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Opinion

February 4, 2015

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Significance of solidarity

Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of the partition of the Subcontinent, awaiting its completion in conformity with 23 UN resolutions calling for determining the question of accession of Kashmir through a plebiscite under the auspices of the UN. The non-resolution of the Kashmir dispute can be attributed to the intransigence of the Indian government to honour its obligations under those resolutions as well as the apathy of the UN to have them implemented.
Ever since Indian forces entered Kashmir on October 27, 1947 on the basis of a non-existent instrument of accession, India has been adopting different tactics to annex Kashmir in complete disregard to the provisions of the partition plan as well as by using calculated moves to wriggle out of its commitments under the UN resolutions. When the people of Kashmir – having been frustrated by the non-fulfilment of the promises made by India to grant them the right of self-determination – finally launched an armed freedom struggle at the end of the 1980s, the Indian security forces let loose a reign of terror in the valley.
On January 21, 1990 Indian troops fired indiscriminately on demonstrators in Srinagar who were protesting against the molestation and rape of Kashmiri women at the hands of Indian security personnel. The firing killed 55 people and injuring dozens of them. These brutal killings caused outrage and resentment throughout Pakistan and among the Kashmiri community the world over. A complete strike was observed in Pakistan on the 5th of February, 1990 to protest against this dastardly act of the Indian troops. Since then the Kashmir Solidarity Day is observed in Pakistan on February 5 every year. According to reports compiled by international human rights organisations, over the last 24 years nearly 94,000 Kashmiris have been martyred, more than 10,000 women raped while there have been more than 7,000 custodial deaths.
The observance of this solidarity day every year is purported to reassure

the people of Kashmir that Pakistan has an abiding and unswerving commitment to support their cause and stand by them under all circumstances. It also serves to remind the world community of its obligations towards the people of Kashmir and to reiterate the fact that apathy to their sufferings could have disastrous consequences for world peace. Another objective is to send a clear message to the Indians that no amount of oppression and persecution can keep the people of Kashmir oppressed for long.
It would perhaps be pertinent to briefly glance over the historic perspective of the Kashmir dispute. The Indian Independence Act and the partition plan of June 3, 1947 envisaged the division of the Subcontinent into two sovereign states. The princely states, including Kashmir, were given the option to join any of the two dominions keeping in view their demographic realities and geographical proximity. The ruler of Hyderabad who was a Muslim wanted to join Pakistan but the Indian government annexed the state using military might on the pretext that since the majority of the population of the state was Hindu it could not accede to Pakistan.
Kashmir, with 87 percent Muslim population, was ruled by a Sikh ruler. The people of Kashmir wanted to join Pakistan. However, the Indian government coerced the Sikh ruler to join India, a classic example of its double standards and a betrayal of the principles enshrined in the partition plan. As soon as Kashmir’s ruler announced Kashmir’s accession to India, the people of Kashmir revolted against the decision. To quell the disturbances and to consolidate its hold on Kashmir, India sent its army to the valley which further aggravated the conflagration and eventually led to a war between Pakistan and India.
The Indian government approached the UN on January 1, 1948 for help in the matter. A number of resolutions were passed emphasising the need for immediate cessation of hostilities, demarcation of the ceasefire line, demilitarisation of the territory and a plebiscite under the auspices of UN.
The Indian government was never sincere in meeting its international obligations. The first Indian somersault came when the Indian government, though the General Council of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, had a resolution passed calling for elections to the constituent assembly of Kashmir to settle the question of accession of the state. The UN immediately reacted to this and through Resolution No 91 rejected the notion that the question of accession could be handled through any arrangement other than the one provided by the UN resolutions on the issue.
And when the constituent assembly of Kashmir passed the constitution for Occupied Kashmir on November 7, 1956 and formally announced the accession of the whole of Kashmir to India, the UN again rejected the move through Resolution 122. However, on the basis of the newly contrived stance on the issue, India continued with its oppressive policies against the people of Kashmir and a hostile posture towards Pakistan, leading to two more wars between the two countries. On each occasion international intervention led to cessation of hostilities but to date no headway has been made towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
In the wake of the 1971 war, India and Pakistan signed the Simla Agreement, committing to resolve all issues including Kashmir through bilateral negotiations. But unfortunately the Indians never responded positively to Pakistan’s overtures for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Frustrated by this continued stalemate, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front launched an armed struggle against the Indian occupation in 1989. India responded by inducting more than 70,000 troops. The international community, which initially recognised the move as a freedom struggle, has shown criminal indifference to the cause of the Kashmiris after 9/11.
Encouraged by the apathy of the international community, India has remained evasive on the core issue of Kashmir. The backchannel diplomacy and the dialogue process for confidence-building measures that were started during the 1990s have also failed to produce results as India has been repeatedly suspending the dialogue process on one pretext or the other. But despite this Indian intransigence, Pakistan has not lost faith in the dialogue process, as is evident from the initiatives of the PML-N government. The PML-N government deserves credit for its efforts at normalising relations between the two countries, without losing focus on the ultimate resolution of the Kashmir conundrum. But regrettably the process has failed to take off due to the unilateral suspension of talks by the Modi government.
India must realise that the continued deadlock on the core issue of Kashmir is not going to bring peace to the region – which is imperative for both countries. The sooner it is resolved the better it would be for the people of the two countries and the entire region. Non-resolution of this issue will undermine the prospect of peace as well as affecting the socio-economic progress of both the countries.
The international community, particularly the UN, also needs to come alive to fulfil its obligations towards the people of Kashmir and help both India and Pakistan resolve the dispute which is about granting the inalienable right of self-determination to the people of the state. The UN resolutions take precedence over the bilateral Simla Agreement and, contrary to the Indian claims, can still be invoked to settle the issue.
The writer is a freelance contributor.
Email: [email protected]

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