India’s occupation of Kashmir illegal

The upsurge of Kashmir has moved the inhabitants, disturbed people and societies, and compelled the world to talk on the Kashmir problem with seriousness and concern.

Outsiders have always seen the history of Kashmir as a territorial dispute between two neighboring states. No one remembers or entertains the fact that the Kashmiri struggle is all about the right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination.

Since 1989 the controversy over Kashmir has taken a violent turn in the valley; the Kashmiri people themselves have taken up arms against the Indian occupation. India has now deployed more than 700,000 troops in the valley to crush the Freedom Movement.

Those who are trying to project the present struggle as a religious one are deliberately trying to confuse the issue. Their aim is very clear – they don’t want the issue to be resolved. It is clear that by projecting the Kashmiri struggle as religious (which is known as “Islamic fundamentalist struggle”), they are trying to deprive it from desperately needed internal and external support.

In the current political climate, terrorism is the bogeyman and any country can garner sympathy and indeed acquire legitimacy to violate international borders and human norms simply by labeling any legitimate struggle as “terrorism”. In escalating his terrorism against the Palestinians, General Sharon has called Palestinian President Yasser Arafat a “Bin Ladin”; and now India is calling the Kashmiris “terrorists”.

The only possible outcome of this approach is that the Kashmir issue will never be resolved, and violence, bloodshed, killings of innocent people, rapes and imprisonment will continue. This, of course, is in the interest of some people, but it surely is not in the interest of the common person of Kashmir.

The proposed attack by India on Pakistan is based on a claim that “Islamic militants attacked India’s Parliament”. India’s political behaviour follows closely on the example set by America, when the US attacked Afghanistan based on suspicion and claims.

India’s Security Forces have terrorized a freedom-loving people and made them hostages in their own land. It is up to the freedom-loving elements of the world to, once again, uphold the dignity and value of human life. The U.S., like in the past must use its influence to force India to honour the wishes of Kashmiri people, stop abusing their human rights and honour the pledge given to them regarding their right to self-determination.

The present reporting of tensions between India and Pakistan, specifically with reference to Kashmir, is almost completely devoid of any mention of the history of the conflict, especially the role of US and the UN. There is no mention that only India, which continues its occupation in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions, recognizes its occupation of Kashmir as legitimate.

Kashmir is the most heavily militarized zone in the world with India deploying one soldier for every 10 Kashmiri civilians. Indian security forces have killed 80,000 Kashmiris in the last ten years. The struggle for Kashmiri freedom cannot be rendered illegitimate by labeling it as terrorism. The Pakistan-India conflict over Kashmir is discussed without mentioning the human rights abuses committed by the 700,000 strong Indian Occupation Forces in Kashmir-acts that have been documented among others by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Moreover, the media rarely refer to UN resolutions reiterating Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.

Relaxation of tensions and improvement of relations between India and Pakistan not only serves the interests of both countries, but also will contribute to peace and stability of South Asia.