Kashmir Holds Key to Peace and Prosperity in South Asia
"India is not scared of the guns here in Kashmir -- it has a thousand times more guns. What it is scared of is people coming out in the streets, people seeing the power of nonviolent struggle," says the senior leader of the moderate wing of Kashmir's main separatist alliance, Hurriyat, and a key organizer of the civil disobedience campaign that began earlier this year, filling the air with chants of azadi. The number of armed attacks in the valley, meanwhile, has dropped to its lowest since the insurgency began in 1989, according to Indian officials.
How has India responded to the the peaceful movement for freedom in Kashmir? Not recognizing the reality of change on the ground, the Indian government has attempted to demonize the struggle as LeT led terrorism. Beyond that, it has continued to use force against unarmed, peaceful civilian protesters on the streets of Kashmir. Wall Street Journal reports the current situation in Kashmir as follows: Indian troops often resorted to lethal force, killing more than 50 Kashmiri civilians. Scores of protesters and separatist politicians have been thrown behind bars or placed under house arrest. Indian officials say these detentions are necessary to preserve public peace, and that the troops have to use force to maintain law and order. Some half a million Indian soldiers and policemen remain deployed in the Indian-administered part of Jammu and Kashmir, home to 10 million people. (About 5 million people live in Pakistani-held Kashmir.) Indian laws grant troops in Kashmir almost total immunity from prosecution, including in cases of civilian deaths. Srinagar, once India's prime tourist destination, is dotted by checkpoints, its indoor stadium, cinemas and hotels surrounded by sandbags and converted into military camps. Broadcast media are censored....As Kashmir descended into chaos after these killings of innocent civilian demonstrators, India responded with increasingly severe curfews and lockdowns that continue. Often they come without prior warning or formal announcement, as in Srinagar over the past weekend.
The events in Mumbai and the media spotlight on terrorism have obscured the reality of the 60-year peaceful struggle of Kashmiris ignored by the media and dismissed by India as Pakistan-backed terror in the Srinagar Valley.
In spite of the Indian government's efforts to mislead the world about the reality of Kashmir, there are some members of the media such as Yaroslav Trofimov of Wall Street Journal and activists like Arundhati Roy have made their efforts to help keep the Kashmiri freedom flame burning. Roy wrote recently for the Guardian newspaper as follows: Not surprisingly, the voice that the government of India has tried so hard to silence in Kashmir has massed into a deafening roar. Raised in a playground of army camps, checkpoints, and bunkers, with screams from torture chambers for a soundtrack, the young generation has suddenly discovered the power of mass protest, and above all, the dignity of being able to straighten their shoulders and speak for themselves, represent themselves. For them it is nothing short of an epiphany. Not even the fear of death seems to hold them back. And once that fear has gone, of what use is the largest or second largest army in the world?
Last 4 years in South Asia saw Pakistan ready to settle the Kashmir issue with no positive results due to the lack of any sense of urgency by India. With armed Muslim groups in Kashmir dormant since the post-2004 thaw and President Musharraf of Pakistan eager to make concessions, the world has seen an era of relative peace in Kashmir which appears close to shattering again. It is clearly a missed opportunity in South Asia.
In the context of Pakistan's anti-American public opinion, the country's ongoing crises, and the growing US demands on Pakistan, the future of US-Pakistan relations and the chances of success in the "war on terror" do not look particularly bright. The only solution to this darkening mood in both nations is a serious and sincere effort by each to improve their bilateral relationship based on a recognition of mutual interests and genuine needs. The incoming Obama administration has an opportunity to change the US tone with Pakistan in January 2009 to make the friendship genuine and useful to both partners in the war on terror. Barack Obama's oft-repeated position that Kashmir and India-Pakistan relations can not be isolated from the "war on terror" in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere in the world offers a good starting point for discussion.
As long as the Kashmir issue remains unresolved, Pakistan, India and the US can not win the "war on terror" and bring peace and stability to the South Asian region, including Afghanistan. Recent Mumbai attacks and the ostensible Kashmir link via LeT have confirmed that yet again. India's opposition to Mr. Obama's desire to mediate will test the Obama administration's resolve in seriously pursuing resolution of Kashmir.
Here is a comprehensive video on the origins of Kashmir dispute and the positions of various parties as presented by Pakistani Peace Activist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy:
Obama's South Asia Policy
Military Occupation of Kashmir
SRINAGAR, India – For more than a decade it was seen as one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoints, its Himalayan valleys flooded with hundreds of thousands of Indian troops battling a separatist, Islamist insurgency backed by neighboring Pakistan.
But with relations slowly improving between South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, the insurgency is slowly fading away. That has left many Kashmiris wondering why quite so many Indian troops are still here — under laws that grant them vast powers.
With violence on the wane, Kashmir’s Chief Minister Omar Abdullah says the mainly Muslim people of his state deserve to see a “peace dividend,” in the form of a partial, limited withdrawal of the rules that allow soldiers the right to shoot to kill, with virtual immunity from prosecution.
The request would cover only two districts where the Indian army does not even conduct operations. Casualty rates due to the militancy are half of what they were last year, and under 5 percent of what they were a decade ago, officials say.
But India’s leaders have rebuffed the Kashmiri minister’s request, with the army and defense ministry insisting on maintaining broad powers.
It has left the 41-year-old Abdullah wondering whether the Indian government has the political will to achieve a lasting peace in Kashmir, where tens of thousands of people have died since 1989, and ultimately with Pakistan. The dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir lies at the heart of their long enmity and has fueled two of their three wars.
“At some point in time we have to have the courage to take what appear to be risky decisions, with the belief that this is an important component of a peace process,” Abdullah said.
If New Delhi cannot even agree to this, “how are you going to resolve the overall Kashmir issue, that is going to require much tougher decisions?” he asked.
