LOC firing & militancy factor – Dr Shabir Choudhry

Jawad Ahmed Paras, asked people of so-called Azad Kashmir, ‘Do you understand what independence is? Is your concept of independence confined to shouting ‘long live Pakistan army’ when the Indian army starts firing?

To us, people of Jammu and Kashmir, it is not important who fired the first bullet across the LOC. Our concern and complaint is why do you have to create havoc along the LOC, when peace prevails on the international border, and both of you happily exchange flowers and sweets.

In exchange of fire, no matter who fires the first shot, we people of Jammu and Kashmir get killed, injured, our property destroyed, our livestock killed and crops destroyed. If you want to test your new weapons or practise new war strategies you have a long international border, why not try that for a change.

When we are being killed and continue to bleed, the world community is silent; and the so called Muslim Ummah is also a silent spectator. I can understand they have their own problems and interests, and they will only speak when it suits them

Pakistan, known as so called friend, well-wisher, supporter, Ambassador and an Advocate has more than once stabbed us in the back; and ensures that we continue to bleed.

India, known as a democracy which claims to adhere to human values, and claims that people of the divided State of Jammu and Kashmir are Indian citizens; and that they came to Jammu and Kashmir to save life, liberty and property of the people do not hesitate to kill and injure people of Jammu and Kashmir.

No one with common sense can believe that only the Indian bullets fired across the LOC kill people and destroy property. No matter who starts the first bullet, and whether the gun is fired by a Muslim or non-Muslim, we people of Jammu and Kashmir suffer on both sides of the divide.

Because of the brainwashing and inbuilt bias, news related to Jammu and Kashmir from the Pakistani sources is generally accepted as a gospel truth; and news from the Indian sources is regarded as Hindu sources and out rightly rejected.

India Today in its report said:

‘Indian Army initiated retaliatory fire after Pakistan engaged in unprovoked ceasefire violation on Friday, firing mortars and other weapons in multiple sectors from Uri to Gurez along the LoC in J&K. Retaliatory firing by the Indian Army, in response to ceasefire violations from across the Line of Control (LoC) killed 11 Pakistan Army soldiers on Friday and injured another 16. Sources in the Indian Army told India Today that two-three Pakistan Army Special Service Group (SSG) commandos were among those killed’.

The report further said:

‘This was the second infiltration attempt from the Pakistani side within a week. The Indian Army had foiled an earlier infiltration bid in Machhal Sector on November 7/8 in which three terrorists were killed’.

The report asserted that this year there were 4,052 ‘ceasefire violations have taken place at the India-Pakistan border compared to 2019’s tally of 3,233. As many as 20 civilians on the Indian side have lost their lives due to Pakistani shelling and another 47 sustained injuries’.

The Pakistani media and government, of course, rejects this, and they claim it is India which starts unprovoked firing. In this Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Director General ISPR had a press conference in Islamabad, where they gave lengthy details of Indian involvement in various violence and terrorist activities.

It is interesting to note that India Today did not call it LOC. They no longer call it LOC; and the report said: ceasefire violations have taken place at the India-Pakistan border. Does it mean, the India Today accepts that the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India, and the other part belongs to Pakistan.

What people of Azad Kashmir say?

However, many informed citizens of Jammu and Kashmir believe that the LOC firing starts when Pakistan wants to send trained militants across the LOC. When these trained militants are ready to be launched from certain sectors, the Pakistani side will start firing. Of course India will retaliate, and during this firing militants penetrate into the other side.

One Political activist and analyst from Rawalakot, Azad Kashmir said:

‘Why is it that when the grip of the establishment becomes weak or it is challenged incidents of terrorism inside Pakistan take place? Is it coincidence that the LOC firing takes place more often than normal at that time? Why is that when the government is in hot water, they instigate events to divert attention of the people’?

He further said, ‘the ruling junta cannot fool people with common sense in 2020. Gone are the days when people were fooled by them on every occasion. Now social media has empowered people and they are better informed than ever before’.

Some informed people confirm that these militants are housed in safe houses near the LOC, and generally in villages where the ordinary people reside. The Indian side, if they have the intelligence that militants are residing in so and so places, they target those places which result in the killing of civilians and destruction of property.

Whatever the reason for firing across the LOC, innocent people suffer and their properties are destroyed. Mushtaq Mughal, a friend from the Neelam Valley said:

Jawad Ahmed Paras, asked people of so-called Azad Kashmir, ‘Do you understand what independence is? Is your concept of independence confined to shouting ‘long live Pakistan army’ when the Indian army starts firing?

‘This morning Indian army used long-range artillery guns Bofors & has destroyed my house along with four other houses of my brothers. Indian army fired across Line of Control (LoC) into Pakistani administered Kashmir and targeted civilian properties in my village Tehjian-Sharda Neelum Valley Kashmir. The family members took refuge in nearby built bunkers and luckily all remained safe. This is a huge property loss for our family, five households have become homeless. Please pray for us in this difficult time. I’m literally disappointed in the 21st century the world community has allowed India to commit this level of state terrorism in Kashmir’.

