National and International Issues

India’s Bloody Machinations IN IOJ&K

Round one of Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts aimed at highlighting the Kashmir dispute and Indian brutalities is over following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 27. Indeed, the Prime Minister’s UNGA visit ended on a high note as he forcefully presented Kashmir’s case at the biggest international forum, offsetting Indian designs of showcasing this protracted problem as an internal affair.



But PM’s hectic diplomacy during his week-long stay in the United States and the UNGA’s address serve only as the first step in the long, hard and difficult struggle which lies ahead for Pakistan and especially for Kashmiris suffering at the hands of Indian occupation forces. 
Currently, India has the advantage as it took the Kashmir initiative at a time and date of its choosing. Before nullifying its Constitution’s Articles 370 and 35A, India had further beefed up troops in one of the world’s most militarized zones. Article 370, which had already been diluted, served only as a fig-leaf and gave a false semblance of “special status” to Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). 
Although Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership – demanding the right of self-determination for Kashmiris – never accepted this controversial article, at least the mirage of “special status” gave an excuse to handful of pro-India Kashmiri politicians to operate under New Delhi’s umbrella. But the Hindu extremist government has moved to assimilate Kashmir in the Indian Union, violating UN resolutions, its agreements with Pakistan, guarantees provided to Kashmiris and ditching India’s Kashmiri allies. 
The Hindu extremist agenda is clear; it wants to transform the Muslim-majority in Kashmir into a minority by settling outsiders in the name of bringing in investment and boosting development. 
On its part, India has unilaterally settled the Kashmir dispute in its favour and now the only challenge is managing the fallout of its decision, which New Delhi is trying to do through a multi-pronged strategy. 


Although world powers have so far given a muted response to India’s war mongering and atrocities in Kashmir, for the first time in recent history New Delhi is facing criticism from human rights groups and the western media.


Firstly, it is using brute force to quash protests and resistance within the valley. Increasing the number of security forces, the continuing curfew, spate after spate of raids and arrests of youngsters and community and political leaders, torture and extra-judicial killings are part of the high-handed approach to break the will of Kashmiris and create space for the Indian state.
Secondly, India plans to spend big money in the occupied region – not for the benefit of Kashmiris, but to build sanctuaries for settlers. Before the annulment of Article 370 and 35A, non-residents were barred from buying land in Kashmir. Big businesses, corporates and Indian state governments are now being encouraged to buy land in Kashmir. The Maharashtra government has already announced plans to buy land for two resorts in the occupied Himalayan region. India is also promising jobs to Kashmiri youth to blunt their vigour for freedom.


The Hindu extremist agenda is clear; it wants to transform the Muslim-majority in Kashmir into a minority by settling outsiders in the name of bringing in investment and boosting development. 
On its part, India has unilaterally settled the Kashmir dispute in its favour and now the only challenge is managing the fallout of its decision, which New Delhi is trying to do through a multi-pronged strategy. 


Thirdly, India has intensified pressure on Pakistan in an attempt to keep Islamabad away from helping Kashmir’s indigenous freedom movement by portraying it as terrorism. The sustained propaganda, branding every act of militancy Pakistan-inspired, -backed or -sponsored is part of a well-thought-out strategy akin to putting the onus of the safety of the occupying Indian troops advertently on Pakistan. The latest example of the Indian attempts to redefine redlines is its response following the Pulwama suicide attack, which killed 40 plus security personnel. India had sent fighter jets across the Line of Control and bombed a deserted area inside Pakistan in an unprecedented escalation. Though Pakistan gave a befitting response to this adventure by downing two Indian fighter aircraft, in the South Asian context New Delhi did lower the threshold for a conflict. The post August 5 threats hurled by Indian civil and military leaders that they are eyeing Azad J&K are also aimed at keeping Pakistan under pressure. 
Fourthly, Indians expect a muted world response to its Kashmir adventure, especially from the Western capitals. New Delhi has also launched aggressive diplomacy to at least neutralize some of the long-standing Pakistan allies by using the size of its market and economy.
Overall, New Delhi’s Kashmir gamble is based on the premise that as the time goes by, India will be able to strengthen its hold over Kashmir, leaving no other choice for Kashmiris and the world but to accept its occupation of the disputed region. Apparently, in the amoral world of international diplomacy – where might is considered right – India’s plan makes sense. New Delhi thinks that its huge market is enough to make the world fall in line with its Kashmir adventure, while an under pressure Pakistan and oppressed, unarmed Kashmiris lack the means and power to thwart its game plan.
However, India has ignored the fact that resolve, determination and courage of a nation – even if smaller in size – has the potential to put a spanner in its design and derail the extremist Hindu juggernaut. 
Conventional diplomacy, with all its limitations, has been effectively used by Pakistan in the first phase to expose Hindu India’s extremist agenda and the way it threatens regional peace. Pakistan has also called attention to Indian human rights violations and Islamabad’s desire for a negotiated settlement of the dispute in line with the aspirations of Kashmiris and the UN resolutions. The country also managed to internationalize the Kashmiri demand for the right to self-determination, which had been on the backburner for the last few decades. 


However, India has ignored the fact that resolve, determination and courage of a nation – even if smaller in size – has the potential to put a spanner in its design and derail the extremist Hindu juggernaut.


Although world powers have so far given a muted response to India’s war mongering and atrocities in Kashmir, for the first time in recent history New Delhi is facing criticism from human rights groups and the western media. 
It goes without saying that these moves are not enough to make India feel the heat, but this is a good beginning from where Pakistan can try to mount further pressure on New Delhi using both conventional diplomacy and some innovative and out-of-the-box measures. 
The Indian strategy of using state terrorism has so far failed to break the will of Kashmiris or crush their dream of ending the Indian rule. The continuing curfew and brutalities are a manifestation of this fact. But certainly, time is of utmost important. The longer the Indian grip stays over Kashmir amidst moves to change the demography of this Muslim-majority region, there is a serious danger that Kashmiris will be marginalized, diluted and crushed on their own land. Therefore, Pakistan needs more urgency and aggression to highlight the plight of Kashmiris, mobilize world opinion, unite the Kashmiri diaspora around the world and give all possible diplomatic, moral and political support to the freedom movement.
The colonization of Kashmir in the name of investment and development also needs to be fought tooth and nail on every platform. Only the vigour and strength of Kashmiri freedom movement can keep Indian vultures and their big money away from Kashmir and from exploiting its resources and marginalizing the indigenous people. 
Going forward, Pakistan’s leadership needs to shun its new-found apologetic attitude towards the armed struggle of Kashmiri freedom fighters. Pakistan must carry the cross and explain to the world that a legitimate freedom struggle cannot be equated with terrorism. Kashmiris – denied of their fundamental and democratic rights, including the right to stage peaceful protests and exercise their right to self-determination – have no option but to fight for their rights with all available means. 
Pakistan can only offset the Indian pressure by mounting counter pressure. Our civil and military leadership have given a clear message that Pakistanis will stand up against the regional bully with all its might. There is a need to walk the talk. Pakistan’s battle-hardened armed forces and the resilient nation have the capacity and ability to defend their motherland. Indians should have no iota of doubt in their minds that their aggression will get a similar response.  
On the diplomatic front, the silence of world powers and some of our friends should not come as a surprise. This should have been anticipated and has been factored in. Pakistan is already keeping them engaged without showing any apparent flexibility on the Kashmir cause. There is a need to stay the course, to keep hammering and driving home the point that reckless Indian policies are pushing the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours towards a full blown conflict.
The Indian move of repealing Article 370 and 35A has pushed Kashmir’s freedom struggle in a decisive phase. If Pakistan acts, and acts fast, this crisis can be transformed into an opportunity. Pakistan has no choice but to match Indian brinkmanship with brinkmanship. The time to act is now because tomorrow will be too late to fight for this cause. It is now or never.


The writer is an eminent journalist who regularly contributes to print and electronic media.
E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @AmirZia1
 

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