On the World Human Rights Day, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet made an appeal to the world’s conscience and the upholders of the international law and to the UN Security Council to act against the illegal annexation of Indian Occupied Jummu and Kashmir. In yet another tweet he condemned the siege of IOK for the last four months and demanded an end to the gross abuse of human rights and atrocities being inflicted on Kashmiri men, women and children by the Indian occupation forces in violation of all international humanitarian and human rights laws. He saluted the brave Kashmiris fighting for their right of self-determination and vowed to stand behind them resolutely.
In his address to the UN General Assembly–which was the best ever exposition of the cause of the people of Kashmir and the implications of the Indian action for peace and security in the region—he also tried to stir the conscience of the world community and sought their intervention in stopping the impending humanitarian crisis. Nobody in his right mind can take an exception to the narrative that the Prime Minister has been trying to expound and persists with. But the dilemma is that in the permeating global environment, conscience plays no role in addressing humanitarian issues and conflicts which continue to consume thousands of human lives. Those who really matter in regards to the settlement of the conflicts and observance of human rights look at these things through the prism of their strategic and commercial interests and consequently there is a selective application of the international law and the internationally recognized human rights. Had it not been so, Palestine and Kashmir issues would have already been resolved.
In the aftermath of the Prime Minister’s address to the UN General Assembly, we have seen muffled concerns expressed by different countries and world bodies on the situation in Kashmir demanding ending of the lockdown but nobody has addressed the real issue of self-determination and taken concrete steps towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute in consonance with the UN resolutions. The world community is not only showing criminal indifference to the humanitarian crisis in IOK and the illegal Indian action to annex the territory but is also looking the other way on the anti-Muslim actions of the Modi regime within India. First it deprived 1.9 million Bengali Muslims who were residing in Assam for decades before partition and now through the new citizenship bill which denies Muslims the right of citizenship. The bill which has racist and xenophobic connotation has already triggered protests in several states of India.
Indian move to annex IOK, continued lockdown and echoes of claims on Azad Kashmir have created a radically new and dangerous situation. I am sure this heinous action by India could not have been taken without secret nod of the powers which are in strategic partnership with her. The Indian leadership made a conscious decision knowing well that in the obtaining global environment they could easily get away with their inhuman actions and the defiance of the UN resolutions. Regrettably even the UN is not in a position to play any positive role without the support of the pro-Indian powers enjoying veto power. That is a stark reality.
There seems no possibility of India retracting from the aggressive course that it has adopted by pummeling the international law and the internationally recognized human rights unless something dramatic happens on the global level forcing the big powers to change their stance and support the righteous cause of self-determination rising above their strategic and commercial interests. That seems a remote possibility.
Pakistan and India are nuclear powers, as such no military solution to the Kashmir dispute is possible. Pakistan cannot go beyond extending moral, political and diplomatic support to the cause of Kashmiris. In fact it cannot afford to get militarily involved in the Indian held Kashmir unless the situation deteriorates and there is bloodshed and people start fleeing the Valley which puts Pakistan’s restraint under unbearable stress. In such a situation Pakistan may be unable to avoid extending material assistance to the freedom struggle of the people of Kashmir. Pakistan surely does not want that and it was the reason that the Prime Minister warned the protestors from crossing over to the Indian side.
In the current situation even the Pakistani nuclear deterrent cannot stop India from the massacre of the Kashmiri people. It comes into play only in a situation when god-forbid Pakistan is directly attacked and its territorial integrity is threatened. However no rational mind would tend to believe that India would go for the option of mutual destruction through nuclear war which could also have disastrous consequences beyond our region and the world at large. I think those powers which are presently condoning inhuman actions of Modi regime in the Indian held Kashmir are also fully aware of the consequences of such an eventuality and would be more than inclined not to allow the things to come to such a pass.
What it all means is that for the people of Kashmir it is going to be a long drawn out struggle and it is only them, the international community and the UN, if they ever feel their obligation towards them as per the UN resolution that the Kashmir dispute could be resolved. Much will actually depend on whether the people of Kashmir can continue their freedom struggle with the same ferocity and determination under the changed circumstances are not. Pakistan for which Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of the partition will and must continue to persist with its moral, political and diplomatic support to the freedom struggle in IOK as long as it does not succeed.
Malik Muhammad Ashraf
The writer is a freelance columnist.