Kashmir and Palestine. Different people located in different parts of the world. But what connects them is their fate. What they have in common is pain. What they have seen is bloodshed. And what they experience is utter devastation.
In recent days, both Kashmir and Palestine have experienced extreme violence and bloodshed. Echoes of screaming and wailing are heard from all corners as Kashmiris and Palestinians mourn over the dead bodies of loved ones. Kashmir and Palestine continue to bleed. And the world carries on by turning a blind eye.
The historical baggage of Kashmir and Palestine is very different. They do not share a similar history. But they do share a similar pain. And they have been wronged by the rest of the world. The United Nations continues to be ineffective and unable to exert any kind of pressure on India and Israel. And the big players on the International stage seem to lack the will and moral courage to push for peace.
India and Israel are without doubt two of the largest democracies of the world. But another fact is that their armies are using excessive force against civilians. And neither of these governments are willing to show flexibility. So, it comes as no surprise that India’s Modi and Israel’s Netanyahu share a fondness for each other. Both India and Israel enjoy close ties. Prime Minister Modi has made no secret of wanting to model India on the Israeli system.
Both leaders speak of achieving peace and stability within their respective regions. But this is not possible if they carry on with their heavy-handed tactics and brutality. Indians and Israelis have every right to live in peace, without fear. But so do the people of Kashmir. And so do the people of Palestine. The people of Kashmir should be given the right to carve their own destiny. Whether they choose to remain with India, join Pakistan or gain independence. Ultimately it should be the choice of the people. Throttling the people with curfew to keep them quiet is a violation of Human Rights. And it is unfair to see the government of India pulling the strings of a puppet government in Kashmir.
The people of Kashmir have every right to feel Kashmiri. Kashmir has its own identity, its own culture and heritage. But for years and years it has been crushed under the heavy boots of security forces. And voices have been drowned out by the sounds of army tanks. India has shown a great deal of arrogance towards the Kashmiri dispute. And its unwillingness to move forward with Pakistan is a mere reflection of Modi Sarkar’s (government’s) stubbornness. India has wasted precious time by turning its back on opportunities for peace talks. And in the process, precious lives have been wasted. Blood of the youth continues to spill. Modi boasts of India standing against terrorism. But its role of the army within Kashmir paints a different picture.
Netanyahu’s administration has shown similar arrogance towards Palestine. It happily accepted America’s controversial decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and backed the decision to move the U.S embassy there. But Israel did not bat an eyelid over the ramifications and remained unconcerned over any potential flare-up. Netanyahu’s casual behaviour comes as no surprise. But it reeks of hypocrisy when he speaks of peace in the region. Arrogance and a rigid approach can never bring peace to anyone. Israel can only truly ever enjoy a peaceful environment if it chooses to coexist with Palestine.
No good will ever come out of suppressing Palestinians and crushing them with brutal force. It will only create further tensions and ignite hatred. Israel must stop ignoring Palestine as the insignificant other, if peace is to be achieved. Netanyahu’s problem is that he wants to hold all the cards. He wants to dictate play and call all the shots. And while the leaders of Palestine have shown leadership failure on many occasions, it is unfair for Israel to use bullying tactics.
Whether it is Kashmir or Palestine, the first step to achieving peace is to bring an end to excessive force and brutality. Amnesty International has highlighted a series of Human Rights violations carried out by both Indian and Israeli forces. And it is very unfortunate to see two world democracies carrying out Human Rights violations, without even being held accountable. This shows how shamelessly the world chooses to look the other way.
Suppressing the will of the people of Kashmir and undermining the wishes of the people of Palestine just makes the world more unsafe. And in the long run it is not beneficial for India or Israel either.
Ongoing conflict and unresolved issues can never create an environment that brings peace. If only these leaders would understand this very simple fact. And if these leaders truly want to protect their people, then they must show flexibility and lower themselves a little, rather than keep their heads up in the clouds. History shows us that peace and harmony cannot come easily, without hard work. We must strive towards it with sincere hearts and strong resolve.
The writer has studied History and Politics at Queen Mary, University of London and Near and Middle East Studies at SOAS, London.