By Air Commodore (Retd) Khalid Iqbal
Over the previous months, Kashmir has increasingly become a subject of international attention. Comity of nations is no longer ignoring the Indian brutalities, and the ensuing loss of innocent lives. Recently, Amnesty International has once again urged the Indian government to allow UN’s special representatives to visit occupied Kashmir for making a spot study of the cases of fake encounters and extra-judicial killings in the territory. It has also urged Indian Prime Minister to fulfil his promise of zero tolerance to human rights violations in the occupied territory by the Indian security apparatus.
While recently reporting on Kashmir, ‘Wall Street Journal’ has indicated that if India does not heed to the popular demand of Kashmiri people for their right of self-determination, the ongoing spate of protests would continue to intensify. Indian security forces have tried to suppress these protests with their typical brutality and state terrorism, which has led to the loss of life of over 60 peaceful protestors since June. To deceive the general public, Indian security forces have been conducting these acts of brutality while wearing blue headgear resembling UN forces’ headwear. UN has already launched its protest with the Indian government on this act of impersonation and has demanded that Indian security forces must desist from this practice.
Gradually, the international community is beginning to realise that it is the Indian state which is terrorist, and not those who are struggling against the Indian occupation of Kashmir. India should see the writing on the wall, and move towards UN-supervised plebiscite which it itself had agreed to, in the shape of acceptance of relevant UN Security Council resolutions. It is quite evident that its illegal occupation cannot continue, indefinitely.
Recently, China denied visa to an Indian military delegation because delegation because it included Lt-Gen B S Jaswal, a senior filed commander of IHK. India’s Army chief was to head the delegation. As a consequence, India had to cancel the defence exchange visit to China.
China has persistently maintained its principled stance over Kashmir issue and has a legitimate claim over Arunachal Pradesh. Chinese border dispute with India dates back to a 1914 conference, hosted by British colonial rulers. The ensuing demarcation of the border came to be known as McMahon Line. Ever since, China has never recognised this arbitrary line, and hence it rightfully claims around 90,000 sq km; inclusive of nearly entire landscape of Arunachal Pradesh. From Chinese perspective, McMahon Line is a legacy of colonial encroachment on their country. To counter balance China’s claim, India put forward a farce claim that China has occupied 8,000 sq km of its territory in Kashmir. By taking this position, India virtually axed her own feet by making China a party to the Kashmir dispute. China has always condemned Indian acts of state terrorism against peace loving people of Kashmir.
India has always tried to draw a wedge between China and Pakistan. These days, a travesty claim is being raised that Chain has moved its troops into Gilgit-Baltistan area. A sponsored report authored by one Selig Harrison, an analyst well known for presenting Indian point of view, forms the basis of this claim. Moreover, RAW has since long been involved in target killing and harassment of Chinese workers commissioning various civil sector developmental projects in Kashmir.
Now even an increasing number of US Congressmen are raising their voice about the gravity of Kashmir issue. They are frequently mentioning the issue of Kashmir and the urgent need for its settlement. ‘The Kashmiri-American Council and Association of Humanitarian Lawyers’ held its Annual International Kashmir Peace Conference in Washington. Theme of the conference was “India-Pakistan Relations: Breaking the Deadlock over Kashmir”. Conference unanimously adopted the Washington Declaration, its main thrust was: ‘there must be an early, just and durable resolution to the Jammu & Kashmir dispute taking into account the aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir’.
As a by product of Kashmir issue, water issue has emerged as another irritant between the Pakistan and India. Pakistan has to frequently refer these water disputes to neutral arbitrator for adjucation. Diversion of Pakistan’s share of water by India has surfaced so many times. Every time water issue is raised at international fora, the Kashmir dispute is highlighted automatically.
Saner voices from within India are advocating a political settlement to the dispute. There is a growing realization within Indian intelligentsia that use of brute force is not likely to bring peace to Kashmir. During a recent conference in New Delhi, high ranking participants have acknowledged the home grown nature of the uprising. They have expressed their consternation over the Indian establishment and the media for following a beaten approach of blaming Pakistan and cross border militant groups for sponsoring violent acts in Indian held Kashmir.
However, Indian establishment and a handful of Kashmiri politicians who are direct beneficiaries of Indian rule, continue to support status quo. Such politicians are fully aware that whenever people of Kashmir are given a chance of making a free and fair choice, their political business would be over. Therefore, they continue to support the suppression of movement through application of force. Though India has fielded around 700,000 troops in IHK, the best they could claim is a shaky stalemate.
Current surge of resistance owes its sustenance to the resilience of the people of Kashmir, who are now better aware of their legitimate rights. There is no indication that the UN will act in this regard in a foreseeable timeframe. United Nations’ protracted indifference towards implementation of its Kashmir related resolutions has attached a negative tag of impotence to UN in the context of resolution of this dispute. People of Kashmir feel that they have to themselves rise to the occasion, yet once again, to secure their inviolable right of self determination. Likewise, people of Kashmir view with utter dismay how the US has given up its effort to solve the issue; they also express their utter disappointment the way ‘Candidate Obama’ committed to the resolution of Kashmir issue has cowed down, as ‘President Obama’, in the face of expediencies.
Onus for solving the Kashmir dispute lies with India, Pakistan and the leadership of Kashmir. However, international community will have to exert its pressure on India. There is an urgent need that India adopts a clear approach to the dispute and effectively engages the Kashmiri leadership along with Pakistan. Gimmicks of farce negotiations on the Israel-Palestine pattern will not work. A genuine political process would certainly provide yet another opportunity to work out a solution acceptable to all parties to the dispute.
People of Kashmir are struggling to keep the issue alive. Pakistan needs to undertake a supportive campaign to correct the international perception and facilitate un-knotting this legitimate freedom struggle from an unjust stigma of terrorism. Likewise, UN needs to wake up to the reality and implement its resolutions on plebiscite.
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).
Now Air Cdre Khalid is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.