Kashmir–Global Context

A round table conference held in Islamabad on 23rd February 2011, under the auspices of the Justice Foundation Kashmir Centre London called up upon "major world powers to recognize the urgency of the settlement of Kashmir dispute not only for the South Asian regional security but also for global peace."  The Declaration adopted on this occasion pointed to "the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan," stating that "the progress of the dialogue between India and Pakistan requires an international facilitation and good will." It further elaborated that "Kashmir is a political issue and not, a religious issue. The wishes of the people of Kashmir must be respected and reflected in the settlement." Notwithstanding some proposals advocating primacy of trade along the LOC in Jammu and Kashmir, the Declaration referred to the right of self determination of the Kashmiris emphasizing that "all international agreements arrived at the United Nations with regard to Kashmir need to be honored. Any membership of India in the expanded United Nations Security Council should be linked to the Kashmir settlement."

The Kashmir Conference was hosted by Prof. Nazir Ahmad Shawl, the executive Director of the Justice Foundation Kashmir Centre London, who introduced members of the delegation of All Parties Parliamentary Group on Kashmir (APPG) headed by Mr. Richard Harkton in the British Parliament. The delegation visited Islamabad and Muzaffarabad, and held meetings with the leadership of the A J&K Government and opposition. During their meetings in the city they reassured their support to the Kashmiris for the cause of freedom and peace in the region. Kashmir Round Table Conference while lauding the role of the leadership of APPG on Kashmir in the British Parliament maintained that "as Britain is home to 0.8 million Kashmiri Diaspora the British Parliament should endorse the urgency on mass graves and initiate a debate on this crucial issue. British Parliamentarians should play a proactive role under the auspices of the All Parties Parliamentary Group on Kashmir." The Conference was chaired by Lord Nazir Ahmad–”a staunch advocate of the Kashmir cause in the British Parliament. Prof. Inaugurating the RTC on Kashmir Prof. Nazir Ahmad Shawl argued that "the Kashmir freedom movement is an indigenous, genuine and legitimate struggle for freedom."

Having recorded this, some facts of paramount importance need to be underscored here in spite of the economic and political self interests and prejudices of the major world powers. This must be born in mind that Kashmir is basically a question of the right of self determination as acknowledged in numerous UN Security Council resolutions, and India-Pakistan promises, regarding plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan despite many overt and covert pressures never abandoned its commitments on the right to self determination. On the contrary India with over two third land of the State under its illegal and forcible occupation backed out of its international pledge about plebiscite and behaved treacherously and ruthlessly with the people–”forcing them to resort to an armed struggle for freedom and right of self determination in 1990s. However, the international community persuaded both India and Pakistan to hold peace talks to resolve the issue in line with the urges and aspirations of the people of Kashmir. Numerous international conferences were held in different countries to highlight the significance of peacefully resolving this conflict. As the necessary preliminaries, India and Pakistan initiated the CBMs of trade, travel, and people to people contacts to create conducive atmosphere for the final resolution of the Kashmir dispute. At the out set a ray of hope kindled in Jammu and Kashmir; the people gave India, Pakistan, and peace ambassadors’ ample time to address the root cause of hostility and include the Kashmiris in the process of its final resolution. Unfortunately, in no time India dashed mud over all efforts of resolving the dispute peacefully and honorably with the concerned parties. Notwithstanding, Obama’s election statement  to appoint a special envoy on Kashmir  the United States, did nothing to address the woes  of the people of Kashmir and prevent India from perpetuating military repression in Jammu and Kashmir. It meant that Pakistan’s strategic support to the United States was of lesser importance in comparison with India’s duplicity in world affairs.

CBMs of trade and people to people contacts across Jammu and Kashmir did not end human rights violations by occupation forces in Kashmir, and never forced India to repeal inhuman laws, particularly the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and JK Public Safety Act (PSA) in the State.

Although now a days, there is no armed struggle in the State; Indian army’s role in the wounded paradise is surpassing enormities of many totalitarian regimes in the world. There is no political worker and no young citizen immune from tyranny, torture and humiliation. Western powers so concerned about human rights abuses elsewhere in the world never ask India to treat Kashmiris as human beings or instead face economic embargo. In fact the Kashmiris are bleeding under the state repression, because the world powers are infested with the lust for oil, and imposing commercial, political, and currency imperialism across the world.

