September 30, 2016


[Reports suggest soldier crossed ceasefire line hours after military operation against ‘terrorist launchpads’ had concluded]

By Jon Boone
People gather around the coffin of a Pakistani soldier killed near the 
Pakistan-India border in Kashmir. Photograph: Ghazanfar 
Majid/AFP/Getty Images
India is urgently seeking the release of one of its soldiers captured by Pakistani troops in Kashmir, the contested territory where Delhi said it had conducted “surgical strikes” on Wednesday night.

Rajnath Singh, India’s home minister, said “all attempts are being made” to secure the soldier’s release. It is not clear whether the soldier was connected with the claimed multiple raids across Kashmir’s “line of control”, a mutually recognised ceasefire line.

Some reports said the soldier had wandered across the line hours after the operation had concluded. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, told al-Jazeera the soldier was captured while trying to enter into Pakistani territory.

Tensions remain high and on Friday thousands of Indians living near the Pakistani border in Punjab were ordered into buses and taken to evacuee camps.

Pakistan’s army has vigorously denied that Indian troops entered territory it controls, saying Delhi is exaggerating what it claims was relatively common cross-border firing for domestic public consumption.

Although India has conducted cross-border raids in the past, it has never announced them so publicly. On Thursday, the Indian army’s director of military operations held a press conference in which he said multiple “terrorist launchpads” inside Pakistani-controlled territory had been targeted.

Pakistan said two of its soldiers were killed during what it described as “Indian unprovoked firing”.

The Indian operation followed more than a week of rising tensions in the wake of an attack on an Indian army base near the town of Uri on 18 September. Nineteen Indian soldiers died in the attack, which Delhi blamed on Pakistan-backed militants, a claim flatly denied by Islamabad.

The latest incident has demonstrated the willingness of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, to take a hard line with Pakistan. Most analysts had assumed India would not seek to retaliate militarily for fear of prompting a cycle of escalation between the two nuclear-armed states.

Delhi has sought to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, and this week Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan followed India’s lead in saying they would not attend a regional summit in Islamabad in November.

The crisis has inflamed public sentiment on both sides of the border, with some Pakistani cinemas announcing the cancellation of all Indian films. On Thursday, the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association announced a ban on Pakistani actors working on Bollywood productions.

After a meeting of his cabinet on Friday, Pakistan’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, vowed to “defend our homeland against any aggression”. He added: “The entire nation is standing shoulder to shoulder with our armed forces.”


[Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association bans Pakistani actors, singers and technicians from working on Indian films as troops clash in disputed territoryThe Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association has banned Pakistani actors, singers and technicians from working on Indian films.]

By Catherine Shoard

Reports allege that the Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has been
dropped from the upcoming film Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laddoo
Deewana. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images
The organisation’s president, TP Aggarwal, said: “No Pakistani will be hired by their producer members for ever.” However, as a crisis between Indian and Pakistan over attacks in the disputed territory of Kashmir escalates, other reports stated that the ban would last only until normal relations resume between the two countries.

The IMPPA’s decision, carried at the organisation’s annual general meeting on Friday, comes in the wake of the deaths on 18 September of 19 Indian soldiers in the Uri region, part of the disputed territory of Kashmir. India blamed the assault on Pakistan-sponsored militants and this week launched strikes across the 1972 ceasefire line that divides the Himalayan region.

Ashoke Pandit, a producer and IMPPA member, said: “IMPPA paid homage to the martyrs who were killed in Uri. It therefore felt its responsibility towards the nation and passed a resolution banning Pakistani actors and technicians in India till normalcy returns. For IMPPA, nation comes first.”

Separately, far-right political party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has led a call for all film industry workers of Pakistani origin to leave India, as well as for their films to be banned. The party, led by Raj Thackeray, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Pakistani movie workers to leave India by 25 September or risk being “pushed out”.

Reports allege that Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan has been dropped from forthcoming film Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laddoo Deewana. A number of films scheduled for release during the Diwali holiday in October may also be affected, including Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which co-stars Pakistani pin-up Fawad Khan alongside Indian stars Aishwarya Rai and Ranbir Kapoor.

Dear Zindagi, due to hit cinemas in November, may also be affected. The film co-stars Pakistan’s Ali Zafar and India’s Shah Rukh Khan.