In Srinagar, 23-year-old Bilkees Mansoor knows only too well how difficult it is to find justice when the army is effectively above the law. When she was just a 13-year-old girl, she saw her father, a chemist and businessman, dragged out of their home just after midnight by dozens of soldiers, never to be seen or heard of again.
Clutching his photograph, she recounted her family’s decade-long search for her missing father and how her mother and her siblings all have stress-related health problems, and told of their desperate efforts to have the arresting officer questioned or appear in court.
The case even went to the country’s Supreme Court, she says, where the army major’s appeal to avoid questioning was rejected in July 2007. Still, he has failed to appear in court.
“Because of this law, the army is doing very evil things,” she said. “I still believe my father is alive. We have to keep positive thoughts in our minds. But if he is buried somewhere, this is my right to know.”
Six months before India's human rights gets reviewed at the United Nations, the Working Group on Human Rights (WGHR) in India released a report painting a dismal picture of its rights record.
The U.N. Human Rights Council examines the rights record of its members on a rotational basis every four years through a peer review process, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Reports by the civil society, U.N. agencies and the country under review are relied upon during the UPR. India's review is due in May next year.
“The report presents a very bleak scenario of the actual state of human rights across India. The government has shown positive signs in dealing with the U.N. human rights system in the past year. We hope that this change extends to the UPR review in 2012 and beyond. Nothing but a radical shift in economic, security and social policy is needed to meet India's national and international human rights commitments,” said the former U.N. Special Rapporteur and WGHR convener, Miloon Kothari.
“The last four years have seen a marked increase in the deployment of security forces and draconian laws to deal with socio-economic uprisings and political dissent. Conflict is no longer confined to Kashmir and the northeast but also many parts of central India. In all these areas, human rights violations are overlooked and even condoned. The legal framework and practice have entrenched the culture of impunity. People are increasingly losing faith in systems of justice and governance,” cautioned noted human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover.
She felt the military approach and the ongoing conflicts contradicted India's stated position in the U.N. that it did not face armed conflict and pointed out that militarisation was also being used to forward the state's ‘development' agenda.
“Today, our institutions are in disrepair and failing our needs. Our police need urgent reform. Our bar bench and our myriad commissions need much more vigour, commitment and accountability. Every moment reforms are neglected, thousands of tragedies occur and we cannot build a nation on that,” according to Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Executive Director Maja Daruwala.
A state human rights commission said Tuesday it will review records from the 1995 kidnapping of six foreigners in Indian-controlled Kashmir after a new book alleged that Indian intelligence agents were involved in the deadly crime.
The six tourists were trekking in a Himalayan meadow when they were kidnapped by a previously unknown militant group named Al-Faran. One American escaped, but the body of a Norwegian was later found in a remote village. Another American, a German and two Britons were never located.
India said the kidnappers were backed by Pakistan, and that some disappeared after the crime while others were killed in gunbattles with Indian troops.
However, authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clarke suggest in a recently published book, "The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began," that the Indian government deliberately undermined hostage negotiations and prolonged the crisis to damage Pakistan's reputation, and then used its own militants to take custody of the hostages before they were killed.
The Jammu-Kashmir State Human Rights Commission asked Tuesday for reports about the 17-year-old case from government and police authorities. Commission Secretary Tariq Ahmad Banday said it is also seeking access to two officers who were part of the original investigation.
The commission will discuss the case at its next meeting May 28, after being asked to look into it by a local rights group, the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice.
The group called for an inquiry into "why no action was taken on various points ... despite the authorities having knowledge of the location of the hostages, and then subsequently the burial site of the hostages."
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/17/kashmir-revisits-5-case-foreigners-abduction/
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Significant-rights-abuses-by-Indian-security-forces-US-report/articleshow/47823381.cms … via @timesofindia
"The most significant human rights problems were police and security force abuses, including extra-judicial killings, torture, and rape; widespread corruption that contributed to ineffective responses to crime, including those against women and members of scheduled castes or tribes; and societal violence based on gender, religious affiliation, and caste or tribe," the report said.
According to the State Department report, other human rights problems included disappearances, hazardous prison conditions, arbitrary arrest and detention, and lengthy pretrial detention.
"The judiciary remained backlogged, leading to lengthy delays and the denial of due process," it said.
Noting that there were instances of infringement of privacy rights, the report said the law in some states restricts religious conversion, and there were reports of arrests but no reports of convictions under those laws. Some limits on the freedom of movement continued.
Rape, domestic violence, dowry-related deaths, honour killings, sexual harassment, and discrimination against women remained serious societal problems, it said.
Child abuse and forced and early marriage were problems, the State Department said.
Human trafficking, including widespread bonded and forced labour of children and adults, and sex trafficking of children and adults for prostitution were serious problems, it said.
The Baloch issue with India has also figured in Mr Kasuri’s book, though not quite as dramatically as The Hindu report states.
“I want to say here that Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies have a full measure of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. There’s no gainsaying that it is a futile and self-defeating motive to hurt the other side, because both are capable of destabilising each other or wreaking havoc. There is no substitute to good sense and for talks at every possible level,” he told this correspondent in a conversation.
Files recording the unsigned documents, exchanged by both sides, were personally handed over to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his predecessor at a May 27, 2014 meeting, the Indian diplomat told the Express.
The paper confirmed that the Indian official was speaking even as Mr Kasuri was in New Delhi to release the Indian edition of his book, ‘Neither a hawk nor a dove’. The Express described the book as the first insider account of India-Pakistan secret diplomacy on Kashmir.
Mr Kasuri’s book quotes General Musharraf as stating that the secret Kashmir agreement envisaged joint management of the state by India and Pakistan, as well as demilitarisation of the territory.
The Indian negotiator said the final draft of the framework agreement in fact spoke of a “consultative mechanism”, made up of elected representatives of the governments of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, as well as officials of the two national governments. The consultative mechanism, he said, was mandated to address regional “social and economic issues”, like tourism, religious pilgrimages, culture and trade.
New Delhi, the official said, had rejected General Musharraf’s push for institutions for joint management of Kashmir by the two states, arguing it would erode Indian sovereignty.
Prime minister Singh’s hand-picked envoy, Ambassador Satinder Lambah, and General Musharraf’s interlocutors, Riaz Muhammad Khan and Tariq Aziz, held over 200 hours of discussions on the draft agreement, during 30 meetings held in Dubai and Kathmandu, the Express said.
“Lambah, a former intelligence official recalled, was also flown to Rawalpindi on a Research and Analysis Wing jet as negotiations reached an advanced stage, travelling without a passport or visa to ensure the meetings remained secret.”
Satinder Lambah, India’s backchannel man on the secret talks between India and Pakistan, told HT in an exclusive interview, the leadership on both sides had firmed up an agreement but it was not finally signed because of domestic turmoil that led to Pervez Musharraf’s removal.
“What we were working on, agreed there would be no reference to the United Nations resolution or a plebiscite in Kashmir. Both sides had agreed that borders cannot be redrawn,” said Lambah.
Without going into the detailed specifics of the framework agreement between the two countries, Lambah revealed the military establishment in Pakistan -– the army and the ISI -- was on board and the agreement required discussions within the ruling party and with opposition leaders in India. The former special envoy has not shared his views on the negotiations apart from a speech he gave at Srinagar’s Kashmir University in May 2014.
“We had an assurance from the military government of that time (under President Musharraf). The negotiators from Pakistan could not have been finalised it if the establishment had not been on board,” he said.
Several leaders in Pakistan, who may have been privy to the agreement, said that India had agreed to the demilitarisation of Kashmir. But Lambah said, “We had agreed to the reduction of military troops, not paramilitary and that was subject to Pakistan ensuring an end to hostilities, violence and terrorism. That was a major prerequisite. There was no timeline by which the agreement was to be signed. The only time limit was that terrorism must end.”
Barely a year after the broad contours of the agreement had been painstakingly worked on by both sides, Mumbai saw a major attack in November 2008, despite the categorical assurance from Pakistan that it would not allow non-state actors to use its soil to export terror.
“Mumbai was a very unfortunate incident and that did stop the dialogue. There was a break but we had already finished most of the work by then. After the Mumbai attacks, there were limited (back channel) contacts but what was agreed on by the Musharraf government was not disowned by the successive governments (headed first by the PPP under Yousaf Raza Gillani and currently by Nawaz Sharif).”
The core agreements centered around the cessation of all hostilities and terrorism, a joint mechanism for socio-economic subjects only and an understanding that like all states, Jammu and Kashmir too would have autonomy in respect to revenue, finance and law and order.
Lambah maintains the agreement is a “win-win for Pakistan, India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir” and can be the basis for all governments, including the present one led by Narendra Modi.
“It was not negotiated keeping an individual or party in mind. Everyone has their own style. Pursuit of peace with Pakistan and a discussion on Kashmir has been undertaken by different prime ministers and I have no doubt that future governments will follow the same path.”
On the issue of Kashmiri separatists meeting Pakistani leaders, which has become a stumbling block in talks between India and Pakistan, Lambah said, “In the past, Vajpayee, Advani and Manmohan Singh have met Hurriyat leaders and also given them visas to visit Pakistan. As regarding Pakistan, I fail to understand why they want to talk only to the Hurriyat and not also to the elected mainstream leaders from Jammu and Kashmir.”
Since 1989, more than 68,000 people have been killed in the uprising against Indian rule and the subsequent Indian military crackdown. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of Kashmir since British colonialists left the Indian subcontinent in 1947.
Unwilling to take any chances, Indian authorities appear to be persisting with their clampdown to avoid aggravating tensions in view of Pakistan's call for a "black day" on Wednesday to protest India's handling of dissent in Kashmir.
On Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed that his country would continue extending political, moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris. He said he called for observing the "black day" to express solidarity with "Kashmiris who are facing atrocities at the hands of Indian forces."
The largest street protests in recent years in India's portion of Kashmir erupted last week after Indian troops killed the popular young leader of the largest rebel group fighting against Indian rule in the region.
Information has been thin, with most cellular and internet services, as well as landline phone access, not working in the troubled areas, except for Srinagar, the main city in the Indian portion of Kashmir.
Police began raiding newspaper offices and seizing tens of thousands of local newspapers on Saturday, imposing a ban on their printing until Monday. They also detained scores of printing press workers.
Newspaper editors denounced the government action and termed it "gagging and enforcing emergency on media."
The Kashmir Reader, a daily English newspaper, said on its website Sunday that "the government has banned local media publications in Kashmir," and called on its readers to "bear with us in this hour of crisis." Most English dailies, however, continued uploading news onto their websites.
Editors and journalists held a protest march in Srinagar late Saturday, carrying placards reading "Stop censorship" and "We want freedom of speech."
Meanwhile, anti-India protests have persisted, marked by clashes between rock-throwing Kashmiris and troops firing live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas.
Clashes were reported in several places in northern Kashmir on Sunday, and at least six people were injured, police said.
In the latest fatality late Saturday, government forces fired bullets at villagers who threw stones at them and tried to torch a police station in a remote village in the northern Kupwara area, close to the highly militarized Line of Control dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, a police official said.
One young villager was killed and at least two other people were wounded in the firing, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Authorities on Sunday extended the summer break for schools and colleges for a week, until July 24.
The furious protests that erupted in Indian-administered Kashmir on July 8 are a poignant reminder that popular sentiment cannot be ignored merely because it does not fit in with the nationalist narrative of an unrepresentative government.
That is especially true where popular sentiment is grounded in the cause of a unique identity.
In the absence of legitimate political forums, such sentiment foments unrest which builds until circumstances provide a martyr such as Burhan Wani, the young rebel whose killing by Indian security forces has ignited the protests in Kashmir.
Often, such protest movements are acts of desperation without a chance of success, so they ebb and flow in cycles linked with angry violence and inconclusive attempts at political engagement.
The outcome is more violence between armed occupiers and young activists who become increasingly militant over time.
Unsurprisingly, the emergent generation of stone-pelting young Kashmiris identify with their Palestinian counterparts and are calling the new wave of protests an "Intifada".
Another similarity is that the situation in Kashmir is a mess created by departing Western colonialists.
In drawing up the map for the division of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947, the British viewed Kashmir entirely through the spectacles of recent history.
“We have received urgent appeal for assistance from Kashmir Government. We would be disposed to give favorable consideration to such, request from any friendly State. Kashmir’s Northern frontiers, as you are aware, run in common with those of three countries, Afghanistan, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China. Security of Kashmir, which must depend upon control of internal tranquility and existence of Stable Government, is vital to security of India especially since part of Southern boundary of Kashmir and India are common. Helping Kashmir, therefore, is an obligation of national interest to India. We are giving urgent consideration to question as to what assistance we can give to State to defend itself.
I should like to make it clear that question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the State to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or state must be decided in accordance with wishes of people and we adhere to this view, it is quite clear. I have thought it desirable to inform you of situation because of its threat of international complications.”
(Excerpts of telegram dated 26 October 1947 from Jawaharlal Nehru to the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee)
“I should like to make it clear that the question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the state to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or state must be decided in accordance with wishes of people and we adhere to this view.”
(Telegram 402 Primin-2227 dated 27th October, 1947 to PM of Pakistan repeating telegram addressed to PM of UK)
“Kashmir’s accession to India was accepted by us at the request of the Maharaja’s government and the most numerously representative popular organization in the state which is predominantly Muslim. Even then it was accepted on condition that as soon as law and order had been restored, the people of Kashmir would decide the question of accession. It is open to them to accede to either Dominion then.”
(Telegram No. 255 dated 31 October, 1947, PM Nehru’s telegram to PM of Pakistan)
“…our assurance that we shall withdraw our troops from Kashmir as soon as peace and order is restored and leave the decision regarding the future of the State to the people of the State is not merely a promise to your Government but also to the people of Kashmir and to the world.”
(Jawahar Lal Nehru, Telegram No. 25, October 31, 1947, to Liaqat Ali Khan, PM of Pakistan)
“We have decided to accept this accession and to send troops by air, but we made a condition that the accession would have to be considered by the people of Kashmir later when peace and order were established. We were anxious not to finalize anything in a moment of crisis, and without the fullest opportunity to be given to the people of Kashmir to have their say. It was for them ultimately to decide.
And here let me make clear that it has been our policy all along that where there is a dispute about the accession of a state to either dominion, the decision must be made by the people of the state. It was in accordance with this policy that we added a proviso to the Instrument of Accession of Kashmir.
in India — by S G Vombatkere — December 31, 2016
The reason for disquiet is that government appears not to understand that Lt Gen Rawat is not superior in merit to his two seniors whom he has superceded, and if his experience in counter-insurgency is the criterion for his selection, it glosses over the fact that the army is deployed in counter-insurgency only because of the decades-long failure of the bureaucracy-police in its primary role of internal security. If however deep selection was a political decision, this could seriously compromise the army (the military, in general) remaining as India’s last bastion of secular practice, and encourage sycophancy among officers to the permanent detriment of military professionalism.
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
APRIL 21, 2017
Members of India’s armed forces reached a new low in the long history of alleged human rights abuses in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir when they beat and then tied a 24-year-old shawl weaver named Farooq Ahmad Dar to the front of a jeep on April 9, using him as a human shield against stone-throwing crowds. As the jeep drove through villages, Mr. Dar said, “I saw people breaking into tears on seeing my state.”
The incident, which came to light when a video spread on social media, provides a gauge of an insurgency that has waxed and waned over nearly three decades in Kashmir, an area also claimed by Pakistan, which supports the rebels. Unrest surged last July after Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a charismatic, 22-year-old separatist militant, was killed by Indian security forces. The police responded by firing on protesters with pellet guns, killing scores and injuring thousands, many of whom were blinded by pellets lodged in their eyes.
The abuse of Mr. Dar occurred the day Kashmiris voted to fill a seat in the local Srinagar assembly. Following a call by separatists to boycott the election, only 7 percent of local Kashmiri voters turned out to vote, a low not seen in 27 years. Eight people were killed amid reports of widespread violence. A new vote was held on April 13, but only 2 percent of voters showed up. Mr. Dar, who says he never supported the separatists, complained: “I voted, and this is what I got in return. Do you think it will help India in Kashmir? No. It will give Kashmiris another reason to hate India.”
India’s army chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat, has vowed action against those responsible for tying Mr. Dar to the jeep. But he has also thundered against Kashmir’s stone-throwing youth and separatist militants, saying in February: “They may survive today, but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue.”
Such posturing will only doom Kashmir to a deadly spiral, where more brutal military tactics will feed more despair and more militancy. In January, a team of concerned citizens presented a report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Citing strong feelings of discrimination and a “complete lack of faith” by Kashmiris in government promises, it pleaded for improved human rights and a multiparty dialogue aimed at a durable political solution.
