An Assessment of Kashmir Tangle
By Asif Haroon Raja
Seven decades have gone past and Kashmir dispute remains unresolved. No light is seen at the end of the tunnel and Kashmiris continue to suffer immensely under the boots of Indian security forces.
Kashmir is internationally recognized as a disputed territory whose final status is yet to be determined by the people. The issue has not been resolved due to Indian intransigence and the UN indolence, which has yielded to India’s gimmickry and cunning manipulations.
The heart of the matter is that Kashmir is an occupied country. Its sovereignty and right to self-determination is being ignored. India insists that Kashmir is an integral part of India and refuses to negotiate in any manner with the people of Kashmir or with Pakistan. The claim is rejected not only by the people of Kashmir but also by the international community.
India does not want to resolve the Kashmir conflict but to dissolve it. India wants Kashmir issue to be buried under the rug when the issue is raised in the international community by alleging that it is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and no one else’s business.
Indian false Propaganda
Indian leaders go by the dictum of Kautylia which reads: “If you cannot convince them, confuse them”.
Over the years, India has created a thick smoke of confusion to hide basic facts of Kashmir dispute. They have mixed fiction with lies and half-truths, to show to the world and its public that Kashmir is integral part of India and uprising in Kashmir is a secessionist movement abetted by Pakistan.
India seems to agree with Joseph Goebbels that “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.
Kashmir is Disputed Territory
India forgets that ceasefire was sought by Nehru in 1948, he had given a solemn pledge to resolve the dispute through a plebiscite. It was negotiated by the UN, endorsed by the Security Council and accepted by the international community. There are 18 UNSC resolutions stating Kashmir as disputed territory.
Pakistan’s stance over the dispute is in accordance with the charter of UN in which full support of the oppressed Kashmiris has been pledged and protection of human rights ensured irrespective of territory, religion or country.
Kashmir Culture Aspersed
Indian spin doctors paint Kashmiris as fundamentalists and terrorists and stress that the Kashmiri conflict was fueled by Afghan-led terrorism. This analogy is travesty of truth. It began decades ago in 1931 before the so-called “Afghan Arabs” appeared on the international terrorism and before Islamic “fundamentalism” was even minted by the Western press.
Kashmiri culture is neither vengeful nor retributive and has a long tradition of non-violence and tolerance.
Kashmiris have always been known to be docile, peace loving and inward looking. Having daily experienced the horrors, they were compelled to turn a new leaf to depart from their age-old inertia and venture into the domain of struggle and sacrifice.
Kashmir has Nuclearized South Asia. Kashmir dispute is the chief bone of contention between the two archrivals. India’s intransigence and belligerence has led to nuclearization of the region, and Kashmir has become a nuclear flashpoint.
Simmering in Kashmir
Kashmir has been simmering since the Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. After its illegal occupation by Indian forces in October 1947, Pakistan applied military solution but achieved partial success.
Another military attempt was made in August 1965 through operations Gibraltar and Grand Slam, but due to inadequate planning and preparations, objectives couldn’t be achieved.
Policy of bilateralism from 1972 onwards pushed Kashmir dispute in cold freezer, till the Kashmiris themselves opted to rejuvenate the Kashmir cause through armed uprising in 1989.
Kargil operation in 1999 meant to defreeze the status quo turned into a fiasco. Thereon, India touted the notion of LoC as the international border.
9/11 changed the dynamics which converted freedom struggle into terrorism and India changed its posture from defensive to offensive and Pakistan became defensive. Thereon, the intensity of the movement began to abate.
The reason was that India under Vajpayee gave hope for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue. Gen Musharraf happily signed the peace treaty in January 2004 hoping that resumption of composite dialogue would lead to settlement of core disputes including Kashmir.
Peace along the LoC in Kashmir was a ruse to surreptitiously start a covert war both from Afghanistan and Iran to destabilize FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan.
India could not have undertaken covert war freely with restive Kashmir, which had become a bleeding wound for India.
