Kashmiris are caught up in toxic power politics

Kashmir American Council

Kashmiris are caught up in toxic power politics, when all they want is peace

Ghulam-Nabi Fai
Tuesday August 31 2010
The Guardian


Pankaj Mishra’s article was a concise and accurate examination of the Kashmir crisis (Why silence over Kashmir speaks volumes [http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2010/aug/14/silence-over-kashmir-conflict" title="], 14 August). He pointed out that the protesters "have a broader mass base than the Green Movement does in Iran. But no colour-coded revolution is heralded in Kashmir by western commentators."

Virtually everyone ? men, women and children ? of the capital city of Kashmir, Srinagar, has taken to the streets to lodge a non-violent protest at the office of the United Nations against the continuance of Indian occupation. But such non-violent protests have received little or no press coverage, even though they have been taking place, as Mishra reports, since 2008. Is it any wonder that Kashmiris feel "that theirs is the voice of a neglected people"?

Mishra speaks about the Indian media amplifying "the falsehoods and deceptions of Indian intelligence agencies in Kashmir", which argue that the Kashmiri protests are the work of Islamic fundamentalists and/or terrorists. But in the case of Srinagar, the population of a major town cannot be composed entirely of such elements.

Kashmiris simply demand a speedy implementation of the pledge solemnly extended to them by India and Pakistan and the UN ? to be allowed to decide their future through an unrigged and uncoerced vote.

The protests are an unmistakeable expression of Kashmiris’ resentment against the indifference of world powers ? and their failure, largely because of toxic power politics, to implement international agreements.

As Mishra stated: "India is a counterweight, at least in the fantasies of western strategists, to China." This contributes to the policies of inaction.

So Kashmir continues to bleed under a renewed outpouring of revolt against occupation, as the world continues to ignore it. There is a deliberate and direct targeting of young people by the military forces, intent on crushing the anti-occupation movement. Mishra states: "Already this summer, soldiers have shot dead more than 50 protesters, most of them teenagers." Their weapons? Rocks and stones. Hardly the tools of terrorists.

Apart from the magnitude of violence unleashed by the military forces against protesters, the most poignant aspect of the situation is the acute suffering of the whole population caused by the frequent curfews, disregard of normal life, arrests, detentions and sometimes disappearances of innocent civilians by the authorities. This is a situation without precedent in the south Asian subcontinent and with few parallels in the world today.

During his US presidential campaign, Barack Obama pledged he would appoint a special envoy to the region ? as Mishra says, "he declared that solving the ‘Kashmir crisis’ was one of his ‘critical tasks’". However: "Since then the US president hasn’t uttered a word about this ur-crisis that has seeded all major conflicts in south Asia."

If only Obama would keep his promise, it would certainly hasten the process of peace and stability in south Asia ? home to one-fifth of the human race.

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