Saturday, July 22, 2017

China-India Standoff; Panama JIT; Indian Asylum Seekers

What is India-China standoff in Bhutan's Doklam about? What are the risks of either side miscalculating? Can this border conflict spiral out of control and escalate into a full-scale war like the the 1962 war? Can it lead to a wider regional conflict? How would such a war conclude?

What are the political implications of the ongoing Panama case hearings in Pakistan Supreme Court? How are the media and political parties lining up on this? Will the Supreme Court disqualify and remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding office for corruption? Will it be seen as normal democratic process of accountability or a conspiracy to subvert an elected government?

Why are Indians among the top 5 asylum seekers in the world along with Syria? What's driving Indians to seek refuge in OECD nations? Is it lack of economic opportunity or increasing religious violence? Or something else?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-l5fGmnO6c




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Hindu Nationalist Delusions; Modi's Blunders

New Post Cold War World Alignment

Pakistan JIT in Panama Case

Indians Among World's Top Asylum Seekers

Lynchistan: India is the Lynching Capital of the World

Talk4Pak Youtube Channel

11 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

India faced more terror attacks than Syria in 2016: US report
"On average, terrorist attacks in India caused 0.4 total deaths per attack in 2016, compared to 2.4 deaths per attack worldwide. Nearly three-quarters of attacks (73%) in India in 2016 were non-lethal," the report said.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/number-of-terrorist-attacks-in-india-increased-by-16-per-cent-in-2016-us-terror-report-4763157/

The US State Department recently released its annual report on terrorism which analyses the counter-terrorism initiatives adopted by different countries. The Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 also elaborates on the looming terror threat facing South Asian region and provides inputs to combat terrorism.

According to the report, the number of terrorist attacks in India increased by 16 per cent in 2016 and the total number of deaths too went up by 17 per cent. Globally, however, the total number of terrorist attacks in 2016 decreased by 9 per cent and so did the total deaths due to terrorist attacks (13 per cent decreased). The report attributes this to fewer attacks in Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Yemen.
The same year, India was also ranked third — behind Iraq and Afghanistan — in the list of the countries that faced the most number of terrorist attacks.
“Compared to the other countries that experienced the most terrorist attacks and fatalities in 2016, the diversity of perpetrator groups was much greater in India, with 52 active groups,” the report stated along with adding that nearly two-thirds of the terrorist attacks carried out in India in 2016 (65 per cent) were attributed to the Communist Party of India-Maoist or Maoist perpetrators.
The naxals were classified third, above Boko Haram, in the list of terror groups responsible for carrying out the most number of attacks. Islamic State and Taliban makeup the top three.
The “lethality” of attacks in India, however, remained relatively low compared to other countries. “On average, terrorist attacks in India caused 0.4 total deaths per attack in 2016, compared to 2.4 deaths per attack worldwide. Nearly three-quarters of attacks (73%) in India in 2016 were non-lethal,” the report said.

Riaz Haq said...

Big drop in number of #Indians heading to #oil-rich #GCC from 775K in 2014 to 507K in 2016, remittances dip. #India

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/number-of-indians-heading-to-gulf-countries-falls-remittances-dip/articleshow/59729926.cms

The number of Indian workers emigrating to the Gulf for work has dropped in the past couple of years, possibly due to slowing economies of countries part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which have been hit by weaker oil prices. The decline has been significant between 2014 and 2016.
According to official figures, the number of Indian workers emigrating to the GCC countries was 775,845 in 2014 and fell to 507,296 in 2016.
Though disruptions due to the Islamic State were largely in Iraq-Syria, the instability affected perceptions about the region as a whole.
The reduced flow of Indian workers to the Gulf is seen to have impacted remittances from these countries. While the breakup is not available, overall remittances as recorded in India's balance of payments statistics fell slightly from $69,819 million in 2014-15 to $65,592 million in 2015-16.
In terms of number of Indians emigrating, Saudi Arabia showed a sharp decline from 329,882 in 2014 to 165,356 in 2016, almost a 50% drop.
Part of this is attributable to a slowing Saudi economy due to low oil prices. But for the past few years, Saudi Arabia has been following what the Indian government calls a 'Saudiisation' policy, which is aimed at employing more Saudi nationals rather than foreigners.
"This is to encourage the private sector to employ greater number of Saudi nationals as well as to reducing reliance on expatriate workers. Further, against the backdrop of declining oil prices, the Saudi government has introduced a number of new taxes/VAT so as to augment the sources of government revenue," the foreign ministry told Parliament this week.

