December 2007 News

India, Pakistan Are Largest Producers Of Landmines: Report

19 December 2007
The Daily Times

Islamabad: Despite the peace process and a ceasefire holding along the borders, India and Pakistan together are the largest produces of landmines in the world, stockpiling at least 11 million antipersonnel mines. The annual Landmine Monitor Report for 2007 released here stated that while an estimated four to five million antipersonnel mines existed in India (the sixth largest stockpile in the world), Pakistan had six million antipersonnel mines (the fifth largest total in the world). The report further stated that although both the countries had banned export of landmines, their footprints had been found in countries like Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Tanzania and Sudan. The report, which is part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) - a coalition of more than 1,000 organisations working in 72 countries, also lamented that there had been no progress on the proposal for a joint suspension between these two countries regarding use of antipersonnel mines on their common border. Both the countries had been discussing this proposal as part of their confidence-building measures (CBMs).. Indian landmines: Notwithstanding, the official claim by India that there is no minefield or mined areas in any part of India, the report declared that there were mined areas in Kashmir valley. It said that at least 160 square kilometres in Jammu region and 1,730 square kilometres land in Kashmir region remained mined. The report quoted Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Speaker Tara Chand as saying that more than 6,000 families and some 3,500 acres of agricultural land in his constituency (Chamb, Jammu) were mined. Citing an example of Warsun village in Kupwara district, the report said that despite being 20 kms from the Line of Control (LoC), the village outskirts had remained mined since 1990. “The mines have not been cleared despite villagers’ requests. Military units stationed in the area have told them that they do not have the maps indicating the locations of mines,” the report said. The report indicted non-state armed groups for frequently using antipersonnel mines and improvised explosive devices to target convoys of soldiers. “India remains largely contaminated with mines due to mine-laying by the government forces,” it added. After the military standoff with Pakistan, India had claimed in February 2005 that it had recovered 99 percent of the mines laid on and near the borders. However, the Landmine Monitor researchers reported that some sections of the LoC remained heavily mined. In the Karnah sector of Kupwara district mines were laid through villages cut in half by the LoC. The report also fears that since Uri and Karnah were the heavily mined areas, the 2005 earthquake may have moved them away. Between 1989 and 1999 there were 10,709 incidents in Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh, the report quoted government sources as saying. In the villages of Mendhar region of Poonch district, 2,000 landmines were recorded. In 2006, the report said that at least 524 new incidents of mine explosions had been reported, where 311 people had been killed and 213 had been injured. In 2007, so far 14 incidents have been reported so far by the local non-government organisations. Pakistani landmines: While Pakistan has declared that mines it laid on the Indo-Pak border had been completely cleared, inhabitants of Garhi Sher Khan village in Poonch district in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) told the Landmine Monitor that villages on both sides of the LoC were heavily mined. They said that rainfalls had caused explosive remnants of war (ERW) to drift into their area from the Indian side, which were on higher attitude. “There have been at least 1,144 incidents in Pakistan between 2002 and 2006, with at least 440 killed and 704 injured. Incidents continued in early 2007 mostly reported from military followed by children,” the report stated. North and South Waziristan agencies told the international group that training camps formerly used by mujahideen were still being used by non-state armed groups, and that the areas around these camps at Zavar, Ghulam Khel, Mada Khel, Wazir, Shawal, Bermal, Azam, Warsak and Shakai were mined.


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