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Indian coercive strategy has made Kashmiris more alienated than ever before

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] J [/yt_dropcap]ammu Kashmir was a sovereign nation until India and Pakistan invaded and occupied it after their own independence from Great Britain. Both India and Pakistan wanted to expand their territories by annexing neighboring Jammu Kashmir and they have done with blessings from their colonial master UK.

India and Pakistan have disputed the territory for nearly 70 years – since independence from Britain. Both countries claim the whole territory but control only parts of it. Two out of three wars fought between India and Pakistan centered on Kashmir. Since 1989 there has been an armed revolt in the Muslim-majority region against rule by India. High unemployment and complaints of heavy-handed tactics by security forces battling street protesters and fighting insurgents have aggravated the problem

Unable to tolerate Indian brutality, Kashmiris are on revolt against Indian occupational crimes. They want USA, UK and other veto members to consider the pathetic plight of Kashmiri Muslims and give them their sovereignty back so that at least their children could live in peace without having to face the Indian military brutality.

India is fast losing Jammu Kashmir as it hates Kashmiris for demanding freedom and sovereignty from occupying Indian military which now enjoys more draconian powers to target Kashmiris at will. Indian regime never cares for human rights violations by its military in Kashmir.

New Delhi has conveniently fooled Kashmiris on its promise of greater autonomy for the region for efficiency while core Indian media lords spread lies about Kashmiris through 24 hours in their TV channels.

Now India is using Kashmiris as military shield with more and more army’s intimidation, wrongful confinement of Kashmiri youth.

Instead of punishing the guilty in their ranks for misusing their powers by ruthlessly attacking Kashmiri Muslims through fake encounters, among other techniques, it honors the guilty with awards and more money for their “meritorious services”. This anomaly has annoyed Kashmiri leaders.

A Kashmir Muslim, Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was tied to an army jeep by military solders and used him as a human shield in India-occupied Kashmir has said he is “afraid” after the officer responsible for the incident was awarded a commendation by the military. “I was under the impression he would be punished. But he was given a reward,” Farooq Ahmad Dar told BBC. The decision, announced on Monday, was met with shock in Kashmir. The army officer responsible for the action said he did it to make India stronger.

Dar had just finished casting his vote at a polling booth when the incident took place. Tied to the jeep, he was driven around villages, as an “example” of what would happen to anyone who threw stones at armed forces. “I was persecuted even though I was one of the few who voted,” Dar said. “Since the day the officer was awarded, I’m even more afraid. Now he will return to the same camp, and I am in danger.”I am feeling under tremendous pressure. He will be back and my situation will worsen.”

The army officer at the centre of the controversy, Major Nitin Gogoi, in a rare departure from official protocol, was allowed to address a media conference and defended his actions. “With this new India idea, I have saved many peoples’ lives.”

The foremost leader of freedoms struggle Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of the Hurriyat – an umbrella group of separatists in Kashmir – called the army decision “distressing and shameful”. Amnesty International India also condemned the decision, saying it gave out the impression that the Indian army “condones human rights abuses”. But views on social media were sharply divided between those who criticised the army decision and those who said Major Gogoi was a hero.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah said the army decision was “wrong”. He said the consequences could be “disastrous”, adding that “the use of human shields is now officially fair and justified in a Kashmir that stands more alienated than ever before”. The Urdu language newspaper Kashmir Uzma saw the move as an “open warning”. “It seems that by honoring the officer, the authorities in New Delhi are trying to send a clear message to Kashmiris that they have reliable tactics for restoring order, even when it involves violating human rights,” it said.

For quite some time, India has been running from country to country and invites rulers from every country to inform that Kashmir has been a part of India for centuries and Pakistan is spoiling the minds of Kashmiris to protest against Indian misrule. New Delhi might think foreign leaders, like Indian media lords, have no knowledge of the past and history. .

Last summer was one of the bloodiest in the Muslim-dominated valley in recent years. Following the killing of influential freedom fighting militant Burhan Wani by Indian forces last July, more than 100 civilians lost their lives in clashes during a four-month-long security lockdown in the valley. It’s not looking very promising this summer.

India occupied Kashmir has seen a fresh upsurge of violence in the past few months, with stone-throwing civilians pitted against military personnel. India is not happy that the youth has not taken real weapons so that Indian military could kill all of them and ask Indian core media lords, controlled by intelligence, to call the Kashmiris “TERRORISTS”.

As its usual safe tactic, whenever there is an upsurge in Sri Nagar, India quickly blames Pakistan for inciting the violence, a charge the latter dutifully denies.

This month’s parliamentary election in Srinagar was scarred by violence and a record-low turnout of voters. To add fuel to the fire, graphic social videos surfaced claiming to show abuses by security forces and young people who oppose Indian rule. A full-blown protest by students has now erupted on the streets; and, in a rare sight, even schoolgirls are throwing stones and hitting police vehicles.

JK Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who leads an awkward ruling coalition with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rushed to Delhi last week to urge the federal Modi government to “announce a dialogue and show reconciliatory gestures”.

India ignores the military atrocities on Kashmiri Muslims being ritually committed as a tool to silence the Kashmiri youth. Apparently, PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh told her that they could not “offer a dialogue with separatists and other restive groups in the valley” while fierce violence and militant attacks continued.

Former chief minister and leader of the regional National Conference party Farooq Abdullah warned India that it was “losing Kashmir”. What Abdullah suggested was unexceptionable: the government should begin talking with the stakeholders – Pakistan, the separatists, mainstream parties – and start “thinking of not a military solution, but a political way”. Ignoring the plight of Muslims in the valley, but only thinking only about Hindus in Kashmir as being propelled by Hindutva zealots in the media is not good.

Kashmir is one of most militarized zones on earth with military troops occupying almost every place so that any protest for freedom could be put done forthwith while informing the media to cook stories to make reports about “Muslim terrorists attacked or killed” type headings.

With more than 500,000 security forces in the region, India is unlikely to lose territory in Kashmir but Kashmiris are not with India. .Shekhar Gupta, a leading columnist, says that while Kashmir is “territorially secure, we are fast losing it emotionally and psychologically”. The abysmal 7% turnout in the Srinagar poll proved that “while your grip on the land is firm, you are losing its people”. So what is new about Kashmir that is worrying India and even provoking senior army officials to admit that the situation is fragile? Kashmiri youth is now politically matured and they know they need sovereignty for self development and regain dignity. .

For one, a more reckless and alienated younger generation of local youth is now leading the anti-India protests. More than 60% of the men in the valley are under 30. Many of them are angry and confused about what India plans and wants in Kashmir.

Hope has evaporated for his generation “in face of Indian oppression” and he and his friends did not “fear death”. When I took him aside after a while to ask about his ambitions in life, he said he wanted to become a bureaucrat and serve Kashmir. “It is wrong to say that the Kashmiri youth has become fearless. He just feels alienated, sidelined and humiliated. When he feels like that, fear takes a backseat, and he becomes reckless. This is irrational behavior,” says National Conference leader Junaid Azim Mattoo.

Secondly, the new younger militants are educated and come from relatively well-off families. Youthful Kashmiri leader Wani, who was killed last July as the militant, headed a prominent rebel group and came from a highly-educated upper-class Kashmiri family: his father is a government school teacher. Wani’s younger brother, Khalid, who was killed by security forces in 2013, was a student of political science. The new commander of the rebel group, Zakir Rashid Bhat, studied engineering in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.

The two-year-old fragile PDP-BJP ruling alliance, many say, has been unable to deliver on its promises. While BJP is trying to increase its base in Jammu Kashmir, PDP is fast losing popular faith in its ability to defend Muslims in Kashmir. An alliance between a regional party which advocates soft separatism (PDP) and a federal Hindutva nationalist party (BJP), they believe, makes for the strangest bedfellows, hobbled by two conflicting ideologies trying to work their way together in a contested, conflicted land. Both Congress and NC are trying to make maximum mileage from the weak government in Sri Nagar.

