Conflict Weekly 24

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Conflict Weekly 24
Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence in J&K, and the BLA attack on Pakistan stock exchange in Karachi

  IPRI Team

IPRI Conflict Weekly, 01 July 2020, Vol.1, No. 24

J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
In the news
Two major developments took place in Kashmir valley during the last week (23-30 June). The first was an announcement by Syed Ali Geelani, of his decision to distance from the Hurriyat. The statement from him read: "I have decided to distance myself from the Hurriyat, given the current situation." 

The second development was another statement, from Director General of Police, J&K. In his statement, released on 30 June, he said: "Out of 128 terrorists killed during this year, 70 belonged to the Hizbul Mujahideen, 20 each were from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the rest were from other terrorist outfits."

Besides the above two, there were a series of encounters between the security forces and the militants in Kashmir Valley during the last week in the districts of Baramulla, Anantnag and Pulwama.

Issues at large
The first issue is the fading of Geelani. His announcement is the expression of a reality that the separatist leadership has gone out his hands and even that of the Hurriyat. The Kashmiri narrative today is led by the youths in the Valley, and that talks about protesting against the Indian State and use violence as a means. Neither Geelani's position nor Hurriyat's politics has a meaning to the new actors in the Kashmir valley – the Kashmiri youth.

The second issue is related to the statement by the DG of the J&K Police highlighting the level of increased violence in J&K today. 128 militants killed in six months, out of which 48 in June alone underlines the rise in violence within Kashmir Valley. 

The third issue is related not to the intensity of violence, but its expanse. During the last week, there was violence across three districts in Kashmir Valley.

In perspective
Geelani was a force and the face of separatism in the 1990s. He was one of the founder leaders of the Hurriyat in 1993 but had to leave the group that he had formed to create his own faction, due to differences with the other leaders of his next-generation such as Mirwaiz Farooq. Since 2003, he was leading the Hurriyat (Geelani); during the last decade (the 2010s), he witnessed the return of normalcy during the first part of the decade and the resurgence of violence led by a new generation of his grand-children age. Today he is in the 90s. Perhaps, he understands what is there in store for him and his politics during the 2020s.

The second news  – killing of 48 militants in a single week. This is not good news for the local police, paramilitary and the military that are fighting militancy. This is not good news for New Delhi. And this is not good news for the Kashmiri civil society as well.

Balochistan Liberation Army attacks Pakistan stock exchange

In the news
On 29 June, four-armed militants stormed the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in Karachi with hand grenades and assault rifles. In the hourlong crossfire that finally neutralized the militants, one police officer and three security guards were reported dead. The Baloch insurgent group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), have claimed responsibility for the attack through social media. However, the heads of Pakistan's paramilitary force Sindh Rangers, the Army, Counter-Terrorism Department and Prime Minister Imran Khan have directly and indirectly accused the Indian government and its intelligence agency of aiding BLA in orchestrating the attack to 'destabilize Pakistan.' The overt accusations have been denied by India. 

Issues at large
First, target on larger Chinese interests through CPEC. In recent years, the militant group has directed its attacks on China's presence and interests in Balochistan province such as the Gwadar deep-sea port which is a part of BRI's flagship programme of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The attack on the PSX could be interpreted as a larger attack on Chinese investments in Pakistan as the Chinese investors hold a 40 per cent stake in the PSX in Karachi. 

Second, target on Pakistan's clampdown on the Baloch insurgency. Baloch disappearances, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, killings and abuses have long been the tool used by Pakistan to subdue the Baloch insurgency. The human rights abuses have been issues that featured in the PTI-BNP(M) agreements. However, the Human Rights Council of Balochistan in its annual report said that there was no betterment in the human rights conditions of Balochis. Historically too, the resource-rich southwestern province has been violence beset, and the issue of Baloch disappearances dates back to 1973.

Last, accusing the BLA of India connections. Pakistan's PM, security heads and mainstream media have linked the BLA with the Indian government. The political leadership has cited several reports by the Indian media, such as Modi's statement during his Bangladesh visit about India's involvement in 'destabilizing Pakistan' and Indian citizenship offer to exiled anti-Pak Baloch leaders including Baloch Republican Party Brahamdagh Bugti. Accusing India externalize the problem, than finding a solution inwards.  

In perspective
First, the attack echoes swelling dissatisfaction, hopelessness and loss of faith in the federal government and Pakistan's political and judicial structures. It also reflects the socio-political and economic frustrations within the Baloch community. The event sets a dangerous precedent considering the rifts and cracks within the ruling coalition at the Center.

Second, the inadvertent nexus of BNP-M exit and the PSX attack and Pakistan's allegations are difficult to ignore. A week before the attack BNP-M withdrew from the ruling coalition, citing the unfulfillment of the two agreements signed in 2018 which included the six-point pact. As the attack followed, it was quickly and vociferously attributed to India. It remains to be seen whether this leads to winning back the support of the BNP-M. 

Professor D. Suba Chandran heads the Conflict Resolution and Peace Research (CRPR) Programme at NIAS and is the Dean of the School of Conflict and Security Studies. Lakshmi V Menon is a Research Consultant at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. 

Also, this week…

Egypt warns of conflict if the UN doesn't intervene in the Nile dam dispute 
The UN Security Council held a virtual session on Ethiopia's controversial dam project on 30 June, which has caused a bitter dispute with Egypt and Sudan. At the virtual meeting of the Security Council, Egypt warned of conflict if the UN does not intervene when Ethiopia starts filling the Grand Renaissance Dam with water from next month. This will pose an existential threat to Egypt that the country has previously told the United Nations. 

Military deployed in Ethiopia after more than 80 killed in protests
The military has been deployed in the Ethiopian capital on 2 June as violence broke out in some neighbourhoods for the second day of unrest that claimed more than 80 lives. The protest broke out following the targeted killing of popular musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa who was a member of the country's largest Oromo ethnic group. The killing that has stoked tensions threaten to derail the country's democratic transition.

Violence revive in Yemen after Saudi-led coalition air raid Houthi-held areas 
Fighter jets belonging to a Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen's Houthi rebels have launched dozens of air raids on several Yemeni provinces, as the kingdom announced the start of a new military operation. The Houthi-run Al Masirah Media Network on 2 June reported air raids on the capital, Sanaa, as well as Marib, al-Jouf, al-Bayda, Hajjah and Saada provinces.

About the Authors

Professor D. Suba Chandran heads the Conflict Resolution and Peace Research (CRPR) Programme at NIAS and is the Dean of the School of Conflict and Security Studies. Lakshmi V Menon is a Research Consultant at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. 



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