to Washington on June 26, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi met US President Donald Trump. Following the meeting, the Indo-US joint statement, titled ‘Prosperity Through Partnership’ was issued in which “the two leaders called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries.

They further called on Pakistan to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.” The Indo-US joint statement also reiterated the growing strategic partnership between the two countries, particularly maritime collaboration. The US also authorised the sale of 22 Predator Guardian drones to India. The deal is estimated to be worth about $2 billion. Moreover, the US also renewed its support for India’s candidature for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and UN Security Council (UNSC). Ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, the US designated Syed Salahuddin, head of Hizbul Mujahideen, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist prompting protests in the Kashmir region. The joint statement drew strong response from Pakistan’s Foreign Office which stressed, “Any attempt to equate the Kashmiri struggle with terrorism, and to designate individuals supporting the right to self-determination as terrorists is unacceptable.” The Foreign Office also said the Indo-US joint statement would “not help in achieving the objective of strategic stability” in South Asia. Pakistan also expressed “deep concern” on the sale of advanced military technologies to India warning that it would create military imbalances in the region. However, the US insists the deal does not threaten Pakistan’s security. After the Trump-Modi meeting, many in Pakistan suggested that the Indo-US joint statement “speaks India’s language” while Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar reiterated Pakistan’s support for the “Kashmir freedom” struggle. Distrust has long dominated US-Pak relations, particularly on the Afghanistan crisis. The growing US focus on military cooperation with India has further complicated its relations with Pakistan. There are now growing voices on both sides to review bilateral relations.



According to Indian authorities on June 16, separate clashes in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), killed 10 people including five police officers, a soldier, two civilians and two suspected separatist fighters.

In a related development on June 21, Indian troops killed three suspected militants in Indian-Occupied Kashmir. On June 22, 2017, Indian troops also killed a protester following the anti-Indian rule protests in the region. Tensions remain high in IOK where the Muslim majority population has increased its protests against Indian rule. Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has also expressed concern over the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan along the LoC. Guterres had said diplomatic efforts were being made to restart dialogue between the two countries to resolve the Kashmir dispute.



On June 9, Pakistan and India formally became full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).



On June 8, Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat said “Indian Army is fully ready for a two and a half front war”. General Rawat, however, added that there are effective mechanisms available to defuse an adverse situation.

The statement prompted an immediate response from Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa who said on June 10, 2017 that Pakistan is “capable to defeat all threats irrespective of the front.”

 

MAY 2017

Dawn reported on May 29 that the US intelligence community has informed the Congress that Islamabad does not want Indian influence in Afghanistan and may turn to China to balance New Delhi’s influence on its western borders.

The development follows a hearing on Afghanistan at the Senate Armed Services Committee where US intelligence chiefs assessed the situation in Afghanistan. Dan Coats, US National Intelligence Director said, “Pakistan is concerned about international isolation and sees its position through the prism of India’s rising international status.” He added that Pakistan is also wary of India’s deepening ties to the US. He alleged that Islamabad’s failure to curb terrorists in Pakistan “present a sustained threat to the US interests in the region and these groups continue to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan”. Earlier in May 2017, US Republican Congressman, Adam Kinzinger, suggested carrying out air strikes on alleged terrorist targets in Pakistan. Pakistan maintains it cannot be held responsible for the situation in Afghanistan. In January 2017, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser, Sartaj Aziz said that a lack of political consensus about how to deal with the Taliban has marred efforts to initiate peace talks between warring Afghan factions. On May 22, US Ambassador David Hale also met Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa and expressed the hope that Pakistan would not allow terrorists to use its soil against any other country.



On May 28, India authorities enforced a curfew in parts of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) following anti-India protests.

The curfew followed widespread violence over the killing of a senior leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen group, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat. Indian authorities also blocked internet and mobile services in the region.



On May 23, Asif Ghafoor, DG, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) rejected Indian claims of destroying a Pakistani post along the LoC in Nowshera sector and firing by Pakistan Army on civilians across the Line of Control (LoC).

The statement came immediately after the Indian Army claimed that it was engaging in “punitive fire assaults” on Pakistani posts aiding infiltrators into India. Pakistan’s military instead alleged that the Indian Army had resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violations on May 13, 2017 35 causing civilian casualties and claimed that following Indian aggression “a befitting and stern response was mounted on Indian posts”. Pakistan army also issued a video of its shelling of Indian positions after the “unprovoked ceasefire violation”. On May 24, 2017, Pakistan also appraised the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) of ceasefire violations by India along the LoC targeting civilian population. Meanwhile, at a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on May 23, 2017, US intelligence officials warned Congress that India may launch aggressive actions inside Pakistan on the pretext of stopping ‘cross-border attacks’ and that the ongoing exchange of artillery shells across the Line of Control (LoC) may lead to a direct conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbours.



According to The Hindu on May 20, Indian Air Force Chief, B.S. Dhanoa wrote a personal letter to all 12,000 officers of the Indian Air Force on March 30, 2017 asking them to be ‘prepared for action at a very short notice’.

In a related development on May 24, 2017, Pakistan’s Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal, Sohail Aman, vowed a “befitting response,” in case of “any kind of misadventure” by the enemy. The rare decision to send such a letter to all personnel of the IAF comes at a time when India and Pakistan relations are at an all time low due to the Jadhav case and the worsening situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).



According to Dawn on May 12, the Pakistani civilian leadership informed senior military officials that a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian business tycoon Sajjan Jindal was part of backchannel diplomacy between the governments of Pakistan and India.

Sajjan Jindal is known to be close to Indian PM Narendra Modi and Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif. Earlier on April 27, 2017 an Indian delegation led by business tycoon Sajjan Jindal met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Murree. The visit drew criticism from opposition politicians in Pakistan and many expressed concern over the meeting.  



On May 10, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) “withdrew” an April 29, 2017, tweet by Director General, ISPR, Major General, Asif Ghafoor which had “rejected” the Prime Minister Office’s directives on the “October 6, 2016 Dawn report” inquiry.

ISPR said it’s “April 29 tweet was not aimed at any government office or person,” and added that recommendations of the Inquiry Committee Report have been implemented and have settled the “Dawn Leaks” issue. The announcement follows a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General, Qamar Javed Bajwa on May 4, 2017. On April 29, 2017, the Prime Minister’s Office issued directives to remove Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the PM on Foreign Affairs, from his post for his alleged role in “Dawn Leak”. On the same day, DG ISPR in a tweet rejected the government’s Executive Order on Dawn Leaks and termed it “incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board.”



On May 6, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria said that India’s unwillingness to allow other SAARC countries to participate in the development of a SAARC satellite had made Pakistan stay out of the project.

The satellite was renamed as the South Asian Satellite after Pakistan opted out from the project. Earlier on May 5, 2017, India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the “South Asia satellite”, which it says would provide communication services to other countries in the region. Meanwhile, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have signed up to make use of the satellite. Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Zakaria insisted that Pakistan has its own space programme at an advanced level and is ready to share its expertise. He said, “Pakistan was keen to participate in the project but India was not willing to develop the project on a collaborative basis,” adding that it is not possible for Pakistan “to support it as a regional project under the umbrella of SAARC.”



According to Dawn on May 5, China’s Foreign Ministry said it would continue to adhere to a policy of non-interference on the issue of Kashmir. The statement follows a column in a May 1, 2017, Chinese daily Global Times that noted that Beijing has a ‘vested interest’ in settlement of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan.

The column noted that while China had always “adhered to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries,” it can no longer turn a “deaf ear to the demands of Chinese enterprises in protecting their overseas investments”. However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor had no bearing on Beijing’s stance on the matter, and urged Pakistan and India to “properly handle differences by increasing communication and dialogue”.



On May 2, Pakistan Army dismissed Indian allegations as ‘baseless and unfounded’ that Pakistani soldiers beheaded and mutilated corpses of two Indian soldiers. Pakistan Army also warned India against ‘misadventure’ and sought ‘actionable evidence’ regarding its allegations.

