Here we are sharing an article written by Yaqoob Khan Bangash Published in ‘Express Tribune’ on July 23, 2016.
The recent spate of violence in Indian-held Kashmir has opened the eyes of many people and must be taken seriously. It is not business as usual in Kashmir, and both Pakistan and India must take the changed circumstances into consideration and engage with the issue in a new manner. Both Pakistan and India still repeat the narrative they decided upon decades ago. Both Foreign Offices act as if it’s still 1980 and statements from Foreign Offices are the final word. Therefore, while India howls that Kashmir is its internal matter and Pakistan should stop interfering, Pakistan complains that India has ignored the UN resolutions on Kashmir. In 2016, both these stances are rather quaint and silly. In the modern world, the Westphalian mantra of the inviolability of national sovereignty and boundaries is no longer sacrosanct. The advent of the UN and other multilateral organisations had already diluted the concept, and recent events in the world have clearly shown that one can no longer hide behind such concepts. Similarly, the Kashmir-related resolutions were passed by the UN Security Council nearly 70 years ago. Since then, a lot of water has passed under the bridge, including the Simla Agreement, and the fact is that there the UN has no intention of implementing these resolutions. Related is the small matter that the resolutions put responsibilities on both India and Pakistan, which both countries are in fact unwilling to deliver on.
The current spate of violence in Indian-held Kashmir needs to be seen in its proper context. This violence is neither Pakistan-supported, nor is it solely composed and led by separatists. This violence has its roots in the malaise, disappointment and sheer frustration which the Kashmiris suffer from. As long as militancy was alive in Kashmir, the Indian government used that as an excuse to continue to administer a police state and blamed it for the lack of development. However, for the last decade or so, militancy had almost died in the region and a couple of elections have been held. However, rather than transferring effective power to the elected government, successive central Indian governments have let the status quo continue, with elected governments as bystanders in front of the excesses of the Indian Army and other forces. That and the hollow promises of a Jammu and Kashmir package have made the population realise that militancy or no militancy, the attitude of New Delhi has remained stepmotherly towards them. They also look at the great strides made by other states and regions in India and the amazing PR machine Prime Minister Narendra Modi is spearheading around the world, but do not see themselves becoming a part of it. Such a scenario certainly leads to anger, frustration and as we have seen, violent protests.
For a long time, Kashmir was a dispute between India and Pakistan, with the latter occasionally mentioning the Kashmiri people as the third party. However, in reality, the Kashmiri people are the only and real party. Both countries are simply fighting over that one party. And the Kashmiris want what everyone else in the region wants — democracy, development and respect. Unless the government of India takes the people of Jammu and Kashmir along in the development of India, the alienation and, ultimately violence, will grow. The government of India also needs to understand that it will never achieve the status of a great power, nor a permanent seat at the UN Security Council unless it does not resolve the Kashmir dispute. Hence, using trite arguments is not going to work; only real, meaningful and concrete action will make sense. Pakistan, on the other hand, needs to continue to voice its concern for the plight of the Kashmiri people since its resolution is essential for peace in the region and will ultimately pave the way for prosperity. Pakistan, however, needs to be careful and ensure that the movement for Kashmiri rights remains indigenous so that the ‘foreign hand’ argument cannot be employed again.
This time let us all be on the side of the Kashmiris.