By Air Cdre (Retd) Khalid Iqbal
It is interesting to observe that ownership of Kashmir conflict is expanding, the stakeholders are far greater that can be visualised. Now even the non-Muslim Kashmiris are also getting on board. Kashmiri youth has taken the lead and assumed the responsibility of carrying forth the struggle to its logical conclusion. Old guard Kashmiri leaders and veterans of first generation struggle are extending full support to the youngsters. Its like a change of leadership that is in its transitional phase. Entire IOK is in a state of defiance. With death tolls exceeding psychological number of 100, the struggle sees to have entered in an irreversible phase. Secretary Generals of UN and OIC have expressed their concern over the brutalities being committed by Indian security apparatus in Kashmir.
Unable to sustain a protracted state of denial, India has, yet once again, acknowledged the disputed status of the territory. Recently, Prime Minister Singh held an emergency APC in New Delhi, which decided to send a 37-member delegation to occupied Kashmir to talk to local politicians and business groups in an effort to ease tensions. Though it was a lacklustre ‘All Parties Conference’, it has kick-started a fresh political initiative by the Indian bi-partisan political leadership. While at the same time, erratic statement of Indian foreign minister in New York UN has demonstrated Indian’s Machiavellian approach to the issue.
Indian initiative may however be a non-starter due to the condition that talks should be held within the framework of the Indian constitution, whereas first assertion of the Kashmiri leadership is that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory as such Indian Constitution does not apply here; and that India has made several promises at the international level, which ought to be fulfilled.
To coincide with the arrival of the Indian fact-finding mission in Srinagar, identical resolutions were adopted unanimously by the National Assembly and the Senate of Pakistan, condemning “state terrorism” in the region and reaffirming Pakistan’s “diplomatic, political and moral support” for Kashmiris in their struggle.
Resolution adopted by the assembly expressed “grave concern on the situation in occupied Kashmir”, condemned “India’s state terrorism” and demanded that India “stop murder and plunder”, withdraw occupying forces from the “state/urban population, cancel black laws, lift curfew, end media blackout, release Kashmiri leaders and thousands of imprisoned youth, refrain from obstructing the performance of religious duties and locking mosques and allow international human rights organisations to come to occupied Kashmir”. It emphasized that Kashmiris were engaged in a “peaceful struggle for their right of self-determination in accordance with the United Nations Charter, UN resolutions, the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and resolutions of the Non-Aligned Movement as their basic right”. It appealed to world nations “not to remain silent spectators of the Kashmir situation and compel India to stop injustice and repression on Kashmiris and resolve the Kashmir issue, and take practical steps for the implementation of (relevant) UN Security Council resolutions.”
Kashmiri peoples’ and political leadership’s response to Indian parliamentary delegation clearly indicates that its not just a huge trust deficit between New Delhi and freedom fighters but a complete rejection of Indian hegemony over Kashmir. Main stream political leadership of IOK decided to abstain from directly interacting with the parliamentary delegation because they are now wary of such visits as these represent only an effort at short-term crisis management and that there is neither any clear commitment towards effective resolution of the issue nor any path finding effort for addressing the aspirations and interests of the IOK masses. However, a memorandum was addresses by the IOK political leadership to the visiting delegation, recommending a negotiation based plan of action for resolving the dispute.
Kashmiri political leadership is right in following this approach because Kashmiris have repeatedly seen in the past that it is only when a major crisis erupts that visible efforts are made by India to engage and understand peoples’ aspirations; and as soon as the immediate crisis subsides, inherent political complacency and negligence is restored.
IOK political leadership has made it a point to not to ask for unilateral political concessions, rather they are pursuing for a joint commitment to a meaningful process that guarantees results. They are of the opinion that this is possible only if serious efforts are made to create a conducive environment for dialogue by removal of the harsh and repressive measures, like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFPSA), which are in force in IOK, to suppress aspirations and fundamental democratic rights of Kashmiris .
IOK leadership has suggested that to begin with, resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir should become a ‘Common Minimum Programme’ shared by all political parties in India and in Pakistan, so that such a process is transparent and is designed to deliver a negotiated solution to the Kashmir issue that is mutually worked towards by and is acceptable to all parties concerned.
Making a fresh demand for a result-oriented dialogue, the moderate faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) have demanded setting up of Kashmir committees in India and Pakistan to find an everlasting solution to the Kashmir issue. “We look forward to entering into a dialogue based on shared commitments… Let the Government of India establish and empower an official body, a Kashmir Committee, consisting of senior representatives of major political parties to develop and enter into a process of engagement with representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” the Chairman of APHC Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik said in a joint memorandum. “We believe that a similar Kashmir Committee, bringing together all political forces, should also be established in Pakistan. We will suggest to political parties in Pakistan that this be done.”
The memorandum further said, “This (setting up of Kashmir committees) will ensure that all major political forces in India and Pakistan are on board with the peace process and it will help institutionalise and sustain the process to resolve the Kashmir problem.
“On our part we are ready and willing to engage and sustain a meaningful and irreversible process of dialogue designed to avoid the failures of the past and to jointly develop and implement a solution to the Kashmir dispute that is acceptable to all sides – India, Pakistan and above all the people of the State,” the memorandum said.
It is unwavering determination of the people of Kashmir that has sustained the freedom struggle against the barbarity of India and its occupation forces in the face of the placatory silence of the international community, for example President Obama conveniently skipped the issue during his recent address to UNGA. It is disappointing to see what has become of ‘candidate Obama’ who was an ardent supporter of the cause of Kashmiris.
It is UN Secretary General’s legal obligation to stand for Kashmiris against Indian homicide in occupied Kashmir since the Kashmir dispute is on the agenda of UN Security Council. Moreover, being a depository of all resolutions on Kashmir dispute, UN is the rightful sponsor for undertaking a concerted campaign to throw up a viable solution to the dispute. Time has come for the UN to own the conflict, dust off archives and jump-start the process. Let’s go beyond rhetoric!
Air Cdre Khalid is Masters in Political Science along with War and Strategic Studies. He has also done Air War Course, Fellow of Air War College. Instructor’s Course. Senior Command & Staff course. Combat Commander’s Course. He has been a Directing Staff at various institutions of Pakistan Air Force. Presently he is a visitng faculty at:
- PAF air War College (Staff Wing &War Wing).
- School of Army Air Defence.
- Naval War College, Lahore.
Quaid-i- Azam University (DSS Department).