Home Essay/Articles ESSAY : The Kashmir Problem
ESSAY : The Kashmir Problem
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 10:44

The Kashmir Problem


“Kashmir, the most picturesque and fascinating area, known for its beauty, gardens, gentle and docile people has been reduced to a region of ghosts and death because of the devious means adopted by Pakistan to incite the people by giving them arms and inciting them into terrorism. ”

Kashmir which was once described by Mahatma Gandhi as an island of secularism in the Indian sub-continent is in utter turmoil. The people of Kashmir have been suffering from terrorism since long with no sight in near future to get relief. Hundreds and thousands innocent people have been killed so far by the Pakistani militants.

The turmoil in Kashmir has transcended the legalities of the accession of the state in 1947, and the insurgency is not a phenomenon of political dissent or a movement meant to change the government but it is a “jehad”, a religious crusade against the non-conformists. All Pakistani politicians, from the President downwards, of any party, the state owned electronic media as well as the print media as a part of the disinformation campaign speaks in religious terms and the turmoil is called ‘Jehad-e-Kashmir’, the terrorists are called “Mujahids” (soldirs of Islam), the terrorists, killed in the Armed forces action are called Shaheed (martyrs) and so on.

Pakistan still cherishes to get the Kashmir merged in its territory. The covert objectives of the so called jehad is to complete the unfinished agenda of partition’ by incorporating the Muslim Majority state of Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan. The two-nation theory-that Hindus and Muslims constitute separate nations- has already failed, with the creation of Bangladesh. Moreover, the ethnic and sectarian violence rocking several provinces in Pakistan and the bare fact that the muslims, living in India are more than that of the Muslims in Pakistan and so have nullified the two nation theory which was born out of political expediency when India got independence.

Pakistan has claimed for herself a role in speaking for the Indian Muslims, in general and the Kashmiris in particular. It has claimed the right to extend moral and political support to them. Its covert support in terms of providing arms and training, to terrorists and subversives has already been well documented and exposed to the international community. Therefore, Pakistan has resorted to killing Hindus systematically, while at the same time introducing religious indoctrination, by misusing mosques and other available platform, in a bid to frighten the secular Muslims.

As part of unleashing terror under the cover of self-determination at the behest of Pakistan, the terrorists have virtually ransacked libraries in educational institutions and prohibited books which did not conform to their brand of knowledge. No wonder, more than 2,003 titles were ‘pruned’. They included all books of knowledge, Milton’s Paradise Lost, G.B. Shaw’ plays etc. As part of the Islamisation’ drive the terrorists used their gun power to convert the canteen hall of Kashmir University into a mosque. Classes where Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was taught were asked to close since it did not conform to the Islamic tenets.

So many innocent persons fell prey to the bullets of terrorists in the Kashmir valley. The victims included prominent educationists and subscribers to secular ideals. Professor Mushir-ul-Haq, vice Chancellor, Kashmir University who was kidnapped and shot dead during ‘Ramajan’, the holy month of fasing in the Muslim calendar, Sarvanand Kaul ‘Premi’, a poet who used to take pride in reciting The Quran, P.N. Handoo, Assistant Director, Information and octogenarian, Mualana Mohammad Syed Massoodi, a renowned Muslim Scholar were among such victims at the Hands of the terrorists.

The basic reason to wipe out these scholars is well known. These were liked by the people. They could see the game and had the courage and conviction to speak out against the evil designs and hence some of them had to be singled out for silencing all in the name of self-determination and human rights.

In the wake of ongoing terrorists’ violence, more than 50,000 families have migrated from strife torn Kashmir valley and got themselves registered with the government authorities in various districts in Jammu region. Among them 45, 275 families were registered at Jammu itself. They included 215 Muslims, 8270 Sikhs and 35459 Hindus (Kashmir Pandit) families besides 1331 other families. Since then a good number of Muslim families have fled away from the Kashmir valley and barring a handful numbering not more than 100 and no Hindu has been left in Srinagar city.

