By Rameez Raja
The intense rivalry between India and Pakistan has resulted in killings of lakhs of innocent Kashmiris. Both nuclear states are following risk-laden policies that might someday culminate into a deadly war. They are busy in playing ‘politics with the bomb and Kashmir’ to cater to the sentiments of their respective public that might result in the destruction of the region. Since the partition of India, Kashmir remained an unfortunate battleground for both states to express their anger against each other. Regrettably, it is only Kashmiri people, who have remained the victim of human rights violations between the two belligerent states. Both states are using military means to settle the Kashmir issue; however, they have failed miserably to resolve it.
India’s misrule in Kashmir provided an opportunity to Pakistan in the 1980s to support the freedom movement in Kashmir. Interestingly, India has violated the state autonomy through 48 presidential orders that culminated in resistance movement in Kashmir against the Indian rule. After the BJP came to power in 2014, the Indian government has used military means, rather than diplomacy and humanitarian approach, to restore normalcy in Kashmir. There is anger among the Kashmiri people against the security forces, which enjoy impunity with the help of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), enabling bloodbath in Kashmir.
In the recent years, the school-going kids as well as the college and university students, especially girls, have participated in the resistance movement against the Indian rule. The killing of innocent civilians in Kashmir by the security forces has resulted in the participation of students in stone-pelting incidents within the valley. Reciprocally, India is using its hard-line approach to deal with civilian resistance movement. The pellet guns, banned by the United Nations, are used by the security forces within the valley, leading to the loss of eye-sight for hundreds of Kashmiris. In addition, civilians are brutally killed by the security forces on the charge of violating the law and order situation in Kashmir.
The militants fighting against the Indian rule enjoy a large support base among the local Kashmiris. However, the Indian government has labelled militants as terrorists in Kashmir and the local people who help militants are called ground-workers for terrorists. As a result, a number of civilians have been killed by the security forces. The people in the valley support militants overwhelmingly and there are hardly places where people did not use means, violent or non-violent, to challenge Indian rule in Kashmir. The militants are welcomed as freedom fighters in the valley, and many youth have joined militancy right after the militant Burhan Wani’s killing in summer 2016.
The Kashmiri women sing songs of freedom and martyrdom during the encounters between the militants and the Indian security forces. They beat their chest to show their anger and resistance against the Indian rule. Astonishingly, a Kashmiri had been tied on the front of an army jeep as a human shield by the Indian security forces during clashes with the civilians. India has so far failed to provide an inducement strategy to restore peace and normalcy within the valley. The stick policy has been given more priority than carrot to handle the protests in Kashmir.
Pakistan on the other hand is against the freedom movement of Kashmir. Pakistan claims Kashmir to be its unfinished business and has been providing a diplomatic and armed support to Kashmiri militants, who support its accession with Pakistan. In addition, Pakistan has demanded for plebiscite under the United Nations resolution for the settlement of Kashmir dispute, which is clearly rejected by India. In addition, India is not even ready to talk with Pakistan and separatists within the valley on the ground that Pakistan should first halt cross-border infiltration. In response, Pakistan stated that dialogue on Kashmir should be given first priority before terminating its jihad policy. Using historical approach, it was India, not Pakistan, which first knocked the door of the United Nations for settlement of Kashmir issue. However, India eventually shifted its gear after fighting three wars with Pakistan over Kashmir.
The US support for the Taliban against the Soviets in Afghanistan provided an incentive to Pakistan to start a proxy war in Kashmir in order to fulfil its strategic interests. Moreover, Pakistan used its nukes as a shield against the Indian conventional force that restrained Indian army to cross the border. However, several studies have highlighted nukes as an element of political weapon and symbol of power, rather than an instrument of security between India and Pakistan. Both states are using nukes and Kashmir to strengthen their domestic politics.
India and Pakistan equally culpable
India and Pakistan are equally responsible for bloodbath in Kashmir. Both states are battling for the resources within the valley: it is simply a battle over water. The Kashmiri people are ignored intentionally to fulfil the strategic interests of two neighbours that often result in bloodshed. Also, the Indian government has failed to present itself as a responsible government towards its people. India claims to be a democratic state but it crushes the aspirations of people in the valley. In addition, the religious card is played by both states to divert the attention of the public from the actual cause. There are aggressive religious groups in both states that see the dispute through a religious prism and support the stick policy to settle the Kashmir issue.
Recently, an eight-year-old Muslim girl, Asifa, was raped and brutally killed in Kathua (Jammu). The state police have investigated the matter and culprits were arrested. However, the accused, who belong to the Hindu community, enjoyed support from the BJP ministers and other Hindus from Jammu, who demanded that the case be referred to the CBI. The Kathua Hindu lawyers attempted to prevent the police from presenting a chargesheet in connection with the case in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate. Such blatant communal strategies are used in Kashmir to suppress people’s genuine grievances.
The peace building and conflict resolution are part of the peace process but states currently use strategic studies to settle these issues. Peace process includes dialogue at different levels – official, quasi-official, and non-official. In addition, negotiations and cessation of hostilities are part of the peace process. However, both India and Pakistan have failed to resolve the Kashmir dispute due to trust deficit and bigotry, aggravated by the possession of nukes by two enemy states.
Since several studies have recommended carrot policy for dealing with conflict zones, an inducement strategy has proven to be an important part of preventing bloodbath in disputed areas. Dialogue, diplomacy, forgiveness, and humanitarian approach as an inducement strategy might reduce the violence in Kashmir. The economic development alone cannot restore peace in the valley. The political will is another important part of incentive approach to settle the dispute.
The theories and case studies on conflict areas provide several inducement strategies to settle the unresolved disputes. The stick policy has been given less importance. The incentive approach is most successful in convincing the belligerent states to settle the issues. Both India and Pakistan have invested a vast amount of resources to strengthen their claim on Kashmir. However, both states have failed to win the sentiments of majority of Kashmiri people through their flawed and risk-laden polices in Kashmir.
The incentive approach depends on the perceptions and preferences of political actors within the recipient regimes. Also, there is need for multilateral effort to help both India and Pakistan to halt nuclear arms race that is eroding the precious resources of the two states. Competing interests and cross-cutting agendas are often a problem in dealing with serious issues. The security can be tightened by using humanitarian approaches, too. The nukes have failed to provide a total security to nuclear states; it has remained only as an element of power and status.
Jawaharlal Nehru had promised the Kashmiris to stand by their decision to either accede to India or remain independent. Kashmir’s accession with India will have any credibility only when state autonomy is restored properly in the valley. The instrument of accession of Kashmir with India has a direct link with the “Article 370” (special autonomy to Kashmir) of Indian constitution. However, India has intentionally violated the state autonomy and its misrule in the valley has resulted in the resistance from the Kashmiris. The immediate solution for the Kashmir dispute is to restore the state autonomy. The ultimate solution is, of course, a dialogue between India and Pakistan with third party intervention to settle the issue. However, India is still busy in violating the state autonomy with the help of its draconian laws. On the other hand, Pakistan is backing the militants in Kashmir with the help of its nuclear arsenal that might culminate in more bloodbath in the valley.
Rameez Raja is pursuing Ph.D. at the Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
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