Tag Archives: Pakistan

Indian troops martyr 17 Kashmiris in September

Srinagar, October 01 : In India illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Indian troops in their unabated acts of state terrorism martyred seventeen (17) Kashmiris in the last month of September.

According to the data issued by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service, today, of those martyred ten (10) Kashmiris were killed in fake encounters.

During the month, seven youths were critically injured due to the use of brute force by Indian police and paramilitary personnel in the territory. At least 140 civilians including religious leaders, youth, and social and political activists were arrested and most of them were booked under black laws, Public Safety Act, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The troops also destroyed four residential houses during 162 cordon and search operations in the month.

(Kashmir media service Report)

Bollywood under siege as rightwing social media boycotts start to bite

Laal Singh Chaddha is the latest film to face targeted attacks from anti-Muslim, Hindu-nationalist trolls who some claim are beginning to impact box office performance

In August this year, a week after the release of Laal Singh Chaddha, Bollywood’s adaptation of Forrest Gump, a Twitter account with about 280,000 followers, tweeted: ​​“#Urduwood is trending. Thanks to all who have accepted this term to accurately define the anti-national, anti-Hindu pedophile cabal that takes your money to destroy you.” The tweet received more than 1,700 retweets and about 5,800 likes.

For those not familiar with the term “Urduwood”, it is a pejorative popular among far-right social media and politicians. Urdu is an Indian language with a Perso-Arabic script, and is the national language of Pakistan; hence it is associated with Muslims and its use is a way to claim the film industry is “Hinduphobic”.

For decades, India’s Hindi film industry, known as Bollywood, has been one of the country’s most popular products, for Indians themselves and the world at large. But the consolidation of Hindu nationalism under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has marked a cultural shift.

Laal Singh Chaddha stars, and is produced by, Aamir Khan, one of Hindi cinema’s trio of superstar Khans (Shahrukh and Salman are the other two, all unrelated). On its release, social media platforms witnessed a tidal wave of targeted attacks calling for a boycott of the movie. The resurfacing of remarks made by Khan on the rise of “intolerance” in India in 2015, as well as clips from his 2014 film PK (which criticized blind-faith belief) were coupled with targeted tweets. Laal Singh Chaddha has fared poorly at the box office, but the calls for a boycott have not stopped. Other movies, such as Vikram Vedha, Dobaara, Shamshera and Brahmastra, are also in the line of fire, the last two owing to the recirculation of 11-year-old remarks by the lead actor, Ranbir Kapoor, on eating beef.

“Bollywood is an industry where Muslims have had representation and success, which bothers the Hindu right,” the Bollywood actor Swara Bhasker said. Bhasker herself has repeatedly been on the receiving end of rightwing ire, including a death threat. She adds: “If a popular mass medium of entertainment is so organically secular, pluralistic and diverse, then to further their agenda of a Hindu nation and discredit secularism, they have to discredit that medium.”

Organized trolling has also been deployed against films and streaming series such as Thappad, A Suitable Boy, and Bombay Begums, particularly for the last two’s depictions of interfaith romance. After a scene from A Suitable Boy depicted a Hindu girl and Muslim boy kissing, a state-level BJP minister called for a criminal case against Netflix India, which streamed the show. Politicians, particularly leaders and parliamentarians affiliated with the ruling BJP, also called for “introspection” and “ripping apart” of the Bollywood “ecosystem”, with some alleging that Khan was “money laundering” and that Laal Singh Chaddha “glorified terrorism”.

Screenwriter Hussain Haidry said that these campaigns “directly or indirectly cater to anti-Muslim sentiments or Hindu persecution complex”. Referring to the outrage over the web series Tandav, which depicted a Muslim-origin actor dressed up as a Hindu deity in a now-deleted scene. Haidry added: “This combination of a Muslim presence with supposedly anti-Hindu depictions strikes gold for them.”

