The atmosphere of hope and aspirations for freedom and independence that prevailed among the Muslims of the subcontinent in 1947 equally resonated in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Little did they know that Kashmiris would be cheated and these dreams and aspirations would be viciously snatched from them, subjecting generations of Kashmiris to brutal repression at the hands of brutal Indian occupation.
India should know that injustice is never immortal, and the dawn of freedom and the right to self-determination promised to the Kashmiris by the United Nations Security Council cannot be indefinitely delayed.
This tale of misery can be traced back to 26 October 1947 when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the accession document with India, marking the start of unending trouble in the region of Jammu and Kashmir. Following this dubious accession, on 27th October, India landed its troops on the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which has since been observed as Black day not only in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir but around the world by expatriate Kashmiri community and in Pakistan. In September 1947, hardly 25 days before the creation of Pakistan, the Kashmiri people in Srinagar passed a resolution sending a clear message to India and the world that Kashmiris did not want to live with India.
According to the Indian Independence Act, the accession of states to one or other of the new Dominions was left to the discretion of the rulers. The basic principle of accession was that the leader of the state would decide the fate of the state. But it was also recognized that the ruler’s decision should be qualified by the geographical contiguity of the states to the successor Dominion and its communal composition.
India had justified her annexation of both Junagadh and Hyderabad because their inhabitants desired to join the Indian Union even though the ruler of Junagadh formally signed the instrument of accession in favor of Pakistan. Unfortunately, the same principle was not applied in the case of Jammu and Kashmir. The right to decide their future through an internationally supervised referendum, as promised openly by both Mountbatten and Nehru, was, however, denied to the people of Kashmir.
Indian leaders knew that Kashmir had a natural linkage with Pakistan and might accede to Pakistan based on the majority Muslim population. Therefore, political pressure on the maharajah was exerted in May 1947 with the visits by politicians of the Congress party who tried to convince him to sign the accession document in favor of India. Although this mission failed, the maharaja, under the influence of the Congress Party, accelerated a systematic persecution of the Muslim population in the Poonch area in the spring of 1947.
The rhythm of the anti-Muslim campaign increased gradually with the infiltration of members of the RSS.
For the last 76 years, the dreams of living and developing in freedom without fear of subjugation and reprisals have been replaced by a nightmare of enforced disappearances, false police encounters, and a continuous hail of pellet guns killing and blinding children and adults alike. A free reign of rape and murder has turned the Kashmiri Paradise in the largest open prison in the world, inhabited by tens of thousands of half-widows and unmarked mass graves. These broken souls carry with them horrendous tales of human rights violations and torture perpetrated by the Indian security forces.
Under the BJP rule, Modi, the butcher of Gujrat, continues the assault on Kashmiri culture and identity and enforces its Hindutva ideology on illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The revocation of Article 370 A and implementation of domicile law in the state of Jammu and Kashmir are the attempts of the BJP to crush and subjugate the Muslim population in the valley. Un-ending curfews, ethnic cleansing, and altering the demographic balance in favor of non-Kashmiri Hindu settlers in shameful violation of international law and UN Security Resolutions have added to the misery and desperation of the Kashmiris.
The shameful neglect and the deafening silence of the international community at the callous disregard of human rights violations by India is infuriating for those who care about the plight of these unfortunate people.
The current international order is in flux, and the geostrategic, geopolitical, and geo-economic center of the world is shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The USA and its European partners are arming India and politically and economically supporting it to be a counterweight to China. At this time of uncertainty, it is not entirely inconceivable that Modi, as he goes into elections 2024, may be tempted to stage a false flag operation and, under that pretext, further intensify the reign of repression in IIOJ&K. The criminal and callous support of the US and Western nations for Israel’s genocide in Ghaza to eliminate the Palestinian people may also embolden Modi to undertake a similar operation against the Kashmiris. Modi is, in any case, already involved in ethnic cleansing of the Muslims in other parts of India with the international stalwarts of human rights turning a blind eye to the atrocities being committed by him.
Pakistan has, for the last 76 years, continued to support the right of self-determination of Kashmiris and continues to provide full political, diplomatic, and moral support to the Kashmiris. However, we need to clear the fog of ambiguity around our approach to the Kashmir issue and have a clear policy direction with national consensus in a documented form. This clarity will automatically emanate from the clarity and political consensus on our relationships with India. There cannot be two opinions about the fact that there is no and will never be a military solution as it entails heavy consequences both in terms of human loss and international backlash and sanctions.
Our internal political and economic situation is also in a state of turmoil. If we want to succeed on the international and regional front, our foreign policy and diplomacy must be bold and effective.
If we want the international community to take our concerns and our narrative into account, we would have to single-mindedly focus on economic resurgence, social development, and a peaceful external environment.
On the domestic front, we must be mindful of the socio-economic development of the people of AJK and effectively address the disappointment and frustration of the AJK people on all counts. Kashmir must be dealt with separately from relations with India. Pakistan and India have engaged in innumerable border clashes and have gone to war thrice or at least twice on the issue of Kashmir. Yet, the issue remains, and the innocent Kashmiris continue to pay an unimaginable price in blood for securing their right to self-determination and freedom from Indian occupation and aggression. The Kashmiris are suffering and are the concerned party. It is, therefore, presumptuous for both Pakistan and India to believe that any future effort aimed at securing a much-desired resolution could be achieved without the involvement of the Kashmiris themselves.
the Author is a retired diplomat with over 37 years of distinguished service in the Foreign Service of Pakistan. During her career, she held key positions, including Ambassador to China, the European Union, Ireland. She also served as Deputy Head of Mission to China and Denmark. With expertise in various areas, she held significant roles at the Foreign Office, including Additional Foreign Secretary for America’s and Director General Policy Planning.
In addition to her diplomatic career, she is actively engaged as Vice Chair of the Council on Global Policy and a member of the Board of Directors of First Women Bank. She serves as an advisor to the China Study Center at ISSI and Kestral International. Furthermore, she is a prolific writer, contributing regularly to esteemed magazines and newspapers. As an accomplished author, she has published several books, including “Magnificent Pakistan” and “Pakistan-China-All Weather Friendship.” Her dedication and expertise continue to impact the field of international relations. She tweets @AmbNaghmanaHash.