Violence in Held Kashmir and Pak-India Relations

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By Zahoor Khan Marwat

President Asif Ali Zardari, while addressing a joint session of both the houses of the Azad Jammu & Kashmir Parliament i.e. the AJK Legislative Assembly and AJK Council, has asked India not to tread the path of violence and move for granting the Kashmiris their birth right of self-determination according to the UN resolutions. He categorically stated that Pakistan always wanted good relations with all its neighbours, including India, and only the composite dialogue was the key to peaceful settlement of the Kashmir conflict, which was unresolved for the last 65 years as the world community could not get the issue settled in line with the international norms and commitments.

There is no denying that Pakistans relations with India have been held hostage by the smoldering issue of Kashmir. The recent incidents on the Line of Control involving the armies of the two countries and also in the Valley have once again proved that without resolving the Kashmir issue, the relations between the two countries, which have gone to war thrice over the issue, cannot be normalised.

At this moment in time, the human rights situation in the Valley seems to be deteriorating and that of course will have a serious impact on bilateral ties between Pakistan and India. In this connection, the hanging of Afzal Guru in Tihar Jail, New Delhi, was a further blemish on the human rights record of the Indian government. Guru was blamed for the attack on the Indian parliament on December 10, 2001. Coinciding with the unjustified and cruel hanging, which saw flouting of legal norms by the Indian authorities, curfew was imposed, the top pro-movement leadership was detained or house-arrested and print and electronic media was gagged in the Valley.

According to reports published in the media, following the hanging some 10 people were killed at the hands of security forces while more than 200 were injured in violent protests and more than 400 detained. What the figures prove is the fact that the unrest in the Valley is far from over as had been projected in some circles.

At the same time, the unrest is indigenous and not being exported across the LoC as the South Block maintains. The world now no longer believes the Indian version of events, especially the fact that camps in Azad Jammu Kashmir are churning out militants who are fomenting trouble in the held Valley. No Kashmiri politician, who claims to have public support, can openly uphold the presence of Indian occupation forces in the Valley.

The cost of the conflict in Kashmir is certainly enormous for both the countries. The unrest in the Valley has the power to influence the direct foreign investment in India. With considerable forex reserves that hover around $300 billion, economists say the world is much interested in investing in the country. However, the Kashmir issue, and also to some extent the Maoist insurgency, does not bode well for foreign investment in the country.

Not to forget that in the present day, the world has become a globalised village where it is not possible to push the major events under the carpet. Likewise, it is not viable for the Indian authorities to hide the everyday events and the continuing violence and crackdown that are taking place in the valley. The globalised world is increasing to their headaches as the people become more receptive and aware of human rights violations in held Kashmir. Two decades ago, the West was not that focused on the HR violations but now the governments there cannot ignore them.

All together, the Kashmiris have to have full spectrum participation in deciding their destiny. Meanwhile, the Indian armed forces continue to hide behind the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to suppress the local population. The relevance of the issue has survived no matter how hard the Indian government has tried.

Source: The New

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