From 1947 to AK47
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)