Jammu and Kashmir: International Dimension

Jammu and Kashmir: International Dimension

                                     Royal United Service Institute

                                                London, UK

   Dr. Ghulam N Mir, President World Kashmir Freedom Movement

                                         October 22, 2010

On behalf of my friends and colleagues of the World Kashmir Freedom Movement

 and World Kashmir Awareness I would like to express our sincere thanks and

Gratitude to the Royal United Service Institute for this opportunity to discuss the

 Kashmir issue. We are glad to be at this prestigious institute today.

As scholars you know the history and the demographics of Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir is historically and geopolitically a distinct nation. Our struggle to carve out a new and democratic future started earnestly in 1931. Unfortunately our dreams and aspirations were dashed when India invaded Jammu and Kashmir just after India gained its own independence from Britain in 1947. We had just forced the despotic King, Maharaja Hari Singh from power.   India ambushed our freedom just as it had gained her own.  As Kashmiris, we have a keen sense of our own distinct history, culture and political destiny.  What you see playing out today in Kashmir is an expression of that sense. And no matter how steep the odds, how heavy the sacrifices and how long the journey, our people are determined to realize the dream of that destiny.

Today, after 63 long years of the struggle for freedom, the world is witnessing that the quest for azaadi (freedom) is forging forward with a renewed sense of purpose. The movement has become more focused and more unified. All four of the major elements of the political leadership are speaking the same language. What is more important, is the fact that under public pressure, even the pro-India politicians such as the Chief Minister, Mr. Umar Abdullah and his rival Miss Mehbooba Mufti are echoing the voices of Hurriyat Conference  leaders like Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Muhammad Yasin Malik and Shabir Ahmed Shah.  These leaders are under moral and political pressure from a burgeoning youth movement and a ground swell of general public demanding an all out freedom from Indian occupation. Four months of incessant curfews coupled with voluntary work stoppage have caused a lot of hardship for the people. 111 innocent civilians have been killed in the peaceful rallies, sit-ins and protests in the last four months. Yet all strata of Kashmiri society continue to rally behind the civil disobedience movement against Indian rule.

People of Kashmir are not at all interested in any suggestions or solutions smacking of acquiescence to an internal accommodation within Indian constitution, such as internal autonomy or joint control. It is not so only because of the enormous sacrifices given by our people since 1947 and more so since 1989.  It is not only because the people have gotten alienated from India because the long standing state terror. True, these factors have accentuated and accelerated the mass movement for freedom.  The fundamental reason for the struggle has always been; and will always be, the denial of the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir. To achieve durable peace and stability, not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but in the region as a whole, there is no way around self-determination. Nothing else has worked so far and nothing ever will in future, unless and until that demand is met.

And that takes us to the role the international community in general and United Kingdom and the United States in particular, must play in resolving this intractable conflict.  Respected friends, you are well aware that your nation has not just dual, not just triple, but quadruple obligation to help solve the Kashmir conflict. Why do I say so? First of all, it was during the last days of the British rule in the subcontinent that the tragedy of Kashmir conflict started. UK continues to be the leader of the Common Wealth. So, it has a role and an obligation to facilitate resolution of this conflict. The subcontinent may not be in Britain’s geographic backyard, but it still is in the political backyard of this great country. Secondly, UK is an important power in the world and a permanent member of the UN Security Council. It also is a close friend and ally of the United States. Thirdly, UK has a sizable number of citizens of Kashmiri origin. They have made United Kingdom their home. They have hopes that this nation will assist in relieving the suffering of their brothers and sisters they have left behind in Kashmir. After all, what good is their life in UK or our life in US, when our kith and kin are in perpetual siege and suffering back home?

Fourthly and lastly, if all else fails to persuade human compassion of the world powers, consider the real possibility of a planned or unplanned nuclear holocaust around Kashmir. After all neither India, nor Pakistan have foresworn the use of nuclear weapons. Further, neither of these two countries can guarantee against being drawn in to yet another armed conflict. Imagine what can happen if the unthinkable takes place. There is enough in the history to make us pause and think.

We can tell you with all honesty that Kashmiris are committed to a peaceful resistance to seek freedom. This time, current leadership and current generation have resolved to respond to oppression and atrocities with patience and peaceful struggle. The senior leadership has been given a chance by the youth to make good on their promise. But, there is no telling how the youth and the future generations will respond to the lack of progress and non-fulfillment of the right of self-determination. This window of opportunity was long in coming, but now it is here. Can we harness it or will we squander it? How the world deals with it, will determine the events not only in Kashmir, but also in India, Pakistan and even the nations beyond. After all, the world wars did not start in powerful nations like US, UK or France.  They started in nations smaller than Kashmir, but quickly engulfed the whole world.

What are we suggesting?  We are suggesting several things that can be done to influence the course of events:

United Kingdom is a close ally of the United States of America. This friendship can be used to persuade India and Pakistan to fulfill their longstanding obligation to find a just and lasting solution of Kashmir dispute.

– A prestigious body like RUSI can take the lead in breaking the taboo against open debate in mainstream Western press and media about Kashmir.

-RUSI can influence the policies of the UK and US government visa-a-vie Kashmir. Current policies have failed in yielding positive results. UK, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, can play an important role, as India seeks to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. India remains in defiance of the UNSC Resolutions, guaranteeing a free and unfettered plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. Granting India a permanent seat in that institution will be a travesty of justice and a mockery of that august body, while it is flouting its resolutions.

 In conclusion, let me thank you again for the opportunity to discuss our views on this issue which is so important and so dear to the hearts of millions of Kashmiris. I look forward to a positive exchange of ideas in the Q & A session in which my colleagues will participate.