While India kept Pak leaders engaged in futile confidence building measures, it fenced the LoC and chased the freedom fighters, but didn’t move an inch towards the resolution of core issues.
Since Mumbai attacks in Nov 2008, India has stalled dialogue, and given preference to issue of terrorism over Kashmir.
Diplomacy coupled with policy of appeasement were repeatedly used but no headway could be made due to Indian obstinacy.
Indian Threatening Posturing
Things have gone from bad to worse since the takeover of power by Narendra Modi in June 2014. High scale disturbances in IOK together with fast paced development of CPEC and Pakistan’s economic revival have unnerved India.
Besides stepping up human rights abuses and terrorism in Pakistan through proxies, India has kept the LoC hot and resorted to series of false flag operations in IOK to give an impression that Pakistan is supporting insurgency in Kashmir.
Bolstered by the US whole hearted support, India is now openly threatening to wage a limited war and to break Pakistan into four pieces.
It is trying hard to diplomatically isolate Pakistan and get it declared a terror abetting State.
India’s State Terrorism
State terrorism in IOK is confiscating the rights of children, women and unarmed civilians. From July 2016 onward, even the eyes, nose and ears of Kashmiri people are not safe from Indian state terrorism.
Young boys and girls including children are being fired upon with pellet and chili guns to blind the protestors.
Even chemical weapons are in use.
As a state policy, the youth is being systematically eliminated. For this purpose, RSS, RAW and Mossad are on job.
To change the demography of IOK, new colonies for Hindu Pundits and retired servicemen been constructed. Refugees from AJK are awarded lands and houses in IOK.
750, 000 Indian security forces deployed in IOK since 1989 equipped with draconian POTA, PSA and AFSPA laws, have been given license to kill without fear of accountability.
Extra judicial killings, fake encounters, arbitrary and unlawful detentions without trials, torture and deaths of detainees, sexual harassment, rapes and night raids are a norm.
There are tens of hundreds of unknown and unmarked mass graves in which thousands of bullet ridden bodies are buried. There is no room for such violations in any civilized society of the world but it is legal in Kashmir.
The people of Kashmir face the kind and extent of suffering that has not been inflicted on any other people in that part of the world.
India draws strength and encouragement from the passivity and inaction of the international community.
The US and western world gladly buys the Indian story of terrorism.
India has put a ban on the members of Human Rights Groups, UN members or any fact finding team to visit the Valley and listen to the afflictions of Kashmiris.
Over one lac people have been killed, 120,000 shops/houses destroyed, over 115000 children orphaned, 13000 women and young girls raped/gang raped and 25000 women widowed between the period of 1989 and June 2017. Well over 10,000 are rotting in secret torture dens for the last many years and their families have no knowledge of the whereabouts and whether they are living or dead. Their fate remain unknown and their wives are leading a miserable life as half widows.
They are being tormented, and dehumanized by Indian occupying forces for the last 28 years to silence them from seeking their just right of self-determination.
World Muted Response
All these years, the hapless Kashmiris have been beseeching the world to take notice of the wanton cruelties of Indian security forces inflicted upon them in the biggest open prison and most militarized region of the world.
It is most unfortunate that no one is listening to their shrieks and woes and the ill-fated people have not been given any relief.
It is sad indeed that no power has uttered a word, nor have they come forward to stop this modern day holocaust in Kashmir.
It is quite strange as to why the champions of democracy and human rights, and advocates of honor and dignity are unable to notice high scale State terrorism being committed by India in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
We in Pakistan feel the pain of Kashmiris and have gone to war with India thrice, besides local conflicts.
We often avow to help. Over the years, our emotions have mellowed down, and squeaks of compromise are often heard. One reason is the dictates of NWO. Other is political disorder and differing opinions.
Our political and moral support leave much to be desired. This has to change to find a way forward.
