National and International Issues

Kashmir Invaded, Again

The territory of the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir has been invaded by Indian forces once again. The aggressive and aggravating actions taken by India before and after August 5 this year are reminiscent of the first occupation of a part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian Armed Forces on October 27, 1947.



Before that date India had made all kinds of military, paramilitary and pseudo-legal preparations for the occupation of the territory. With the connivance of the Maharaja of Kashmir’s government, thousands of soldiers in civilian clothes from East Punjab and the State of Kapurthala were inducted into Jammu and Kashmir between June and October 1947. Indian army troops were concentrated near Jammu’s border and wireless equipment had been installed at Srinagar airport in preparation for a full-fledged invasion of the territory by Indian Army. Gandhi, Nehru and Patel had separately coaxed and coerced Maharaja Hari Singh to sign a letter of accession under duress. India finally used the pretext of the invasion of Kashmir by tribals from the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan for its own occupation of Srinagar and other parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The fact is that between the months of August and October 1947, the people of the area had already fought the Dogra army and liberated the territory, now called Azad Jammu and Kashmir, comprising more than 13,000 square kilometers. Simultaneously, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan liberated their territory from the Dogra rule in November 1947.


To the Hindu extremists, the message from the Kashmiris, especially the youth, is that you have started a war, a civilizational war, but we will finish it. Kashmiris have been striving for their freedom for the past two hundred years. They will realize their right to self-determination. In this context, their sentiment is not different from Patrick Henry’s: “Give me liberty, or give me death!”.


Moves similar to the ones mentioned above were choreographed before August 5 this year. India took five steps to prepare the ground for the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A of its constitution. First, in June 2018, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew its support to the People’s Democratic Party-led government in the occupied territory. Second, it dissolved the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and imposed Governor Rule. Third, the BJP stage-managed the dynamics of a false flag operation in Pulwama and launched the so-called “surgical strike” to stoke anti-Pakistan and ani-Kashmir sentiments during the elections. Fourth, it decided not to hold elections in IOK, this year in May and June. Fifth, India rushed 180,000 additional troops to the territory between February and July 2019 to beef up its 700,000-strong forces already deployed in the occupied territory. Since 2014, the BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other extremist organizations had been campaigning for the abolition of Articles 370 and 35A. 
At the time of the writing of this article, the Indian-occupied Kashmir has been under siege, a security lockdown, a communication blockade and curfew for 31 days. The situation is dark and dismal. Streets are empty and deserted. Heavily armed soldiers are patrolling occupied villages, townships and cities. People are imprisoned in their own houses and running out of provisions. In midnight raids the Indian soldiers maul and molest Kashmiri civilians, threaten women with rape, hit the elderly and pick up young men including teenagers and children for detention and interrogation. Thousands of Kashmiri civilians have been detained and the bulk of them have been moved to the most notorious prisons in northern India. Torture of these detainees is rampant, which has resulted in deaths in most of the cases. Indian soldiers act with impunity and they have been authorized to violate all laws of war and humanitarian principles. A fresh wave of genocide has started in Kashmir. 
Against this outrage, reported widely by the international media despite restrictions, the reaction of the international community has been clearly inadequate. Only one informal meeting of the Security Council has been held and that too at the request of Pakistan. The UN Security Council has not acted proactively and major powers of the world, with the exception of China, have remained tight-lipped or ambivalent in their pronouncements. The Indian actions in IOK have clearly demonstrated defiance of the international rule of law and acquiescence in bad global governance.
But, let us try to grasp what has happened. By rescinding Article 370, India has betrayed its own minority of loyalists in the IOK, which it had imposed on the people to rule and subjugate them to the illicit Indian writ. In another move, by repealing Article 35A, it announced to take away the recognized and established rights of the Kashmiris pertaining to permanent residence, acquisition of property, employment and education. It also said that it would colonize the territory by settling Hindus from all over India in illegal colonies to bring about demographic changes that would alter the Muslim majority into a minority. The BJP also made it known to its Indian citizens and the world at large that this was a deliberate anti-Muslim step driven by its dream for restoration of Akhand-Bharat.
The people of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, as well as Pakistanis and Kashmiris living abroad, all rose to express their solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The Government of Pakistan initiated punitive measures in the diplomatic, trade and transportation realms. The global civil society, including the international media, think tanks, human rights organizations, lawmakers and political activists, all condemned Indian actions and demanded an end to the draconian measures taken against the Kashmiri people. Even medical journals like The Lancet and British Medical Journal have expressed serious concerns about violation of the right to health in the occupied territory. While the international media supported the Kashmiris vocally and graphically highlighted their plight, most of the Western governments continued to respond cautiously. Constrained by realpolitik and their economic and strategic interests tied with India, they advocated appeasement of India rather than confronting it on what it had done. Muslim States, with the exception of Turkey and Iran, were silent or, in certain instances, tilted towards India. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation did, however, make some strong statements.


It goes without saying that as we pursue our diplomatic and political offensive for an end to genocide in IOK and reversal of the Indian decisions, we must not forget the overarching goal of making Pakistan a strong nation. At the same time, the people, the government and Armed Forces of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir should prepare for a multi-pronged war that has been imposed on Pakistan and Kashmiris. This would be a defensive war anchored in the doctrine of war sanctioned by Islam and the international humanitarian principles. It would be a war to defend our identity, our rights, our way of life and our values.


The main driver behind Indian aggression in IOK is Hindu nationalism which has designated four targets: (1) Indian Muslims; (2) Kashmiris; (3) Pakistan; and (4) political Islam all around the world. The proponents of Hindu nationalism are the interiors of the legacy of Nazism and Fascism of the last century. They replicate and propagate symbols and slogans of Hitler and Mussolini in the form of religious supremacy and puritanism. They too are training their apparatchiks, Blackshirts and Nazi death squads. 
In the coming weeks and months, the Indian occupation forces will mount repression in IOK as they pursue a scorched-earth policy. India will intensify its declared wars on Pakistan, IOK and AJK. It would step up its proxy war in Pakistan, abet and sponsor terrorism and continue to indulge in nuclear signaling. The BJP leaders and strategists have confirmed pursuit of these wars in public statements, without mincing their words. It is possible that behind the scenes, western countries would intercede because they may have realized that a hands-off approach on Kashmir would not work. Their primary intention, however, would be to defuse tensions and avert a war that could escalate to a nuclear level. They would not like to take steps to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute or give Kashmiris their inherent rights. Pakistan has to tread the path of mediation diplomacy very carefully and vigilantly because it could be a trap for the endorsement and legitimization of the steps already taken by India. India may use the lure of a bilateral dialogue process to consolidate its own measure in IOK. It is, therefore, prudent for Pakistan to keep the Kashmir dispute in the realms of multilateral diplomacy and global civil society. The internationalization of the Kashmir dispute after nearly five decades, Pakistan’s clear and strong stance and an authentic narrative crafted by the international media on Kashmir have generated pressure against India and in favor of Pakistan and Kashmir. This new space and opportunity must not be lost. The 10 million diaspora community around the world is mobilized and is ready to use its influence vis-à-vis parliaments, governments and the civil society in their new countries. 


Kashmiris have once again demonstrated their solidarity with the ideology and State of Pakistan. Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir are inseparable.


Despite the toxic environment of fear and intimidation created by India, many political parties, mediapersons, thinkers and civil society activists have openly criticized the BJP for its atrocities against the Kashmiris and demanded dignity, freedom and self-determination for them. Pakistani and Kashmiri activists must create an interface with these segments of the Indian civil society and expand communication with the like-minded opinion leaders in India. 
It goes without saying that as we pursue our diplomatic and political offensive for an end to genocide in IOK and reversal of the Indian decisions, we must not forget the overarching goal of making Pakistan a strong nation. At the same time, the people, the government and Armed Forces of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir should prepare for a multi-pronged war that has been imposed on Pakistan and Kashmiris. This would be a defensive war anchored in the doctrine of war sanctioned by Islam and the international humanitarian principles. It would be a war to defend our identity, our rights, our way of life and our values.
We appeal to the international community to open its eyes and lips, break its eerie silence and save the people of Kashmir from annihilation and the world from the scourge of war. It is the responsibility of the enlightened global citizens to oppose ethnic nationalism and restore the world order created on the basis of the UN Charter for mankind’s survival and progress. If the main pillars of this order – peace and security, self-determination, human rights and economic development – are trampled one by one by extremists with medieval mindsets, the world would once again descend into Hobbesian anarchy. In this context, the unresolved issue of Kashmir challenges the conscience of humanity.
To the Hindu extremists, the message from the Kashmiris, especially the youth, is that you have started a war, a civilizational war, but we will finish it. Kashmiris have been striving for their freedom for the past two hundred years. They will realize their right to self-determination. In this context, their sentiment is not different from Patrick Henry’s1: “Give me liberty, or give me death!”.
We appeal to the enlightened Indian civil society to come forward and help Kashmiris in this endeavor for the determination of their political destiny in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and, in order to achieve this goal, create pressure for the reversal of the BJP’s dangerous steps that have sown the seeds for the disintegration of the state of India itself. 
Recent Indian steps have given birth to an international movement for the freedom and human rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Liberty runs in the blood of the Kashmiris. They have vowed to break all shackles and win freedom. Sacrifices of the 500,000 martyrs of Kashmir will not go in vain. They will defeat the forces of darkness and inhumanity unleashed by the BJP and RSS and promote justice and equal rights for all in South Asia, including Indian Muslims.
Finally, Kashmiris have once again demonstrated their solidarity with the ideology and State of Pakistan. Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir are inseparable.


The writer is the President of the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and former Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in New York and Geneva.
E-mail: [email protected]


1. Patrick Henry, a Founding Father of the United States, made this statement during the Second Virginia Convention (1775).

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