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Mon. May 27, 2024
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Remembering 27 October: A Tale of the Freedom Struggle of Kashmiris
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I think I believe in freedom I just don't know where it is.

I think I believe in home, I just don't know where to look.

 Fatimah Asghar, If They Come for Us

October 27, 1947 marks a dark day in the history of Kashmir, when India intervened in Jammu and Kashmir. This was a move that was widely criticized for violating the Indian Independence Act, a pivotal document that marked the formal end of British colonial rule and the beginning of independence for India and Pakistan. However, India’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir were taken without the consent of local leaders and against the wishes of the masses. Over the last several decades since then, the region has been plagued by conflict and tension, leading to countless deaths, disappearances, and human rights violations.

According to Kashmir Media Service, Indian troops have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the region. These include extrajudicial executions, arrests, torture, use of brute force, and the rape of women. India has imposed punitive laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Public Safety Act (PSA), and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to suppress the Kashmiris’ demand for self-determination. The recent damage inflicted upon a mosque in Shopian is a horrific demonstration of the ongoing state terrorism in the occupied region.

The conflict in Kashmir has left many Kashmiris suffering. The Kunan Poshpora incident, a mass rape that occurred on the night of 23 February 1991 when the Indian security forces launched a search operation against militants in the twin villages of Kashmir Kunan and Poshpora, is a traumatic memory for the affected communities and highlights human rights issues. Many women are “half-widows” due to their husbands’ disappearance, living in constant emotional turmoil. The killings of Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri activist who was shot dead in a brief gunfight in South Kashmir on 8 July 2016, and the horrific rape and murder of an 8-years old Muslim girl Asifa Bano by six men in a village near Kathua, Kashmir have further intensified these issues.

India re-invaded Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) in August 2019. This is a retrograde step which has raised tensions further between India and Pakistan. Additionally, signs of religious aggression through different kinds of limitations are observed in the region of Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir. Rules restricting religious activities and group gatherings have excluded the Muslim community.

Historically speaking, the Kashmir conflict has had a significant impact on the relationship between India and Pakistan. The two countries have fought three wars and have had many skirmishes; and the conflict has been a major source of tension between them. The conflict has also led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations between the two countries at times.

India and Pakistan have taken different approaches to resolving the conflict. India has maintained that the Kashmir issue is an internal matter and has rejected any third-party mediation, even when UN recognized it as an international issue and passed a resolution favoring right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people over India approaching the organization for the resolution in 1948. Pakistan, on the other hand, has always sought international intervention and has called for a plebiscite to be held in IIOJK to determine its future status.

The conflict has also had an impact on trade and economic relations between India and Pakistan. The two countries have imposed trade restrictions on each other, which have had a negative impact on their economies and damaged regional peace and cooperation. This is evident through the inactive and dead role of SAARC. The Kashmir conflict has made it difficult for the two countries to cooperate on regional issues such as terrorism and security. Moreover, the illegal occupation has tarnished India’s reputation as the world’s largest democracy and heavily dented its global ambitions.

Over the years, the United Nations has passed several resolutions on the issue, calling for a plebiscite to be held in Jammu and Kashmir to determine its future status. However, these resolutions have not been implemented.

In 2018, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report that documented human rights violations in the region and called for an independent investigation into these violations. The reports urged India to repeal laws that grant security forces immunity from prosecution. However, it rejected the report and called it “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”. In addition, Amnesty International’s open letter to G20 leadership and subsequent reports of human rights violations being committed in the region are truly an eye-opener for the international community. However, no significant stance made by Permanant-5 on the issue.

On a global-level, the Kashmir conflict is a threat to the credibility of the UN and the rules-based liberal international order, at a time when that order is already threatened by issues such as the Ukraine war, the US-China conflict over the Indian Ocean, and the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The conflict in Kashmir has had far-reaching consequences that continue to impact millions of people today. It is essential that all stakeholders take serious actions to bring peace and cooperation in South Asia, which is only possible after resolving the Kashmir issue, a bone of contention in the region.

Iqra Awan is a Research Fellow at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and can be reached at iqraawann18@gmail.com

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