70 years of un­re­solved Jammu and Kash­mir dis­pute

People's Review - - FRONT PAGE - BY MAZHAR JAVED

Tear of joy are nor­mal when celebri­ties are hon­oured with pres­ti­gious awards. But when a large au­di­ence in a packed Hall in the Nor­we­gian town of Bergen last week rose in re­spect of Rafto Award win­ner Parveen Ahangar's tears, painfully, they were not ris­ing to hon­our any tears of joy; Ahangar's tears were the tears of real pain mis­ery and agony; and all that hap­pen­ing at the cer­e­mony where Parveen and Im­roz Parvez were dec­o­rated with pres­ti­gious Rafto Award for their decades long strug­gle against hu­man right vi­o­la­tions in In­dian Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir. Parveen Ahangar had founded the As­so­ci­a­tion of Par­ents of Dis­ap­peared Per­sons. Im­roz Parvez, a Kash­miri civil rights ac­tivist is the founder of Coali­tion of Civil So­ci­ety. Their strug­gle, the awards and the Ms. Ahangar's tears, all served to con­verge our thoughts, rea­son­ing and emo­tions to larger is­sue of Jammu and Kash­mir; the plight that the peo­ple of Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir have been fac­ing now for decades. Rafto Prizes came just a week after 27 Oc­to­ber, a date that marks the land­ing of In­dian Oc­cu­pa­tion forces in Jammu and Kash­mir in 1947. The day is com­mem­o­rated as the “Black Day” in Jammu and Kash­mir as also around the world. This year the day marked the com­ple­tion of seven decades of a long story of un­ful­filled prom­ises and op­pres­sion. Few events in con­tem­po­rary world his­tory have had greater im­pact in shap­ing the re­gional and world peace and de­vel­op­ment, than those that took place in Jammu and Kash­mir in 1947, shortly after the par­ti­tion of In­dia into two sov­er­eign states, In­dia and Pak­istan. Jammu and Kash­mir was the largest among over 560 princely states in the pre1947 un­di­vided In­dia. This state had an over­whelm­ing Mus­lim ma­jor­ity and was ruled by a Do­gra Ma­haraja. The fate of Jammu and Kash­mir had to be de­ter­mined by the wishes and as­pi­ra­tions of its peo­ple through a plebiscite. The com­mit­ments to their right of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion through a plebiscite were made both, by sev­eral UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tions and by In­dia it­self. What lies at the core of this 70 year old dis­pute is the non-im­ple­men­ta­tion of these res­o­lu­tions and com­mit­ments. It is this bla­tant de­nial of the right of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion and un­ful­filled prom­ises that forced the peo­ple of Jammu and Kash­mir to a free­dom strug­gle against In­dia's il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion; a strug­gle that finds no match in mod­ern day world. Their strug­gle and up­ris­ing was met with a bru­tal sup­pres­sion by the In­dian forces lead­ing to the worst hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions. Over 100,000 Kash­miris have been mar­tyred since 1989, thou­sands of women raped and over a hun­dred thou­sand houses and shops set to fire since then. If at all, the oc­cu­pa­tion forces had thought that such bru­tal­i­ties would si­lence the peo­ple of Jammu and Kash­mir, their hopes must have died

when, in 2008, Kash­miris took to streets in ral­lies as strong as over a mil­lion to de­mand for their right of self de­ter­mi­na­tion. The hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions and the dis­cov­ery of mass un­named graves took the whole world by sur­prise with a wave of strong con­dem­na­tion. In 2016, the free­dom strug­gle took a new turn with the mar­tyr­dom of young Kish­miri free­dom fighter Burhan Wani by the In­dian forces that was fol­lowed by long cur­fews and siege of civil­ian pop­u­la­tion. The use of pel­let guns ren­dered hun­dreds of Kash­miri youth blind and caused se­ri­ous in­juries to oth­ers. The grav­ity and the scale of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions shook the world con­science; and yet the free­dom strug­gle goes with ever in­creas­ing en­thu­si­asm and de­ter­mi­na­tion. To­day, Jammu and Kash­mir dis­pute stands as the oldest un­re­solved is­sue on the UN agenda. That fact alone is a food for thought and a ques­tion mark for the global con­science; some­thing that war­rants deep in­tro­spec­tion and a re­solve to sup­port a stance of values rather than in­ter­ests. These sev­enty years were a story of un­ful­filled prom­ises of plebiscite by the very apex of In­dian lead­er­ship and by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil; of wars, con­flicts and threats thereof; talks to re­solve the dis­pute; and of­fi­cial state­ments made at the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly podium ev­ery year. Per­haps the only thing that was miss­ing in all this his­tory was the plebiscite, which ac­tu­ally held the key to the res­o­lu­tion of the dis­pute. The cur­rent youth of Jammu and Kash­mir that is suf­fer­ing from pel­let guns tar­geted straight on their face, mur­der, rape and dis­ap­pear­ances at the hands of oc­cu­pa­tion forces is the third gen­er­a­tion that awaits the plebiscite and ex­er­cise of their right of self de­ter­mi­na­tion. In all these years, one thing has re­mained con­stant. The ever in­creas­ing mo­men­tum of the in­dige­nous free­dom strug­gle of the peo­ple of Jammu and Kash­mir which be­gan soon after the oc­cu­pa­tion of Jammu and Kash­mir by In­dian Se­cu­rity forces, gath­ered a new mo­men­tum in 1989 and brought mil­lions to free­dom ral­lies in 2008. Jammu and Kash­mir to­day is the most heav­ily mil­i­ta­rized re­gion in the world. The mere strength of these ral­lies made many In­dian in­tel­lec­tu­als and an­a­lysts re­think their own coun­try's ap­proach to Jammu and Kash­mir dis­pute. To some, the ques­tion was, can the peo­ple of Jammu and Kash­mir be de­nied the right of self de­ter­mi­na­tion? Hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions have fur­thered the Kash­miris' re­solve to con­tinue their strug­gle till they suc­ceed. And this re­solve is strength­en­ing day by day and by ev­ery bul­let that is fired on them. The peo­ple of Jammu and Kash­mir are no more will­ing to ac­cept sub­ju­ga­tion. Their just strug­gle is bound to suc­ceed. That is a writ­ing on the wall. No one can doubt, let alone change that. The ear­lier they get their right and the dis­pute re­solved in ac­cor­dance with the wishes and as­pi­ra­tions of its peo­ple, the bet­ter it would be, not only for the peo­ple of Jammu and Kash­mir and the re­gion but also for the cred­i­bil­ity of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and its in­sti­tu­tions. Ev­ery facet of the dis­pute that stems from and re­volves around the promised right of self­de­ter­mi­na­tion is im­por­tant. (The writer is the Am­bas­sador of Pak­istan)

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