Kashmir impasse: the way forward

The Indian government’s occupation of Jammu & Kashmir is the most glaring sign of the country’s democratic regression under Modi regime. Under the BJP, India has shown that it has not moved past its tradition of sowing chaos using the identity of a region. Employing tactics such as the arrest of local leaders and imposing curfews under covert operations, are all indicators of an ensuing chaos. 

Among the many issues this brings to the table, the most conspicuous is how we might be steering towards a land grab not dissimilar to what we have already seen in Palestine. During the 1940’s campaigns, the Zionist party encouraged wealthy Jews to purchase Palestine property. And so, it was not long before the majority holders in the region, previously, the Arabs, lost hold over their own lands. These lands then came to be known as the Jewish state of Israel. The question now is: will India be successful with the same tactics? I would answer in the negative- given the current resistance by Kashmiris.

In view of an overwhelming majority of Muslims (65% of the population is Muslim) residing in Kashmir, Pakistan claims unrequited ties of blood and soul with the State. Kashmiris also look up to Pakistan for its support and Huriyat leaders have been vocal about it. So not surprisingly, the State of Pakistan must act in a timely manner and dispose of its duties of good faith owed to the people of Kashmir.

A huge hurdle that Pakistan faces in this endeavour is lack of global awareness on the matter. A comprehensive multi-media campaign should be launched. Space and time in significant print and electronic media, in major countries, should be purchased to project the Indian atrocities and plight of innocent Kashmiris. The focus should be on the right of self-determination rather than the presumptuous slogan of “Kashmir will become Pakistan”. The element of fascistic Hindutva should remain the prime message rather than Muslim religious affinity. Regular references in editorial and programming content also serve as constant reinforcement. 

Social media is also a powerful tool and serves as a great initial spark. A platform online gives you a chance to reach people around the globe. However, prominent international media outlets should also be invited to visit Azad Kashmir and the Pakistani side of the Line of Control. The international media should be able to contrast this with the Indian Occupied Kashmir, where this access is unavailable. Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora should protest regularly in major cities of the world and in close proximity to important areas where media attention could be gathered easily.

Another avenue is the effort put forward by our diplomats, analysts, parliamentarians and celebrities. Those that have foreign connections and proficiency in English and other languages should visit major cities across the world to express the message in a lucid way. As per State prerogative, Pakistan should suspend all bilateral trade with India and restrict air space. Additionally, a diplomatic offensive against India should be launched by reaching out to international forums. 

None of the above, however, would be a very potent measure if we as a country cannot stand behind a core belief. There is a need to forge a national consensus on our Kashmir policy. Political instability would not help to meet serious diplomatic challenges and efforts should be made to ensure that a unified response on Kashmir issue is given from all political leaders of the country.

Not surprisingly, with the exception of China, Iran and Turkey, no country has come out with a categorical statement criticizing the Indian action. With limited options, Pakistan needs to up its diplomatic efforts. In real world, states look after their national interests rather than siding with the truth. We cannot forgo the stark truths of the world such as the wheel of economics. India, much like China, is a large untapped market for most of the western world. Their view of India is not tainted by the acts it does with Kashmir, rather it is rose tinted for the economic boon the country will give them. Pakistan does not provide the same value for many countries and so creating strong ties with others is not possible without creating economic interests of these nations in Pakistan. 

A military solution is not the answer; especially when both the States are in possession of nuclear arms.  Blind jingoism and undirected vehemence shown from both sides of the border has traditionally taken precedence over logic and common sense. The issue of Kashmir should be viewed as much a humanitarian crisis as it is a territorial dispute. The Western world must be sensitized to the grave violations witnessed by the people of Kashmir. Human rights organizations must be allowed onto Kashmiri soil to independently document the abuses and gauge the situation. And the long proposed United Nations resolution of a plebiscite should be put into effect. The world must collectively answer the call of humanity and save the people of Kashmir from this perpetual state of limbo.

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