The systematic process of killing the Hindu population began in 1990 when Mr. Tej Krishan, a Hindu was hanged to death at Yachikot Lidder near Pahalgam in Anatnag district of the Kashmir valley. On April 22 of same year the body of Joginder Malhota was recovered by the police from Safakadal locality in Srinagar city. He was found to have been hanged to death. After five days, terrorist intruded in the house of Bharat Bhushan, another Hindu who was a medical assistant. He was abducted by the terrorists. His body was later found hanging on a tree. The process continued,. The list is long one and the stories of torture unleashed on the Hindu population are heart rending. Three Probationary officers of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), an autonomous body, were abducted by the terrorists from a public park on June 23 in 1991. They were severely tortured and locked in a vacant house of a Hindu migrant.  The house was later set on fire. Two of them died in the fire while the lucky one was rescued by the Police and rushed to the hospital. The same story repeated time and again. Now the terrorists started upon setting fire to the vacant houses of the migrants in another systematic manner. On October 9, the Devi Temple at Baramulla was set on fire. The roof of the temple was gutted to fire. The same day the house of a Hindu was gutted in Kupwara town about 50 kms from Baramulla. It seems that the terrorists after killing the entire Hindu population from the Kashmir valley now wanted to close down passage of return for the Hindu population by burning their vacant houses, their last link with the valley.

This track takes a close look at the situation in Kashmir and at Pakistan’s own track record as ‘champion of Human Rights’. Can human rights, essentially a democratic concept, be applied selectively? Whose human rights are being violated any way? What is Pakistan’s own record in respecting human rights and treatment to the minorities? What does self-determination mean in an Islamic context?

The concept of Human Rights is a democratic one. It is based on the principle of the essential freedom to the human being and respects. It is a concept in which it is believed that man has certain inalienable rights that are universal. Can a state such as Pakistan that does not believe in the equality of man and women, where a woman’s testimony is only treated as half that of a man, talk about self-determination and human rights? In Pakistan, women who constitute about 52 percent of the population are legally treated as second class citizens. The minorities are legally treated as second class citizens. Even Shia community among the Muslims who constitute about 20 percent of the population is not treated at par with other citizens. To cap it all, the denial of equal rights to each and every citizen is justified under the cover of Islam. There should be no political parties and no provision for an opposition.

Obviously, such a system is the anti-thesis of democracy.  In a system that does not permit opposition, how would the human rights of the opposition be treated? The passage of the Shariat Act, the ‘huddood’ and ‘zina’ ordinances in Pakistan are pointed towards the direction in which Pakistan is heading. Under such circumstances, can Pakistan afford to talk about human rights? Would not the Kashmiris had met had with the same fate, had the accession of the Kashmir valley made with Pakistan in 1947?

Pakistan is trying to focus exclusively on Indian Security Forces action against terrorism, masking the fact that state action cannot be treated as an is located phenomenon of human rights violations in an atmosphere of continued terrorism. In fact it is terrorists’ violence that ultimately determines the limits and extent of state action to contain it. It is rightly said, “One country’s freedom fighter is another country’s terrorist”. Unfortunately, for all their efforts, the human rights organizations, too, have also focused almost exclusively on state action and not on the activities of the terrorists that prompted the state action in the first place. Terrorists’ violence per se is a violation of human rights. The resolution of the UN General Assembly on measures to prevent international terrorism, passed on December 9, 1985 followed by the Security Council resolution after nine days, interalia “unequivocally condemned as criminal, all acts, methods and practices of terrorism wherever and by whomever committed, including those who jeopardized the friendly relations between States”.

Moreover, are Human Right meant only to protect a few fundamentalist Muslims in Kashmir against the authority of the State? Do they not equally involve protection of the Hindus, Buddhists, Shiva Muslims and others against the extermination, persecution and threat? Are they not to be allowed their traditional way of life or are they to be swept under by a religious crusade under the cover of Islam?

On the other hand, the report on the State of Human Rights in Pakistan during 1990 and 1991, prepared by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is an eye opener about denial of basic rights to the majority of population.

According to the Commission:

(A)   “The State has shown little interest in accepting the international Human Rights standards”.

(B)   “The courts cannot invoke international Human Rights values as is being done in several countries such as India because the State does not acknowledge them”.

(C)   “Lack of interest in bringing the country’s basic law in conformity with international Human Rights and norms, keeps alive the danger of new encroachments on whatever fundamental rights are provided in the Constitution, particularly through the exploitation of religion”.

“A particularly reprehensible tendency is for the state to free itself of its human rights obligations on the pretext of the supremacy of belief, tradition or custom”.

Similarly, Pakistan which smugly claims to be a champion of Human Rights in Kashmir has steadfastly and deliberately ignored the number o international conventions and protocols on Human Rights by declining to even sign them like; International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; International Convention on Civil and political rights; Optional Protocol to the international convention on Civil and political rights; Second Optical Protocol to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty; International Convention against Apartheid in sports; Convention on the Non-applicability of statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against humanity; Convention on the elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Convention on consent to Marriage. Minimum age for marriage and Registration of Marriages etc.

