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Why India is furious about a set of stamps


The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan were supposed to meet this week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.. (Time magazine subscription)

How Musharraf became a Billionaire?


Pakistan Affairs Digest

The meeting was agreed more than a week ago, raising hopes of movement towards a more cordial relationship between the two nuclear-armed foes, and possibly even fresh peace talks.

After all, the neighbours hadn't met at such a senior level since 2014.

But within 24 hours, the briefly open door was slammed shut when India called off the meeting. Pakistan's "evil agenda" had been exposed and "the true face" of new Prime Minister Imran Khan had been "revealed to the world", a spokesman said.

Why? Well, part of the reason was a set of stamps.  

What do the stamps show?

The stamps carry 20 different images of what Pakistan calls "atrocities in Indian-occupied Kashmir".

They include images of victims of alleged chemical weapons, pellet guns, "fake police encounters" and "braid chopping", scenes of general abuse and pictures of Kashmiri protests.

One stamp carries a picture of Burhan Wani, a popular Kashmiri militant leader killed in 2016, and describes him as a "freedom icon".

Wani, who was linked to the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group, was killed in a gunfight with Indian forces in 2016.

His death sparked widespread protests in the region that still continue.

Another stamp shows a Kashmiri protester, Farooq Ahmed Dar, tied to the front bumper of a military jeep purportedly as a "human shield" against stone-throwing and gun-firing protesters.

A line in Urdu text running down the left side of the stamps reads: "Kashmir will become Pakistan."

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

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the Himalayan Muslim-majority territory, which both claim in full but control in part. India accuses Pakistan of harbouring and supporting cross-border militants who are active in Indian-administered Kashmir - an allegation Pakistan denies.

They say the stamps were issued at a time when the military dominated the political scene.


How have the stamps been selling?

Philatelists in Pakistan say the Kashmir commemoration postage stamps have sold well overseas, with one sheet of 20 stamps selling for nearly $6.

In Islamabad, a Pakistan Post official said they had sold more than 300 sheets in recent days at the official rate of about $1.30 apiece.

Only 20,000 sheets have been issued, most of which have already sold out, after the spat over the stamps hit the headlines.


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India's River Diversion Plan and South Asia's Waters

More dams are to come, as India’s need to power its economy means it is quietly spending billions on hydropower in Kashmir. The Senate report totted up 33 hydro projects in the border area with Pakistan. The state’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, says dams will add an extra 3,000MW to the grid in the next eight years alone. Some analysts in Srinagar talk of over 60 dam projects, large and small, now on the books. (This special report has appeared in the Bulletin on Current Affairs - February 2012, you may have to Buy the print edition to read full story)

More in the Edition:

South Asia's Water - a growing rivalry

Indian, Pakistani & Chinese Border Disputes

India's River Diversion Plan: Its impact on Bangladesh

Water Crisis can Trigger nuclear war in South Asia

Reclaimed Water - the Western Experience

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