Mr. Modi’s government would do well to follow the recommendations of the report, before Indian democracy loses its credibility and Kashmiris are robbed of a chance to dream, along with the rest of India, of a peaceful, prosperous future.
Riaz Mohammad KhanSeptember 11, 2017
KASHMIR is so deeply emotive that perceptions often mix reality with myth. This is true of discussions over the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, the Tashkent Declaration, the Simla Accords, the Lahore Summit Declaration and, most of all, of bilateral efforts to address the dispute.
On YouTube, I saw Prof Christine Fair snap at a Pakistani questioner who referred to the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir. She averred that Pakistan violated the UNSC Resolution 47 (1948) calling for a plebiscite by refusing to withdraw “tribesmen” from the territory of the state. This is a half-truth. Pakistan had expressed reservations to the resolution which led to the formation of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan and finally to Resolution 98 (1952) allowing Pakistan to deploy up to 6,000 troops and India up to 18,000. Pakistan accepted the resolution, but India rejected it invoking change of circumstances because of reports of an incipient Pakistan-US defence treaty.
Half-truths and political spin thus cloud agreements and talks on Kashmir. Politics was played around Tashkent and Simla. A text on Kashmir, similar to that of the Simla Accords, adopted at Lahore was projected as a pathway to a settlement. The 2005-06 backchannel negotiations drew criticism that Pakistan had abandoned its principled position. The fact is that Pakistan’s position, based on the UNSC resolutions and the Simla Accords, will remain intact until Pakistan accepts a new international legality affecting Kashmir. Neither the backchannel nor the earlier inconclusive talks changed this position. This aside, the plebiscite as conceived in the 1948 UNSC resolution is as academic today as is India’s claim based on the controversial accession document.
The first variant on the 1948 resolution came in the 1950 Owen Dixon plan for region-wise plebiscites, which was recognition of the demographic and communal realities in Kashmir. Later, Ayub Khan tried to persuade Nehru to accept a territorial adjustment; he had the Valley in mind. The Bhutto-Swaran Singh talks were not about the plebiscite. The Valley is the heart of the dispute. It represents 55 per cent of the India-held Kashmir population, where the Kashmiri people have refused to acquiesce to and have constantly agitated for freeing themselves of Indian occupation. This is the only pressure that India faces pushing it to look for a settlement. The latest youth uprising across the Valley lends fresh urgency to our moral response in support of Kashmiri rights and self-determination.
Moral principles alone provide justification for Pakistan’s position on Kashmir. Discussions sometimes meander into security considerations or the need to protect water sources, that Kashmir has tied down over half million Indian troops; and that Pakistan must remove an existential threat by securing control of rivers which pass through Kashmir. These are false arguments. Kashmiri sacrifices and suffering must not be viewed through the prism of our security; it will knock out the moral basis of our position, suggesting that we are not interested in a just political settlement. The argument negates the fact that nuclear deterrence is an equaliser which will not be altered even if India doubles its military strength. As for rivers, maps show that the upper reaches of the Indus and the Chenab lie in Ladakh and Jammu respectively, the two non-Muslim majority regions which are unlikely to accede to Pakistan under any scenario.
Calls upon the Governments of India and Pakistan to make immediate arrangements, without
prejudice to their rights or claims and with due regard to the requirements of law and order, to
prepare and execute within a period of five months from the date of this resolution a programme of
demilitarisation on the basis of the principles of paragraph 2 of General McNaughton proposal or of
such modifications of those principles as may be mutually agreed
It refers to paragraph 2 of General McNaughton's proposal which says as follows:
DEMILITARISATION PREPARATORY TO THE PLEBISCITE
2. There should be an agreed programme of progressive demilitarisation, the basic principle of which
should be the reduction of armed forces on either side of the Cease-Fire Line by withdrawal,
disbandment and disarmament in such stages as not to cause fear at any point of time to the people
on either side of the Cease-Fire Line. The aim should be to reduce the armed personnel in the State
of Jammu and Kashmir on both side of the Cease-Fire Line to the minimum compatible with the
maintenance of security and of local law and order, and to a level sufficiently low and with the forces
so disposed that they will not constitute a restriction on the free expression of opinion for the
purposes of the plebiscite.
The program me of demilitarisation should include the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and
Kashmir of the regular forces of Pakistan; and the withdrawal of the regular forces of India not
required for purposes of security or for the maintenance of local law and order on the Indian side of
the Cease-Fire Line; also the reduction, by disbanding and disarming, of local forces, including on
the one side the Armed Forces and Militia of the State of Kashmir and on the other, the Azad
The "Northern Area" (including Gilgit-Baltistan region through which CPEC asses) should also be included in the above programme of demilitarisation, and its administration should, subject to United Nations supervision, be continued by the existing local
authorities (Pakistani authorities).
The former spymaster stated that whatever is happening in Valley after 2016, is an aberration and gun was neither the solution in 1990 nor it is the solution in 2018.
“The story of Pakistan is over in Kashmir. What has happened post 2016 is again an invitation to Pakistan, because of which they are having free extra ride here.
Read more at:
“India uses exceptional violence as well as nationalist propaganda around Kashmir and presents it as a Pakistan-sponsored Islamist problem and the media in the country is mostly complicit with it,” says Nitasha Kaul, an assistant professor of politics and international relations at the University of Westminster in London.
Kashmir has been a disputed territory following the partition of India and Pakistan into independent states in 1947. Since then, three of the four Indo-Pakistani wars have been fought over this ideological slab of Himalayan real estate.
Despite international accounts of ongoing human rights violations, the Indian government has failed to recognize its decades-long occupation and suppression of Kashmiris as a root cause of extremism.
Controlling the narrative
The day following the Pulwama suicide attack, India withdrew Pakistan’s Most Favored Nation trade status. Then, Pakistan denied India’s “kneejerk” accusations of involvement and recalled its ambassador as tensions mounted.