Kashmiri Freedom Struggle
Irrespective of horrendous cruelties and record breaking human rights abuses, the Kashmiri people are continuing to struggle for their right of self-determination and are reminding the UNO to play its role and resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UNSC resolutions by providing the basic human right of self-determination to them.
The movement has been taken over by the youth of the third generation. Born, bred and brought up under traumatic environment, the rattle tattle of gunfire, explosions and the bloodshed do not scare them. They neither fear the gun totting Indian soldiers, or death.
The school children, both boys and girls are defiantly throwing stones at the bayonet wielding soldiers mounted in vehicles and at times snatching their weapons.
Kashmiris are fighting for their freedom in a bid to complete the unfinished work of Partition of India. Some call it a battle for the conception of another Pakistan in the womb of India.
The delivery will, of course, materialize if passion to sacrifice and die, in the way of cause, remains young.
Role of Other Countries
Although the US initially tried to play the role of a facilitator to make two sides sit and talk, its focus has primarily been on conflict management and not conflict resolution. From 1999 onwards, western opinion colored by India insisted that the UN resolutions and plebiscite promise were outdated.
After 9/11, Islamic terrorism has penetrated deep into the psyche of Americans. Pakistan is viewed as a dangerous country and fear its nukes might fall into wrong hands.
The sanctity of the Kashmir issue can be understood by the fact that both former President Obama and President Trump wished to play a role in resolving this conflict.
Obama did not do anything practically but at least in principle he is on record to have said on November 9, 2010 in New Delhi that “the resolution of Kashmir is in the interest of United States”.
President Donald Trump asserted in October 2016 that he would be willing to mediate in addressing the “very, very hot tinderbox” of Kashmir.
“If it was necessary I would do that. If we could get India and Pakistan getting along, I would be honored to do that. That would be a tremendous achievement … I think if they wanted me to, I would love to be the mediator or arbitrator”.
Trump has disregarded record breaking human rights abuses in IOK and has displayed complete insensitivity to the suffering of Kashmiris.
Russia. At the behest of India, it frustrated all attempts of the UNSC through its veto. It is still a prisoner of its past on supporting Indian stand on Kashmir, but a slight change is discernible and it is no more as committed as it used to be in its hey days.
China. It has explicitly stood by Pakistan and on Kashmir issue. Sensitivity of Sinkiang and Tibet where same principles of right of self-determination are being espoused, coupled with growing economic ties with India had kept China prudent. CPEC which passes through GB and in which Russia is also keen to join, is likely to change the attitudes.
EU. Some North European nations want South Asia to follow their examples in conflict resolution like Eland Island, Trieste and Andorra cases. None including USA want to apply the formula applied in East Timor.
Muslim Ummah. It’s a house divided deeply engulfed in own problems. Although Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran pledge moral support, but none is in a position to resolve the dispute.
International Community. It chooses to ignore India’s blatant human rights violations in Kashmir and against Indian minorities in India due to India’s size, economic market, military power and diplomatic clout. Pakistan rather than India is blamed and advised to exercise restraint.
India’s Diplomatic Success
India has refused to recognize the validity of UN resolutions on Kashmir and got away with it. Her plea that elections are a substitute for a plebiscite has been largely accepted.
Indian narrative that Kashmiri freedom fighters are a bunch of terrorists aided by Pakistan has been approved by USA and the West. Pakistan is repeatedly warned not to indulge in cross border terrorism.
Kashmiris Left Out
Kashmiris have not been given any relevance in the dispute. They were not made a party in UNSC discussions, nor were included in Tashkent talks. Policy of bilateralism was accepted in Simla in 1972 over their heads. They were not made part of composite dialogue initiated in 1997.
Options. Possible solutions for diplomatic thrust are:
Plebiscite. Holding it in entire State as outlined in UNSC. This is most desirable for Muslim Kashmiris and Pakistan but not for India.
Owen Dixon Formula. He had advocated a formula of selective plebiscite, suggesting Pakistan retaining AJK and NA; Jammu and Ladakh ceding to India and people of Valley choosing which side to cede to.