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In Bahrain, a construction company employing nearly 1,500 Indians laid off around 700 workers but was unable to repatriate them after clearing their dues due to the financial crisis. All such stories have an adverse impact on worker mobility. Indians also continue to get duped by fake recruiting agents. Instances of mistreatment of Indian workers could have added to the slowdown.

Riaz Haq said...

#China warns #India not to harbor illusions in border stand-off. #DoklamStandoff #bhutan

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-india-idUSKBN1A90AM

Chinese state media have warned India of a fate worse than the defeat it suffered in their brief border war in 1962.

This month, state media said China's military had carried out live fire drills close to the disputed area.

"Shaking a mountain is easy but shaking the People's Liberation Army is hard," ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a briefing, adding that its ability to defend China's territory and sovereignty had "constantly strengthened".

Early in June, according to the Chinese interpretation of events, Indian guards crossed into China's Donglang region and obstructed work on a road on the plateau.

The two sides' troops then confronted each other close to a valley controlled by China that separates India from its close ally, Bhutan, and gives China access to the so-called Chicken's Neck, a thin strip of land connecting India and its remote northeastern regions.

India has said it warned China that construction of the road near their common border would have serious security implications.

The withdrawal of Indian border guards was a precondition for resolving the situation, Wu reiterated.

"India should not leave things to luck and not harbor any unrealistic illusions," Wu said, adding that the military had taken emergency measures in the region and would continue to increase focused deployments and drills.

"We strongly urge India to take practical steps to correct its mistake, cease provocations, and meet China halfway in jointly safeguarding the border region's peace and tranquillity," he said.

Indian officials say about 300 soldiers from either side are facing each other about 150 meters (yards) apart on the plateau.

Riaz Haq said...

No Country supporting #India against #China, #Pakistan: Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray. #Doklam http://ecoti.in/xGaKjZ via @economictimes


Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today said India had failed to get international support on its issues with Pakistan and China despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi making friends with world leaders.

Thackeray, whose party is a constituent of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and in Maharashtra, also said it would be an injustice to the nation if the senior ally remained embroiled in elections and internal politics.

"What has happened which caused a severe unrest in Kashmir and has made the dragon (China) our enemy? Are we lacking somewhere? The PM roams around the world and has made many friends. Then, why is it that nobody is openly supporting us against these enemies?" Thackeray asked in the second part of his interview to Sena mouthpiece Saamana.

"The BJP might be considering the Shiv Sena as its number one enemy. That is why may be, Pakistan and China have been ignored? If they feel the Sena is a bigger enemy than these two nations, it is their misfortune, not mine," he said.

There has been nearly a month-long border standoff between India and China in the Sikkim sector, which is seen as part of Chinese coercive tactics to change the status quo. India has taken a strong stand against such a Chinese move.

Accord ..

Read more at:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/59735030.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

Riaz Haq said...

#China and #India Locked in 'Eyeball-to-Eyeball' Border Standoff in #Doklam #Bhutan

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-24/what-s-the-china-india-border-stand-off-all-about-quicktake-q-a

1. Why is the area important?

All land-based military and commercial traffic between India’s northeastern provinces and the rest of the country travels through the narrow strip of land known as the Siliguri Corridor -- also sometimes referred to as the Chicken’s neck. The Doklam Plateau -- where troops are currently facing off -- overlooks the corridor, which India defense strategists fear could be vulnerable to Chinese attack in case of a conflict.

2. How far back does this dispute go?

An 1890 convention between Britain and China is supposed to determine the location of the border near the Siliguri Corridor. However it contains a contradiction that allows each country to claim support for its position, said Taylor Fravel, who studies border disputes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. India contends the border is at Batang La, while China argues it is at Mount Gimpochi, three miles to the south. If China is correct, it would gain access to the Doklam Plateau.

3. What’s the status of ties between the three countries?

Bhutan has had close relations with India since 1949 when it agreed to a Friendship Treaty under which India would “guide” Bhutan’s foreign policy. This was updated in 2007 to remove the guidance provision. Both agreed that neither government would allow its territory to be used for activities harmful to the national security of the other. Bhutan doesn’t have diplomatic ties with China, though the two sides routinely holds talks aimed at resolving seven disputed border areas.

