Some important lessons can be learnt from the Pulwama attack in Indian occupied Kashmir. One, there will be no lasting peace, trade or even normal neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan without a political resolution to the Kashmir issue.
The knee-jerk reaction that has been shown so far by the Indian government only escalates the existing tensions to new levels. The suspension of trade and the harsh statements play directly into the hands of hard-line elements who want to cause chaos and conflict.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is wrong to say that the time for dialogue has passed. This is the right time to engage in a serious dialogue with Pakistan and to resume the peace process. The continued threats, accusations and anti-Pakistan rants will only make the situation more complicated.
Every violent incident and act of terrorism has exposed the deep-rooted mistrust and suspicion that exist between the two countries. Relations between these two nuclear armed neighbours are so fragile that a car bombing on a paramilitary convoy by a 20-year-old young Kashmiri can bring them almost to the verge of military conflict. In 2001, there was an attack on the Indian parliament, killing nine security personnel and triggering Indian military mobilisation against Pakistan that kept the two countries on the brink of war for nearly a year.
The second lesson is that the Kashmir conflict is fundamentally an issue of a political nature and cannot be resolved through military means. History shows us that wars, tensions and border clashes are not going to solve anything. Both sides have fought wars over Kashmir issue but have failed to resolve this conflict. Political issues can only be solved through dialogue and a political process.
The policy of swinging between guns and talks in the last seven decades has failed to achieve the desired results. Nothing can be solved just by jumping from guns to talks and then back to guns. This one step forward, two steps back strategy hasn’t helped to resolve even minor issues. Half-hearted efforts to achieve peace through dialogues and talks haven’t so far – and never will – succeeded. Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) become the first casualty every time tension escalates between the two countries.
Third, the Indian leadership continue to repeat the same mistake again and again. After every violent attack in India or in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian ruling class blames Pakistan. Every time, it loses an opportunity to look inward and draw necessary conclusions to address the internal problems. This strategy to scapegoate Pakistan for India’s own failures and flawed policies is not going to solve the problems at home.
The fourth lesson is that the Pulwama attack is another reminder that Kashmir needs a political resolution that can satisfy the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
Indian authorities are not ready to learn necessary lessons from incidents like the Pulwama attack. Nor are they ready to accept the reality that continued occupation, state brutalities, repression, killings, humiliations and excessive use of force has fuelled rebellion, anger and resistance among young Kashmiris who are not ready to accept the Indian occupation, and want freedom.
Some Kashmiri youth are taking up arms as a result of the Indian atrocities and repression. They think that armed struggle is the only way to win freedom and destiny. Twenty-year-old Adil Ahmad Dar, who carried one of the worst attacks on Indian occupied forces in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, exemplifies how Indian occupation and state terror fuel anger. The anger and resistance within the youth is so deep-rooted that they are resorting to suicide bombers.
Adil Dar’s life changed forever when once he was returning from school and was detained by the police and asked to rub his nose on the ground. The men forced the boy to make a circle around their jeep with his nose. He was beaten up, humiliated and harassed on suspicion of being a stone-pelting student. Young Adil never forgot that humiliation and presumably was radicalised thereafter, and decided to join the militants to engage in an armed struggle.
Every day, many students and young people face humiliation at the hands of the Indian forces. The problem is that Indian government is not ready to learn lessons from incidents like the Pulwama attack. The lesson is that the continued Indian occupation is the reason behind these attacks. If India wants to avoid such attacks, it should resolve the Kashmir issue according to the wishes of the Kashmiris.
The Indian forces have tried every tactic possible to crush the youth rebellion – live bullets, pellet guns and severe torture. More than one thousand young people have lost their eyesight and suffered other serious injuries.
India wants to keep Kashmir under its occupation against the wishes, aspirations and will of the Kashmiri people, who have been denied their basic democratic and human rights. Kashmiris are just demanding their democratic right to decide their own future. But this democratic demand is met with brutal use of force by the Indian forces. Kashmiris have the right to decide their own future like any other nation in the world. They have every right to protest and demonstrate their anger and hatred against Indian occupation.
The writer is a freelance journalist.