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August 15, 2019

Unresolved misery


August 15, 2019

More than seven decades after the Subcontinent gained independence, the issue of Kashmir reminds us of a place where almost perpetual misery and uncertainty has existed. This Independence Day, Kashmir was on the minds of many who had thrust it into the background; virtually forgotten. Pakistan is now seeking an emergency session of the UNSC following India’s move to revoke Article 370 of its constitution which gave the state a measure of autonomy. Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are now separated into two separate entities, and have both been effectively and illegally incorporated into India. When governments commit crimes of this kind as the BJP-led government has committed, their first response is always to try and hide the truth. This the Indian government has done by refusing access to journalists into Kashmir with even the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists prevented from freely talking to people on the streets in Srinagar.

Smuggled video footage of protests by the people of Occupied Kashmir has in some cases reached the outside world. In other cases, they have been seized by the soldiers who patrol virtually every town in Kashmir. Amidst all this, the government in New Delhi insists that normalcy prevails in the valley. Hospitals tell of children with pellet-marked faces as new protests begin and there is danger of more dangerous months ahead.

There is a bigger untruth being told; the idea that Jammu and Kashmir are somehow an integral part of India. This is a slogan that has been repeated over and over again as a kind of litany by the Modi government. But the documents of history, which we still know too little about because of the distortions that have occurred over the years, tell us this is not true. Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris; only they have the right to decide its destiny under UNSC resolutions. We are talking about a territory with enormous history, enormous resources and a large land area. The Indian media’s lies that all is normal simply echoes the mantra of the BJP government. It shows how even in a democracy the media can be so easily persuaded to act in a specific way and give up the professionalism and neutrality that should be its hallmark. Pakistan still needs to reach out further to the world. It has begun to do so. And voices from within the country are being heard. The Kashmiri diaspora in the rest of the world is speaking up too and we can only wish and hope that the miseries of the Kashmiri people will come to an end before more decades have passed.

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