Thomas Hobbes very famously characterizes the state of nature as the persistent condition of war for all against all. He defines it as a struggle and competition in which every individual can claim his natural right to everything beyond anyone’s interest. By contrast, Locke characterizes the state of nature as the mere absence of government and takes a different route than Hobbes. Locke presents that all the rights exceeding life, liberty, and property are natural and thus so, forgo the establishment of civil society. Nevertheless,the case of Kashmir, its right to self-determination and the pursuing lawlessness have not been of as much effectiveness as of the American and French Revolutions. If not by any political resistance, the granting of basic rights as enshrined in the UN charter is still far from the reach of the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
As of 2022, it marks almost 73 years of the United Nations Resolution which was adopted at the meeting of the UN Commission for India and Pakistan in 1949. It was explicitly decided in the meeting that the question of accession as per the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan would come into place through a democratic method by the conduct of a free and impartial plebiscite. Yet another year has passed by but no justice has been served. Another year has gone by but we still stand in solidarity with the people of Kashmir and against the brutalities launched at them. Hence, every year brings forth fear for the people of Kashmir, where they are made victim to India’s process of peace delaying and target to their continued atrocities and violence.
All of this monstrosity began after the colonial British left India
Approximately 565 prince states that had preserved some political independence via treaties with the British were offered freedom of choice for either joining India, Pakistan, or staying independent. Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, was still indecisive; Muslim League officials were seeking to entice him to Pakistan, while his Hindu inclinations seemed to lean him towards India. The Kashmiri Muslims did not wait and thus, carried out their indigenous struggle for freedom. Paranoid for his survival, Hari Singh hastily submitted to Indian pressure of accession in exchange for military protection.
However, under the provisions of the accord, Kashmir was to be granted a referendum to establish the people’s decision on the issue. Despite openly declaring his support for the referendum, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ultimately reversed his word. The Indian army defiantly repelled the tribal mujahideen but it only succeeded to the point which today divided Kashmir; the current Line of Control (LoC). Since then, Pakistan and India have been playing on a deadly chessboard with Kashmir being a pawn in it.
Henceforth, the story of the Kashmiri struggle against the Indian atrocities and the broken promises made by the leaders did not bear out of a vacuum. It existed long before and has resulted in making Kashmiri people subjugated to Indian violation of their natural rights. After deliberately surpassing all records in violating human rights in IIOJK, India has, by all means, converting a beautiful valley into a battlefield by using its force and finances beyond its limit.
According to the stats provided by Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis (Delhi), India spends around 3 Billion US dollars annually on Kashmir which is 6% of its defense budget. India is still investing in war rhetoric despite being a country with a large population living below the poverty line, shortage of food, clean water, poor access to education, the inadequacy of housing and toilets with no access to basic health facilities. However, the stated fact is that it is not just costing India a part of its budget but also costing the Kashmiris their peace of mind.
As Arundhati Roy satirically puts it,
“India needs Azadi from Kashmir just as much – if not more – than Kashmir needs Azadi from India”
Subsequently, through an academic lens, the notion of liberal democracy does not coincide with the current scenario created by these so-called democratic Indian government in Kashmir and eventually, the role of western liberal democracies has not proven effective either for Kashmiris. The central government has by far made repeated promises concerning the zero-tolerance policy for all the violations caused by Indian leaders but that too has become a hoax in Kashmir. What therefore will ensure democracy, is the right to self-determination and is based on three innate human requirements; competence, relatedness, and autonomy.
Never-ending Atrocities in Kashmir
In the case of Kashmir, all three are missing which contributes more to their continued struggle against never-ending psychological and behavioral fear. Entities like United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed their serious concerns over the large number of killings carried out by the Indian security forces but it did not halt the Indians from using the force. Instead, India is seemingly creating Nagaland, another Kashmir by implementing the same draconian laws like that of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act).
AFSPA grants armed forces the authority to maintain public order in a disturbed area and allows the army to use force or open fire at the people who are deemed to be breaking the law. In a recent such case, Nagaland witnessed the monstrosity of the Indian Army that cost the lives of 12 civilians, distortion of around 80 shops followed by burning downof48 houses. All of these happenings were by far justified under the law of ASFPA which granted them full immunity from prosecution.
The continued dispute over Kashmir is by no means the most intractable international conflict or a bilateral conflict (as India likes labeling it). It also represents itself as a paramount hurdle between bringing peace in nuclear South Asia. Despite many efforts, both domestically and internationally – the issue remains perplexing. The reason being to that is the lack of dynamism from both the parties and the ego surfacing it. However, the issue of Kashmir by now has become not just against a ‘piece of land but more of serving interests of the state. Nevertheless, no solution for Kashmir can be drawn if the Indian government wishes to occupy (by force) all of Kashmir, side-lining Pakistan.
Thus, in my humble opinion, the most effective way to draft a solution is to follow down a regional approach as proposed by the Owen-Dixon plan. That is, assign Ladakh to India, the Northern Areas and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) to Pakistan and split Jammu between the two followed by plebiscite in the Kashmir valley. There is a need to devise an all-encompassing strategy that is comprehensive, inclusive, well-articulated, and has the competency to get to the execution part without being withheld by different party’s interests.
If not so, the party’s involved can also glance an eye on Musharraf’s four-point formula where he explicitly stated the demilitarization,self-governance, a joint supervision mechanism and withholding the demarcation of borders. Howsoever, by doing so, the three important stakeholders including India, Pakistan, and the people of Jammu and Kashmir shall be taken in full confidence and shall be given the right to decide for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. This will certainly spark a hope that the Kashmiris’ dream of the right to self-determination can be somehow achieved.
The author is an Asst. Research Officer at the Institute of Regional studies. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy