LoC episode: Peace hinges on Kashmir solution

kPosted by Tommy Francis

Trade resumed after a 20-day hiatus when six Pakistani trucks carrying goods crossed into Indian administered Kashmir last Tuesday (29 January), according to an official. Reportedly, halt was sparked by deadly clashes on the Line of Control earlier this month, followed by accusations of aggression and breach of peace by India and Pakistan against each other.

Talking about the Line of Control tension, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) chief Fazlur Rehman, who is also chairman of Kashmir Committee, said India had violated the LoC, and “Pakistan has the right to defend.” What’s also notable in the new development is the United Nations setting aside on 23 January an Indian demand to put an end to its Military Observers Mission in Kashmir.
Well-wishers of common people of India and Pakistan as well as Kashmir will never ignore such an alarming episode on the Line of Control. That has to be treated as a reminder and pointer.

There are some facts and questions of historic importance that can’t be binned by any justice-minded freedom and peace lover: Kashmir issue is one of them, on which depends the lot of future of the region. A relevant question arises against the backdrop of the new unpleasant happening on the Line of Control: Can durable peace and socio-economic progress for the people of Pakistan and India be achieved without honouring the demand of the people of Kashmir?

“Perhaps not”, insist the Kashmiri youth living in Azad Jammu and Kashmir state, Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. A long interaction with them by this scribe last summer revealed they want a hypocrisy-free resolution of what they assert the Kashmir dispute. The same argument comes from the living octogenarians who migrated from the valley after it was reportedly occupied by India.
The old Kashmiris say the issue is lying unresolved with the United Nations despite many resolutions adopted unanimously, which empowers Kashmiris to exercise their right to self-determination. That’s called plebiscite which simply means the direct vote of Kashmiris, wherever they are, on the issue. Relevant to this day, in this context, is the appeal handed by the people of Jammu and Kashmir to members of the British Parliament in 1989.

The appeal, inter alia, said that the wave of independence and right of self-determination against colonialism in various parts of the world had been honoured by the British empire and its people, who believed in democracy and rule of law and granted independence to the masses of the sub-continent in 1947 with an option and liberty to about 561states, either to join Indian dominion or Pakistan, or to remain independent. The state of Jammu and Kashmir wanted to exercise that right, but the Indian Armed Forces committed naked aggression on the state, that’s an undeniable fact.

A memorandum annexed to the appeal highlighted people’s struggle against the oppressive and tyrannical Dogra rule and establishment of a de jure revolutionary government in liberated part of the state on October 24, 1947. The notable part thereof was the bitter fact that the fleeing Maharaja Hari Singh secretly entered into “an unholy treaty” with the Indian government on October 27, 1947, and a provisional treaty of accession was executed on the basis of which the Indian Army troops were dropped and pushed into the state to fight against the Kashmiri freedom fighters. That so-called treaty provided that the people of Jammu and Kashmir would have the right of self-determination as soon as normal life is restored. India has not fulfilled its commitment to the UN yet. The day of Indian army attack came to be known as ‘the Black Day’ in Kashmir and is observed as such by Kashmiris and advocates of human rights everywhere.

Two years back, the Delhi government trumpeted the disputed territory was an integral part of India, but soon came the rebuttal from Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who on October 7 claimed that his state had acceded to India not merged with India. Mr. Abdullah told the state assembly in Srinagar that J and K “cannot be placed at par with Hyderabad and Junagarh,” which were forcefully occupied by India.

He said “it is still a fact that Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India is under an agreement and it’s not the merger.” Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah had adopted the same stance in his public speech in Srinagar on July 13, 2004. That’s how India exposed itself in occupied valley also.

The majority of Kashmiris say Pakistani stand on the dispute is principled and in accordance with the UN Charter. They say there has to be a free and fair plebiscite in the valley under the auspices of the world body as envisaged in its resolutions of August 13, 1948, and January 5, 1949.

Pakistan, as a matter of policy to morally support the Kashmiris, has always drawn the world attention to protest against occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and suppression of the voice of the youths who are demanding right to self-determination.

In fact, one can say, the Kashmiri youth seem determined to achieve their object, and that’s why political volcano very often erupts. The valley is being racked by street protests since June 11, 2010, when a 17-year-old student hit by a tear-gas shell lost his life. Reportedly, as many as 265 youth have been gunned down by Indian security forces in the last 16 months. The protest against state terror is indigenous.
The view, in general, is that before the situation gets worsened and becomes more dangerous, the world community should persuade India to learn that the peace of the region hinges on end to repression in the disputed territory and implementation of the UN resolutions.

A peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions and taking into account the aspirations of the Kashmiri people would surely create an atmosphere conducive to durable peace and stability in South Asia where millions are haunted by poverty, hunger and disease.The UN Resolution of January 5, 1949, clearly states that “the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.”

(Zafar Alam Sarwar)

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