A recently published paper by Joyojeet Pal, associate professor of information at the University of Michigan, and researcher Sheyril Agarwal found that tweets with the hashtag #BoycottBollywood were made in an organized manner, with several ghost accounts using hate speech, misinformation and presenting south Indian (particularly Telugu) films as more “traditional” compared with the “degenerate” and “culturally aloof” Bollywood. Their research found that 12,889 out of the 167,989 accounts that sent an anti-Bollywood message had zero followers and were mostly created in the past two years, suggesting collusive behavior.

How effective have these boycotts been? It is not always clear. Of the 26 big Bollywood releases so far in 2022, about 20 of them (77%) reportedly flopped, losing half or more of their investment. Experts, however, view the box office results as a sign of post-Covid reluctance, with Indians taking to streaming platforms.

Taran Adarsh, a movie critic, and trade analyst told the media that film exhibitors he spoke to said that boycott campaigns had affected Laal Singh Chaddha. But Adarsh also stressed other factors, including the rise in online streaming platforms during Covid lockdowns, which reduced the incentive to pay for a movie-hall experience. “So now, the hook to draw the audience to theatres is well-made big-screen entertainers,” he said.

The recent success of Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt’s Brahmastra has been held up as a counter-example – despite vicious trolling, it performed well at the box office, though some critics have ascribed its success to its Hindu symbolism that borrows from the Hindu mythology-inspired fantasy style of films such as the globally popular RRR.

Haidry suggests that this made a difference. “The campaign against Laal Singh Chaddha used anti-Muslim motivations, which couldn’t be weaponized against Brahmastra.”

Bhasker says: “I don’t think Bollywood necessarily understands that this targeting is coming from an ideology ruling India. This ideology aims to achieve total control over thoughts and expression. Their cultural project is majoritarian and totalitarian.”

No ‘debt swap’ talks with Beijing yet, says Bilawal

KARACHI: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Thursday that Islamabad had so far not requested a restructuring, deferment or swap of debt owed to China in the wake of the catastrophic floods that hit the country.

Insisting that whenever such a conversation takes place, it would be on Pakis­tan’s own terms, he said that he would like the country to play the role of a bridge between China and the United States, rather than exacerbating tensions or “being a geopolitical football”.

“What China does — whether it’s with Sri Lanka or Pakistan — that’s totally China’s decision. Just like it’s 100 percent America’s decision in either of these circumstances,” he said in an interview with Foreign Policy’s Ravi Agarwal, who pointed out that Beijing “hasn’t quite come to Pakistan’s aid in a big way” after this year’s catastrophic floods and that even Sri Lanka wasn’t able to get much help from China in the wake of an economic crisis.

Bilawal went on to say: “Rather than being a point of competition or a venue for these divisions (between China and the US) to be exacerbated, I would like Pakistan to continue to play a role that we have in the past. Pakistan originally played a bridge between China and the US, resulting in diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

“And right now, particularly when we’re drowning in floods, I don’t want to play any part in exacerbating any tensions or being a geopolitical football,” Dawn.com reported on Thursday.

“In this time of great geopolitical division, I would much rather play the role of a bridge by uniting these two great powers around working together for climate change.”

The foreign minister hoped that “perhaps, Pakistan’s unique position as a friend of both the US and China could encourage cooperation on this front”.

Bilawal’s remarks come against the backdrop of China and the US engaging in a war of words over assistance for debt and flood relief to Pakistan to help it cope with the consequences of this year’s deluges.

On Monday, US State Secretary Antony Blinken called on Pakistan to seek debt relief from China while reiterating Washington’s support to Islamabad in these challenging times.

The remarks had drawn a censorious response from China, whose foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin had called out the US for “passing unwarranted criticism against Pakistan-China cooperation” and urged it to do something “real and beneficial” for the people of Pakistan.

Talking about the history of China-Pakistan ties, he recalled that Islamabad had offered its hand in friendship to Beijing when no one else did. “Now, everybody wants to be friends with China,” he commented, as he went on to elaborate on how China had come to Pakistan’s help in recent times.

Later, in a news conference on Thursday, the foreign minister said that India and Pakistan should also cooperate to resist climate change.

“Our neighbor is concerned with all the caveats that we have already given. So, in principle, we should cooperate on climate change. Our people are facing the consequences. We should all work together.”

