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Why Pakistan is also opposed to an independent Kashmir?

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Against the general impression gained by the world that Pakistan has been fighting for the cause of Kashmiris, the fact remains Pakistanis are fighting not for Kashmiris but for itself as it wants to annex the parts of Kashmir now under Indian occupation and have been the target of military attacks, fake encounters and genocide spree.

Beyond its open rhetoric India has always maintained that the parts of Jammu Kashmir it annexed soon after its own independence from Great Britain in 1947 as the first ever external operation as a free nation, belong to India and Jammu Kashmir is now an integral part of India. Cutting across their Hindutva intent, both Congress and BJP maintain this “integral” status.

Pakistan also, on its part, annexed a small part of Kashmir and “integrated” into its official territory and after a war with India it got some more parts of Kashmir that it named as Azad Kashmir which is now an integral part of Pakistan.

While India has put a full stop to ay soverign Kashmir, Pakistan also does not think in terms of an independent Kashmir for Kashmiris and it is eager only get Sri Nagar into Pakistani territory for which it is using pro-Pakistani Kashmiris to fight against Indian occupation. And India mercilessly kills Kashmiris for supporting Pakistan and seeking to make Kashmir apart of a destabilized and weak Pakistan.

However, there are Kashmiris both in Azad Kashmir and Jammu Kashmir who seek a soverign Kashmir to live in peace and prosperity, though voices are not allowed to be heard by both India and Pakistan. There so weak that they cannot do anything to achieve their noble cause of establishing a soverign Kashmir.

Had Islamabad worked for an independent Kashmir, most probably Kashmiris would have legally obtained their independent Kashmir by now.

Today, both India and Pakistan are also allies of expansionist fanatic Israel, another colonizer who keeps killing Palestine Muslims, drinking their blood profusely. As a “friend” of Zionist criminal regime, Pakistan cannot be expected to value the worth of freedom and sovereignty and human dignity. Nor can it respect the life of Kashmiri Muslims. Like India, Pakistan and Israel want the enamoring lands and have least concern for freedom and dignity of Kashmiris- the target of Indian colonialist attacks.

Indian Jammu Kashmir and Pakistani Azad Kashmir

At the time of the Partition of India in 1947, the British abandoned their suzerainty over the princely states, which were left with the options of joining India or Pakistan or remaining independent. Hari Singh, the maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, wanted his state to remain independent. In spring 1947, an uprising against the Maharaja broke out in Poonch, an area bordering the Rawalpindi division of West Punjab. Maharaja’s administration is said to have started levying punitive taxes on the peasantry which provoked a local revolt and the administration resorted to brutal suppression. The area’s population rebelled against the Maharaja’s forces and gained control of almost the entire district. The pro-Pakistan chieftains of the western Jammu districts of Muzaffarabad, Poonch and Mirpur proclaimed a provisional Azad Jammu and Kashmir government in Rawalpindi on 3 October 1947.

On 21 October, several thousand Pashtun tribesmen from North-West Frontier Province poured into Jammu and Kashmir to liberate it from the Maharaja’s rule. They were led by experienced military leaders and were equipped with modern arms. The Maharaja’s crumbling forces were unable to withstand the onslaught. The raiders captured the towns of Muzaffarabad and Baramulla, the latter 20 miles (32 km) northwest of the state capital Srinagar. On 24 October, the Maharaja requested military assistance from India, which responded negatively and coerced the king to make JK acceded to India. Accordingly, on 26 October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh signed an Instrument of Accession, handing over control of defence, external affairs and communications to the Government of India in return for military aid. Indian troops, kept ready, were immediately airlifted into Srinagar. Pakistan intervened subsequently. Fighting ensued between the Indian and Pakistani armies, with the two areas of control more or less stabilized around what is now known as the “Line of Control”.

India occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population, consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital. The Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, and Jammu’s numerous shrines attract tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as “Little Tibet”, is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture.

Jammu and Kashmir has an international border with China in the north and east, and the Line of Control separates it from the Pakistani territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in the west and northwest respectively. The state has special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. The Hindutva parties led by BJP question the article and while in opposition they wanted it to be removed. But as the ruling party of India BJP allies understand the need to retina the class and article intact. In fact, article ha so special life for the Kashmiris who get killed by the occupation forces from New Delhi.

Maharaja Hari Singh became the ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1925, and he was the reigning monarch at the conclusion of the British rule in the subcontinent in 1947. With the impending independence of India, the British announced that the British Paramountcy over the princely states would end, and the states were free to choose between the new Dominions of India and Pakistan or to remain independent. It was emphasized that independence was only a `theoretical possibility’ because, during the long rule of the British in India, the states had come to depend on British Indian government for a variety of their needs including their internal and external security.

Jammu and Kashmir had a Muslim majority (77% Muslim by the 1941 census). Following the logic of Partition, it was expected that Kashmir would join Pakistan. However, the predominant political movement (Maharaja Rule) in the Valley of Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir National Conference) was secular, and was allied with the Indian National Congress since the 1930s. So many in India too had wanted Kashmir should join India. The Maharaja was faced with indecision. While the Government of India accepted the accession, it added the proviso that it would be submitted to a “reference to the people” after the state is cleared of the invaders, since “only the people, not the Maharaja, could decide where Kashmiris wanted to live.” It was a provisional accession

Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 lasted till the end of 1948. A ceasefire was agreed on 1 January 1949, supervised by UN observers. At the beginning of 1948, India took the matter to the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council passed a resolution asking Pakistan to withdraw its forces as well as the Pakistani nationals from the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and India to withdraw the majority of its forces leaving only a sufficient number to maintain law and order, following which a Plebiscite would be held. A ceasefire was agreed on 1 Jan 1949, supervised by UN observers. A special United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was set up to negotiate the withdrawal arrangements as per the Security Council resolution.

In the end, no withdrawal was ever carried out, India insisting that Pakistan had to withdraw first, and Pakistan contending that there was no guarantee that India would withdraw afterwards. No agreement could be reached between the two countries on the process of demilitarization.

India militarized Kashmir with regular additions of troops and terror goods and local Muslims are under their threats as they have lost sovereignty plus freedom and the right to live in their nation. . India and Pakistan fought two further wars in 1965 and 1971. Following the latter war, the countries reached the Simla Agreement, agreeing on a Line of Control between their respective regions and committing to a peaceful resolution of the dispute through bilateral negotiations.

India well as Pakistan has no plans of withdrawing from Kashmir and in order to maintain their terror hold over Kashmir, they have equipped their respective military capability with deadly nukes obtained without the approval of IAEA and without signing the NPT.USA allows both to enjoy their nuke arsenals. They continue to blame one another, and terrorize the Kashmiris besieged and sandwiched between them.

When it could not “flush out” Pakistani forces from Kashmir, India approached the United Nations, asking it to resolve the dispute, and resolutions were passed in favour of the holding of a plebiscite with regard to Kashmir’s future. However, no such plebiscite has ever been held on either side as both are not sure of support of Kashmiris for their colonization project. Also, there was a precondition which required the withdrawal of the Pakistani Army along with the non-state elements and the subsequent partial withdrawal of the Indian Army from the parts of Kashmir under their respective control – a withdrawal that never took place. In 1949, a formal cease-fire line separating the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir came into effect.

