Bilateralism can’t resolve Kashmir issue

Muhammad Maalik

WHETHER or not it was Lady Mountbatten’s “strong emotional influence on Nehru, a defective geopolitical process of partition, or unsatisfactory mechanics of decolonisation” that paved the way for Indian oppression in Kashmir is a matter of judgment. What is certain is that the annexation of Kashmir by India violated all the parameters laid down for the 560 princely states of British India before deciding to join any of the new dominion i.e. India or Pakistan’s overwhelming Muslim population, general will of the people, geographic contiguity of the state, existing rail and road network and irrigation system.
No rationale proved good enough to prevent Indian troops landing at Srinagar airport on 27 October, 1947. Responding to this illegal military intervention, the Quaid ordered mobilization of two brigades to secure Baramula and Srinagar which Gen Gracy defied. Thus Indian army was given a free hand to ensure unopposed occupation of the Kashmir valley. It had to happen because Nehru had purposefully accepted Lord Mountbatten as first Governor-General of India.
However, subsequent development proved that India only played a mischief to gain some time to establish puppet regimes and carry out massive deployment of troops to crush the freedom movement. But nothing could calm down Kashmiris’ freedom struggle. Even after 70 years, it is as vibrant and dynamic as at the time of its inception in 1947.
The current wave of state terrorism was launched by Indian forces on 8 July after killing 21-year Burhan Wani. Indian forces have clamped 24-hour curfew; indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians, mostly toddlers and teenagers, continue. Young blood in movement proves that third generation freedom loving Kashmiris are ready to sacrifice their lives to get Kashmir liberated. Over 76 brutal killings, thousands of injuries mostly eyes damaged by tiny steel pellets, rape and arson could not deter youth from carrying out protests.
Time has come for the West to choose between human values or vested interests. A knee jerk response by US-led UN and West will be of no use. They need to realize the gravity of situation. Kashmir dispute is a potential threat to international peace. Can it afford to be in the future when both the belligerent have developed and tested their respective nuclear capability?
Their armed forces are sitting eyeball to eyeball along the Line of Control. Off and on skirmishes are a routine affair. Any further escalation in the situation usually results into general mobilization of their defence forces by both the countries. Last time when it happened in 2001, instinctive military response by either side brought the subcontinent once again to the brink of total war. The fast deteriorating situation could only be brought under control after an active intervention by the world community, particularly America.
Any misadventure can prove fatal. So the world must appreciate the genuine concerns of Pakistani people and the resultant pressure on Islamabad. The international community must come forward to help resolve the issue as per aspirations of Kashmiri people because the situation has now come to the point where it has become extremely difficult for India and Pakistan to change their respective position to accommodate each other on mutual basis. A bold initiative by President Musharaf to find an “out of the box solution” was frustrated by India. The issue was so close to its solution that even a draft document had been prepared to be signed by both the countries at Agra.
With the passage of time, India has become only more bitter and irrational in its approach towards Kashmir. It does not seem to be in a mood to listen some making just a mention of Kashmir. This was duly demonstrated by India’s Interior Minister Rajnath during Saarc moot in Islamabad on August 4 when he abruptly left the conference.
This substantiates that bilateral efforts lack the very capacity to resolve the problem, and international intervention is essential to ask India to stop atrocities in Occupied Kashmir and create conditions for holding free and fair plebiscite to determine the will of the people. The same has proved to be successful in case of East Timor and Southern Sudan. It will help remove all the irritants affecting the Pakistan-India relations, which is otherwise a deep-rooted desire of the West, too.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.

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