One of the world’s most heavenly places is Kashmir, but it has never seen absolute peace because of the way the sub-continent was partitioned with the scenic region divided three ways — India, Pakistan and China. It is however for the people of the region to weigh in who has done more for them in terms of education and health for their welfare giving up religious fanaticism to achieve permanent peace.
Besides war, the situation in Kashmir has been bloodied by militant attacks allegedly backed by Pakistan, which has been under military rule even when a civilian government rules. While China recently spilt blood in the heavenly Ladakh area, apparently as part of its global expansionist move.
In the latest incident, what is being labelled as one of this year’s deadliest, Indian officials said six civilians, three soldiers and a border guard were killed on their side, while Pakistan issued a statement claiming that four Pakistani civilians and one soldier were killed, with 27 more injured, including women and children.
The two neighbours routinely accuse each other of the skirmishes, but it is the Kashmiris who are being killed and suffering due to this dispute between two nuclear-powered country and has no sign of ending any time soon.
Thus, it is for the people of Kashmir who must work for peace putting aside political or religious concerns. They must be united against militancy or extremism by any religious faith and concentrate on among the three who has done more for them in terms of welfare, including education and health.
Area and population-wise, India approximately controls 55% of the land area of the region that includes Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, most of Ladakh, the Siachen Glacier and 70% of its population, while Pakistan controls approximately 30% of the land area that includes Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. China controls the remaining 15% of the land area that includes the Aksai Chin region, the mostly uninhabited Trans-Karakoram Tract, and part of the Demchok secto (Wikipedia).
The fact remains that Pakistan already rules the part of Kashmir it holds by the name of Azad Kashmir and incidents of repression violating human rights in Gilgit-Baltistan is no secret. Thus New Delhi changing the status of its share of Kashmir, the majority named Jammu and Kashmir, should not be an issue, but it must respect human rights and continue its development works in the region.
When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi changed the status of Kashmir, I welcomed the move in a commentary and faced criticism both from India as well as Pakistan on various grounds. Mainly, to me if Pakistan controls its part, why not India.
However, the arrests amid a security clampdown apparently spoiled the atmosphere allowing vested groups to create a volatile situation giving way to fake news to foment more trouble.
The history of the region as in Wikipedia is as follows: “After the partition of India and a rebellion in the western districts of the state, Pakistani tribal militias invaded Kashmir, leading the Hindu ruler of Jammu and Kashmir to join India and starting the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 which ended with a UN-mediated ceasefire along a line that was eventually named the Line of Control. After the fight in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, the Simla Agreement formally established the Line of Control between the two nations’ controlled territories. In 1999, armed conflict between India and Pakistan broke out again in the Kargil War over the Kargil district.”
India claims the entire erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir based on an instrument of accession signed in 1947. Pakistan claims Jammu and Kashmir based on its majority Muslim population, whereas China claims the Shaksam Valley and Aksai Chin.
Recently Indian Official Spokesperson, Shri Anurag Srivastava, responding to remarks by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Gilgit regarding his government’s decision to accord “provisional provincial status” to “Gilgit-Baltistan,” said: “The Government of India firmly rejects the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory, under its illegal and forcible occupation. I reiterate that the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the area of so-called “Gilgit-Baltistan,” are an integral part of India by virtue of the legal, complete and irrevocable accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union of India in 1947. The Government of Pakistan has “no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it.”
“Such attempts by Pakistan, intended to camouflage its illegal occupation, cannot hide the grave human rights violations, exploitation and denial of freedom for over seven decades to the people residing in these Pakistan occupied territories. Instead of seeking to alter the status of these Indian territories, we call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” he added.
Each time, as the facts show, it was Pakistan which was to be blamed for the wars. It has backed Islamic militants to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir causing unnecessary bloodshed and made its place in the list of a country that exports terrorism.
Pakistan’s brutality in the genocide that it carried out during the Bangladesh war of 1971 will live in the annals of history as the worst beating all records so far, whether it admits or not.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which has been widely criticised with many alleging it was to marginalise Muslims in India, worsening the overall situation in Kashmir where religion has been used as a weapon for decades by Pakistan. The Bill was also seen critically by Dhaka and best to put it off.
Killings have not stopped with three Muslim members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in YK Pora recently killed by suspected militants near Srinagar. Fida Hussain, Haroon Rashid and Umer Ramzan, all Muslims in their 20s, were shot dead at YK Pora just a week or so ago in a guerrilla-style attack. Thus it is not religion that Pakistan honours, but using Islam to expand territorially. The Kashmiris must keep this important factor in their mind to find peace.
Media reports, quoting local police said the attackers belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba and were now part of the outfit’s shadow group, The Resistance Front, which claimed responsibility for the killings.
Fears are high about further escalation of attacks which is indeed a matter of concern for the general peace-loving people.
As per statistics from New Delhi among the three countries vying for Kashmir’s territory, India stands out in terms of developing the areas it controls.
In the 2019-20 budget India allocated Rupees 88,911 crore (12.4 billion dollars) for Jammu and Kashmir Government, while for Pakistan it was a mere Rupees 12,156 crore (773 million US dollar).
In terms of health and medical infrastructure, it was 618 million US dollar, and for the other part, it stood at 62 million US dollar.
In the education and literacy sector India 1.55 billion US dollar while it was 173 million US dollar for the part under Pakistan.
Islamabad says the “administrative, political and economic reforms are a long-standing demand of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan,” and that New Delhi has “no locus standi” on the issue.
The Pakistani decision is not for developing the area, but it appears that it is Islamabad’s only land link to China. Why Gilgit-Baltistan was not developed in the past decades is a question that Pakistan must first answer.
One of Pakistan’s minister and its military spokesman’s claims of India backing militants have been strongly challenged by New Delhi, saying it is “another futile anti-India propaganda” and its neighbour “is the face of world terrorism with no takers of such fictitious claims.”
With majority area under India’s control and maximum Kashmiris living in that part, why not the rest be under New Delhi’s control which has invested a huge amount for the development of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmiri’s must decide which one would benefit them more and end the bloodbath, while India needs to assure the people in the beautiful region that they will not feel being “suppressed” and allow “free press and freedom of expression.”
The two are the main issues which make headlines as alleged by some Kashmiris quite widely.
An Imam was quoted as saying by an Indian news portal in the funeral of three killed in YK Pora: “Be it militants, policemen, an Ikhwani (government-backed militia), in the end, it is only Kashmiri lives getting wasted. Let us pray that we see an end to this.”
Those are the words to which the Kashmiri people and New Delhi must work for along with the international community.
Pakistan must be warned against backing militant groups by the Kashmiris themselves if they believe in the words of the Imam and make their region once again heaven on earth by binning religious factor and opting for development.
NOTE: The map of the disputed Kashmir region was created by the US Central Intelligence Agency and hosted by the University of Texas-Austin Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection; altered to show new jurisdictions by Fowler&fowler.