Following the 1949 cease-fire agreement with India, the government of Pakistan divided the northern and western parts of Kashmir that it occupied at the time of cease-fire into the following two separately-controlled political entities: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) – the narrow, southern part, 250 miles (400 km) long, with a width varying from 10 to 40 miles (16 to 64 km).; Gilgit–Baltistan formerly called the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) – the much larger political entity to the north of AJK with an area of 72,496 square kilometres (27,991 sq mi).

At one time under Pakistani control, Kashmir’s Shaksgam tract, a small region along the northeastern border of Gilgit–Baltistan, was provisionally ceded by Pakistan to the People’s Republic of China in 1963 and now forms part of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Status of Azad Kashmir

India quickly made Jammu Kashmir as a part of its territory. There is a confusion as to why Pakistan ah snot yet annexed the Azad Kashmir and added to its territory. Azad Kashmir is accorded a special status with a president and Prime minister ruling it as a country but with guidance from Islamabad. Like in Jammu Kashmir where India parties like Congress and BJP play important roles in the state, in Azad Kashmir Pakistani political parties play important roles. PDP and Muslim league are the dominant parties and now ML is AK’s ruling party.

Raja Farooq Haider Khan of Pakistan Muslim League-N has been elected as new Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Voting for election of new Leader of the House was held in Muzaffarabad. Raja Farooq Haider Khan secured 38 votes while a joint candidate of Muslim Conference and PTI Ghulam Mohi ud din Dewan and Chaudhry Muhammad Yaseen of Pakistan Peoples’ Party bagged five votes each.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has also felicitated Raja Farooq Haider on being elected as the new Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. In his message, he hoped that the newly elected Prime Minister of AJK will fulfill the expectations of his people.

The territory has a parliamentary form of government with its capital located at Muzaffarabad. The President of Azad Kashmir is the constitutional head of the state, while the prime minister, supported by a Council of Ministers, is the chief executive. The unicameral Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly elects both the prime minister and president. The state has its own Supreme Court and a High Court, while the Government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Kashmir Affairs serves as a link between it and Azad Kashmir’s government. Neither Azad Kashmir nor Gilgit-Baltistan elects members to Pakistan’s National Assembly.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir commonly known as Azad Kashmir, is a self-governing] administrative division of Pakistan. The territory lies west of the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir, and was previously part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which ceased to exist as a result of the first Kashmir war fought between India and Pakistan in 1947 upon their own freedoms from UK..

Azad Kashmir is part of the greater Kashmir region, which is the subject of a long-running conflict between India and Pakistan. The territory shares a border with Gilgit–Baltistan, together with which it is referred to by the United Nations and other international organisations as “Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The territory also borders Pakistan’s Punjab province to the south and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to the west. To the east, Azad Kashmir is separated from the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir by the Line of Control, the de facto border between India and Pakistan. Azad Kashmir has a total area of 13,297 square kilometres (5,134 sq mi), with an estimated population of around 4.6 million people.

The 2005 earthquake killed 100,000 people and left another three million people displaced, with widespread devastation. Since then, with help from the Government of Pakistan and foreign donors, reconstruction of infrastructure is underway. Azad Kashmir’s economy largely depends on agriculture, services, tourism, and remittances sent by Pakistanis living abroad. Nearly, 87% of the households own farms in Azad Kashmir, while the region has a literacy rate of approximately 72% and has the highest school enrollment in Pakistan.

Azad Kashmir expresses solidarity with people of Jammu Kashmir

Today, Kashmiris in India occupied Jammu Kashmir are protesting Indian occupational techniques against the Kashmiri Muslims. Indian forces target them and many Kashmiri Muslims have fallen victim to Indian terror tacks.

People of Azad Kashmir now are protesting against Indian brutality in Kashmir valley and ill-treatment of Kashmiri Muslims by occupation forces. .

A large number of people including refugees from Indian-held Kashmir came out on the streets in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Kashmir, to stage a rally against Indian violence on people across the Line of Control (LoC), just weeks after the extra-judicial killing of Burhan Wani, a pro-freedom insurgent leader in the occupied zone.

Earlier, when Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) was smack in the middle of general elections, the leaders of most religious and political parties had marched in front of United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to protest the ongoing wave of state-ordered violence in the occupied zone.

All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) AJK chapter leaders and workers have been urging members of civil society and refugees settled in AJK to continue staging street protests.

Pakistani concern over unrest in Kashmir

Kashmir valley has become restless for quite some time now. People of Kashmir are facing serious problem of witnessing Indian force crimes in their neighborhoods. Kashmiris look a upon their freedom fighting leaders but India, in order to continue to kill them, calls them terrorists.

Now Kashmiris are increasingly willing to call themselves the “terrorists” as their husbands, children and other relatives are getting into India military traps and get killed or just disappear without clues.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently expressed concern over the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir during a high-level meeting here called to discuss regional security. In the meeting, Sharif and Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif, were briefed on the situation in Kashmir and Afghanistan. PM Sharif said the “brutal use of force is a blatant Indian violation of fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people which no civilized society permits”. Sharif maintained that the Indian attempts to claim the situation in Kashmir an internal matter were “factually incorrect, legally untenable and a violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions”.

The meeting resolved to approach the UN Human Rights Council to send a fact-finding mission to Kashmir to “investigate the slaughter of innocent civilians and impose a ban on the use of pellet guns for dispersing people”. It called upon the international community to condemn human rights violations by Indian security forces.The meeting condemned “the oppression of the Indian security forces over innocent Kashmiris” protesting against the violence in the region, a Prime Minister’s House statement said.

The only solution to the Kashmir issue was “early implementation of UNSC resolutions — a fair and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices”, Sharif said. The statement said Pakistan “will continue to provide diplomatic, political and moral support” to the people of Kashmir for the realization of their fundamental right to self-determination. The meeting comes a day after India slammed Pakistan over its “deplorable meddling” in the internal affairs of the country and asked it to “vacate its illegal occupation of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir”. Pakistan observed “Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan Day” on July 19, followed by “Black Day” on July 20 over the killing of Hizbul Mujaheedin commander Burhan Wani.

India in a statement strongly condemned the “encouragement and support” which “terrorists and their activities receive from Pakistan’s state”.

At least 50 people have been killed and hundreds injured in Jammu and Kashmir following the July 8 killing of Wani in a gunfight with the security forces.

Indian terror techniques

Fake encounters to target Kashmiri youth, repeated curfews to silence the Kashmiris and to cripple Kashmir economy so that the JK government would run to New Delhi for financial assistance on Indian terms to arrest as many Kashmiri Muslims as it can to somehow reduce the Kashmiri anger, have not eventually worked in India’s favor as Kashmiris continue to fight for sovereignty.

Come what may, India, now supported by USA, does not want to surrender sovereignty back to Kashmiris and in order to silence them in their struggle for sovereignty, India keeps killing them through enacted fake encounters. For India, Kashmiris are terrorists just like Palestinians are terrorists for Israel, while entire Muslim community is a terrorist gang for US led NATO rogue states, terrorizing energy rich Arab nations.

