The Kashmir dispute is one of the oldest unresolved international problems in the world which is still pending on the agenda of the UN Security Council since 1948.
While the international community has been engaged all along and believes that Kashmir is an internationally disputed territory, and has voiced through numerous UN resolutions that its people should be given the right to determine their own future, India is now engaging in an effort to make the matter solely a domestic issue which no one, not even the Kashmiris themselves, may have a voice in. This effort at the Indianisation of Kashmir, more so after abrogation of Article 370 & 35 A, is seen where the central politics and administrative control are dominated by New Delhi with all the decisions being favourable to New Delhi. The limited autonomy that Kashmir has enjoyed was completely subverted on August 5, 2019.
Today, the Kashmir conflict is perhaps the most dangerous conflict in the world because of the spiralling nuclear and missile race between India and Pakistan coupled with historical enmities that have occasioned three wars between the two rivals. It is implausible to believe that these two neighbouring countries will either cap or renounce their respective nuclear genies after they have escaped the South Asian bottle unless the chief source of antagonism between the two—Kashmir—is resolved.
It is symptomatic of the approach of the world powers that greater emphasis is placed on the “reduction of tensions” than on the settlement of the core issue, i.e., Kashmir. This encourages giving importance to superficial moves and temporary solutions even though it is known that such moves and solutions do not soften the animosities of the parties nor allay the life-and-death concerns and anxieties of the people most directly affected.
An indication of this misplaced focus is the wrong-headed talk about the “sanctity” of the Line of Control in Kashmir. It is forgotten that this line was originally formalised by the international agreements as a temporary ceasefire line pending the demilitarisation of the State and the holding of a plebiscite under impartial control to determine its future.
To treat this line overtly or otherwise as a basis for the partition of the State is to reward obduracy, countenance iniquity, encourage tyranny and oppression and destroy the hopes for peace in accordance with justice and rationality in Kashmir. To regard this line as a solution is to regard disease as a remedy. Any kind of agreement procured to that end, under any foreign influence, will not only not endure; it will invite resentment and revolt against whichever leadership in Kashmir will sponsor or subscribe to it.
Meanwhile the US, the sole superpower in the world which must bear the responsibility for setting the moral tone through disciplined and rightful leadership, sits back and does nothing. Such behaviour poorly disguises the financial incentives that have opened India up to USD $500 billion in American investment during the coming five years.
Kamala Harris spoke her mind about Kashmir as a Vice Presidential candidate on October 8. 2019, “We have to remind the Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world. We are keeping track of the situation. There is a need to intervene if the situation demands.” Since then, she has wavered. She has quit talking about Kashmir, believing perhaps that US business ties with India have greater priority than ruffling any feathers. But the Biden Administration still has an opportunity to walk and talk straight to India and Pakistan to help set the stage for the peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute. The priorities of world peace are much greater than selling a few more missiles to a country which threatens international peace and security.
We still believe that the Kashmir dispute is soluble if an international body intervenes as suggested by Kamala Harris. India and Pakistan must resolve the dispute, while associating the genuine Kashmiri leadership with the negotiations which was originally promised by them at the United Nations. However much India would like the Kashmir dispute to be off the table in any discussions, it is on the table and will always be brought to bear upon the consciousness and conscience of the Indian leadership until the matter is settled.
It is time, India, to show her humanity and put some strength in those democratic principles which she alleges to idealise. It is time, world powers, to back up their words with deeds instead of just lip service and to truly lead in championing those values that have brought progress to the world community instead of selling them all for corporate profits. Perhaps it’s time the major powers take this seriously. The answer is plain as day for anyone. The clock is ticking. Every day that passes without resolution of the Kashmir dispute is one day closer to a cataclysm that will reach far beyond the borders of all countries involved.
It’s time to end the violence. It’s time to end the charade. It’s time for Kashmiris to sort out their own affairs and determine their own future.