Syed Qamar A Rizvi
THOUGH apparently the recently held stance — by the US Senator McCain during his current visit to Pakistan that there is no change in US Kashmir policy — seems to have partly paved the way for shrinking certain apprehensions levelled by the Trump-Modi vinculum, some justified concerns are raised in Islamabad regarding US stand on Syed Salahuddin, a Kashmiri freedom fighter and Washington’s India-centric South Asia policy. The US move against Hizbul Mujahideen leader is contradictory to international law.
An official US statement on past Monday said, “Department of State has designated Mohammad Yusuf Shah, also known as (AKA) Syed Salahuddin, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.” “Any attempt to equate the peaceful indigenous Kashmiri struggle with terrorism, and to designate individuals supporting the right to self- determination as terrorists is unacceptable,” Pakistan Foreign Office reacted. Justifiably, China defends Pakistan stand on Hizbul Mujahideen.
With the death of Burhan Wani in August, 2016, and with the speedy resurgence of the Kashmir freedom movement via Hizbul Mujahideen (a group of lawful combatants), Modi’s government felt unsecured that the ongoing political uprising could shape into a costly phenomenon, and therefore it convinced Washington to rank Hizbul Mujahieden’s leader Salahuddin as terrorist.
The US-India toxic nexus against the justified Kashmiri resistance movement highlights the very syndrome of ‘Political turpitude’ made in international law. To relate the very dynamics of legitimate freedom movement of the Kashmiris with that of terrorism unravels the glaring flaws of the Western diplomacy. The laws of war are the right instruments, albeit more honored in the breach than the observance. Yet, despite their inherent limitations, they are humanity’s best chance to restrain the savagery of war. The key to their effectiveness — and the ability of Western governments to fight terrorism — lies in their ability to establish a clear differentiation between licit and illicit means of conducting armed conflict.
To blur this distinction and to undermine the very essence of the Geneva Conventions under the occupying powers — India and Israel has caused demoralization of international law. On the lawfulness of armed resistance movements in international law, there has been a dispute between states since at least 1899, when the first major codification of the laws of war in the form of a series of international treaties took place.
‘’ In the Preamble to the 1899 Hague Convention II on Land War, the Martens Clause was introduced as a compromise wording for the dispute between the Great Powers who considered francs-tireurs to be unlawful combatants subject to execution on capture and smaller states who maintained that they should be considered lawful combatants. More recently the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, referred in Article 1. Paragraph 4 to armed conflicts “… in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes…”
Taking this as a befitting reference, it can be argued that the Kashmiri people have a right to secede via self-determination granted to them under the very indoctrination of UN’s Charter-the end all and be all of UN’s global credo. At present, Indian state laws — as unilaterally practiced in India — do not make any distinction and do not even grant a right of organized resistance even against the most serious violations, which is unsatisfactory at least to the extent that a right to forcibly resist against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on a massive scale should be recognized.
Denial of culpability — by the past and present Indian governments despite concrete evidence of routine, ongoing violence against Kashmiris — remains so pervasive in India that little was made over WikiLeaks cables released in 2010 that confirmed Indian forces had systematically tortured hundreds of detained Kashmiri civilians for many years. As far back as 2005, U.S. diplomats were briefed by the International Committee of the Red Cross about CPRF torture, including beatings, electrocution, and sexual humiliation of Kashmiri detainees. The human rights shenanigans of the Government of India were rapidly compounded by major infringements of the fundamental rights of the people of Kashmir. What makes wary both the people and the government of Pakistan is that instead of taking action against Indian atrocities in Kashmir, Washington backs New Delhi.
US today enjoys good relations with India while rendering the scope of its future friendly relations with Pakistan — under question as there is news that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is exploring hardening its approach toward Islamabad over Pakistan-based militants launching attacks in Afghanistan, two U.S. officials told Reuters last month.
“We will not have peace in the region without Pakistan,” McCain, who was accompanied by senators Lindsey Graham, Elizabeth Warren, Sheldon Whitehouse and David Perdue, said after concluding his meeting with Pakistan’s civil and military officials. The onus of responsibility undoubtedly rests now with the Trump administration to ward off this atmosphere of mistrust and skepticism prevailing between Washington and Islamabad, thereby adopting a policy to go beyond ‘crisis management’ and double standard on Kashmir.
Pakistan has played an exemplary role in the US-waged war against terrorism. US declaration regarding Salahuddin is based on US-India political dividends. Whereas the pragmatic synergy via Washington’s deliberative-cum-objective diplomacy must be to avert a war in a nuclear conflict-zone by mediating a peace dialogue — between India and Pakistan — focusing on exploring the means and methods to propel a long- awaited Kashmir resolution.
— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.