Kashmir - 365 Days Under Siege
By Maj. Gen. (Retd) Muhammad Saad Khattak
The Indian Illegal Occupation of Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) completes its 365 days under one of the most brutal, draconian and inhuman military sieges the modern world has ever witnessed. Under the gazing eye of a so-called civilised world the killing, injuring, raping and destruction of a defenceless community continues unabated and the powers that be, turn a blind eye for meager economic interests as those being killed and maimed are the children of a lesser God.
On 5 August 2019, the fascist Modi Government decided to abrogate Articles 370 and 35A of its Constitution, ripping apart its international obligations under the UNSC, Geneva Convention, violating its own Constitution by depriving the Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under its very own Constitution. The international community, various international organisations including UN and OIC, individual countries, Congresses, Parliaments raised their voices but none followed by meaningful tangible measures against the perpetrating State - India, hence falling on deaf ears.
Where the COVID-19 stressed the countries healthcare systems and a worldwide emergency was declared to contain the deadly pandemic, India instead of attending to its collapsing healthcare system ignoring hundreds and thousands dying, continued to use it as an opportunity to tighten its grip over occupied territories through undertaking controversial legislation and repression of an already marooned community.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s historical address to the UNGA in September last year shaking the conscience of international community proved as a catalyst for the world bodies, forums, and global civil society not only to condemn but asking India to revert to its pre 5 August 2019 status and release the 8 million imprisoned Kashmiri people through its deployment of over a million security forces personnel. India callously ignored these calls from the international community.
On the regional level, India, due to its very same action continues to remain embroiled with China along the Line of Actual Control that has already claimed scores of lives of Indian soldiers. The situation remains dangerous and explosive until this day. With Nepal, India remains at loggerhead through its forceful occupation of Nepalese territory that Nepal has rejected. Bhutan continues to remain hostage to Indian hegemony where the country is unable to follow its independent foreign policy as per the aspirations of its people.
The Citizenship Amendment Act and other border and water issues have also forced a friendly country like Bangladesh to reconsider its status of a rather client state, looking outwards improving its relations with other regional countries much to the dismay of India. With Sri Lanka, India continues to have uneasy friendly terms devoid of genuine mutual trust and deep-hearted cordiality given its dubious role during the Island’s battle of survival against LTTE terrorism spanning over 16 years claiming hundreds and thousands of innocent Sri Lankan lives. In Afghanistan, India continues to sponsor terror groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, and ISIS for undertaking terrorist acts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to sabotage the latest Afghan peace process that it sees as a diplomatic failure and at a tangent to her regional aspirations.
With Pakistan, apart from the forcefully changing status of IIOJK, the already tense relations are further accentuated through regular violations along the Line of Control (LOC) targeting innocent civilians living along the LOC. The bilateral deteriorating politico/diplomatic and security relations surely harbour a live possibility of a dangerous escalation between not two but rather three nuclear powers in the region. While spending all its precious efforts and resources to isolate Pakistan both regionally and globally, India herself stands isolated seriously impacting her moral, political, and democratic credentials.
Never was the state of India globally seen with such a negative lens in its 70 years of history. Sane political, intellectual and secular wizards within the country are painfully concerned about the global, regional, and domestic stature of a country once seen as the biggest democracy of the world. It all stands a part of history.
While the world hasn’t moved beyond verbal rhetoric, the Indian state continues to martyr innocent Kashmiris in the Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir through fake encounters and other pretexts, it is simultaneously changing the demographic structure of IIOJK through the domicile laws by settling thousands of Indian citizens in the disputed territory with a sinister design of disempowering and disenfranchising the Kashmiri people in their own land. All these draconian and repressive measures in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and against other ethnicities continue in mainland India while the world watches.
Pakistan, through its political and diplomatic support, will continue to sensitise the international community, exposing India’s blatant violations of UNSC resolutions, Geneva Convention, international law, bilateral agreements, inhuman repression, and demographic changes in IIOJK. All mediums including print, electronic and digital space will be utilised to shake international conscience to step forward and stand up for justice and human rights in IIOJK before the inferno gulfs the region and beyond leading to unbearable consequences. Pakistan has always stood by and will stand by the people of Kashmir as we do not consider them separate from Pakistan. Every Pakistani knows that the Kashmiri nation is suffering because of their love and desire to merge IIOJK into Pakistan.
How can Pakistan remain indifferent to its own people –the people of Jammu and Kashmir? It is a national resolve that Pakistan will leave no stone unturned to help Kashmiri people to get their right of self-determination. However, Pakistan is patiently looking at international players to play their roles. Time is running out as India is not listening to voices of peace.
(The writer is the High Commissioner of Pakistan to Sri Lanka)