By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
According to Soutik Biswas, the BBC correspondent, the “perpetual humiliation by the Indian Occupation Forces have left people angry, alienated, and distrustful of the state.” Indeed, Indian security forces have beaten the global records of human rights violations. In the last few months, Indian security forces killed over 150 innocent Kashmiri youth, demonstrating against the Indian brutalities, and demanding for their rights. After assessing the ground situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir(IOK), Pakistani Foreign Minister, Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi while addressing the UNGA on September 28, 2010 said that, the ongoing situation in IOK is a matter of great concern for Pakistan. Therefore, India should “end its repression in Kashmir.” He further emphasized that India to allow “the exercise of the right to self-determination by the Kashmiri people through a free, fair, and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices.” Through this statement at this international forum, Mr. Qureshi was reaffirming the solidarity of the people of Pakistan with the people of Kashmir and “urges the international community to persuade India to end its repression in Kashmir.”
Indian rigid leadership could not swallow this piece of advice based on the ground realities. Indian Foreign Minister, Mr S.M. Krishna, immediately reacted to the statement and said, “I am genuinely disappointed over the unacceptable references made by the Pakistani foreign minister in his address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).” He rather accused Pakistan that through such remarks Pakistan is trying to “deflect attention” to its problems by using “Kashmir as a ploy”. The Indian Foreign Minister reiterated the old India mantra of cross-border terrorism and accused Pakistan of supporting the Kashmiris. Without making a mention of the atrocities of India security forces, known to the world, Mr. Krishna once again, he declared Kashmir as the “integral part of India.” He also stressed the UNGA for the expansion of Security Council’s membership so that India also gets a chance to become its permanent member, which certainly would enable India to further increase its brutalities on to the oppressed Kashmiris.
Earlier, Mr. Krishna invited Pakistani Foreign Minister for a talk on the all the outstanding issues, but without a pre-condition. This offered by Mr. Krishna indeed, aimed to ward off the pressure on Indian Government, arose because of the current crises in the Indian Held Kashmir. In-spite of the use of brutal force, Indian leadership is not finding way-out to control the ‘Kashmiri intifada’ and perhaps thought to distract Kashmiri’s peaceful protests through inconclusive Indo-Pak talks. Since Pakistan always believes on the negotiations, therefore, it welcomed the offer. However, as per Foreign Minister Qureshi, Pakistan has already sent its recommended agenda for the talks to India through the diplomatic channel. Pakistan feels that talks should be substantive, and focussed on to the core issues hindering the regional development. Talks should not be for the hake of it.
Nevertheless, seeing the history of Indo-Pak talks, one can very conveniently deduce the outcome of the talks. Traditionally, it has been the Indian strategy to resort to talks with Pakistan once it has the stiff pressure of Kashmiri protests or to ward off the international pressure for the massive human rights violations. The background of the current talks offer is somewhat similar. Ever since the beginning of the current intifada in June 2010, the Indian as well as the IOK Governments have been trying to stop the people’s protests through various cosmetic measures. However, they did not succeed to break the will of the valiant people of Kashmir. Failure to do that, India leadership like Mr. Krishna finds it convenient to blame Pakistan for stirring trouble in the IOK. Whereas this is a reality, accepted by Indian intelligentsia, its think tanks, legislatures and even the occupation forces deployed all-over the Occupied State, that Kashmiri uprising is indigenous and they do not want to be part of Indian Union.
Indian Government even called an All Parties meeting in New Delhi in mid September 2010, to find a solution to the current crises. Upon its failure to device, a modus operandi to end the Kashmiri protests, the All Parties Meeting constituted a fact-finding delegation. The delegation led by Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, having the representation from almost all the major political parties of India made visit to the IOK. To the bad-luck to the Indian delegate, Kashmiri welcomed them through a general strike and public protest rallies all over the state. Except the pro-India Kashmiri parties like puppet regime of Omer Abdullah, no worthwhile Kashmir leader met the Indian delegate. In fact, the repressive Kashmiri regime and the occupation forces put the leadership of APHC under the arrest. The presence of the delegation was resented everywhere in the state. So much so, once its members visited a hospital in the Srinagar to see those wounded by Indian security forces, the relatives of the people raised ant-India slogans and forced the delegate to flee the hospital.
The unwelcomed members of the delegates once made their way back to New Delhi took a sigh of relief. This fact-finding delegate however, informed the Indian Government about the severity of the situation in IOK which the Government perhaps misperceived until then. In order to lure in the Kashmiri masses once again, and to show it to the global community, Indian Government decided to pacify the Kashmiri grievance through the provision of cosmetic package on the recommendations of the fact-finding delegate. This so-called package includes: releasing all those who were jailed during the current crises only, relaxing security strictures from some areas, reopening schools and universities, and offering financial compensation to the families of all those who were martyred by Indian security forces ever since the agitation erupted in the state in June this year.
Would this ruse really, work is a big question mark. The proposed package is a onetime measure. In the past too, Indian Government has made similar efforts to distract the Kashmiris from their rightful stance through packages like Operation Sadbhavana (good will); a brainchild of the Indian General Arjun Ray. The operation was aimed to improve the impression of the brutal Indian Army by undertaking developmental tasks in Kashmir. However, the people of Kashmir rejected that in totality. This so-called package would surely meet a similar fate.
Indeed, India must realize that the peace in the South Asia has become a hostage to this particular issue between India and Pakistan. If India still perceives that it can keep the people of Kashmir under its rule, then its planners are indubitably misleading the Indian people, the world’s second largest country (population wise). Why Indian strategists failed to comprehend the fact that, if successive Indian governments failed to get the confidence of the people of Kashmir in sixty-three years, how many more years would they need to win them.
The time is ripe for the Indian leaders to reconcile with the ground realities and accept the fact that Kashmir is not its integral part; rather, it is a disputed territory, as declared by UNSC resolutions. Its inhabitants have never reconciled to live with the India. They have a clearly defined destination in the form of Pakistan. Therefore, let them exercise their right of self-determination through a UN defined mechanism of plebiscite. If such a sense prevails in the thoughts of unyielding Indian leadership, South Asia would become a centre of peace in the world. Being the biggest South Asian state, India should facilitate the peace making in the region, rather thwarting it. After all, the powerful global colonial power, the Britain had to grant freedom to the people of Subcontinent in 1947, after a prolonged undesired rule over the region.
Dr Raja Muhammad Khan is a PhD in International Relations from Karachi University. Presently he is an Associate Professor with National University of Defence, Islamabad. His area of research is South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East and the Regional Conflicts.
He has published numerous papers in various publications. Now he is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.