South Asia in the mire of humanitarian crisis ?

Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

OMINOUSLY, today the South Asian region relays the worst picture of the humanitarian crises.

The future of political peace and economic prosperity is intrinsically linked to big challenges posed to this region in terms of the humanitarian crisis.

It needs no explanation, India’s evil hand is behind this crisis. The major South Asian humanitarian crises are the Kashmir issue, the water issue (The Indus Waters Treaty), and the climate change.

The role of the global institution is faltering in this regard. The world today needs to pay attention to it.

The Kashmir issue: Since gaining independence, India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir.

Now, with renewed fighting, there are signs of a third. As situation along the Line of Control, the border that separates the two parts of the disputed Kashmir region, continues to be tense, there is every likelihood of its escalating into a full-fledged war between India and Pakistan—a war that may assume nuclear shape.

The book call from Chagai & Pokhran: New Nuclear Order! is written to persuade the international community, especially the five big recognized nuclear states, to show their due concern for over half century old Kashmir dispute, which has all the potential of taking India-Pakistan hostility over Kashmir to the nuclear level.

A strategic overview of the Kashmir crisis holds the inherent linkage between Kashmir and nuclear issues was the aggressive attitude of Hindu nationalist leaders of India towards Kashmir after India tested its nuclear devices until the time Pakistan tested its own.

The Kashmir Valley has become a militarized zone, effectively occupied by Indian security forces. According to the United Nations, Indian soldiers have committed numerous human rights violations there, including firing on protesters and denying due process to people arrested.

Addressing his first news briefing of 2021 in UN’s Headquarters in New York the Secretary General Antony Guetress expressed concern regarding the ties between Islamabad and New Delhi had become worse in recent years.

“Now, things have not moved in the right direction. Our good offices are always available, and we will insist within it on finding peaceful solutions for problems that have no military solution,” he said.

“It is clear, when seeing Pakistan and India, any military confrontation between the two would be a disaster of unmitigated proportions for both countries and for the whole world,” he warned to a question by an Associated Press of Pakistan correspondent, which had referred to a statement from August 2019 that had called for a resolution to the Kashmir dispute in accordance with relevant U.N.

resolutions and the global body’s charter. The 14 million population of occupied Kashmir besieged in “the largest prison in the history of mankind” were facing a amine-like situation.

During the time of pandemic-COVID-19, India has deprived the Kashmiris of basic medical care.

The international role could be crucial. The Security Council’s aversion to mediating the Kashmir dispute notwithstanding, influential actors, particularly the U.S., have been pro-active in reducing tension between Pakistan and India, given the risk of nuclear war.

The Biden Administration’s facilitation could help create an enabling environment for negotiations on the Kashmir dispute.

The Kashmir freedom leaders’ current stance that like Ladakh, India should withdraw its military troops from the Vale is highly justified.

Modi’s evil design to create hatred via CAA has caused a big humanitarian crisis as minorities have been extremely marginalized through this law.

This law reflects the Islamophobic and fascist tendency of India’s Hindu nationalist government. The international community should demand India to reverse this discriminatory law.

The Indus waters treaty (IWT): The climate-induced conflict in terms of water crisis has arisen because India and Pakistan — bitter rivals over water — both have nuclear weapons in their arsenal.

The two countries have a long but strained agreement over sharing water from the Indus River and its tributaries.

Waters from the Indus, which flow from India and the disputed Kashmir region into Pakistan, were carved up between India and Pakistan under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty (IWT).

For Pakistan, the Indus waters are a lifeline: most of the country depends on it as the primary source of freshwater and it supports 90 percent of the country’s agricultural industry.

The BJP’s played hydro politics via Indian hegemony in Kashmir has further intensified the situation.

A 2018 report from the International Monetary Fund ranked Pakistan third among countries facing severe water shortages.

When the rapidly-melting glaciers in the Himalayas, which feed the Indus waters, eventually disappear as predicted, the dwindling rivers will be slashed even further.

The climate change: South Asia will be among the regions hardest hit by climate change. Higher temperatures, more extreme weather, rising sea levels, increasing cyclonic activity in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, as well as floods in the region’s complex river systems will complicate existing development and poverty reduction initiatives.

Coupled with high population density levels, these climate shifts have the potential to create complex environmental, humanitarian and security challenges.

The consequences of climate change will change conditions and undermine livelihoods in many areas.

And extreme events and deteriorating conditions are likely to force many to leave their homes temporarily or even permanently for another village, city, region or country.

Experts predict that ensuring food security for South Asia’s expanding population will be one of the chief problems the sub-region faces in the coming years.

India’s nuclear energy reactors are damaging the South Asian climate. Countries of the region will need to place addressing food insecurity among their top policy agendas to ensure stability.

South Asia is currently home to nearly 1.8 billion people — the majority living in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — and has been the fastest growing region for the past five years.

The UN estimates that the population of the region will grow by 40 percent by 2050. Based on emissions consistent with a temperature rise of 4.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2080, ADB estimates the region could lose the equivalent of 1.8 per cent of GDP annually by 2050.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.


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