Modi, facing pressure to maintain the upper hand as he heads into elections, responded to public indignation by ordering pre-emptive “surgical strikes” on alleged terror camps in Balakot, inside Pakistani territory, on Feb. 26.
Pakistan retaliated the next day by downing two aircraft that encroached into its airspace and captured Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. For a fleeting moment, tit-for-tat incursions appeared to draw New Delhi and Islamabad into a reckless bout of one-upmanship.
In a gesture of de-escalation, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan offered the IAF pilot’s release on March 1, and Varthaman was hailed as a national hero.
When it comes to reporting the conflict, the international media have “bought into the idea that this is an intractable territorial conflict between India and Pakistan and so long as the prospect of war between the nuclear-armed neighbors recedes, their focus on the suffering of Kashmiris seems largely nonexistent,” Kaul says.
The issue is that both India and Pakistan see Kashmir as an integral part of their national identities, which results in a “classic case of the forgetting of tremendous and long-enduring human suffering and of privileging of territorial statist narratives," according to Kaul.
This has led to Kashmir being distilled through purely a nationalist lens. “Much of the Indian media’s attitude towards Kashmir can be summed up in one line: Your history gets in the way of my national interest," Indian Kashmiri novelist Mirza Waheed told The World.
The imposition of the 1990 Armed Forces Special Powers Act, or AFSPA, bestowed Indian forces with broad powers to kill and arrest Kashmiris with impunity, resulting in human rights violations carried out during counterinsurgency operations, coupled with wrongful detentions without court orders under the 1978 Public Safety Act, which Amnesty International has denounced.
The period of the early 2000s did little to tackle the fundamental question of independence. New Delhi’s military occupation remained firmly embedded and infiltrated the everyday life of Kashmiris.
In the last three years alone, the Kashmiri death toll has reached over a thousand, with 2018 being the deadliest of the past decade.
Inside Kashmir, there is a growing cohort of recruits willing to sacrifice their lives in fidayeen operations—something few were willing to do a generation earlier. Perhaps more important, the new-generation jihadists are seeking new fields for battle—their imaginations fired not by Kashmiri religious nationalism, but the global jihadist project.
For more than a year now, Al-Qaeda has been seeking means to transform the unwinnable war of attrition against Indian forces in Kashmir, by instead inflicting pain on the country’s cities.
The grenades tossed into the Maqsudan police station could prove to be the first shots fired by this new generation of little Osama Bin Ladens.
Little Bin Laden
Last week, one of the men behind the Punjab grenade attack, Abdul Hameed Lone, took charge of Kashmir’s fledgling Al-Qaeda unit—and of its project to transform the region’s conflict into a pan-India terror campaign. Born in 1990, to lower-middle class parents, Lone (also identified as Abdul Hameed Lelhari) grew up in the village of Lelhar, on the banks of the Jhelum, in the heart of southern Kashmir’s apple-growing country. His journey helps understand the generation of jihadists who have emerged from the debris of two decades of incessant conflict.
Lone completed his early school education from the Evergreen Public School, one of the private educational institutions that had sprung up across the region as public education collapsed amidst the conflict. In grade 5, though, straitened circumstances forced them to move him to a free, government school. Then, three years later, he dropped out of education altogether. He worked as a labourer, a cook, and then a mason.
Lone, family sources say, began exhibiting an interest in religion around this time. He turned to the Jama’at Ahl-e-Hadith—a neo-fundamentalist movement that was brought to Kashmir in 1925 by Sayyed Hussain Shah Batku, a Delhi seminary student who preached against the region’s Hinduism-inspired syncretic religious practices, such as worship at the shrines of saints, the veneration of relics, and the recitation of litanies before namaz prayers.
Early on, the Ahl-e-Hadith came under attack in Kashmir, from peasant clerics who charged Batku with being an apostate, and even the dajjal, or devil incarnate. Its message, though, resonated with an emerging, literate class. Though small, the historian Chitralekha Zutshi has pointed out, the “influence of the Ahl-e-Hadith on the conflicts over Kashmiri identities cannot be overemphasised”.
Even if Pakistan is compelled to shut down jihadist operations on its soil, though, Lone’s story shows the problem won’t end there: India faces a generation which believes sacrificing their lives will open the doors to utopia.
In the absence of genuine political outreach to stall the youth rage in Kashmir, the government’s post-Balakot gains could prove illusory. For each terrorist eliminated, Lone’s story shows, there are several others lining up to die for the jihad—and willing to kill for it.
Speaking on November 25, 1949, just as India became a democratic republic, B.R. Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian constitution, exhorted his countrymen to maintain “democracy not merely in form, but also in fact.” Ambedkar, born in a low, formerly untouchable Hindu caste (Dalits), had ensured a progressive character to the constitution. It promulgated universal adult franchise in an overwhelmingly illiterate population; conferred citizenship without reference to race, caste, religion, or creed; proclaimed secularism in a deeply religious country; and upheld equality in a society marked by entrenched inequalities. The constitution made Indian democracy seem another milestone on humankind’s journey to freedom and dignity.
Ambedkar, however—as Gyan Prakash writes in Emergency Chronicles, his acute analysis of the sudden collapse of democracy in India in the mid-1970s—was “convinced that Indian society lacked democratic values.” India’s new ruling elite “had not broken from the hold of the privileged landed classes and upper castes.” Inheriting power from the country’s departing British rulers in 1947, they presided over a “passive” revolution from above rather than a radical socioeconomic transformation from below. This is why Ambedkar felt that in a society riven by caste and class, where neither equality nor fraternity was established as a principle, “political democracy” urgently needed to be supplemented by broad social transformations—the end, for instance, of cruel discrimination against low-caste Hindus.
