An unfinished agenda of partition, people in Kashmir has been striving tirelessly for their political rights as promised by both nations – India and Pakistan. This struggle has taken a huge toll on the Valley in form of killing, human rights violations and decades’ old political uncertainty, but despite passing of seven decades the struggle continues   

 Rao Farman Ali

The states of Pakistan and India which came into existence on 14th and 15th August 1947 respectively have been fighting an endless confrontation on their rights to claim to the territory of Jammu and Kashmir State till date. The State of Jammu and Kashmir  as an aftermath  of  the independence of the sub-continent  had  the same year reached a stage of emerging  as a free State after  a  protracted struggle  for freedom  against  the autocratic  rule  of Maharaja. Granting the State hardly any time to breathe, the two countries raided and counter-raided to annex it to their domains. War broke out resulting in the first colossal human loss and age-long State of Jammu and Kashmir falling apart into two parts, one falling to Pakistan and another to India. Because  of this  partition  families got divided, relations broke and permanent  residents  and aborigines  became roofless refugees overnight  and continue  to  be so  for all  these seventy  years. How pitiable  a situation that a  large number  of people  on both  sides  carried  their finer sentiments  of meeting or seeing their  nearest  ones to  their graves  with no fulfillment. The  two countries  had  no regard  to the fact  that Kashmiris (people from all regions and religions of the erstwhile  Jammu and Kashmir State) had also,  like the  people  of the  sub-continent made sacrifices to win  their freedom. The two countries got freedom and the State got slavery in return.                                                                                                                           After the first war on Kashmir in the 1947 (months of October-December), the two countries kept on wrangling the Kashmir Issue to stake their claims   at the national  and international forums. One country  saying that J&K’s future was an “unfinished agenda” and the  other  country  claiming to have annexed the state with a condition  to refer the decision  to the people of Jammu and Kashmir State as soon as a “peace is established.” The Issue was taken to the United Nations Organisation (UNO). This Organisation representing the entire world body of independent countries acknowledging the right to self-determination of the citizens of the State, passed eighteen resolutions to this  effect. Committees and Commissions were framed  and the two  Countries  having committed  to implement  the resolutions  have till date  not  stood up to their  commitments . Nor has the UNO ever shown any seriousness to get her resolutions implemented. There is still UNMOGIP present in the State but spineless and purposeless.

With failure  of the two contending  countries to get  the State  of Jammu and Kashmir entirely  to their  domains through peaceful means  and negotiations, they resorted to warfare many a times. In fact, Kashmir conflict has pushed India and Pakistan to three conventional wars and a fourth high-altitude limited war at Kargil in 1999. All these  wars, except  bringing  heavy human,  material  and emotional  loss, proved fruitless  in terms  of  solving  Kashmir  Problem. On the  other  side, Kashmiris who  have ever been at  the receiving  end  and have suffered  untold  miseries  as a  result of the political  gimmicks and  warfare  conditions, right  from  the beginning  raised  their voices  against  atrocities  meted  out  to them from time to time. Side by side  with  their milder and peaceful ways  of expressing  their anger  and resentment, they  took to armed  resistance  against  the system  of slavery they felt  themselves  in and which  seemed  not  changing  by peaceful  means. It was done four times. In 1948 it took place in the shape of Home Front, in 1965 in the shape of National Liberation Front, in 1968 in the shape of  Al-Fatah and in 1988 the re-emergence  of another  armed revolt of a higher profile  magnitude than that of the past initially actuated by JKLF which was the result of  Maqbool Bhat’s hanging on 11th February 1984. This armed revolt changed its dimensions. During  the intermittent periods of peace between  wars  and armed revolts, India and Pakistan  several  times  decided  to come  to the negotiating  table  to have  bilateral  talks  on the Issue of Kashmir. They also tried to talk to each other at the instance and mediation of other countries and they even tried indirect  dialogue to be initiated but all these efforts proved abortive. They do realise, when they think  rationally  and reasonably, that  war and  repressive  measures  are no solution to the  problem, they also realise  that  amicable  solution  to the  problem shall be  of great  use  to the entire  population of the sub-continent  together with hapless  Kashmiri sufferers. But, it  is greed, egotism, a fiendish desire  to take  greater political mileage, insincerity, lack of resolution and lack  of love  for the  total welfare and development  of the region—elements that visit  their minds again  and again and hinder the efforts at solving  the  issue. Thus the problem stands as it was and rather, it is day by day becoming more and more complicated.

The 1988 armed  uprising  that  started  in Kashmir is going on till date. This uprising gets maximum public support as of now. This period of 30 years of upheaval has shaken Kashmir to convulsive shudders. Armed militants, soldiers, innocent civilians, men, women and children, political activists, young and old have died or have been killed with great impunity. Orphans and widows have increased manifold, women have  been molested, massacres have taken place,  fake encounters have been stage-managed, prisons have been filled to their full capacity, cordon and search operations (CASOs)  have been conducted, human rights violations of the worst kind  have  taken place, draconian laws and acts  have been clamped, life imprisonments have been awarded to scores, a few have been sent to gallows, third degree treatment  has been  given to prisoners, custodial killings  have taken place, forced  disappearances  of  political and armed activists have taken place, political space for resistance groups has been narrowed, forests  and historical  and  cultural  heritage sights have been  vandalised, some  schools and colleges  have been  burnt  and set ablaze, residential houses,  hotels, market places, bridges and road communication links  have been  raised  to the ground. The   cross-LoC violations leading to killings of civilians and soldiers on and across the Line of Control and this  menace has led to precariously poised relationship between the two countries nearly on the brink of war, despite the fact that on 26th  November 2003, taking a significant step to end one of the world’s most dangerous conflicts, nuclear-armed rivals India and  Pakistan agreed to a cease-fire,  aimed at halting  of cross-border gun battles in the disputed Kashmir region. What shall one enumerate and what shall one leave out? Paradoxically, India-Pakistan  ‘anger- axe’  falls on naïve people of Jammu and Kashmir

The damages in Jammu and Kashmir  are so colossal that  their  costs  and  valuations   are incalculable. All the civic  liberties, religious rights, fundamental rights have all fallen  prey  sometimes to the  long curfewed and  tongue-tying restriction-ridden days. Owing to the fear of violence, Kashmiri  society has been bereft of  the   heterogeneous  character  due to the  mass migration of Kashmiri Pandit community. In the backdrop of  all this the question  is: has any  stakeholder of this imbroglio gained  anything  from  this dismal  and mindless approach to  the problem  since its  inception? The answer is no. Only perverted,  negative,  sadistic  and  sick minds can derive pleasure  out of this sorry  state of affairs. There is anguish, pain, disappointment and loss of  time, energy  and resources  for a positive and healthy  mind  in all this. All stakeholders have lost precious moments of their lives and gained  absolutely  nothing.  The productive lifetime of three living generations has been  wasted not to speak of about a million  causalities of the dispute  over these seventy  years. One has  to give an account of all one day. Every time  Kashmiris  are disillusioned that the intermittent palliative efforts  of  the two countries are only of  crisis management in nature, they  look out  for  any cause  to start  the agitation  again. The 2007, 2008, 2010,2013, 2016  mass protests, demonstrations and uprising apparently the immediate result of Unmarked Graves, Amarnath Land Row,  Maachil fake encounters, hanging of Afzal Guru and killing of Burhan Wani and others are, in fact,  the expression  of deep-seated anger  and anguish  in their hearts  against  the off-putting  attitude  of the  Indian administration  vis-à-vis the resolution  of Kashmir Issue. Crying loud on media that forces are directed  to exercise  restraint  while  dealing with  public  protest,  but on ground  level, excessive  use of “ military might” by using “ bullet” and “pellet” falsifies  the tall claims. Setting up  Commissions  and Committees to look  into  grievances  and to suggest  measures  to  be taken  for future  course  of action  for the final  resolution  of the problem  and then  the detailed  reports, when submitted are shown junk ground without second look. It is obvious that such tactics are used as breathers for consuming time and for crisis management. Common masses are not foolish enough not to understand such conjurery and deceits. The brief periods of every calm after an uprising is taken as peace “returned” while as it is basically only a semblance of it. In brief  all  demonstrations, protests and tough  resistances against  the establishment  are the offshoot of  ‘trust-deficit’ that  has grown over these 30 years  of armed  resistance.

It will be wrong to ascribe the agitations in Jammu and Kashmir to a spontaneous reaction to the killings. It is anger  against  the excesses  and outrages  of the  oppressors  which they  have been  resorting  to over all these years of resistance. To deal with such situations  taking  them  as law and order  problem  is a great  blunder. During  agitations  maximum  damage is been done to civilians. The worst thing that has emerged from the present situation is straining of relations between India and Pakistan. They accuse and counter-accuse each other for the present situation as they are traditionally wont to do. Their war of words could be tolerated but their war of weapons and ceasefire violations are detrimental beyond measure. It is a war going on, on a small scale. People living on the line of control on both sides are spending their lives in permanent danger and consternation. How strange it is that the governments are earmarking money for construction of bunkers for their “safety.” It  cannot  come  to their  minds  to think  of stopping the violations because  it fits in their  ego satisfaction  or  their  expansionist  temper.  They seem  not  to have  learnt  anything from their past experiences of fighting wasteful wars. They forget  that  both  the countries  are  nuclear powered. Any war between them  will not   be  a war of  the yore. It shall  be a disaster—a catastrophe. They  don’t  realise that their  people  whom  they  rule  over and whose  welfare they claim  to stand  for, are  sitting  on a nuclear flashpoint  and one  mad  mistake is the  end of  all. Good sense  need to prevail  upon them without  wasting  any time. They must  come to terms  and think  and act  on resolving  all their  outstanding  issues and problems. In fact, they  have  no right  to preside  over the liquidation of their own people  by harbouring  rancour   against each other. The whole sub-continent  is bleeding. It needs  care  and cure. Problems  need to  be  killed  before  these kill us.

The precarious situation as it exists or as it has been existing for about last seventy years in the relations of India and Pakistan on the Issue of Kashmir, calls for a permanent settlement. The first essential thing for such a settlement is to change the mindset of the rulers  of the  two countries. They will have to understand  the importance  of  peaceful  coexistence. They will have to learn to understand  the finer sentiments of human dignity, co-operation  and the  principles  of live and let live. Wars give no solutions. These bring miseries, woes  and destruction. Human experience in world’s history has proved it beyond doubt. Peace is sine qua non for prosperity and welfare. The second  thing that is  of importance  is that  the two  countries, if  these are averse or inclined to applying  any one ‘out of box solutions’ to  the protracted  nagging  issue, will have  to move  out of  the positions taken by them traditionally so far. They will have to start afresh  taking into account the present situations, because  their cherished  stances  have taken  them nowhere nearer to solution.

The basic fact remains that there are three parties to the dispute. The  two  parties have despite  having  fought  wars, several  times talked  bilaterally to find  an amicable  solution  to the  problem but in  vain. It is believed  that  unless  and until  the third party  is also associated  with  the talks  to make  it trilateral, the final solution  is not achievable. The approach of ‘I win you lose or you win I lose’ is never a solution to any problem across the table. It is ‘win-win’ position with no sense of defeat to any party, howsoever weak it may be, that is a way forward.  The governments  of the two sovereign  states  have to  take  into account  the  collective leadership  of the ongoing  resistance  movement to  make any solution  or settlement  achievable. Relegating the cardinal or pivotal stake-holder to subordination or even to non-entity is not only a travesty of justice, but it shall hamper all/any honourable solution/s to the chronic problem. Kashmiris need be taken on board for any just and dignified solution. Coming to the negotiating table is an urgency. The people of the subcontinent want peace. It is only a small  section  of people  who have  been  thriving  on  controversies and polemics  that oppose  the process  of  peace. India is a growing  economy but Pakistan  is also  importantly  located. It is a link  to Central Asia. Once the ‘trust-deficit’ between the two countries  ends and peace  between them is restored by resolving  their  mutual issues, newer vistas of trade  and commerce  will emerge. Progressive  co-operation  mechanism  among  the nation states  of South Asian region  can  go a long-way to give  a fresh fillip to overall development  and prosperity  of the SAARC Countries. On the other hand,  the geopolitical situation in South Asia is changing swiftly. This can be credited to the fact that the emerging powers in the region are redefining their presence. Friends are becoming foes, and vice versa. South Asia’s proximity to oil-rich West Asia has changed the politics of the region. Pacts are being signed and countries are forming alliances befitting their economic and political interests. Pertinently, neutral observers opine a new wave of   Kashmir armed resistance with   up-to-the-minute strategy and tactics in the coming years  right from 2018. In a situation, when Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) is coming to the  prominence in Kashmir especially in north of the valley with the  cadre gaining huge  strength. So far as Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) is concerned,  it is  a militant group that aims to undermine Indian control on the Indian administered Kashmir (IaK) and unite it  with Pakistan within Shariah Laws. The group was founded by Masood Azhar in the early 2000. Earlier, Azhar was a member of the Harakat-ul-Mujahiddin (HuM),  which was  accused of working with Al- Qaeda (AQ) fighting against U.S troops in Somalia with a  HuM group under Osama bin Laden’s instructions. It is worth to mention  that Harakat ul-Ansar (HuA), a militant group  operating primarily in Kashmir, was formed in October 1993 when two groups—Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami(HuJI) and Harakat-ul-Mujahiddin(HuM)—merged with each other and in April 1995, HUA formed  the “Crush India” at Anantnag to plan a  major offensive, through guerrilla actions, against the Indian  Security Forces. Later, Azhar was arrested in 1994 at Rainipora, Mattan, Anantnag, while travelling on a forged Portuguese passport.  It is worth to mention that Azhar gained prominence throughout the nineties, including during his time in an Indian prison for religious preaching besides militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir  and also leads the JeM faction known as Khuddam ul-Islam. When Masud Azhar formed JeM, he originally named his group, Lashkar-e-Muhammad. JeM’s membership is or was mainly drawn from the former members of Harkat-ul-Mujahiddin (HuM), which was in past  supposedly allied to the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban and Al -Qaeda. After HuM attempted to free him several times, the group finally succeeded in 1999 by hijacking an Indian Airlines plane carrying 155 passengers. They secured his release from the Indian government in exchange for the hostages.

Shortly after his release, Azhar travelled to Afghanistan where he reportedly met several militant groups reportedly who  supported Azhar in forming JeM by the active knowledge of the chiefs of three major religious schools: Mufti Nizam-ud-din Shamzai of the Majlis-e-Tawan-e-Islami, Maulana Mufti Rashid Ahmed of the Dar-ul -Ifta-e-wal-Irshad, and Maulana Sher Ali of the Shaikh-ul-Hadith Dar-ul Haqqania. JeM quickly gained  huge popularity for its attacks in Indian administered Kashmir (IaK). It carried out the first ever organised Fidayeen  [suicide] attack in the history of the Kashmir conflict on April 19, 2000. Recent militant activism of Jaish in Kashmir  is  to be seen  when  China on 2nd   November 2017 has  blocked a bid at the United Nations by the US, France and Britain to list Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of  (JeM) militant group, as a global terrorist, citing a lack of consensus among the members of the UN Security Council. A veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has repeatedly blocked India’s move to designate Azhar a terrorist under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council. The move came when Chinese President Xi Jinping began his second five-year term after the 19th  Chinese Communist Party Congress . The Chinese block is seen as one of the irritants in the India-China bilateral relationship. The JeM, founded by Azhar, has already been in the UN’s list of banned terror outfits. Chinese foreign ministry  had  made  it  clear  that  the  country  rejects  the move as there is no consensus said its  spokesperson. In August 2017, China extended by three months its technical hold on the proposal backed by US, France and Britain to name Azhar a global terrorist after blocking the move in February 2017. New Delhi accuses Azhar Masood   of several terrorist attacks in India, including one on the Pathankot air force station in January 2016, which Islamabad out- rightly rejects. Earlier, in February  2016, China was the only member in the 15-nation UN organ to put a hold on India’s application with all other 14 members of the Council supporting New Delhi’s bid to place Azhar on the 1267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban. On the other hand, United States and India are increasingly mounting pressure on Pakistan to act against the alleged  mastermind behind the 26/11 Mumbai terror  attacks, Hafiz Saeed, the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions Monitoring Team(MT)  visited  Islamabad  on 25th  January and 26th January, 2018  to assess Pakistan’s compliance with the world body’s sanctions regime. However, Islamabad maintained  that  the team’s visit was a routine matter and it was not related to the [alleged] inadequate implementation of the sanctions on Jamat-ud-Dawa(JuD) chief  Hafiz Saeed and entities linked to him. Although, Islamabad has already made  it clear that  her country  shall not allow the monitoring team of the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee  for any direct access to Hafiz.  On  23rd  January 2018, JuD chief Hafiz Saeed filed a petition in the Lahore High Court seeking protection from arrest ahead of the arrival of the UNSC’s sanctions monitoring team, saying that  the government wants to arrest him at the behest of  India and the US, the  Court barred the government from taking any illegal action against Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed on his plea against possible arrest. In response , Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khakan Abbassi  made it  clear that their stands no case against Saeed.  Furthermore, around 25 organisations and some 36 people figure in  1267 sanctions list allegedly  operating  from Pakistan, but the main focus of UNSC two day visit  was on Hafiz.  Conversely, on 26th January, 2018,  Dr.  Muhammad Faisal, Foreign Office Spokesperson of Pakistan   told media persons that Islamabad informed the (MT) of UNSC, dealing with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Daesh, about the  steps being taken by Pakistan in compliance with the UN sanctions.

Equally, in Kashmir ,  on 18th  January 2018, National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India filed a chargesheet [12,794-page document] against 12 people, including Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahiddin Supremo and chairman  of United Jihad Council Syed Salahuddin[Mohammad Yusuf Shah]. The agency raided 60 locations and claimed to have gathered 950 incriminating documents along with 300 witnesses in the case. The NIA has also named Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law, Altaf Ahmad Shah alias Fantoosh, Geelani’s personal assistant Bashir Ahmad Bhat and businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah [Watali] in the chargesheet.  The two accused, photo journalist Kamran Yusuf and Javed Ahmad Bhat, have been identified as “stone-pelters.”  Hurriyat Conference leaders Aftab Ahmad Shah[Hilali], Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Mohammad Akbar Khanday[Ayaz Akber], Raja Mehrajuddin  Kalwal  have also been charged by the agency. Earlier, on 24th  September 2017, the Enforcement Directorate [ED] has filed a chargesheet against senior Kashmiri resistance leader Shabir Ahmad Shah and co-accused Aslam Wani in connection with supposed money laundering racket in which alleged funds from Pakistan were routed using “Hawala Operators” to finance militancy. Common people in Jammu and Kashmir believe that the structural engagement of All Parties Hurriyat Conference and Pakistan can bring meaningful peace in Jammu and Kashmir with a durable solution. In the current situation full-fledged war cannot Happen, if Islamabad nukes New Delhi, then, Pakistan will cease to appear on the global map. Similarly, if New Delhi nukes Islamabad , India will become victim of its own ‘nuclear-mushroom-cloud’. However, catalytic-war of India and Pakistan has made people of South Asia to suffer; and the common stock of people in Kashmir are the worst victims.  Agreed, in South Asia India has a leadership role. Fair enough, the Kashmir problem is a sub-continental irony and  is taking away India’s leadership   role in the region—if remains unresolved. This problem has put India and Pakistan into military competition with mounting intimidation than cooperation. Let the leadership of both the nuclear countries of South Asia (India and Pakistan) change their diplomatic approaches from vagueness to placidness and compassion.

Surely, in the process of peace initiatives, it is  believed, lies with India for  reasons  of  being a bigger, stronger  and economically progressing power. Moreover, the major part of Kashmir  which is trouble-torn lies  under her control and governance. It  can have a much more forceful voice  and  say  in the matter. Peace in the region is essentially desired. If established, its  fruits  shall be  tasted  by one and all equally. True that the process of peace  and the end to hostilities in the  region is not  an overnight phenomenon which can be obtained  by a mere touch of  the magic wand. It will definitely take  time but a beginning has to be made and for this beginning preparations are needed. Spade-work  is also  needed  but  such preparations and such spade work  cannot  afford to  wait  for long. These need be taken up earlier the better. Anarchic situation in Kashmir might suit A or B, may be even to both , what mathematically termed as  (AÛB) and technically  as ‘conflict of expediency’, but never ever suits people of  Kashmir. Therefore, political resistance leadership in Jammu and  Kashmir  on either side of LoC needs to show prudence, smartness and boldness, purposely not to allow this land to become another  Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia etc. So, factually speaking, solution of Kashmir Imbroglio lies in non-zero-sum game rather than zero-sum. (Author is a professional researcher and spokesperson of South Kashmir Civil Society)

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