Thus the Kashmiris are dismayed at the role of the world powers vis-à-vis the Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. As Kashmir witnessed a great upheaval in 1990s; India perpetrated barbarities, slaughter and rape of humanity as much as it could, and the world community only behaved as spectators. From 2004 onwards the people were forced to surrender before a rotten idea of self governance and joint mechanism under the over all control of India and Pakistan in each others administered territory. As if the Kashmiris were beasts to be tamed by India and Pakistan.

However, the world once again saw the true face of India’s democracy in Kashmir, when desperate Kashmiris rose en masse peacefully to demand action against the criminals of countless unmarked graves; to stop the conspiracy of Amarnath Shrine Board and the Indian regime, to prevent blockade of essential goods from Delhi to Srinagar, to recover thousands of acres of army-usurped lands, in 2008, 2009, and 2010 respectively. To achieve their objectives they launched a great peaceful Quit Kashmir Movement in 2010 which shook India’s false claim on Kashmir. All through these peaceful stages of upsurge, unfortunate Kashmiris witnessed state terrorism, with its bloody claws against the people; naked dance of barbarity and animal lust against women and teenagers, and slapping of PSA and AFSPA on those who longed for justice and mercy.

The loud cry of confidence building measures (CBMs) did add nothing positive to this deceptive environment. This slogan became a fashion of the State and its elite class. It looked like a comedy, and robbed the movement of its salient features. The LOC became a sacred cow for some people, yet a bloody line for millions of Kashmiris on both sides of the divide.

The superficial idea of deceptive CBMs is meant to wrap up the ghost of lies into flowery covers to make borders irrelevant; but actually India intends to make the movement of freedom irrelevant. The soft border and Line of commerce proposals as advocated by some are fallacious based upon misinterpretation of the universally recognized principle of the right of self determination. A controlled, occupied and enslaved population can’t enjoy fruits of freedom either in the economic sense or in the political sense. The interested quarters have been insisting on the cross LOC/border trade, travel and people-to-people contacts for the last six years, but one must ask this question, as to whose interests we serve, exploiters or sufferers. Have they ended the plight of under privileged and oppressed Kashmiris and given voice to voiceless populace across the State?

Economic prosperity and political freedom can’t be tested and judged by the construction of new homes with black money and usurped lands and properties (like fake degrees) on some hills and in some plains. Human sacrifices and human blood is always priceless. The cause of freedom is dearer to the people of Kashmir than commerce. Indeed the people yearn for economic prosperity and cherish scientific knowledge, but they don’t believe in prosperity of some groups or individuals at the cost of millions; and reject any such claim on the basis of looted money and corruption. Prosperity earned by unknown resources, and political and religious popularity gained by gimmicks is no prosperity and no popularity. God sees the truth but waits; nature punishes wrong doers–”states, nations and groups alike according to its almanac.  So we believe that amidst the noise of false claims of resolving Kashmir, the problem has neither been resolved, nor gained political space in the world. The people of Kashmir have not achieved even economic prosperity as per the real meaning of freedom and progress. It has lost much good of the past.

The US and the West must be conveyed the importance of the right of self determination without confusing it by self governance and joint management. On the paper the state has self governance and special status. But, the people want absolute political freedom within UN charter and international law, i.e. independently decision making power. This can be achieved through plebiscite across the State. Many Parliamentarians of Britain, America, Europe and even Africa and Asia concede our stand. In the British Parliament the APPG on Kashmir has rightly accepted as their moral and political duty to uphold the just cause of the Kashmiris. No imaginary hurdles should be created in the way of the people’s right to self determination. The Western and American Governments supported and encouraged South Sudan’s independence through plebiscite. Simultaneously, the West is glorifying and celebrating current Arab people’s uprising against totalitarian regimes. Why Kashmir does not deserve the same support. Of course it does well. Just as the modern world is nothing without scientific knowledge and research, the political world is savagery without the right of self determination and true democracy.