Sultan M Hali
THE residents of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) have been engaged in a just struggle for attaining their freedom for the last seventy one years. In 1947, Kashmir, which was a princely state, was required to have a plebiscite under the laws of the Indian Freedom Act of 1947 because its ruler was the Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh, while the majority of Kashmiris were Muslims. Before the Kashmiris could exercise their option of joining either Pakistan or India, the armed forces of India forcibly occupied Kashmir and coerced Maharaja Hari Singh to accede to India. Pakistan tried to liberate Kashmir from the unjust occupation of India but Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru approached the United Nations for a ceasefire. The UN Security Council enforced the ceasefire but passed Resolutions by virtue of which, a plebiscite would be held under the aegis of the UNSC in which the Kashmiris would exercise their option of joining either Pakistan or India.
Initially India agreed to abide by the UN Resolutions but reneged later. The Kashmiris waited patiently but when the 1965 and 1971 Pak-India Wars did not change the fate of the Kashmiris, they took up arms in a just struggle in 1989. India retaliated by deploying seven Lakh soldiers in the Valley, who brutally martyred nearly a 100,000 Kashmiris, raped thousands of women, incarcerated thousands of Kashmiri youth. Since then, the Indian brutality in IOK continues. The spirits of the Kashmiris may have been dampened but the flame of independence was not extinguished; they continue their just quest for freedom from Indian violence. Pakistan has been providing diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris.
Unfortunately for the residents of IOK, in 2013, a pro India government came to power in Pakistan. Mian Nawaz Sharif, although he is of Kashmiri origin, in 2014 accepted the invitation of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, albeit with the caveat that he would not meet any Kashmiri leader during his visit. Nawaz, being the perpetual trader, preferred to devote his stay in New Delhi in meeting Indian steel magnates to pursue business deals. With the change of the governments in both New Delhi and Islamabad, the fate of the Kashmiris in IOK took a turn for the worse. Narendra Modi came down upon the Kashmiris with a vengeance. He unleashed a reign of terror. On July 08, 2016, popular Kashmiri youth leader Burhan Wani was brutally assassinated. To protest his murder, unarmed Kashmiri youth came out in the streets in droves. To suppress them, a new method of oppression was used by Kashmiri armed forces. They started using pellet guns to target the protesting youth. These pellet guns have killed about two hundred Kashmiri youth but have also permanently blinded more than 3500 Kashmiri children.
While the Modi government has been deliberately targeting the Kashmiri youth, it has also been endeavouring to change its Constitution. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Narendra Modi has been trying to garner support to have Article 370 repealed so that Kashmir may become an integral part of India. The misfortune has been that Mian Nawaz Sharif, acting as an ally of Narendra Modi, did not utter a word against the brutal suppression of the Kashmiri youth. He did not show any solidarity with the down trodden Kashmiris, nor did he even condemn Commander Kulbhoshan Jadhav, the senior RAW operative, who was apprehended from Balochistan and who admitted to trying destabilise Pakistan through subversion, sabotage and terror attacks and instigating misguided Baloch to rebellion.
India has also been engaged in building numerous dams, barrages and water storage facilities on rivers emanating from IOK. Since the water of Jhelum, Chenab and Indus Rivers flows into Pakistan, there has been an acute shortage of water this side of the border. Taking full advantage of Pakistan being a lower riparian state, India has been violating the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. It is stealing Pakistan’s water while it is also releasing surplus water in the rainy season to cause massive floods. Nawaz Sharif never uttered a word of protest or condemned India whenever it violated Pakistan’s share of water. Denigrating the Kashmiris’ struggle for achieving their just rights, recognised by the United Nations is tantamount to singing to the Indian tune. To start with, every Pakistani owes solidarity to its Kashmiri brethren.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.