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Who Is Telling The Truth About Jammu And Kashmir? – OpEd

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Every year, Pakistan observes Kashmir Solidarity Day (KSD) on Feb. 5 to show its solidarity with Kashmiris and spread its propaganda. Many lies have been spread about Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in the media and at various forums, seminars, and webinars for a long time. 

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The idea of KSD came from Qazi Hussain Ahmed, a radical politician from the Jamaat-e-Islami party in Pakistan in 1990. A year later, Pakistan’s then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for a one-day solidarity strike for Kashmir. In 2004, the government of Pakistan started to observe Feb. 5 as KSD.

It is strange to see a country that is responsible for numerous deaths in 1947, three wars and a proxy war talk about solidarity, especially when thousands of Kashmiris have been killed in Pakistan-sponsored terror attacks. Yet, Pakistan insists that India is an occupying force in Jammu and Kashmir. Is there any truth behind this claim?

Before 1947, Muslim-majority J&K was an independent princely state. By the time India gained its independence, there was a total of 565 princely states, which neither India nor Pakistan had any rights to. J&K ruler Raja Hari Singh refused to join both countries.

Impatient and panicked, Pakistan invaded J&K using its Pashtun militia and soldiers in civilian clothing on Oct. 22, 1947. They plundered, looted, and committed a genocide against the people of Kashmir. Pakistan troops occupied a vast area of J&K.

Hari Singh asked for India’s help, but India refused. After consulting with his subjects, especially majority Muslim leader Sheikh Abdullah, he signed the Instrument of Accession on Oct. 26, 1947, and acceded J&K to India legally.

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Since J&K was now a part of India, it was India’s duty to protect it from foreign invaders. India airlifted its troops to Srinagar and liberated most of J&K. India then went to the UN on Jan. 1, 1948, with the hope that the international body would put pressure on Pakistan to withdraw its troops from J&K and stop the war.

If India was an occupying force, why did it involve the UN at all? 

One should note that India came to J&K legally while Pakistan entered using violence and fear.

Pakistan has been talking about a UN plebiscite in J&K at various forums on KSD. The UN Security Council passed two resolutions about J&K. The first one was UNSC Resolution No. 39 on January 20, 1948, and the second was Resolution No. 47 on April 21, 1948.  

Resolution 47 called upon Pakistan to secure the withdrawal of its troops and its proxies, followed by a withdrawal of Indian troops. The UN would then establish a temporary Plebiscite Administration in Kashmir, with the mandate to conduct a fair and impartial plebiscite ‘on the question of the accession of the State to India or Pakistan’. The withdrawal of troops from both sides was a prerequisite for a plebiscite. 

Pakistan never withdrew its forces from the regions it occupied. Since Pakistan did not comply with the UN Resolution, India could not withdraw its troops. As a result, the UN dropped the idea of a plebiscite in J&K. 

Pakistan also frequently raises the human rights situation in India’s J&K. It is frustrated because Western countries, and even Islamic countries, are not listening to its narrative about the rampant human rights abuses in J&K.

“What we find very difficult to swallow in Pakistan is that while they talk about Uighurs, they do not talk much in the West about IoK (Indian-Occupied Kashmir) because the worst human rights violations are taking place there by India,” the Dawn newspaper quoted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan as saying recently.

Pakistan is itself a notorious violator of human rights. The Kashmir conflict is just a rhetoric and lifeline for Pakistan’s military to mint money and maintain absolute power in all aspects of life in Pakistan.

Many people wonder is Kashmir a state or a part of Jammu and Kashmir?

Background

Legally, Kashmir, a Muslim-majority area, belongs to India. Kashmir, a valley,  is officially a  part of India’s Jammu and Kashmir Union territory, which was established on Oct. 31, 2019.  

Strangely, people call Kashmir as a short form for Jammu and Kashmir, which has many regions like Kashmir. A small part of Kashmir was annexed by Pakistan in 1947 from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) princely state, and calls it also as Kashmir under the name of Azad Kashmir or Free Kashmir. 

Majority of the people now living in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), according to one local resident, are neither Kashmiris nor free as claimed by Pakistan. The whole area, which is called a self-ruled region, is fully controlled by Pakistan military. The people do not speak Kashmiri language like in India’s J&K. Majority of them were migrants from other Pakistani cities. Several original Kashmiris left the region.

On Nov. 1, 1948, Gilgit-Balitistan, a shia majority area, became a part of Pakistan. 

Though Gilgit-Balitistan was a part of J&K, the people in this region do not like Kashmiris and their culture. They do not want to be part of the PoK.

There is a lot of confusion about Jammu and Kashmir due to various claims, both legal and illegal, by India, Pakistan and China.  There were many wars over Jammu and Kashmir and thousands of people lost their lives during the last 75 years.

Many people do not know that the term Jammu and Kashmir came to existence only in 1846. Jammu, a Hindu majority area and Kashmir, a Muslim majority area were separate entities but both were parts of Sikh Empire. 

In 1846, Jammu’s Dogra (Hindu) king Ghulab Singh bought neighboring Kashmir from British India for 7.5 million rupees and became the King of Jammu and Kashmir State or Kingdom for the first time. He became an independent king under British suzerainty. He and subsequent rulers expanded the kingdom. 

Before 1947, J&K princely state had an area of 410,630 square kilometres consisting of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit-Balitistan and Aksai Chin regions. 

Due to Pakistan and China, the original J&K state, which was given to India by Hari Singh, has been split into many parts. India has been making efforts to recover all the parts from Pakistan and China. 

People in J&K have been suffering from the Pakistan sponsored terrorism and radicalism during the last 75 years. If really Pakistan wants to show solidarity to Kashmiri people, it should stop border terrorism and stop sending money and weapons to separatist elements. Let Kashmiris live in peace. It will push 14 million Kashmiri people toward prosperity in a short time. Tight security measures in J&K will be relaxed. That is the real way of showing solidarity for Kashmiri people.

Veeramalla Anjaiah

Veeramalla Anjaiah is a Jakarta-based senior journalist and the author of the book “Azerbaijan Seen from Indonesia

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