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Tuesday May 28, 2024

India’s Kashmir question

By Editorial Board
May 31, 2023

India has a problem, and the longer it shies away from it, the worse it becomes for the region and India itself. That problem is India’s relentless pursuit of fascist policies in Occupied Kashmir. On Monday, the Delhi High Court issued a notice to Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik on a plea by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking the death penalty for him in a terror funding case. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik is currently serving a life term after pleading guilty last year to funding a ‘separatist movement’ and then refusing to accept an Indian government-appointed lawyer or to defend himself against the charges. That the Modi government is hell-bent on the death penalty for a Kashmiri leader who gave up arms in 1994 and has been doing non-violent politics in Indian-Occupied Kashmir ever since shows that India under the BJP is least bothered about human rights or resolving the Kashmir issue.

Kashmiri leaders like Mehbooba Mufti and Sajad Lone have spoken against the NIA’s plea on Yasin Malik – Lone has said that this plea is dangerous while Mufti has called for Malik’s case to be reviewed and reconsidered in a country where even the assassins of a prime minister were pardoned. After the abrogation of Article 370 in Occupied Kashmir, the Modi junta has been treating the Kashmiris as if they have zero rights. The Indian government recently hosted the G20 Youth and Tourism convention in the occupied territory, showing the world that it obviously does not care about international laws and UN resolutions. India-Occupied Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed region. By abrogating Article 370 and then not paying heed to what human rights organizations and international media have been highlighting since August 2019, Modi’s India has taken on an Israel-like oppressive stance on a territory it has forcibly occupied.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari recently spoke about his India visit to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. He highlighted that his visit was productive as he grabbed the opportunity to counter India’s narrative. His SCO visit was indeed quite productive and successful as was seen by the knee-jerk reaction of the Indian foreign minister whose behaviour after Bilawal Bhutto had presented the case of Kashmir can only be called petty and petulant. The reaction by India’s External Affairs Minister Jaishankar was seen by many an Indo-Pak expert as evidence that the BJP government was rattled by Bilawal’s presence in Goa. It is because of India that forums like Saarc – which could have done wonders for South Asia – are being held hostage. India under Modi has trivialized its relations with its neighbours. It is unfortunate that India would try to sabotage the SCO Summit only to belittle Pakistan. Back in January, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had made a conditional offer to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “sit down on the table and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning issues like Kashmir”. Without Kashmir, and any guarantees regarding Kashmir’s special status, it would not be possible to move ahead for any Pakistani leader in talks with India. But the way that India has behaved over the years, especially since Modi came to power, shows that the Hindutva brigade is not ready for talks with Pakistan.