Selective Plebiscite in Hindi Minority Areas. Hindus are in majority only in south and east of River Chenab. Two options in areas north of Chenab where Hindus are in minority are advocated:-
a. Areas south and east of River Chenab, including districts of Jammu and Kathua, and areas east of Udhampur south of river to join India. Rest, including Ladakh, AJK, NAs to exercise right of self-determination.
b. Jammu province to cede to India; AJK and NA to Pakistan. Rest of areas given right to choose their status.
Selective Plebiscite in Valley
• Hold plebiscite in Valley only.
• Hold plebiscite under the UN.
• Hold plebiscite under joint Indo-Pak supervision.
Partition. Varying permutations are:-
• Partition the State on communal composition basis.
• Partition along LoC, or pre-1972 Ceasefire Line.
• AJK & NAs with Pakistan and Jammu & Ladakh with India; plebiscite in Valley.
Condominium/Confederation. Possibilities are:-
a. Both enjoy condominium over J&K with maximum autonomy for the State.
b. Condominium status for Valley only.
Accepting LoC as Border
Gen Musharraf Option
He identified 7 regions; 2 with Pakistan and 5 with India.
Of the 5 with India, 2 have non-Muslim majority. Within Jammu province along Pir Panjal, Rajauri and Poonch are Muslim dominated. Within Himalaya Range, Dodha and parts of Udhampur are Muslim dominated. Ladakh s Buddhists dominated, and Baltistan is Shia Muslim Baltis dominated. Further north are Muslim majority regions of Nagar, Hunza; and in west is Muslim majority Gilgit Agency.
His suggestion of setting aside UN resolutions and plebiscite was widely criticized. He then suggested 4-point program of demilitarization and self-rule.
Pakistan’s hands Skillfully Tied
Pakistanis and Kashmiris fervently seek UN supervised plebiscite under the blissful belief that the outcome will be in their favor.
Laws on terrorism framed after 9/11 and Pakistan becoming a coalition partner of USA to fight global war on terror has put Pakistan, charge sheeted on multiple charges, on the defensive and handicapped it to provide assistance to beleaguered freedom fighters in Kashmir.
Composite dialogue with India for resolution of all core disputes made it difficult for Pakistan to formulate counter narrative painting India as the real sponsor of terrorism, abuser of human rights and villain of peace.
Fear of crossing ‘Indian tolerance threshold’ and getting declared as a terrorist state inhibited our leaders to support Kashmiri uprising boldly as India had done in East Pakistan.
Option of applying pressure on India through low intensity proxy war in India’s numerous trouble spots became problematic after enforcement of new terrorism related laws and formation of Indo-US-Afghan nexus.
While India has been given a free hand to crush uprising in Kashmir and indulge in terrorism in Pakistan, Pakistan’s hands have been tied.
Resultantly, Kashmiris are left high and dry to face the Indian military might.
• UNSC has proved to be an ineffective body, selective and subservient to USA.
• The US will never annoy India to please Pakistan but will whip Pakistan to please India.
• Once India becomes a permanent member of UNSC, resolution of core disputes would no longer be possible through peaceful or military means.
• Kashmir will remain ablaze as long as Kashmiris want it to remain on fire.
• Public opinion across all divides in Kashmir Valley remains firmly committed to concept of self-determination and to tie the knot with Pakistan.
1. Fragile economy, unstable political situation, weaker military strength and diplomatic clout of Pakistan Vis a Vis India were handicaps to convince the UNSC for a favorable decision on Kashmir.
2. Pakistan didn’t utilize chances in 1948, 1962, 1965 and Kargil in 1999 to resolve the dispute militarily.
3. Fear of getting declared a terrorist State subdued Pakistani leaders to boldly support freedom movement.
4. Nuclearisation has ruled out option of settlement by force.
5. No lasting solution is possible without concurrence of Kashmiris.
6. Kashmiris want to join Pakistan and Not India.
7. Retention of Kashmir keeps India’s One-Nation Theory alive.
8. Loss of Kashmir will strengthen Two-Nation theory and may lead to a chain reaction in India.
9. Till such time Kashmir dispute is resolved, Indo-Pakistan peace and friendship will remain a pipedream.
10. Without Kashmir, Pakistan is incomplete. It is unfinished agenda of Partition.
11. Bilateralism is a big farce to keep the issue under the carpet.
12. Composite dialogue is another ruse to buy time only.
13. Facilitation and not bilateralism is a viable course for Pakistan.
14. Minimum concession India may grant is to accept LoC as a border to settle the Issue.
15. Practical solution that Pakistan may accept is partition on communal lines.
16. Kashmir is an international issue and if the world wants peace in the region then Kashmir issue will have to be resolved.
• We never had a well-defined Kashmir policy. There is urgent need for coherent, viable Kashmir policy with clear policy objectives.
• We need to build national consensus on Kashmir policy.
• We must internationalize the Kashmir dispute, expose ugly face of India and dangers of Hindu fundamentalism to put India on defensive.
• Frame strategic doctrine to counter Indo-US-Afghan-Israeli-Western nexus poised against Pakistan.
• Forge internal unity as well as among APHC and other groups in IOK.
• Strengthen AJK as an operational base.
• Discard policy of one-sided appeasement. Friendship should be on basis of reciprocity.
• Adopt pragmatic and aggressive foreign policy and diplomatic posture to counter negative propaganda and to avoid getting whipped.
• Launch orchestrated media war to beat back 4th generation war mounted against Pakistan.
• Establish National Psy Ops Cell to meet the challenges of foreign subversion and to accentuate vulnerabilities of India.
• Cultivate elements within India critical of Indian govt Kashmir policy to build pressure and change Brahmanic mindset of Atoot Ang.
• Keep the people of IOK and their leaders in the loop assuring them they are not alone!
• Keep pressing the UN and international community to settle the oldest dispute.
• Remind the UN to take notice of settlement of Hindus in IOK to change demography.
• China and Russia backed by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia can become effective facilitators to resolve this chronic issue.
Time has come for India to stop seeking shelter behind empty rhetoric, gimmicks and deception. They have converted the paradise on earth into a tortuous nightmare and a living hell.
But no amount of tyranny has worked to break the will of Kashmiris, and so has the sweet talk.
Writing is on the wall and today the critics of Indian Kashmir policy in India have multiplied. India has almost lost support of the public in Kashmir.
Saner elements in India are warning Indian leaders that Kashmir is slipping out of their hands. Upsurge of Hindu extremism coupled with 37 insurgencies in India, out of which 17 are separatist movements, are shaking the foundations of Indian Union based on farcical secularism.
While the Kashmiris are writing their history with blood, we in Pakistan who never tire of describing Kashmir as jugular vein of Pakistan need to do more. We need to put our house in order to keep the hopes of Kashmiris alive.
Future of Kashmir is inextricably linked with that of Pakistan’s destiny. Internal unity is the basic pre-requisite before the dispute can be credibly projected.
Without a ‘solid home front’ and ‘moral re-armament’, there cannot be effective defence.
16 million Kashmiris have suffered immensely for a very long time and rendered huge sacrifices. Their cries must be replaced with songs of joy.
Will anyone listen to the wailing of mothers who lost their sons, shrieks of virgins whose flowers were plucked, cries of the orphaned children whose childhood pleasures were robbed, anguish of the ones crippled for life, remonstrations of the old men left alone in the ravaged household?
Will the lakes of the Valley hear laughter of the children again; and water lilies of lakes blossom again instead of floating human bodies?
Will the sufferings of Kashmiris ever terminate, and the crimson light of freedom from the dark clouds ever filter to brighten the faces of these lesser children of God?
May God be with them and grant all of us wisdom to take the right decisions.
The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence and security analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. Takes part in TV talk shows and delivers lectures on current issues. email@example.com