The federal government’s message on Kashmir appears to be backfiring.

When PM Modi recently said the youth in Kashmir had to choose between terrorism and tourism, many Kashmiris accused him of trivializing their “protracted struggle”. When BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told a newspaper that his government “would have choked” the valley people if it was against them, many locals said it was proof of the government’s arrogance.

The shrill anti-Muslim rhetoric by radical Hindutva groups and politics of incidents of cow protection attacking Muslim cattle traders in other parts of India could end up further polarising people in the valley. “The danger,” a prominent leader told me, “is that the moderate Kashmiri Muslim is becoming sidelined, and he is being politically radicalized.”

The security forces Kashmir, now adhering to Hindutva politics, differ and say they are actually worried about rising “religious radicalization” among the youth in the valley. A top army official in Kashmir, Lt-Gen JS Sadhu, told a newspaper that the “public support to terrorists, their glorification and increased radicalization are issues of concern”. Kashmiri public does not the government or governor or New Delhi masters. One army official said that religious radicalization was a “bigger challenge than stone pelting protesters”. He even claims that some 3,000 Saudi-inspired Wahhabi sect mosques had sprung up in Kashmir in the past decade. The military is eager to build some Hindu structures in Kashmir valley al s well.

Most Kashmiris say the government should be more worried about the cause of “political radicalization” of the young, and that fears of religious radicalization were exaggerated and overblown. Also, the low turnout in this month’s elections has rattled the region’s mainstream parties. “If mainstream politics is delegitimized and people refuse to vote for them, the vacuum will be obviously filled up with a disorganized mob-led constituency,” Mattoo of the National Conference said.

In his memoirs, Amarjit Singh Daulat, the former chief of India’s spy agency RAW wrote that “nothing is constant; least of all Kashmir”. But right now, the anomie and anger of the youth, and a worrying people’s revolt against Indian rule, appear to be the only constants.

If New Delhi still believes that Indian military in Kashmir could solve the Kashmir problems by Zionist or Indian guns there it is mistaken- it is ridiculous for any regime which is serious about democracy to think of a military solution. Kashmir requires political solution. If India still think Kashmiris want to be controlled by Indian military, then, a referendum should be organized under the UN flag.

As India’s most restive region JK stares down the abyss of what a commentator calls another “hot summer of violence”, the doom-laden headline has returned with a vengeance: Should India let Kashmiris live on their own as a sovereign nation?

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South Asia

Changing Regional Security Paradigm: A Challenge to Kashmir and Options for Pakistan

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The post-cold war world has witnessed shifts in international and regional security paradigms. Due to globalization, easy migrations, advanced technologies, changing geopolitical scenarios, and social resources the world today is more vulnerable to diversified threats.  In this regard, traditional conflict resolution tactics are not enough or influential. New strategies and options are needed to gain interest without being in direct war and confrontations. One such old conflict which has been there for more than 70 years despite 3 major wars between India and Pakistan is Kashmir Issue. While Pakistan is struggling economically and politically, India on the other side is increasing its soft power projection within the region and beyond, posing a serious threat to the traditional tactics of Pakistan towards the Kashmir cause.

The 4 major factors that boosted the strategies of the Indian state are identity, security, prosperity, and soft power. Along with defense, India was focused on its economy, diplomacy, and identity so much from the past few years. It is one of the key drivers of the global economic market, making up about 15% of the world’s economic output. Soon India will become the world’s largest country by Population, accounting for maximum youth, meaning it is offering incentives, consumer markets, and youth force to other countries. Moreover, India has become the third largest producer of steel (producer with Arcelor- Mittal), enhancing the credibility and reliability of MADE IN INDIA across the globe. It is considered an IT giant. Many IT companies from India entered Fortune 500-group that has opened doors of businesses and jobs for the Indian youth.

Furthermore, along with being a major partner in trade and commerce in the international market, regionally India provides aid and acts as an advocate of welfare for many developing countries in Asia. Along with that, it is also looking towards opportunities to gain the interest of Afghanistan which is an internationally isolated state.   Internationally, it has become a major geo-strategic and geo-economic partner of many western states like the US and UK, as it has the potential to counter the Chinese Rise. It is part of various geopolitical alliances initiated for the containment of China such as QUAD and middle eastern alliances i.e., I2U2.  Moreover, India also has a settled Middle Eastern policy to benefit from all major actors instead of choosing blocs. Thus, India has worked on its economy, over the years to bring prosperity and self-sufficiency within the country. It has provided markets and incentives to other countries thereby increasing its lobbying power. Through its strong diplomacy, it has become a major actor that also promoted its values and identity.

Lastly one can’t deny that the hegemonic capabilities of India have challenged the Kashmiris and their freedom movements. India is now integrating into Kashmir not only militarily but also diplomatically, politically, and economically. It has incentivized the Kashmir issue as well.  After India revoked articles 370 and 35A It is working on Kashmir’s demographic changes. India also opened doors for tourism and international investments in Kashmir. If someone starts investing there, that will normalize that Kashmir is part of India. Yet India didn’t receive any backlash, nor it is isolated or being sanctioned. The reason is simple, India has good ties with many western states. It provides incentives and fulfills the economic and political interests of the west.

For Pakistan, which is a party to the conflict, instead of normative a more realistic approach is required now. Though Pakistan has emotional attachments with Kashmir but it’s not enough to just talk about morals and injustice at international forums.  If Pakistan wants to support the Kashmiris it should enhance its intellectual power, academia, and soft power projection. Literature and academia help export the actual ideologies and narratives to the rest of the world. The Kashmiri diaspora within Pakistan and abroad should be supported for that. In addition, Pakistan needs to increase its influence to counter India not only in the military sector but also in the economic and political domains.  The defense ratio between Pakistan and India is 1/8 while on the other hand in the economy it is 1/20. Though the importance of defense can’t be ignored in the balance of power, but international politics has evolved, and power is not limited to military only. One can look at the two recent world events where there was the use of force and weapons to gain interests i.e., Afghanistan and the Ukraine-Russian war. Afghanistan is now internationally isolated while Russia is being sanctioned and criticized. So, direct confrontations and wars are not accepted and supported by states at broad levels. Thus, with the changing global political and strategic environment it is important to work on spheres of academia, research, soft power, and diplomacy.

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The Taliban and the current Afghanistan

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

After the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, the Afghan state and the public rapidly declined. The country’s territories have become the source of international terrorism and many global problems.

August 15 is the first anniversary since the power in Afghanistan was seized by the Kabul Taliban, and the ex-president of the Afghan state, Ashraf Ghani fled. After a year of the Taliban’s power, their power has not yet been recognized by any state in the world.

According to the UN International Labor Organization, the Taliban’s ascension to power in Afghanistan has led to rapid growth in the unemployment rate among the population. Based on the data of the UN, such a situation in the Afghan labor market was caused by the economic crisis and the prohibition on work for the female population. Over five hundred thousand people in Afghanistan lost their jobs during the first month of the Taliban rule. “The crisis has affected women the most. Thus, their employment level, already extremely low by world standards, decreased by 16% in the third quarter of last year. By mid—2022, it is projected to fall to 28%,” the UN investigation states.

