Kashmir’s Struggle for Self-Determination: A Call for International Solidarity and Justice

Jul 3, 2024 | Blog, Monthly Blogs

Kashmir has a complex and deeply troubled history characterized by oppression and geopolitical conflict. In 1846, the British sold Kashmir to the Hindu Maharaja, a transaction that laid the groundwork for future disputes. When India gained independence in 1947, the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan allowed princely states to decide their allegiance. Despite Kashmir’s strong ties, both religiously and culturally, to Pakistan, and the majority population’s expressed desire to accede to Pakistan, the Maharaja opted to join India under significant pressure. This decision sparked widespread violence, including the tragic Jammu genocide, which saw hundreds of thousands displaced and killed, and ignited a persistent freedom movement against Indian rule.

The occupation of Kashmir by India is perpetuated by the refusal to grant Kashmiris their right to self-determination since 1947, a right assured by the United Nations Security Council resolutions. The U.N. maintains its legal stance based on these resolutions. India, similar to other occupying forces, persists in employing severe repression to dominate the Kashmiris.

Right of self-determination

Self-determination is a fundamental right universally acknowledged in democratic societies, allowing individuals to determine their political, social, economic, and cultural futures. The United Nations Charter enshrines this right in Article 2, and it is upheld by several international treaties as a universal standard of international law. However, residents of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) continue to face violations of their fundamental human rights.

The United Nations mandated a referendum to provide the people of Kashmir an opportunity to decide their political status. Despite that directive, Indian authorities have not honored this commitment, leaving the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination unfulfilled.

Article 370 and settler colonialism

The removal of Articles 370 and 35-A by India has reinforced its authority in Kashmir, accompanied by increased human rights violations and restrictions on political, civil, and economic freedoms. The conflict over Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has persisted for over seven decades.

While Articles 370 and 35-A were symbolic in nature, they barred non-residents from purchasing property and obtaining local government positions in Jammu and Kashmir. However, their unilateral abrogation in 2019 by India stripped Kashmir of its autonomy, converting it into a Union Territory. This move facilitated the settlement of non-residents, promotion of Hindi as an official language, and deployment of Indian civilians to the region. The Modi government has aimed to erase Kashmiri culture and alter the demographic composition by encouraging Hindu resettlement and employment, intensifying militarization and security measures.

This settler colonial strategy marks a significant escalation in India’s bid to consolidate control over Kashmir, perpetuating its long-standing occupation and further marginalizing the local populace.

Kashmir and Palestine connection

Kashmir and Palestine stand as two of the world’s most disputed territories, each grappling with complex historical, religious, and geographical dynamics. While acknowledging the disparities in scale and intensity of their respective challenges, both regions share significant commonalities. They have endured prolonged military occupations, witnessed demographic changes imposed by occupying forces, and suffered egregious human rights abuses.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains one of the longest-standing territorial disputes, marked by armed conflicts, intermittent negotiations, and ongoing hostilities. Similarly, Kashmir’s conflict has caused extensive human suffering, political instability, and regional tensions. Despite efforts such as ceasefires and diplomatic initiatives, achieving a lasting resolution has proven elusive in both cases.

Addressing these complex issues necessitates active engagement in diplomatic processes, willingness to make concessions, and commitment to resolving existing conflicts. Upholding human rights and addressing violations are crucial for global stability. The international community bears a moral and legal responsibility to respect and defend the right to self-determination for all peoples, including those in Kashmir. This involves advocating for the withdrawal of military presence from Kashmir and supporting efforts to restore its status as a self-governing territory. Genuine political processes that empower the people of Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination are essential steps toward peace and justice.

In light of these challenges, international bodies, human rights organizations, and responsible governments must take a more assertive stance on Kashmir, ensuring adherence to international law and promoting peaceful resolutions to long standing conflicts.

Final thoughts

The right to self-determination, recognized globally as a fundamental principle in international law, is essential for upholding human rights, promoting peace, and ensuring justice. Addressing the Kashmir conflict demands concerted global action to support Kashmiri aspirations for self-governance. There are many striking parallels between Kashmir and Palestine, where the Palestinian cause underscores a universal struggle for freedom and justice. Recognizing these challenges when viewed through the Palestinian issue is a reminder to the global community that we must confront these challenges. Acknowledging these interconnected struggles emphasizes the global community’s responsibility to advocate for the rights of all oppressed peoples, highlighting the urgent need for collective action.