It appears, like India, Pakistan also enjoys its double-speak, mixing half truth with full lie regarding the status of Kashmir now and in future. While Pakistan is an ally of US led NATO terror gang, now controlling Islamabad, India has been trying its best to make an unwilling USA its strategic partner. Now both these nuclear powers causing perpetual tension in South Asia are being remote controlled by Washington.

New Delhi is too happy that USA has moved away from Islamabad and is not working for Indian causes everywhere, as it thus has been promoting the anti-Islamic Zionist criminal regime. On the contrary, Pakistan is worried that it is fast losing service charges from USA and EU.

However, despite their differences and regular military cross firings, meant essentially to terrorize Kashmiris, India and Pakistan have a common agenda – to retain the nuke arms in their respective possessions at any cost. This now explains why they don’t want to resolve the Kashmir issue and grant sovereignty to Kashmiris.

Pakistani PM Sharif said he is dreaming to Kashmir inside Pakistan but he fails to recognize the Pakistanis destabilized and not stable at all and it might even disintegrate as per the CIA plan. India has warned Islamabad to stop day dreaming about Kashmir joining Pakistan now or any time in future. Kashmiris cannot decide to commit a mass suicide by joining a corrupt and weak Pakistan which would not hesitate to sell them to China or America for favors, including financial and military help. Pakistan ahs “gifted” a part of occupied Azad Kashmir to China for economic and military help.

Pakistani mischief on soverign Kashmir?

The general impression gained by the public that Pakistan is fighting for the cause of Kashmiris for a soverign Kashmir apparently looks false. Pakistan has been fighting for Kashmir and not for Kashmiris as it is eager to incorporate into Pakistan both Azad Kashmir which’s under Pakistani control and Jammu Kashmir which is under Indian occupation. But Kashmir I sunder Indian occupation and it refuses to surrender Kashmiris its sovereignty ostensibly to deny India to quickly occupy it and add to its own territory.

Pakistan already has a part of Kashmir in its territory and also administers Azad Kashmir, annexed from Kashmir in a war with India. Pakistan is fighting now for India controlled Kashmir to be eventually made a part of Pakistan and for this purposes, India claims, Pakistan has been misusing Kashmiri Muslims.

It appears, Pakistan has not yet incorporated Azad Kashmir into itself because it wanted to let India think that Pakistan is sincere about a soverign Kashmir and it would add Jammu Kashmir once India releases Kashmir.

Pakistani leaders until recently never openly said it wants to make Kashmir a part of Pakistani territory once India leaves it, but it always, tactfully, maintained that the India should “solve” it without specifying what it meant by ‘solution”. .

Pakistan is trying to make the Kashmir issue more complicated with new ideas. For the first time in recent times, Pakistan has openly reiterated its resolve to annex Kashmir into Pakistani territory. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he would like to see Kashmir a part of Pakistan. “We are waiting for the day when Kashmir becomes a part of Pakistan,” PM Sharif said. Sharif was addressing a public gathering on the occasion of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s win in the “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” assembly election last week.

In his first public address following an open heart surgery earlier this year, Sharif urged Kashmiris “not to forget those in India held Kashmir who are sacrificing their lives for freedom”. The PML-N is set to form the next government in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, whose official name is “Azad Jammu and Kashmir”.

New Delhi was quick to respond to Pakistan’s statement. India always maintains its stand that Kashmir is an “integral” part of Kashmir. New Delhi had accused Islamabad of arming and training militants fighting to secede Jammu and Kashmir from India. Pakistan said it only provides moral and diplomatic backing to the separatist campaign. In a strong attack on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his statements on Kashmir, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told him that his dream of the state becoming a part of his country “will not be realized even at the end of eternity”. Taking umbrage at Sharif’s statement that “Kashmir will one day become Pakistan”, she said in a statement that this “delusional though dangerous dream” was the reason for Pakistan’s “unabashed embrace and encouragement to terrorism”. “The whole of Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India. You will never be able to make this heaven on earth a terror hell,” she said. India’s reaction came amidst provocative statements issued on near-daily basis by Pakistan government and Sharif.

Noting that in the last few days, leadership of Pakistan, including its Prime Minister has praised Burhan Wani, a popular but wanted by India terrorist Commander of the banned terrorist organisation Hizbul Mujahideen, as “martyr”, Swaraj wondered did he not know that he was carrying an award of Rs 10 Lakh on his head because he had perpetrated heinous crimes including murder of elected representatives of local bodies and security personnel. “Even more condemnable than these deplorable attempts from across the border to incite violence and glorify terrorists is the fact that these attempts have been undertaken by Pakistan’s state machinery.

Now India does not need terror evidence

India, like USA, always sought “evidence” from Pakistan. Asserting that there is no need for evidence of Pakistan’s complicity in the Kashmir issue as Nawaz Sharif is openly saying they will get Kashmir back. India says Pakistan is directly or indirectly claiming credit for aiding and abetting the ongoing insurgency and unrest. So, there is no need for any evidence now.

Union Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Singh was reacting to Sharif’s remark that the day was not far when the struggle of the Kashmiris will meet with success and Jammu and Kashmir will be part of Pakistan. Singh said, “The United Nations too has said that it Kashmir is India’s internal matter. Now, the world has come to acknowledge India’s point of view on Kashmir and it is time for us to be united in the fight against Pakistan.” He asserted that Pakistan’s involvement in promoting terrorism in India has been evident on more than one occasion. The Union minister urged all the political parties to unite in the fight against Pak-sponsored terrorism.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Omar said today’s unrest cannot be compared with 2008 or 2010 agitations. “In 2008, we had a land row and in 2010, the outbreak was because of a fake encounter done by army. But in 2016 there is no such demand. It is just plain anger. “Even the young boys of the age of 8-10 years have no fear and that is worst,” he said.

The Modi government is not serious about genocides and political (freedom) crisis in Kashmir. Will a grand initiative by the Prime Minister normalize the situation in the Valley? Omar Abdullah said any initiative that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may take to resolve the current crisis in the Valley could calm tempers but if it is not followed up then it becomes difficult to sort out. He agreed with former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s views that the Centre had broken promises on issues that formed the state’s accession to India, saying they have been “dishonest with the people of Jammu and Kashmir”. “It will help. It will definitely calm tempers but there will be far more suspicion today than a few years ago. Because if it is not followed through, every time a problem like this arises, then it becomes more difficult to bring an end to it,” he told on a TV channel interview on Saturday.

For want of better set of words, India has actually been dishonest with the people of Jammu and Kashmir because you struck a deal. Former Finance Minister Chidambaram said that New Delhi had ignored the grand bargain under which Kashmir acceded to India. Omar endorsed his statement. You struck a bargain. Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India on the basis of certain conditions which is that the Union of India will be responsible for currency, communication, defence and foreign affairs everything else will be the domain of the state. On the basis of those conditions Jammu Kashmir would remain a part of India.