In addition to the economic decline, there has been a rise in drug production in Afghanistan. Drugs are one of the Taliban’s main income zones, and their power has re-activated the production and export of opium and heroin. However, the drug business was also active under the former Afghan authorities. According to the UN, in 2021, Afghanistan’s income from drug exports amounted from 1.8 billion to 2.7 billion US dollars. This profit is from 6 to 11% of the GDP of the Afghan state. As before, the main drug export channels pass through Pakistan. The leader of the Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada, issued a fatwa in 2022 to ban the production and distribution of opium and other drug substances in Afghanistan. However, there have been no significant changes in this situation. Nevertheless, the Taliban repeatedly make statements about the cessation of drug production, but they also confirm that the prohibition on opium production will lead to the loss of the only way of earning for peasants, leading to an uprising.

Pakistan acts as the main partner country for Afghanistan. Bypassing sanctions, weapons are coming from Pakistan to Afghanistan. And the majority of Afghan drugs are exported through Pakistan’s western provinces – the southern route. The main patron and sponsor of the Taliban is also the Pakistani military leadership. With the help of Pakistani support, the radicals seized power in Afghanistan and persecuted other alternatives to power.

The Taliban’s first financial income was provided by transportation fees that the militants took from truck drivers on the border of Afghanistan and the state’s territory. The Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan concentrated its forces on extracting natural resources. In February 2022, the Afghan media reported on the negotiations of the new Afghan government with China on the development of copper and lithium by Chinese companies. But even though China, along with Pakistan, is a vital partner of the Taliban regime, mineral development has not yet begun. Without the support and diplomatic assistance of China and Pakistan, the Taliban would not have been able to establish their authority over Afghanistan. However, Beijing still has not officially recognized their power.

Also, summing up the results of the year of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, we can definitely say that the new regime fails to solve the economic and social problems of the state. According to UN research, Afghanistan is on the verge of famine and humanitarian collapse. It is worth noting that during the presence of the United States and NATO in the country, there was no such catastrophic situation. Also, during the period of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the position of terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State has strengthened. The Taliban does not intend to start the fight with the presence of these organizations.

Also, in June 2022, an earthquake with colossal consequences occurred on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The death toll during the disaster was more than 1.5 people, and more than two thousand were injured. The UN has recorded that Afghanistan’s government cannot cope with the threats that the Afghan society is forced to cope with alone.

UNICEF and the World Food Program note the catastrophic situation of Afghan children, and organizations make statements about the high level of undernutrition and that over 3.5 million children urgently need treatment. The UN website says, “Hospital wards are full of malnourished children: many one-year-olds weigh as much as a six-month-old baby would weigh in a developed country, and some are so weak that they cannot move.”

The new government of Afghanistan carries out mass executions, severe human rights violations, and forced disappearances of citizens and previous security forces employees. This is recorded by the United Nations Assistance Organization in Afghanistan. To a large extent, the repression is carried out by two Talib departments – the Ministry of Propaganda of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and the General Directorate of Intelligence. Both organizations are under the auspices of Pakistani security agencies.

UNAMA experts report “arbitrary arrests and detentions of journalists, human rights defenders and protesters.” There were 160 extrajudicial executions, 178 unjustified arrests and 56 cases of torture of former Afghan military and Government employees. In addition, 2106 victims were registered among ethnic and religious minorities (700 killed, 1406 wounded).

After a year, the Taliban authorities, according to international organizations, destroyed the essential state structures in Afghanistan responsible for solving social issues such as jobs and the state’s humanitarian condition. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission premises were also seized, and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was closed. Afghan women are deprived of the right to work. Except for some professions, they are not allowed to travel more than 72 km unaccompanied by men and cannot appear on the street with an open face. Responsibility for all violations of the rules of a woman is borne by her father or another close male relative. The punishment is dismissal from work or imprisonment.

Freedom of speech was also seriously impaired. The international human rights organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports that there are half as many media in Afghanistan as a result of the year-long run of the Taliban. During the year, 219 organizations out of 547 media were closed. Before the Taliban came to power, there were 11,857 journalists in the country. Today only 4,759 of them remain. Female journalists took the first impact. Almost all of them were left without their job.

The Taliban sees the UN’s message about human rights in Afghanistan as propaganda. On July 21, Taliban official Zabiullah Mujahid posted on social media: “There are no arbitrary killings or arrests in the country. If someone kills or arbitrarily arrests, that person is considered a criminal and will be brought before Sharia law.”

In sum, a few conclusions about the power of the Taliban must be noted. The Taliban is characterized by a lack of qualification in the country’s rule, and the leadership cannot organize public service. Also, the Taliban does not fulfil its duties to combat terrorist organizations, which has ensured the strengthening of the position of existing banned groups. The female population of Afghanistan and various social minorities suffered. The Taliban are building strong relationships with authoritarian countries such as Pakistan, China and Russia. Islamabad carries out the actual control of the Taliban and also uses the Taliban in the South Asian region for its geopolitical purposes.

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South Asia

Khalistan Referendum

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Every charter of Human Rights provides a framework for the basic individual rights. Under these civil liberties, all humans are entitled to revel in those privileges. Sikh community residing around the globe is facing heinous behavior from the India’s Modi regime as it is a home for many Sikhs. The episode of unlawful arrest of the UK-based Sikh activist named Jagtar Singh Johal in 2017 with the help of UK government ignited a huge number of protests across the world. According to his lawyers from Scotland, he has been tortured and falsely accused to whom British PM Boris John acknowledged while showing his concern. Most recently, the murder of Sidhu Moosewala who was an active supporter of Sikh rights is an example of India’s unjust activities. Provision of security was denied by BJP government before his murder. In support of Sidhu and separate homeland for Sikhs, more than 17,000 Sikhs voted for Khalistan Referendum in Rome, Italy. Similarly, UK having one of the highest ratio of Sikh diaspora, organized a campaign under the active advocates of Sikh rights “Sikhs for Justice (SFJ)” in which 30,000 British Sikhs voted for referendum on 31st October 2021. Series of Sikh referendums are lined up and SFJ declared that after completing this voting series, it will be a decision of 120,000 Sikhs showing the desire for separate land under the rule and law provided them by International Justice System.  A huge referendum is planned for the Sikhs of Punjab on 26th January 2023.

The roots of these referendum are enrooted into the event of Operation Blue Star happened in 1984. Under this operation, Indian army attached on the holiest place of Sikhs, “Golden Temple” to capture Sikhs whom Indian Army declared as terrorists and claimed that they are hiding weapons inside the temple as well. Many innocent Sikhs lost their lives. The level of brutality not only stopped at killing innocents but also disrespected the sentiments of the followers of this particular religion. A homeland that ought to be safe place for its residents became a threatening region. That’s why a huge number of Indian Sikhs migrated to other states like UK, Canada, Italy and US to seek a safe residence. The fight for the cause of Sikh’s rights is still going on, as there is a referendum on 18th September 2022, Toronto, Canada, in which high ratio of Sikh voters are expected to participate.

Massive genocide and extra-Judicial killings are the major tools of Modi regime against the Sikh community. To deal with all these unlawful activities, Sikh diaspora has organized itself into groups like “Sikhs for Justice (SFJ)” who are arranging referendum, holding protests and advocating Sikhs right at all possible platforms. Specifically for the Khalistan Referendum, Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC) has been designed to have free and fair voting for the basic demand. Through such representation, Sikhs are asking for a legal demand from India’s Modi regime. These organizational setup shows that Sikh community is well aware of its rights, and using the peaceful means to convey their message to the world. 

If India is real democracy and wants to be seen as democratic country, it should accept Sikh referendum results.  The result of referendum can always be leveraged in “Law fare domain” to ask India to hold an official referendum for the purpose.  Democracies are torch holder of freedom, human rights and their liberties. This behavior of India is not acceptable to be an example for the rest of aspiring democratic states where the Modi Regime is having genocidal designs against the specific communities. Khalistan Movement with the aspirations of a separate homeland is the legitimate demand of Sikh community. By overturning these movements and referendums, India is suppressing its minorities and violating their right to self-determination through peaceful means.

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