“We should have the moral strength to say that on climate change we should cooperate with India, if we do not work together now, it will affect the entire region, the entire world. We will not have the world that we live in,” he said.

When asked to comment on Secretary Blinken’s statement regarding seeking debt relief from China, the minister said that so far, Islamabad had not made any request for debt restructuring, deferment, or swap. “If we have a conversation with China, it should be between Pakistan and China alone, no one else needs to interfere. Engagement with China should continue. Whenever we have this conversation, it will be between us and China. I hope that it does not become a victim of geopolitics.”

Anwar Iqbal in Washington also contributed to this report

Sopore Mandi lost Rs 500 Cr due to halted fruit trucks on Sgr-Jmu highway

In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, fruit growers staged a peaceful protest demonstrated, in Sopore town of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district against the halting of fruit-laden trucks along the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

Notably, fruit growers and buyers across the Kashmir valley are continuously protesting time to time over the halting of trucks along the national highway, but despite protests nothing happened

Scores of fruit growers assembled inside fruit mandi Sopore and demanded smooth transportation of fruit-laden trucks along the highway.

The president of Fruit Mandi Sopore, Fayaz Ahmed Malik, talking to the media maintained that they have already suffered heavy losses during the last several years due to natural calamities and continued blockage of the Srinagar-Jammu highway and now unnecessarily stopping of fruit-laden trucks are compounding to their miseries. He said the authorities are unnecessarily stopping trucks and it seems they deliberately want the fruit growers to suffer.

Fruit growers in occupied Jammu and Kashmir have called for opening of trade routes via Azad Jammu and Kashmir for the apple and other businesses with the outside world.

President buyers association, Fruit Mandi Sopore Mudasir Ahmed Bhat told a local news agency, that the halting of trucks along the Srinagar-Jammu national highway leads to a loss of around 500 crore rupees to the growers, buyers, and dealers in the month of September only.

He said, that a buyer suffers a loss of 4-5 lac rupees per truck as the authorities are unnecessarily stopping trucks and it seems they deliberately want them to suffer. “Who is going to pay the losses?” asked Mudasir.

the fruit growers, on Monday, closed the fruit market in protest against Modi government’s unannounced economic blockade by halting thousands of trucks laden with apples on the Srinagar-Jammu highway for past 20 days.

Iranian army says it will ‘confront the enemies’ as protests rage

Iran’s army warned on Friday that it would “confront the enemies” to ensure security and peace in the country, according to a statement, as protests rage over the death of a woman in the morality police’s custody.

Iranians have staged nationwide demonstrations over the case of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died last week after being arrested for wearing “unsuitable attire”.

The army said “these desperate actions are part of the evil strategy of the enemy to weaken the Islamic regime”.

Pro-government protests were planned for Friday, Iranian media said.

Meanwhile, a New York-based human rights group has said that at least 36 people have been killed in an Iranian crackdown on protests.

The official death toll rose to at least 17 on Thursday, including five security personnel, but the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran said its sources put the figure much higher.

“On the 7th day of #IranProtest, officials admit to at least 17 deaths w/ independent sources say 36,” the CHRI said in a Twitter post late Thursday.

“Expect the number to rise. World leaders must press Iranian officials to allow protest without lethal force.”

“The government has responded with live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas, according to videos shared on social media that have also shown protesters bleeding profusely,” CHRI said in a statement.

Unprecedented images have shown protesters defacing or burning images of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and late Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani.

In response, security forces have fired at crowds with birdshot and metal pellets, and deployed tear gas and water cannon, said Amnesty International and other human rights groups.

Demonstrators have hurled stones at them, set fire to police cars and chanted anti-government slogans, the official IRNA news agency said.

Protesters in Tehran and other cities have torched police stations and vehicles as outrage over Amini’s death showed no signs of abating, with reports of security forces coming under attack.

Amini’s death has reignited anger over issues including restrictions on personal freedoms in Iran — including strict dress codes for women and an economy reeling from sanctions.

Iran’s clerical rulers fear a revival of the 2019 protests that erupted over gasoline price rises, the bloodiest in the Islamic Republic’s history.