INDIAN Prime Minister Narendra Modi went berserk after US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate the 70-year-old Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India if they asked him to do so. However, Indian government rejected the offer and insisted that it would not accept any third-party mediation on its disputes with Pakistan. India denied having made any request to President Trump, reiterating that any discussion on the dispute would be bilateral. India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar also told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the sidelines of an Asian security forum in Bangkok on Friday that any discussion on Kashmir would be between India and Pakistan only. “I have conveyed to American counterpart Secretary Pompeo this morning in clear terms that any discussion on Kashmir, if at all warranted, will only be with Pakistan and only bilaterally,” Jaishankar tweeted.
In fact, during bilateral talks whenever the point of core issue of Kashmir came under discussion India did something or staged a false flag operation to roil the negotiations. India’s argument that Kashmir dispute can only be resolved through bilateral talks is not valid, as nothing came out of various rounds of bilateral talks held since the Simla Agreement was signed after the 1971 War. It has to be mentioned that Kashmir dispute very much exists on the UN agenda. And one should not ignore the fact that Article 103 of Chapter XVI of the UN Charter clearly states, “In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the United Nations under the present Charter and any other international agreement, their obligation under the present charter shall prevail”. However, international community did nothing to implement the UN resolutions on Kashmir.
Since Trump’s offer for mediation India has resorted to ceasefire violations on the Line of Control. On 30 and 31 July, it targeted innocent citizens including women and children in Neelum Valley and cluster bombs were lobbed by artillery and air force. The attack left four civilians, including a 4-year-old boy, dead and many others critically injured. This is a violation of Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law, as the use of cluster ammunition is prohibited under the ‘Convention on Cluster Ammunition’ because of its severe impact on non-combatants. Earlier, Indian forces had used pallet guns in 2016 and also later that blinded hundreds of Kashmiris and injured thousands of them. And Amnesty International had condemned the use of pallet guns. In March 2019, a cross-party group of Members of the European Parliament called for a ban on the use of pellet guns on civilians in India-controlled Kashmir.
But India has stepped up its acts of barbarism; rather it is bent upon converting Muslim majority into minority; amid heightened tension and fear of escalating unrest, the Indian government has advised the tourists and Hindu pilgrims visiting Amarnath shrine in IoK to leave the area immediately. Earlier, there was Governor’s Rule in IoK but later presidential rule was imposed, and now Modi is poised to hold new elections after dividing Jammu and Kashmir into three administrative units — Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh. It appears that something terrible is about to happen, as 38000 paramilitary troops have been sent to Indian-occupied Kashmir. Modi is trying to implement its change demography by deleting Article 370, which gives special status to occupied Kashmir, as no outsider is allowed to purchase property in Kashmir. But such move is fraught with extreme dangers.
While Article 370 grants special status to J&K, Article 35-A empowers the State Assembly to define “permanent residents” for bestowing special rights and privileges on them. In May 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP had claimed that the people of Jammu and Ladakh regions want immediate removal of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution by voting for the party. It also said the National Conference’s claim that it will form the government on its own in the state after the Assembly elections was hollow. Anyhow, BJP wants to have majority in the State Assembly or at least respectable number of seats to form the government. NC president Farooq Abdullah had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot remove Article 35-A and Article 370 despite huge majority. “Let him be as powerful as he (Modi) likes, he cannot remove Article 370 and Article 35-A,” Mr. Abdullah had said.
Meanwhile, China has backed US President Donald Trump’s recent offer of mediation between Pakistan and India in the Kashmir issue. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in a statement said, “We support the international community, the US included, in playing a constructive role in improving Pakistan-India relations through dialogue”. She further said that Pakistan and India can peacefully settle the Kashmir issue and other bilateral disputes through dialogue, and make concerted efforts to safeguard peace and stability in South Asia. Similarly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also telephoned Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss bilateral ties as well as developments in the region, including the Indian Occupied Kashmir. The support by China and Turkey is seen as another diplomatic victory for Pakistan. Having said that, the heroic struggle waged by the people of Kashmir is unparalleled in the history; and they are determined to continue their struggle till their objective is achieved.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.