One of the greatest blunders of history is the Kashmir issue perpetrated by the British Empire and its price is being paid by its inhabitants with their blood. Three wars have been fought on that issue between two countries, India and Pakistan, but still ill-will and confrontation exist in its place. Its strategic importance, by having a common border to China, India and Pakistan, has led the Kashmir to an unresolvable dispute and no attention is being paid to the hues and cries of the Kashmiri people.
People who are raising their voices for their democratic rights are becoming the victim of state- sponsored violence and terrorism. Freedom-fighters are declared international terrorists; Syed Salahuddin was declared a global terrorist by the State Department of the United States in 2017.The Unites States screams blue murder and raises her voice for any incident of mass killing when it suits to her strategic interests. On Kashmir issue she keeps herself aloof to the entire situation, and seems now to walk in India’s shoes.
Indian troops deployed in Kashmir are given special immunity to any human rights violation as the Armed Force Special Power Act (AFSPA), 1990 grants Indian troops inordinate rights. AFSPA has stymied the legal rights of Kashmiri people. First ever United Nations Human Rights report on Kashmir, published in June 2018, has divulged the atrocities and human rights violation committed in the Indian-administrated Kashmir (IAK) and Pakistan Administrated Kashmir (PAK).
This report is an indictment to India for deliberate use of pellet guns, human rights violation, and immunity to the armed forces for their acts; and to Pakistan it laid emphasis on the freedom of expression and beliefs and no act of mass killing by Pakistan government has been reported. The report has demanded the independent investigations to probe of civilian killings, human rights violation and respect of the right of self-determination of the Kashmiris which is continuously denied by the Indian government.
The struggle for the rights of self-determination has been undeterred despite all atrocities by the Indian forces. India refers their struggle tantamount to terrorism. How the right of self-determination can be compared to terrorism when people are struggling for their independence from foreign occupation?
It was India that took the Kashmir issue to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on January 1, 1948. The United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan proposed the plebiscite to decide the fate of Kashmir to India or Pakistan, but it couldn’t become a reality. Although, UNSC resolution on East Timor was enforced and she gained independence from Indonesia in 1999 when a plebiscite was conducted under the United Nations commission.
During General Musharraf era, four point formula was also devised which included; free movement of masses on both sides of the Indian Administrated Kashmir and Pakistan Administrated Kashmir, autonomous status to both states, withdrawal of troops, and a joint supervising mechanism for implementation of all the process. But it also couldn’t become a reality. Before any plan would be implemented, skirmishes on the sides accentuated and extremist groups are also a reason of increasing the conflict.
On November 28, 2018 Pakistan laid the foundation stone for the construction of Kartapur Corridor as a gesture of good-will. This corridor would allow Sikhs to visit the revered place of Guru Nanak located in gurdwara. Indian Foreign Minister, Sushma Suraj, responding to all that process said, “The initiative doesn’t mean bilateral initiative would start.” Elections are going to happen this year in India and during the election campaign, in both India and Pakistan, hard-line stance are adopted in public which is not favorable for both countries. Initiative on any peace process always stumbled and lurched.
It can be aptly said on Kashmir issue that “we can ignore the reality, but we cannot ignore the consequence of ignoring reality.” Right for freedom can be suppressed, but it can’t be scuttled for an infinite time. In the past, wars have been fought on that issue, but peace can’t be obtained. Both sides couldn’t reach to any conclusion if they pass the buck to each other. The only solution to proceed further is a tripartite dialogue involving Pakistan, India and Kashmiri leaders to resolve the dispute with an eclectic approach in equitable manners.