Issues and Challenges

Kashmir — An Unfortunate Story

”Indian Forces killed six citizens, torched two mosques, fifteen shops and seven houses in various parts of the valley. As a result, there were protest demonstrations in many cities. Troops desecrated the central Srinagar Mosque and tortured worshipers whom they found inside.”
    — Kashmir Quarterly, October 12, 1997

“In Singhpur village, Occupation Forces barged into the house of Abdul Ahad and forcibly took his wife and daughter to a military camp where they were gang-raped.”
    — Kashmir Quarterly, November 8, 1997

“The [Indian] government's disregard for human rights in Jammu and Kashmir means in practice that some 200 people reportedly died in custody in Jammu and Kashmir last year and that the whereabouts of some 500 to 600 disappeared persons continue to be unknown. The arbitrary arrests of people suspected to sympathize with armed opposition groups also continues to be reported.”
    — Amnesty International press release, August 14, 1998

“According to the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), around 1,081 civilians have been killed by security forces in extrajudicial killings between 2008 and 2018. Around 160 civilians were killed in 2018, which is believed to be the highest number in over one decade. Of which, 71 were allegedly killed by Indian security forces.” 
    — Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, July 8, 2019

“A near total communications blackout in Jammu and Kashmir since the evening of 4 August, with internet access, mobile phone networks, and cable and Kashmiri television channels cut off.”
    — Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, August, 22, 2019

