By Gowhar Geelani
India’s reluctance to any third party mediation in Kashmir is, at best, a juvenile attempt at distortion of history and denial of context. Deliberately ignoring historicity and context, the vast sections of Indian media are narrating fairy tales on Kashmir while cashing on falsehood, provocation, propaganda and vitriol with an aim to insult the intelligence of a common man in India and hoodwink international audiences.
India took the Kashmir case to the United Nations (UN). Nothing can be more ironic than the fact that it is India which is averse to the UN intervention on Kashmir issue. New Delhi’s denialism and its corporate media’s frozen mindsets are main impediments in the Kashmir resolution.
During M K Gandhi’s visit to Srinagar , the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir, in August 1947, declared that he had,
On August 14, 1947, the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir was one of the 562 princely states under the suzerainty of the British Crown which were not a part of British India. On the lapse of paramountcy on the transfer of power, Jammu and Kashmir became independent and was free to accede to either of the two dominions, Pakistan and India, or to remain independent.
Zahiruddin, Srinagar based veteran Kashmiri columnist, in one of his recent pieces argues that Jammu and Kashmir was an independent state from August 14, 1947, to October 26, 1947. Referring to an important case of 1953, ‘Magher Singh versus State of Jammu and Kashmir’, which was heard by a division bench of the State High Court, he writes that the bench comprising Janki Nath Wazir and Justice MA Shahmiri delivered a “landmark judgment”. The bench laid down that Jammu Kashmir was an independent state from August 14 to October 26, 1947.
In a broadcast to the Indian nation on November 2, 1947, independent India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, said,
Prior to this, Nehru had assured the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, on October 31, 1947, that India’s pledge to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir on whether it should accede to India or Pakistan “is not merely a pledge to your government but also to the people of Kashmir and to the world.”
Sixty-nine years after partition, a plebiscite in Kashmir remains a moral imperative, besides being a democratic necessity. More so, after the renewed romantic rebellion and Palestinian-style spearheaded by the fifth generation of Kashmiris, which has resulted in the brutal killing of 92 unarmed civilians, pellet injuries in the eyes, scores of blinding and maiming, 7000 arrests and registration of 2300 FIRs against youth, which mostly include teenagers, in Indian-administered Kashmir.
There are lessons that can be drawn from the Northern Ireland example to resolve the Kashmir conflict that involves Kashmiri nationalism, identity, language, religion and With India as emerging global power, the rise of hyper nationalism is preventing the country from any meaningful resolution to conflict in Kashmir, making it an intractable geo-political dispute.
In case of Kashmir what seemingly renders it as ‘intractable’ is India’s flat refusal to any third-party mediation and colossal at the hands of the Indian army, paramilitary and regional police forces inside the disputed Himalayan region on a daily basis, and also because of Pakistan’s offical claim on entire Kashmir and its “diplomatic, political and moral” support to the struggle of Kashmiris for “self-determination”.
Though the levels of violence have significantly dropped over the years, the deadly encounters between Kashmiri militants and the indian army have not completely ended. Also, the IRA is in some ways comparable to the , a pro-freedom group which launched the armed movement in 1989 and limited its role to political struggle after 1994.
Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, a former guerrilla outfit fighting for Kashmir’s independence, led by its chief commander, Mohammad Yasin Malik, announced a unilateral ceasefire on May 21, 1994 to pursue its struggle through political means. Around the same time, on August 31, 1994, the IRA announced “Complete cessation” of its military operations.”
Secondly, just as a draconian law, called the Special Powers Act ( SPA ) gave the authorities exceptional powers to arrest, detain without trial, and suppress political dissent in Northern Ireland, the Indian army has also been enjoying impunity and complete immunity from prosecution in Jammu & Kashmir under the shield of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act ( AFSPA since June 1990.
The PDP-BJP government arrested Kashmir’s leading human rights defender Khurram Parvez under draconian Public safety Act and also banned publication of a prominent Srinagar based English daily, Kashmir Reader, on flimsy grounds.
Brutal suppression to kill dissent in Kashmir has not worked for the last seven decades. It is unlikely to work in the future too. No country in the world has produced weapons that can kill genuine political aspirations. There is India’s denialism, language of power, media propaganda, war mongering and argument of military might, but Kashmiris have power in their argument.
It is in the larger national and strategic interest of both Pakistan and India to behave as mature democracies like the United Kingdom does and work together to pave the way for a referendum, under the auspices of an international body like the UN, in both parts of Kashmir divided by a bloody Line of Control ( LoC ) . A rederendum In Scotland and Brexit and are recent examples of respecting people’s choices outside the fold of electoral democracy.( The Express Tribune )