I have seen clips where one can see people running to save their lives and houses are burning. One can see children, men, women, old and young in very desperate conditions; and there is no system, civil or military in place to help these suffering people.

If India claims that these are Indian people. If that is the case, then why kill them like this? Why destroy their property? If Pakistan claims that Jammu and Kashmir belong to Pakistan and that they care for the people, why do all these people are suffering?

Also, it is claimed that in some villages, military posts are established and they fire at the Indian posts, in return they target the posts in the villages, which result in civilian casualties and destruction of properties.

‘It is a good strategy of the Pakistani military’, said one Azad Kashmiri political analyst. ‘It helps the Pakistani military to hide, and use the civilians as human shields. When the Indian troops retaliate and bombs destroy houses in the villages resulting in killings and burning of the houses, people curse the Indian army. This is good for the propaganda and to promote an anti-India narrative’.

A similar view was expressed by Jawad Ahmed Paras, a man from the Neelam Valley, in his statement on Facebook:

‘When both occupying forces target civilian villagers, some people shout: Long live Pakistan army. There is a long border between India and Pakistan, why there is no firing on the international border. Why are always innocent people living near the LOC their target? If the slogan of ‘Long live Pakistan army’ or Pakistan army zindabad is raised, then on whose hands is the blood of 6 people who lost their lives in the Indian occupied Kashmir’.

Jawad Ahmed Paras, asked people of so-called Azad Kashmir, ‘Do you understand what independence is? Is your concept of independence confined to shouting ‘long live Pakistan army’ when the Indian army starts firing? People of Neelam Valley, it is imperative that we expel occupying forces out of populated hamlets’.

He further said, ‘If guns are fired from the populated areas, the retaliatory bombing will also come to the same place. The troops are relatively safe in their bunkers built with our taxes, whereas, the total wealth of the poor people in the house where they live with their families. When that house is burnt as a result of the retaliatory bombing, they have lost everything’.

Mr Paras urged his people by saying, ‘It is imperative that we face the bitter facts, and instead of waiting for the next flare-up in which more people lose lives, and houses are burnt, we need to ensure that military camps must be moved out of the populated areas. The check posts on the main road are manned by the local police. Army men must stay away from populated areas. We must not become victims of India and Pakistan animosity and hatred’.

Jawad Ahmed Paras very courageously said, ‘Those Generals who need territory of Kashmir for their war with India should bring their families here. We will provide them with houses, and then they can satisfy their appetite for defeating India. We have already sacrificed our two generations, and we cannot tolerate this anymore when their children are enjoying their lives in Defence Housing Societies and in Bharia Town’.

Similarly, another political leader Mir Afzal Suleria, President Kashmir National Party, who lives in Muzaffarabad said:

‘On both sides of the LOC people of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering due to the firing of Indian and Pakistani troops. If Pakistan and India are enemies of each other then why do they exchange gifts, flowers and sweets on their international border, and use their lethal weapons on the LOC, which adds to our suffering. We people are killed and injured. Our property is destroyed, livestock killed and crops are destroyed. This injustice and oppression for how long and why’?

He said, ‘Those who shout slogans that they will fight side by side with the Pakistani army, after performing their duty, sit at home and enjoy their lives and we people suffer’.

Mr Suleria, in his usual style, asked his people to think, ‘why heavy weapons are stationed in the populated areas? Is this not attracting the Indian reprisals? In this way, they are encouraging India to fire at these populated areas’.

He courageously asked, ‘why are our civilians used as human shields? We demand that the army should move out their weapons from the populated areas. If the Pakistani army is stationed in so-called Azad Kashmir for our protection, then why are they hiding in the populated areas’?

Afzal Suleria asserted that the Pakistani army has ‘failed to protect our lives. Lives cannot be protected by stationing heavy weapons in the populated areas and by shouting emotional slogans and anti-India rhetoric’.

Media of both countries propagate the narrative that suits the interests of their governments. Both countries accuse each other of starting the firing. Similarly, reports of casualties are different. Before the recent flare-up, some reports were seen in the Indian media suggesting that Pakistan is sending more highly trained militants to beef up their strength in Kashmir. It was claimed that these militants were highly trained and included personnel of Pakistan’s top commando group, known as SSG – Special Services Group.

One citizen of Jammu and Kashmir, Waqar Bhatti, said: we are not enemies of India or Pakistan. Animosity and hatred are between India and Pakistan, and we are suffering as a result. Both of you are fighting over Jammu and Kashmir. The best way forward is, you two countries fight and leave us alone. Whichever country wins we will become part of that country. Until such time let us live in peace.

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