(Editorial: The News)
This Kashmir Day a peaceful and just solution to the problem of the disputed territory remains as elusive as ever. The election of Modi has only made it harder, mainly due to the election of the hardline Narendra Modi as prime minister of India. Modi’s election undid whatever halting progress the two countries had made towards greater trust and better relations.
Incidents of firing across the Line of Control were pounced upon by Modi to demonise Pakistan. He still accuses Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism even though militant groups attack Pakistan more than any other country. In response, we have tried to up the ante too, although only in the diplomatic sphere and without launching the kind of scathing attacks that have become routine for Modi. Our new representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi has said she will focus her energies on the Kashmir cause while foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz claimed we will not talk to India if Kashmir is not on the agenda. The diplomatic route may seem to be a dead end since India refuses to even acknowledge the right of the UN to have a say on the matter relying instead on the archaic Simla Agreement that said the two countries would resolve outstanding matters diplomatically. India also has the veto power of Russia – and increasingly the US – on its side.
Even as Pakistan continues to present its case on Kashmir at every available international forum, on Kashmir Day we should remember that we are fighting a cause greater than our own. The citizens of Indian-held Kashmir have been under army occupation since 1947 and have been persistently denied not just their right to choose their own fate but also basic freedoms of expression and assembly. Their existence is a humiliating one of army checkposts and intrusive searches. Any attempt to assert their authority is swiftly followed by massacres and unmarked mass graves. The last Kashmiri uprising in the late 1980s began, not as Indian legend holds, because Pakistan sent thousands of militants across the LoC to carry out attacks but because the people of the area were genuinely fed up of living under occupation. That yearning for liberty still exists and we must support it at every junction. Modi has made it harder for the Kashmiri voice to be heard so it falls on us to amplify it on Kashmir Day.