Clustering Kashmir

4256

Reema Shaukat

INDIA out of its sheer frustrations on Kashmir and being unable to deter resilience of innocent Kashmiris for their right of self-determination, uses any kind of weaponry to create fear among masses. People who are living across the Line of Control, a de facto border between India and Pakistan are used to, of such ugly tactics by India to coerce Kashmir issue. India with its serpentine strategies for Kashmir, started building up a sudden rise in its paramilitary forces and deployed greater number of militarily equipped troops in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Apart from issuing warning to tourists and religious pilgrims to vacate vicinity of Occupied Kashmir with immediate effect, it used indiscriminately cluster bombs and did shelling across the LoC. Indian army along the Line of Control is deliberately targeting civilian population and the use of cluster ammunition along LoC is a clear violation of the Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law. It is important to know why India is using these kinds of weapons now, after using pellets guns, tear gases, and inhumane torturous acts.
Cluster munitions or cluster bombs, first developed during WW-II, are air-dropped or ground-launched explosive weapons that releases smaller ‘bomblets’ over a wide area. They pose serious risks to civilians during and after attacks, as the unexploded bomblets can kill or mutilate civilians long after a conflict has ended. Cluster bomb is dropped once but it can remain alive or active for years even, unless mistakenly touched by anything. It is not only costly to locate but detonating and removing it from any area is near to impossible because of tiny bomblets released from big size bomb are dispersed widely. These munitions are designed to target a formation of troops and armour or a large target like an airfield. When fired, a container in these cluster bombs opens in the air and scatters a number of explosives which can lay as landmines. Depending upon the type of cluster bomb, these bomblets can vary from a few dozens to 600 in number.
Several treaties, acts or charters are made by international governing bodies to ban use of such lethal weapons. The ‘2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions’ prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and requires States to ensure that they claim no further victims. In addition, it establishes a framework for cooperation and assistance to ensure adequate assistance to survivors and their communities, clearance of contaminated areas, risk reduction education and destruction of stockpiles. By ratifying or acceding to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, States Parties commit to never use, produce, stockpile or transfer cluster munitions. Furthermore States Parties commit to destroy existing stockpiles in eight years; clear contaminated land in ten years; assist victims; provide technical, material and financial assistance to other States Parties; undertake transparency measures; adopt national implementation measures; and promote universal adherence to the Convention. Cluster munitions are unacceptable for two reasons. Firstly, they have wide area effects and are unable to distinguish between civilians and combatants. Secondly, the use of cluster munitions leave behind large numbers of dangerous unexploded ordnance. Such remnants kill and injure civilians, obstruct economic and social development, and have other severe consequences that persist for years and decades after use.
CCM or Convention on Cluster Munitions, was adopted on 30 May 2008 in Dublin and was opened for signatures on 03 December 2008. It became binding international law on the 1st of August 2010 when it was ratified by 30 states. As of September 2018, 108 states have signed the treaty and 105 have ratified it or acceded to it. However, India and Pakistan both are not listed among the signatory states, according to the UNODA. In the past, India’s behaviour on cluster munitions is observed as a country which considers these weapons as legitimate, if used in accordance with international humanitarian law. According to the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) of India’s Ministry of Defence, India while having the capability to produce such ammunition has also imported these weapons from Israel, USA and Russia. While Pakistan not only condemned use of theses ammunitions in the area of LoC, it has a few other options to expose Indian nefarious designs for Kashmir in coming days.
India has abrogated special status given to State of Jammu & Kashmir via Article 370 by design. Apart from projecting widely in media and exposing Modi’s agenda for Kashmir, it can put up the matter to UNSC and can also take it to ICRC on humanitarian grounds. Pakistan needs to prepare its case well at home before proceeding on any international or diplomatic front. Pakistan has support of China, Turkey and other Muslims States but to pressurize international community and particularly USA, it can slightly push USA for its effective role in Afghan peace process and ask USA to facilitate Pakistan diplomatically and pressurize India to stop all kinds of terrorism in IoK. Not to forget, President Trump offered himself as mediator for resolving Kashmir conflict during Pakistan PM’s visit to US. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear armed neighbours and any further aggressive move by India will escalate tension where Kashmir is the nuclear flashpoint. While India has already witnessed state of the art capabilities of Pakistan after Pulwama adventure, it must not remain in any kind of confusion for Pakistan’s support to Kashmir cause on all fronts.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.