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Kashmir flares up again! – Durdana Najam

The latest skirmishes in Shopian, Kashmir, have been so lethal that charred bodies of the militants, killed on April 1, sent shockwaves across Jammu and Kashmir. And because the ‘use of chemical weapons’ has become a buzzword – since the US has taken to the habit of using it for mass deaths in Syria – these burned bodies of Kashmiris led to similar conclusions.

It could not be verified if India had gone this far in its aggression. However, given the events in Kashmir are reported sparsely in the international media, one cannot be sure how fierce was India’s brutality against the freedom fighters on that fateful day.  According to the US-based Global Journal of Medical Research, almost 1,314 people have so far been victim to pellet guns, in Indian Occupied Kashmir, which has resulted in blindness and civilian deaths.

Wars, today, have become such a norm that the Cold War Era seemingly looks better than the New World Order.  The gains of democracy built on the edifice of Human Rights Declaration is slipping away, as states like China, Russia, and even the US are putting a stamp of their brand of the power system on the global governance structure. Amid this new trend, wars once waged based on ideology have lost their purpose. This also explains the  helplessness of Palestinians and Kashmiris today – both victims of geo-political interests and alliances.

Palestine and Kashmir’s wars of self-determination have become unimportant for the international community, mainly because of their protagonists— India and Israel.  Call it the irony of destiny or the rule of international politics that the US military support to both these states has made the resolution of these issues almost impossible. Unless there is a third power mediating, the issue of Kashmir and Palestine will remain in doldrums because any resolution having India’s desire would not be acceptable to the Kashmiris, and any solution to the liking of Israel would be unacceptable to the Palestinians. In the meantime, because intervention is a big NO, no head rolls when ‘militants’ are killed by unconventional force.

However, in Kashmir, the young generation is not buying into India’s hegemonic complexes. In both India and Israel, the effort is to change the demographic complexion, so that the Muslim phenomenon is either lost or becomes irrelevant. The Islamic world has caught up to the western designs and is assisting the US and its allies in shrinking political space for the Muslims.

The complicity of the Muslim leadership notwithstanding, religion still remains the dominant factor in deciding the direction of the Kashmir struggle for the right of self-determination. The struggle for self-determination has not left the minds and hearts of Kashmiris. The young leadership might have been born and raised in the shadow of the Internet, but their strategy to liberate Kashmir has not changed. For example, 25-year Junaid, an MBA from Kashmir University, has joined Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM), the party of Muzaffar Wani – now considered hero to the Kashmiri youth. When Junaid – son of Ashraf Sehri a recently appointed head of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat – joined HuM, he released, a picture with an AK-47 in his hands. This did not only suggest the violent path the Kashmiris were still willing to take, but also indicated that they had lost any hope of liberating Kashmir or settling the Kashmir issue through political negotiation. This provides India with a serious point to ponder if it is serious in resolving the Kashmir issue.

Though India has appointed Dineshwar Sharma to talk to insurgents and everyone else, it has also started ‘Operation All Out’ to hunt and kill the insurgents. This usual strategy to keep insurgents engaged in talks and on the battlefield, with a hope that with little chance to succeed they would kneel, is unlikely to work with the Kashmiri youth. Not because the strategy has worn out, but because India has been using force so often and so repeatedly as a state policy that talks are viewed a mere tactic to either buy time or to keep the international community amused in the prospect that the so-called “Diplomacy” is on work in Kashmir.

What is the solution to Kashmir issue if it has become intractable? The multi-polarity of the international world has made power porous. World leaders are defining their roles as harbingers of the New World Order, the formation of which no more stops at the US door. The never-ending reign of the Chinese and Russian leadership, the emergence of nationalist forces in Europe, the America first slogan of Trump’s presidency, and the blatant violation of Geneva Convention and other international rules are clues that the Kashmir issue will find solution from a similar seed—Kashmir first—–which is the right of self-determination. The Kashmir conflict has become an indigenous issue, and it will unstick internally, only if India can understand this reality and act sane.

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Lahore. (durdananajam1@gmail.com)

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