The core issue ! | By Khalid Saleem


The core issue !

THE current hullabaloo about the Kashmir issue leaves one in a daze. The bizarre statements about the core issue by all and sundry, added to the confusion as a result of the Pandemic, are a bit difficult to unravel to say the least.

Indian Prime Minister Modi’s erstwhile midnight strike in Indian Held Kashmir and the resurgence of the resistance in that tragic land for the umpteenth time should have served to remind the so- called liberal crowd that their reading of the sentiment of the people of the valley is – and has always been – way off the mark.

The Kashmiri resistance, now into the fifth (?) generation, should logically provide wholesome food for thought for all, particularly India’s policy makers – their powerful propaganda machine notwithstanding.

The message of the younger generation in Kashmir should be loud and clear. They appear to be in no mood to allow outsiders to play ducks and drakes with what is, after all, their fundamental right to decide their own future; solemnly pledged to them by the International Community as well as the governments of India and Pakistan.

The current wayward noise is neither here nor there! The above said, one matter that should be cause for concern for all right-thinking people, however, is that every time the Kashmiri youth rise up to assert their fundamental right of self-determination there are several do-gooders in our blessed land who crop up in a vain effort to claim a share in the pie.

It is about time that these entities realized that their ham-handed ‘efforts’ have had the effect of diluting the Kashmir cause rather than bolstering it.

The somewhat meandering course of the ‘quest’ for a settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute has exhibited several ups and downs – more downs than ups. A look over the shoulder may be of interest.

One recalls the pre-democracy dispensation at home had been threatening to spring a pleasant surprise on an unsuspecting public.

The reader may recall that the oracle of the time – personified in the person of the then Foreign Minister – had promised to spring a rabbit out of the bilateral hat at short notice.

Then, there was the occasion when the then Commando/General/Boss-man drove one and all green with envy when he opted to announce to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Spanish Parliament during his umpteenth visit abroad that, “the world may see the resolution of the Kashmir dispute earlier than expected”.

With the infamous Mumbai terrorist attacks, the clock was once again pushed back. Instead of concentrating on jointly investigating this event, as logic would dictate, the Indian establishment, regrettably, opted for the easy way out by pointing an accusing finger at Pakistan, without the benefit of proof and even before the investigation could start in real earnest.

The Man in the Street has ever been at a loss as to what to make of it all. For a period there was a modicum of optimism that matters might be sorted out.

But, despite the crowing of a section of the media that Pakistan and India will be “back on the peace track”, from all indications the so-called peace process started to look more and more like a circular track leading to nowhere in particular.

Lest the Jammu & Kashmir issue get beclouded in the mist of the inane verbiage, one would crave the indulgence of the reader to recap a few facts of life relating to this (undoubtedly, international) dispute.

It needs must be stressed that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is not at all about ‘territory’.

It is more concerned, rather, with the denial of the fundamental rights, including the right of self-determination, to the people of that state.

As history is witness, this right was solemnly pledged to them not only by the governments of India and Pakistan but also by the international community, through the United Nations Security Council. The right of self-determination under International Law is a secular concept.

India’s attempt to give religious connotation to the Kashmiri freedom struggle was, and is, meant essentially to divert international attention and to discredit what is pure and simple an indigenous movement of the Kashmiri people to demand their inalienable right as solemnly pledged to them by the International Community.

Be that as it may, the ‘issue’ remains snugly ensconced on the backburner, except when stoked off and on by the people – and the genuine leaders – of Jammu and Kashmir (may their tribe increase!).

Of late, certain people who ought to know better have not been making the right noises in so far as the Jammu & Kashmir issue is concerned. This is a tad unfortunate, to say the least.

The resolve of the people of this blessed land to back the struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir should not be seen to slacken. But then – let us face it – histrionics is hardly the way to express this resolve.

Generations of Kashmiri people have made, and continue to make, tremendous sacrifices in the course of their struggle and it just would not do to let them down.

The International Community, on its part, needs to recognise and resolve to implement its own solemn commitment.

It would hardly be just — nor indeed fair — to sacrifice the inalienable rights of a people at the altar of economic expediency. For far too long have the flashpoints strewn around the globe been ignored by the United Nations! It is high time that ethics rather than expediency took over as the controlling force in international affairs. Or is that hoping for too much?

— The writer is a former Ambassador and former Assistant Secretary General of OIC.

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