Kashmiris in Labyrinth

Muhammad Farooq Rehmani

Way back in 1947 or 48,  ‘The New York Times’ compared Kashmir with a powder keg, but recently, the paper characterized it as “the religious melting pot of India.” Undoubtedly, Kashmir has turned out to be an active volcano between the 2 nuclear states of South Asia—India and Pakistan. Super power interests have not encouraged rapprochement and resolution between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. Therefore, the inhabitants of this fascinating land of meadows, lakes, rivers and gushing streams are on an endless odyssey in a labyrinth –trackless trails. Only God can help and change the course of events, people at the helm of affairs are indifferent to pangs of their fellow beings.  Kashmiris are in a whirlpool and their leadership lacks clout to explore pathways and safeguards for the political destiny of the people. Different known and unknown groups surface every now and then on the ground with their symbols and slogans while Some look mysterious in character. The leaders have lost reigns of leadership in their hands.

They only whisper: ڈور کو سلجھا رہا ہوں اور سرا ملتا نہیں   where is the Political will, honesty, and unanimity of thought and practice in our efforts to open its knots? Agreed, India from day one was not sincere to honour her international commitments with the Kashmiris in a UN proposed and adopted plebiscite. But did Pakistan grab any opportunity,   providence provided to it from time to time. Now, both of them are wary of each other and want to protect whatever piece of land of the Kashmiris they rule over and administer. Is it justice? No, it’s here very near. India knows that the Kashmiris fight and give blood for freedom from India. It must be a matter of concern for Pakistan because Kashmir—the crown of South Asia and Paradise on Earth,’ with its 2 thirds land of the Muslim majority continues to be under the Indian occupation. The kashmiri youth are desperate and act desperately because they feel helpless despite chanting pro- Pakistan or pro- freedom slogans, often daringly with Pakistani flags during their enormous funeral processions of martyrs. But, there is no talk, no dialogue and no solution-environment   except battle of pallets and empty hands or stones between youngsters and the Indian army –seemingly a Hell- fire on our earth. The eruption of an active volcano is consuming precious human lives of every age and sex so virulently and mercilessly on this paradise.

The Kashmiris living in this hell-fire feel themselves forgotten and forsaken. Earlier in the 19th and half of the 20th century Kashmiris were citizens of an autonomous state of Jammu and Kashmir under a tyrant dynastic Dogra rule, from boundaries of the British India to China and Russia along the Hindukush and Quraqurum ranges. In the early decades of the 20th century, the kashmiris spearheaded a popular movement  firstly for a responsible government, self-rule and right to vote, but after the India-Pakistan freedom in 1947,  the state instead of gaining independence became  disputed between India and Pakistan. However, the State was promised a plebiscite by both Pakistan and India under the auspices of the UN. But, after every political tension in the sub continent, the decision for referendum in Jammu and Kashmir was made controversial and complicated by Indian denial and obduracy. The people of the State continue to long for the right to self-determination and plebiscite. Today, they can neither exercise the right to vote in a free and fair manner, nor plebiscite is held in Jammu and Kashmir as envisaged in the UNCIP resolutions. The APHC in its constitution incorporated tripartite dialogue to address this quagmire. But, India is intransigent on bilateral dialogue.

Each decade after independence brought unimaginable and unforgettable calamities, trials and tribulations to the people, while from late 1980s unfortunate homes began receiving mutilated corpses of youngsters in every nook and corner of Jammu and Kashmir.

Notwithstanding,  wailing, moaning and bleeding of the innocent Kashmiris during the last 70 years(especially from 1990s), Pakistan and India haven’t been able to settle their differences on Kashmir and the Kashmiris have neither been given the right to plebiscite nor any opportunity provided to join in Pakistan-India talks as the only aggrieved party of the dispute.  Kashmiris are helpless sufferer and real stake-holders in this crisis.  Pakistan acknowledges this fact while India turns it down with bias. Ironically, in their entire history of struggle, kashmiri leadership could not establish their foothold or gain leverage or direct access with the world or regional powers at large. Therefore, our indigenous struggle suffered. We haven’t created our space in the comity of nations for freedom and resolution of the dispute between Pakistan and India.

The traditional support—political, diplomatic and moral, comes indirectly to the kashmir cause, but often suffers from priorities of the supporting countries. Dependence of the kashmiri leaders and organizations more on religious theme has merits and demerits at home but has proved only disadvantageous abroad. The concept of the right to self-determination has been outdone by India-Pakistan state narratives and India’s insistence on only bilateral attempts of resolution.