It is only democracy that provides an outlet whereby political grievances can be aired, positions narrowed and accommodation achieved. A democracy can deal with a movement of political dissent by talking, discussing and acting. It cannot happen when the other side does not believe in talking, does not believe in an opposition or representative of the government and in fact does not believe in democracy as well.

Kashmir, therefore, is a major challenge to Indian democracy, in fact to the concept of democracy how can a democracy confront a non-democratic system that only uses catchy democratic phrases such as Human Rights, self-determination etc. in the furtherance of its ‘cause’ while denying all such democratic values itself? How can a democracy take on a religious, “Jehad”, that does not believe in democratic tenets but exploits them to the hilt for achieving its vested interests?

The Bust administration has condemned as “horrific” the terrorist attacks in Srinagar and has time and again reiterated that violence will not solve problem of Kashmir.

The Kargil war was the third attempt in the history of Independent India that Pakistan tried to occupy the Kashmir by assisting or backing the infiltrators. The first time just after independence in 1947, a second time in 1965, as part of operation Gibraltar, that leads to Indo-Pak Second War and the third time through Kargil. But Pakistan could not succeed in her efforts.

Washington has also said that dialogue between India and Pakistan remains a “crucial element” in the normalization process between the two countries. Kashmir Government, led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, is trying its best to restore peace and religious harmony in the troubled State.

“Violence will not solve Kashmir problems. Continuance of violence in the valley is intended to disrupt the programme of the State Government in Kashmir which is attempting to reduce tensions and promote reconciliation.

The present scenario between India and Pakistan is encourging. The Indian cricket team recently visited Pakistan, along gap of 15 years. The cricket series was being followed as closely for its sporting excitement as it was for the dramatic Indian fans, armed with special short-stay “cricket visas”, had travelled to Karachi, Rawalpindi, Lahore and even Peshawar- only a missile’s lob away from the lawless tribal regions where Pakistani soldiers are gunning it out with a Taliban, Al-Qaeda rump. They’ve painted their faces in India’s national colours, waved the Indian flag under the very loss of Pakistanis, and cheered lustily for their team in Pakistani stadiums- where they have been vastly outnumbered, naturally, by the home supporters.

Not a single instance of assault on an Indian fan was reported, nor one example of abuse, hostility, or even inhospitable grumbling by home fans. More remarkably, given the Pakistani crowds, traditional antagonism toward visiting Indian teams – previous tours had always been marred by crowd trouble; and on the last tour, in 1989, a Muslim fundamentalist spectator ran onto the field in Karachi and assaulted the Indian captain – the crowds this time had been as civilized as an audience at Bayreuth (if a little more raucous). The Pakistani spectators had cheered the Indian players on applauding them even on occasions when their won side was losing; and the Pakistani public had extended such a warm embrace to fans from across the border that many Indian – according to reports in Delhi newspapers – were finding it difficult to encounter restaurateurs and taxi drivers who would accept their money. You are our guests, they’ve been told, again and again. We cannot charge you.

The public mood reflected not merely a weariness with the seemingly unending conflict between the two countries; it revealed also a genuine political optimism, the result of the recent rapprochement between Islamabad and Delhi. It was this summit-level warming, of course, that laid the ground for the Indian cricket team to visit. And given the passion for the game on the subcontinent, it was the Indian government’s willingness to let the cricketers tour Pakistan that convinced Pakistanis that Delhi’s apparent concilitoriess was sincere. No more proof of India’s good faith was needed.

“People from across the border have come in and raised the Indian flags in Pakistan, and we saw the other night Pakistan losing … Indian supporters holding Indian flags, and Pakistanis standing next to them and cheering, so it’s something which I never thought I would see in my lifetime, but it has happened”. – A reporter

A new perspective, a new environment and a new logic are needed to inform the interlocutors. The ideologies of adversity and diplomacy of stalemate will have to be abandoned in favour of understanding, flexibility and accommodation. We live in a ruthless world of unilateralist, globalization and militarization and cannot survive, nor find a respectable place in this world of great imbalances, without first putting our own south Asian house. Those who do not understand it will learn it on their own peril after the loss of this opportunity.

The crux of the matter is that.

There cannot be a new beginning for the Kashmiris without a good beginning between India and Pakistan, and three cannot be any beginning for South Asia without a friendly relationship between the twin-brothers of subcontinent.

India and Pakistan have to work together to solve the Kashmir problem amicably. Violence is not a solution. No third party can do any thing. It is better to view the things in practical shape and work honestly so that the present arms race between the two brothers comes to an end and every Indian and every Pakistani can lead their life happily, amicably and this is what every national of both the country wish, as reflected during the latest Indo-Pak cricket matches.