Kashmir: Nothing Happens in a Vacuum

By Adam Garrie
Source

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2018 was the deadliest year for Kashmiri civilians for a decade. This fact was affirmed not only by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS)but by the Washington Post. The rising death toll among Kashmiris in 2018 was itself a culmination of an increasingly violent approach taken by the forces of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) since the late 1980s, whilst the overriding problems for Kashmiris are a result of being denied their international legal right to self-determination since 1947.

In Kashmir, nothing happens in a vacuum and this fact readily applies to today’s attack on an Indian military convoy by a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed. The very fact that Indian army convoys and soldiers armed to the teeth are present in IOK in order to subdue the very people that India tells the world are merely a minority of ‘reluctant Indians’, obfuscates the more self-evident reality on the ground. The reality is that if part of a nation must be under constant military occupation in order to remain within such a nation, such a place is not part of the nation in question at all.

Kashmir’s troubles are ultimately a conflict between the Indian authorities and Kashmiris themselves. If anyone doubted this to be the case, one must consider two things. First of all, Jaish-e-Mohammed has been banned in Pakistan since 2002. Secondly,  Pakistani voices that are raised in the name of justice for Kashmir tend to hold the view that far from Pakistan doing too much on the Kashmir issue, Islamabad actually does far too little and has done far too little for quite some time.

Many in India will not want to admit the following and many in Pakistan will not want to hear the following, but the reality must be laid bear all the same: although the crisis in IOK is one between India and the Kashmiri people, Pakistan does indeed have a role to play. This role is one that requires Islamabad to amplify the plight of Kashmiris to the rest of the world for the simple reason that there is no other country in the world that is in such a position to do so. The longer Pakistani elites retreat from this issue, the worse things will get not just for Kashmiris but for the wider region as a whole. The fact that India blames everything that happens in or around IOK on Islamabad is actually quite farcical because Pakistan’s real position vis-a-vis Kashmir is one that is all too detached. As a result, innocent people suffer and a cycle of violence is perpetuated because of an Indian culture of scapegoating Pakistan and a Pakistani culture of wishing troubles away, rather than facing them head on.

Had Pakistan forcefully told the United Nations, global civil society, all three global military superpowers and bilateral partners of the grave danger that IOK’s unresolved status poses, the Indian soldiers who died today would still be alive and furthermore, the scores of thousands of Kashmiri civilians gunned down in cold blood by Indian soldiers over the decades would also still be alive. In this sense, if the UN mandated plebiscite on Kashmiri national self-determination had already been held, there would be more people alive today in the region than there presently are. Every moment wasted therefore ought to sound like a tick on south Asia’s very own doomsday clock. With every further second that is ticked away, Kashmiris and Indians are both at risk of death or injury. No rational person in any country could label such a situation as acceptable.

While for the supporters of the Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, the issues surrounding the occupation are those involving unbridled jingoism and a battle that puts a quest for resources ahead of justice for civilians, for Kashmiris themselves, it is a matter of being denied their UN mandated right to national self-determination which they have been waiting for since 1947.

The pressing issue of Kashmir was one of the first major challenges presented to a young United Nations Security Council which in 1949 passed Resolution 47. This resolution called for a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to decide on their own future according to the principles of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was ratified in 1948.

Crucially, India continues to deny that Pakistan has followed the following clauses in the resolution:

“1. The Government of Pakistan should undertake to use its best endeavours:

(a) To secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting, and to prevent any intrusion into the State of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State;

(b) To make known to all concerned that the measures indicated in this and the following paragraphs provide full freedom to all subjects of the State, regardless of creed, caste, or party, to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State, and that therefore they should co-operate in the maintenance of peace and order”.

But while Pakistan has fulfilled its duties according to a precise reading of the Resolution, India maintains that Resolution 47 calls for Pakistan to abandon the civilian administration in Azad Kashmir. India has held fast to this obstructionist position in spite of the fact that the clauses in question do not make specific mention of the civilian administration in Azad Kashmir, beyond a general and reasonable call for non-native Kashmiris to vacate the territory for the specific and limited aim of holding a free and fair plebiscite based on the indigenous population as well as indigenous Kashmiris who were displayed during the war of 1947-48.

But while arguments continue to be made regarding interpretations of Resolution 47, Kashmiris continue to pay with their lives for 72 years of sustained injustice. The only solution is for the UN to take into account a reasonable interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 47 and force the issue of the need for an immediate plebiscite throughout the entirety of Kashmir. This is absolutely necessary in order to make it so that there can be no question about the long-term status of the region.

A further matter of importance becomes clear when one realises that arguments between New Delhi and Islamabad regarding differing interpretations of the 1949 era UN Resolution do not directly take into account the feelings of Kashmiris themselves. Ultimately, the Kashmir crisis is one between the Kashmiri people and their occupier. It is only up to the Kashmiri people to define who and what is an occupier and this is why their voices must be heard by the international community without prejudice. Any nation afraid of such a plebiscite can logically be concluded to be a state afraid that its interpretation of the situation in Kashmir is one that will be exposed as incompatible with the feelings of Kashmiris.

Furthermore, as India has physically occupied much of Kashmir since 1947, there has been plenty of time for New Delhi to convince Kashmiris that they are better off in India than as an independent sovereign state or as part of Pakistan. The uptick in the intensity of the conflict within Kashmir since 1989 in particular, has demonstrated that far from using the delayed execution of the UN Resolution in order to make peace with Kashmiris, Indian forces have done everything they can to make the case for Kashmir leaving India according to the democratic will of the Kashmiri people.

Former US President John F. Kennedy famously stated:

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

This quote could have been authored to describe the lingering deterioration of human rights and social cohesion in Kashmir as Kashmiris are pushing back only as much as they have been pushed. Contented populations are by definition not angry populations and likewise, no genuine uprising has ever been a result of prosperity, social harmony and a happy population. In this sense, the realities in Kashmir speak for themselves, not least because a genuinely contended population cannot be easily mobilised by external political proclamations.

The extent to which Kashmiris are suffering is therefore self-evident, in spite of the fact that the IOK authorities make it extremely difficult for international reporters to gain access to the streets where demonstrators are frequently beaten and killed for demanding a peaceful right to have the vote that the UN mandates that they must have.

Of course, there exists a strong temptation, perhaps an inevitable temptation for India’s ruling BJP to respond to today’s event by committing acts of completely unacceptable aggression against Pakistan. Yet such jingoistic appeals during an election season will only further teach the world a lesson that has long ago been handed down: violence begets violence.

If India truly wants events like that of today to become a thing of the past rather than a harbinger of a bleak future, India must work with its neighbour to give Kashmiris what the UN mandates that they have – a democratic and transparent say in their political future. This long overdue revelation itself comes at a time when the entire world, including the United States (but excluding India) has come to realise that Pakistan’s long held view of an all parties peace process in Afghanistan, is the only viable means to create stability in a country that in one way or another has been tearing itself apart since at least the 1970s. If the world has come to trust Pakistan’s peace agenda for Afghanistan, the only reason that something similar is supposedly not possible in respect of Kashmir, is due to a lack of will. Clearly, when peace lovers are silent, those who love the opposite of peace will make their voices heard.

While Mahatma Gandhi remains unpopular among the Hindtuva extremists that the BJP courts, it is wise to remember that he once said “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind“. In this case, New Delhi is blinding itself to the reality that a Kashmir under occupation will lead not only to literal blindness, maiming and death, but that the longer this cycle perpetuates, the worse things will get on all sides. Indian mothers should therefore consider why the government is sending their sons to be killed in a place that clearly wants to develop along the lines of a new political path. The Indian soldiers who have lost their lives Kashmir were not killed by Pakistan, these lives are being lost because of a policy that is one part murder and one part suicide – truly all have gone blind if they cannot see this for what it is.  If these matters are allowed to be discussed openly, then a broader dialogue on a peace process involving the UN mandated plebiscite can begin with sincerity.

Pakistan likewise must not allow itself to become scapegoated by New Delhi over the issue. Instead, Pakistan should reflect on its one area of guilt in the matter: the Pakistani state for far too long has acted as though it wished the Kashmir issue away. As such, is it any wonder that an ostrich with its head buried below the sand is a perfect target for an Indian state that needs someone to blame for a situation it has long been unable to control?

God willing, today’s attack will be the last such attack to ever happen in Kashmir, but such wishful thinking requires action steps in order for such a wish to transform itself into a strategic road map towards a sustainable peace. There is ultimately but one way to end the bloodshed and this is for Kashmir to be granted a full, free and fair plebiscite on its future. Until then, so long as Kashmir has no future, those attempting to undemocratically dictate Kashmir’s future will not be sailing through placid waters.

A commitment to peace must therefore be holistic and it must collectively rise above the constant finger pointing between politicians on all sides of all borders. India must not shy away from the fact that violence begets violence and that as such, today’s event has everything to do with the post-1947 history of Kashmir and nothing with the politics and actions of Pakistan. Likewise, Pakistan must ask itself how long will it wait before telling the world the truth about Kashmir, so that a harrowing occupation might be transformed into a new reality wherein the cries of peace ring out above the myopic cries for war.

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Shutdown on Modi’s visit to IOK eye-opener for India: JRL

By  Staff Reporter
Source

Pakistan’s continued support to Kashmir cause hailed

Srinagar, February 04 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the Joint Resistance Leadership has said that the exemplary shutdown observed on the occasion of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s visit to the territory, yesterday, should serve as an eye-opener for the Indian rulers that the Kashmiris reject India’s illegal occupation of their homeland.

The JRL comprising Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik in a statement issued in Srinagar said that claiming a visit conducted under the military siege and shadow of gun as successful was ridiculous. The resistance leaders said India’s national festivals and visits of high-profile dignitaries always bring more miseries and hardships for the people of occupied Kashmir. They said that the Kashmiris were engaged in a peaceful struggle to secure their right to self-determination and would take the ongoing movement to its logical conclusion.

Senior APHC leader, Agha Syed Hassan Al-Moosvi Al-Safvi, the Grand Mufti-Designate, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, the patron of Tehreek-e-Wahdat-e-Islami, Syed Hussain, and the Jammu and Kashmir Tanzeem-e-Azadi said that observance of 5th February, every year, as Kashmir Solidarity Day by the government and people of Pakistan was a source of encouragement for the Kashmiris in their just freedom struggle. Agha Hassan Al-Moosvi said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were challenging a big power and Pakistan was the only country that extended its continued support to their cause.

The Illegally detained senior APHC leader and the Chairman of Democratic Freedom Party, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, in a message from New Delhi’s Tihar Jail said that there could be no peace in South Asia unless the Kashmir dispute was addressed and resolved in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations.

The Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference in a meeting of its central executive committee and presided over by its Chairman, Shabbir Ahmed Dar, in Srinagar deplored that instead of respecting the sentiments of Kashmiri people, India was using its military might to suppress the Kashmiris’ ongoing liberation movement.

Hurriyat leaders, Zafar Akbar Butt and Mukhtar Ahmed Waza, addressing condolence and corner meetings in different areas of Srinagar and South Kashmir called for settling the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people to mitigate their sufferings.

Forceful demonstrations erupted in Tarigam village of Kulgam district, today, after Indian troops launched a cordon and search operation in the area. Indian police and troops used brute force to disperse the demonstrators, triggering clashes between the protesters and the forces’ personnel.

Kashmiris launch calendar to remember disappeared loves ones

By Riffat Fareed
Source

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Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir –Safiya Azad, 43, dreads forgetting her husband. She doesn’t know whether he is dead or alive. 

Every day, for the past 26 years, she has tried to remember him.

On a Spring afternoon in April 1993, Humayun Azad, a businessman, disappeared after he was picked up by Indian paramilitary forces a kilometre away from his home in Indian-administered Kashmir‘s main city of Srinagar.

Under the banner of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), on January 15, Safiya and a group of other Kashmiris whose relatives have disappeared launched a calendar with sketches and stories of their missing family members.

Parveena Ahanger, now 65, started the APDP when her son disappeared in the early 1990s.

“This is a unique way for them to keep remembering and looking for their family members as they await their return,” she told Al Jazeera.

“The dead dies, he has a grave. The disappeared, they do not let us mourn properly. They ache in us every moment,” she added, through tears.

The calendar features 12 disappeared people – one for each month. A blood stain marks the day of their disappearance.

Among the disappeared are a student, farmer, labourer, tailor and a driver.

I even saved a half-burned cigarette that he had smoked on the morning of his disappearance. Until a few years ago, his clothes remained hanging in the wardrobe.

SAFIYA AZAD, WIFE OF  BUSINESSMAN HUMAYUN AZAD

The case of Humayun Azad, a broad-faced man with a thin moustache, is highlighted in April.

Next to his sketch are the words: “I buried you, again and again, in my heart once, in my soul twice and in my memory every once in a while.”

According to Suhail Naqshbandi, the artist who sketched the men, “it was an emotional experience.”

He told Al Jazeera: “The pictures were very small and blurry. And the existence of these young [men] seems to be blurry too. I had to imagine and guess the details. You do not know what has happened to this man.”

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Human rights groups say at least 8,000 have disappeared since 1989.

Some were picked up by paramilitary forces, according to witnesses, and others simply left their homes and never returned. 

Most disappearances, the rights groups say, took place in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the armed-conflict was at its peak in the restive region.

People like Safiya have been seeking answers for more than two decades. 

“I was 16 when I got married to him. He was 24,” she said.

Their son, Dawood Ahmad, was six months old when Humayan was last seen.

“From police stations to jails … I looked for him everywhere,” she said.

She now lives at her in-laws’ home in Srinagar. 

“It might have happened 20 years ago or more. It might not be a story for people to hear any more. But for me, everything is so fresh in my memory.”

‘Half-widows’

A “half-widow” , a term specifically for women whose husbands have disappeared, Safiya was married for two years before Humayan went missing. 

On that day, a neighbour told Safiya that her partner had been taken away.

“After that, we never saw him.”

She clung to hope when some prisoners said they saw her husband in an infamous interrogation centre in Srinagar known as Papa 1.

The centre had been used to extract information from rebels in the 1990s when the armed rebellion against Indian rule began in the disputed territory.

“It elevated my hope that he was alive. I went to the torture centre every day. I sat there from morning to evening. I would take grapes for him or something else and hand it over to the security guards at the gate to give him. But I never got a glimpse of him,” said Safiya.

Once, she sent him a packed suitcase.

“I sent him clothes, toothpaste, soap, a towel, slippers. He was fond of chewing gum and I sent a pack of chewing gum too,” she said, “but I do not know whether it reached him.”

She claimed that a legal case she filed offered no results, so she joined APDP.

Every 10th day of the month, relatives of the disappeared hold a sit-in protest, demanding the whereabouts of their loved ones.

“Until 2000, I would get a message from someone, saying that they saw him in the torture centre. Then the messages suddenly stopped,” said Safiya.

Despondent, she wrote poetry and letters to her husband.

“I lost all of my writing when the flood hit Kashmir in 2014. I even saved a half-burned cigarette that he had smoked on the morning of his disappearance. Until a few years ago, his clothes remained hanging in the wardrobe. With me, everything at home waited for him,” she said.

Safiya worked at a nursery, which provided income and an education for their son, who is now in his twenties.

“In all these years and today, I still have only hope that [Humayun] is alive and will return. 

“I have kept my son away from this struggle because it consumes a person.”

Khurram Parvez, a Kashmir-based human rights activist and chairman of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFID), blamed the government for inaction.

“Cases linger,” he said. “In many cases, the perpetrators have also been identified but no justice has been delivered.” 

But Vijay Kumar, adviser to the governor of Jammu and Kashmir state, told Al Jazeera: “There is a proper system in place in the administration if someone has a complaint or asks for an inquiry.

“There are always set mechanisms in the government of India and other places to monitor some of these cases. Many cases have been enquired.” 

