War of Words Erupts Between India, Pakistan Over Recent Kashmir Violence

14 August 2008
Voice of America
Anjana Pasricha

New Delhi: A war of words has erupted between India and Pakistan over the recent violence that has engulfed Indian Kashmir. As Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, one more person has been killed in fresh protests that have pitted Muslims versus Hindus and reignited demands for independence from India in the Himalayan region. Kashmiri Muslims shout pro-freedom slogans as others prepare to carry the body of Tanveer Ahmed Handoo during his funeral after he was shot during a protest in Srinagar, India, 14 Aug 2008 Kashmiri Muslims shout pro-freedom slogans as others prepare to carry the body of Tanveer Ahmed Handoo during his funeral after he was shot during a protest in Srinagar, India, 14 Aug 2008 Anti-India protests that turned violent in Indian Kashmir this week have become the focus of bitter exchanges between India and Pakistan. New Delhi has slammed comments by Pakistani leaders, who have condemned what they say are 'gross human rights violations' in the region, where more than 20 people have been killed and hundreds injured in demonstrations in recent days. Late Wednesday, Pakistan's parliament approved a resolution condemning the 'excessive and brutal' use of force by Indian security forces against Muslim protestors in Indian Kashmir. Pakistani lawmakers also called on the international community and the United Nations to take note of the deteriorating situation in the region. Hours later, in a national address, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf criticized what he called the suppression of oppressed people in Kashmir. Indian foreign ministry spokesman, Navtej Sarna, says such comments by Pakistani leaders are 'deeply objectionable.' 'We are witnessing a recurrence of Pakistani rhetoric and allegations that are factually wrong and that bear no relationship to reality,' said Sarna. 'To call for international involvement in the sovereign internal affairs of India is gratuitous, illegal, and only reflects a reversion to a mindset that has led to no good consequences for Pakistan in the past.' Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan, has been a flashpoint between the two countries, who have fought two of three wars over the region. But a peace process begun four years ago had lowered tensions between the rivals, and helped restore calm in Indian Kashmir, which had been wracked by a violent separatist rebellion since 1989. However, the situation in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley is again volatile. There were civilian casualties on Thursday when security forces opened fire to disperse stone-throwing demonstrators who defied a curfew in Srinagar. It has been the fourth straight day that the region has witnessed mass protests by Muslims who have been pouring into the streets across the Kashmir valley demanding independence from India. The protests have snowballed over a plot of land in the Kashmir valley, whose allotment to a Hindu religious trust was canceled following objections by Muslims.