By Irfan Mahar*
Kashmir is a disputed territory between two age-old rivals namely India and Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear states which have been fighting over it for more than seventy years. The current status of Kashmir shows that India controls 45% of Kashmir, and Pakistan controls 35% of it, and China controls the rest. Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars over territory in 1965, 1971, and 1999 respectively. At the same time, tensions and grievances between both the neighbouring states over this historic dispute continue to generate instability throughout the region. There is essential to understand the problem of Kashmir through various lenses. Kashmir is a conflict not just of territory, it is conflict over national identities, sub-national identities, economic resources, strategic importance, religious identities, cultural identities, and many more which makes it very complicated. There are many people between both nations who want the solution of Kashmir dispute as soon as possible. In this regard, they also suggest multiple ways of solution to the problem such the most suitable option they consider that both the countries should keep their part of Kashmir with them. In contrast, it would be injustice with the people of Kashmir who have been struggling to get independence since long. Therefore, they want the UN to arrange a referendum within Kashmir.
The struggle of the people of Kashmir for its independence can be considered very old even before the independence of both the nations (India and Pakistan) from Britishers.However, after the formation of two separate nations Pakistan and India, they have been fighting for the inclusion of Kashmir within their territories. While the people of this valley want independence (Azadi). In this regard, Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir time and again have faced civil curfews at the hands of Indian forces. Consequently, people of the valley have become sick of Indian Armed curfew. Because of the curfew imposed of armed forces of India people face various problems such as the restricted movement of people, no internet availability, only limited publications by newspapers, mobile service closed, and another such kind of difficulties. These all restrictions and killings of innocent Kashmiri people by Indian forces have further strengthened the indigenous struggle of people for their independence. Moreover, Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Gilani announced strike all over the Kashmir on August 5, 2020. He further said that we would continue our struggle till independence no matter either who is going to support us or not.
The Indian government imposed Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019, which generated the strikes and agitation throughout the world against India. In this regard, Ghulam Nabi Azad, a senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha-the upper house of India’s parliament said “the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has murdered the constitution. It has murdered democracy.” He further explained that “We (Congress) stand by the Constitution of India. We will do anything to protect the constitution.” After BJP’s decision of revoking article 370 in Kashmir which includes the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir into Indian Union territory. Many people in India, mainly affiliated with BJP, are accusing the opposition leader over his remarks regarding Kashmir and its situation. While explaining current circumstances within Jammu and Kashmir, he said conditions are not good people are suffering from difficulties. However, BJP leaders accused him by saying that he is influenced by the Pakistani government perspective and stating the perspective of Islamabad.
On the other side, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan while an interview with BBC News on April 10, 2019, said thatPakistanwanted to solve the Kashmir dispute through dialogues because it is in the benefits of both the nuclear powers and in a broader way for regions as well. He further explained concerning settling over differences that Kashmir is the only issue between both the countries which could create more differences between the two nations so we should solve the issue through peaceful means. In this regard, it is imperative for both the nations to solve it for the destiny and the future of their people. Our task should be getting our people out of poverty. Furthermore, PM Imran Khan in UN General Assembly’s 74th Session on September 27, 2019, warned of potential nuclear war over Kashmir and urged UN to intervene otherwise war would happen, and it would leave consequences not only for Pakistan and India but also for the region and ultimately for the world. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the UN to take action for giving the people of Kashmir the right of self-determination, which is their fundamental right.
Moreover, Maliha Lodhi (a former Pakistan’s representative to the United Nations), reacted to meeting of UN Security Council over Jammu and Kashmir, China also joined the meeting. She told the sufferings of the people of Kashmir and said it is the internationality recognized dispute. We stand ready for the peaceful settlement of Kashmir, and we deny the Indian rhetoric of Kashmir as an Indian internal matter. It will not stop until justice is done with Kashmiri people, and Pakistan is ready for their diplomatic and political support. In contrast, India does not want the third party to mediate between Pakistan and India. Besides, PM Modi is actively using the anti-Pakistan perspective through his RSS and nationalist ideology which was also used by him for election campaign and exploited the people of India to win the election. He also got popular support over the anti-Pakistan narrative. Furthermore, PM Modi tries to institutionalize the nationalist perspective influenced by Hindutva and RSS ideology. He used political rhetoric to influence and emotionalize the people of India mainly Hindu community and somehow, for the time being, becomes successful.
If such kind of behaviour continues at the side of India, then it will be challenging to solve the Kashmir dispute. In this regard, the leaders of both nations have to think rationally over the solution of this long-standing problem which has been the reason of instability, conflict, and differences between both the neighbouring states. They cannot develop, prosper and make peace along with generating enmities; instead, they should create mutual trust, understanding, and friendship for their benefit, peace, prosperity, progress, and stability. As rightly said by Paul Chappell that “To replace the old paradigm of war with a new paradigm of waging peace, we must be pioneers who can push the boundaries of human understanding. We must be doctors who can cure the virus of violence. We must be soldiers of peace who can do more than preach to the choir. And we must be artists who will make the world our masterpiece.”
*The writer is PhD scholar in the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan.