AS the leaders of Pakistan and India get ready to fly to the US to attend the UN General Assembly, there has been speculation of a possible meeting on the Kashmir issue at the multilateral moot, with Washington playing the role of facilitator.
President Donald Trump’s recent comments that “a lot of progress” has been made in defusing tensions between the two South Asian states has strengthened this assumption.
The US president will be meeting both prime ministers — Imran Khan and Narendra Modi — and the possibility that Mr Trump will use the meetings to discuss India-held Kashmir cannot be ruled out.
However, considering India’s intransigence — with its stubborn insistence that the decades-old Kashmir issue is an ‘internal’ or ‘bilateral’ matter — as well as the American leader’s own mercurial nature, it is obvious that not too much hope should be pinned on any breakthroughs in the US over the next few days.
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On the ground in IHK, there is no sign that India is ready to abandon its cruel methods of subjugation.
While New Delhi’s military enforcers were already meting out brutal treatment to ordinary Kashmiris who oppose its suffocating rule, now it appears as if even those amongst the held region’s elite who were known for their loyalty to India are being humiliated.
For example, Farooq Abdullah, the octogenarian former chief minister of IHK, has been formally arrested after being held under house arrest for over a month. He has been detained under the Public Safety Act, widely considered a black law, which allows for detention without charge for two years.
Elsewhere, the nightmare of Kashmiris shows no sign of ending. As highlighted in this paper on Tuesday, citizens of the occupied region have told foreign media that they have been brutally tortured by Indian troops on the slightest suspicion of aiding fighters. Young men speak of harrowing beatings, electrocution and other forms of abuse at the hands of the Indians. The brutal methods have sent a wave of fear across the occupied region, with hundreds reportedly detained. It is strange that India still trumpets its democratic credentials despite such damning evidence against it.
In the backdrop of such cruelty and arrogance on the part of India, can any miracle be expected in the US?
While the doors of dialogue should never be closed, New Delhi needs to seriously reconsider its atrocious methods in IHK. The use of force has failed, and failed miserably, to crush the Kashmiri quest for freedom over the last three decades; if the Indian establishment thinks more of such failed policies will bear fruit, it is horribly mistaken. In fact, such methods will only fuel the armed struggle in IHK.
The solution to the Kashmir crisis is obvious: India needs to stand down and talk to the Kashmiris as well as Pakistan to resolve this imbroglio, and shun the current repressive course it has adopted.
Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2019