A socialist by conviction, Ambedkar had plenty of reason to be worried in 1949 about some dangerous “contradictions” in his project of emancipation. As he explained:
In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognising the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy.
The calamitous explosion Ambedkar feared finally occurred in India in 2014, with the election of Narendra Modi, a Hindu supremacist, as India’s prime minister, ending decades of government by political parties that at least paid lip service to secularism. Modi is a lifelong member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a far-right organization founded by upper-caste Hindus and inspired by European fascists, which was briefly banned in India in 1948 after one of its former members assassinated Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi for allegedly pampering Muslims and preventing the creation of a proud Hindu nation. Modi, accused of complicity in a pogrom in 2002 that killed hundreds of Muslims and displaced tens of thousands, was barred for almost a decade from travel to the US, the UK, and other parts of the European Union.
China should not allow its policy towards India be influenced by Pakistan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tacitly conveyed to his counterpart in the communist country's government, Wang Yi, on Friday.
“I referred to it. I explained to him why we found that statement objectionable,” the External Affairs Minister said after his meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister. “There was a larger context as well. You know, I conveyed that we hoped that China would follow an independent policy in respect of India, and not allow its policies to be influenced by other countries and other relationships.” Wang had on Wednesday attended a meeting of the OIC hosted by the Government of Pakistan. He had made a statement endorsing the OIC's support for the movement for “right to self-determination” in Jammu and Kashmir.
China had in 2019 joined its “iron-brother” Pakistan to launch a campaign against India at the United Nations and other international forums, opposing the move made by the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and split the state into two union territories.
A Kashmiri Pandit responds to the film 'The Kashmir Files'.
No, what happened was not genocide. No, they weren’t like Nazis, neither were we like Jews- systematically and deliberately persecuted by the state. No, a dramatised film so obviously conniving and cunning in its telling is not the gospel. The wheels of justice have not suddenly sprung into motion, unless we choose to believe so. By drawing misleading parallels, we insult the history that isn’t ours and bastardise the truth that is.
Monumental box office numbers, multiple twitter trends and incessantly buzzing WhatsApp notifications might suggest a long overdue unification of Kashmiri Pandits for justice.
However, with a single minded interest in pushing the discourse into a vortex of technicalities like Genocide Vs Exodus, and number of killings, despite its marketing tagline - RightToJustice – this film has neither an interest, nor the answer for what this justice could possibly entail. Not even lip service.
Regardless of its cinematic worth, The Kashmir Files relentlessly pursues a version of truth those hailing it, swear by. By misrepresenting facts just enough, deceitfully layered with disinformation and obfuscating any context, the film succeeds in its true purpose - blatant vilification of Kashmiri Muslims.
Several friends, and acquaintances reached out recently, asking – did it really happen? Yes. Did it happen the way it is shown? Yes, but not really. And, therein lies its voodoo.
Three decades ago, when thousands of Kashmiris left their home, we were perhaps luckier than some to have extended family already in Delhi to stay with. Thereby sidestepping the quagmire of refugee-camps. To that extent, ours wasn’t the median story. It wasn’t even the worst. Others who left, lived in abysmal conditions for years, and died. And yet, many others that survived, showed remarkable resilience by building back lives since - from scratch, despite the tragic displacement, and thrived. Did time heal all the pain? Or did we forget everything that happened, as a defence to cope with our unaddressed trauma?
Unfortunately, trauma works in mysterious ways. Every life event, in one form or the other, gets linked to that traumatic event. I have seen this within my immediate and closed ones. Admittedly, I too, lived so for many years. Silently. And assumed that’s just the way it was, is, and will continue to be.
Even though, the first friend I made in Delhi (and life) was a Kashmiri Muslim, himself a product of this complex tragedy of Kashmiris (not just Pandits), I failed to recognise what stared me in the face, for a long time. Today when I struggle with many trepidations of life, more than thirty-two years after that fateful day, I realise I am a product of privileges, choices, misgivings, mistakes and learnings, all uniquely mine. It took me many years to realise – Trauma induces hate, and hate consumes you. No matter how deep a wound runs, hate can't be right. Because, it blinds you.
To let our suffering, grief and trauma turn into a battle cry, and be appropriated as a weapon of mass hatred, we do grave disservice to our tragedy.
By reducing our idea and understanding of truth, to mistrust, suspicion and today’s zeitgeist -hate for them- we stand to denigrate our very essence forever. Was hate the right language to tell our story in? Were shock and awe the only words to write our history in?
Before it’s too late, we need to open our eyes to see through this mirage. Instead of falling into the trap of being told what, and who, we should stand against, we need to decide for ourselves, what we should stand for.
Former R&AW chief A.S. Dulat, while commenting on the recently released Vivek Agnihotri directorial film, The Kashmir Files, has said that he doesn’t intend to watch it.
“I don’t see propaganda. And it is a propaganda movie,” he said.
“Many Pandits who chose to stay behind were protected by Muslims in 1990s. Many Kashmiri Pandit families did stay back. Even after the abrogation of Article 370, the Pandits have not been targeted,” Dulat said.
When asked about Jagmohan, the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, he said that when he was governor from August 1989 to January 1990, the situation had changed dramatically by the time he returned.
“The Kashmir that he came back to after four or five months, it was totally different from the Kashmir he had left. He was quite shaken himself,” he said.
“When these killings started, he didn’t want the pandits to bear the brunt of it. So once they started leaving, he was quite happy,” Dulat implied that Jagmohan was relieved when the Kashmiri Pandit migration from Kashmir began.
“It was a natural reaction. If they are leaving, ‘Good.’ There was no way that we could provide any protection to them because things were so bad,” he added.
