Asif Haroon Raja
Kashmir was always described as the heaven on earth. Its natural beauty and scenic views are matchless. Melodies of flowing water of springs, the enchanting Dal Lake, thick green grass and foliage on high mountains and white snow on the peaks served as ornaments of the valley. Fragrance of the pine leaves mystified the environment. People from all over the world aspired to visit and revisit the enthralling valley. This paradise on earth has been turned into hell by India. The Kashmiris are languishing under the boots of Indian security forces in the biggest open prison and most militarized region in the world.
The UN which came into being after the 2nd WW to maintain international peace has fallen much short of expectations. Many wars have taken place and among the unresolved disputes, the oldest are the Palestinian and Kashmir disputes which are lingering since 1948. Both disputes are the legacies left behind by the British.
The Kashmir dispute is the chief bone of contention between India and Pakistan. While Pakistan considers it as its jugular vein, India which initially pledged to grant right of self-determination to the Kashmiris, changed its stance and started parroting that it is Atoot Ang (integral part) of India. The two archrivals have fought three wars and several local conflicts over Kashmir which has now become a nuclear flashpoint. One of the reasons of rising levels of extremism is the non-resolution of the dispute and India’s atrocities.
It seems that the UN and the whole international community are indifferent towards this dispute. Pakistan’s stance over the dispute is in accordance with the charter of UN in which full support of the oppressed Kashmiris has been pledged and protection of human rights ensured irrespective of territory, religion or country.
Kashmir was invaded by the Indian military in October 1947, just two months after the Partition of the Indian subcontinent by the British, and two-thirds Kashmir was occupied and retained forcibly. After patiently waiting and expectantly looking towards the UN and India for 42 long years to grant them their due right of self-determination, and also getting disillusioned with Pakistan, the Kashmiris inspired by Islamic revolution in 1979 and Afghan Jihad in 1980s decided to pick up arms and force India to grant them their legitimate right.
Armed Kashmiri uprising erupted like a volcano in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in 1989. It rose in strength in 1990s and peaked in the early 2000s. Thereon, in the aftermath of 9/11, the intensity of the movement began to abate. The reason was that India helped by USA portrayed resistance movement in IOK as terrorism and new laws on terrorism put Pakistan on the defensive. Pakistan under Gen Musharraf was made an ally but made to fight biggest inland war in the world.
India under Vajpayee gave hope for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue. Gen Musharraf happily signed the peace treaty in January 2004 hoping that resumption of composite dialogue would lead to settlement of core disputes including Kashmir. Duped by India and overwhelmed by the media hype, he took steps to stop movement across the Line of Control (LoC) and to allow India to fence the entire length of LoC. Part of APHC leaders led by Mir Waiz in IOK were taken on board. Syed Ali Shah Geelani and some others however, refused to be part of the new scheme of ‘out of box solution’, in which the UN resolutions were made irrelevant. He knew the mind of India better than others.
Peace along the LoC in Kashmir was a ruse to surreptitiously start a covert war both from Afghanistan and Iran to initially destabilize FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Baluchistan. Thereon, spread the flames of terrorism all over Pakistan and make it lawless and a failed State. Grand design was to disable nuclear program. India could not have undertaken covert war freely with restive Kashmir, which had become a bleeding wound for India.
While India kept Pak leaders engaged in futile confidence building measures, and at the same time vigorously chased the marooned freedom fighters in IOK, it didn’t move an inch towards the resolution of core issues. By 2007 India proudly claimed that Pakistan backed insurgency in Kashmir had been successfully quashed and the state was ready for elections. Whatever little progress made in dialogue was reversed after blaming Pakistan for the engineered Mumbai attacks in November 2008. Since then, India has adopted a hostile posture and prioritized terrorism above the Kashmir dispute. In violation of Indus Basin Treaty, it is feverishly building dozens of dams over the three Pakistan specific rivers to dry up Pakistan. Things have gone from bad to worse since the takeover of power by Narendra Modi in June 2014.