But Jammu and Kashmir to this date remains a part of India, how much of those conditions have Indian rulers actually fulfilled? You have gradually whittled that away to the point that autonomy is a a fig leaf to what it was in 1947. So he is not wrong,” Omar said. However, he regretted that immediately after Chidambaram remarks, Congress came out with a statement that it were the personal views of former Finance/Home Minister. “Here is a person who is talking out of box and is ready to take the first knock and we pull him down,” he said.

Omar said Pakistan has always been fishing in troubled waters. “It is nothing new. If you are saying Pakistan is responsible, then I am am sorry. We are doing the same mistake.” He said people are are ready to set aside old memories provided “we are ready to sit and solve the problem”.

On controversial AFSPA in Kashmir, Omar said, “I don’t know how the army has become a villain. Army has always maintained that they don’t want to stay permanently and want to go back to barracks. But they don’t decide the such matters. They deadly oppose withdrawal of Draconian law and also any reduction. So this is a contradictory stand.” He said more than a political will, it takes courage to take bold steps which was lacking in the previous UPA government. “May be UPA at that time was facing several problems. May be they did not want to open another front,” he said. Congress has been insensitive to the popular demands in Kashmir.

About the statement made by Chidambaram that the Union Cabinet was divided on withdrawal of AFSPA, he said, “I know that the then Defence Minister (Pranab Mukherjee and A K Antony) were opposed to it and the then Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) had not firmed up his mind.

There was strong opposition from the army but political courage could have overtaken that opposition,” he said and added that between him and Chidambaram, they were successful in removing 35 to 40 bunkers from the city. “I am not saying that army’s concerns should not be addressed but at the same time elected representatives in a democracy must have courage to carry forward its decisions with conviction,” he said. He expressed apprehensions that the way the Centre has been dealing with the situation in past had lived its life. “The Centre swings into action only when there is a fire in Kashmir. At that point they promise everything but when the situation is normal, they forget everything.” “By announcing a package of Rs 80,000 crore, centre should not think that it can buy out anti-India sentiments. PM Modi while addressing a rally said he knew everything about Kashmir problem. If you know everything then everything is over. Nothing to be discussed and the problem should be at his door rather than anyone else’s,” the former Chief Minister said.

Newly Independent India claimed it somehow managed an Act of Accession with the rulers of Jammu Kashmir. On 26 October, 1947, VP Menon, who had just returned from Srinagar, poured out a stiff drink, smiled and exulted: “We have Kashmir. And now that we have got it, we will never let it go.” This incident should be enough to remind Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the futility of his dream of seeing Kashmir become part of Pakistan some day.

Menon, who helped Sardar Patel put hundreds of princely states in India’s basket, had prophesied on that fateful October day that India will never let Kashmir go. Six decades of futile Pakistani efforts, including three wars, suggest Sharif’s dream is not genuine.

Sharif has a long list of people to blame for his unrequited love for the Vale. He can, for instance, blame Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who decided to send tribals from the frontiers to invade Kashmir after the Maharaja supposedly denied his request for a vacation in the Valley.

Did India betray Pakistan on Kashmir?

The stance Patel had reportedly taken on the disputes that rose from the decision of Kashmir, Junagarh and Hyderabad to not accede to either of the two countries even after 15 August. Several scholars have suggested that Patel was willing to consider Pakistan’s claim if it gave up Junagarh and Hyderabad.

Our reply was that we would agree to Kashmir if they agreed to Hyderabad.” But, the moment Jinnah decided to send tribals under the leadership of Major Khurshid Anwar to invade Kashmir, and then dispatched his soldiers guised as Pathans to fight the Indian army, Pakistan lost the argument and the Valley. As Patel used to say, possession is 90 per cent of the law.

Pakistan failed to get anything out of the 1965 war it fought with India. In 1972, it signed the Simla accord and agreed to a status-quo and bilateral resolution of the dispute. Since then, nothing has changed that entitles Sharif to a walk through Srinagar’s Nishat Bagh or drink from the founts of Chashm-e-Shahi.

While India can further destabilize and divide Pakistan with US help, Pakistan doesn’t have the military might to split India. Its proxy war lacks the firepower to melt India’s resolve. And there is no way India will surrender its rights over Kashmir, especially in a global scenario dominated by huge security concerns, anti-imperialist Islamic terror and China’s rising ambitions of China in the region.

India does not want a third Muslim country Kashmir in the region. New Delhi says allowing a Muslim-majority territory on the northern border to become a hotbed of Chinese, Pakistani, Afghan and Islamic State interference would be a political disaster. India cites the fate of Bangladesh and Pakistan, both it treats as “home to terror”, has forever ruled out the possibility of another Islamic country in the region.

Though pro-Pakistan sloganeering and flag-waving is common in Kashmir as a useful tactics to express I their anger over Indian occupational crimes, it is doubtful if Kashmiris actually want to become part of Pakistan, especially in its current avatar. In 2014, not even 50% of Kashmiris in the Kashmir Valley wanted to join Pakistan or support the idea of union with Pakistan: off the record 25% .

However, those Kashmiris expressing desire to be a part of India is much below that of those who support Pakistan- less than 10%. .

Though armchair hardliners in India never seek peace with Pakistan and Kashmir, and jihadis, they forget that for several years after Independence, while Kashmir remained calm and quiet’, the desire for azaadi (freedom) simmered below the surface. Even the first decade of this millennium was comparatively quiet and calm, suggesting a return to normalcy. But Kashmiris oppose subjugation and brutality by Indian forces.

In 1947, when Jinnah dispatched his tribals to Srinagar, he assumed their presence would trigger a revolt within Kashmir. Muslims of the Valley, he erroneously believed, would support the Pakistani invasion and drive out the Indian army.

India’s challenge now is to ensure that its own follies in Kashmir do not alienate Kashmiris enough to inspire someone in Pakistan to embark on another misadventure. Only rank stupidity, rigidity, continued oppression, suppression of rights and over-reliance on guns by the Indian state has the potential to fulfill Sharif’s dream.

Observation

True, USA has not openly declared its opposition to Kashmir issue or support for genocides in Kashmir, though it does not support Kashmir either.

Russia today is less enthusiastic about Indian occupation of Kashmir but USA is trying to shield Indian military crèmes inside Kashmir.

India would not find it profitable and correct to let the Kashmiri territory to obtain sovereignty as Pakistan would any time soon annex it under some garb and make it an integral part of Pakistan. US/Pakistani military can just finish them off.

New Delhi has realized by keeping puppet government in Sri Nagar/Jammu, it cannot stop freedom struggle of Kashmiris.

In fact, many Indians also now believe that Indian government has almost lost Kashmir but now it has to ensure that it does not go to Pakistan and makes its own home as a soverign Kashmir.

It is true Kashmiris dream of azaadi, a future that was promised to them by Dogra ruler Hari Singh before Jinnah forced his hand. But their loyalty towards Pakistan is grossly exaggerated, more propaganda than reality.

For all practical purposes, a workable solution to the Kashmir problem will have to be worked out first between the people of Kashmir, including the freedom groups, and the Indian government. Than India and Pakistan, along with Azad Kashmir leaders should agree for a unified Kashmir to emerge as a soverign nation. . Pakistan would, of course, never agree to anything that shatters its dream of possessing Kashmir, and that would ensure longevity of the dispute. PM Sharif has a right ot dream abut he should be realistic and understand the sufferings of Kashmiris.

Obviously, as India’s arrogant posture is unhealthy and irresponsible, Pakistan’s unrealistic dream is destined to remain unfulfilled, and thus remain a source of trouble. India can never win over Kashmiris through brutality, genocides, or through dialogue and peace-money initiatives.

Both India and Pakistan stop boss over Kashmir.

One can understand Pakistani dream if it has been truly Islamic (It attacked Lal Mosque in Islamabad, killing Imams there in a cold blooded manner) or a strong Muslims nations- but s destabilized puppet nation serving the cause of anti-Islamic nations like USA, UK, Israel etc.

Pakistan would not hesitate to sell Kashmiris to any nation to be anti-Islamic agents. And there would be none in the world to save the Kashmiris. .Already Pakistan seems to have “sold” a part of Azad Kashmir to China for r economic and military favors.

Independence of Kashmir is the only reliable and credible solution.

When United Nations too says that Indian brutality in Kashmir is India’s internal matter, the big powers have no interest in resolving the Kashmir flashpoint.

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South Asia

India’s multi-alignment: the origins, the past, and the present

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In the initial two decades following India’s independence, India’s foreign policy was heavily determined by the personal predilections of its first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his protégé VK Krishna Menon, both influenced by British socialism. Nehru himself handled the external affairs portfolio until his death in 1964.

The policy of ‘non-alignment’ which the duo initiated in India’s foreign policy gained world-wide attention since early 1950s, which later became a full-fledged movement and forum of discussion in 1961 (NAM) that consisted of developing and newly decolonised nations from different parts of the world, primarily from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

But, the policy never meant isolationism or neutrality; rather it was conceived as a positive and constructive policy in the backdrop of the US-USSR Cold War, enabling freedom of action in foreign and security policies, even though many of the individual NAM member states had a tilt towards the Soviet Union, including India.

However, the lofty Nehruvian idealism of India’s foreign policy in its initial decades was not successful enough in integrating well into India’s security interests and needs, as it lost territories to both China and Pakistan during the period, spanning 1947 to 1964.

However, when Indira Gandhi assumed premiership, realism had strongly gained ground in India’s political, diplomatic and military circles, as evident in India’s successful intervention in the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Even at that point of time, India still sticked on to the policy of non-alignment until it was no longer feasible in a changed international system that took shape following the end of the Cold War, which is where the origins of a new orientation in India’s foreign policy decision-making termed as ‘multi-alignment’ lies.

Today, India skilfully manoeuvres between China-led or Russia-led groupings such as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), along with its involvement in US-led groupings such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (or the Quad), in which Japan and Australia are also members.

Militarily though, India is still not part of any formal treaty alliance, and is simultaneously part of a diverse network of loose and issue-specific coalitions and regional groupings, led by adversarial powers, with varying founding objectives and strategic imperatives.

Today, non-alignment alone can no longer explain the fact that recently India took part in a US-chaired virtual summit meeting of the Quad in March 2021 and three months later attended a BRICS ministerial meet, where China and Russia were also present.

So, how did India progress from its yesteryear policy of remaining equidistant from both the US-led and Soviet-led military blocs (non-alignment) and how did it begin to align with multiple blocs or centres of power (multi-alignment)? Answer to this question stretches three decades back.

World order witness a change, India adapts to new realities

1992 was a watershed year for Indian diplomacy. A year back, the Soviet Union, a key source of economic and military support for India till then, disappeared in the pages of history, bringing the Cold War to its inevitable end.

This brought a huge vacuum for India’s strategic calculations. Combined with a global oil shock induced by the First Gulf War of 1990 triggered a balance of payment crisis in India, which eventually forced the Indian government to liberalise and open up its economy for foreign investments and face competition.

India elected a pragmatic new prime minister in 1991 – PV Narasimha Rao. The vision he had in mind for India’s standing in the world was quite different from his predecessors. Then finance minister and later PM, Dr Manmohan Singh announced in the Indian Parliament, “No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come”.

This was during his 1991 budget speech and it marked the beginning of building a new India where excessive control of the state on economic and business affairs seemed no longer a viable option.

At a time when Japan’s economy was experiencing stagnation, China was ‘peacefully rising’, both economically and industrially. The United States remained as the most influential power and security provider in Asia with its far-reaching military alliance network.

As the unipolar world dawned proclaiming the supremacy of the United States, PM Rao steered Indian foreign policy through newer pastures, going beyond traditional friends and partners like Russia.

In another instance, 42 years after India recognised Israel as an independent nation in 1950, both countries established formal diplomatic ties in 1992. Indian diplomats accomplished a task long overdue without affecting the existing amicable ties with Palestine.

In the recent escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict, it is worth noting that India took a more balanced stance at the United Nations, which was different from its previous stances that reflected an open and outright pro-Palestine narrative.

Today, India values its ties with Israel on a higher pedestal, even in areas beyond defence and counter-terrorism, such as agriculture, water conservation, IT and cyber security.

Breaking the ice with the giant across the Himalayas

China is a huge neighbour of India with which its shares a 3,488-km long un-demarcated border. Skirmishes and flare-ups resulting from difference in perception of the border and overlapping patrolling areas are a regular occurrence in this part of the world.

For the first time after the 1962 war with China, which resulted in a daunting defeat for India, diplomatic talks for confidence-building in the India-China border areas were initiated by the Rao government in 1993, resulting in the landmark Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the defacto border between India and China.

The agreement also provided a framework for ensuring security along the LAC between both sides until a final agreement on clear demarcation of the border is reached out. The 1993 agreement created an expert group consisting of diplomats and military personnel to advise the governments on the resolution of differences in perception and alignment of the LAC. The pact was signed in Beijing in September 1993, during PM Rao’s visit to China.

Former top diplomat of India Shivshankar Menon noted in one of his books that the 1993 agreement was “the first of any kind relating specifically to the border between the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China … It formalized in an international treaty a bilateral commitment by India and China to maintain the status quo on the border. In effect, the two countries promised not to seek to impose or enforce their versions of the boundary except at the negotiating table.”

The 1993 pact was followed by another one in 1996, the Agreement on Military Confidence-Building Measures. The following two decades saw a number of agreements being signed and new working mechanisms being formalized, even though two major standoffs occurred in the Ladakh sector in 2013 and 2020 respectively and one in between in the Sikkim sector in 2017.

The agreements served as the basis upon which robust economic ties flourished in the 2000s and 2010s, before turning cold as a result of Chinese aggression of 2020 in Ladakh. However, the 1993 agreement still was a landmark deal as we consider the need for peace in today’s increasingly adversarial ties between the two nuclear-armed Asian giants.

Integrates with Asia’s regional architecture

Before the early 1990s, India’s regional involvements to its east remained limited to its socio-cultural ties, even though the region falls under India’s extended neighbourhood, particularly Southeast Asia. But, since 1992, when the Look East Policy (LEP) was formulated under the Rao government, India has been venturing into the region to improve its abysmal record of economic and trade ties with countries the region.

New Delhi began reaching out to the ASEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 1992 and was made a Sectoral Partner of the association in the same year. Thus, India kicked-off the process of its integration into the broader Asian regional architecture.

In 1996, India became a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum, a key platform for talks on issues of security in the wider Indo-Pacific region. India became ASEAN’s summit-level partner in 2002 and a strategic partner in 2012.

A free trade agreement (FTA) was agreed between ASEAN and India in 2010. And in 2014, the erstwhile LEP was upgraded into the Act East Policy (AEP). Today, the ASEAN region remains at the centre of India’s evolving Indo-Pacific policy.

Bonhomie with the superpower across the oceans, the United States

1998 was an important year, not just for India, but for the world. Until May that year, only the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council possessed nuclear capabilities. That year, ‘Buddha smiled again’ in the deserts of India’s Rajasthan state, as India under PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee successfully conducted a series of underground nuclear bomb tests, declaring itself a nuclear state, 24 years after its first nuclear test in 1974 code-named ‘Smiling Buddha’.

The move surprised even the US intelligence agencies, as India managed to go nuclear by bypassing keen US satellite eyes that were overlooking the testing site. Shortly after this, Pakistan also declared itself a nuclear state.

India’s nuclear tests invited severe international condemnation for New Delhi and badly affected its relationship with Washington, resulting in a recalling of its Ambassador to India and imposed economic sanctions, which was a big blow for India’s newly liberalised economy.

But, a bonhomie was reached between India and the US in a matter of two years and then US President Bill Clinton visited India in March 2000, the first presidential visit since 1978. The Indo-US Science and technology Forum was established during this visit and all the sanctions were revoked by following year.

Bharat Karnad, a noted Indian strategic affairs expert, notes in one his books that, “Vajpayee’s regime conceived of ‘strategic autonomy’ to mask its cultivating the US, which resulted in the NSSP”.

The Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) between the US and India was launched in January 2004 that covered wide ranging areas of cooperation such as nuclear energy, space, defence and trade. This newfound warmth in Indo-US relations was taken to newer heights with the conclusion of the landmark civil nuclear deal between 2005 and 2008.

Today, India is a key defence partner of the United States, having signed all the four key foundational pacts for military-to-military cooperation, the latest being the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geo-spatial cooperation, signed in October 2020. The two countries are key partners in the Quad grouping and share similar concerns about an increasingly assertive China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Like his predecessors, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been trying to cultivate this special relationship with the United States, reinforced by cooperation in the Quad grouping and also by constantly engaging a 4.8-million strong Indian diaspora in the United States.

The leaders of both countries, from Vajpayee to Modi and from Clinton to Trump have reciprocated bilateral visits to each other’s countries. And, India looks forward to the Biden-Harris administration for new areas of cooperation.

But, a recent military manoeuvre in April, this year, by a US Navy ship (which it calls a FONOP or Freedom of Navigation Operation) in India’s exclusive economic zone, off Lakshadweep coast, casted a shadow over this relations.

The US openly stated in social media that it entered the area without seeking India’s prior consent and asserted its navigational rights. This invited mixed reactions, as it was highly uncalled for. While some analysts consider it humiliating, others think that the incident occurred due to the difference of perceptions about international maritime law in both countries.

Today, along with the US, India skilfully manages its ‘historical and time-tested’ ties with Russia, a strategic foe of the US, and moves forward to purchase Russian-made weapon systems, such as the S-400 missile defence system, even after a threat of sanctions. But, in the past several years, India has been trying to diversify its defence procurements from other countries such as France and Israel and has been also promoting indigenisation of defence production.

A BRICS formula for responsible multilateralism

India is a founding member of the BRICS grouping, formalised in 2006, now consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – the emerging economies of that time with a potential to drive global economic growth and act as an alternate centre of power along with other groupings of rich countries such as the G-7 and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

India always stood for a responsible global multilateral system and rules-based order. Indian leaders have attended all summit-level meetings of BRICS since 2009 unfailingly. Last year, the summit took place in the backdrop of India-China border standoff in Ladakh, under Russia’s chair, a common friend of both countries, where the leaders of India and China came face-to-face for the first time, although in virtual format.

The primary focus of BRICS remains economic in nature, but it also takes independent stances on events occurring in different parts of the world. The grouping also established a bank to offer financial assistance for development projects known as the New Development Bank (NDB) based in Shanghai, China, in 2014, with an Indian as its first elected president.

BRICS also became the first multilateral grouping in the world to endorse the much-needed TRIPS waiver proposal jointly put forward by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to suspend intellectual property rights on Covid vaccine-making during the duration of the pandemic to provide developing countries that lack adequate technologies with means to battle the virus.

As India gears up to host this year’s upcoming BRICS summit, there is no doubt that being part of the grouping has served the country’s interests well.

Manoeuvring the SCO, along the shores of the Indo-Pacific

The SCO or the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is a regional organisation consisting of eight Eurasian powers, largest in the world both in terms of land area and population covered. It stands for promoting mutual cooperation and stability, where security issues can be freely discussed and conflicts are attempted to be resolved.

India is not a founding member of the SCO, which was created in 2001. Both India and Pakistan were admitted as full members in 2017. The grouping’s members also include Russia, China and four Central Asian countries, excluding Turkmenistan.

Sharing a common platform with Pakistan and China and the presence of a long-term friend, Russia, has helped India diplomatically in key occasions. Using the SCO platform, the existing differences between member states can be discussed and prevented from escalating into major conflicts.

This was evident most recently visible in 2020 when the foreign ministers of India and China agreed on a plan for the disengagement of Indian and Chinese troops from the LAC, as a major step in the diffusion of tensions in Ladakh that had erupted since May that year.

But, Russia and China collectively oppose the usage of the term ‘Indo-Pacific’, something that surfaced into political discourse with the famous speech delivered by the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in August 2007 in the Parliament of India, calling for “the confluence of two seas” and hinting at a new maritime continuum of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

It is in this context that the grouping of India, Japan, Australia and the United States gained prominence. The four Quad countries came together to offer humanitarian assistance following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the ambit of the grouping’s co-operation ranges from maritime security to cooperation in Covid vaccine production and distribution.

After a decade since the first joint naval exercise of the four Quad countries took place in 2007, the ASEAN’s Manila summit in 2017 provided a platform for the four countries to connect with each other and enhance consultations to revive the four-nation grouping.

The Quad has been raised to the summit level now with the March 2021 virtual summit, and has also conducted two joint naval exercises so far, one in 2007 and the other in 2020. This loose coalition is widely perceived as a counterweight to an increasingly assertive China.

India is the only country in the Quad that shares a land border with China. At the same time, India is also the only country that is not a formal security ally of the United States, meaning if India quits, the Quad ceases to exist, while the other three countries can still remain as treaty allies. However, setting the US aside, cooperation among the other three Quad partners has also been witnessing a boom since the last year.

India and Japan have expanded co-operation in third countries in India’s neighbourhood such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar to improve connectivity and infrastructure in the region and offer an alternative to China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, which is perceived as having implications of a potential debt-trap aimed at fetching strategic gains.

Amid the pandemic, both the countries have joined hands with Australia to launch a Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) to diversify key supply chains away from China.

However, India doesn’t perceive a free and open Indo-Pacific as an exclusionary strategy targeted at containing some country, rather as an inclusive geographic concept, where co-operation over conflict is possible. This was articulated by Prime Minister Modi in 2018 at the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore.

Various additions were made to this view in later stages, as the concept evolved into a coherent form, representing New Delhi’s expanding neighbourhood. This vision aligns well with related initiatives such the Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) and the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), aimed at improving maritime security, trade, connectivity and management of shared resources.

The future

For India, this is an era of complex multi-alignment, different from the Cold War-era international system, where multiple centres of power exist. At different time periods in the past, India has adapted well to the changing circumstances and power dynamics in the international system.

India’s strategic posture today, despite being aspirational, is to have good relations with all its neighbours, regional players, and the major powers, to promote rules-based order, and in the due process to find its own deserving place in the world.

In July, last year, India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar has made it clear that India ‘will never be part of an alliance system’, even though a tilt towards the US is increasingly getting visible, taking the China factor into account. Jaishankar also stated that global power shifts are opening up spaces for middle powers like India.

As the world tries to avoid another Cold War, this time between the United States and China, the competing geopolitics of the Eurasian landmass and the Indo-Pacific maritime region is poised to add up to New Delhi’s many dilemmas in the coming years.

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South Asia

The unrecognized demographic situation of West Bengal and consequences yet to occur

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World’s second large demographic nation India’s state West Bengal is now apparently residence of over 91 million population. At the same time, West Bengal is the fourth-most populous state and the fourteenth-large state by area in India. It is also the seventh-most populous country subdivision of the world. To get an insight into the present situation of West Bengal anyone has to look back in 1947 and later consequences. As being a prominent ethnocultural region of India, West Bengal faced political partition in the year 1947 in the wake of the transformation of British India into two separate independent nations India and Pakistan.  Under the process of partition, the then Bengal province was bifurcated into two segments. The predominately Hindu living area named West Bengal, a state of India, and the predominately-Muslim living area turned as East Bengal and after becoming a province of Pakistan that renamed as East Pakistan and later in 1971, the Muslim-majority country of Bangladesh.

In 1971 at the time of partition, the Muslim population of West Bengal counted 12% and the Hindu population of East Bengal remained 30%. While at present, with continuous Muslim immigration, Hindu persecution, conversions, and less production of offspring, West Bengal’s Muslim population has increased to 30% (up to 63% in some districts). While as per the counting report of 2011 Bangladesh’s Hindu population has decreased to 8%. When at the present situation for Hindus in Bangladesh is certainly dire, then life has become increasingly difficult for Hindus in West Bengal, having a Muslim-appeasing government. The governance of the elected government led to the demographic and cultural shifts in West Bengal. Prevailing of the same governance after the 2021 Bidhansabha election leads to the destruction of Hindu’s belonging everywhere in Bengal. The situation stood worse in the outskirts where media coverage is poor, compelling Hindu families to flee in adjacent states or to hide. A sizable number of Bengali Hindu families already preferred to shift to Assam.

Looking back as per a striking report of July 2014 by Times of India fewer children were born in Bengal and the prediction was there will be even fewer in the next generation. The 2011 Census shows a decadal growth of 13.84% in West Bengal, which was significantly below the national growth average of 17.7%, and the decadal growth was lowest ever and beaten only by the aftermath of the infamous Famine of  Bengal,1942.

While the retrospective study of the demography of West Bengal shows that the culturally dominant Hindu population in West Bengal during the first census of 1951 was around 19,462,706 and in the 2011 census it had increased to 64,385,546. While the percentage of the Hindu population in the state decreased from 78.45% in 1951 to 70.54% in the 2011 Census. The data sharply indicates fewer children birth within families of Hindus only while the population of Muslim counterparts tends to grow over time. Once considered a symbol of Indian culture, what has happened in Bengal for the last few decades is the indicator of West Bengal’s demographic future.

Starting from the diminishing of the Hindu culture, communal riots against the Hindus have started happening for quite some time and the situation has been that the banning of celebrating the festivals of Hindus has started in the last few years. Added to those the recent genocide of Hindus depicting a recent trend of population.

Back in 2015 the famous American journalist Janet Levy has written an article on Bengal and the revelations that have been made in it state that Bengal will soon become a separate Islamic country. Janet Levy claims in her article that civil war is going to start soon in Bengal after Kashmir. Which almost begun in recent times in the wake of the Bidhansabha Election of West Bengal.   

Ushering the prediction of Janet Levy mass Hindus will be massacred and demanded a separate country.

She cited the facts for his claim back in 2015 that the Chief Minister of West Bengal has recognized more than 10,000 madrassas who were privileged to receive funds from Saudi Arabia and made their degree eligible for a government job, money comes from Saudi and in those madrassas, Wahhabi bigotry is taught.

In the recent past Chief Minister started several Islamic city projects where Islamic people are taught also started a project to establish an Islamic city in West Bengal. It’s evident that Chief Minister has also declared various types of stipends for the Imams of mosques but no such stipends were declared for Hindus primarily. Janet Levy has given many examples around the world where terrorism, religious fanaticism, and crime cases started increasing as the Muslim population increased. With increasing population, a separate Sharia law is demanded at such places, and then finally it reaches the demand of a separate country.

Author and activist Taslima Nasreen once became reason to test the ground reality for West Bengal.

In 1993, Taslima Nasreen wrote a book ‘Lajja’ on the issue of atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh and forcibly making them Muslims.

After writing the book, she had to leave Bangladesh facing the threat of bigotry. The author settled in Kolkata considering that she will be safe there as India is a secular country and the constitution also provided the freedom of expression. Eventually experienced the nightmare that Taslima Nasreen had to face a riot-like situation against her in 2007 in Kolkata. Even in a secular country like India, Muslims banned Taslima Nasreen with hatred. Fatwas issued to cut her throat on the secular land of India.

Upholding the threat the author was also attacked several times in different cities of the country.

But the secular Leftists never supported Taslima, not even the Trinamool government of West Bengal because the Muslims would get angry and the vote bank would face shaking.

That time first attempt was made in which Muslim organizations in West Bengal demanded the Islamic blasphemy (Blasfamie) law. Raising questions on India’s secularism and action of secular parties.

Janet Levy further wrote that for the first time in 2013 some fundamentalist Maulanas of Bengal started demanding a separate ‘Mughalistan’. In the same year riots in Bengal, houses and shops of hundreds of Hindus were looted and many temples were also destroyed by rioters under the safe shelter of government and police.

After the Bidhansava Election 2021 the Hindus of West Bengal facing the same or even worse situation.

Are Hindus boycotted?

Victorious party supremo of West Bengal was afraid that if the Muslims were stopped they would get angry and would not vote and after getting freshly elected her government falls into that vicious circle again.

It is evident from the aftermath of the election result in West Bengal that not only riots but to drive away Hindus, in districts where there are more Muslims, boycotting Hindu businessman. In the Muslim majority districts of Malda, Murshidabad, and North Dinajpur, Muslims do not even buy goods from Hindu shops. This is the reason why a large number of Hindus have started migrating from West Bengal like Kashmiri Pandits, here Hindus leaving their homes and businesses and moving to other places. These are the districts where Hindus have become a minority.

Invoking such incidents Janet, stated that the demand for partition of Bengal from India will soon begin from the land of West Bengal. No demographic theorist interpreted the present demographic situation of West Bengal sabotaging Malthusian theory.

In accord with Janet’s analysis, a few recent sources also indicated the number of the Muslim population, in reality, is much higher than the number on record given to the hiding of numbers of children by Muslim parents when a survey takes place. Implementing CAA, NRC could have been way out for West Bengal to check the proper demographic status and to prevent further population explosion to sustain Bengali Hindus. Perceiving the appeasement politics of government for the last 10 years it’s seeming to be unlikely to get any sharp solution. 

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South Asia

Covid-19 has made Feminist Foreign Policy all the more Relevant to India

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Photo: Amit Ranjan/Unsplash

As the impact of the year long COVID19 pandemic continues to be felt across different parts of India—where patriarchy is entrenched in the social code and inequalities against women are being intuitively practised—the repercussions of the health crisis along with the ever deepening gender gaps are being disproportionately and severely borne by women. Yet, most of the discussions revolving around the pandemic have either been gender-blind or gender-neutral, often resulting in the systemic subjugation or marginalisation of women.

In light of these challenges, the thematic debate on gender equality can no longer continue just on papers, it in fact, needs to be converted into actions by the Indian government in order to deal with the short term consequences of the pandemic as well as to develop long-term sustainable peace. The adoption of a Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) framework is the best way to achieve this dual goal. A FFP could offer a concrete opportunity for India to build a more inclusive policy making set-up; breakaway from the predominant patriarchal notions; and, address pandemic relief strategies—from the viewpoint of women and other vulnerable or under-represented sections of society.

Gendered Impact of COVID19 in India

Within India’s socio-cultural and economic realms—that have historically been marred by inequalities and rigid stereotypes—the gendered effects of the COVID19 pandemic have been both, intersectional and complex.

To begin with, owing to the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 patients, health-care workers in India, particularly the nurses of whom approximately 88.9 per cent are women remain much more vulnerable to contracting the deadly virus. The existing problem of shortage of basic equipment for these healthcare workers further aggravates these concerns.

Second, the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on an already shrinking Indian economy resulting in financial cut downs and rising unemployment. Women—either due to the deeply embedded patriarchal attitudes or due to the subconscious bias that arises out of such attitudes—have stood at the forefront of being temporarily or permanently laid-off from their jobs. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, with the commencement of the nationwide lockdown, the rate of unemployment reached 23.5 per cent in March to April 2020 with higher shares of unemployed women. The unemployment rate for women further reached 12.39 per cent as of February 2021.

Third, women in India are now being confronted with a shadow pandemic where forced proximity, isolation, increased substance abuse, lack of access to justice etc. during the on-going health crisis has resulted in an increasing threat of domestic or gender-based violence.  As per a set of data released by the National Commission of Women in April 2020, there was an almost 100 per cent increase in domestic violence during the lockdown.

Nonetheless, these are only some of the immediate effects of the pandemic on women in India. There are other sequential consequences that will emerge in time including, the problems of depletion in savings and assets, pandemic-related widowhood, etc., which would collaboratively make recovery extremely difficult for women.

Evidently, in India, the pandemic is exploiting pre-existing economic and social inequalities along with social norms that give men embedded advantages, and has been posing a real threat to closing gender gaps. In fact, according to the recent World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap index, India has already slipped down 28 spots to rank 140th among 156 countries in comparison to its 112th position among 153 countries for the year 2019-2020.

But despite bearing a differential impact, women in India have not been included either directly or indirectly in the development of response strategies to deal with COVID19. As such, they remain absent from decision-making tables that involve the shaping of the future of our societies. However, research indicates that the inclusion of women along with other diverse voices makes for better options in policy making and in bringing about comprehensive outcomes that accommodate the needs and concerns of all groupings.

How can a FFP help?

These unfortunate states of affairs demand an adjustment in India’s thinking and strategy, bring about a paradigmatic shift in its traditional policymaking and allow for diverse representation to effectively deal with COVID19 pandemic. The present crisis is therefore, precisely the time to be talking about a FFP in India and for its representatives to make a stronger commitment to mainstream gender at the policy level.

By critically reflecting on the existing international power structures, a FFP framework focuses on protecting the needs of marginalised and female groups and places issues of human security and human rights at the heart of discussions. In doing so, it provides a fundamental shift from the conventional understanding of security to include other arena of foreign policy such as economics, finance, environment, health, trade etc.

With this new perception of health risks and crisis management as a security threat, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, India can potentially explore broadening the humanitarian trade options under its international arrangements to address shortages of medicine and lack of access to personal protective equipment for health workers within its territory— a vast majority of which continue to be women.

The adoption of a FFP could also pave the way for an increased regional cooperation, facilitate regional discussions on myriad issues and enable the development of targeted recovery program designed specifically for the empowerment of women. Such a program would account for the fact that the economic repercussions of crises disproportionately affect women and therefore, help India in securing assistance from its neighbour to address the gendered economic and social effects of the COVID19 pandemic.

Besides, FFP does not only mean considering power structures and managing relations at the global level alone but also evaluating outcomes within the country’s own domestic landscape. In this sense, a FFP could provide India with an important starting point for bringing about an internal shift by focusing more on gender issues, especially in terms of the strictly defined patriarchal gender roles and eliminate barriers that continue to restrict women’s participation in decision-making processes.

An emphasis on women’s participation in India’s leadership positions would in turn catalyse the application a gender lens to the process of domestic policymaking, thereby, achieving comprehensive outcomes that are inclusive of diverse perspectives. Such policies will promote women’s concerns as humanitarian issues, prioritize and safeguard the continuum of sexual and reproductive health and rights, and continue to facilitate the provision of information and education, thus making women better equipped to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.


Adding on to these factors, given that the FFP is an all-inclusive approach, its application could also potentially strengthen cooperation between the Indian government and civil society organisations or women’s network at home as well as abroad to manage the pandemic and its deleterious effect on people, especially women. At a time when the government resources are overwhelmed in their fight against the pandemic, greater involvement of civil society organisations can in fact, play a critical role in advocating social justice, women’s rights, social equity, and provide medical and food support, distribution of hygiene kits, spreading awareness about the virus, etc. These efforts could bring about a considerable improvement in women’s vulnerable position under the current Covid19 crisis in India.

Conclusion

As such, the FFP approach offers huge potential to address some the major institutional and organisational injustices against women in India, and the COVID19 pandemic represents a critical juncture in this regards. A FFP is important not only to ensure that the gendered imbalances inflicted by COVID19 do not become permanent but also for the long term economic and social development of the country, the strengthening of democratic institutions, and the advancement of national security as well as peace. But whether India will adopt or even consider moving towards a FFP in the near future remains to be seen.

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