India has raised the ante in Kashmir. Doordarshan and All India Radio (private channels to follow) have started from 8 May 2020, to telecast and broadcast temperatures and weather reports of Indian towns and cities including “Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit” as a feed from The North Western Division of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). DD News and All India Radio will include “Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit” in their prime time news bulletins at 8.55am and 8.55pm weather reports, as part of their claim on these areas of Azad Kashmir.
IMD move to include “Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit” in their weather bulletin is a disturbing tactical move, on the top of a strategic move of 5 August and 31 October 2019. India has started selling to its people, that the large Indian army has the chin to take any loss of life of its armed forces in Kashmir.
Loss of life in the households of Kashmir is far different in character. The youth are prepared to lead into the next generation and killing of a Kashmiri youth is slowly killing the right of ‘self-determination’. Do we need to sit and watch for the chain actions of Indian Government, that started on 5 August 2019, let it hold the Valley under lock and allow its army to roam free to pick up and kill Kashmiri youth at will? The answer should be no!
Pakistan did fairly well at the UN General Assembly in September 2019. Forcing UN Security Council to revisit Kashmir, in whatever manner, on 16 August 2019 and 15 January 2020 were two very good efforts. However, we have again lost the momentum and have misinterpreted the Indian actions. Indian has disturbed the status quo on Kashmir and in a way has annexed the Indian administered (occupied) part of Kashmir. It does not need to go for any quick demographic change. The actions of 5 August and 31 October 2019, provide a safe cover to India, to hurt the Muslim majority character of the State.
India did not claim “Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit” as its cities out of any whim. Indian actions add up to a fact that India has been cheating Pakistan even in diplomatic engagements. JKCHR did point out one such overbearing influence of India, in the Indo-Pak Joint Statement issued after the June 19-23 1997 India Pakistan talks at Islamabad. Indian side tricked Pakistan to retreat on Kashmir from its core position and add it in the eight “outstanding issues of concern to both sides”.
Kashmir was displaced from its ‘principal’ character and it became an ‘include’ in many other issues. It was an unbelievable retreat in the history of Kashmir. In a way it was as agonising as Kashmir being hit at the UN Security Council in August 1996, by rule 11 of the Procedure Rules of Security Council.
JKCHR made a five page representation to the Government of Pakistan on 30 June 1997 and pointed out the serious mistakes made in the joint statement. Indian side made the full use of the principle of “literal and strained interpretation’, while interpreting the terms of the joint statement on their arrival in Delhi. On 25 June 1997, Indian Foreign Secretary Salman Haider said, “When we talk about the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, there is a juridical element in that. We make the point that parts of Jammu and Kashmir are under Pakistani occupation by military force and that is something that we would certainly discuss”.
Explaining the merits of the joint statement, Indian FS said, “We have said that there is no dispute in our part of Kashmir but there are issues relating to POK”. Indian Parliament Resolution of February 1994, on Azad Kashmir and GB, declaring them as part of India, should have forced Pakistan, Azad Kashmir and every Kashmiri into meditation and unease.
Indian Meteorological Department, Doordarshan, All India Radio and Indian private TV channels have started doing, is exactly, what Indian Parliament has pending on its files since February 1994. What are our options?
War and the use of International law (UN Resolutions) are our only options left. Pakistan like India is a nuclear state. Pakistan’s nuclear capability, cancels out the overbearing Indian misplaced big size boast of its size and number. One would love to see India and Pakistan return to the call of “their spiritual heritage and the responsibility of their power” in the service of their people and the region. If war is avoided, we have a future. However, if war breaks out the present leadership may not survive to see a depopulated and vastly deserted India.
The other way forward would be engagement and respect for international law. Kashmiris and Government Pakistan have international law on their side. UN Resolutions would not entertain Indian hegemony and such actions at all, unless we have lost faith in the jurisprudence of our case and in our abilities to take India to the “Police Station”. International Law in our case are the UN Resolutions and we need to re-visit the merits of our case.
Foreign office of Pakistan indeed has brilliant minds, but we need people who have a reliable knowledge of Kashmir case and reliable understanding of UN Resolutions. To be brilliant in any discipline of foreign office is one thing and to be knowledgeable on Kashmir case is quite different. We may need to fix the political tripping and tipping in the appointments of the chairman of Kashmir Committee. There is need to upgrade and regularise the expert input from Government of Azad Kashmir, Kashmiri experts and start it on a war footing.
Prime Minister of Pakistan, as Chairman AJK Council has accepted a constitutional role in Azad Kashmir. Even if he had not volunteered to be an ambassador of the people of Kashmir, he has retained enough role, to structure a new team to work on Kashmir. AJK Council could be converted into a role that Section 11 of 1974 Act or Section 8 of 1970 Act warrants from Government of Azad Kashmir. We failed to make use of a space given to us by UNCIP Resolutions and UN Security Council Resolutions. It seems to have corrected the Indian hump and its leadership has gone mad. We need to keep the options of war and international law open.
The author is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.