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The festering wound

Speaking at the General Assembly in a debate on the Culture of Peace, Maleeha Lodhi, the permanent envoy of Pakistan at the UN, said that the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir was a travesty of international law, justice and humanity. She insisted that the plight of the Kashmiris should shake the world conscience. There could have been no better exposition of the state of affairs in occupied Kashmir.

It is undeniable that the Kashmir dispute is like a festering wound and its non-resolution poses a grave threat to peace and stability in the South Asian region and beyond. The people of Kashmir continue their struggle for their right to self-determination, undeterred by the atrocities by the Indian security forces. The decision of the Kashmiris to observe India’s Independence Day as a ‘Black Day’ across the world gave a clear message to India and the world that they would not compromise on the inalienable right of self-determination that was promised to them by the UN.

That resolve and message probably led the Indian prime minister to declare on India’s Independence Day that: “neither bullets nor brickbats will solve the Kashmir issue. Only love will”.

On the face of it, the statement struck a reconciliatory note and recognised the need for resolving the issue without the use of guns and coercive methods. But the Indian authorities have invariably acted contrary to what Modi has said. The oppression in Kashmir continues unabated. Those who are aware of the hypocrisy of Indian leaders know it fully well that the statement was only an occasional soother and did not reflect a real and honest change of mind.

Nonetheless, there is no denying the fact that the only way this festering dispute can be resolved and peace is ensured in the region is through the faithful implementation of UN resolutions. The Indians have tried bullets and other methods of repression with relish ever since the freedom struggle began in 1989 and the second wave that started in the wake of Burhan Wani’s murder.

According to the reports by Amnesty International, the Indian security forces have killed nearly 94,000 Kashmiris during the last 27 years, raped more than 10,000 women and killed more than 7,000 people in custody under the cover of Section 7 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1990. This provision grants immunity from prosecution for human rights violations to members of the security forces. The reports offers scathing criticisms of the act for creating an ambience of impunity for Indian security forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir and enabling them to commit human rights violations without any fear of being tried.

The prevailing situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir with regard to human rights violations committed by the Indian security forces has regrettably gone unheeded by the international community and the powers that be despite the compilation of reports by human rights groups and AI.

In the unfolding global scenario, the powers that be are looking at the developments in this region through the prism of their own strategic and commercial interests rather than showing commitment and sincerity of purpose with regard to respecting human rights guaranteed by the UN charter that are vociferously advocated by them – albeit selectively – from every convenient roof-top. Regrettably, the UN, which is under an obligation to resolve the Kashmir issue in conformity with its own resolutions, also remains indifferent to the plight of the people of Kashmir.

The current wave of anti-India demonstrations and the repeated hoisting of Pakistani flags by the protesters are a clear indication that the Indian machinations have not been able to subdue their urge for independence and they will not relent until they are allowed to exercise their right to self-determination. The Kashmiris also observe Black Day on October 27 every year since the landing of the Indian forces in Kashmir on that day in 1947. India is holding Kashmir against the will of its people and its stance on the issue has no moral and legal basis.

Perhaps a brief insight into the history of the Kashmir dispute is warranted to reinforce this point. The Indian forces landed in Kashmir ostensibly on the basis of a controversial instrument of accession signed by the maharaja of Kashmir. However, it is pertinent to note that the accession itself was provisional. This is evident from the letter that Lord Mountbatten wrote to the maharaja in October 1947 accepting the accession provisionally and making it clear that the state would only be incorporated into the Indian Union after a reference had been made to the people of Kashmir.

When India approached the UN in 1948 in the wake of the war with Pakistan, the UN, during the course of its deliberations, adopted 23 resolutions – including two by the UNICEP that called for a plebiscite in Kashmir under the auspices of the UN.

It is quite evident that the UN resolutions – like the supposed instrument of accession and the Partition plan – also vividly recognised the right of the people to decide their own future through a process of self-determination. It is also pertinent to mention that the UN, through its resolutions 91 and 122, also repudiated the Indian stance that the issue of the accession of Kashmir had been resolved by the constituent assembly of Kashmir.

These resolutions reiterated that the question of accession could not be resolved by any means other than the process enunciated in the UN resolutions on the subject. This proves beyond any doubt that the Indian claims of Kashmir being an integral part of India represents a travesty of the facts and lack a strong legal basis.

India has remained defiant in fulfilling its obligations under the UN resolutions. It has not even honoured its commitments under the Simla Agreement to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue. Instead, it has always used contrived excuses to sabotage sporadic dialogues. The Modi government has also spurned the peace overtures by the PML-N government and adopted a bellicose stance towards Pakistan. This does not augur well for peace and security in the region as well as the people of Kashmir.

The international community and the UN need to look at the situation realistically and fulfil their obligations towards the people of Kashmir. The dispute is not about a territory. Instead, it is about the inalienable right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir. The only way to stop India from committing human rights violations in Kashmir and atrocities against its people is to have the issue resolved amicably. This can either be done through a dialogue between the two countries facilitated by the world powers like the US or the implementation of UN resolutions before another military confrontation erupts between Pakistan and India – which could even endanger regional and world peace.

For Pakistan, Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of the partition of the Subcontinent. For Kashmiris, it is about their right of self-determination. Both cannot afford to withdraw from their recognised positions.

The writer is a freelance contributor. Email:ashpak10@gmail.com


Malik Muhammad Ashraf, "The festering wound," The News. 2017-09-12.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Security forces , General Assembly , Human rights , Diplomacy , Politics , Maleeha Lodhi , Kashmir , India , PM Modi