India retains Kashmir only with the barrel of a gun
S M Hali
The only way to bring Indo-Pak peace is by solving the Kashmir issue
In accordance with the Indian Independence Act of 1947, Kashmir, a princely state, was to opt for acceding either to India or Pakistan. Fearing that the majority Muslim population of Kashmir would join Pakistan, India forcibly occupied Kashmir. Pakistan tried to liberate the Valley but before the liberation forces could reach Srinagar, India approached UN Security Council, which enforced a ceasefire and promulgated UN Resolutions by virtue of which a plebiscite was to be organised under the aegis of the UN giving the right to Kashmiris to opt for joining either Pakistan or India. Initially India agreed to abide by the UN Resolutions but later reneged. In 1989, the people arose to seek their legal right. India retaliated with brute force, enforcing draconian laws, killing over 100,000 innocent Kashmiris, maiming thousands, raping their women and incarcerating their youth.
“India retains Kashmir only with the barrel of a gun.” This was stated by Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, at the ‘Kashmir Roundtable’ held at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation of the International Islamic University, Malaysia. The Institute is headed by an internationally known scholar and author, Datuk Dr Osman Bakar.
Dr Fai reiterated that the cause of Kashmir’s chilling strife and turbulence is the denial of self-determination. The renowned scholar opined that acceding to self-determination is the answer to Kashmir’s agony. That acceptance would also relieve India of the multiple national security and economic adversities spawned by its denial of self-determination. More important, Kashmir self-determination would eliminate the chief cause of India’s national security vulnerability. War with Pakistan would become fanciful. The liberation of Kashmir would not create a cascading dismembering of India. Its legal history is unique. And it speaks volumes that self-determination in East Timor, Eritrea, and Czechoslovakia did not occasion a spiralling disintegration of Indonesia, Ethiopia, or the Czech and Slovak republics.
The recent developments in the Indo-Pak Subcontinent, especially in the wake of the Pulwama incident and India’s failed surgical strike, and the nuclear weapons programmes of India and Pakistan, have heightened mutual tensions and placed the entire South Asian region and the world generally in grave danger of a nuclear holocaust. Experts generally concur that Kashmir is the foremost nuclear hotspot on the planet. But this imperative is stalled on Kashmir, which has been the chief genesis for nuclear proliferation in India and Pakistan. Thus, the United Nations and every nation individually have self-preservation interests in a peaceful and permanent Kashmir settlement that honours human rights and international law.
The solution to the suffering of everyone in Kashmir— Muslims as well as non-Muslims— lies in finding a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the crisis. This can only happen if the United Nations take an active role in facilitating a dialogue between all the parties to the dispute
The people of Kashmir are mindful of the existence in the Indian public sphere of sections of sane and enlightened opinion that deplore the Kashmir policy pursued by the Government and have concluded that it is causing grave damage to India’s reputation and lowered its international standing. Compared to the clamorous bigoted and fundamentalist forces in India, these sections speak only in soft tones, and have yet to influence policymakers. Kashmiris assure them, nevertheless, that their efforts have deeply gratified them, and they hope that they will sustain their campaign which responds equally to genuine patriotism and to human conscience.
Indian human rights activist, author and scholar Arundhati Roy articulated with eloquence on 22 August 2008 that, “Having declared that the militant movement has been crushed, it (India) is now faced with a non-violent mass protest. This one is nourished by people’s memory of years of repression in which tens of thousands have been killed, thousands have disappeared, hundreds of thousands tortured, injured and humiliated.”
Dr Fai stresses that the resources of the two countries should be redirected from bombs to books, from submarines to schools, from missiles to medicines, from frigates to food, from runways for bombers to roads for people. This is not starry-eyed thinking. Germany and France once glared at one another with suspicion and large military arsenals for centuries before becoming close allies buoyed by thick economic relations by 1963 through the statesmanship of Adenauer and De Gaulle. No insurmountable obstacle prevents Narendra Modi and Imran Khan from similarly reconciling and boosting prosperity by addressing the root cause of the tensions– the Kashmir dispute.
The most pertinent stakeholders in the Kashmir imbroglio are the Kashmiris. They are not asking for military intervention from the world powers. Neither are they asking for rugged economic sanctions. They are asking only that the United Nations and the USA use their high international bully pulpits to reproach or condemn India for its chilling human rights record in Kashmir as part of a campaign of moral suasion and transparency in the disputed territory. That was an effective instrument of US policy in ending apartheid in South Africa, and there is no reason to believe it would be less influential in prodding India to end its human rights villainies in Kashmir.
The erudite scholar believes that far from seeking to rectify its atrocious human rights record, India has legalised its state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir. Far from seeking to rectify its atrocious human rights record, India has legalised its state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir. It has given its occupation forces powers to shoot to kill and the license to abuse the people of Kashmir in whatever ways they like in order to suppress the popular movement for self-determination. These tactics have no military purpose whatsoever. Their only imaginable purpose is to terrorise a people into submission.
In such an atrocious atmosphere of trauma, horror and chaos, delusional Indian government officials are vehemently declaring everything is under control. Yet, India has completely lost Kashmir; it retains it only by the barrel of a gun and that cannot last. Yashwant Sinha, the BJP leader and former foreign minister has emphatically declared in Siasat daily of 31 December 2018: “We are losing Jammu and Kashmir”. “We have lost. There is no question of losing. We hold on to Jammu and Kashmir only by dint of the fact that we have our armed forces there.”
The solution to the suffering of everyone in Kashmir— Muslims as well as non-Muslims— lies in finding a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the crisis. This can only happen if the United Nations take an active role in facilitating a dialogue between all the parties to the dispute— India, Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership. General Elections 2019 have commenced in India but the people of Kashmir refuse to be a part of the sham elections.