(By Muhammad Nawaz Khan)
.::.Kashmir is a core issue between India and Pakistan, and South Asia’s peace and stability will remain elusive unless the Kashmir dispute is resolved. It has led to two major wars in the past. On the basis of partition plan, the Jammu and Kashmir was to be part of Pakistan. The prejudice of Radcliffe Award, aggressive ambitions of Congress, and anti-Muslim stance of Hari Singh all contributed to the present-day crisis. All political parties in Pakistan consider the resolution of Kashmir as a pre-requisite for improved India-Pakistan relations and regional stability, while Indian political parties, specifically the Congress and BJP, have divergent views on Kashmir. Indian leadership considers Kashmir as a symbol of Indian secularism and does not show flexibility in their stance, maintaining that Indian integration depends on Kashmir being retained as part of India. Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir issue is very clear, specifying it an unsolved question of 3rd June’s partition plan that needs to be solved according to UN resolution 1948.
Moreover, the people of Kashmir have expressed their desire to accede to Pakistan but India creates hurdles in the fulfillment of their desire. Pakistan’s government and leadership today seem eager to find a solution to the issue with India. Since 1953, more than 150 sessions of talks have been held, but all in vain. Sixty-six years have passed since then and throughout that period the Kashmiris have rendered huge sacrifices.
Six-hundred-thousand people sacrificed their lives while over 10,000 are missing. There are massive records of grave human-rights violations in the Indian-held Kashmir, besides unearthing the mass graves. Draconian Indian laws leading to inhumanity and brutal human-rights violations include: a) Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Area Act 1990; b) Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act; c) Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) 1990; d) The Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Power Act 1990; e) Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act 1998; f) Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002; g) National Security Act (NSA); h) Official Secrets Act (OSA); i) Newspapers Incitements to Offences Act, j) Criminal Procedure Court; and k) Indian Telegraph Act. These draconian Indian Acts provide latitude to Indian army deployed in Kashmir to play with the life, honour and property of the hapless Kashmiris. These Acts have been at the heart of concerns about gross human-rights violations in Kashmir, where arbitrary killings, torture, cruelty, degrading treatment, and enforced disappearances are routine acts.
Seen in the historical backdrop, there are three phases of the Kashmir struggle aimed at getting the right of self-determination. First phase was from 1947 to 1988, which was the peaceful effort. When Kashmiris felt that India did not pay heed to their voices only then the peaceful struggle turned into a violent intifada. This violent intifada phase spanned from 1989 to 2001. During this phase the freedom fighters and the people who supported them suffered heavily at the hands of Indian security forces, unleashing the indiscriminate reign of barbarity in the occupied Kashmir. The third phase started after 9/11 when Kashmiris converted their violent struggle into a peaceful political struggle. This was done in the light of the fact that after 9/11 major world powers got influenced by the Indian propaganda and started equating Kashmiris’ freedom struggle with terrorism. Therefore, Kashmiris changed their struggle to peaceful protests to get positive attention of major powers.
Taking advantage of the international campaign against terrorism, the Indian BJP government in 2001 had stepped up its two-pronged efforts to have Pakistan declared a terrorism-sponsoring state, and project the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination in the Indian-held Kashmir as terrorist activity. Under the circumstances, it is important to understand the real genesis of any struggle including the violent intifada, before labeling those or the organisations involved, as terrorists. In fact, the indigenous struggle for self-determination in the Indian-held Kashmir, recognised by the United Nations (UN), is a prime example, where the oppressed people have been forced to take up arms for their right to self-determination, and as a measure of resistance against the excesses being committed by more than 700,000 Indian armed forces personnel, deployed all over the Indian-occupied areas, to eliminate the resistance.
India is blatantly violating the right to self-determination, international conventions on human rights, and agreements between India and Pakistan. Basically, the concept of self-determination is an internationally recognised norm. The concept started as a political (or moral) right and later during the decolonisation period evolved into a legal right.
In the case of Pakistan, it has adopted a holistic approach that gives priority to Kashmir issue to other issues between India and Pakistan. India prefers to adopt step-by-step approach that deals with resolution of smaller issues first, believing that it will create conducive environment for the resolution of Kashmir but the reality is that the conducive environment for the resolution of Kashmir could never be emerged.
It is an open secret that people of Pakistan will never forget the sacrifices made by the Pakistanis for the cause of Kashmir. The support of 180 million people of Pakistan is a source of inspiration. Pakistan should continue to support Kashmiris on all levels, especially on the diplomatic front, and Pakistani media must highlight the atrocities committed by India in Kashmir. It is being felt that Pakistani media is not highlighting the gravity of the situation as it should be. India on the other hand is very actively painting the opposite picture, emphasising that the use of force in Kashmir is legitimate, which is basically illegal under the UN definition of right to self-determination.
Writer works as a researcher at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI)