Kashmir Unrest


In what has been marked the deadliest attack on human rights in almost 6 years, Indian-administered Kashmir once again becomes a site for vicious conflict between armed Indian forces and civilians. Following the death of freedom fighter, Burhan Wani on the 8th of July, scores of protesters have flocked the streets of Srinagar in opposition to their discursive marginalization for decades. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif termed Burhan Wani as “martyr of independence movement”, Radio Pakistan reported. He further stated that the “Indian brutalities will give impetus to the freedom struggle and Kashmiri people will get their right to self-determination under UN Human Rights declaration for which the whole Pakistani nation is standing behind them”. In the midst of violent clashes, authorities recorded at least 60 deaths and 200 people injured after paramilitary troops opened fire on tens of thousands of Kashmiris.

Burhan wani was the leader of a new generation of tech-savvy fighters who used social media to project their armed struggles and promote a sense of pride and independence. An estimated 100,000 people are thought to have attended his funeral. His regular Facebook posts and videos, showing him mounting an assault rifle helped him gain national awareness as well as the hearts of many young loyals. In his most recent clip, he was seen appealing to police officers to overthrow the Indian occupation and join the freedom movement.

For decades, many commentators believe the wave of defiance in Kashmir came from Pakistan-based groups operating from beyond the line of control that divided the disputed territory. During the uprising, tens of thousands of civilians, mostly young people, were arrested and tortured, which led to the further strengthening of anti-Indian sentiment.

Over twelve million people live in Indian administered Kashmir, 70% of which are Muslim. Injustice and fear have been recurring mantras in the local and international media since the regions occupation in 1947, marking the beginning of an era of oppression and cruelty.

For the past few weeks, the Indian government has imposed a tightly controlled curfew upon the inhabitants of 10 districts in the Valley. However that hasn’t stopped the young crowds from defying orders and taking to the streets to rise against intolerance.

It is without a doubt that the Kashmir Valley is the world’s most traumatized region with a staggering number of human rights violations committed every day, yet the world powers remains silent on this matter rather than condemning the violent Indian brutalities.

Indian Security forces have been accused of using disproportionate force against civilians, a charge the state government has vowed to investigate.  Live bullets, tear gas, pepper gas and pellets are amongst the many brutal tactics used by the security forces to contain the unarmed protesters.

Spectators comment that with the absence of any action taken by the government to resolve the Kashmir dispute, the growing anti-India sentiment was bound to create hostility and force the individuals to seek out their own mechanisms of safeguarding their lives.

At a conference held by the Strategic vision institute on Saturday, former diplomats suggested that after 9/11 all freedom struggles were being viewed as acts of terrorism unless they were governed by the United States itself. Pakistan’s support for Kashmiri Muslim brothers was due and legitimate however the country had mortally wounded its right to the case due to a profound lack of professionalism and sound thinking.

Passion alone will not resolve the issue. Amongst other panel members, ambassador Qazi opined that the problem was very deep rooted. The weak internal governance of Pakistan’s national policy is unfortunately what largely represented the face of the country’s foreign policy which would therefore require strong amends. The country would need to diversify its strategies with regards to its dialogue with India and therefore, instead of mainly addressing the Indian government, the country should also aim to engage in peace talks with other Indian interest groups.

The Freedom of Kashmir would heavily rely on Kashmiri Muslims to unite under a common slogan and accept the realities of opposition that stand against them and therefore tread with care. A greater participation and activism on behalf of the youth of Pakistan would push the issue further into the eyes of the international media, gaining effective response and support from international communities as they recognise the grave human rights violations that occur.

The world may acknowledge the issue of disputed Kashmir in all of the harsh brutalities and suffering caused by the Indian armed forces against helpless civilians of the region. However, people all over the world are also not oblivious to the fact that India has become the seventh largest world economy, therefore attracting a wealth of global importance. Pakistan on the other hand, has only ever accumulated a negative reputation in the international media, being hailed as the chief sponsor of Kashmiri revolts and has done nothing to improve its dubbed image.

Today, even if justified, the state’s voice has naturally carried less authority because the image which is carrying that voice is deemed highly unpleasant in the international community. In order for Pakistan to repair its tarnished image and for its voice to be deemed credible again, a great deal of professionalism and diplomacy is now required.

is a student activist who supports peaceful civilization coexistence and multiculturalism. She yearns for a world without wmd's, war and terrorism and is about to complete a Marketing and Communications degree. She can be reached at @Maria_Zfr.

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