Kashmir: The way forward
The history of bloodshed and violence in Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOK) escalated to another level when the fascist Modi government in India decided to actively make Kashmiris feel unwelcome in their homeland.
India’s vicious moves in the disputed territory are often seen from the lens of strategic gain and loss in the international community, and the Indian government is always willing to keep up this narrative and find excuses to pin the blame of an indigenous movement onto us. What gets lost in the noise sadly, is the fact that these are real people that have been cut off from the outside world and have been denied the right to find gainful employment or even educate their kids. Eight million Kashmiris are living a dystopian nightmare as Indian security forces conduct operations with the population trapped within their homes.
And while the powerbrokers of this world usually tend to look the other way on an issue that has led to seven decades of bloodshed, Pakistan has stood by Kashmiris through thick and thin. Their plight is understood by the average Pakistani; even after all this time we know that standing for Kashmiris is important because the Indian state is attempting to leave no one left to raise their voice against the injustice.
From our citizens, to the government, all institutions and our brave armed forces, one principle we will always stand behind is the need to stand with Kashmiris and against injustice.
These past two years under the Imran Khan government have seen these efforts gain speed, partially due to the ruling party’s own commitment to the Kashmiri struggle, but also because of the BJP government’s own actions in the state. Through legislation such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and revoking Article 35-A, the Indian government gave itself—very flimsy—legal ground to alter the regions demographic composition; paving the way for complete assimilation.
This is the Israel state model, a tried and tested route that the apartheid state has taken for the complete destruction and occupation of the Palestinian state, the legitimate residents of the land.
The government in India is taking cues from a state that is known for its repressive policies, which have led to the other-isation and complete dehumanisation of an indigenous people. This must never be allowed to happen in Kashmir.
Admittedly, Pakistan is no longer interested in the military option to settle the dispute. But there are options available to make sure that the Kashmir struggle does not escape international attention. On this front, the government is already working hard.
But beyond a diplomatic push on the international stage, there are very practical geo-strategic pressures that Pakistan is in a good position to apply. The first of these is its friendship with China, and the Eastern power’s rivalry with India. The showdown in Ladakh established two things; China can and will take Pakistan’s issue on this side if India threatens to occupy the region any further and the fact that India is not really a match for China in the struggle for supremacy, as hard as it might try.
Another pressure point is the regional bloc that looks to be in the making. China has been working on having positive relations with states in close proximity, and Pakistan is looking to do the same, provided India doesn’t get there first. But even countries that were firmly in the India camp only five years ago might now be leaning towards the Chinese dragon. Pakistan must strike while the iron is hot and look to become friendlier with these countries.
PM Modi’s own exclusionary narrative, India’s consistent attempt to harangue its neighbours on the border, and efforts to sow discontent in Pakistan through the western front has all but ensured that India’s friendships will not stay if it chooses to continue on the path to confrontation.
One can only dream, but the thought of a regional bloc along similar lines of the European Union would be a dream come true, with enormous benefits for trade, employment and human development. India stands in the way of this newer, brighter tomorrow. Its choices though are increasingly limited. It can choose to continue sabre-rattling and achieve nothing, or join hands for mutual development.