Dr Muhammad Khan
IN his opening speech at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, clearly made a mention of the escalating situation in South Asia, arose after unilateral Indian act of annexing occupied parts of Jammu and Kashmir into Indian Union. He said, “Tensions elevated in South Asia, where differences need to be addressed through dialogue.” In his earlier statements after illegal Indian act, the Secretary General has been quite critical to Indian acts and demanded peaceful resolution of the dispute. Being head of United Nations Organization, the only global organization mandated to maintain global peace and stability, he clearly pointed towards destabilizing factors in South Asia and across the world like the rising arms race in the garb of security maximization, increasing number of conflicts, a rise of extreme mindset and the menace of terrorism. He was quite vocal in expressing the factors behind this non-stop instability in the context of India and Pakistan, “Outside interference, often in violation of Security Council resolutions, makes peace processes more difficult.”
There is no doubt that outside interference has been one of the major factors in the destabilization of South Asia ever since the decolonization of the region or the onset of the cold war. The rise of conflicts and their continuity thereafter provided an excuse to the arms exporting powers to fuel these conflicts so that their war industries could be further boosted for their economic gains. Traditionally, owing to unresolved dispute of Kashmir, South Asia has been hub of arms race where India is categorized as the world largest arms importer state since the start of the 21st Century. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India has been world’s largest importer of major arms, accounting for 13 per cent of the global total sales. In last few years, India is modernizing its armed forces with latest version of fighter aircraft, submarines and tanks/artillery pieces. This entire defence expenditure is being done to put Pakistan on defensive and prove its hegemony in the region. It is worth mentioning that 70% of Indian military deployment is against Pakistan or in the India-occupied Kashmir.
One of the reasons, the major powers especially the arms exporters remaining indifferent to Kashmir dispute is a fear of losing the markets for their defence exports. A major chunk of their war munition is imported by countries like India and Pakistan and those involved in conflicts. Besides, strategic objective of the US in India for containment of China is an open secret. Prime Minister Imran Khan questioned the international community and United Nations for their silence over the unresolved nature of Kashmir. In his address he clearly said, “What is happening to Kashmiris, is also a responsibility of the United Nations. For what purpose was the UN established?” Should this world body move now, once Kashmiris are under siege and curfew for the last 53 days? Once, UN Secretary General has identified the reasons, should he and his organization move to address the causes at least in procedural form.
This is most unfortunate that UNSC has not been able to safeguard its own resolutions, especially those (Resolution 91 and 122) calling for not changing the status of Jammu and Kashmir except through plebiscite. Prime Minister Imran Khan also questioned, “How can the global community remain silent when eight million people are being treated worse than animals. I am disappointed by the international community. If eight million Europeans or Jews or Americans were put under siege […] well even if eight Americans had been put under siege […] you can imagine the reaction.” Has the United Nations, international community and heavily swayed Muslim world has imagined the post 5 August 2019 physical state of Kashmiris in IOK, where there is no food, no lifesaving medicines, no communication within and a total clampdown of their state at the hands of over 900,000 Indian security forces. Besides, Indian military is perpetrating mass killings, rapes, torture and burning of houses in the occupied Kashmir at will, under total impunity.
It is the worst kind of humanitarian catastrophic situation in IOK where UN and international community neither condemned India nor asked the repressive racist regime to stop this massive human rights violation under siege and curfew. Under Article 10 of Geneva Convention, international community and UN could have asked International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for provision of food and medicines for the besieged Kashmiris of IoK. The unresponsiveness of international community and UN over the worsening humanitarian crises in the India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir has raised many question about their credibility and regard for humanity. This speaks of the real character of the contemporary world, where human rights, human values, morality and respect for UN Charter and international law has no meanings. It is indeed the interest-driven world of power politics where Indian brutalities are being overlooked, since there lays strategic, political and economic interests of major powers, especially the superpower, whose President participated in the Rally (‘Howdy, Modi) ‘and shared the stage with a Criminal of 21st Century on 22 September 2019.
— The writer, a retired Brig, is Professor of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad.