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September 16, 2019

Word on Kashmir


September 16, 2019

Pakistan does seem to have finally succeeded in drawing global attention to the worsening situation in Indian-held Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution. In a strongly worded letter, 46 UK members of parliament have written to the UN secretary-general, expressing deep concern over the stripping of Kashmir’s autonomous status and a direct attack on its age-old right to self-governance. They also expressed concern over Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aggressive erosion of the legal and constitutional foundations of India.

Members of the European Parliament have meanwhile written separately to the High Representative of the Union of Foreign Affairs and Security, also expressing concern on recent developments in Kashmir. Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed a gathering in Muzaffarabad on Friday, urging youth in the region not to cross the LoC until he had an opportunity to speak with UN members and assuring them he would be working to find a solution. Fortunately, this solution is now beginning to look a little nearer than was the case last month. But there is obviously still a great deal of concern. India has the clout to stand up to the world quite strongly given its status as a market for major nations and its role in global politics. It would be difficult to force it to bend down through diplomatic means. But there is now a greater likelihood that an effort towards this can be made in a coordinated fashion. If sufficient pressure is brought, India may at least agree to revert back to the previous situation by restoring Article 370. This will be at least a small victory. Meanwhile, the human rights situation in Kashmir continues to worsen. People in the valley have been prevented from gathering for Friday prayers. Quite obviously, the situation in Kashmir is far from normal, despite claims by New Delhi. The occupied territory has now been under complete lockdown for over forty days. However, the denials by the Indian government are not convincing most people. There is more certainty in the world that all is not well in Kashmir and that something drastic will have to be done to restore the previously existing position – unenviable though even that was – as the very first step. Eventually, of course, a longer-lasting solution is required which can allow the people of Kashmir to determine their own destiny and move on with their lives in the manner that they determine is the best for them.

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