Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Kettle calling the pot black

Afia Ambreen

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, addressing newspaper editors in New Delhi, told that Pakistan had not done enough on Kashmir. In his interaction with them, he said that while Pakistan had not done enough on terror, there was still a need for India to engage it. PM Singh is merely mirroring the sort of language that the USA is using to Pakistan, though his claim of Pakistan supporting terrorism is more to do with the Kashmir freedom struggle, which India has chosen to label terrorism.
The Indian PM has chosen to ignore the efforts of the Indian establishment to get off the hook such persons as Colonel Purohit and Swami Aseemanand who have been guilty of terrorism. More importantly, Dr Singh has not taken into account that his own party, when in office under Pandit Nehru, had agreed to a solution of the Kashmir issue which involved the world community, by leaving it to a UN-supervised plebiscite to determine the opinion of the Kashmiris, whether they wish to join India or Pakistan. He might have realised that the Kashmir issue is central to the bilateral relationship, and that only when it is solved can the people of South Asia, of whom a billion are in India, move to a prosperous future.
Kashmir is a laboratory of violent experiments conducted by Indian military and state institutions. The sustained militarization in Kashmir is not called “military rule” by the Indian state and international community. Civil society in Indian-Held Kashmir remains under the authority of the hostile army whose reach and power has been established and can be exercised. International human rights law argues that a state must respect the right to life.
The Indian Armed Forces repeatedly break this covenant in Kashmir. The armed struggle in Kashmir of the 1990s abated, again becoming nonviolent resistance between 2004-2007; even as cross-Line of Control (between India and Pakistan) movements, infiltrations, and insurgency into Indian-administered Kashmir are significant issues. The Indian state, however, exaggerates these realities by linking Kashmiri civilian resistance to foreign terror, to enable Indian administration of Kashmir to proceed with impunity.
India alleges that Pakistan does not want peace and encourages militant attacks. Does India want peace in Kashmir? Is India willing to recognize what “peace” will require, and take those steps? Military-talks and dominant political speeches state that the Indian Armed Forces are in Kashmir to protect citizens, and justify civilian suffering and killings as collateral damage in a war on terror. There is no way out of the contradiction that India’s military is the protector of Kashmiris who are also potential enemies, as long as military suppression of Kashmiris is understood as crucial to defending India.
Questions regarding the Indian armed forces in Kashmir, with fifty-six soldiers committing suicide in Kashmir in 2008-2009, and fifteen instances of fratricidal killing, are muffled. The Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) are security related legislation in contravention to international humanitarian laws that guarantee immunity to army and paramilitary forces.
India’s militarization is portrayed as an “internal” matter, refusing transparency, international scrutiny, and adherence to international humanitarian law of conflict and war. In the face of the Indian state’s violations of international humanitarian law, of protocols and conventions, and perpetration of crimes against humanity, there is a deafening silence on the part of the international community. The Kashmir conflict, like other international conflicts, requires urgent attention and resolution. There is, at present, no monitoring, no sustained visibility, no engagement that can produce ethical and viable results.
Ironically, the Indian Prime Minister utterly failed to mention as to why India is not ready to leave Kashmiris alone, as its occupation is at the heart of the problem and tension in the region. We hope that instead of giving unsolicited advice to others, the Indian PM would better do soul searching to arrive at the right conclusions vis-à-vis Kashmir dispute and the way out. And in this context, he should listen to what Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Khalid Shameem Wynne, addressing convocation of National Security and War course and Allied Officers War Course at National Defence University in Islamabad, emphasised make efforts for just settlement of the issue to ensure sustainable peace and progress in South Asia. There is a substantial change in the mindset in Pakistan with growing support for normalisation of relations with India and boosting of trade ties between the two countries, which means that war is no solution to problems. People of Pakistan also want more focus on poverty, which is common enemy of the region but the fact remains that progress and prosperity of the two peoples has been held hostage by tension and hostility born out of Kashmir dispute. There can’t be real and genuine normalisation without resolution of the contentious issues especially Jammu and Kashmir as per aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

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