By Uzma Hafeez
“Kashmir has never been an integral part of India” says Arundhati Roy, the author of Booker Prize winner novel “The God of Small Things”. In her essay “Azadi” she further mentions that “Democracy without freedom is Demoncrazy”. While one may appreciate her adding a new word in the dictionary, her narrative has been espoused by most of the liberal Indians except the Modi Government and Indian Media who have emerged as an out-and-out advocate of war with Pakistan in order to divert the attention of international political clout from Kashmir issue.
A lot has been said and written about Kashmir issue but least has been done to give people of valley back their identity and freedom. It is the height of international apathy on Kashmir issue that Heads of States of almost 140 countries addressed the UNGA but none of them discussed or mentioned Kashmir issue in their speeches. While the world leaders have gathered to discuss and decide the future of the world, people are being killed in Kashmir. There have been a curfew for months and people of Kashmir are restricted to their houses with no access to phone or internet. Hundreds of Kashmiris have been martyred and injured in the wake of intense situation that emerged after the killing of Burhan Wani. While the atrocities meted out to Kashmiris must be condemned as much as one can, we need to find the prime reason of the current situation in Kashmir. The struggle and murder of Burhan Wani raises the question that why young and educated Kashmiri boys and girls chose fighting instead of making careers and living a normal life? Why one would choose the way of getting killed or paralyzed for the rest of life? Why one would prefer chaos and war to progress and prosperity? The answer to these can be best given by the Kashmiris who have been in war for more than sixty years. What a viewer from outside can see is that the sheer violation of human rights eventually became a reason to exacerbate the uprising in Kashmir. It is difficult even to contemplate that what choice do the Kashmiris are left with when their women are being raped by Indian army. Even in such violent scenario, Kashmiri freedom fighters have been remained peaceful in their protests against Indian occupation of Kashmir.
That Kashmir issue was first taken to the United Nations by India caught me with a surprise, lately, as India has always been reluctant to talk on Kashmir issue at international forums despite Pakistan’s consistent efforts. It was India’s founding father Jawaher lal Nehru who first took Kahsmir issue to United States in 1949. Nehru had always been in favor of giving Kashmiris their proud prerogative of self-determination.
“We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it.” (3rd November, 1947, All India Radio broadcast, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India)
If we delve into the speeches of Jawaher Lal Nehru since 1947 till his last breath, we will find that he was the biggest advocate of the argument that free and impartial plebiscite is the only solution to Kashmir conflict.
Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Sawaraj took a complete different stance on Kashmir while addressing to UNGA, few days back, by saying that “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India”. Her whole speech was meant to prove that Kashmir is India’s internal issue; the fact is that it’s not. The resolution of the United Nations and Article 370 of Indian Constitution, which gives special status to Kashmir, vouch for that fact. Even for a fraction of second if we accept the Indian claim on Kashmir, the questions arise why Indian government is doing this to its own people? Why the state is using pellet guns and other torturous methods on its citizens? Why the Kashmir issue cannot be solved on table? All these questions can only be answered by the Indian government which has been silent on Kashmir issue. The silent stance of Indian government clearly strengthens the rhetoric that Kashmir is not an India’s internal problem; it’s an international issue.
It is quite convenient to give remarks on Kashmir problem while having a cup of tea in an embellished office, the world leaders are required to do more. They need to go there and analyze the situation themselves instead of harping on same old concepts of liberty and democracy. It is high time that International Media and especially the United Nations, which is deemed to be the custodian of human rights, to strongly condemn the violation of human rights by Indian army in Kashmir. An independent international commission is to be formed and facilitated to go to Kashmir, deeply analyze the plight of Kashmiris and present the report to United Nations. Once the Kashmiri people get back to their normal life, a free and impartial plebiscite must be conducted as prescribed in UN Resolution of 1949.
It is a dejected fact that Kashmir issue is considered by International community only when there emerges a risk of war between two nuclear states i.e. India and Pakistan. Kashmiris deserve more than this. Kashmir issue should be resolved with their consent independent of ulterior motives of India or Pakistan. William James once said that:
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”
The Indian government needs to work on its attitude which is a main stumbling block in resolving Kashmir conflict. Narinder Modi must not forget the ideology of India’s founding fathers Gandhi and Nehru who sacrificed their lives to promote the ideals of democracy, tolerance and freedom.
Uzma Hafeez is a Sydney-based freelancer who writes on various subjects ranging from political and social to business issues.