Saturday, January 23, 2021

Imran Khan Did Not Approve Provocative Postal Stamps on Kashmir; Then Who Did?

The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan were supposed to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. The meeting was agreed more than a week ago, raising hopes of restoring relations between the two nuclear-armed adversaries. However, within 24 hours, the brief peace initiative vanished when New Delhi cancelled the meeting citing Pakistan’s actions, including issuing provocative postal stamps. 

Where the postal stamps provocative?

The stamps carry 20 different images of what Islamabad calls “atrocities in Indian-occupied Kashmir”. They include images of victims of alleged chemical weapons, pellet guns, “police encounters” and “braid chopping“, besides other pictures of brutalities by the Indian army.

One stamp carries a picture of Burhan Wani, a popular Kashmiri militant leader killed in 2016, and portrays him as a “freedom fighter”. Another stamp shows a protester, Farooq Ahmed Dar, tied to the front bumper of a military jeep as a “human shield” against stone-pelting.

This contrasts with a 1960 commemorative stamp which displayed a Pakistani map, with Kashmir shown in a various colour and a more neutral text line saying: “Jammu & Kashmir; Final Status Not Yet Determined.”

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir. India accuses Pakistan of harbouring and supporting cross-border militants who are active in Indian-administered Kashmir – an allegation Pakistan denies.

Who commissioned the postal stamps?

According to the BBC report, anyone could propose a commemorative stamp. “Once it is cleared by Pakistan Post, it needs to be approved by the communications ministry. The final approval is given by the prime minister’s office.”

Pakistan Post officials admit that the idea was proposed and implemented during the caretaker government of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The stamps were issued on 24 July, a day before the Pakistan general elections, and roughly 25 days before the Imran Khan was sworn in.

The last government of Nawaz Sharif fell out with the Pakistan Army over its alleged support for militant networks operating in India and Afghanistan, as reported by Dawn newspaper. The army has also been blamed for “controlling” the Pakistan general elections, which led to the removal of Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan Army denies allegations but critics say it’s a massive business to paint India as an eternal enemy. They say the stamps were issued at a time when the army dominated the political scene under Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

More News at EurAsian Times

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