In June last year, the United Nations, in its first-ever human rights report on Kashmir, said: “There is also almost total impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances, with little movement towards credibly investigating complaints, including into alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region.”

While families face a long legal struggle, Safiya said the more challenging battle is emotional.

“Whenever there is a knock on the door,” she said, “I feel it’s him.”

UK govt tells India it won’t interfere in Kashmir Day event: report

By Staff Reporter
Source

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After the Indian government lodged a protest with the United Kingdom over a Kashmir solidarity event to be held in the British parliament on Feb 4, the UK government said it would not interfere in the matter, India Today reported on Friday.

Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said during a media briefing on Thursday that Delhi had taken the matter of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pakistan’s event ─ scheduled to be held in the House of Commons ─ highlighting human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir “very strongly” with the UK.

“We hope that they will understand our objections to the proposed conference and take appropriate action,” Kumar said. Describing the UK as “a friendly country and strategic partner”, Kumar said India was hopeful and “expected” that the British government would address Delhi’s concerns.

The UK, however, said it would not interfere in the matter, with the British High Commission (BHC) spokesperson in New Delhi asserting that “UK’s Members of Parliament are independent of the government; it is for individual members to decide who they meet and for what purpose”.

According to a press release issued by Foreign Office, the Feb 4 meeting will be followed by an exhibition in London to “highlight the centrality of [India-occupied] Jammu and Kashmir dispute and the grave human rights violations against the Kashmiri people by India which are being widely condemned and need to be immediately stopped”.

The meeting will be attended by MPs of both Labour and Conservative parties. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is also expected to attend the event.

The BHC spokesperson in New Delhi told India Today that the UK government is aware that “Mr Qureshi is travelling to London to attend a number of private events. There are no plans for meetings with the UK Government during this visit.”

“The UK’s longstanding position is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation in Kashmir, taking into account the Kashmiri people’s wishes,” the spokesperson added.

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If India is Afraid of Large Funerals in Kashmir – IOK Forces Must Cease Being a Cause of Such Funerals

By Adam Garrie
Source

On Sunday, thousands of Kashmiris marched to Sugan in the Shopian district of the Vale of Kashmir, where they attended funeral prayers for Zeenat ul-Islam, a prominent Kashmiri who was killed by the armed forces of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) on Saturday. While the funeral for ul-Islam saw multiple Kashmiris vent their rage, IOK forces fired live rounds at the mourners, injuring eleven in the process.

Both the killing of Zeenat ul-Islam and the IOK’s reckless and violent provocation against civilians mourning a moderate rebel, come at a particularly sensitive time for Kashmir.

The Washington Post recently confirmed that 2018 was the deadliest year for Kashmiris in IOK for a decade. Kashmiri media have cited an end of year report by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) which details the nature of the state violence against mainly young protesters demonstrating for the right to national self-determination.

According to author Sagrika Kissu:

“As per the figures released by JKCCS, a total of 160 civilians were killed in incidents of violence in 2018 in the Valley. Among those killed were18 women and 31 children – the highest in the last decade – including an eight-month-old baby, Nitin Kumar, who was killed in cross-border firing in Pallanwala. According to the report, a total of 586 people were killed in 2018 in Kashmir. Among 586 people killed in Jammu and Kashmir, 160 are civilians, 267 are militants and 159 are members of Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir police, the report added.

Meanwhile, in contrast, government figures show a decline in killings. In reply to a written question in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Hansraj Ahir, said, ‘Altogether 140 terrorists were killed by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir between June and December 2018 during which 426 stone pelting incidents were also reported in the state.’ However, these  figures have allegedly created more distrust among people in Kashmir who think that ‘government is hiding the human rights violations in the valley’, say human rights activists.

According to the JKCCS report, most civilian deaths were reported from South Kashmir, the region which saw sustained violence in 2018. Almost 85 civilian killings were recorded from four districts of South Kashmir – Kulgam, Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian. North Kashmir recorded 24 civilian killings, while Central Kashmir witnessed killings of 13 civilians. Near 180 instances of internet blockade were recorded in 2018. The report also documented surging cordon and search operations in the valley.

In 2018, at least 275 Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs) were conducted across Jammu and Kashmir, which resulted in the killing of 267 militants, the report said. According to data compiled by Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and JKCCS, at least 143 encounters took place between Indian armed forces and militants following CASOs. In 2018, at least 120 cases of damage to civilian houses were reported in Jammu and Kashmir in which 31 houses were completely burnt while 94 were partially damaged, the report said.

The report also talked about the decade-high suicides among security forces, as ’20 armed force personnel claimed their lives’ – the highest in the past 10 years. 2018 also saw an uptick in the usage of force and pellets at protestors. ‘In 2018, 191 incidents of excessive use of force were recorded. Firing on protestors, use of pellet shotguns, beatings and physical assaults by Indian armed forces have been routinely reported. According to a newspaper report, from May 1 to 9, around 115 people were admitted in Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS) for pellet and bullet injuries. Out of these, 74 had received pellets, with 60 among them having injuries in their eyes. According to a surgeon treating the injured at the hospital, government forces had been firing bullets on chest, neck, head and abdomen, which showed their intention to kill,’ the JKCCS report said.

The year also saw the youngest pellet victim, 19-month old, Hiba. A pellet had hit her right eye and was later removed by doctors but yet the chances that she might lose her eyesight in the affected eye are high.

The report also underlined the less-acknowledged instance of vandalism. In 2018, at least 120 cases of damage to civilian houses were reported in Jammu and Kashmir in which 31 houses were completely burnt while 94 were partially damaged. ‘The burning and destruction of civilian properties is not just a form of collective punishment against the local population but an act which renders scores of families homeless,’ the report said”.

While for the supporters of the Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, the issues surrounding the occupation are those involving unbridled jingoism and a battle that puts a quest for resources ahead of justice for civilians, for Kashmiris themselves, it is a matter of being denied their UN mandated right to national self-determination which they have been waiting for since 1947.

The pressing issue of Kashmir was one of the first major challenges presented to a young United Nations Security Council which in 1949 passed Resolution 47. This resolution called for a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to decide on their own future according to the principles of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was ratified in 1948.

Crucially, India continues to deny that Pakistan has followed the following clauses in the resolution:

“1. The Government of Pakistan should undertake to use its best endeavours:

(a) To secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting, and to prevent any intrusion into the State of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State;

(b) To make known to all concerned that the measures indicated in this and the following paragraphs provide full freedom to all subjects of the State, regardless of creed, caste, or party, to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State, and that therefore they should co-operate in the maintenance of peace and order”.

But while Pakistan has fulfilled its duties according to a precise reading of the Resolution, India maintains that Resolution 47 calls for Pakistan to abandon the civilian administration in Azad Kashmir. India has held fast to this obstructionist position in spite of the fact that the clauses in question do not make specific mention of the civilian administration in Azad Kashmir, beyond a general and reasonable call for non-native Kashmiris to vacate the territory for the specific and limited aim of holding a free and fair plebiscite based on the indigenous population as well as indigenous Kashmiris who were displayed during the war of 1947-48.

But while arguments continue to be made regarding interpretations of Resolution 47, Kashmiris continue to pay with their lives for 72 years of sustained injustice. The only solution is for the UN to take into account a reasonable interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 47 and force the issue of the need for an immediate plebiscite throughout the entirety of Kashmir. This is absolutely necessary in order to make it so that there can be no question about the long-term status of the region.

A further matter of importance becomes clear when one realises that arguments between New Delhi and Islamabad regarding differing interpretations of the 1949 era UN Resolution do not directly take into account the feelings of Kashmiris themselves. Ultimately, the Kashmir crisis is one between the Kashmiri people and their occupier. It is only up to the Kashmiri people to define who and what is an occupier and this is why their voices must be heard by the international community without prejudice. Any nation afraid of such a plebiscite can logically be concluded to be a state afraid that its interpretation of the situation in Kashmir is one that will be exposed as incompatible with the feelings of Kashmiris.

Furthermore, as India has physically occupied much of Kashmir since 1947, there has been plenty of time for New Delhi to convince Kashmiris that they are better off in India than as an independent sovereign state or as part of Pakistan. The uptick in the intensity of the conflict within Kashmir since 1989 in particular, has demonstrated that far from using the delayed execution of the UN Resolution in order to make peace with Kashmiris, Indian forces have done everything they can to make the case for Kashmir leaving India according to the democratic will of the Kashmiri people.

Former US President John F. Kennedy famously stated:

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

This quote could have been authored to describe the lingering deterioration of human rights and social cohesion in Kashmir as Kashmiris are pushing back only as much as they have been pushed. Contented populations are by definition not angry populations and likewise, no genuine uprising has ever been a result of prosperity, social harmony and a happy population. In this sense, the realities in Kashmir speak for themselves, not least because a genuinely contended population cannot be easily mobilised by external political proclamations.

The extent to which Kashmiris are suffering is therefore self-evident, in spite of the fact that the IOK authorities make it extremely difficult for international reporters to gain access to the streets where demonstrators are frequently beaten and killed for demanding a peaceful right to have the vote that the UN mandates that they must have.

There is no other logical way forward and more importantly, there is no other just way forward but for the UN to take action in the name of creating peace through a general plebiscite on Kashmir’s future.

The Horror Stories Told About Syria Are Happening in India on a Monumental Scale

By Adam Garrie
Source

While the infowar regarding the state of human rights in Syria has largely died down on both sides, the violent targeting of religious and ethnic minorities, government forces shooting at unarmed civilians, the cultural cleansing of religious and other minorities and an epidemic of rape that is cheered on by ruling party loyalists, continues to foment throughout India and Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Far from being recent trends, a long standing set of problems seem only to be growing worse.

A rape plague 

In January of 2018, Asifa Bano, an eight year old Muslim girl was kidnapped by a gang of Hindutva extremists where she was gang raped and murdered inside a Hindu temple. This horrific incident became symbolic of a crime wave against minorities in India where women are often the foremost victims of horrific sexual assaults.

In June of 2018, it was reported that five female activists in the Indian state of Jharkhand who were attempting to document and stop human trafficking in the region, were themselves kidnapped and gang rapped at gunpoint.

The seriousness of the rape epidemic in India is compounded by the fact that powerful political figures and so-called “philosophers” have not only justified but endorsed rape as a political and social weapon against minorities, including and especially Muslim women.

According to Pakistani-American journalist Riaz Haq,

“It is hard to say how many of the rape victims were Muslim. What is known, however, is the exhortation by iconic Hindutva leaders to rape of Muslim women. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, one of founders of right-wing RSS who Prime Minister Modi describes as “worthy of worship”, is among them. After getting elected as to the highest office in India, Modi paid tribute to Savarkar by laying flowers at his portrait that hangs in India’s Parliament.