This was conveyed to India following a hotline conversation between Pakistan’s Director General, Military Operations Major General Sahir Shamshad and his Indian counterpart A.K Bhatt. Pakistan Army also said that Pakistan remains fully committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LoC and expects the same from India. Earlier on May 1, 2017, describing the alleged mutilation of two Indian soldiers as an extreme form of barbaric act, India’s Defence Minister Arun Jaitley vowed an “appropriate” response.



On May 1, India dismissed Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s suggestion of multilateral talks with Turkey’s involvement on the Kashmir dispute and insisted that the matter must be resolved bilaterally through talks between Islamabad and New Delhi.

In an April 30, 2017, interview before his arrival in India, Erdogan had suggested that the two countries needed to ‘strengthen multilateral dialogue’ in an attempt to find a solution to the Kashmir issue. President Erdogan also favoured Pakistan’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), along with India, saying New Delhi should have no objection to it. The Turkish leader said that it is in the interest of India and Pakistan that they should resolve this issue and not leave it for future generations. Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Gopal Baglay said “As far as the issue is concerned, we are ready to address any issue between India and Pakistan bilaterally through peaceful means as has been stipulated in the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration.” Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser, Sartaj Aziz welcomed Erdogan’s offer for resolving the Kashmir issue and his call for a multilateral approach to settle the dispute. Aziz said that the Indian counter proposal that it was ready for bilateral dialogue with Pakistan was no longer credible because during the past two decades India has “scuttled all opportunities for a meaningful dialogue” to resolve the Kashmir issue. Moreover, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser, Sartaj Aziz has also written a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and urged the UN to take notice of Indian attempts to bring demographic changes in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

 

APRIL 2017

On April 29, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office issued directives to remove Syed Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, from his post for his alleged role in ‘Dawn leaks’.

The Prime Minister’s office also ordered the authorities to take action against Principal Information Officer Rao Tehseen. In a related development on April 29, Pakistan Army rejected the government’s Executive Order on Dawn Leaks and termed it “incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board.” The government had set up a seven-member Inquiry Committee in November 2016 to probe an alleged leak of a closed-door meeting between the civil and military leadership in the PM House, which resulted in a story in an English newspaper Dawn that targeted the military. The Pakistan Army immediately termed the news report as a ‘false and fabricated news story’. The publication of the story also led to the sacking of former Information Minister, Pervaiz Rasheed.



According to The News on April 28, an Indian delegation led by business tycoon Sajjan Jindal called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on April 27, 2017 in Murree. The visit by Jindal has led to speculations about back channel negotiations between the two countries.

Sajjan Jindal is known to be close to Indian PM Narendra Modi and Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif. Meanwhile, the meeting prompted strong reaction from opposition politicians in Pakistan, where many expressed concerns over the timing of the meeting following the deteriorating situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and death sentence given to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.



According to The Nation on April 17, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the use of Indian military might against innocent people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) could not suppress their desire for freedom.

In a related development on April 30, Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa reiterated support for the Kashmiris “rightful political struggle for right to self-determination.” Prime Minister Sharif urged the international community to play its role to stop Indian atrocities through preventive diplomacy. Sharif’s statement followed a call for strike in IOK by Kashmiri leaders after Indian forces killed 8 people protesting against the parliamentary by-election in Srinagar. In a separate development on April 27, 2017 another civilian was killed and seven people were injured during an anti-India protest that erupted following a gun battle that killed three Indian soldiers and two suspected militants in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Meanwhile, the Indian authorities blocked social media services following an upsurge in violence in IOK. Public opposition to Indian rule remains high in the region.  



On April 13, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria said, “it can’t rule out the involvement of hostile agencies,” in the disappearance of Habib Zahir, a retired Pakistan Army officer from Nepal.

Zakaria, however, denounced Indian media for linking Lt Col (retd) Habib Zahir’s disappearance with the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian spy sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for espionage and sabotage. Earlier on April 8, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman had said that a former Pakistan’s army officer, Lt Col Mohammad Habib Zahir, had gone missing in Nepal. The Foreign Office also said that Pakistani authorities were in touch with the Nepal government to trace Zahir and Kathmandu was cooperating.