Unfortunately polarization on religious and sectarian lines is deepening in South Asia. Leaders act as on-lookers. Despite Pakistani politicians’ tilt towards secular line, post–Modi India is heading aggressively towards Hindutva bigotry and by and large benefiting from post-Trump America. Thus, the new world scenario is being reshaped according to the USA, Israel, and Indian interests. The Arab states of 19/20th century monarchies have fallen in the Trump- lap and trap. Indian state under Narindra Modi and BJP (RSS) is certainly on war path with its Muslim population and Kashmiris, to spread bigotry and entice Hindu voters ahead of 2019 elections for the Lok Sabha. Narindera Modi and his anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh, anti-Dalit army of fanatics wants to establish a superstitious and fanatic India as opposed to ideas of the fathers of its secular constitution. The BJP (RSS) intends to build Ram temple on the demolished foundation of Babri Masjid and abrogate Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution to remove hurdles in the way of transforming the Muslim demographic character of Jammu and Kashmir. So, virulence and venom of hatred is spread all around against the Kashmiris. The BJP regime is spearheading military plans to eliminate and brutalize Kashmiris and blinding the youth to accomplish its nefarious designs.

The Concerned Citizens Group of India (CCGI) headed by a former BJP Foreign/Finance Minister of India has warned of pain in Kashmir ahead of forthcoming parliamentary elections alluding to large scale human rights atrocities to woo Hindu voters throughout the country. As per the Group’s four day report after its return from Srinagar, killing spree may intensify inside and along the LoC in coming months. However, there is no end to trial and tribulations of the Kashmiris because India’s double edged sword is free to kill children with impunity.

Unfortunately, Muslim youth are a divided lot on sectarian and ideological lines. Various communal waves by vested interests from the South Asia or Mid East (including Pakistan) frequently and badly mould public mind and discourse in Kashmir. Here we can get the answer why our methodology and ideology of achieving political freedom suffered endlessly. Even our highly educated youth have become prisoners of narrow holes and contradictory interpretations of religion- quite contrary to Quranic injections and prophetic precepts and postulates. Regardless of an unprecedented public participation in the funeral prayers of martyrs across Kashmir, references, slogans and symbols of Azadi are sometimes marred by voices: portraying the freedom movement as a replica of controversial extremist ideologies and interpretations.

Thus India can easily mislead the world and find a common ground against the Muslims and Islam in collaboration with other enemies of Islam in the West. This is perhaps why the world community doesn’t like to discuss Kashmir dispute or India’s human rights abuses in any bilateral or international conference. In their deliberations and declarations they show concern and interest about all other political, economic and nuclear disputes of the world, but keep mum about Kashmir. The O.i.C as an organization may oblige Pakistan on Kashmir in its Contact Group meetings, but most of the Arab states have developed special relations with India and lack enthusiasm as Muslims for Kashmir. In the past the  Grand Imam of Mecca/ Medina, would express  concern and also  pray to Allah for the freedom of Kashmir on Friday/ Eid prayers in Kaaba and Masjidi- Nabvi, but, this practice has been abandoned after Modi’s visit to Riyadh in 2016.

Pakistan is entangled in different internal and external policy fissures.  Its Contradictory relations with the US, west and Afghanistan are backed by many compulsions. CPC is considered to be focal  to the interests of Pakistan. Election 2018 to the National Assembly, its result and post election scenario, including relations between the central organs of the State, is in the mind the Government. Pakistan has been experimenting different versions, systems and rules of governance since its creation, but today power, politics and the judiciary is contemplating, emphasizing and expecting a greater game- change in Islamabad. But, would Pakistan change in the right direction for democracy or only faces or berths of rulers and law-makers would change, is anybody’s guess. Meanwhile, one notices large-scale defections of small and big fishes in political parties ahead of election. Therefore, no political will is found for the cause of Kashmir. APHC of Azad Kashmir chapter had called upon the political parties to include Kashmir in their election manifestoes, but they have their own priorities and challenges. They can’t say ‘no’ but they don’t know how to prove ‘yes.’ They murmur, we have domestic compulsions and thus look confused and puzzled over this question.

Politicians are of the view that the Kashmir falls in the domain of India-Pakistan establishments. The people especially youth in the Indian occupied region are in life and death situation the because of the Indian army’s aggressive and unbridled role against the population. So, they (kashmiri youth) are least concerned about Pakistan’s priorities. They have a simple question for the world and every powerful ‘stake-holder.’ How long can we continue to become, widows, orphans, disabled and blind? What next?  For the time being, main agenda of Pakistan and its institutions and parties is election, its results, structure and philosophy of the new government and post-election relations between the focal institutions of the State.

Keeping in view all the background of the Kashmir dispute and the given conditions, people’s pains and pangs, I will stress that Pakistan as a state championing  the right of self-determinations for the Kashmiris shouldn’t  miss the opportunity given by the UN CHRC report on human rights violations by India in J&K to alleviate suffering of the people and bring about resolution of this long standing political dispute in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and urges and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Luckily, UN GS Antonio Guterres has voiced support for the UN Human Rights Chief’s ( Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein) call for an independent international investigation into the human rights situation in Kashmir, saying his action “represents the voice of the UN” on the issue.” For this purpose, the Security Council and the General Assembly need to play an active role of a facilitator between the stake-holders for a permanent and durable solution of the Kashmir dispute. If the present is missed again and again, parties would be held responsible and consequences wouldn’t be the same.

About Arif Qureshi

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