For one, the initial trigger is the same-while it was Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wanis death in an encounter which initially sparked off the 2016 summer unrest, it is the killing of thirteen militants in multiple gunfights with security forces on last Sunday that ignited the current protests. Next, in both cases the situation worsened subsequently when security forces used force against mobs causing fatal casualties and major injuries amongst protesters. A tragic cycle of activities ensued – casualties led to further protests and crowd violence during protests resulted in security forces again using force which led to more casualties.
Lastly, though its the Hurriyat that called for protests in both cases but the separatist leadership soon lost control over protesters. In 2016, the separatist leadership was unable to restrain protesters from indulging in violence and Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelanis own admission that We cannot say we are in absolute control of the situation proves this fact.
Though it is too early to say that such a situation will also arise this time but one doesnt have to be a Nostradamus to predict that things wont be any different from those in 2016. And even though the peaceful protest announced by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) after Friday prayers on April 6 has yet to commence as I write, I can say with utmost certainty that today evenings protest will be anything but peaceful!
Before taking to the streets and indulging in acts of violence and arson, I would humbly request my dear brothers to put their emotions aside for a moment and think rationally. I can well understand your anger and anguish but we must realise the adverse consequences that our actions taken in the heat of the moment will have on the Kashmir struggle. During the nearly six month long summer unrest of 2016, more than a hundred young Kashmiris were killed and a similar number blinded while thousands were left seriously injured. And even though Geelani sahib had then assured us that Never before have been so close to freedom with such clarity as now, nothing has changed on ground even today. Thus, before we decide to get into yet another prolonged uprising once again, we must first weigh the cost that we are paying and the benefits which the unrest will yield.
Introspection on the 2016 unrest can provide us many valuable lessons provided we rely on logic rather than emotions. Thus, we must first address some uncomfortable yet unavoidable issues. Is it not a fact that despite the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raising serious concerns on Indian atrocities inKashmir at the UN and with Washington alongwith Islamabad providing dossiers which it claimed contained irrefutable evidence of the same, no nation has specifically admonished New Delhi on this issue? And instead of castigating New Delhi for its unprovoked atrocities in Kashmir, an official UN statement simply said that the Secretary General (Ban Ki-moon) Calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid further violence and hopes that all concerns would be addressed through peaceful means. Thus, instead of censuring India, the UN has found both New Delhi and the Hurriyat equally blameworthy for the violence inKashmir!
Even the response of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the 2016 unrest is disappointing as all OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani did was to express sorrow over the killings, deplore use of force by Indian security forces and extend condolences to the families of victims. It could be argued that the OIC did call for a through and expedient investigation of Indian excesses in Kashmir by its Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHC). However, there is nothing reassuring about this because when New Delhi denied the inquiry commission entry into Kashmir, the OIC didnt even consider it necessary to collectively apply diplomatic pressure on India for allowing it to carry out a through and expedient investigation!
Thus its time to break the stereotype by shedding escapist tendencies like sweeping this vital issue under the carpet by ascribing it to some grand conspiracy. Instead we need to find realistic reasons for the international communitys apathy towards the Kashmir issue. If protests, stone pelting and the armed struggle are actually helping the Kashmir cause then lets do these 24 X 7. However, if these activities are not taking us anywhere nearer to our goal of self determination and instead alienating us from the international community then we must put an end to the same. Venting anger or seeking retribution through acts of violence may temporarily gratify individual angst but in the long run it does have an adverse and irreparable impact on the moral standing of a mass movement.
It is not that our leaders arent aware of this reality- its just that for unknown reasons they dont want to upset the status quo by re-evaluating the efficacy of their quarter-century old shutdown strategy even though the same has caused immense suffering without giving us any positive results. And since the old guard refuses to abandon its unfruitful stance, the only ray of hope comes from the present generation. However, this is only possible if our youth intelligently applies its mind and gives the self determination strategy a through makeover which compels the international community to take note of the Kashmir issue.
Unfortunately this is exactly what has happened to the self determination movement in Kashmir and though arguments like crowds resorting to violence because of oppression and youth picking up guns on being pushed against the wall may give us a feel good effect, it doesnt convince the international community. It is not that our leaders arent aware of this reality- its just that for unknown reasons they dont want to upset the status quo by re-evaluating the efficacy of their quarter-century old shutdown strategy even though the same has caused immense suffering without giving us any positive results. And since the old guard refuses to abandon its unfruitful stance, the only ray of hope comes from the present generation. However, this is only possible if our youth intelligently applies its mind and gives the self determination strategy a through makeover which compels the international community to take note of the Kashmir issue.
Tailpiece: A food for thought- no country in the world has endorsed the accusation of Islamabad and the Hurriyat that New Delhi is resorting to state sponsored terrorism in Kashmir and nor has any nation accepted the armed struggle in Kashmir as something legitimate. On the other hand US President Donald Trump has acknowledged that India is a victim of terror and the most embarrassing part of this for Pakistan, OIC and those supporting the armed struggle is that President Trump chose to make this declaration at the Arab-Islamic- US summit.
Even after a quarter century, the armed struggle and shutdown strategy havent got us anywhere nearer to our goal of self determination. So isnt it time that we gave these offensive strategies a rest and instead focused on resolving the Kashmir issue peacefully in accordance with the UN resolutions?
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