VD Savarkar, in one of his books titled Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, elaborates on why raping of Muslim women is not only justified but encouraged.

Savarkar has used revisionist Hindutva history to exhort his followers to rape Muslim women as payback for historic wrongs he believes were committed by Muslim conquerers of India. ‘Once they are haunted with this dreadful apprehension that the Muslim women too, stand in the same predicament in case the Hindus win, the future Muslim conquerors will never dare to think of such molestation of Hindu women’, he writes”.

 

What one is witnessing in India is more than an average crime epidemic but is part of a wider systematic breakdown in society that has seen Muslim men lynched for allegedly slaughtering a cow for beef, entire Muslim families murdered for allegedly eating beef, Muslim women and children raped because they are considered subhuman by Hindutva extremists and other minority groups as well as so-called Dalits – members of Hinduisms “untouchable” caste treated much the same.

Government supporting Hindutva extremists kill and terrorise Muslims 

While India’s secular democracy still exists in theory, in practice extremist Hindu groups that at both regional levels and now at a national level are threatening to erase not only the history of important periods in India’s development that were shaped by Islamic characteristics, but in so doing, the forces of political Hindutva are erasing the cultural and religious identify of millions of modern day Indian citizens.

Today, the greatest victims of acculturation and oppression in modern India are Indian Muslims – particularly those in northern India. Northern India remains the political heartland of the ruling political faction BJP as well as its allied militant group RSS. The year 2002 remains a watershed in the post-colonial history of India as it was then in Gujarat state that a violent pogrom was instigated against Muslims leaving up to 2,000 dead. Most worrying, the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002 was a man called Narendra Modi who is now India’s Prime Minister. Many witnesses to the violence in Gujarat continue to assert that Modi’s state government as well as police and other public authorities intentionally allowed the violence to spiral out of control when clearly it is the duty of any government to quash violence and enforce an orderly rule of law.

In the years since the BJP formed the current Indian government, the rise of so called “cow protection mobs“, the phenomenon where gangs of extremist Hindus attack and often lynch Muslims accused of eating or trading in beef products, has also skyrocketed. In many cases, the Muslim victims of murder and vicious assault were simply targeted for being Muslims rather than for having anything to do with butchering cows, selling or eating beef.

The contemporary assault on Muslims in India however is not just limited to the mob violence which is clearly sanctioned by elements of the ruling party and their far-right allies. The historic city of Allahabad in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has recently been the site of controversy after the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath decided to unilaterally rename the city Prayagraj. This is a clear attempt to erase the history of the Mughal Empire which incidentally was the pre-1947 sovereign entity which came closest to uniting all of what was now India.

One of India’s most internationally famous monuments, the Taj Mahal was built on the orders of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an Islamic shrine for his wife. While Indian tourism associations promote the Taj Mahal as one of the country’s top destinations, the Archaeological Survey of India have now taken the decision to prohibit Muslim pilgrims from worshipping in the Taj Mahal’s mosque on every day of the week except Friday.

This attempt to de-Islamify one of the world’s most recognisable Islamic shrines is yet another attempt to erase Muslim history and specifically Mughal history from the collective consciousness of modern India.

But beyond the attempts to culturally cleanse Islam from India, it was recently reported that a Uttar Pradesh Assembly member of the ruling BJP just stated that he is ready to bomb minorities who claim that their safety is no longer guaranteed in India.

Such behaviour however should not be surprising as the ruling party of India is associated with the RSS – a movement that is in effect an officially sanctioned violence squad.

Indian Occupied Kashmir’s year of death 

The Washington Post recently confirmed that 2018 was the deadliest year for Kashmiris in IOK for a decade. Kashmiri media have cited an end of year report by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) which details the nature of the state violence against mainly young protesters demonstrating for the right to national self-determination.

According to author Sagrika Kissu:

“As per the figures released by JKCCS, a total of 160 civilians were killed in incidents of violence in 2018 in the Valley. Among those killed were18 women and 31 children – the highest in the last decade – including an eight-month-old baby, Nitin Kumar, who was killed in cross-border firing in Pallanwala. According to the report, a total of 586 people were killed in 2018 in Kashmir. Among 586 people killed in Jammu and Kashmir, 160 are civilians, 267 are militants and 159 are members of Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir police, the report added.

Meanwhile, in contrast, government figures show a decline in killings. In reply to a written question in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Hansraj Ahir, said, ‘Altogether 140 terrorists were killed by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir between June and December 2018 during which 426 stone pelting incidents were also reported in the state.’ However, these  figures have allegedly created more distrust among people in Kashmir who think that ‘government is hiding the human rights violations in the valley’, say human rights activists.

According to the JKCCS report, most civilian deaths were reported from South Kashmir, the region which saw sustained violence in 2018. Almost 85 civilian killings were recorded from four districts of South Kashmir – Kulgam, Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian. North Kashmir recorded 24 civilian killings, while Central Kashmir witnessed killings of 13 civilians. Near 180 instances of internet blockade were recorded in 2018. The report also documented surging cordon and search operations in the valley.

In 2018, at least 275 Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs) were conducted across Jammu and Kashmir, which resulted in the killing of 267 militants, the report said. According to data compiled by Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and JKCCS, at least 143 encounters took place between Indian armed forces and militants following CASOs. In 2018, at least 120 cases of damage to civilian houses were reported in Jammu and Kashmir in which 31 houses were completely burnt while 94 were partially damaged, the report said.

