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The crisis in Kashmir


So today tensions heightened between pakistan and india after kashmir it was stripped of its special status and trouble in zimbabwe where robert mugabe may be long gone but his ruling zanu p._f. Party castillon charge guardian writer as rick was in his office in sri lanka when last monday the indian government suddenly stripped gentleman kashmir of its autonomy after after more than seven decades when the announcement was actually made the kashmir valley was already desert. There was completely ghostly silence in the region. There was no traffic africa outside. No shops will open. No markets will open. Perhaps most oppressive was the way that all communications were turned off the phones had talked ringing several hours earlier it was phones which fell dead than the internet which will dead and then the landline phones also and the other thing that the administration did was it suspended cable t._v. News it effectively made kashmir and information commission black hole with no access to news rumors began to swell the journalists like as are the challenge was getting information out in such a scenario scenario. It was nearly impossible to send reports out. People were sending their reports in penrose's asking strangers at airports boards to deliver them at the officers in new delhi or other places for seven days. He watched people struggle to travel. Even for medical help face roadblocks curfews make attempts at protest which were matt on friday by tear gas according to bbc footage in any way as i was able to get snippets of information out was by flying to delhi before quickly returning to kashmir is a sense of disbelief the sense of shock shock at what happened almost everyone i talked to ended his conversations with need with these words that god to have mercy on us it was less of a statement of fear but it was a desperate search for hope that whatever daily the future will be it will not be as ominous as it seems as of now for the community and from the guardian i'm initiatives astana today in focus the crisis in kashmir as faruk as on his way back to kashmir after giving us that snapshot of what is happening on the ground guardian writer video though she spent spent several years reporting from india and has been watching the story unfold. She says that the prime minister narendra modi spelt out his intentions for the kashmir when campaigning for reelection this spring in the movie wins this landslide election author six weeks and six hundred million voters sir india's prime minister narendra modi is celebrating a stunning victory. He gets three hundred seats in parliament and it gives his party the party agenda party this huge mandate to continue with its hindu-nationalist agenda and this party has always regarded schmear as a headache on there were signs that something was underway in kashmir in the run up to the events of last week. This hindu pilgrimage that happens every year was cancelled. Colombian kashmir government has issued an advisory to tourists and to yatra stating that in the interest of safety tourists and your trees muscatel vesti in the valley immediately the political leaders in kashmir will put under house arrest communications kind of shutdown. You're watching this as a reporter did you. You know that something significant was coming. I didn't know that it would come now but it has been on the b._j._p. Manifesto for a long time and so on monday the effective august who is india's home minister of them stood up in in parliament and proposed the scrapping of article three seventy article three seventy is this longstanding provisions provision in india's constitution that allows to schmear to have a whole bunch of special protections it gives kashmir freedoms to have its own flag argh to make its own laws it protects its land and so when an amish shah got up and propose this it was immediately cleaved very clear that there would be no part for kashmir is to oppose what he was trying to do. Why was that clear. All that really needs to happen once. He's he's proposed. It is it needs to be posed by india's parliament which it has now and then go through shamir's assembly which it hasn't because modi disbanded it in lost you so just to be clear. Modi's government disbanded the elected assembly in kashmir. Kashmir got torres to leave the state put people under house arrest even shutting down their communications and then talk decision to revoke the special status. Yes exactly i mean that is sounding like an authoritarian rian action and that's exactly how many kush mary's we'll see it mo- these kind of leader who wants to get things done but is willing to ignore democratic process in order to get those things done. What was the reaction to the announcement. Well it depends on who you were. Uh-huh across india there was street parties celebrating the historic move to finally assert control over a bit of india that india's always considered indian but the progressive left in india has huge problems with what's been done and it's not just about what's been done but it's also about how the b._j._p. Has gone about doing it for the hindu right. This is something that was a long time coming and the need to happen but on the other hand within kashmir. There's a huge military. The tree presents that prevents anyone leaving the house and there's no way of knowing who is where people have described it as a mass house arrest and in pakistan. There's huge panic pakistan's government. It's parliament is deeply concerned about what india is doing. We've spoken about narendra modi before on today in focus and very much get the sense that that he wants to project kind of strongman image. Is that what he's doing yeah. Mo the kind of to a lot of indians represents this very muscular muscular nationalism. It's not that he wants to be seen as an authoritarian leader of course not what he wants to be seen as is the man who can fix india and that will require some strength and awesome authority and in fact this isn't the first period of tension in kashmir since the beginning of the year but actually began back in february on that very day mody was very much in the kind of strong monroe what was going on earlier this year moldy filmed the special special episode of man versus wild with batgirls an ace in winter who redefined the rules of survival unites with the leader of the world's largest democracy. I've come back style as in the adventure. The adventure bedrose movie was on a raft floating downriver somewhere in india with him. The government hasn't actually confirmed this yet but a bit of detective work by by some indian newspapers have strongly suggested that episode was being shot on the same day. The tensions flared up again in kashmir earlier. This year what happened a armed convoy of indian security personnel was bombed in kashmir tragic tragic day for india forty be c._r._p._f. Japan's have been killed in the worst attack against the guilty men in kashmir. Ever forty people died and that kicked off this this huge very belligerent very aggressive response from mody. Wanna is a hamlet. This was days before the election was about to happen and many people have read his aggressiveness and his almost very reckless response to that attack back as a election winning strategy and the tough response from odi. What did he actually do. Basically he launched an airstrike. Now india says it has conducted air raids. It's in pakistan-administered kashmir in a major escalation of tension in pakistan in this region called balakote and it it led to few days of very tense offense exchange of kind of airstrikes of very sharp words from both countries and it brought india and pakistan to the brink of war almost twenty four hours after the indianapolis carried out what india calls a non-military preemptive strike on the jesse more mature camps in pakistan's balakot pakistan on responded today by attempting to target military installations in india and it's not the first time that india and pakistan had been the brink of war india and pakistan have fought over kashmir fidel cades. Let's just go right back to the star and tell me why to kashmir. Have this special status in the first spice okay so to understand. Why shamir is this explosive area. You have all the way back to indian independence and pakistani independence adds. An era has ended a new epoch begin subcontinent larger than the whole of europe becomes to self governing dominion within the british commonwealth of nations nine hundred forty seven and nineteen forty seven. Yes the british colonial powers kind of roll back and say that's going to be two countries one's going to be called india and one's gonna because pakistan hundred congress leader is india's prime minister muhammad ali jinnah muslim chief becomes pakistan governor general and <hes> negotiation of where exactly one country ended and the other one began was a big very tense very long drawn out process and in the middle of it all was cashmere here who was led by this king called maharaja harassing who was a hindu at who was the king of muslim-majority region what maharaja hari singh really he wanted for kashmir to be independent but he ended up exceeding palate to india the people of kashmir celebrate newly won independence rejoicing at the cutting of the maharajas or president power is tempered by the realization. The kashmir is the stumbling block to peace between india and pakistan. Who's in india took control of kashmir but what maharaja hari singh did do to protect kashmir was give it a special status article three seventy article three seventy and specifically wrigley. What article three seventy did was it gave kashmir a whole bunch of special powers so that's the starting point yeah and since then. There's been a lot of trouble over kashmir. Yes kashmir has always been a disputed region. Pakistan says that it has a claim over kashmir. China wants a bit of kashmir for itself within kashmir. There is a movement for independence from all of these different powers and there's never really been a democratic process affair democratic process to find out exactly exactly what the kashmiri people want and that's a part of the problem but it really kind of came to a head in the one thousand nine hundred eighty s there was a moment in one thousand nine hundred eighty seven when when kashmir had a state election and the results of that election will widely thought to have been rig india winding down the streets of free. No one can sense that. The underside of the city is simmering with hurt and anger the fury of the militant youth stems from their belief that the congress national conference combine came into power by rigging the polls and that was really a moment for a lot of kashmir's to kind of step back and think you know what this whole promise of autonomy has always been a farce and we want out ninety seven was a point at which militancy in kashmir really started to grow a lot of new factors that are threatening radically changed. The scene in kashmir is a new underground militant organization be islam. They're claiming to be or crusaders of islam and for the first first time there were a huge movement of young kashmiri men largely who started thinking of themselves as not a part of india yeah phenomenal mesa where he was a teenager in kashmir at the time that year was is critical. Mazza lives in london now but he describes an early childhood in sri naga. I grew up by the famous leg. My insisted who my parents home is about a ten twelve minute walk from the beautiful lake. That's what i grew up off to school. I'd go home drop my back and then they would go to the lake for a swim. We have house house boats on the lake which towards sports people stayed as a very ornate elaborate houseboat some of them approximating five-star hotel. I used to go to the cinema. <hes> one of them's called for dos cinema and why i mentioned the cinema is because in two years time it was done into a military camp. It's it's still a parliamentary camp mazza. It says the feeling among young people who had participated with fervor in the nineteen eighty-seven election was to fill broken and depressed those very boys would disputed elections went across pakistan to get arms and training because you remember see that it's very porous border so 'cause media boys crossed into pakistan the pakistani the agency is good and bombs and training. They came back to engage in armed forces in battle. It was a massive pricing. I remember hundred thousands of people marching down the streets in kashmir in the main cities but also in others towns and cities demanding essentially the right to self determination to honored it was brutal it took me yes and and many of my generation to bros what had happened because it was so sudden and it was so massive it was so colossal the sudden arrival of a massive massive but a tree machine doc what insurgencies conflicts we think of sometimes as these soldiers in the mountains or guerrillas in the mountains or somewhere away from it was in the city it was everywhere. It was outside at house. It was in all these towns and villages. It was brutal early nineties thousands of militants. It was a cush meads who had become an intense each war against indian army in army indian state rushed in troop so it came down heavily on the militancy to crush rush it but inevitably as it happens inside scenarios day also came down on the population of kashmir so as a result in the early nineties in one thousand nine hundred nineteen ninety one ninety two thousand nine hundred you how scores of massacres dotted across music history and when you when you were young person when you see that yes of course you understand what's happening but you don't really process it. It takes yes. It takes years to understand what happened. We get i was scared mini emotion than so many reactions to what happened in the early nineties said because there was also a massive pricing so we including me we used to be on the street or at at night beating the roof of our house with a stick because meet has sloping tin roofs for because of the weather so that was one of the things to come out every every night singing songs of freedom and <hes> you know asking for azadi asking for the right to sell termination and you would beat these roofs. I did it as well as a young person. This was before all the massacre start so essentially you grew up in a delic elec beautiful country where you used to swim in lakes and play and streams and then almost overnight. You were a teenager in the war zone. Yeah it was a proprietary potato for it was brutal. I we not just me so that was if it was so every day was so frequent all of nineties nineties there was probably never day when we did not count our debt schmead has been burning for thirty years christmas finest re-export argh shaida lead the poor. I was a young susan dell. Even i i read cantuta. Postoffices seminal collection of homes in there is a phrase in kashmiri's funding that that akerson argos points and it's still burning and the reason is burning is sh needs have basically been shouting screaming in all kinds of ways tasteful ways and also in the armed way that can you also ask us when you want to decide our destiny and that's that's you if you wanna reduces too broad lines. That's what it is. Fifty what's changed since the ninety s since the ninety s there have been periods of calm. There have been moments when people have thought thought maybe this will be resolved and actually one of those moments when moldy came to power in two thousand fourteen he made these kind of very magnanimous animus gestures towards pakistan which suggested that the might have been conditions to negotiate a peace deal at last over this long disputed territory and so he on a trip to afghanistan kind of on the way back he made the surprise stop in pakistan and went and met luxury and gave him a big a hug a stopover and a surprise detour by extending an unexpected olive branch pakistan prime minister ingenuity became the i prime minister to visit the neighboring state in eleven years if you are generous towards multi. There's an argument to be made that he tried to make it work. What happened bend if mody was seeming to be willing to talk what what went wrong this depend on how cynical view of you know for a lot of people there. All of these gestures of peacemaking were just politics but there's also this huge international national context at this present moment that makes this a very politically spot move for movie. If you step back and think about trump president trump welcome india's prime minister narendra modi the white house today and in keeping with the prime minister's penchant for hugging well there was an abundance to bear hugs before cameras in the rose garden trump has has suggested that he wants to meet the india pakistan kashmir conflict but he's also shown a huge reluctance to intervene in foreign in conflicts and then there's also china which is engaged in this trade will with america and then there's also pakistan which has suggested you know right after the february ab- yari s strikes that doesn't really want to war with india that it can't afford one right now. I'll countries reluctant to criticize india because it's such a huge emerging. Thank superpower really developing economy that they want to be doing deals with yeah. Nobody wants to get on india's bad side right now. It's the kind of country that everybody wants. An alliance with with and broadly india has supported national governments in other countries and those governments are now willing to support india so if you look at india support for israel for trump trump in other places india shown itself as a country. That's not going to get in the way of other leaders. Big agendas is india hoping bar revoking article three seventy it will encourage hindus from across the country to buy up land in kashmir definitely one of the justifications that the indian government has made for revoking article three seventy. Is that this provision that protects kush mary <hes> landrights needs to go if kashmir wants to develop but but a lot of kashmir is fear is that this is going to open up the path for a whole demographic change <unk> of kashmir's religious makeup so kashmir at the moment is sixty eight percent muslim twenty percent hindu. If hindu start buying land that could completely change is is is there a kind of reasonable justification for the anger from indians that they haven't been able to buy land in kashmir. They used to be a much larger hindu population there yeah absolutely