Kashmir moot at NUML
Is Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) bleeding? Does J&K reverberate with the calls of Kashmir banay ga Pakistan (Kashmir will become Pakistan)? Are Kashmiris annoyed over the banning of Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD) and its associated organizations by the Pakistan government? Is the insurgency in J&K indigenous or does it has the footprints of terrorism?
I put up these questions to Muhammad Moazum, Bureau Chief of Kashmir Reader, Srinagar. He was one of the paper presenters at the Kashmir conference held by the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) in Islamabad. He told me that India could be in denial, but the fact was that Kashmir was bleeding from a homegrown insurgency and that no matter how much hatred could there be for Hafiz Saeed among the Indians, the Kashmiris consider him their savior.
These questions may not have covered the entire political spectrum of J&K; they do however clarify and reinforce the fact that Kashmir and Pakistan are inseparable and that no matter how oppressive the Indian government may get, Kashmiris will not lose focus to their goal.
Moazum was one of the few lucky ones to get a visa to attend the conference. Spying and surveillance is now part of the Kashmir’s political fabric, and anyone traveling to Pakistan; to talk about the Kashmir dispute has every probability to get in the eye of the storm.
The Kashmir conference at NUML titled “The Kashmir Dispute: Past, Present and the Future was a three-day event covering not only what was happening in J&K but also how Pakistan and India have been holding on to their positions on the dispute.
Wide arrays of suggestions were floated, but three themes stood apart.
- That the process of dialogue between India and Pakistan should begin.
- That the people of Kashmir, and not any country should decide about Kashmir’s fate, and
- That Kashmir should be stripped of a religious overtone.
Some scholars were of the opinion that Kashmir could not be resolved in the name of religion. Though religion should not be used as a tool to liberate Kashmir, we cannot separate religion from the Kashmir issue.
Why would Kashmiris want an alliance with Pakistan if religion was not the central issue? Why would India strive to change the demographics of J&K if religion was not at the core of Kashmir conflict? Why would Kashmiri Pundits merit if religion was not at the heart of Kashmir insurgency?
Not every Kashmiri has been oppressed by their Hindu and Sikh rulers. Historically, only Muslim Kashmiris had been given the worst treatment. After the Treaty of Amritsar in 1846 that made Raja Gulab Singh a legal heir of Kashmir after buying it from the British at 750,000 pounds, the Hindu Dogras set upon a policy of unlimited cruelty against hapless Kashmiris. The tool used for this suppression was the Hindu Pundits who shared with the Dogras vehemence for his Muslim subjects.
It was quite a spectacle to see young Kashmiris from Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan concerned about Pakistan’s Kashmir policy that has slackened over the years. They talked about the Kashmir committee, which has practically done nothing for the dispute. They spoke of Pakistan’s failure to keep the international world alive to Kashmir cause even when its people are subjected to the worst form of human rights violation.
Though the Kashmiris on both sides of the border have pinned their hopes on Pakistan; Pakistan, in turn, has been following a winding path to reach Kashmir. Terrorism has eclipsed Pakistan’s position on Kashmir. Though Pakistan has somewhat defeated terrorism at home and has gone many extra miles to harness the monster, the imprints of our past deeds are so entrenched that it requires consistent diplomatic effort to shed the ominous shadow.
It is here the rub lies. Pakistan’s military and the political stakeholders have been handling Kashmir on different scales. Nearly every civilian government, especially Nawaz Sharif’s administration wanted to heal the partition wound and move ahead with India like friendly neighbors. The military is somehow stuck with the habit of seeing India through enemy’s prism. No doubt India has been indulged in anti-Pakistan activities, but not every deformity can be treated applying the method of amputation. Pakistan has to explore more diplomatic channels otherwise a contested Line of Control only has one capacity; to dispatch dead bodies to either side of the LoC.
An impartial study into India’s treatment of Kashmir reveals that it was the wrong, emotional, and dubious policies of India over the last 70 years that pushed Kashmir towards Pakistan. Pakistan’s support only helped the resolve that got stronger with time. India would have to understand that its insistence to talk to Pakistan on any issue but Kashmir will make the matters only worse. India would not be able, for too long, to continue its rights violations in Kashmir while blaming it on terrorism from Pakistan.
The truth is that every home in Kashmir has a potential freedom fighter as the people have lost faith in India. The former head of India’s premier spy agency RAW, A.S. Dulat, is reported to have said in an interview to an Indian newspaper that “It doesn’t look good…. the sad part, frightening part and really scary part of Kashmir is that these boys and girls with stones in their hands don’t seem to care what their parents feel. There is so much distrust in Kashmiri families that a father doesn’t know what his son is doing and the son doesn’t care anymore what his father thinks.” And that, sadly, is the current story of Kashmir.
The writer is a freelance journalist based in Lahore. (firstname.lastname@example.org)