Sat. Jul 20th, 2019

India’s Kashmir Policy demands a paradigm shift

Shabir Ahmad Sheikh

Although the world is moving towards geo-economics and regionalism by solving old disputes, but there are some countries, which are still living in the cold war paradigm and are reluctant to solve their political and geographical disputes. India and Pakistan are the countries, which have been fastened to the Kashmir Conflict since last seventy years or so. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been disputed by Pakistan and India since their very inception. Even after seven decades, the two countries persist in gnawing on this bone of contention and their zero-sum approach to the issue has allowed virtually no progress. The Kashmir Freedom Struggle is as old as Independence of India and history is a witness itself till now hundreds of policies have been tried by successive governments of India to handle Kashmir Problem. The outcome of these policies has been only more aggression, alienation and separatism among the people of Kashmir. These policies have only escalated conflict that claimed tens of thousands of lives till date. The Kashmir Problem dates back to the days of the transfer of power by British and remain unresolved to this day. A direct approach by India in 1947 for getting Kashmir was clearly impossible because at that very time, India was insisting upon the accession of Hyderabad, Junagadh and Jodhpur princely states to India on the ground that they had a Hindu Majority, by which criteria Muslim Kashmir belonged to Pakistan. India therefore, did not demand Kashmir’s accession openly through Ministry of States but employed political pressure behind the scene to create a situation in which it would appear that the majority of the people of Kashmir wished to join India of their own volition. In Jammu, the entire Muslim population was eliminated by Sikhs and Hindus who were in majority there. Almost five lac Muslims were killed and rest fled to West Pakistan. This incident angered the Pathan Tribesmen of Pakistan who crossed the border on 22nd October 1947 and entered Kashmir in order to save their brethren. Overawed by tribal invasion, the Maharaja Hari Singh appealed the government of India for assistance. Later, India considered the invasion as an act of aggression and appealed to the World Community to declare Pakistan as an Aggressor, which was rejected by the UN. The year 1989 mark the beginning of a powerful Kashmiri Intifada against the Indian rule in the held Kashmir. The uprising was inspired by the developments in Eastern Europe against the Communist rule and disappointment due to international community’s phlegm. India has been unable to contain the uprising in spite of resort of cruel means and has adopted a position that Kashmir Freedom Struggle is backed by Pakistan which supports cross border terrorism in Kashmir, thus trying to divert the world attention from the actual problem. A remarkable change came in India’s Kashmir Policy when Bhartiya Janata Party government gave a conditional respond to Hizbul Mujahideen’s unilateral offer of ceasefire on 24th July 2000. The conditions of Indian government were that the talks would be held under the Indian Constitutional framework and Pakistan would not be included in the negotiations between the Indian government and the Hizbul Mujahideen. However, the first round of talks was held between the Indian government officials and the leaders of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit in which they agreed for a cease fire. They also agreed to establish two six member committees, which could further negotiate for formal ceasefire. These Committees comprised officials from held Kashmir and Hizbul Mujahideen leaders. But Hizbul Mujahideen withdraw its offer due to non-seriousness of Indian government. Since 8th July 2016, hundreds of militants and civilians have been killed besides killing of hundreds of security forces. One militant is killed, two new take the arms. In 2014, DGP JKP said that there were only 150 active militants but contrary to this from 2014 to 2019 almost 550 militants have been killed still same number of militants are active.
It is a living example that killings will never silent Kashmir struggle but it will lead to more killings. By killing Militants and civilians, the government of India will achieve nothing. In fact, it will lead them to more encounters and killings and Pulwama type suicide attacks. India is spending crores on pellets, bullets, to suppress the long standing conflict. If it would had spend this amount to benefit people directly, the situation would had been entirely different. The subject has been exploited in every aspect of life by the Oppressor. Sometimes it seems that government of India itself doesn’t want restore and sustain normalcy in the state. Whenever there is peace, fake encounters are held to disturb the peace. Kashmir is the nuclear flashpoint in South Asia. It can trigger a devastating war anytime between India and Pakistan. India is losing the support of the Kashmiri public, and this trend will continue unless it brings about a radical change in its Kashmir policy. The repeated calls by various civil society and human rights groups for the repeal of draconian laws such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) – which gives sweeping impunity to the armed forces of India operating in Kashmir – have been met with a cold shoulder, as the Indian army has staunchly opposed any attempts to repeal it. These kinds of reprehensible policies that the Indian establishment says are important to maintain peace in Kashmir have produced a disaffected Kashmiri population. And although it may appear to have strengthened its hold, India is losing popular support in Kashmir by sticking to its policy of focusing solely on economic development while maintaining the security status quo. The government of India must change its Kashmir policy with the intention to give to the people Kashmir a sigh from this bloodshed. There is an urgent need of paradigm shift in their policy towards Kashmir in order to create a conducive atmosphere for peace as well as for talks. India cannot deny the fact that there is no military solution of the dispute. The responsibility lies with India to cease its recalcitrant attitude and politics towards Kashmir. India has shown a great deal of reluctance and obstinacy vis-a-vis the Kashmir Issue. It not only claims Kashmir as an integral part, but also rejects the third party mediation and thus continues to suppress the Kashmiri’s through all violent means at its disposal like, Pellets ,bullets, PSA, AFSPA, civilian killings, torture, detention, etc. The need of the hour is that India should hold talks with Pakistan with sincerity to find a possible solution of the Kashmir Issue. India has tried to change the nature of the dispute by saying the notorious phrase that ‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’ and Kashmir problem is their domestic issue. India has also tried to pose the world that Kashmir Freedom Movement is a terrorist and secessionist movement and Pakistan supports cross border terrorism in Kashmir. This is an effort to brand Pakistan a terrorist state and to gain more concessions from the world Community. In fact, since 1947, India has been realising that Kashmir is a problem which has affected the very fabric of the Indian society. In order to keep Indian union intact, India has continuously been changing its policies towards Kashmir. So, in a nut shell, we can say that the main purpose of India’s Kashmir policy is to maintain status quo in Kashmir, meaning, thereby recognising in de jure terms what already exists in de facto terms

(The author is a socio-political observer, freelance Writer and writes regularly on contemporary issues of national and international importance. Views are his own, sahilshabir@rocketmail.com)

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