Prioritising Kashmir

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Editorial: Bol News

This August 5 marked the completion of the third year since the extremist Hindu government of India revoked the nominal autonomous status of Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, illegally making this Muslim-majority region part of the Indian union territory. This was done by New Delhi in violation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir, all the bilateral agreements made with Pakistan and the constitutional guarantees given to the people of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Since Aug. 5, 2019, the Indian regime has also intensified atrocities in the occupied region, systematically working to change its demographics, and cultural and religious ethos. As the number of the Indian occupation forces got beefed up by tens of thousands troops – adding to more than 500,000 already there – an unprecedented crackdown was launched in which all civil rights and liberties were scrapped, and arrest, torture and killing of freedom loving Kashmiris became a norm.

Since then, Kashmiris are also being deprived of their lands, which are being given to settlers from India – as is done by Israel in Palestine. Under a controversial scheme more than 500,000 Indian settlers have been given domiciles of this occupied land as New Delhi makes efforts to transform Muslims into a minority on their own land.

Kashmiri Muslims are also being targeted financially. Not just the doors of government employment are being closed on them, in many cases they are also prevented from pursuing private trade, commercial activities and even farming.

At educational institutions, Muslim students are forced to recite Vande Mataram and Hindu ideology. This aim is to first dilute and then altogether scrap Muslim identity and Islam from the region.

To top it all, the Indian occupation forces are resorting to the worst form of human rights violations. Muslim neighbourhoods are being placed under siege and curfew stretching for days and weeks. State sanctioned extra-judicial killings, rapes and torture remain the order of the day.

These atrocities have failed to wipe out the resistance of Kashmiris who continue their freedom struggle at a time when the world at large remains indifferent to their plight. But the biggest blow to Kashmiri freedom struggle emerges from the weakness of Pakistan, where continued political and economic instability is preventing Islamabad from taking any concrete steps to help their Kashmiri brethren.

Successive Pakistani governments are paying half-hearted lip service to the cause of Kashmir, but when it comes to taking practical steps they are found wanting. Top Pakistani officials keep harping on the tried, tested and failed line of holding talks with India to resolve the dispute at a time when there are no takers for peace in New Delhi. Past experience shows that the talks between Pakistan and India failed to pick the so-called low hanging fruits such as resolving the Sir Creek and Siachen Glacier issues, let alone the mega-dispute of Kashmir.

The weak signals from top Pakistani officials also confuses the Kashmir struggle. If some Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government ministers talked about the benefits of trade with India, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led government has been quick to appoint a trade minister at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.

History shows that without resolving the core issues, trade relations are no guarantee for peace. India was Pakistan’s biggest trade partner in the 1960s, but this did not prevent the two countries from going to a war in 1965.

Similarly, the rhetoric of lets bury the past and move forward won’t lead us anywhere until the core issue – Kashmir – remains unresolved.

Self-contradictory and ill-thought out statements by important officials show that Pakistan lacks a cohesive mid- to long-term strategy on Kashmir. In recent years, Pakistani policy has increasingly become reactive rather than proactive as once it was. While India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unilaterally moved to resolve the Kashmir dispute in its favour with conviction, the Pakistani leadership appears hesitant.

The continuing political instability and the weak economic fundamentals appear to have psychologically put our ruling elite under pressure, leading to an increasingly weak stance on Kashmir. But states do not think on a short-term basis. Today’s weakness does not mean that the ruling elite sacrifices Pakistan’s long term interests in which Kashmir remains pivotal. Pakistani leadership should also be clear that the world would remain indifferent to Kashmir as long as we, as a state, are not prepared to fight the Kashmir case till the bitter end, irrespective of who is supporting us.

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Disclaimer: Prioritising Kashmir - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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