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Kashmir conflict is not just a border dispute

Rayhan Ahmed Topader:

A good area of Jammu & Kashmir was invaded by Pakistan in 1948 and is still controlled by it. Out of this illegally occupied area, Pakistan has gifted a part of it to China. Pakistan’s calls its occupied area of Kashmir as Azad Kashmir while India terms it Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. UNO intervened and asked Pakistan to withdraw all the invaders and forces from PoK and conduct Plebiscite as the first step which Pakistan has not done so far. In order to get control of full territory of Jammu and Kashmir including which is with India, Pakistan has been training and sending the groups of terrorists to create unrest, terrorise Kashmiri people, kill innocent people and instigate them against India. All this is funded through various means by Pakistan.

Till 1989 things were not so bad. However when Mufti Mohd. Sayeed was the home Minister of India, his daughter Rubaiya Sayeed was kidnapped by terrorists. She was released only after the release of 5 dreaded terrorists. This incident spurred terrorist activities and violence in the Kashmir valley and terrorists found the Indian Government, innocent people and families of the VIPs a soft target to make them bow down to their demands.Thousands of Non-Muslim families of Kashmiri people were tortured and were made to flee Kashmir. The night of January 19, 1990 is still a nightmare for these people. The exiled Kashmiris by their Muslim brethren are still in trauma and are living in make shift camps in Jammu, Delhi and other parts of the country for the last 27 years.

Kashmir, a mountainous valley that borders Pakistan and India, has been a center of conflict between the two nuclear-armed countries since the 1947 partition of British India.At the time of the partition, the British agreed to divide their former colony into two countries: Pakistan, with a Muslim majority, and India, with a Hindu majority. Both nations covet Kashmir, which is Muslim majority, and occupy portions of it with military forces.For decades, an uneasy stalemate has prevailed, broken by occasional military incursions, terrorist attacks and police crackdowns. But on Monday, the Indian government decided to permanently incorporate the territory it controls into the rest of India.The administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, a 70-year-old provision that had given autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes the Hindu-majority area of Jammu and the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.The government also introduced a bill to strip the region of statehood and divide it into two parts, both under direct control of the central government But Mr. Modi, a Hindu nationalist, had campaigned for re-election in part by stoking patriotic fervor against Muslim-led Pakistan. He promised the full integration of Kashmir, a cause which his party has championed for decades, and now he is delivering on that pledge. Pakistan condemned India’s moves. Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, called on President Trump to follow through on an offer he made two weeks ago to mediate the Kashmir dispute.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution which gives autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. India’s decision flared up new tensions in the region and led to protests in Jammu and Kashmir as well as in neighboring Pakistan.

These decisions did not come as a surprise, taking into account the discourse and practices of India’s ruling, Hindu nationalist, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). There is an increasing pressure on the Muslims in India and increasing communal riots targeting businesses, places of worship, schools and even the homes of Muslims in different states Rising levels of tensions between India and Pakistan is not just a demonstration of an inter-state escalation or a conflict but is a more profound tension which infiltrates the ordinary people, spreading a sense of hate.

There is a persistent decline in pluralism and tolerance of ethnic, religious and other minorities in South and Southeast Asia. The recent escalation in Jammu and Kashmir has significant geopolitical underpinnings, which has brought the issue of geopolitical competition of the world powers to the fore.

Most policymakers discussed and cautioned of the possibility of nuclear escalation between India and Pakistan, but no one really voiced concerns related to the rights of people in Jammu and Kashmir or criticized the violation of international laws. The recent tension in Jammu and Kashmir is at the same time, a demonstration of a broader problem in the entire region.

Geopolitical competition between China, the U.S. and India, and the emerging alliances affect the recent escalation in the region, and it seems that this competition will continue by further escalation of tensions in the coming years. Due to geopolitical arrangements and alliances, the world public seems to avoid increasing pressures on minorities.Macro-level tensions between leaders usually have a significant impact at the communal level. There is a rise of the “national security state” in the region, which undermines the pluralistic credentials and the rule of law. This may constitute a broader structural problem which may have a long-term impact.Security-oriented calculations and geopolitical competitions between world powers undermine the principles of pluralism that represents the seeds of stability at the grassroots levels in the region. Despite the tensions between the states and communal competitions and conflicts, the pluralistic communities in the region have managed to survive for a long period of time.Those tensions were both the cause and consequence of electoral and economic rivalries, but the rule of law and the more pluralistic vision of the bureaucrats helped to manage those frictions. We are experiencing a rapid decline in pluralistic visions and practices in the region and the rise of authoritarian populism, which no more respects the rule of law. Authoritarian populist leaders and parties in the area target minorities as soft targets, but their main struggle is against the notion of pluralism.

While the Indian subcontinent seems to be the focal zone for the decline of pluralism, the overall trend is not peculiar to the subcontinent. Hindu nationalists in India; the secularist elite in Bangladesh; Buddhist political actors in Sri Lanka and Myanmar and the military establishment in Pakistan force their versions of political mainstream which limits the social and political space for minority identities and minority views. Myanmar experienced a genocide where Rohingya Muslims were the victims. China’s treatment of Uighurs and the recent tension in Hong Kong raises a concern about China.

Despite the economic progress and increased political and cultural engagement with the rest of the world, the Chinese establishment seems to be less tolerant of religious minorities.In Sri Lanka, after the April 2019 terror attacks increased tensions there is increasing pressure on the Muslim minority and the other ethnic and religious groups.

The recent crisis which started with India’s decision of the direct rule in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is a symptom of a broader issue. India decided to block the right of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise its laws.

Indian Muslims who are under the pressure of Hindu nationalists will also be affected by the pressure. Indian officials and intellectuals are often proud of the statement “India is the largest democracy in the world,” a idea that can hardly be maintained if the pluralist foundations of Indian democracy crumble.

A law professor at the University of Portsmouth in Britain and the author of a book on executive power in India.The question is one of jurisdiction: Does the government of India have the power to do this? Pakistan, for its part, said it will “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by India.Mr. Modi’s moves to integrate Kashmir into India are likely to be popular in much of the country. But there is widespread panic in Kashmir, where there have been decades of protests against Indian rule. For the last 60 years, since independence in 1947, the issue of Kashmir has been the bone of contention in the Indo-Pak relations. Both India and Pakistan lay their claims that Kashmir which includes the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir part, Jammu, Leh and Laddakh and Kashmir valley are their territory. In the name of religion terrorists in Kashmir have been spreading hatred, violence and are killing innocent people in Kashmir to get it separated from India. Quite recently evidences that separatist and terrorist leaders are being funded by Pakistan have been unearthed. India despite maintaining restraint to a great extent now needs to resolve this issue once for all to end the crisis.India, despite lot of restraint and facing the treacherous Kargil war is still contemplating how to end the crisis now. The present Home Minister of India Mr. Raj Nath Singh proposes to find the permanent solution to Kashmir problem but does not reveal how it is proposed to be ended.

While the war could be the one way but its efficacy to become the permanent solution may be doubtful. Besides, loss of lives, property, and the prime concern of building the progress path of Kashmir would get severe setback.Getting stuck to the path of dialogue and discussions to end Kashmir crisis has also not yielded any fruitful result and terrorists from different quarters find it easy also to make quick money out of their activities. They are offered money with the prime objective to create terror and fear in Kashmir so that Kashmiris do not march on the path of progress.

Writer and Columnist