ONE year earlier, on 5 August, India itself demolished its own constitutional façade, designed to perpetuate its illegitimate occupation of Kashmir since 1947. It was illegal abrogation of article 370 of Indian constitution which empowered state to define who is a permanent resident with right to buy property and seek jobs within its jurisdiction. With this, Indian intent stood naked to reduce IoK a minority state by splitting it into two union territories; Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh and changing its demography with grant of domicile to Indians. Underlying purpose was to annihilate IoK in broad day light while foolishly assuming that Kashmiris would succumb, world would continue to remain in slumber and UN resolutions would continue to reside in cold storage. To its chagrin, opposite happened. Kashmiris have withstood reign of terror/oppression steadfastly. It has added more fire to their resolve to throw off Indian yoke once for all. World also stands no more dumb and deaf as before. India has played its last card. Time is closing up for India when it has to reap what it has sown.
In order to silence ensuing outrage and opprobrium among people of Jammu & Kashmir and blackout atrocities, being unleashed by heaviest brutalized military contingent of .9 million personnel, India clamped a blanket total lockdown from day one. Whole valley was caged with no access to/from outside world. No excess is considered too big to break will of people and indigenous armed resistance. The cruelty is all pervasive, indiscriminate and unremitting with its all tools/tactics at work. These include punishing curfew, mass arrests, harassment, use of pellet guns/rape as an instrument of terror, violence, murders/custodial killings, acute shortage of food/medicine and starvation. People of Kashmir have confounded all Indian estimates of their oppression and have risen astoundingly in eyes of civilized/free world. Though polar night is continuing however, ignominious end is becoming too obvious for India. It is fighting a lost battle and soon would meet its nemesis. As opposed to Indian expectations, world reaction is also relatively positive and refreshing for people of Kashmir, fighting for their right of self-determination though it is far from warranted. The criticality of situation has been noticed with concern at UNSC, OIC, important world capitals, human rights organizations, international peace organizations, world media and opinion leaders/civil societies. At visceral level, a need seems to exist to redress the situation. These are some notable developments which have started to baffle Indians.
At bidding of China, UNSC discussed Kashmir dispute and expressed serious concern on developing situation in the wake of Indian unilateral decision to annex disputed territories into its union. It did not skip to mention that on Kashmir, position of UN is governed by its charter and applicable resolutions. Most stunning development was of Russia which sought to invoke UN resolutions on Kashmir. Albeit, it was closed doors yet it was enough to perplex Indians because historically Russians have supported Indians, not the moral cause of Kashmiris. President Trump hastened to offer himself for mediation to the dislike of India. Reportedly, India itself is apprehensive of the UK, favouring Pakistan diplomatically and being critical of Indian governance in the IoK. More recently, OIC reaffirmed its support for people of Jammu & Kashmir and called upon UN Secretary General to make India abide by UNSC resolutions. OIC is same for a where in February 2019, unfortunately, India was called as a guest of honour. Within India, communities other than Hindu, are wary of Indian move about Kashmir. This indicates fissures within.
Leading international media outlets are reporting about plight of Kashmiris/fallouts even after risking lives of their men. The Washington Post called Indian move, a part of a settler-colonial project; an oblique reference to Jewish settlements in Palestine. The resolution by Iranian Parliament and debate in European Parliament are of interest to note. Instant Indian move is also a root cause which led China to heap humiliation upon India at Ladakh by merely using fists and sticks. Undoubtedly, this has reduced India to size.
Above provides enough food for thought for India to ponder if it chooses to listen counsels of peace and justice for own sake. There is nothing novel about it. Apart from others, a senior Indian politician, Chidambaram has also described move in point a catastrophic step and forewarned serious consequences it could have. Well, pall is descending on India. It is just matter of time when India has to give in. At present, harvest which India has grown, is only bitter in taste. Soon it would be toxic in substance. For India, it is better to leave Kashmir as a fox left grapes while saying they are sore. Contrarily, there is only a deep hole ahead. It could no longer sell freedom struggle of Kashmiri people as terrorism.
Such environments are fast vanishing. New great game is replacing terrorism in which India has no major role particularly, after having suffered humiliation at Ladakh and dismal showing in a clash with Pakistan during February 2019. Pakistan is destined to stand at its centre stage. This has implications of its own. Under no event, India should try to emulate Jewish settlements. Palestine has no Pakistan in neighbourhood. Pakistan has will and strength not to leave Kashmiris in lurch and makes no great secret about it. It has already done it in Afghan Jehad in company of US. World needs to realize that confrontation between Pakistan and India could draw nuclear conflagration closer, thus they ought to stand behind a moral cause and make India see reason.
— The writer, a retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.