Some 8,000 miles from the United States, embedded between China, Pakistan and India, lies the beautiful Kashmir valley. Surrounded by majestic mountains, populated by lush green forests and mighty torrents of glacial waters, quietened by nature into freshwater lakes.
On Aug. 5, 2019, in flagrant disregard of the UN Security Council, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi dissolved the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The state was broken into two parts which were then incorporated into Union Territories of India namely as Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. By revoking Article 370 and Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution, India was now effectively free to rule by fiat from New Delhi.
These have been the heaviest years for the people of Kashmir, now under dual lockdown of communication and media blackout, and then COVID-19 provided another cover to the occupation forces to push new citizenship laws. Kashmir needs the United States to lead in the fight to regain autonomy from India.
Kashmir is at the crossroads of civilizations. Their cultural heritage values diversity and harmony and extols virtues of tolerance and justice, and produced some of the finest exquisite tapestry of their trades for the world.
A dot on the map, known as a heaven-on-earth comparable to Switzerland, Kashmir was cruelly fated to become a point of contention — a vortex of power politics, a saga of intrigues and deceits, and a flash point for regional conflicts it had no part in instigating.
Over the past 70 years-plus, the Kashmir dispute has been the tipping point in multiple wars between Pakistan and India, and most recently a bloody spat between China and India on the so-called Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. For Pakistanis, the Kashmir dispute is a matter of rights, independence and an age-old quest for self-determination of a neighboring people.
Indian actions of Aug. 5, 2019, have taken the fig leaf of limited autonomy and representation from the people of Kashmir. Their lands were annexed and they remain under military siege. Besides the internet and media blackout, the residents were kept away from businesses and practicing religion.
These actions were hailed as a great victory for Modi’s ruling BJP government.
Yet the solution imposed by India is completely unacceptable to the Kashmiri people one and all. Forcible military takeover of Kashmir has required a massive induction of additional forces, with the numbers now reaching around 1 million Indian troops to subdue some 10 million Kashmiri — one occupying soldier for every 10 Kashmiri man, woman and child especially in the valley.
India’s uses of rape as an instrument of war have been well documented in reports by the United Nations. The Kashmiris were forced into captivity, confined to their homes for seven months. Thousands have been arrested and disappeared to destinations unknown.
The Kashmiri youth is being targeted in particular. Women and children have been blinded by the use of pellet guns. Extrajudicial killings have become the norm. The Indian judiciary has been intimidated into compliance and now refuses to take up cases relating to missing Kashmiris. Rapes, an increase of domestic violence and home searches in the darkness of night, together with the complete shutdown of communications from Kashmir and the coronavirus pandemic hide the victims’ horrific stories from surfacing.
Imagine if the State of Texas was unilaterally abolished against the will of its people and the entire spectrum of Texan political leaders incarcerated for over a year with no recourse, simply for the crime of representing their constituents. And then they don’t have any such rights to defend themselves and bear arms, like the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Imagine foreign troops marching the streets with license to tyrannize and subdue the defiant into acquiescence. Imagine the personal losses, the human tragedy that all of this would entail.
The United States, that far-off land half a world away from Kashmir, is a beacon of freedom, liberties and justice to people around the world, so it has to play its lead role against human rights abuses of Kashmiris. By doing what is right and just, the United States will have asserted its moral authority and justified its preeminent position as a force for good in a world that is crumbling under the petty ambitions of a few. You are Kashmir’s only hope.
Disclaimer: Kashmir's only hope of freedom from Indian tyranny is the United States By Salman Bashir and Abrar H Hashmi - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view