According to The Nation on April 12, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed hope that the Trump Administration would help resolve the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India.

The Premier said, “The US can play a very critical role, which it has not done.” He added that the world, including the US, is aware of the danger the dispute poses to world peace. PM Sharif stressed that the UN Security Council must also ensure the implementation of its resolutions on Kashmir and criticised the UN for its failure to do so. On Pakistan-US relations, the premier expressed the hope that the ties between the two countries would improve under President Trump.



On April 9, at least 8 people including a 12-year old boy were killed and more than 200 injured after the Indian security forces opened fire at a protest campaigning against the parliamentary by-election in Srinagar.

The voter turnout in Srinagar was 6.5 %, the lowest in thirty years. Following the clashes, Indian authorities imposed curfew-like restrictions in some parts of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). The Joint Hurriyat leadership under Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik called for a two-day strike in protest. They also called for a boycott of the vote, which was held to fill a vacant seat after Peoples Democratic Party leader, Tariq Karra resigned to protest against the killing of more than 100 civilians during the 2016 unrest in the region. India’s top court had asked the government to consider using measures other than pellet guns to deal with protests in IOK. The casualties drew immediate condemnation from Pakistan with Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser rejecting “the sham elections,” saying, “It cannot be an alternative to the numerous UNSC resolutions”. Pakistan has maintained that the elections in the region were not recognised by the UN Security Council and also rejected by the people of Kashmir. In 1957, following the first elections of the IOK Legislative Assembly, India began to term elections as an alternate to the right of self-determination. However, it is important to note that the UN Security Council by its Resolution (122) had rejected elections as a recognised means of ascertaining the wishes of the people. Meanwhile, during his visit to Pakistan on 10th April 2017, Yusuf Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said that India had declined the OIC’s request for a visit to Occupied Kashmir for assessing the human rights situation there.



On April 6, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria said that “India’s ambiguous no-first use (NFU) declaration is not verifiable and hence nothing more than an empty political statement,” and added, “it cannot substitute for verifiable arms control and restraint measures.

The reaction from Pakistan’s Foreign Office came after media reports citing nuclear strategist, Vipin Narang noted that India might be reinterpreting its No-First use, by replacing it with the so-called pre-emptive doctrine. Zakaria said that Pakistan has to consider capabilities and not intentions, which can change anytime. In November 2016, Indian Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar had also questioned India’s NFU saying India should not say that it won’t use nuclear weapons first’ but it should say that ‘India is a responsible nuclear power’. Despite India’s official declaration of NFU, the strategic community continues to debate India’s nuclear posture with some arguing that India had moved away from its NFU commitment in January 2003 after the government of India announced that it reserved the right to use nuclear weapons against any WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) attack against the country.



On April 3, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said that the Trump Administration would try and “find its place” to be a part of efforts to de-escalate tensions between India and Pakistan. Haley also indicated that US President Donald Trump might also participate in the process.

She said that the US policy has been to ensure de-escalation of tensions between Pakistan and India but the US never saw a role for itself in resolving issues between the two countries. She spoke of a more “proactive” US role in the wake of escalating tensions between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India. Following Haley’s remarks, Pakistan’s envoy in Washington, Aizaz Chaudhry welcomed the suggestion saying “Any positive role that the US plays to bring peace and stability in South Asia can serve the region well.” Meanwhile, Gopal Baglay, India’s spokesman for Ministry of External Affairs, dismissed Ambassador Haley’s idea of Washington’s more proactive role in resolving the issues between India and Pakistan and insisted that India’s position for “bilateral redressal of all India-Pakistan issues in an environment free of terror and violence hasn’t changed”. It is important to note that New Delhi has long been opposed to any third-party intervention in resolving the unsettled issues between India and Pakistan.

 

MARCH 2017

On March 28, four civilians were killed and 28 others injured during anti-India protests in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). According to Indian authorities, the clashes erupted between protesters and Indian troops after Indian forces raided a house of a suspected rebel in Budgam district of IOK.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria confirmed the killings of civilians by the Indian security forces and condemned the “brutality”. On March 29, 2017, members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) were also denied permission by India to evaluate the situation in IOK.



On March 25, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that India plans to seal its international borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh by 2018.

He said that India has taken the decision in the wake of increased infiltration attempts. Rajnath previously said New Delhi wants to completely seal the Pakistan border by 2018 by employing physical barriers and surveillance tools.



According to Radio Pakistan on March 21, Pakistan and India have agreed to redesign the Miyar Hydroelectric project. The development came following the two-day meeting of the Indus Water Commissioners of Pakistan and India in Islamabad.

After the discussions, India also agreed that Lower Kalnai, Pakal Dul projects would be inspected again. Pakistan believes the planned Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai and Miyar power generation facilities violate the 1960 Indus Water Treaty and could disrupt water flow into Pakistan. Pakistan has also been protesting against the design and construction of the 330MW Kishanganga and the 850MW Ratle projects.



On March 17, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying termed the Kashmir dispute a “leftover issue from history between India and Pakistan.” She called for a settlement of the Kashmir conflict through dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi.

She said the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor did not affect China’s position on the Kashmir issue. The reaction from China came after Indian foreign ministry spokesman, Gopal Baglay said that any unilateral step by Pakistan to alter the status of Gilgit Baltistan would have no basis in law and be completely unacceptable.” Baglay’s remarks came in the backdrop of media reports citing Pakistan’s minister for inter-provincial coordination, Riaz Hussain Pirzada that Pakistan is planning to declare the Gilgit-Baltistan region its fifth province.



According to Dawn on March 17, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria accused India of imperilling South Asian peace and security and urged New Delhi to recognise the importance of bilateral dialogue between the two countries.

The Spokesman said that India’s aggressive posture, massive military build-up were endangering peace and security in the region and beyond. He expressed hope that India would 34 soon realise that dialogue is a key to peace and stability in the region. Zakaria also criticised the BJP government for using the “Pakistan card” in its internal politics, terming it as “unfortunate and regrettable”. In a related development on March 18, 2017, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said the issue of terrorism could not alone define the scope of ties between Pakistan and India and asked New Delhi to resolve the core issues between the two countries including Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek.



During a testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee on March 9, General Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) warned that conventional conflict between Pakistan and India could escalate into a nuclear confrontation adding that “India’s public policy to ‘diplomatically isolate’ Pakistan hinders any prospects for improved relations.”

General Votel also emphasised that tensions between Pakistan and India may continue as New Delhi remains “concerned about the lack of action against India-focused militants based in Pakistan.” The CENTCOM commander also claimed that 20 terrorist organisations operate at the Pak-Afghan border. Votel added that seven of these 20 organisations have their sanctuaries in Pakistan. General Votel also said that Pakistan’s increased focus on its eastern border with India “detracts Pakistan’s efforts to secure its western border with Afghanistan.” He, however, maintained that the Pak-US relationship “remains a very important one.” The deteriorating relations between Pakistan and India have raised concerns of an all-out conflict between the two nuclear armed countries. Earlier in January 2017, former US Vice President, Joe Biden had warned that nuclear weapons could be used in a regional conflict in South Asia.

FEBRUARY 2017

Addressing a gathering in Uttar Pradesh on February 24, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi said that “conspirators from across the border,” were responsible for the derailment of a train in Kanpur city that killed 150 people in November 2016.

Media reports in India have claimed that PM Modi was referring to Pakistan for the incident. Also reports in the Indian media claimed citing Nepalese authorities that a Nepalese national Shamshul Hoda was arrested in connection with the train incident in Kathmandu on February 7, 2017 after being deported from Dubai. Reports alleged that Hoda may have acted on the directions from Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). However, there was no official response from Islamabad about Prime Minister Modi’s apparent reference towards Pakistan. Some have criticised PM Modi for his repeated anti-Pakistan rhetoric in his election campaigns. Earlier in November 2016, while addressing a rally in Punjab, PM Modi said that he is “determined to stop the flow of water into Pakistan,” and will instead give it “to the farmers of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir”.



