Reigniting the Flames of Kashmir Struggle

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The height of resoluteness and resistance shown by the Kashmiris of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) is unparalleled in history. They are murdered every day, their women face sexual harassment every now and then, they get disappeared just like that, their children become orphaned quite often, they go through all sorts of mental and physical torture daily but even after these seventy years of inferno, they stand steadfast in their mission: freedom of Kashmir from the barbarity of India. Since Kashmiris, even after so long, have not abandoned the struggle, so has not Pakistan. From day one Pakistan has vociferously fought for the rights of Kashmiris and continues to do so. As the control in western areas close to Afghanistan border have been regained after the operation Zarb-e-Azb, now Kashmir is getting its due attention. Thus, the revival of Kashmir Freedom Movement has gained momentum and is bound to get some fruitful results.

Before focusing on the efforts made by Pakistan for the cause of Kashmir, we need to have a look at the present Indian government’s (BJP’s) stance on Kashmir issue, Pakistan and the Indian Muslims (Kashmir has a majority of 75% Muslims). The Bharatiya Janata Party is a hardliner Hindu political party which has the ideology of Hindutva i.e., Hindu-ness. In other sense we can call them an anti-Muslim Party. They, especially Narendar Modi (the Prime Minister) have a history of highly violent anti-Muslim activities. Many riots which took place under the governorship of Modi in Gujrat were legitimized by the government itself. A law suit was also filed against him by Zakia Jafri, the widow of the former Member of Parliament who was killed in a Gujarat massacre, but, nothing came out of it because dirty powerful politicians know their way out.

BJP, which has blood in their eyes, had frequently criticized the former Congress government in their election campaigns for being soft with Pakistan. The cancellation of the talks between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, right after Modi was sworn into the office, shows the toughened stance of BJP towards Pakistan. India has frequently criticized Pakistan for bringing up the Kashmir issue on international platforms. The outrageously anti-Pakistan statements made by Modi in Bangladesh and Dubai and the continuous unprovoked firing at LoC is indicative that India is very less likely to work towards improving relation with Pakistan during Modi’s tenure.

BJP has some serious plans for Kashmir. Srinagar and the adjacent areas have received special attention from the government, frequent visits, rallies and now the formation of a coalition government between People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and BJP in Jammu & Kashmir. It has been observed that Modi intends to engage directly with the Kashmiris excluding the Hurriyat leaders, other Muslim leaders and Pakistan.

Modi’s real intention is that he wants to integrate Kashmir into India. BJP’s manifesto which among other things, aims at doing away with Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which grants special autonomous status to the state of Jammu And Kashmir. Though it has been declared a disputed territory by United Nations but in many speeches, addresses and at other places India has called J&K as its own territory.

The UN resolutions clearly state that people of Kashmir should decide their fate through UN-administered plebiscite. India has tried their best not to let this happen, instead claims that the results of the government elections show the will of the Kashmiris. Kashmir, where the number of Indian armed forces is more than 700,000 i.e., 1 soldier for every 8 Kashmiris so how can a fair and transparent election be conducted in that area? In 2013 former Indian Army Chief V K Singh said that Kashmiri politicians were allegedly paid money by the Indian Army for stability in IOK. There are many freedom movements going on in India. If India any how resolves Kashmir issue, it will have to resolve others as well which will probably result in an ultimate collapse of the Indian Union.

Kashmir is an unfinished part and parcel of partition. When the Chief of Army General Raheel Sharif said that Kashmir is an unfinished agenda in his Defense Day’s address, it showed some solemn intentions towards the cause. In August 2015 61st Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference (CPA) (53 States representative body), scheduled to be held in Islamabad in the last week of September 2015 was cancelled because CPA secretariat in London along-with other member states such as Speaker of the Bangladesh Assembly had requested Pakistan to officially invite the speaker of the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) Assembly. Since Kashmir is a disputed territory so he had categorically refused and had forwarded the UN resolutions on Kashmir. But due to their persistence on the invitation, the CPA conference was called off. However, there are some drawbacks of this decision but Pakistan has conveyed a strong message to the international community regarding its unflinching stance on the Kashmir issue.

Moreover Pakistan Army’s hard-hitting response to Indian aggression on Loc and Working Boundary has sent a clear message that Pakistan will not back off. Earlier this year, Pakistan denied visa to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Naeem Akhtar to attend a Track-II conference in Islamabad claiming that Hurriyat is the true representative of the Kashmiris. Through this action Pakistan made it crystal clear that it won’t let India subside the voice of Kashmiris by deception. India cancelled the talks between the National Security Advisors of the two enemy states at the last moment because India didn’t want to discuss the Kashmir issue but other terrorism issues, mainly the Mumbai attacks. While Pakistan said that it won’t talk about terrorism unless Kashmir is not in the list of the topics.

Afzal Khan (MEP) and Farzana Yaqoob, minister for social welfare and women development in the government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir launched an independent report on human rights violations in September at the European Parliament. The report documents an alarmingly high number of abuses committed in the Indian held Kashmir, including extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, numerous acts of torture and sexual violence against Kashmiris amid increased Indian military presence. They intend to organize an international conference in Brussels next year which will bring together international stakeholders, organs of the European Union, the United Nations, relevant non-governmental organizations and the Kashmiri leaders.

Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s UN ambassador told the Security Council that Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in cooperation with the UN was capable of dealing with the longstanding dispute of Kashmir and addressing the Middle East’s current security challenges. SAARC, on the other hand had epically failed to address Kashmir’s issue because of the politics between the member states for regional dominion. While on the other hand India highly opposes the intervention of OIC in the problem-solving process of Kashmir discord.

During the 70th session of United Nations General Assembly, Nawaz Sharif called for cooperation by presenting a four point peace initiative on Kashmir dispute in his speech. First point was that Pakistan and India should formalise and respect 2003 understanding of a complete ceasefire in Kashmir and LoC.  Secondly both the countries should reaffirm that they will not resort to the threat of force under any circumstances, Kashmir should be demilitarized and both should mutually agree to withdraw troops from Siachen.

Nawaz succeeded in drawing maximum attention of the world towards Kashmir’s plight and towards the willingness of Pakistan to ensure peace in the region. Kashmiris, on both the sides of the border praised and thanked the PM for this daunting step and rallies were held to celebrate the occasion. In order to internationally revive the Kashmir question, Pakistan is on the road to use public diplomacy to influence Think Tanks, media and internal civil society organizations.

The world and particularly India knows that it is wrongfully holding Kashmir and is oppressing Kashmiris in horrific ways. It is the ego, greed of power, natural resources and the fright of disintegration which is keeping India from alleviating the misery of Kashmiris by not implementing the solutions proposed by UNO. But for Pakistan, it is a higher cause. As pronounced by Quaid-e-Azam, Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan. Kashmir and Pakistan belong to each other; it is an integral part of Pakistan. If India thinks delaying the process of obtaining a solution for Kashmir is hurting Pakistan or will lead to an eventual fall of the state, it is very wrong in this assumption. Pakistan will not succumb to the evil plots of India; it will not give up Kashmir. These seven decades of oppression has not damaged Pakistan and in future also India won’t achieve its goal. Pakistan will continue the struggle for free Kashmir.

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Zahabia is an aspiring journalist pursuing a degree in Mass Communication from the University of Karachi. She tweets @zkmotorwala and can be reached at zahabiakhuzema@gmail.com

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