Kashmir is a valley where everyone is living under a constant state of fear. This condition is not temporary or new – it is a miserable reality faced by the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K). At the end of British colonial rule over subcontinent in 1947, the Princely States were given the choice to determine their fate either to become part of the two emerging states, Pakistan or India, or remain independent if they so wished. Kashmir, then ruled by a Hindu ruler, but consisting of a Muslim majority population, ended up in a train of unfortunate events. The Muslims living in the valley were left to fight their way to becoming a part of Pakistan, when the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession with the Indian Union. This selfish act resulted in ceding Kashmir to India, under a special status guaranteed in the Indian constitution. Since then, Pakistan and India have fought four wars over the region. The area is still labeled as a disputed territory, under the siege of Indian rule along a cease-fire line now known as the ‘Line of Control’, administering the divided territory, affirmed by United Nations (UN), which has also passed 18 resolutions for its peaceful solution. 
Over the years, various movements have been carried out by Kashmiris to end the control exercised by the ruthless Indian regime. Owing to the lack of progress, absence of a genuine democratic process and unlawful acts carried out by the Indian government, the way for increased insurgency in the region has been paved. 
The Indian government has maintained a strong military presence in the IOJ&K for over seven decades. They are engaged in illegal acts of human rights abuses through unaccounted crackdown campaigns, disappearances and extra-judicial killings of the people of the Valley. For a very long time, Kashmiris have suffered torture, execution, and excessive violation at the hands of Indian security forces by means of unethical use of tear gas and heavy pelleting that has blinded many a Kashmiri youth and even children. Additionally, the Kashmiri women suffer from horrendous repressive tactics of the Indian forces including sexual harassment and rape, while their men are captured, detained or killed for no reason. 
Although Kashmiris have been living in anxiety amid the unrest under cruel and oppressive Indian rule for decades, which has gripped the people with fear, but since the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power, the state of affairs within Kashmir have worsened. On August 5, 2019, Modi-led Indian government has made the most Machiavellian political move regarding Kashmir. Through a Presidential Order, they have revoked Articles 370 and  35A, withdrawing the special status accorded to IOJ&K, abjuring the special rights given to the Muslim majority state, taking away the autonomy to make their own laws. Moreover, owing to a total shutdown of telecommunication services in IOJ&K, with no internet, mobile phone or cable services available, effectively, it is cut off from the rest of the world since then. By imposing a crippling military curfew along with heavy deployment of military forces in the area, through increasing by an estimated 42,000 fresh troops, India is trying to instill terror among Kashmiris. Furthermore, prominent political figures have been placed under house arrest. Likewise, Yasin Malik and many other leaders have been detained with no information whatsoever of their whereabouts.  
Pakistan being a party to the Kashmir conflict raised the issue of the abrogation of Articles 370 and  35A by India at the UN. Following this, the UN agreed to have a closed-door discussion regarding this concern, after a gap of five decades, for the first time after 1971. In a meeting, held on August 16th, all the permanent members of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) along with certain non-permanent members and representatives from Pakistan and India were present. According to the official statement released by UN after the conclusion of the session, it was stated, “Kashmir conundrum would be addressed in line with the UN Charter and UNSC resolutions in a peaceful manner.” This statement that appeared on the official website of UN makes it explicit that Kashmir is not an internal matter of India but a matter of world peace and security, which has come under debate within the UN ambit after 1965. Moreover, the website cited the UN Secretary General’s statement, wherein he expressed grave concern over the current situation of IOJ&K and also invited reference to Simla Agreement of 1972 between Pakistan and India.
The Foreign Office of Pakistan hailed it as a diplomatic victory for the country as this event has helped in internationalizing the Kashmir conflict. China being an all-weather friend of Pakistan, supported Pakistan’s stance on the issue and stated that the conflict must be resolved as per the wishes of the people of Kashmir. In an interesting turn of events, Russia which has always been a close ally of India, stated that Kashmir issue should be resolved bilaterally between both states and in accordance with the UN resolutions. It is imperative to note here that Russia has never before supported Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue, in fact, it has in the past always vetoed any suggestion put forward by Pakistan at UN related to Kashmir. Despite what Indian representatives claim, world analysts and experts have termed this as a victory for Pakistan on the international stage. 
Additionally, the Prime Minister of Pakistan has formed a special committee on Kashmir, which is headed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and comprises ISI Chief, Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, DG ISPR, Major General Asif Ghafoor, Law Minister, Farogh Nasim, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Information, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Chairperson, Fakhar Imam and Attorney General for Pakistan, Anwar Mansoor Khan as members. The committee has decided to set up a Kashmir Cell at the Foreign Office and Kashmir desks at the Pakistani embassies all around the world. According to Shah Mehmood Qureshi, these measures will help in strong lobbying about the Kashmir issue by Pakistan. In a statement given to media he stated, “Pakistan does not recognize Article 370 of the Indian constitution. It is not our concern. Our concern is with the forceful change in Kashmir's demographics and violation of the rights of the people of Kashmir.”
Moreover, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has also echoed Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue. It called for an immediate end to the curfew in IOJ&K. Pakistan is also considering taking the matter to International Court of Justice (ICJ). All these steps will not only help in bringing the Kashmir conflict back into the limelight but will take it a step closer to its resolution. Furthermore, the communication blockade currently carried out by Indian government in Kashmir is opening eyes in support throughout the world. A US based organization Genocide Watch has issued a warning for possible mass genocide in Kashmir. Due to recent activities of Indian administration in the Valley, UN has put India in its list of ‘shameful’ countries. The world is finally waking up to the situation in Kashmir. Thus, the unflinching stance of Pakistan on the issue will help in garnering support on the matter.
Since July, more than 50 people have lost their lives and hundreds have been injured as tensions rise at the hands of Indian security forces. More than seven million people have been imprisoned in their own houses between August 5th and 27th. There are reports of mass disappearances of teens at the hands of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) of India. It is time for the people of Kashmir to be given their basic right of freedom. The long night of despair must soon end and Kashmir must soon see the sunrise of freedom. HH

E-mail:[email protected] 

Getting "unstuck" takes Prying...

Dr.  Amara Arshad Mehmood

Pry yourself out of the old rut
Try some new ways out of the Gut,
Yes! You are a fragile piece
Yet, there is another day of feast,
Stop looking down the rail
Let the clouds rain and hail ... !

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