Kashmir: A second Afghanistan?

IRFAN ASHRAF
Published 07.10.2019 02:23

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) had long been opposing the special status given to the Indian-occupied Kashmir. Modi has a long struggle against Article 370 and 35/A of the Indian Constitution. The BJP added the revocation of Article 370 in its party manifesto and contested the election over this issue.

Let's have a brief look at the history of Kashmir to comprehend the situation. At the time of the partition of Indian subcontinent, there were 572 princely states and Kashmir was one of them, whose prince was Hindu, namely Mahraja Hari Singh.

In 1947, Kashmir had a 77% Muslim population and the ruler was a Hindu. Mahraja Hari Singh awarded the certificate of accession to India against the will of the people pf Kashmir.

The people of Kashmir rejected that illegal annexation of Kashmir and started mass-based violence and this is how the first Indo-Pak war began in 1948.

The United Nations Security Council intervened and arranged a cease-fire. India brought this dispute to the Security Council, but it passed a resolution to hold free and partial plebiscite in Kashmir so that the people of Kashmir could use their right of self-determination.

However, India, since then, has not been ready to fulfill its promise of holding free and partial plebiscite in Kashmir.

In 1954, India granted special status to Kashmir by adding Article 370 and 35/A in Indian Constitution, which provided autonomy to the people of Kashmir.

Now, India treats Kashmir as its internal problem. Since 1989, India has been blaming Pakistan of committing and financing terror in disputed territory rather looking at its brutalities, atrocities and growing human rights violations.

On August 5, 2019, India revoked Article 370 and illegally annexed IOK, the abbreviation for the Indian Occupied State of Jammu and Kashmir, and imposed curfew in disputed territory. Mainstream political parties of India including India's National Congress were surprised by Modi's decision to annex Kashmir illegally.

After revocation of Article 370 and 35/A, Indians will be able to buy properties in Kashmir and that's how India is cleverly trying to change the demography of Kashmir.

India is applying the same model which Israel has applied in Palestine to change the demography of the state. India wants to create a Hindu majority in Kashmir and trying to make Muslims a minority so they can capture Kashmir by plebiscite.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been offering his good offices for the settlement of Kashmir dispute. However, India is not ready to accept any kind of third-party mediation and calls for the solution of issue bilaterally.

It has been 53 days that the people of Kashmir have been facing a curfew and India is committing human rights violations in Kashmir. Pakistan has been successful in highlighting Indian brutalities.

The international community is silent over growing human rights violations due to their trade and economic interests in India. Pakistan's traditional allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are not raising their voices against this injustice. However, Turkey has categorically condemned Indian human rights violations and demanded the end to the brutal curfew in Kashmir. After receiving Turkey's support, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan should visit Turkey to thank the Turkish government and engage them to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan must engage Turkey and the Muslim community to exert diplomatic pressure on India, and should try to get a unanimous resolution from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) against Indian human rights violations in Kashmir.

At the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Pakistan's Imran Khan awesomely highlighted the tensions in the South Asian region due to Kashmir dispute and urged the world community to play their role in defusing tensions between the two nuclear armed archrivals.

He highlighted India's extremist agenda and their ideology of the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Kashmir. Pakistan further mentioned the growing chances of nuclear war. The people of Pakistan have shown great solidarity with the people of Kashmir and gather in huge numbers in every city against the Indian government and its radical rule.

Imran Khan said that this is the beginning of crisis and can be a flash point for a nuclear war. There is a growing chance of resistance by Kashmiris against Indian forces after lifting of the curfew in IOK.

This could be dangerous for this region and the whole world. Thus, the international community must engage both India and Pakistan to defuse tensions between two nuclear armed countries, otherwise Kashmir would become a second Afghanistan for this region.

Now the world community has to choose between big Indian markets or peace, justice and international security. It is a big choice and will test the responsibility of the United Nations as well to compel India to fulfill the Security Council's resolutions on Kashmir. I hope the world chooses wisely.

* Analyst in international relations based in Islamabad, Pakistan

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