Focus on Kashmir

DESPITE New Delhi’s efforts to cover up the atrocities it has unleashed in India-held Kashmir in the aftermath of the Aug 5 decision to do away with Article 370 of the Indian constitution, the plight of the Kashmiris is being recognised across the world. It can be argued that Pakistan’s diplomatic and moral support has played a major role in raising a voice for the Kashmiris in one of their darkest hours. Lawmakers, activists and common citizens in various countries have decried the denial of basic rights to the residents of IHK, and the suffocating conditions they have been made to live in by New Delhi’s enforcers for over two months. In this regard, a US congressional delegation called upon the AJK president and prime minister in Muzaffarabad on Sunday, and on Monday met Pakistan’s prime minister and army chief, to express its concern about the rights abuses in IHK. Moreover, American presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has called upon India to respect “the rights of the people of Kashmir”. Leading Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh has also denounced “what India was doing to the people of Kashmir”.

Indeed, all people of conscience recognise that this is not a political issue, but one of human rights, and that India’s claims of being the world’s biggest democracy ring hollow in the face of its atrocious behaviour. Pakistan has been pleading Kashmir’s case at the world’s highest forums; the prime minister’s powerful speech at the UN General Assembly reminded the world that Kashmir should not be forgotten, while the Foreign Office has actively informed world capitals of what India is doing in the occupied region.

Such efforts have rightly brought the Kashmir question onto the world stage, but the core issue should not be forgotten — the usurpation of Kashmiri rights through changes in the Indian constitution. While Indian forces must stand down and lift all restrictions on the freedom of movement, communication and assembly in IHK, lasting peace can only come when the question of Kashmir’s status is decided once and for all, through the collective will of its people. No forcible solution will be accepted by the Kashmiris, and New Delhi, as well as the world powers, must realise that only through a democratic political process can the issue be resolved. Once the people have decided on their future, all three parties — the Kashmiris, Pakistan and India — must work together to implement this decision for lasting peace in South Asia.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2019