The report also talked about the decade-high suicides among security forces, as ’20 armed force personnel claimed their lives’ – the highest in the past 10 years. 2018 also saw an uptick in the usage of force and pellets at protestors. ‘In 2018, 191 incidents of excessive use of force were recorded. Firing on protestors, use of pellet shotguns, beatings and physical assaults by Indian armed forces have been routinely reported. According to a newspaper report, from May 1 to 9, around 115 people were admitted in Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS) for pellet and bullet injuries. Out of these, 74 had received pellets, with 60 among them having injuries in their eyes. According to a surgeon treating the injured at the hospital, government forces had been firing bullets on chest, neck, head and abdomen, which showed their intention to kill,’ the JKCCS report said.

The year also saw the youngest pellet victim, 19-month old, Hiba. A pellet had hit her right eye and was later removed by doctors but yet the chances that she might lose her eyesight in the affected eye are high.

The report also underlined the less-acknowledged instance of vandalism. In 2018, at least 120 cases of damage to civilian houses were reported in Jammu and Kashmir in which 31 houses were completely burnt while 94 were partially damaged. ‘The burning and destruction of civilian properties is not just a form of collective punishment against the local population but an act which renders scores of families homeless,’ the report said”.

Conclusion 

Now that the war in Syria is dying down, those who claimed that their main concern in respect of Syria was the human rights situation, ought to shift their focus to India. To do anything less would be seen by millions in south Asia as a symptom of utter hypocrisy. As India’s Muslim population stands at 172 million while Syria’s total population is around 18 million, in terms of sheer scale, the problems in India are too big to be ignored according to the precedent set by those following events in the Levant.

With the government attempting to lie about its atrocities in IOK, with politicians from the ruling party threatening to bomb civilians while others have applauded child rape and with no clear action plans to put a meaningful end to the wholesale violence against Muslims and other minorities by government supporters, the so-called international community could gain credibility if it sought to shine a light on India that had been shone so brightly on Syria in recent years.

India Inadvertently Drew Attention To Kashmir By Pulling Out Of Talks With Pakistan

By Andrew Korybko

India thought that it would prompt the world to talk about Pakistan’s alleged “support of terrorism” by pulling out of its planned talks with the country at the UN, but this scheme backfired by drawing more global attention to the situation in Kashmir.

Indian’s Crumbling Narrative Monopoly

It was once thought that most of the world had already made up their mind about Kashmir, either regarding it as a “legitimate” part of India or as one of the worst examples of a modern-day occupation, and it seemed for a while that many people leaned towards the first-mentioned interpretation because of the success that India had in propagating its narrative during the era of traditional media. That all changed with the advent of new and alternative media, however, since New Delhi’s hitherto monopoly on the Kashmir issue has been broken just like its “Israeli” partner’s one about Palestine has in recent years. Global awareness about the true situation in Kashmir is nowhere close to what it is when it comes to Palestine, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t soon rival it if this emerging trend continues.

India’s present perception management strategy is to keep Kashmir off of the global agenda, and to this end it refuses to allow journalists into the region under its control and pressures its international partners to stay silent about it as a tacit quid-pro-quo for doing business with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The country’s totalitarian approach to this issue may have worked pretty well for it in the past but is now counter productively outdated because the generally cynical global public immediately suspects that the state is hiding something if it has to resort to such draconian measures to maintain its narrative. Whenever Kashmir does get brought up, India is quick to accuse Pakistan of “supporting terrorism” there and then hopes that the conversation quickly ends before people start asking questions about what’s really happening.

Setting A New Trend

Pakistan has collected ample evidence of the Indian Armed Forces regularly committing atrocities there and is keen to share its findings with the world, but up until recently, most people stopped paying attention the moment that India blew what has practically become the Islamophobic dog whistle of talking about “Pakistani-supported terrorism” in Kashmir. It’s not Islamophobic in principle to accuse any country of supporting terrorism, but the Hindu fundamentalist BJP that rules over India has a tendency to exploit global prejudices against Muslims in order to distract the world and tacitly justify its atrocious behavior. Simply blaming “terrorism” as the reason for the locals’ resistance to India’s refusal to abide by several UNSC Resolutions is nothing more than a distraction designed to divert the world’s attention away from the true state of affairs there.

Nowadays, however, it’s become increasingly more difficult for India to silence the global conversation on Kashmir as more and more people are getting their news from Alt-Media sources that aren’t under New Delhi’s influence. Not only that, but prominent media outlets like Qatar’s Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya, and Iran’s Press TV are beginning to pay attention to this issue in spite of their host country’s close relations with India, and the reason for this will be explained in a little bit.  Slowly but surely, India is losing control over the narrative in Kashmir, but sometimes it has nobody to blame for this but itself, as its recent actions at the UN proved. India thought that it could pull out of its planned talks with Pakistan there by blaming it for recent events in Kashmir, but this backfired.

The Khan Effect

Instead of the world unquestionably going along with the Indian narrative, a noticeable shift has been discerned whereby people are finally doubting whether New Delhi is fully telling the truth or not. A lot of this has to do not just with global information trends related to new and alternative medias, but also with the election of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who evokes worldwide curiosity because he’s so different from what the world has come to expect from the country. Pakistan’s international reputation was largely shaped by US and Indian information warfare campaigns up until this point, but even those intense operations weren’t able to influence the first impression that many people have of the South Asian state’s new leader. The former cricketer is genuinely popular and was even an international socialite at one time too.

As superficial as it may sound, sometimes people do “judge a book by its cover”, and truthfully speaking, Prime Minister Khan projects a very positive image of Pakistan abroad by his very being, which in this case has made many people think twice about India’s usual accusations of his country purportedly “supporting terrorism” in Kashmir. Instead of blindly accepting the mantra of “Pakistani-supported Islamic terrorism” being behind the unrest in Kashmir, people are wondering if India is playing the Islamophobia card and whether the situation might be more complex than they were led to believe. On the state-to-state level, interestingly enough, the same economic influences that had earlier been wielded by India to suppress talk about Kashmir might actually end up encouraging it because some countries might want to enter into better graces with Pakistan by doing so.

CPEC Changed Everything

CPEC is a game-changer in more ways than one. Not only does it provide China with reliable non-Malacca access to the Afro-Asian Ocean (popularly known as the “Indian Ocean”), but it also serves as the link for facilitating Chinese-Mideast trade, seen most powerfully through Saudi Arabia’s recent designation as the project’s third strategic partner. Influential Muslim countries, including rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, are now more interested in Pakistan than ever before, and their CPEC relationship with China allows them to balance their ties with India. Instead of fearing that India might purchase their competitor’s energy instead of their own and therefore self-censoring themselves when it comes to Kashmir, they’re now emboldened to flex their strategic independence by touching upon this issue, even if only mildly.

In fact, the state of affairs has now changed to such a point that India needs the Mideast countries for its energy imports more than they need it as a reliable buyer, which has flipped the strategic dynamics. This will very soon especially be the case with Saudi Arabia, which is poised to supply more of India’s energy than ever before as New Delhi gradually decreases its consumption of Iranian resources in compliance with the US’ forthcoming reimposition of sanctions against Tehran. Coupled with the Kingdom’s new role as CPEC’s third strategic partner, Saudi Arabia no longer has any reason to stay silent about Kashmir, particularly if Iran begins speaking up more loudly about this in response to India’s impending “betrayal”. Through this manner, the competition between both Mideast Great Powers could be constructively leveraged to the benefit of the Kashmiris.

The Way Forward

Looking forward, Pakistan must capitalize on the incipient momentum that’s building behind the Kashmiri cause in order to succeed in its quest of raising total global awareness about this pressing issue. It’s taken for granted that Pakistan will continue speaking about Kashmir at the UN, but Islamabad needs to do more in order for its efforts to reach the general populace whose perceptions about this conflict are what matter most in this context. Having said that, here are some suggestions that Pakistan should apply:

Encourage A Debate On Kashmir Across All Media Platforms:
The Indian narrative thrives in the absence of discourse whenever people are only fed New Delhi’s point of view about this issue, so it’s imperative for Pakistan to encourage all media platforms across the world – both mainstream and alternative – to debate Kashmir as much as possible.

Compare Kashmir To Palestine:
There are a plethora of comparisons that can be made between these two conflicts, and in some cases the situation in Kashmir is even worse than it is in Palestine (e.g. religious restrictions, human shields), so ardent efforts must be made to inform the Palestinian activist community about this.

Tap Into The Palestinian Activist Community:
Accordingly, it only makes sense to “cross-pollinate” both causes with one another’s activists, which in this case would see the Kashmiri cause receive an enormous boost by its much more globally well-known Palestinian counterparts.

Flip The Script On The Terrorism Narrative:
Aided by the Palestinian activist community and their newly enlightened awareness about the many commonalities between their cause and the Kashmiri one, it wouldn’t be hard to flip India’s narrative around by exposing its own state-sponsored terrorism just like activists have already done for “Israel’s”.

Emphasize The Undemocratic Nature Of Indian “Democracy”:
Again, just like Palestinian activists have proven that “Israel” isn’t the “democracy” that it and its American allies claim that it is due to its failure to allow the Palestinians to vote for their independence, so too is India also a fraudulent one by defying the UN and forbidding a Kashmiri referendum.

Concluding Thoughts

The wind is finally behind Pakistan’s sails when it comes to raising awareness about the Kashmiri cause, but the country needs to take advantage of the historic moment that it’s entering in order to ensure that the people receive every possible benefit they can from the increase in international pressure that a sustained activist campaign could bring. India inadvertently returned Kashmir to the global spotlight by clumsily blaming its withdrawal from the planned UN talks with Pakistan on what it claimed was its neighbor’s clandestine involvement in the region’s latest unrest, which ultimately turned out to New Delhi’s narrative disadvantage by reminding the world of this unresolved issue. The increased global attention that’s being given to Palestine at this time due to the “peace plan” that the Trump Administration is reportedly working on could be partially shared with Kashmir if Pakistan is successful in linking these two conflicts.

For that to happen, however, it needs to encourage all global media – especially the main ones broadcasting out of the Mideast – to debate the Kashmir conflict as much as possible in order to create the opportunity for comparing Palestine with Kashmir and “Israel” with India. This noble goal is no longer as difficult as it once was because CPEC changed the entire geostrategic equation and incentivizes India’s Mideast partners to flex their strategic independence by no longer self-censoring themselves over this issue, thereby enabling them to strike a balance between Pakistan and India. There are also innate religious obligations for Muslims to support the community of the faithful (“Ummah”) and especially those who are oppressed, which could be put to use to promote the Kashmiri cause among the global public. Should this be successful, then India might eventually end up isolated by the international community if it continues to defy the UN.

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