South Asia consists of eight states including two nuclear-weapon states and major actors India and Pakistan. There has never been a smooth and cordial relationship between two neighboring states due to many issues and reasons and the Kashmir dispute is one of them. This dispute has caused two of the three major wars between the two nuclear powers of South Asia and numerous warlike crises. The landlocked Kashmir territory lies in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent.
Kashmir is considered the most beautiful place on earth. It is surrounded by the Uygur autonomous area of Sinkiang and Tibet in the northeast (both parts of China), in the South bordered by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab; in the northwest by Afghanistan and in the West by Pakistan. It became disputed territory between India and Pakistan after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.
Kashmir is considered a paradise on earth due to its unmatchable beauty
Since the partition of the subcontinent, the area has lost its status of paradise under the autocratic rule of India. Historically, on 27 October 1947, the Indian government practically rejected the partition formula of the subcontinent annexed Jammu and Kashmir. In the partition formula, princely states were given choice to either join Pakistan and India or remain independent. Kashmiri population and their genuine leadership, for instance, Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, wanted to accede to Pakistan in view of existing religious, cultural, economic, and geographical proximities. However, India forcibly occupied Jammu and Kashmir on the pretext of an illogical instrument of accession signed by Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh with the government of India.
Therefore, to check the unlawful intervention and advance of the Indian army, Pakistan also moved troops to Kashmir and liberated a vast area is now known as Azad Kashmir. The United Nations Security Council passed resolutions in 1948/1949, which asked for holding a free and fair plebiscite under its supervision to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide their future by utilizing the right to self-determination. But, India refuse to accept the right of self-determination of Kashmiris that was given to them according to UNSC. Primarily India’s Kashmir policy remained consistent throughout history. However, under the banner of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalists did more ruthless killings and indulge in systematic genocide.
However, on 5th August 2019, Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) not only abrogated Article 370, under which the local legislature could make its own laws except in finance, defense, foreign affairs, and communications, but it also revoked Article 35A, which empowered the legislative assembly to define permanent residents and offer them special privileges such as exclusive land rights. Modi also split the three different divisions of the erstwhile state Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh into two union territories.
Subsequently, these changes were welcomed by Indians who saw Kashmir as an integral part of India and felt it must be given equal, not special, treatment. The Kashmiris, however, saw it as a threat to change the demographics of the valley from Muslim-majority to non-Kashmiri and non-Muslim.BJP did not stop there. Knowing well that this decision will invoke a severe reaction from the people of Kashmir, the Modi government rushed 180,000 fresh troops to Kashmir. These troops were in addition to 700,000 troops already stationed there. Curfew was imposed and a complete blackout of all sorts of communication was enforced which continued after the lapse of 6 months and later continued under the pretext of Covid-19.
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Due to continuous curfew and communication blackouts in IIOJK, there have been reports of a severe shortage of food and medicines. The shortage of medicines, lack of communication, and restriction of movement has also been resulting in several preventable deaths. The entire Kashmiri leadership, including pro-India leaders, were arrested. Since August 5, some 4000 people that including minors have been taken into custody and are being kept in jails outside the state. The miseries of the Kashmiri people have further increased as the entire world is grappling with the pandemic of Covid-19 and Illegally Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir is no exception.
Peace and stability will remain a distant dream in South Asia without a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Therefore, the Kashmir issue should be resolved for peace and tranquility in the South Asian region. India and Pakistan have fought three wars on Kashmir and this creates a sense of insecurity between both states which led India and Pakistan to acquire nuclear weapons. The non-state actors also get benefit from the situation and create an atmosphere of disturbance and distrust between both states. Humanitarian suffering among the inhabitants is a separate debate that has cost thousands of lives and affected the lives of millions in the region. The conflict has wasted much of the economic resources of both states which can be utilized for poverty eradication, improvement of education and social well-being of individuals.
Pakistan is desirous of forging friendly relations with all countries including its neighbors adding that Pakistan wants resolution of all issues through dialogue and peace in the region will remain elusive without resolution of the Kashmir issue. On 2 April 2022, General Qamar Javed Bajwa stressed a sense of peace in the region while addressing at Islamabad Security Dialogue. He said on this occasion, “We feel it is time to bury the past and move forward” but without any compromise on the national interest of Pakistan. Constructive dialogue and progressive negotiations between India and Pakistan for the resolution of all outstanding issues will be welcoming initiatives. He also emphasized that all disputes with India, Kashmir included, should be settled with dialogue and diplomacy in order to keep the “flames of fire away from our region”.
The writer is an Islamabad-based analyst and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.