The plight of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is desperate. Facing a brutal Indian military lockdown since the night of August 4, they have no access to food or medicines and are completely cut off from the world. All services — hospitals, schools, colleges, and businesses — are closed. Virtually all communication links — the internet, cell phones, etc. — have been blocked.
Indian colonial troops have kidnapped thousands of Kashmiri youth during nightly raids on homes. Their whereabouts are unknown. Estimates of the number of youth kidnapped range from 6,000 to 25,000 with people expressing fears that the higher number may be closer to reality. Indian troops may be involved in genocide.
While India claims that there is “calm” in Kashmir, it is the calm of the graveyard. With tens of thousands of gun-totting soldiers shooting people on sight if they dare to come out of their homes, it is an imposed calm. Indian rulers also claim that people will get used to the new reality and will eventually accept it. Will they?
Beyond the oppressively grim reality that Indian troops and rulers in Delhi have created with their latest outrage in Kashmir, there is also the question of international reaction to this tragedy. It is not a new crisis; it has existed since 1947 but has remained in political and diplomatic limbo because of the self-serving interests of other players.
Let us first narrate the legal position of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite Delhi’s claim that it is an “integral part” of India, international law recognizes it as “disputed” territory. Its ultimate status is to be determined through a plebiscite (referendum) under UN supervision. There are at least 18 UN Security Council resolutions affirming this. Both India and Pakistan — the two principal claimants to the state — also accepted these resolutions when the Security Council first passed them. It was only later that India started to backtrack once it tightened its military grip on Kashmir. That, however, does not change the legal status Kashmir.
Following India’s illegal action in August abrogating Kashmir’s autonomy and turning it into “union territory,” its affairs will now be administered directly from Delhi. Naturally, Pakistan has taken a strong stand against this unilateral action. Regrettably, Islamabad has not been able to garner much support even from the Muslim world. Pakistan’s traditional allies in the Muslim East have stabbed it in the back. This, however, should come as no surprise.
The Arabian rulers, whether in Riyadh or Abu Dhabi, have sided with India. Most of them have gone even further. Adding insult to injury, they have conferred their kingdom’s highest civilian award on India’s fascist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
If they wanted to suck up to India, could they have not waited for a while rather than now when the Kashmiris are being brutalized and their women being raped? The Arabian rulers, however, have no self-respect, dignity, or shame. And they certainly do not care for suffering Muslims anywhere. It is unrealistic to expect any decency from them.
Only three countries — Turkey, Iran, and China — have supported Pakistan’s principled position on Kashmir. It is also important for Pakistani decision makers to move beyond pious hopes and understand the global reality that is primed to abort any Muslim self-determination anywhere at all cost.
Why is the rest of the world turning a blind eye to the suffering of the Kashmiri people while being aware of India’s criminal acts? Unfortunately, the world does not function based on the rule of law or morality. The dictum “might is right” holds. Countries look for their own interests rather than worry about some esoteric principles of morality, human dignity, or justice. Damn the people!
Kashmir is situated at the crossroads of China, Pakistan, and India. The geostrategic interests of two great powers, the US and China, collide in Kashmir. One is a declining power; the other a rising power. China and Pakistan are longtime friends and Beijing is investing some $60 billion in Pakistan’s infrastructure projects as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The US wants to disrupt this and is using India against China. It is unrealistic to expect that the US or any other Western country would help Pakistan over Kashmir.
India will not hand over Kashmir on a platter. Nor would any Western country or the UN help in this. Pakistan has to make the stark choice: is it earnest about the liberation of Kashmir? If so, it will require much greater effort than has hitherto been shown. And it will require enormous sacrifices. Nothing is achieved without sacrificing blood and treasure.