The pandit migration began soon after the 1990 killings, according to Dulat. Rich KPs travelled to Delhi, while those who had nowhere else to go sought refuge in Jammu’s camps. Dulat also said that Kashmiri Muslims who could afford it left for locations like Delhi. They returned when things seemed to be improving.
Author: Nitasha Kaul
Date Published: June 17, 2022
Portrayals of India and Israel as strategic partners or allies in the oppression of Kashmiris and Palestinians often suggest that India emulates Israel in how it manages oppression. Yet, the designation of Israel as a unique source of learning for oppression limits the recognition of the indigenous Indian nature of the long-standing ideological and technological infrastructures of occupation in Kashmir. We must eschew simplistic geopolitical imaginaries of cooperation and oppression and pay greater attention to the similarities as well as the differences across contexts.
The contemporary global moment requires us to be alert to the multiple trajectories of repression. Tactics and technologies circulate amongst and between democracies and authoritarian regimes. Russian and Chinese models of digital authoritarianism have been regionally exported, and there has been Indian and Chinese mutual learning on modalities of repression. These circulations occur along supra- and intra-statal pathways, and via traffic in both economically profitable weapons and ideologies. To attend to these trajectories, we must carefully examine the preferred narratives adopted by the states as well as those offered by resistance and solidarity movements across national boundaries. In this context, the relationship between India and Israel is notable for how the two countries are celebrated as friendly partners for strategic cooperation, or alternatively, critiqued as allies for the parallel oppressions of Kashmiris and Palestinians.
The ties between India and Israel present a systematic divergence between official accounts of these relations and the perspectives of critical resistance scholarship on Palestine and Kashmir. The official story in the media unsurprisingly focuses on the mutually fertile and growing cooperation between India and Israel as strategic partners at every level of investment from infrastructure, innovation, and defense to people-to-people interaction. The bilateral trade between the two countries has been steadily increasing, and apart from growth in collaborative ventures, there is the imminent possibility of the conclusion of longstanding negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries. Then, there is the resonance at the level of political leadership. The meeting between Netanyahu and Modi was perceived as a bromance between these leaders of deeply illiberal projects; the right-wing majoritarian nationalist projects championed by the regimes in the two countries both portray themselves as beleaguered by Islamists and resolute in combating terrorism.
On the other hand, there is no dearth of critical narratives that point to Kashmir and Palestine as being symmetrical occupations; here the focus is on the ways in which the oppressed populations in both cases are Muslims and oppressors are non-Muslims. India is the largest buyer of Israeli weapons and Israel is the second largest supplier to India; Israeli drones are used in Kashmir (one unmanned aerial vehicle called the Heron was specially adapted for such use). Indian forces have used Israeli Tavor rifles in 2008, used Spice-2000 guidance technology in the aftermath of Pulwama attacks in Kashmir in 2019, and bought Pegasus from Israel that same year.
Although these two portrayals of India and Israel as strategic partners for cooperation or allies in the oppression of Kashmiris and Palestinians are manifestly different, they have one important point in common. Both these narratives (often explicitly) suggest that India copies from Israel in the ways in which it manages oppression.
Chair of the Jury of Goa Film Festival says that the Jury felt that Kashmir Files was a vulgar propaganda film, inappropriate for the film festival
India’s presidency of the G20 group of leading nations has become mired in controversy after China and Saudi Arabia boycotted a meeting staged in Kashmir, the first such gathering since India unilaterally brought Kashmir under direct control in August 2019.
The meeting, a tourism working group attended by about 60 delegates from most G20 countries taking place from Monday to Wednesday, required a large show of security at Srinagar international airport.
In 2019 the Indian government stripped the disputed Muslim-majority region of semi-autonomy and split it into two federal territories in an attempt to integrate it fully into India.
Indian authorities hoped the meeting would show that the controversial changes have brought “peace and prosperity” to the region and that it is a safe place for tourists.
India’s elite National Security Guard, including its counter-drone unit and marine commandos, were helping police and paramilitary forces to secure the event venues.
China has said it will not attend, citing its firm opposition “to holding any kind of G20 meetings in disputed territory”. In April, Pakistan, which also lays claim to Kashmir but is not a G20 member, described the meeting as irresponsible. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Indonesia were also expected to stay away.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti claimed India had turned the region into the equivalent of the Guantánamo Bay prison simply to hold a meeting on tourism. She also accused the Bharatiya Janata party, the party of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, of hijacking the G20 for its promotional purposes.
Last week Fernand de Varennes, the UN’s special rapporteur on minority issues, issued a statement saying the G20 was “unwittingly providing a veneer of support to a facade of normalcy” when human rights violations, political persecution and illegal arrests were escalating in Kashmir.
He said the meeting risked normalising what some have described as a military occupation. The statement was criticised as baseless by India’s permanent mission at the UN in Geneva. It was India’s prerogative to hold G20 meetings in any part of the country, the mission said.
India divided the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 to create two federally administered territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Ladakh is a disputed frontier region along the line of actual control between India and China, and both countries claim parts of it.
The chief coordinator for India’s G20 presidency, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, said on Sunday: “We have the highest representation from foreign delegations for the tourism working group meeting in Srinagar, than we have had in the previous working group meetings.
“Our experience is that in any working group meeting, to get such a large turnout of delegates not only from G20 countries but also from international organisations that are part of the G20 is an incredible process. If you have to do a working group on tourism in India, we have to do it in Srinagar. There is no option.”
Britain’s high commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, said UK representatives would be attending the meeting. At a meeting between Modi and Rishi Sunak, the UK prime minister, at the G7 in Hiroshima, the two sides discussed progress on reaching a free trade deal. India remains angry at what it regards as a lax UK police reaction to an attack on the Indian high commission in London on 19 March by pro-Khalistan extremists. Security has been stepped up outside the commission.