During his recent visit to Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK), Prime Minister Narendra Modi was welcomed by massive civilian protests in the region, reflective of Kashmiri peoples’ aspirations with regard to false Indian claims on the territory, and ongoing repressive measures by India occupation forced. While inaugurating a tourism based Chenani-Nashri tunnel, Modi asked the youth of Kashmir to choose between tourism and terrorism.
And a day after National Conference president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah replied: “I want to tell Modi sahib tourism is our lifeline, there is no doubt about it. But he is a stone pelter. He has nothing to do with tourism. He will starve to death but he is pelting stones for his nation and there is a need to understand this.” Abdullah went on to say “… if India and Pakistan cannot resolve their issues, the US should come forward and facilitate as the third party to resolve issues between the two countries”.
Latest effort towards resolution of Kashmir conflict has come from the Americans, signalling a shift of position. Earlier in December 2016, during an interview with NBC News, US Vice President Mike Pence had indicated that Trump could use his “extraordinary deal-making skills” to reduce tensions around the world and resolve problems, including the Kashmir issue.
US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, indicated American intent to mediate on Kashmir on April 04: “It’s absolutely right that this administration is concerned about the relationship between India and Pakistan and very much wants to see how we de-escalate any sort of conflict going forward.” Donald Trump may get involved in India-Pakistan peace process, said Nikki Haley. Instead of waiting until “something happens”, the United States would try and “find its place” in efforts to de-escalate strains between Pakistan and India. “It’s absolutely right that this administration is concerned about the relationship between India and Pakistan and very much wants to see how we de-escalate any sort of conflict going forward,” Nikki added. However, Haley’s statement also indicates that the US does not expect a breakthrough.
Pakistan has welcomed the US offer. “We welcome the statement of Ambassador Nikki Haley, expressing concerns over the rising tensions between Pakistan and India and the offer of mediation…this has happened in the backdrop of the deteriorating human rights situation in IoK, she also expressed the intention of the US to play a proactive role in deescalating the situation”, Spokesperson of Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs stated during his weekly briefing on April 07.
A day earlier, in a kneejerk reaction, India has snubbed the US offer. Indian ministry of external affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay said on April 06 that its position on resolving all issues with Pakistan bilaterally in an atmosphere free of terror hasn’t changed. “We of course expect the international community and organisations to enforce international mechanisms and mandates concerning terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which continues to be the single biggest threat to peace and stability in our region and beyond,” Baglay said.
As usual India has reacted negatively to the US offer on the pretext that it wants to speak on terrorism. Pakistan also wishes to take about of terrorism, and it is one of the elements of the comprehensive dialogue process. Pakistan wants to address the Indian sponsored terrorism in Pakistan. Confession of Kulbhushan Yadav alongside numerous other indicators are irrefutable proof of Indian involvement in Pakistan. India tries to hide the atrocities in IoK and is afraid of being exposed on account of crimes against humanity committed by the Indian Occupation Forces in IoK. Over 100 innocent protestor have been injured during the last few days, which include victims of pellet guns, who lost their eye-sight forever. Occupation forces have mercilessly and deliberately targeted children, women and elderly people.
Almost simultaneously, the Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost has once again repeated Iranian offer to mediate between Pakistan and India over the long-standing issue of Kashmir if requested. “Any conflict or tension between the two countries will hinder the progress and development of both the countries but will also impact upon the economies of other regional countries,” Mehdi stated during an interview. He was confident that “more interaction and cooperation between the biggest Islamic countries can help remove tension between them [Muslim countries].”
India will eventually conclude that the only solution to the Jammu & Kashmir dispute is the realization of the right to self-determination of Kashmiris through a fair and free plebiscite under the auspices of the UN in line with the relevant UNSC resolutions. International Community should take note and call India to account for the crimes against humanity committed by its forces in IoK.
Pakistan did not start the recent uprising in Kashmir and cannot stop it either. In the current insurgency, about 30,000 Kashmiris have been injured, maimed or bruised in the state-sponsored terrorism. Some time ago Rajmohan Gandhi had concluded that: “a de facto plebiscite already seems to have taken place there. Kashmiris appear to have voted with untiring throats, with eyes destroyed or deformed by pellets, and with bodies willing to fall to the ground for what the (ir) heart desires. And the vote seems to be for azadi”. Yashwant Sinha, a former Indian foreign minister also thinks that: “Kashmiris have lost their fear of India.”
IoK has been a troubled valley since the partition. Visionary people had foreseen it well before that. A renowned Kashmiri historian and journalist, Pandit Premnath Bazaz, in 1934, wrote a letter to Gandhi, as early as 1934, and enquired that what the Maharaja of Kashmir should do, when majority of his subjects were Muslims. Gandhi’s reply was: “Knew that Kashmir is predominantly Mussalman, it is one day bound to become a Mussalman State. Therefore, a Hindu prince can rule it only by not ruling i.e., doing as the Mussalmans want him to do”.
There have been little signs of the Hindu Prince (Modi) applying its mind to the Kashmir issue. It has not taken up the larger dialogue which was initiated by Prime Minister Vajpayee and carried forth by Dr Manmohan Singh. A durable resolution of the Kashmir issue requires a comprehensive settlement between the three parties to the conflict—India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. Modi is persistent with its approach of settling the issue of Jammu and Kashmir through brutal use of force. Over 700,000 criminals in the garb of Indian Army and civil armed forces have been unleashed on innocent people of IoK; they are supported by nearly a dozen draconian laws. IoK is nothing more than a cage for its hapless people.
On its part, Pakistan has ever since been ready for talks with India on every issue. Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has said: “If India does not engage in talks, the negative forces get advantage of the situation…It is very significant that both nations come to table and resolve all outstanding issues.” In an interview with India’s news channel NewsNation he also emphasised the need for confidence-building measures between the two countries.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been quite consistent in its desire to reach out to India, but to little avail. The Americans can do no more than ‘encourage’ India and Pakistan to engage in direct talks, but given the intractable position of India such counselling is likely to fall on deaf ears. By itself America is going nowhere as a broker, it needs to co-opt remaining members of P-5 to gather critical mass.