Khalid Hussain –
It is heartening to note Pakistan stays alive to extreme oppression of the Kashmiri people in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK).
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi held meetings with former Prime Minister of Kashmir Barister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhary. “The world must take notice of how India is targeting unarmed Kashmiri’s for torture and oppression, Qureshi said while stating Kashmir is an important pillar of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) has witnessed a rise in violence since the killing of popular Kashmiri freedom fighter Burhan Wani in 2016. Indian Armed forces killed seven civilians and three armed Kashmir freedom fighters during a gun battle in Pulwama in Indian Held Kashmir last month. The gunfight started after Indian forces attacked a group of freedom fighters belonging to the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen group. Eye witnesses told media that villagers marched towards the site of the gunfight and Indian forces “fired live ammunition at them”. “There is mayhem. The soldiers fired bullets at unarmed civilians without a second thought,” said Ruby Hamid, a resident of Pulwama, reported Al-Jazeera.
Ever since Indian forces in Kashmir were given the carte blanche to kill and and torture the Kashmiris through the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)–giving Indian forces immunity from prosecution–the scale of violence has shot through the roof. Indian forces have killed 232 Kashmiris last year, highest since 2009. The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) said in a statement 528 people were killed last year in armed conflicts in the Indian Held Kashmir, most were civilians. JKCCS spokesman Khurram Parvez termed it the “bloodiest year since 2009” and blamed it on the “political weakness” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruling India.
Kashmiri youth continues to protest the killings and often clash with Indian forces especially in the south of Kashmir. Shops and businesses remain closed and mobile internet services are routinely suspended by Indian authorities fearing the popular unrest would spread further. The region is currently under the direct rule of the federal government after India dissolved the state assembly.
“The Indian forces are armed with laws that protect them. They are trigger happy forces. They fear no prosecution, no accountability. They are here to kill people, especially youth,” Mirwaiz Omar Farooq told Al Jazeera. “No one is talking about it. The world is silent. This is a complete colonial approach to suppress people.”
India should listen to Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of the region, who served in coalition with India’s ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She said “no country can win a war by killing its own people”. “How long are we going to shoulder the coffins of our youngsters? So many civilians killed today post encounter in Pulwama. I strongly condemn these killings, and once again appeal for efforts, to stop this bloodbath,” she tweeted.
The security situation in Indian Held Kashmir has been steadily worsening verging onto outright barbarism in south Kashmir. India maintains over 500,000 soldiers in Held Kashmir and regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and training rebels for attacks on Indian forces. Islamabad denies this asserting it only provides diplomatic support to the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination. Indian security forces have terrorized the population in the name of defeating Pakistan’s proxy war. Yet, India cannot explain why more and more Kashmiris are rising up in arms to overthrow what they see a tyrannical Indian control. It is a sad reflection on India’s falsehood that they cannot even control the stone-pelters despite killing hundreds and torturing thousands of youth.
Amnesty International India has termed civilian killings in Kashmir a “worrying pattern” noting the “security forces are increasingly using indiscriminate and excessive force against civilians”. Amnesty International has demanded a full and independent investigation into the incident, and those responsible prosecuted in a civilian court of law. Amnesty said in a statement the “law enforcement officials should distinguish between persons engaging in violence and peaceful demonstrators”.
The Kashmiris have been fighting Indian occupation forces since 1948. A majority of Kashmiris support the rebel cause that the territory stays united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
India continues to blame Pakistan for the freedom struggle that is indiginous to Kashmir. Blaming events inside Indian Held Kashmir on Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, UJC and Al Badr groups belies India’s own claim of having sealed the Line of Control against infilteration from Pakistan. Now the Srinagar-based 15 Corps commander Lt Gen A K Bhatt have alleged talking to the media that Pakistan is trying to “indigenise terrorism in Kashmir”. It only is logical to wonder, which of the three positions they want the world to believe. Obviously, none can be accepted due to their arbitrariness. Indian forces simply cannot wash their hands of innocent blood by declaring every Kashmiri they kill a Pakistani!
There have been more than 1600 LoC violations of the ceasefire. This is the highest number since 2003. India blames its transgressions on Pakistan and continues to inflict damage to life and property on the Pakistani side. The excuse that ceasefire violations are triggered by Pakistan to facilitate infiltrations is nothing but a lie to hoodwink international opinion. It is time the global community asked why are so many people dying inside Indian Held Kashmir and not on the LoC if Pakistan is sending in Mujahideen?
Pakistan must now move to seize the momentum created by Kjell Mangne Bondevik, the longest-serving former prime minister of Norway, who met Kashmiri leaders in Novemnber last year. Bondevik’s Kashmir visit was the first by a foreign dignitary since Modi took power in 2014 and came months after the United Nations urged an international inquiry into human rights violations by Indian security forces. He also later travelled to Pakistan-administered Kashmir where he held talks with a cross-section of people. Bondevik serves as the Executive Chair at the Norway-based Oslo Center that claims to “promote peace and human rights”. He mediated between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil fighters during the civil war paying an essential role in solving the festered dispute a few years ago.
Over the years, Norway has had a reputation of playing a key role in conflict resolution between countries. Norway has played an important mediating role in hot spots such as Palestine and Sri Lanka. The former Norwegian PM Kjell Magne Bondevik’s visit to Srinagar has openned an opportunity for mediation that Pakistan must grasp urgently.
The current Noregian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said last week in an interview to an Indian Channel that her country Will mediate on Kashmir if India, Pakistan desire intervention. “If there is an interest from the partners, we will try to use the mechanisms that we know. We have been working quite a lot in different countries, but we always have this one basic thinking,” said Solberg as she suggested both countries should sit down by the table and sort out things.
It is time for Pakistan to formally start the process to revive the dialogue with India to resolve Kashmir issue. Prime Minister Imran Khan has already expressed his willingness to travel the distance. The foreign office should take the process to the next level.
The Law Today Pakistan, commonly known as TLTP, is the largest news wire service, headquartered in Islamabad. The service is providing fast, comprehensive and verified news on superior courts adjudications, regulatory framework of fiscal, monitory and external sectors, economic regulatory bodies amid apex institutions regulating the financial system. TLTP is empowering readers of more than 12 national English dailies in the country.