High scale disturbances in IOK in the aftermath of martyrdom of popular Burhan Wani in July 2016 together with fast paced development of CPEC and Pakistan’s economic revival have panicked India. Besides stepping up human rights abuses in IOK and terrorism in Pakistan through its proxies, Narendra Modi, Ajit Doval and Rajnath Singh openly threatened to detach Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir from Pakistan. India resorted to series of false flag operations in IOK to give an impression that Pakistan is supporting insurgency in Kashmir. To give strength to Indian allegation, Afghanistan was tutored to sing the same song of cross border terrorism.
Indo-US-Afghan strategic nexus built a narrative to brand Pakistan as an abettor of terrorism and the trio as victims.
To hide its discomfiture over failing to overawe Pakistan, Indian military is giving vent to its impotent rage by resorting to unprovoked firing across the LoC and Working Boundary in Kashmir in violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement. Most casualties are civilians. India faked a surgical strike against imaginary training camps in AJK. Likewise, Afghanistan encouraged by India and USA has been carrying out skirmishes along the Durand Line.
Afghanistan has also allowed its soil for use of covert war by CIA-RAW-NDS-Mossad-MI-6 nexus against Pakistan.
Of late, Iran which has a defence deal with India and is very close to Northern Alliance heavy regime in Kabul, has brought frostiness in its relations with Pakistan. The trio signed Chahbahar seaport agreement in 2016 to undermine Gwadar. RAW under Kulbushan Yadav had been making use of Iranian soil to destabilize Baluchistan and Karachi.
Egged on by the whole hearted diplomatic, political and military support of the US, and the three military agreements signed between the two militaries in 2016, India is now openly threatening to wage a limited war and to break Pakistan into four pieces. It is trying hard to diplomatically isolate Pakistan and get it declared a terror abetting State.
Afghanistan under Ashraf Ghani is speaking India’s language and so is Donald Trump who has recently declared Hizbul Mujahideen leader Salahuddin an international terrorist. Trump has disregarded record breaking human rights abuses in IOK and has displayed complete insensitivity to the suffering of Kashmiris. US Congress (John McCain, Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher in particular), supports separatist movement in Baluchistan.
In Washington, there are loud calls for taking away the status of non-NATO ally from Pakistan and to stop military and economic assistance to Pakistan alleging that it is still not doing enough. The visiting US team led by McCain intending to dilute the impact of Trump’s slap, hypocritically patted Pak military for its commendable role in the war on terror, but reverted to its traditional hostile ‘do more’ stance when it landed in Kabul. The visitors have given the wooly idea of Pak-Afghan joint operations to eliminate terrorism, forgetting that the US is among the spoilers which doesn’t want stabilization of Af-Pak region.
The five anti-Pakistan intelligence agencies huddled in Kabul that had initiated hybrid war against Pakistan in 2003/04 have launched the final phase of fifth generation war to create political chaos and trigger civil war combined with sectarian war on the pattern of Iraq and Syria. This has been necessitated to disrupt freedom movement in Kashmir, block development works and CPEC.
The hybrid war is not being fought by the paid proxies alone, but is augmented by electronic, print and social media, NGOs, pseudo intellectuals and disgruntled politicians to build choice perceptions among the public and civil society, foment rift in civil-military relations, polarize the society and create instability and insecurity.
Many are suspecting that Panama and Dawn leaks scandals were engineered to topple the sitting government. Recent publication of a book by a killer Raymond Davis is also seen as a link of the same chain to discredit Pakistan. The sitting government, Army and ISI are the major targets.
Kashmiris are struggling for the last 70 years to seek independence from India. They are being ruthlessly persecuted and dehumanized by Indian occupying forces since 1989. For the last 28 years, the hapless Kashmiris have been wailing and beseeching the world to take notice of the wanton cruelties of Indian security forces inflicted upon them. It is most unfortunate that no one is listening to their shrieks and woes and the ill-fated people have not been given any relief. Not a day passes when a Kashmiri is killed or maltreated.