On February 16, Indian army chief, General Bipin Rawat warned that those who were creating “hurdles” in Kashmir during the security operations would face tough action.

General Rawat’s statement came soon after four Indian soldiers were killed in two separate encounters in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). However, some opposition parties in India have criticised General Rawat’s comments saying it would increase the hostility among the Kashmiri population.



On February 14, four Indian soldiers and four fighters were killed in gun battles in Kashmir, in the second outbreak of violence between security forces and militants in three days.

The violence began when security forces entered a village in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) on February 10, 2017 in pursuit of suspected militants. According to media reports, seven militants belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were holding a meeting when the Indian army raided the place.



On February 11, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser, Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan is determined to counter growing threats to peace in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), mainly from its nuclearisation started by India.

Aziz said the nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean had destabilised the region, adding that the Indian Navy’s substantial expansion remains a cause of concern for Pakistan. India has seen a phenomenal increase in its naval expenditure over the last decade including the development of (SLBMs) and the acquisition of aircraft carriers and stealth frigates. There are also reports in the Indian media that India has secretly commissioned into service its first nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant. Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on February 9, 2017 that India’s nuclear weapons build-up remains a threat to peace in the region and beyond.



On February 9, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, Vikas Swarup rejected Pakistan’s demand for concrete evidence against Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, saying Islamabad has everything needed to prosecute the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack.

Earlier on January 30, 2017, Pakistani authorities issued orders to place Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief, Hafiz Saeed under house arrest and asked India to produce “concrete evidence” against him. India alleges that the entire conspiracy in Mumbai terror attack was planned in Pakistan and said it required political will to prosecute the case. However, Pakistan rejected India’s demand for a “credible crackdown” on militant groups following the detention of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, saying it does not need New Delhi’s endorsement for its actions.



According to Times of India on February 6, Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh said, “Pakistan must refrain from demanding a plebiscite in Jammu & Kashmir,” adding that a referendum must be conducted in Pakistan to check whether its citizens want to remain there or want to merge with India.

Singh also stressed that India has always wanted peaceful relations, but Islamabad repeatedly tries to disrupt the relationship. He added that there is an urgent need to stop terrorists operating from Pakistani soil. The remarks came as Islamabad has increased pressure on New Delhi to resolve the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan maintains that regional peace would remain elusive without the resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions.



On February 2, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria expressed concerns over India’s drive to change the demography in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) through settlement of non-Kashmiri Hindus saying, “It is a blatant violation of UN Security Council Resolutions on the Kashmir dispute.”

Zakaria stressed that the BJP government aims to convert the Muslim majority in Jammu & Kashmir into a minority. He also noted that India is terrorising the Kashmiri population through perpetual ethnic cleansing and fake encounters. Pakistan has repeatedly raised concerns that India is converting the Muslim majority region into a minority by dividing the population on ethnic, religious and communal lines. Many have called the move as an Israel-style policy of creating settlements in occupied territory. Media reports claim that the BJP government has vowed to settle members of the Hindu community in Indian Occupied Kashmir who fled the region following an armed revolt against Indian rule in 1989. There are also reports that India aims to set up heavily secured colonies for Hindus in IOK.

 

 

JANUARY 2017

According to Dawn quoting a Pakistani government official on January 31, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has offered to share its records on US citizen David Headley to strengthen the case against the eight Pakistani suspects being tried for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but Pakistani officials are sceptical about the efficacy of that evidence.

The official said that Indian authorities are ready to send a dossier on the proceedings of the trial, as well as Headley’s confession, which was recorded by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA). David Headley, a US citizen was sentenced to 35 years in jail by a US federal court in 2013 for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. However, the Indian court pardoned him in December 2015, reportedly in exchange for information on his involvement and on others accused of similar charges. In February, 2009, Pakistan registered a case against 20 suspects for their alleged involvement in the Mumbai attacks. In January 2016, Pakistan asked the Indian government for access to the eyewitnesses and survivors of the Mumbai attacks. However, New Delhi has not responded to the Pakistani request.



On January 30, Pakistani authorities issued orders to place Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief, Hafiz Saeed under house arrest. According to the Pakistan military, the decision to put JuD chief, Hafiz Saeed under house arrest “is a policy decision”.

Hafiz Saeed has a $10m US bounty on his head and is accused by the US and India of masterminding the 2008 attacks on Mumbai that killed 166 people. However, Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the attacks. Hafiz Saeed was initially detained shortly after the attacks, but was released six months later by Pakistani authorities. The UN and the US list JuD as a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). LeT has been banned as a “terrorist” organisation by Pakistan since 2002. In 2008, JuD was listed by Pakistan under a list of organisations subject to UN sanctions, including an assets freeze, arms embargo and international travel ban. Meanwhile, local and international media reported citing senior Pakistani official that Islamabad is facing pressure from the US on the issue, although it has received no direct communication from the new US administration. However, the move has come soon after Donald Trump comes to power in the White House.



During an address in Majitha on January 27, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “We have decided to route the water from the Indus, which currently flows into Pakistan, who do not have the right over this, to the farmers of Punjab, who rightfully deserve it.”

In a related development on January 26, World Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kristalina Georgieva met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad to discuss the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) and the dispute between Pakistan and India over New Delhi’s construction of two hydropower projects. The World Bank Chief said that she had held ‘constructive talks’ with Pakistani leadership on the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). She said the World Bank would also help Pakistan and India to find a solution with respect to the Treaty. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed hope that the World Bank would form the Court of Arbitration to resolve the dispute. Pakistan has also asked the World Bank and New Delhi to inform Islamabad of all the dams and hydropower projects proposed by New Delhi on the western rivers. There are growing concerns in Pakistan over two hydroelectric power plants, the Kishanganga and Ratle that India is constructing on the Indus river system in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Earlier on January 20, Pakistan’s National Assembly also adopted a resolution seeking immediate suspension of work on Ratle and Kishanganga hydropower projects and constitution of an arbitration court to resolve the ongoing water dispute between the two countries. Pakistan argues that the designs of the two Indian projects violate both legal and technical provisions of the Treaty. India, however, has opposed Pakistan’s efforts for setting up a court of arbitration.



On January 21, Pakistan in a “goodwill gesture” returned Indian soldier Chandu Babulal Chavan, who crossed the Line of Control (LoC) on September 29, 2016.

According to a statement by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Indian soldier had surrendered his check post in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and crossed the LoC due to severe grievances with his superiors. Under a bilateral arrangement, soldiers who inadvertently cross the LoC are handed over to their side. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said the decision was based on humanitarian grounds and the commitment to ensure peace and tranquillity at the LoC and the Working Boundary.



During his address at the Raisina Dialogue on January 17, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India alone cannot walk the path of peace with Pakistan and Islamabad ‘must walk away from terrorism’ if it wants to resume dialogue.

PM Modi also said in a likely reference to Pakistan that countries in the region that export terrorism stand “isolated and ignored.” Meanwhile, talking about his country’s ties with China, PM Modi said, “it was not unnatural for two large neighbouring powers to have some differences but both sides should show sensitivity and respect for each other’s core concerns and interests.” Modi also said that relations between the US and India are witnessing a growth on multiple fronts. He also made a veiled reference to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and said, “Only by respecting the sovereignty of countries involved, can regional connectivity corridors fulfil their promise and avoid differences and discord.” However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying dismissed the remarks saying that the projects are meant for regional peace and development.



According to Radio Pakistan on January 7, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, delivered a dossier on India’s interference and terrorism in Pakistan, to the new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Pakistan has also asked the UN to restrain India from interfering in Pakistan. The dossier contains evidence of India’s intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing’s (RAW) interference in Pakistan and its involvement in terrorism particularly in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi. Pakistan accuses India of destabilising the country by sponsoring terrorism on its territory and aiding separatist groups in Balochistan. In March 2016, Pakistani security forces had arrested Jhadav, a serving Indian naval officer and an operative of India’s intelligence agency RAW. Jhadav confessed that he was promoting unrest in Balochistan and Karachi and had been working with Baloch insurgents and terrorist organisations. The dossier also contains video evidences of an Indian submarine’s attempted violation of the Pakistani maritime boundary.



The Nation reported on January 6 that India has urged the World Bank to allow a neutral expert for resolving a dispute with Pakistan over the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) as well plans by India to construct two hydel power projects.

The development follows a meeting between World Bank representative, Ian Solomon and officials of India’s External Affairs and Water Resources Ministries in New Delhi. However, Pakistan has rejected suggestions by India for appointing a neutral expert and instead seeks a full court of arbitration maintaining that the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) can only be saved by arbitration. There are concerns in Pakistan over two hydroelectric power plants, the Kishanganga and Ratle that India is constructing on the Indus river system. Pakistan made it explicit that it would not accept any modifications in the IWT after Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman, Vikas Swarup said the implementation of the IWT includes “the redressal of the technical questions and differences,” adding that, “We believe that these consultations should be given adequate time.” Pakistan is worried that India is gaining more time to complete the two disputed projects and would insist later that since the projects are already complete, they could no longer be modified. The Hindu reported on January 14, that Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat accused Pakistan for “disturbing the secular fabric of the country through continued proxy war,” and said that the army is prepared to go the extra mile to ensure safety of the people and their properties. 34 · In a related development on January 6, Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat said during a televised interview that the “ColdStart doctrine exists for conventional military operations.” It is for the first time that any senior official in India has publically acknowledged the existence of the ColdStart doctrine. The ColdStart doctrine envisaged a rapid deployment of Indian forces along Pakistan’s borders in case of any terrorist attack planned from Pakistan. Moreover, it also involves swift infiltration of Indian armed forces into parts of Pakistan’s territory within a short span of time. Pakistan insists that this Doctrine exacerbates Pakistan’s threat perception. India in recent years has invested heavily to operationalise the ColdStart doctrine and has developed cantonments along the international border with Pakistan.



On January 5, Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa dismissed claims by his Indian counterpart about the so-called surgical strikes, calling his assertion ‘self defeating’.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, also cautioned that Pakistan was ready to tackle India’s ‘aggression’. The statement by General Bajwa follows a recent comment by Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat who said that surgical strikes against Pakistan were meant to send out a message and that further strikes could not be ruled out.



During his address to an International Parliamentary Seminar on Kashmir held in Islamabad on January 5, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the world needs to tell India “enough is enough” with regard to its policy towards the freedom movement in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

The Premier termed Kashmir an integral part of Pakistan and the country’s core dispute with India. He urged the international community to implement the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir and reiterated Pakistan’s support for the struggle of Kashmiris for their right to self- determination. PM Sharif also recalled his four-point agenda presented at the UNGA in September 2015. Sharif’s four points included respecting the 2003 ceasefire in Kashmir and at the Line of Control (LoC), restraining threat of use of force, demilitarisation of Kashmir and troops withdrawal from Siachen. Moreover, the Prime Minister stressed that Pakistan’s position had strengthened the Kashmir cause with the international community now asking India to discuss the dispute. Pakistan has long urged global cooperation for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. It also insists that India’s deployment of more than 1 million troops in IOK remains a major obstacle in implementing various UN resolutions on Kashmir.



On January 1, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Nafees Zakaria criticised India’s move to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar at the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee, terming it a ‘politically motivated proposal’ aimed at “masking its own terrorist activities in Pakistan.”

Zakaria said India’s proposal had “no merit and was primarily aimed at advancing its narrow national agenda.” The Spokesman also added that India was employing terrorism as an instrument of state policy and also remains “involved in perpetrating, sponsoring, supporting, and financing terrorism.” The strong reaction came soon after India’s proposal in the UN to list the JeM chief, Masood Azhar as an UN-designated terrorist. India accuses Masood Azhar for masterminding the January 2016 attack on its airbase in Pathankot. The move against Azhar in the UN was blocked by China which cited lack of “consensus” on the issue. Earlier in October 2016, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Li Baodong in a veiled reference to India had also warned that no country should use counter-terrorism as a tool for “political gains”.

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