Saving Kashmir

 
August 11, 2020

There has been deepening concern, notably in Pakistan, over the failure of the world to act in favour of Kashmir and end the human rights violations taking place there. Now finally, the...

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There has been deepening concern, notably in Pakistan, over the failure of the world to act in favour of Kashmir and end the human rights violations taking place there. Now finally, the International Crisis Group has urged India’s international allies to “strongly encourage it to restore Kashmir’s status and end abuses against civilians.” The ICG, a global think tank, has said that India must be persuaded to free detained politicians and that its international allies should be working in this direction. In August last year, New Delhi had taken steps which effectively ended autonomy for the state of Kashmir and also permitted outsiders to purchase land in the territory, setting off fears that a demographic change was intended. There is also concern the current tensions could result in setting off an incident between Pakistan and India, a dangerous situation given the nuclear armed status of both countries.

The ICG believes the only way to achieve the intended target of persuading India to engage with Kashmiri politicians rather than use force against citizens is for Pakistan and India to both lower rhetoric and aggressive postures. Instead the group suggests a return to the situation which existed between 2003 and 2007, when a ceasefire was agreed on the Line of Control. Steps such as these can then open up a stage for dialogue to be built and some agreement reached on the future of Kashmir which is acceptable to its people. The current situation in the Valley represents some of the worst human rights abuses in the world. Unfortunately, the world has chosen to a large extent to ignore these. New Delhi needs to be persuaded to change its policies and accept that the territorial dispute over Kashmir cannot be settled by using force.

Pakistan has attempted to gain support from other nations over this. However, so far there has only been an increase in tensions between the two neighbours with very limited intervention from the outside. A strategy will need to be found to alter this. The ICG suggestion is a useful starting point. However, it will need to be taken further. Other groups need to make similar demands; more crucially, nations which have influence over New Delhi must not neglect the problem. These nations include the US and Russia, as well as Saudi Arabia and other nations around the world. It is easy to understand why these countries are currently unwilling to displease India by placing pressure on it. India after all is an emerging economic power and currently one of the biggest markets in the world for goods produced almost everywhere. These factors mean nations are reluctant to speak up. This is true even though major international human rights groups have pointed out that the atrocities in Kashmir are among the worst in the world. Pakistan cannot alone change the belligerent approach of the government in New Delhi. Other nations need to join in and as the ICG has said those countries which have influence with India would be the most effective in achieving the task at hand before it leads to further turmoil in the region.



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