Shameless Apathy of world community towards plight of Kashmiris is more hurting
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
India was partitioned under a mutually agreed partition plan worked out by last viceroy of Britain Lord Mountbatten. The agreed principle of partition was grossly flouted by scheming Mountbatten who was averse to the idea of Pakistan and wanted to keep India united. His tilt towards Hindus was well known. He in connivance with Cyril Radcliffe presided over the division of Muslim majority Punjab and Bengal and unjust transfer of large chunks of prime lands to India. Princely states of Hyderabad, Manavadar and Junagarh were forcibly annexed by India on the plea that only their Muslim rulers and not the Hindu majority people of the three states favored accession to Pakistan. This principle was not applied to Kashmir where the Muslims in great majority opted to join Pakistan but the Hindu Maharaja decided to accede to India under duress. Mountbatten played a villainous role in facilitating military occupation of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) by Indian forces in October 1947. One-third of Kashmir was retrieved by freedom fighters and the liberated area was resolutely defended by a small force of Pakistan Army in the 1948 Indo-Pak war.
But for intervention by the UN at the behest of India and Nehru’s firm pledge to resolve the dispute through a fair plebiscite under the auspices of UN, Pak Army was in a commanding position to retake occupied territory of Kashmir. UNSC resolution 47 passed on 21 April 1948 affected an immediate ceasefire along areas occupied by both sides and UN monitors were posted along the ceasefire line. Having warded off the imminent threat, India started to play monkey tricks to justify its hold over occupied territory. Sheikh Abdullah who had been appointed prime minister in March 1948 affirmed that J&K was integral part of India. He made an agreement with Nehru in August 1952 to grant special autonomy to the state. Accordingly, Article 370 was incorporated in constitution of India, which formally made J&K part of Indian Union. Nehru broke his pledge on the flimsy plea that Pakistan’s alignment with USA had posed a danger to India. The pledge that he made was hollow and meant to mislead the world and to gain time and in no case was based on sincerity of purpose.
Kashmir dispute has lingered on because of India’s backtracking on its commitment and refusing to abide by UN resolutions. Because of India’s uncompromising posture and continuity of policy of oppression against people of occupied Kashmir, Pakistan and India again went to war in 1965 and in 1971 and had two local skirmishes in Rann of Katch in April 1965 and in Kargil in summer of 1999. People of Kashmir never reconciled to India’s forceful occupation of their land and are struggling to gain independence. They demand their right of self determination as provided for in UN resolutions to decide whether they wish to be part of India or Pakistan. Since India knows that over 90% Muslim Kashmiris will vote in favor of Pakistan in a fair plebiscite, they are averse to this idea and as such have denied them this fundamental right.
After the 1965 war Tashkant Declaration pushed Kashmir issue to the back burner. Division of Pakistan and inking of Simla Agreement in 1972 introduced policy of bilateralism, sidelining third party mediation. Kashmir dispute was thus consigned to cold freezer for a long time. 1980s kept Pakistan overly busy in Afghan war. Many Kashmiris took active part in Afghan Jihad. When Afghan Mujahideen after achieving victory offered to reciprocate, their offer fizzled out with the death of Gen Ziaul Haq in August 1988.
Kashmir issue suddenly shot up into prominence in end 1989 when Kashmiris themselves decided to wage an armed struggle to liberate Kashmir. India kept rushing in heavy consignments of regular and paramilitary forces into the Kashmir valley to quell the rebellion and applied draconian laws to suppress the people. It covered up its reign of terror by describing the freedom fighters as terrorists and dubbing the movement as Pakistan supported. State terror has been justified on the pretext that its security forces are battling with foreign aided terrorists and separatists. It put up a false front that but for Pakistan’s support to the insurgents; insurgency would never have got prolonged for so long. This theme worked well as long as freedom fighters were using guns to push out occupation forces.
Armed struggle since 1989 has resulted in massacre of over 93,274 Kashmiris, 6969 custodial killings and gang rape of 9920 women as indicated by a recently published Human Rights report. The report also indicates that over 107351 children have been orphaned, 22728 women widowed. It doesn’t include tens of thousands tortured and maimed for life by Indian agencies or those who have become mentally deranged due to unabated tyranny and prison like atmosphere.
India has kept J&K under its firm grip by holding fake elections and installing pro-India governments. Whenever the situation becomes explosive, governor rule togetherwith harsh laws are imposed to keep the people subjugated. It hides repression from the world under the veil of so-called democracy and secularism. Whenever India comes under world pressure on the issue of Kashmir, it temporarily abandons its policy of ‘no talk on Kashmir’ and agrees to hold discussions with Pakistan but only to buy time and sail out of the rough patch. The moment pressure is released it reverts to its age-old stance that Kashmir is an integral part of India and not a disputed territory. It has been indulging in fruitless talks since 1948 without ever trying to make the talks result oriented.
Ongoing nonviolent struggle, which has replaced armed struggle, is equally explosive. Continuity of freedom struggle irrespective of use of brute force by occupation forces is a clear cut indication that Kashmiris hate Indians and will never agree to be part of India under any circumstances. Their love for Pakistan despite lackluster support provided by successive governments is also a hard reality. This can be amply seen on India’s Independence Day when every house and building in the valley hoist black flags. Last Indian Independence Day celebrations in occupied Kashmir were mired in high tension because of tense security situation. Curfew was imposed in greater parts of Kashmir and troops patrolled the streets. Omar Abdullah was hit with a shoe when he was presiding over flag hoisting ceremony. Conversely Pakistan’s Independence Day is celebrated with fervor and Pakistan flags are seen fluttering everywhere. Similar expressions of affection are seen during India-Pakistan sports matches.
India has kept occupied Kashmir in a cocoon for over six decades. It doesn’t allow any third party arbitration, mediation or facilitation, it has forbidden human rights activists and fact finding missions from visiting the valley under the garb of security considerations, and has imposed blackout on the media. It is indulging in worst form of state terrorism and human rights abuses without caring for the concerns of UN and world comity. It has stubbornly stood on its wrongful claim that Kashmir is an integral part of India and maintains that there can be no compromise over it.
Ongoing unarmed resistance movement is as explosive as the 1989 armed uprising since it has transformed into a massive nonviolent rebellion in which teenagers are in the forefront. People from all walks of life, old and young, men and women as well as children as small as 7-8 years old are actively taking part in daily protest marches and they have generated unprecedented turmoil without using weapons. Teenagers are braving the odds, defying curfews and cruel measures adopted by state forces with admirable guts. They are unafraid of indiscriminate hailstorm of bullets showered upon them but expectantly look towards the world powers to come to their rescue and impart justice.
It is however baffling to observe total apathy and inaction of the international community. Plight of Kashmiris has hardly been brought to fore by any US/western newspaper or think tank. Deafening noise is made over any aborted attempt of terrorism or an odd terrorist attack on a specific target in any western country. All hell breaks lose over the suspected individual, group or country if the act is performed by a Muslim. In case of occupied Kashmir, 15 million Muslims are going through hell for the last 63 years. Hindu killers and rapists are busy indulging in most horrible human rights abuses but their brutality doesn’t even bring a frown on the foreheads of champions of democracy and human rights simply because the perpetrators of crimes are non-Muslims and the victims are Muslims. Their dead conscience awakens only when the life of a non-Muslim is threatened. This stark duplicity is reprehensible.