On September 30 , Indian troops fired shots at a helicopter carrying Azad Jammu and Kashmir’s Prime Minister, Raja Farooq Haider from across the Line of Control (LoC).
The helicopter landed safely and no human loss was reported. Raja Farooq Haider termed the act as “cowardice”. Indian Army claimed that the helicopter had “violated Indian airspace” along the LoC in Poonch. However, Pakistan rejected India’s claim saying the chopper was flying within Pakistan’s airspace.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on September 29, India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj accused Pakistan of “supporting terrorism” and “glorifying killers”.
Swaraj accused Pakistan of stalling peace efforts between the two countries. Swaraj also called on the UN to act on India’s proposal to pass a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism which is pending since 1996. She defended India’s record on human rights, saying there was no bigger transgressor of rights than terrorists. Pakistan frequently accuses India of human rights violations and state terrorism in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Pakistan has also called upon the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate India’s human rights violations in IOK.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on September 29, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi warned that the unresolved Kashmir dispute poses a great threat to regional peace and stability and added there could be “no lasting peace in South Asia without a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute based on the UN Security Council resolutions.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister criticised India for frequently violating the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. He warned that if India ever tried to act upon its “doctrine of limited war” against Pakistan, it would evoke a “strong and matching” response. He also accused India of perpetrating “state sponsored terrorism” in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Qureshi also raised the issue of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and said that India was behind various acts of terrorism in Pakistan, including the 2014 Army Public School attack in Peshawar and the 2018 Mastung attack in Balochistan. Meanwhile, exercising the Right to Reply at the UN, Eenam Gambhir, India’s First Secretary to UN rejected Pakistan’s Foreign Minister claim that India was behind the 2014 Army Public School attack saying it was the “most outrageous and preposterous allegation.”
On September 26, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi urged the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to establish a commission of inquiry and appoint a special rapporteur to investigate human rights violations by Indian Security Forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
The Foreign Minister demanded this during his speech at a meeting of Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s special session.
According to Radio Pakistan on September 25, Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked the World Bank “to em panel the Court of Arbitration over illegal construction of dams by India on western rivers.”
The development followed a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. The Foreign Minister stated that India’s construction of Kishanganga and Ratle dams represent a violation of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). Jim Yong Kim said that World Bank wants to play a constructive role in resolving this important matter and indicated that the Bank was in the process of finalising a fresh initiative to approach Pakistan and India in this matter.
Dawn reported on September 26 that India has postponed the inspection of two hydroelectric projects, 1000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnal, by Pakistani experts.
The development follows the latest tensions between the two countries after India cancelled a planned meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. In August 2018, India allowed experts from Pakistan to inspect its Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnal hydropower projects after an Indian delegation led by Indus Water Commissioner, Pradeep Kumar Saxena visited Pakistan and held discussions with Mehar Ali Shah, Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters. During the talks, Pakistani officials informed the Indian delegation that they had objections over the design of the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnal hydropower projects on the River Chenab. Pakistan maintains that India has violated the Indus Waters Treaty by constructing reservoirs and that it could pursue other options including the appointment of neutral experts or by going to the international court of arbitration, in case India fails to address its concerns.
On September 21, India backtracked from holding a planned meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan a day after New Delhi agreed to hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September, 2018.
Following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s letter to PM Narendra Modi in which he requested resumption of bilateral talks, India confirmed on September 20, 2018, that meeting had been scheduled between India’s Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi. A day after India’s External Affairs Ministry (MEA) said the government has decided to cancel the talks after what it described as the “latest brutal killings” of its “security personnel by Pakistan-based entities.” However, India did not provide any details about the killings. The MEA further said another reason why New Delhi cancelled the meeting was to protest the release of a series of postage stamps by Pakistan “glorifying a terrorist and terrorism.” Pakistan had issued postage stamps of Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen fighter who was killed by Indian troops in July 2016. However, the stamp was issued in July 2018, months before India accepted Pakistan’s offer for talks. The Indian government’s decision to hold talks with Pakistan was strongly criticised by India’s opposition groups including the Congress party. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan termed India’s response to his offer for talks as “arrogant” and “disappointing”. Bilateral discussions between India and Pakistan have a record of remaining unsuccessful.
On September 24, at least 5 Kashmiris and an Indian Army soldier were killed in fighting in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). The Kashmiri leaders denounced the killings and vowed to continue their “struggle for liberation.”
In a related development on September 27, 2018, clashes erupted in IOK after Indian troops killed 5 civilians.
According to Times of India on September 22, the Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat said that India “needs to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that the terrorists and the Pakistan Army have been carrying out”.
In response, Pakistan’s Military spokesman, Major General Asif Ghafoor said that Pakistan is “ready for war but want to move towards peace.” He added that Pakistan’s desire for peace must not be misconstrued as its weakness. In a related development on September 24, 2018, General Bipin Rawat said that India should conduct “a second surgical strike on the militants’ outposts” across the Line of Control in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
According to Dawn on September 4, India allowed Pakistan to inspect its projects in the Jhelum basin, including the Kishanganga hydroelectric project while Pakistan allowed India to inspect the Kotri barrage over the Indus under Article VIII (4) (c) of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).
This was agreed to during a meeting between India’s Indus Water Commissioner, Pradeep Kumar Saxena and Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters, Mehar Ali Shah on August 30, 2018 in Pakistan. During the meeting, India also allowed experts from Pakistan to inspect its 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnal hydropower projects in September 2018. Pakistan is concerned over the designs of the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnal projects. It is also concerned over the Kishanganga hydropower station in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Pakistan maintains that India has violated the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) by constructing the Kishanganga project that would disrupt water supply to Pakistan and affect agricultural production. In August 2016, Pakistan asked the World Bank to appoint a court of arbitration to review the designs of Kishanganga and Ratle projects on the Chenab. India rejected the suggestion and insisted that a neutral expert should decide the matter.
On September 3, the Former Australian Senator, Lee Rhiannon visited Pakistan and met with Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
During the meeting, the Foreign Minister raised the issue of human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) especially in the context of the OHCHR Report on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir which recommends the formation of a Commission of Inquiry (COI). The Foreign Minister stated that it is high time the international community moves beyond rhetoric and takes meaningful steps in putting an immediate end to the gross and systematic human rights abuses in IOK. He reiterated that the only solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is to grant Kashmiris the legitimate right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions. While expressing support for the Kashmiri people, Rhiannon regretted that Jammu and Kashmir remain amongst the longest unresolved disputes on the agenda of UN Security Council. She stated that the international community must consider the findings of the OHCHR Report on Jammu and Kashmir. Lee Rhiannon also visited Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and met with AJK’s President Masood Khan.