so the way indian see is ca. Shamir's can come to delhi can come to mumbai. They can come and buy houses anywhere. They have all of those same rights that indians have why should that they'd be protected. Why should kashmir have special status why should they it's a question of self governance and this is causing massive tension between pakistan india india what what's happening prime minister iman khan he's made it very clear. The doesn't want to go to war in fact even got up in parliament and said what do you want me to do. Do you want me to go to war with india yeah. This is news coming in from pakistan where a the prime minister over there iran con has said that prime minister narendra modi is an urge team to give meese a chance and assured him he has done everything he can to express his concern about this move so he has downgraded diplomatic ties is he sent the high commissioner pack inning. He has counseled this train that goes from deleted lahore twice a week. He has put restrictions on trade and he's banned bollywood movies. There's all the cultural staff but pretty serious diplomatic ties being broken. Yeah how is india responded to pakistan on that. <hes> india's external affairs ministry has put out a statement saying this is an internal matter pakistan should mind its own business. I kashmir is part of india so why you telling this into anything else. Exactly so india doesn't even acknowledge. The kashmir has different status no and in fact if you open up google maps in the u._k. Or in america wherever of you're listening you'll see that kashmir has a dotted line around it because the world acknowledges it as disputed territory but if you open up google maps within india it's a hotline because it is a crime to even to even acknowledge that there is a dispute that kashmir does not belong to india. Pakistan doesn't want all all at the moment. We're talking about diplomatic ties being cut. Tell me why you think this is so significant and also what could happen next. I think if there was any doubt in the minds of kush mary's about autonomy or the promises that kush amir had been given given when it agreed to be a part of india. I think there is all hope of that is gone now and a lot of kashmir is referred to this as an occupation and now that view will crystallize but it could also be to a whole generation of kashmiri militancy it could inflame or kinds of internal political tensions within india the way moldy has presented this to india is. I'm fixing this longstanding problem but really if you look at the the history of kashmir this isn't the end <hes> that that was <unk> she as offering and moza were he'd do follow this unfolding story on our website at the guardian dot com coming up zimababwe's economy is descending into chaos with terrible consequences now. After the military coup that removed robert mugabe from power there was a feeling of optimism in zimbabwe more than eighteen months later africa correspondent. Jason burke looks at a very different reality november two thousand seventeen. You have the end of decades of rule by the increasingly autocratic and idiosyncratic robert mugabe. He was removed really by a military coup. Bots power then reverted to the ruling party not the zanu p._f. The new president was emmerson mnangagwa who was mugabe's right hand man. There were elections in july. She law in august last year on those elections. Were well. At least a campaign was relatively free and fair immediately. After the elections there were six people killed hill by soldiers in the centre of harare autism protests and that was really an indication that much of the old way of doing things hadn't changed changed. It's very difficult to say quite where zimbabwe's going at the moment but what is certainly the case is the optimism the hope that there was even a year ago serve me eighteen months ago has now gone you could blame gangway a in recent months for having failed to push through real serious reforms particularly in the security sector a to try and get the police in the army and the security services under control overall <hes> what is certainly cases that you have a very large number of hungry angry people possibly a third or more of the population in the moment gonna need united nations food aid among other things. You have limited power. You have have soaring prices of staple goods. You have a standoff between the opposition and the government and overall. It's a very complex expect difficult situation and one that could easily lapse into vaughn's. I spoke to people in a poor neighborhood of harari ari who embar a they would just work he on each day as it came in change bake. I can't even promise that things are going took. It better things changing day by day. Twist is something that is really giving us less will that don't countries going interchange somehow. The real problem is that the government can do all the financial reforms they want whatever cost in terms of austerity measures or pain to ordinary people but they're still going to get the kind of huge bailout that they need from international lending institutions because they won't do the political reforms and this is very clear without the political reforms without more transparency without more accountability without moving against senior army officers who are able to order troops to shoot a dozen or so people one set of the repressive violence and half a dozen another unless all of that happens. It's politically impossible for the international community to stump part the cash. That's batboy needs to refloat economy start rebuilding its infrastructure and turn itself back into what it wants was the breadbasket basket of africa and as long as zanu p._f. Empower it seems very unlikely that they gain to push through reforms reforms that would diminish their own power. They do read jason's reporting from zimbabwe the website that's all for today my thanks to fifty doshi as our fruit oop wahid and jason burke. This episode was produced by mightily wral and gary. Marshall sound design was by louis stevens. The executive produces cases are still may not an equal jackson. We'll be back tomorrow <music>.

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