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The other wall world failed to notice

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By Farooq Sulehria

The security fence being built @ 1 km per day by Tel Aviv in the West Bank, has drawn world-wide attention and condemnation. The fencing of West Bank echoed in the UNO sessions and had been under trial at the International Court of Justice. The International Court of Justice ruled on 9 July 2020 that the fencing was illegal.

Meantime, another, even bigger, fence has been built without attracting any international attention. The fence stands about 12 feet high and about 12 feet wide. The coils of concertina wire are layered between rows of pickets. Sharp-edged metal tape and, in places, electrification make crossing even harder. It is a fence India has built in last about a year-and-half in Kashmir along the Line of Control (LoC). "India completed its fencing of the Line of Control (LoC) in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region on September 30", the government told the Lok Sabha (lower house parliament) on December 17. Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee informed the Lok Sabha that the fencing had been an operational requirement, adding that it was neither in violation of the July 1972 Simla Agreement nor the December 1972 Agreement on the Delineation of the LoC. Mukerjee might befool the whole world save Kashmiris: the victims of LoC fencing. Ironically, India has been condemning Israel for building fence.

In 1947 when Indian sub-continent was liberated and partitioned into Pakistan and India, Kashmir also became technically an independent country. On one pretext or the other, both India and Pakistan send their armies to annex it. Thus leading to first Pak-India war over the control of Kashmir. On the UN intervention, a cease-fire was brokered. By the time, Kashmir had been roughly one Pakistan had annexed half under India's control while the other half. The cease-fire line, bisecting Kashmir into Pakistani occupied and Indian occupied spheres, was later renamed as the Line of Control (LoC).

The LoC runs over 700km of forested hills and inhospitable terrain. Defying logic in some places it splits families, divides villages in half and bisects mountains. At one time, almost two years ago, an estimated 80,000 troops from India and Pakistan faced each other in positions along its route - sometimes dug into mountain sides less than a 100 metres apart - sometimes further back, separated by peaks of over 5000 metres. The Islamist militants, funded and trained by Pakistan, have been infiltrated into Kashmir through the LoC. Therefore, the fence apparently is part of a larger effort by India to buttress its defence and use equipment acquired from Israel, France, Sweden and the United States, including motion sensors, thermal imaging devices and night-vision equipment. Not to forget Bofors from social democratic Sweden. Ironically, both India and Pakistan buy Swedish weaponry. In 1970s and 1980s, India was the biggest Third World buyer of Swedish weapons. It was Bofors scandal that put brakes on Indian craze for Swedish weapons. This summer Pakistan's military general, Pervez Musharraf, was in Stockholm to buy Jazz aircraft but returned home with Ericssons radar systems. Perhaps kickbacks could not be agreed upon on Jazz planes. The building of fence however has less to do with defence. It is in fact a long-term strategy to turn LoC into a permanent border. India and Pakistan, despite their hue and cry over Kashmir, in fact have no dispute over Kashmir. Both want a status co. The building of fence will further reinforce the status co. It will help weaken the Kashmiris who want and demand abolition of LoC, reunification of Kashmir as well as independence both from India and Pakistan.

Pakistan has not objected to the building of fence. Pakistan's lukewarm response smacks of complicity. But the fence is dividing more and more Kashmiri families and bringing new problems for the population living along and across the LoC. 'In places, the fence has created divisions within a division. Some farmers have been separated from their grazing lands, and a few houses and hamlets that have been in Indian-held Kashmir since 1947 are now outside it because the fence could not be built around them without crossing into Pakistani territory. There are gates for cattle and people, with proper identification, to cross back into India', reports New York Times (July 4, 2020). Though the Indian fence, too, divides villages and creates hardships for farmers separated from their land, and it is likely to make the unfortunate division of Kashmir more or less a fixed fact (at least for the foreseeable future).

Though it is built on the Indian side of Kashmir, unlike the Israeli apartheid wall that expropriates even more land and water from Palestinians than before yet regardless of differences between the Israeli wall and the Indian fence, some pro-Tel Aviv writers have already begun accusing India (as well as Turkey and Saudi Arabia) of hypocrisy: ' India is completing a 460-mile barrier in the contested area of Kashmir to halt infiltration supported by Pakistan. Within the last two years, Saudi Arabia built a 60-mile barrier along an undefined border zone with Yemen to halt smuggling of weaponry. Turkey built a barrier in an area that Syria claims as its own. Of the three countries, Saudi Arabia submitted a written statement to the International Court of Justice directly, while the other two did not. The Arab League and Organization of Islamic States submitted statements to the court condemning Israel's barrier but did not condemn the Saudi barrier when it was being built. Why has the court not been involved in any of the other barrier disputes? . . . Until the terrorism stops, Israel, like any other country, should not be told by an international court how to protect its own citizens. It is ironic that three countries -- India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- condemned Israel at the U.N. General Assembly and voted to refer the Israeli fence to the international court for an advisory opinion, even though they had themselves built barriers in areas contested by their neighbors. (Marsha F. Hurwitz, President and CEO, Columbus Jewish Federation, Letter to the Editor, "Why Is Israel Alone Getting Criticism for Building Wall?" Columbus Dispatch, July 24, 2020).

The Indian fence in Kashmir likely to become one of the popular Zionist talking points for the purpose of fending off any criticism of the Israeli apartheid wall.

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