4. What is behind the latest flare-up?

All three sides agree that a People’s Liberation Army road-building team entered the Doklam Plateau and started construction. India said that its troops entered Bhutan’s territory “in coordination” with Bhutanese authorities to stop the Chinese road builders. There are now about 3,000 troops on each side on the plateau, according to the Times of India. It is the first time that Indian troops have confronted China from a third country.

5. Is it all about a road?

Bhutan’s foreign ministry says the road is being constructed on territory subject to a border dispute, and that the two sides in 1988 and 1998 agreed to refrain from changing the status quo of the boundary. China contends that it is operating in its own territory and cites the 1890 convention. The removal of Indian troops from the area is a prerequisite for “meaningful dialogue” to resolve the issue, China’s foreign ministry says. India cites a 2012 agreement that indicates the boundary points are yet to be finalized and says China’s actions could have serious implications for India’s security.

6. Is this stand-off more sensitive than others?

All this is taking place during a period of tense relations between two rivals competing for influence in the broader South Asia region. Bilateral relations were frosty even before the current border dispute began because New Delhi objects to President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” trade-and-infrastructure initiative. Part of it traverses the Pakistan-administered part of disputed Kashmir, which India claims as its sovereign territory. China’s Global Times, raising Kashmir, said “under India’s logic, if the Pakistani government requests, a third country’s army can enter the area disputed by India and Pakistan.”

7. Will it lead to war as we saw in 1962?

Most observers think not. Conflict wouldn’t serve either country’s interest. India, with an election in 2019, would risk losing an economically debilitating conflict with a much more powerful foe. China would risk its efforts to present itself as an international leader, filling the shoes of an isolationist U.S.

Riaz Haq said...

Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Toppled by Corruption Case

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/28/world/asia/pakistan-prime-minister-nawaz-sharif-removed.html


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Nawaz Sharif stepped down as Pakistan’s prime minister on Friday after the Supreme Court ordered his removal over accusations of corruption, in a ruling that is likely to shift the country’s tumultuous political balance.

The removal of Mr. Sharif, who was serving his third term in office, came roughly a year before his term was to end. And it deals a serious blow to the legacy of a man who helped define the past generation of Pakistani politics.

The governing political party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, must now choose an interim prime minister to replace Mr. Sharif until the next general election, which is scheduled for mid-2018.

Announced by the five-member Supreme Court, the verdict caps more than a year of high political drama, breathless court proceedings and a piercing investigation into the finances of the Sharif family.

Watching the courtroom drama was the country’s powerful military, which has traditionally decided the fate of civilian governments. There had been hushed speculation that the court, in coming to its decision, had the tacit, if not overt, backing of powerful generals.

The charges against Mr. Sharif and three of his children — two sons and a daughter — stemmed from disclosures last year in the Panama Papers, which revealed that the children owned expensive residential property in London through offshore companies.

In their unanimous verdict on Friday, the justices declared that Mr. Sharif was not “honest” and that he was therefore “disqualified to be a member of the Parliament.” They also ordered the opening of criminal investigations focusing on the Sharif family.

Imran Khan, the opposition politician who has been spearheading the campaign against Mr. Sharif since he took power in 2013, stands to gain the most politically from the prime minister’s removal. Mr. Khan has doggedly and almost obsessively led the charge against Mr. Sharif and rallied a wide swath of the public against him through a mix of street agitation and court petitions.

The Supreme Court had asked the members of the Sharif family to provide a paper trail of the money they used to buy their London apartments. Investigators found that they were “living beyond their means.”

Despite repeated court exhortations, Mr. Sharif’s family and its lawyers failed to provide satisfactory documentation, the justices said. Several of the documents they produced were declared fake or insufficient.

A representative of the governing party said that although Mr. Sharif was stepping down, the party had “strong reservations” about the verdict and was contemplating “all legal and constitutional means” to challenge it.

Riaz Haq said...

Big Power for Little #SriLanka in the #India-#China Rivalry. #Bhutan #Nepal #Doklam #HambantotaPort #Pakistan #CPEC
https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/big-power-little-sri-lanka-india-china-rivalry

When it comes to this periphery, one particular concern for New Delhi is Sri Lanka's Hambantota deep sea port project. This new port and others at Gwadar in Pakistan, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Djibouti constitute the Indian Ocean leg of China's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. And ever since construction began in Hambantota in 2008, China has taken on an increasingly prominent role in the project, which includes not only the $1.4 billion port but also an airport, numerous highways and an as-yet-unbuilt 15,000-acre industrial zone. Initially, Sri Lanka intended to build the project with massive Chinese loans and operate the port on its own, but it has confronted the difficulty of making the port profitable. Thus, in late 2016, Colombo announced a potential deal to trade an 85 percent stake in the project, which would include a 99-year lease on land there, to China Merchants Port Holdings in exchange for $1.1 billion in debt relief. Sri Lanka is $8 billion in debt to China, and over one-third of its government revenue goes to servicing that debt.


Domestic tensions over India's involvement in Trincomalee will only continue. And ultimately, the revised deal with China over Hambantota will not end competition over Sri Lanka and its ports. After the tumultuous conclusion of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009, the country was left internationally isolated and at odds with India. New Delhi notably did not offer Colombo substantial assistance in defeating the Tamil Tigers, and Sri Lanka instead relied on Chinese, Pakistani and Iranian involvement. In the wake of these events, restoring a balance between patronage from India and other nations does not mean Colombo will be making a full tilt toward New Delhi. Moreover, India simply does not have the economic heft or state control of businesses needed to assist Sri Lanka in the way that China does.

On a broader scale, the regional rivalry between China and India grows ever stronger, as the two nations push for dominance over their shared border and India's various neighbors. But direct military confrontation between Beijing and New Delhi is extremely unlikely, and the tensions will instead play out in nearby countries. Bhutan, for example, has already been caught up in this rivalry with the ongoing Doklam Plateau crisis. East Africa, too, has become the target of an early stage Indo-Japanese attempt to counterbalance China's infrastructure initiatives. For its part, Sri Lanka appears to have used its political savvy to square the circle for now, but the country will no doubt remain involved in the affairs of India and China in the future. And while being sandwiched between two great powers can be a precarious position for a small nation like Sri Lanka, the country has proved itself adept at playing these powers off one another for its own benefit.

Riaz Haq said...

Transparency International: #UK Must Act on #Sharifs' Assets After #PanamaVerdict. #NawazSharif #Corruption
https://www.transparency.org.uk/press-releases/pakistani-pm-disqualified-by-court-uk-must-act-on-sharifs-assets/

28th July, London – The disqualification over corruption allegations of Pakistan’s Prime Minister must instigate immediate action by UK authorities to act on his UK based assets, according to Transparency International UK.

Nawaz Sharif was found to be “no longer eligible to be an honest member of the parliament” by Pakistan’s supreme court, following revelations in the Panama Papers that he and his family had used anonymous offshore companies to purchase assets abroad, including four properties in Park Lane London.

The UK authorities must immediately work to establish whether the Sharif family still own those four properties, and consider seizure proceedings if this is found to be the case and these were purchased from the proceeds of crime. These properties are still held by the two companies that the Panama Papers revealed to be owned by close relatives of Nawaz Sharif, however due to a lack of transparency over the true owners of offshore companies it is impossible to know whether the Sharif family still control these companies.

At the London Anti-Corruption Summit in May 2016, the UK pledged to introduce a register of beneficial ownership of foreign companies that would reveal who truly owns the companies buying property in the UK. According to the Government’s own timeline primary legislation for this should be introduced this year, but no commitment has yet been made to include this in the programme outlined in the Queen’s Speech.

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy Transparency International UK, said:

“It should not take a leak like the Panama Papers for us to know who is buying property in the UK. Allowing corrupt individuals to discreetly stash illicit cash in UK property hurts people in the societies they have stolen from and also contributes to the housing crisis here in the UK.”

“The Government has repeatedly committed to introduce a register of the real owners of overseas companies that own property here, so it’s high-time those words were turned into action. The need to act is well illustrated by the case of London property connected to Nawaz Sharif.”

“Knowing who is owning UK property is the first step to being able to seize and eventually return assets to the people from whom they have been stolen. Until the Government brings in all the necessary tools to do this, our country will remain a safe haven for dirty money from around the world.”

Anonymous said...

Foll was rcvd from a foreign banker friend and is forwarded to u. May be of interest sir. Regards.

1. Getting a UAE iqama is cheaper and easier as UAE has no residency requirements except that one visit is mandatory in 6 months to maintain the iqama.

But more importantly

2. Rich pakistanis use UAE iqama for registering themselves with Swiss/Foreign banks so that they can show themselves as tax residents in the UAE. (account holders are reported by banks on the basis of residency rather then nationality).

3. If a iqama holder Pakistani (MR. X) has an account with either a swiss or other foreign bank then he enjoys automatic immunity from reporting.
As an example if Pakistan and Switzerland were to enter into an exchange of information agreement, then those Pakistanis who are account holders in Switzerland but have a UAE iqama registered with the bank as their place of residence, will not be reported. They will remain out of the Pakistan probe radar as far as the bank account is concerned.

This is an important aspect and I think this is why even the PM has a UAE iqama because if tomorrow he is out of office and Pakistan officially writes to a particular bank to disclose the name of Pakistanis who have accounts with the bank then the bank will not disclose his name as he is a resident of the UAE and not of Pakistan as far as the bank is concerned.
7/29/17, 2:46 PM - ‪+92 301 8202229‬:
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/07/28/opinion/why-ousting-nawaz-sharif-sets-a-dangerous-precedent-for-pakistan.html?referer=https://t.co/8rpOwdh66t?amp=1
7/29/17, 2:47 PM - ‪+92 301 8202229‬: Interesting read
7/29/17, 3:52 PM - Sameer Dodhy: IMG-20170729-WA0008.jpg (file attached)
7/29/17, 6:10 PM - ‪+92 301 8202229‬: A waste of a JIT
by Mohammad Sohaib Saleem

All the efforts to find the money trail, all the efforts to connect the dots, to unearth the hidden wealth, the forgery all gone to waste. All the answers to the 13 questions not relied on by the Supreme Court.
The only thing taken out of the 250 odd page JIT report was the accrued salary of Mr. Nawaz Sharif from the company Capital FZE which was construed as an undisclosed asset. Irony being that the said Capital FZE was not something unearthed by the JIT, the Supreme Court already knew about it (as mentioned on page 538 of the April order) and it is something (as claimed by PMLN) disclosed in the nomination papers of Mr. Nawaz Sharif. If the JIT was there just to find the details of the FZE Company, this was something which could have been done easily by a lower grade FIA official!
In hind sight forming a JIT was a futile exercise. Why did the majority justices (Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan) got into matters of intricate facts and ordered a JIT, when they had no intention to make full use of its report in their final order? Wasn’t the JIT formed because they mistrusted NAB and thought it was incapable as an institution? Then why in the end NAB has been assigned to investigate?
Here the approach of the minority justice is commendable. They got it right in the first instance. No JIT was required, it was simply waste of time and effort.

Riaz Haq said...

Opinion | #India's #Modi wanted a friend in #Trump. Instead, it’s getting chaos. #China #DoklamStandoff #Pakistan

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/india-wanted-a-friend-in-trump-instead-its-getting-chaos/2017/08/06/9c2cef08-77e3-11e7-8f39-eeb7d3a2d304_story.html?utm_term=.a5ad7613cb39

Political attention here has been focused this summer in two very different directions. There is the Himalayan plateau where Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in the most tense and potentially explosive standoff since a 1962 border war. And there is the din emanating from the Trump administration, which has managed to frighten and confound just about every nation that counts on U.S. global engagement.

The two problems are not directly related: Indians wouldn’t want the United States to get involved in their dispute with Beijing, dangerous though it is, even if a more functional administration were in office. But the confluence is nevertheless unnerving. It has meant that India, a country with which President Trump claims to have established excellent relations, has had to grapple with both a dramatic demonstration of the strategic threat posed by China and an incipient crumbling of confidence in the American partnership it has seen as the antidote.

Let’s start with the border spat, which resembles China’s clashes with Japan over a disputed island chain and its invasive construction of islets and airstrips in the South China Sea. It began in June with a unilateral move by Beijing to construct a road in a disputed piece of mountain territory where India, China and Bhutan come together, overlooking the narrow strip that connects India’s northeast to the rest of the country.

Rather than tolerate the intrusion, the government of Narendra Modi, a populist and nationalist who shares Trump’s autocratic instincts, dispatched troops to block the bulldozers. Now Indian and Chinese soldiers are deployed just hundreds of yards apart, even as Chinese state media outlets blare angry rhetoric. Though Indian analysts say a shooting war is unlikely — China would be hard-pressed to dislodge the Indian forces from the high ground they hold — they expect the standoff to drag on through China’s Communist Party congress in the autumn.

The dust-up has served to accentuate growing Indian anxiety about its emerging- superpower neighbor. Watching China’s initiatives in South Asia, from the construction of ports in Sri Lanka and Pakistan to the hugely ambitious “belt and road” projects from Central Asia to Africa, Indians need not be paranoid to feel encircled. Their sense of vulnerability has been compounded by the perception that Russia, a traditional ally, has been driven into the arms of China by its growing conflicts with the West.

India’s strategy for balancing China depends heavily on the United States. Though unwilling to conclude a direct alliance, Modi has followed previous Indian governments in moving steadily closer to Washington, conducting joint naval exercises and buying U.S. military equipment. His was one of the few friendly governments to find some cheer in Trump’s election: The candidate, after all, had promised to improve relations with India’s friend Russia and get tough on China and terrorism by Muslim extremists.

Instead, what Indians have seen from Washington is contradictions and chaos. Though not the aim of the White House, U.S. relations with the regime of Vladimir Putin are considerably worse now than they were six months ago. Trump, meanwhile, has gyrated between embracing China’s Xi Jinping and assailing him on Twitter for failing to rein in North Korea. U.S. “freedom of navigation” patrols challenging Chinese claims in the South China Sea ceased for a while before suddenly starting again.

In Afghanistan, a vital interest for India, the Trump administration at first seemed set to adopt a welcome new policy of beefing up U.S. forces to stop the Pakistan-supported Taliban. Then reports emerged that Trump had rebuffed the plan and was leaning toward abandoning the war.

Riaz Haq said...

#Modi's #India Is Sponsoring and Weaponizing its #Hindu Spiritual Tourists in #Kashmir

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/09/india-is-weaponizing-its-spiritual-tourists/

very July, thousands of buses, trucks, cars, mules, and palanquin bearers crawl up 12, 768 treacherous feet of mountainous terrain to reach the Amarnath cave, where a smooth ice stalagmite dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva reaches up from the cave floor. The devotees heading for this linga (a Hindu term for venerated, somewhat phallic objects) are making one of the most dangerous pilgrimages in India — not just because of the height and harsh weather, but because the cave is slap-bang in the middle of the divided, and violent, border state of Jammu and Kashmir.

But the Indian state has been encouraging, protecting, and controlling the flow of funds to these dangerous journeys. Kashmir has its fair share of traditional yatra (pilgrimage) sites. But India’s current Hindu nationalist government is now backing efforts to turn it into an Indian Jerusalem, mixing religious and national sentiment to turn the disputed territory into sacred ground that can never be surrendered.

A busload of pilgrims on July 10 were the latest victims. Like most devotees, they traveled as part of an army-shielded convoy. The 200,000 yatris (pilgrims) who head to the cave every year are protected by 700,000 soldiers stationed in the province — 40,000 of them mobilized to protect this route alone. But a flat tire left them isolated and vulnerable. Four militants, allegedly from the Pakistan-based jihadi group Lashkar-e-Taiba, shot up the bus, killing seven people.

The attack on the Hindu pilgrims created a huge uproar in India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeting that he was “pained beyond words [by] the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris.” But the killings should have been no surprise. Indian intelligence organizations have gone on record saying they had information of an impending attack, and threats against pilgrims are made every year. This was the first successful attack since 2000, however, when 89 pilgrims were killed.

A dangerous pattern is emerging. New Delhi provides state patronage to religious pilgrimages in Kashmir, indirectly encouraging the Hindu claim over Kashmiri land. The organization of these pilgrimages sidelines the elected government of Jammu and Kashmir and emphasizes the jurisdiction of the national government over the state.And the pilgrimages in Kashmir are increasingly linked to rigid ideas of Indian nationalism. And the pilgrimages in Kashmir are increasingly linked to rigid ideas of Indian nationalism.

The roots of this lie in Kashmir’s torn status. In colonial times, it was a princely state, with a Muslim-majority population. When the subcontinent was divided between India and Pakistan in 1947, Kashmir (now the state of Jammu and Kashmir) was ceded to India — but under certain conditions and with much of the populace clamoring to join Pakistan.

The U.N. recognizes Kashmir as disputed territory between India and Pakistan, and many Kashmiris seek independence or union with Pakistan. But Hindu nationalists, increasingly vocal and powerful throughout India, insist that it’s an integral part of the country — and the fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) now controls both the national and the Jammu and Kashmir state government.

School textbooks already drill the notion of Kashmir as India’s northernmost territory into children’s heads, a viewpoint reinforced by angry TV pundits. The money being poured into pilgrimages reinforces this, mixing the national and the sacred to powerful effect. “Once you create sacred places in the valley, these lands cannot be easily alienated from mainland India,” said Peer GN Suhail, the director of the Centre for Research and Development Policy (CRDP) in Srinagar.