Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “Kashmir, a former princely state under the suzerainty of the British raj, achieved independence on August 15, 1947, when Britain renounced its dominion over the territory. On that date, Kashmir had neither opted for accession to India or to Pakistan, and was under no legal obligation to relinquish its independence. India did not then argue that Kashmir was indispensable for its national or economic security. Indeed, India championed a resolution in the United Nations Security Council in 1948 mandating a plebiscite in Kashmir conducted by the United Nations to determine its future sovereignty. India reneged on its plebiscite commitment and obligation because it knew that a commanding majority of the people of Kashmir would never vote accession to India,” this was stated by Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum at ‘Kashmir Roundtable’ held at “International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization” of the International Islamic University, Malaysia. The Institute is headed by an internationally known scholar and author, Datu Dr. Osman Bakar. Dr. Fai also spoke at ABIM Global Forum, organized by another internationally known human rights activist and the member of ‘Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,’ Jeddah, Sheikh Ahmed Azam.
Dr. Fai added that the cause of Kashmir’s chilling strife and turbulence is the denial of self-determination. Acceding to self-determination is the answer to Kashmir’s agony. That acceptance would also relieve India of the multiple national security and economic adversities spawned by its denial of self-determination. More important, Kashmir self-determination would eliminate the chief cause of India’s national security vulnerability. War with Pakistan would become fanciful. The liberation of Kashmir would not create a cascading dismembering of India. Its legal history is unique. And it speaks volumes that self-determination in East Timor, Eritrea, and Czechoslovakia did not occasion a spiraling disintegration of Indonesia, Ethiopia, or the Czech and Slovak republics.
The nuclear weapons programs of India and Pakistan have heightened mutual tensions and placed the entire South Asian region and the world generally in grave danger of a nuclear winter or otherwise. Experts generally concur that Kashmir is the foremost nuclear hotspot on the planet. But this imperative is stalled on Kashmir, which has been the chief genesis for nuclear proliferation in India and Pakistan. Thus, the United Nations and every nation individually have self-preservation interests in a peaceful and permanent Kashmir settlement that honors human rights and international law.
The people of Kashmir are mindful of the existence in Indian public square of sections of sane and enlightened opinion that deplore the Kashmir policy pursued by their Government and have come to the conclusion that it is causing grave damage to India’s reputation and lowered its international standing. Compared to the clamorous bigoted and fundamentalist forces in India, these sections speak only in soft tones, and have yet to influence policymakers. Kashmiris assure them, nevertheless, that their efforts have deeply gratified them and they hope that they will sustain their campaign which responds equally to genuine patriotism and to human conscience.
Indian human rights activist, author and scholar, Arundhati Roy has said it the best on August 22, 2008 that, “Having declared that the militant movement has been crushed, it (India) is now faced with a non-violent mass protests. This one is nourished by people’s memory of years of repression in which tens of thousands have been killed, thousands have disappeared, hundreds of thousands tortured, injured and humiliated.”
The resources of the two countries should be redirected from bombs to books, from submarines to schools, from missiles to medicines, from frigates to food, from runways for bombers to roads for people. This is not starry-eyed thinking. Germany and France once glared at one another with suspicion and large military arsenals for centuries before becoming close allies buoyed by thick economic relations by 1963 through the statesmanship of Adenauer and De Gaulle. No insurmountable obstacle prevents Narendra Modi and Imran Khan from similarly reconciling and boosting prosperity by addressing the root cause of the tensions – Kashmir dispute.
The people of Kashmir are not asking military intervention from the world powers. Neither are they asking for rugged economic sanctions. They are asking only that the United Nations and the United States exercise its high international bully pulpit to reproach or condemn India for its chilling human rights record in Kashmir as part of a campaign of moral suasion and transparency in the disputed territory. That was an effective instrument of United States policy in ending apartheid in South Africa, and they see no reason to believe it would be less influential in prodding India to end its human rights villainies in Kashmir.
The element that has been missing in efforts toward a settlement is the political representation of Kashmiris. There is no way to provide this on a principled basis except by an election in Kashmir under the control and supervision of the United Nations. This would enable all the different ethnic communities and zones in Kashmir to elect representatives who in turn will appoint a team or teams with the mandate to negotiate a settlement with both India and Pakistan and to manage the transitional phase in the State. No drastic overhaul of the existing administrative machinery will be required to initiate this phase. But the removal of the military and para-military troops from towns and villages and freedom of movement of State subjects between the two parts will be pre-requisite.
Far from seeking to rectify its atrocious human rights record, India has legalized its state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir. It has given its occupation forces powers to shoot to kill and the license to abuse the people of Kashmir in whatever ways they like in order to suppress the popular movement for self-determination. These tactics have no military purpose whatsoever. Their only imaginable purpose is to terrorize a people into submission.
In such an atrocious atmosphere of trauma, horror and chaos, delusional Indian government officials are vehemently declaring everything is under control. Yet, India has completely lost Kashmir, it retains it only with the barrel of a gun and that cannot last. Yaswant Sinha, the leader of BJP and former foreign minister of India has emphatically declared “We are losing Jammu and Kashmir”. “We have lost. There is no question of losing. We hold on to Jammu and Kashmir only by dint of the fact that we have our armed forces there,” he added. The Siasat Daily, December 31, 2018.
The solution to the suffering of everyone in Kashmir — Muslims and non-Muslims — lies in finding a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the crisis. This can only happen if the United Nations take an active role in facilitating a dialogue between all the parties to the dispute — India, Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership. Any attempt to strike a deal between two without the association of the third, will fail to yield a credible settlement. This has been made unmistakably clear by the flimsy arguments that were contrived in the past seven decades.
Dr. Fai can be reached at: 1-202-607-6435 or [email protected]