The Fault is Not in Our Stars!

WE are probably the most unlucky people in the world because even though it may ap-pear to others that we have everything, we actually have nothing. One may say that we have UN resolutions which allow us the ‘right to self determination’ and though this is true, but it is also equally true that despite these UN resolutions, one part of our land is being ‘administered’ by India and the other by Pakistan. You may say that we have a friendly neighbour who considers us to be his ‘jugular vein’ and declares unconditional support in getting us our rights and ensuring that the ‘K’ issue is resolved as per our aspirations. However, the reality is that despite all his rhetoric, when it comes to deciding what needs to be discussed with New Delhi, our friendly neighbour conveniently forgets to put the Kashmir issue on the agenda! 

The problem is that Kashmir is a bundle of contradictions. We have leaders who on the one hand keep complaining that the international community is abdicating its moral re-sponsibility by not taking notice of Human Right violations being committed here, but on the other hand idolise the likes of Osama bin Laden. They holding funeral prayers in ab-sentia for him and proudly declare him a “martyr.” Our leaders keep criticising the interna-tional community for turning a blind eye to the “illegal occupation” of Kashmir by India but conveniently forget to mention that Pakistan too is guilty of the same crime! They claim that the movement for the ‘right to self determination’ in Kashmir is purely peaceful in na-ture and accuse New Delhi of trying to crush the same by brute force. Yet, all leaders eu-logise militants fighting in Kashmir and a leading leader heading the ‘right to self determi-nation’ struggle has openly declared that “We never denied or ignored the role of gun in struggle.” 

After the two Prime Ministers met recently at Ufa, the joint statement issued failed to men-tion that the Kashmir issue would be taken up for discussion when Indo-Pak dialogue resumes. Considering that Islamabad had gone on record to say as late as in January this year that there would be no future talks with India unless Kashmir was on the agenda, this monumental omission was akin to a slap on the face of Kashmiris, if not backstabbing them. Though the separatists did express their disappointment at Kashmir not finding mention in the joint declaration, but baring one principled leader, none of the others showed any signs of self respect or concern for the dignity of brother Kashmiris by boycotting the Eid Milan function organised at the Pakistan High Commission! On the contrary, the mild choice of words used to express their disappointment and the way they these leaders scurried to attend this function gave an impression that they did so as they were afraid that a harsh condemnation and their absence could invite the ire of Islamabad! 

We also have ‘freedom fighters’ who claim to be waging an ‘armed struggle’ and putting their lives at stake just for our sake. Yet, they have no qualms about killing, maiming and injuring innocent civilians during grenade attacks on security force personnel in crowded places. They also accuse Indian secret agencies of trying to malign the ‘freedom struggle’ by killing innocents and blaming it on the ‘freedom fighters’. However, they themselves go about killing Kashmiris and don’t even spare preachers who don’t agree with their point of view! And though our ‘freedom fighters’ say they are acting independently and are in no way serving as proxies of Pakistan army, their own supreme commander has himself admitted that Kashmiri militants are “fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir.”

Therefore, even though we may keep complaining about being unfortunate, it would be unfair to blame ‘Lady Luck’ for our miseries as she has been fair to us. Shakespeare’s words, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings,” aptly describes our situation. Whether we like it or not, the harsh fact is that placing unconditional faith on Pakistan’s ability to garner world opinion and compel India to honour UN resolutions on Kashmir was a bad idea as it actually made us underlings! And by trying to ‘resolve’ the Kashmir issue militarily in 1965, Pakistan lost its moral standing as a non-partisan proponent for the implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir. Whatever little credibility that may have been left was lost due to the 1999 Kargil intrusions as Pakistan’s repeated attempts to annex Kashmir have reduced the ‘K’ issue into a petty territorial dispute in the eyes of the international community. This is why the international community wants the Kashmir issue to be resolved bilaterally between the two countries without any third country intervention. 

Our leaders have put in their hearts and souls in fighting for the implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir and as such are fully aware of its technicalities. Therefore, knowing very well that the UN resolutions in Kashmir are applicable to the entire State of J&K and cannot be implemented unless Pakistan withdraws its army from Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK), their calls for its selective application in Indian administered Kashmir (IaK ) go unheeded as the international community rightly considers this demand to be illogical. What is more worrisome is that this selectivity shown by our leaders raises suspicion that there is some secret alignment between the separatists and Islamabad. Rushing to attend functions at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi even after Islamabad shows complete insensitivity towards the people of Kashmir only reinforces this suspicion! Therefore, if our leaders want their demands to be taken more seriously by the international community, then they have to learn to stand on their own feet and address the Kashmir holistically and impartially. 

As for the ‘armed struggle’, suffice it to say that in today’s world any movement, no matter how righteous it may be, loses all its sanctity and moral justification the moment the ele-ment of violence enters it. Moreover, with the line between the two having blurred, militancy and terrorism are no longer distinguishable and no nation would like to associate itself with any movement that espouses violence. I’m sure that the Kashmiri militant leadership is fully aware that though militancy in Kashmir may be benefitting the Pakistan army, it is doing more harm than good to the movement for the ‘right to self determination’! Here, it may also be pertinent to note that the world accepts that militancy has been thrust upon the indigenous Muslim Uyghur population of China’s Xinjiang province due to imposition of strict curbs on their mandatory religious practices as well as the unspeakable atrocities committed on them by the Chinese authorities. Yet, while the whole world (with the exception of Pakistan) condemns Beijing’s highhandedness in Xinjiang, no nation has come out in support of the Uyghur militant movement. 

It may be late but there is still time to make amends. If our leaders want the UN resolutions on Kashmir implemented, then both the people of IaK and Pak will have to put up a united front and Hurriyat (G) chairman SAS Geelani has taken a positive step in this regards. Speaking at a seminar on ‘Jammu Kashmir- a Single Geographical Entity’, Geelani sahib has made a very incisive observation that “Gilgit-Baltistan belongs to Jammu and Kashmir and unless Kashmir dispute is resolved as per the United Nations resolutions it cannot merge with Pakistan.” Now that the venerable patriarch has set the ball rolling, it is the turn for the leaders in PaK to show solidarity and the people of Kashmir living on both sides of the LoC must not forget the old adage that, ‘United we stand, divided we fall!”

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