Kashmiri’s betrayed and objectified

Is Kashmir liberated from its decades-long tribulations? Was the sore that easy to heal? Was Article 370 the only thorn on the side of the Indian government against the Kashmiris? Does the issue of Kashmir between India and Pakistan stand resolved? Will tomorrow, when all the curfews are lifted, the internet is restored, telephone lines begin functioning and the iron clad stifling freedom of expression is lifted, Kashmir becomes a normal state; no conflict, no dissension no retribution? What about the blood of Burhan Wani whose third death anniversary the Kashmiris celebrated on July 8, 2019, with the resolve to end India’s occupation of Kashmir?

 What does this all mean for the Kashmiris and what options does Pakistan have? 

That reminds the ruckus in the joint session of parliament. It was just any other day for the legislators. Such was the level of interest that the resolution tabled to condemn the unilateral action of India had no mention of Article 370 – the crux of the matter. Though the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, asked the shouting, bragging and hooting opposition to be watchful of their behaviour that might send negative message especially to the Kashmiris, the indifference persisted. 

Amidst all this coldness comes the message from the UAE calling the abrogation of Article 370, as India’s internal matter.  

The United Nations, which was responsible to get the Kashmiris their right of self-determination, through a plebiscite, dropped an insipid reminder to India about its obligation towards the Security Council resolutions. The Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International chose silence over highlighting human rights violations India has committed against the unarmed Kashmiris. Their archives must be rich in such cases. The US, Russia and even China are conspicuous for not issuing stern condemnations against India. China’s concern emanates from the effect the geographic formation of Kashmir may have on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. 

Pakistan has a few options, because of its image abroad of a country mired in economic and political crisis. The top leadership of all the major political parties are either facing cases of financial corruption in courts or are serving jail. The backlog of terrorism is another challenge, which despite Pakistan’s every effort is holding on to the perception of the international community. India has successfully used this erroneous perception to paint Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom as an act of terrorism. 

The demand for the trifurcation of valley to separate Ladhak from Jammu and Kashmir originally started in 1951, when Syama Prasad Mukherjee the architect of Jana Sangh---the BJP’s predecessor---kicked off the idea of abrogating Article 370 (which had given special provision to Jammu and Kashmir) from the Indian Constitution because the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its front bodies did not want to live with the Muslims. 

Then on Oct 11, 1951, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, in a statement after his resignation from Nehru’s cabinet said, “The right solution for the Kashmir issue was to partition [Jammu & Kashmir]. Give the Hindu and Buddhist parts to India and the Muslim part to Pakistan as we did in the case of India.”

The President of India, Rajendra Prasad wrote to Nehru on July 14, 1953, “My misgivings are that if there is an overall plebiscite we may lose the whole of … Jammu & Kashmir and have to face the problem of the exodus and rehabilitation of practically the whole of the Hindu population”.

Forty-five years later in 1998, a revival to the demand for trifurcation came alive with the Bharatiya Janta Party’s rule. L.K. Advani, then home minister of India, spoke about trifurcation in Leh in 2000 but retracted when faced with agitation.

With the BJP back in the saddle, since 2014, the demand for the abrogation of Article 370 had been made at full throttle.

What could be the consequences of this development?

One, the Kashmiris will take it as a betrayal. India has renounced on the pledge Jawaharlal Nehru had made with the people of Kashmir when he committed that the Indian Constitution would not be extended to the Indian Held Kashmir against the will of its people.  The wisdom of his decision can be gleaned from the following statement he made in the Indian parliament:

“I say with all respect to our Constitution that it just does not matter what your Constitution says; if the people of Jammu & Kashmir do not want it, it will not go there. Because what is the alternative? The alternative is compulsion and coercion. ... I say with all deference to this Parliament ... the decision will be made in the hearts and minds of the men and women of Kashmir; neither in this Parliament, nor in the United Nations, nor by anybody else.”

Two, the Kashmiris will feel being treated as objects. The decision is forced down their throat in a complete reversal to Nehru’s suggestion to win Kashmir through the hearts and minds of the Kashmiris.

Three, the region is put in a perilous situation. It is unlikely that the Kashmiris will give up their struggle for freedom. This ember cannot be doused through any legal instrument or presidential decree. It will rekindle and might be twice forceful. Already according to the report issued this February by the United Nations there is a strong probability of the re-emergence of Islamic State with a vengeance by the end of this year. At a time when war is being wrapped up in Afghanistan, the fundamentalists could find new avenues to channelize their energies. 

The betrayed and objectified Kashmiris may find viable any recourse that would lead them to their right of self-determination in this long walk to freedom.

That fact is that Kashmir rather than being liberated is further pushed into the heart of darkness.  Imran Khan is rightly worried that India would try to turn the table on Pakistan by repeating something like Pulwama. In that case, as the Chief of Army Staff, Qamar Javed Bajwa has said there would be no turning back.

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