Kashmir : India’s Afghanistan


By Munir Akram

(The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.)

WHEN the history of modern India is written, it is likely
to record that the imperial ambitions of Hindu India died in Kashmir.
Afghanistan is justifiably known as the ‘graveyard of empires’. After 19 years,
the US is still fighting its longest war there.

India’s war in occupied Jammu & Kashmir is over 70
years long. It has been fought by an occupation force of 700,000, seven times
the maximum number of troops deployed at any time by the Soviet Union or
US-Nato in Afghanistan. The Kashmir war will end only when New Delhi realises
that it cannot break the will of the Kashmiri people and that it is doing
grievous damage to the Indian state.

This future is visible now.

First, the illegality of India’s occupation of Kashmir is
being widely acknowledged.

The Security Council and the UN secretary general have
again reaffirmed the UN resolutions requiring a plebiscite in Kashmir. India’s
position violates these resolutions.

The Kashmiri Muslims will vigorously oppose being
transformed into a minority in their homeland.

Article 370 of the Indian constitution was supposed to
encapsulate the terms under which the Maharaja of Kashmir was supposed to have
acceded to India. By removing this article, India has eliminated the only legal
argument it had itself advanced to justify its claim to Jammu & Kashmir. By
its own legal yardstick, therefore, there now is naked occupation.

Second, the Modi government has closed all doors to a
peaceful and negotiated resolution of the dispute. It has rejected a bilateral
dialogue with Pakistan as well as third-party mediation. Following its Aug 5
unilateral actions, India says there is nothing to negotiate with Pakistan
except the “return” of “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” to India.

Nor does the Indian government contemplate a negotiated
relationship with the Kashmiris. They will be now ruled directly by Delhi’s
proconsuls. India has clearly opted for a military solution. The Kashmiri
Muslims face an existential threat. They will vigorously oppose being
transformed into a minority in their homeland by Hindu colonists. They have no
choice but to intensify their freedom struggle.

The BJP’s fascist plan to impose a ‘final solution’ by
changing Kashmir’s demographic composition will result in serious violations of
human rights and humanitarian laws and could lead to a genocide in occupied

Responsibility for mass murder and genocide by ‘Hitler’s
Hindus’ will turn India into an international pariah, tear apart its social
fabric, and erode its ability to cling on to Kashmir.

Third, India’s arrogance and hostility, the Hindutva
racism and the visible suffering being imposed on the Kashmiri people have
transformed Pakistan from a fearful friend into a bold ally of the Kashmiri
freedom struggle.

Kashmir has been again proclaimed as a core issue for
Pakistan. The BJP’s actions have radically diminished the hope within Pakistan
that relations with India can be normalised and the Jammu & Kashmir dispute
resolved through negotiations.

India’ latest clampdown and anticipated crackdown of the
Kashmiri uprising will create considerable domestic pressure on the Pakistani
government to actively support the Kashmiri freedom struggle. Such assistance
would be entirely legitimate.

The principle of a plebiscite prescribed in Security
Council resolution 47 (1948) and subsequent resolutions reflects the legal
recognition of the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu &
Kashmir. The UN General Assembly, in Resolution 2649 (1970), and several
subsequent resolutions, has repeatedly affirmed the legitimacy of the struggle
of peoples under colonial and alien domination, “recognised as being entitled
to the right of self-determination”, to “restore to themselves that right by
any means at their disposal, including armed struggle”. These resolutions,
furthermore, also recognise the right of such peoples “to seek and receive all
kinds of moral and material assistance” in the “legitimate exercise of their
right to self-determination”.

Whether Pakistan does or does not assist the Kashmiri
freedom struggle, India is likely to accuse Pakistan of ‘cross-border
terrorism’ and threaten the use of force and even resort to aerial strikes on
and/or military incursions.

The world is fully aware that a Pakistan-India conflict
could turn into a disastrous war with an inherent nuclear dimension. To avoid
this, the members of the Security Council, other states and international
institutions, are likely to resort to preventive measures. The major powers and
the UN will make efforts to convince India to reverse its course and engage in
a credible peace process with Pakistan and the Kashmiri people. But Modi is
drunk with power. He and his RSS coterie (Amit Shah, Ajit Doval et al), are
convinced that oppression of the Kashmiris and aggression towards Pakistan is a
winning strategy within India. They will probably spurn the calls for restraint
and dialogue. The temptation for the international community then may be to
take the “easier” route of coercing Pakistan to refrain from assisting the
Kashmiri freedom struggle and accept India’s imposed “realities” in occupied
Jammu & Kashmir.

However, unlike preceding governments, the present
Pakistani leadership will not succumb to such coercion. There is a growing sense
in Islamabad that the BJP’s heavy-handed strategy is likely to backfire,
sparking a major indigenous Kashmiri insurgency which will be difficult to
defeat. If India resorts to the threat or use of force, there is renewed
confidence in Pakistan that it can neutralise New Delhi, if necessary, by
recourse to credible nuclear deterrence.

India’s prolonged occupation of Kashmir is likely to turn
into an Afghan-like quagmire. It will corrode morale in India’s armed forces,
divide its polity and erode its economy. Like the colonial powers of the past,
India will ultimately lose the debilitating war against a determined popular

It may take another 10 or even 20 years. But the heroic
people of Kashmir, much like the famed Hindu Kush, will eventually bury the
imperial dreams of Hindu India.

The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.

‘Courtesy Dawn News’

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