Every massacre in Kashmir is used as a precise moment by our politicians to remind the international community of its responsibilities towards human rights violations taking place in so-called largest democracy. All of a sudden media reverberates with voices condemning the crisis and demanding the international community to wake-up. Have these reminders made any difference? We will return to this later. First, let’s have a look at the latest mayhem in the Indian held Kashmir, the response of the international community to it and the reasons of the failure of the Indian government, since partition, to get Kashmir absorbed in the Indian Union.
On April 1, 2018, the Indian army as a part of its Operation All Out (OAO) killed 12 militants and three civilians, in Shopian (Kashmir). It was the largest one-day death toll of freedom fighters in recent years. Calling it an Indian Army’s success, Lt. Gen. A. K. Bhatt is quoted as saying, “It is a special day for our forces.” The top Indian police officer in the region, Shesh Paul Vaid said that 213 militants were killed last year — the largest number in seven years. According to New York Times reporting, Imtiyaz Ahmad, a protestor in Kachdora, said, “For every 10 killed, 20 more will join until this land is freed from Indian occupation.” The sentiments of the new generation have become more lethal since Indian security forces have taken up the OAO offensive with a mandate to eliminate every militant in Kashmir. Man has never been as savage as it has become today. The response to any mayhem is weighed against international interests, if intervention in culling the danger exceeds personal gains, the danger is left to fester.
Kashmir has become a raw nerve in the body politic of India. It has been trying to numb the nerve, hoping to paralyse it; eventually it would have no recourse but to append with India for its survival. Left dangling with pain and bearing innumerable cuts, the nerve has, nevertheless, defeated India, by not giving in even to the 700,000 army personals in Jammu and Kashmir, that has turned the state into a garrison.
For years now, India has been blaming Pakistan for its alleged involvement in inciting Jihad in Kashmir, which according to Indian theory has now morphed into the wide definition of terrorism. Each Indian refusal to attend to the Kashmir issue as an indigenous uprising, has led to more insurgency. With the BJP government in the saddle, the ability of the Indian policy makers to think clear on Kashmir has already dwindled. Though it goes without saying that India’s policy towards Kashmir has been consistent whether it was the congress or the BJP in power. It is rather the extremist element within both the parties, which defines the direction in which the issue of political settlement of Kashmir flows. Demographic changes to outnumber Muslims with non-Muslims have been actively pursued as an instrument of oppression. Replacing Hindus with Muslims in predominately Muslim areas looks milder as compared to killing and disabling the Muslim youths using pellet guns. This callousness has failed to undermine the spirit of Kashmiris. More boys from every Kashmiri class, even those with foreign education, have taken up guns against Indian occupation of Kashmir. The ambiance has also become non-discriminatory. Concepts of gender, age, and social class have become immaterial. Women and young girls have resisted against police force on check posts——strewn across Jammu and Kashmir. Just like the Indian law enforcers, who had never resisted from using force against Kashmiris irrespective of their gender or age, even raping 80 year-old women, the Kashmiris too have thrown down the gauntlet, to intensify the struggle. Force has not worked against the Kashmiris. The half-widows, the widows, the raped women and the women on road chased by the dirty looks of the Indian army and police officer, have brought up a generation, which is more determined than its elders, to fight the Indian denial of the Kashmiri’s right of self-determination.
There was a time when the 29 years old-insurgency was under the gaze of international community. Bill Clinton once called this region a “nuclear flashpoint.” The Indian diplomats were prepared to answer embarrassing questions on Kashmir. Then the Indian diplomacy and the size of the Indian market diluted the Kashmir issue. Today the world community, including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, is lost on Kashmir and busy in settling new wars. The last nail on Pakistan’s Kashmir policy that deprived it of international support was hammered post 9/11. The genuine political demand of the Kashmiris was now viewed from the terrorism lens. As the moral compass of the Kashmir struggle changed angle, the world moved on with new dynamics of force and annihilation to bridle the terrorists. India used this opportunity to add more terror in Jammu and Kashmir. Fifteen years down the road, as the world changed tack, the Kashmir freedom struggle assumed a completely indigenous character. The new generation is an ardent supporter of Jihad. More young boys are joining Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM) rather than other political groups. It was quite news when the son of a recently appointed head of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TuH) joined HuM. Ashraf Sehri became the head of TuH on March 18, and on March 25 his son Junnaid, an MBA from Kashmir University, posed for a picture with an Ak-47 rifle in his hands to announce his alliance with HuM. Sehri had no regret about his son joining the violent path. He told media that, “Both the gun and our political struggle are important and both are playing their part. Our youth spill their blood for freedom. They pick up arms against the tyrant and Islam also tells us to rise against the tyrant. I believe armed resistance is an integral part of every freedom movement in the world,”
Since 2016 the Kashmir struggle has taken new course from non-violence to violence. Which could also mean that the new leadership has lost hope for the political settlement of Kashmir and finds responding to India’s aggression in the same coin, a better choice.
Returning to the question whether Pakistan has been successful in waking up the international community from its slumber on Kashmir, the answer is big NO. Pakistan, for unfortunate reasons, has lost the capacity to influence the world conscience regarding India’s brutal role in Kashmir. One such reason could have been the early decision to hand over the Kashmir issue to the religious proxies that have now become a liability.
The writer is a freelance journalist based in Lahore.