Indifferent Muslim World

‘KASHMIR: A Burning Paradise’, ‘Kashmir on the Edge’ these single liners with images of hundreds of thousands of children and youth holding ply cards reading ‘We want freedom’ ‘Go back…..’; children and teenagers engaged in ding dong battles with troops; blood soaked bodies on biers with thousands of wailers chanting pro-freedom slogans    carrying them to the martyrs’ graveyards for burial in the backdrop     have been beaming television screens for the past few months. These   images, not the elitist discussions that take place on these channels are more than enough to tell the real Kashmir story to people in India in particular and world in general. At this point of time it will be difficult to say if people in India ever rise in support of people of Jammu and Kashmir as people in the United States rose against its administration for its policies in Vietnam. Or the Indian intelligentsia raising banners of revolt Delhi as the French intellectuals raised in Paris against its government, forcing it to sign a the Evian Accords. It will be too early to say that if scholars and intellectuals drive government in Delhi for a an agreement with Kashmiris like the Evians Accords. The Accords was overwhelmingly supported by people both in France and Algeria. With religion and caste continuing to dominate Indian political spectrum and many major political parties surviving on religious bigotry it may take many more years for people in India to chaff truth and untruth about Kashmir and not to look at the problem through the prism of political leadership. It is not parochialism of Indian populace that torments me but it is indifference of the global community more particularity the Muslim World about the human tragedy in Kashmir that bothers me.

The Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) contact group on Jammu and Kashmir as well as the annual Coordination Committee meeting of Foreign Ministers of the OIC Member States during 65th annual session of UN General Assembly at United Nation Headquarters New York is being held on 22nd and 24th of September. The Contact Group on Kashmir includes Pakistan, Iran, Niger and Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The meeting is being held at a time when in the words of a columnist in The Times of India, once again Kashmir is staring New Delhi in face. It is being held at a time in the words of Indian author Pankaj Mishra when the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators that fill the streets of Kashmir’s cities today are overwhelmingly young, many in their teens, and armed with nothing more lethal than stones. Yet the Indian state seems determined to strangle their voices as it did of the old one.” Or as  very rightly put by top Indian journalist Vindod Mehta “One would need a heart of stone not to be moved by the plight of the stone-pelters of Srinagar taking on the might of the Indian security forces — a David vs Goliath fight.” So far 103 youth, most of them student going children and teenagers have got killed.

 Since the birth of the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, the State has seen many turmoil, deaths and destructions but it is difficult to find out a parallel to the brutal situation as has been obtaining since June 11, 2010. There is no precedence of entire Kashmir valley being converted as said in Washington Post into ‘a cage’ for such a long period. The unparalleled coverage that “the youth uprising” in Kashmir has been getting in the American and the Western Press as very rightly said by a columnist in this paper,  ‘Rarely in the past has the Kashmiri movement received such a sustained media attention.’ A 24 August report in the New York Times (  described Kashmir as “one blood-soaked exception”  the same paper in  (13 August) said that the Kashmiri protests for a third consecutive year “signal the failure of Indian efforts to win the assent of Kashmiris using just about any tool available: money, elections and overwhelming force.” It is for the first time in the history of Kashmir when even a state Chief Minister has gone on record to say publicly that the youth fighting on streets were not demanding employment or economic package and what is needed is a political package, a political settlement that reflects the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

Despite, the public opinion in the West and even in India to an extent having for the first time being concerned about Kashmir why world at large and Muslim countries in particular have   maintained a ‘criminal silence’ on the ‘blood bath’.  Minus one or two ritualistic statements by the OIC General Secretary the OIC with its   wide open eyes has been witnessing the gory happenings in Kashmir as mute spectator.

 The birth of the OIC was seen by many a Muslim scholars as a manifestation of Islamic renaissance as dreamt by people like Jamal-u-Din Afgani and Muhammad Abdu in Arabia, quoting from The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Arif Kamal a writer of Kashmiri origin trace the birth of the OIC to Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal. He writes, “Iqbal’s thought was unwittingly the fore-runner of idea behind OIC as an inter-governmental organization” ‘A scholar regarded this as the first ever common platform since rival Caliphates in Baghdad and Qurtuba: 750 AD, opted for separate development.’ The Organization of the Islamic Conference undoubtedly provides the leaders of the Muslim Nations around the world a common platform for ‘inter-governmental dialogue and action.’

The organization with all its inherent difficulties does ‘project a Muslim world view.’ The Organization has been more than often articulating its views on Kashmir and these views by all standards are views of the Muslim world on Kashmir. True, the OIC for past twenty years has been meeting on Kashmir. Like the United Nation this organization of 56 Muslim Countries also does not “recognize the finality of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir with Union of India.” It also believes that that “India’s non-cooperation and the passage of time do not erode UN obligation”.  The organization has time and again been reiterating that  “The Kashmiri right of self-determination is an inalienable right which has been acknowledged by UN Security Council resolutions. As such, it constitutes an obligation for all members of the United Nations, and in particular, the designated parties to the dispute, India and Pakistan. Obligations stemming from UN Security Council resolutions are binding.”
The OIC has not only constitute a Contact Group on Kashmir but also accorded an Observer status to the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. It has also appointed a Special Envoy for Jammu and Kashmir.  The perusal of the proceedings of this organization for past two decades more particularly after the APHC was accorded an observers status are full of statements and resolutions in support of right to self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2008, the OIC Secretary General, Mr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu  on the sidelines of the 11th OIC Summit being held in Dakar, Senegal on 14 March 2008 not only said that Kashmir has been an one of the oldest unresolved issue on the agenda of the UN and OIC but also called upon the me the member states, especially those who have good relations with India, to effectively use their influence to improve the human rights condition in Kashmir. The Secretary General repeated this statement in 2009 Conference not only reiterated what he had stated in the previous but also impressed  upon to the Contact group to delve deeper for ‘further supporting the Kashmiri’ people.

India never permitted the OIC special envoy to visit Kashmir. The envoy has been only visiting the AJK and submitting its report on Kashmir to the organization. It obviously cannot be complete report. The OIC Contact Group as well as the general body has been passing resolution in support of resolving the Kashmir problem but New Delhi has not only been ignoring these resolutions but also dismissing even diplomatically of no consequences.

The OIC contact group on Kashmir is not a diplomatic lightweight, it includes major and influential Muslim Countries, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Niger, Turkey and Pakistan. India other than Pakistan all these countries have very strong economic political relations. India cannot afford any breach or even infringement in its relations with these major Muslim countries on political, diplomatic and economic front. The question then arises why New Delhi is not attaching any importance to the OIC resolution on Kashmir.

The situation in Kashmir makes imperative for OIC Kashmir group to moot over this point and work out a strategy that will make New Delhi to come out of the denial mood and restart composite dialogue with Pakistan for resolution of the Kashmir dispute and other allied issues.
(Feedback at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com)