Pakistan has reportedly begun moving military hardware to forward bases near the Indian border, raising concerns about a potential military confrontation with India over the disputed Kashmir region.
“Three C-130 transport aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force were used on Saturday to ferry equipment to their Skardu air base opposite the Union Territory of Ladakh,” New Delhi-based Asian News International (ANI) reported, quoting Indian “government sources.”
“The Indian agencies concerned are keeping a close eye on the movement of Pakistanis along the border areas,” the source further said.
The report said that Pakistan was also “most likely” to deploy “JF-17 fighter planes” to the Skardu air base.
The sources proclaimed that the Pakistan Air Force was planning to carry out military drills, speculating that the movement of the aircraft to the Skardu air base could be in preparation for those exercises.
Kashmir has been tense since the Indian government decided earlier in August to scrap the autonomy of the part of the region under its control. Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since their partition in 1947. They have fought three wars over the region. And until now, it has generally maintained its disputed status.
Islamabad has reacted furiously to the decision by New Delhi to overturn that status.
On Sunday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan likened the Indian government to Nazi Germany, saying Hindu-majority India was planning “genocide” against the Muslim-majority population of Kashmir.
HRW censures India’s repressive measures in Kashmir
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a news release on Monday, expressing major concerns about New Delhi’s repressive measures against the residents of Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the decision to revoke its autonomy.
“There are reports of worried families unable to contact loved ones, and a lack of proper access to medical services,” read the press release issued by HRW South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly.
“Some journalists have described mass protests which security forces quashed with tear gas and shotgun pellets, something the government denies. There are unconfirmed reports of numerous ongoing arrests, including of activists.”
The statement was released a day after Indian authorities re-imposed more restrictions on parts of Kashmir ahead of the Muslim Eid-al-Adha festivities.
India had already imposed a curfew and cut internet and telephone lines in Kashmir.
India locked down the Muslim-majority region last week. Numerous police and army roadblocks stopped movement by many residents.
The HRW statement said that while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had conceded that Kashmiris were suffering due to the extraordinary restrictions imposed on them, he continued to insist that such measures were “in the country’s best interests.”
“Instead of continuing repressive restrictions, Indian authorities should ensure justice and accountability for human rights abuses, repeal abusive laws like the Public Safety Act or the Armed Forces Special Powers Act which gives government forces immunity from prosecution, end aggressive treatment of Kashmiris at checkpoints and during search operations, and work towards the safe return of all the displaced,” it said.