Silence over the Kashmir dispute won’t do
Earlier this week in a rushed move, India’s ruling rightwing nationalist, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), unilaterally issued a presidential order to rescind the special constitutional status of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and downgraded it to a union territory. In addition, Ladakh has also been made part of the union territory, in its bid to effectively strip the historical identity of the people of Kashmir.
The 'Hindu hardliner' BJP’s intention to revoke Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was included in its election manifesto. The initial plan was famously referred to as ‘Mission 44’ in 2014, but after Modi’s government won its second-term in office earlier this year on the back of anti-Muslim rallying, it cemented the message of Hindu nationalism, and made it clear that the Hindutva ideology resonates with today’s India.
It is no secret that the main intention behind this Indian move is to suppress the Kashmir dispute in the international arena, by changing demographics within the Kashmir valley, along the lines of what Israel has done in the West Bank.
By revoking Kashmir’s special status, Modi has sent a clear message to the world that he isn’t afraid of thwarting the fragile regional status-quo and putting the lives of the sub-continent’s 1.5 billion people at stake. The move is also seen as Modi’s ambitious desire to project India as a major power on the globe. The repercussions of this decision will be felt not only by India but also the whole region in the months and years to come, as the entire balance of the region hangs by a thread.
The Arab and GCC countries can play an important role. Their diplomatic support to Kashmiris against India’s move to destabilize the fragile peace of South Asia could ring alarm bells in New Delhi.
Kashmir is not only a disputed territory but also the most militarized zone in the world. Pakistan being a party to this international dispute has provided complete diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir, and has raised its voice in the international arena against Indian atrocities since 1947. The country has even fought multiple wars with India over Kashmir, and has kept the issue of Kashmir alive after seven decades despite internal troubles and limited resources.
In these precarious times when the fragile strategic equilibrium of the region hangs by a thread, Pakistan has been reaching out to friendly countries especially the Muslim and Arab world for support. The Arab world including OIC’s 57 countries with more than 1.9 billion population can send a strong diplomatic message to India and the world, if we stand united and express solidarity with the people of Kashmir.
The Arab and GCC countries can play an important role. Their diplomatic support to Kashmiris against India’s move to destabilize the fragile peace of South Asia could ring alarm bells in New Delhi. India has important trading partners in the Arab world, and a large number of the Indian diaspora resides in the Middle East . Hence, the role by the Arab world against the unjust Indian move could help Kashmiri Muslims.
Following these events, one important development, was the session of the OIC that took place in Jeddah. The OIC issued a statement in which the organization expressed solidarity with the people of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and said the General Secretariat was “saddened to learn about the civilian casualties resulting from the ceasefire violations carried out by Indian forces across the Line of Control.’
Apart from the OIC, two of the most important international responses have been issued by China and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where they have termed the Indian move as “unacceptable.”
In July 2019, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a 43 page report that held India responsible for human rights violations in Kashmir and called for the formation of a commission of inquiry to ascertain the persecution of Kashmiris. Even though the UN has formally expressed its concern, it needs to do more and implement its mission of maintaining international peace and security.
It seems India has learnt nothing from the past, and believes it can 'suppress' the will of the Kashmiri people by brutal force and naked 'aggression'. It may have clamped down all communication lines, imposed a curfew, placed additional troops, and is now rounding up hundreds of protesters but, it cannot subdue the spirit and resilience of the people of Kashmir. One thing has emerged clear: the facade of a secular and democratic India has now officially ended.