When will the World take Kashmir Seriously?
The deliberate silence and ignorance of the international community over the recent developments in the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) dispute begs the question, “what will it take for the international community to take the matter seriously?” Or “when will the international community seize to avoid its obligations by hiding behind the convenient excuse of treating the J&K dispute India’s internal matter or a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India?” For over seventy years, the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) have been facing subjugation, tyranny and oppression at the hands of Indian state while the international community keeps watching with deafening silence. To make matters worse, since the beginning of the new millennium, the element of state-sponsored terrorism has also been introduced by the Indian state to eliminate any and all voices being raised for self-determination from within IOK.
In a recent report published by Stratfor authored by Charles Glass on the J&K dispute, the cliché myths regarding the dispute have been busted. The report clearly states that the J&K dispute between Pakistan and India is not a bilateral dispute and is way more serious than the world is taking it right now. Furthermore, the report identifies the severity of the situation by highlighting that Pakistan and India have two of the largest standing militaries in the world, both the states possess strategic & tactical nuclear weapons and as the biggest dispute between the two states, is a nuclear flashpoint. In the report, the author recalls how the negligence of US intelligence agencies to track and prevent India from conducting nuclear tests in 1998 led to the nuclearization of South Asia and warns the international community in general and US in particular that if due attention to the dispute is not given and the matter not resolved peacefully, how this time around the world will be waking up to a nuclear catastrophe.
The report rightly points to the fact that similar to 1999, this time around; passion and anger over the J&K dispute are running high and the stakes for the international community are even higher. The concept of limited war is a slippery slope and with India trying to establish a ‘new normal’ with Pakistan by going for small scale kinetic operations without crossing the nuclear threshold, there is a high probability for any such misadventure by the Indian side turning into a full scale nuclear war. Matters have been made worse by the statement made by the incumbent Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh regarding India abandoning its “no first use” policy.
Moreover, sentiments of the people of IOK have soared beyond limits after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution on August 05, 2019. The revocation of Kashmir’s special status has emotionally and psychologically offended the people of Kashmir and the move is interpreted as an attack on their identity as ‘Kashmiris’. Despite political, ethnic and religious differences, the entire Kashmiri population seems to be on the same page regarding the abrogation of Article 370. Even the political parties such as People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) who have remained loyal to the centre and remained in power within IOK have spoken against the abrogation of Article 370 and are now raising their voices against the Indian state’s oppression against the people of IOK.
It has been more than fifty days now that India has kept Jammu & Kashmir under complete lockdown. There is a complete shutdown of government machinery in the state and lives of the local inhabitants have come to a standstill. Media and internet blackout has been imposed. Numerous Kashmiris have lost their lives as people are stranded in their homes and there is no access to medicine and hospitals. But despite such isolating conditions, reports are being published by international reporters & correspondents that paint a horrifying picture of the conditions being imposed by the Indian occupying forces in IOK.
One such report was recently published by The New York Times (NYT) which stated that while passing through a remote village in IOK a NYT correspondent inquired from a Kashmiri herdsman about the current situation in Kashmir, the herdsman responded by saying that, “we are ready to pick up guns”.
This clearly features the fact that the resolve of the Kashmiri people to achieve their right of self-determination remains un-waivered despite the Indian state’s oppression and tyranny. The struggle for the right of self-determination is intensifying with each passing day in IOK. It seems that India does not plan to lift the lockdown in IOK any time soon and is also refusing to talk to Pakistan in order to resolve the issue peacefully through dialogue. India has also rejected any offers made for international interference or any third-party mediation. This is a perfect recipe for conflict.
Now is the time for the international community, especially the United States of America to own up to its international obligations and “do more”. International peace and security hangs in the balance now. The Jammu & Kashmir dispute is neither India’s internal affair nor is it a bilateral dispute between Pakistan and India. It is an internationally recognized dispute according to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the oldest pending dispute in the United Nations (UN).
Rather than beating around the bush and hiding behind the convenient cliché statements, the international community, particularly the US to convince and if required persuade India to resolve the J&K dispute peacefully by giving the people of Kashmir their right of self-determination and seize its illegal occupation of the state. India, in a blatant display of disregard for international law, has stalled the world for more than seventy years in an attempt to change the demographics of IOK. It is the international community’s responsibility to fulfil its seventy years old promise to the people of J&K by conducting a plebiscite under the auspices of UNSC resolutions in the state and let the Kashmiris decide their future.
The world community should realize the gravity of the situation in J&K. India’s arrogance, negative attitude and aggressive policy orientation towards the Kashmir dispute and Pakistan have increased the chances of a nuclear conflict manifolds which will consume millions of lives in the region and beyond. Due to the humanitarian aspect to dispute and the nuclear dimension to the equation, the dispute is a matter of concern for the entire world. The Indian state is subjecting to grave human rights violations in IOK and its occupying forces are committing atrocities in IOK that are no less than war crimes. The champions of human rights (US and the Western World) need to put their political and economic interests aside for a moment and stop India from murdering humanity in Kashmir. If appropriate steps are not taken to resolve the J&K dispute immediately, then the world might be in for a rude nuclear awakening.