State terrorism led by Narendra Modi is confiscating the rights of children, women and unarmed civilians. And from July 2016 onward, even the eyes, nose and ears of Kashmiri people are not safe from Indian state terrorism. Protesting young boys and girls including children are fired upon with pellet and chili guns to blind them. Hundreds have been fully/partially blinded. As a state policy, the youth is being systematically eliminated. For this purpose, RSS and RAW are doing the dirty work.
In order to change the demography of IOK, new colonies have been constructed where Hindu Pundits and retired servicemen are being settled in big numbers. Refugees from Azad Kashmir are awarded lands and houses in IOK. This sort of evil practice was undertaken in Jammu in 1947 to change the Muslim majority into minority.
India is not only violating human rights in Kashmir but also trying to legalize severe violations. POTA, PSA and other draconian laws like AFSPA imposed in IOK by India reveal that any house in IOK can be raided without any permission. 750, 000 Indian Army soldiers, paramilitary forces and police deployed in IOK since 1989 have been given license to kill without fear of accountability. They are immune from every law of the State. Extra judicial killings, fake encounters, arbitrary and unlawful detentions without trials, torture and deaths of detainees, sexual harassment, rapes and night raids are a norm. There are tens of hundreds of unknown and unmarked mass graves. Thousands of bullet ridden bodies are buried in mass graves. 940 unidentified graves were discovered in Uri alone. There is no room for such violations in any civilized society of the world but it is legal in Kashmir.
In order to hide its evil designs and brutalities, India has laid out a smokescreen of falsehood and is indulging in a false propaganda by declaring freedom movement of Kashmiri people as terrorism duly abetted by Pakistan. The US and western world gladly buys the Indian story ignoring the fact that in the light of several resolutions of UN, Kashmiri struggle is a freedom movement and not terrorism. India has put a ban on media persons, Human Rights Groups, UN, UNMOGIP or any fact finding team to visit the Valley and listen to the afflictions of Kashmiris. A ban is imposed on internet and cable service.
It is quite strange as to why the champions of democracy are unable to notice high scale State terrorism being committed by India in IOK where over 100,000 people have been killed, 120,000 shops/houses destroyed, over 115000 children orphaned, 13000 women and young girls raped/gang raped and 25000 women widowed between the period of 1989 and June 2017. Well over 10,000 are rotting in secret torture dens for the last many years and their families have no knowledge of the whereabouts and whether they are living or dead. Their fate remain unknown and their wives are leading a miserable life as half widows.
India has used excessive force, denied basic human rights, and employed various tricks to break the freedom movement and the will of Kashmiris to fight. After fencing the LoC, a wall is being built to prevent even a sparrow to pass through. The Kashmiri people totally devoid of external support however, are indigenously protesting and braving the brutalities and struggling for their right of self-determination and are reminding the UNO to play its role and resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UNSC resolutions. Pakistan unfortunately never had a long-term viable Kashmir policy to win its case and its actions at best have been reactive.
Since the entire lot of senior Hurriyat leaders have been placed under house arrest, the movement has been taken over by the youth of the fifth generation. Born, bred and brought up under traumatic environment, and having witnessed the horrifying deaths of their near and dear ones and rapes of their mothers and sisters, the rattle tattle of gunfire, explosions and the bloodshed do not scare them. They neither fear the gun totting Indian soldiers nor death.
The school children, both boys and girls are defiantly throwing stones at the bayonet wielding soldiers mounted in vehicles, and at times snatching their weapons. They hate the Indians from the core of their hearts and want Azadi (Freedom) at all cost. Conversely, they love Pakistan from the bottom of their hearts. They exhibit their hate for India and love for Pakistan openly by chanting anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans and waving Pak flags. Those who are martyred are draped in Pakistan flag. Their most popular slogan is “Kashmir will become part of Pakistan”. Recent victory of Pak cricket team against India in the finals was celebrated by the Kashmiris with extreme fervor. Pakistan Independence Day is celebrated with fanfare and that of India as a Black Day.
India has lost the support of the Kashmiri public, and Kashmir is slipping out of the hands of India. This changed reality has begun to dawn upon many in India who till recent always voiced the government stance that Kashmir is the integral part of India and its detachment is out of question. However, after witnessing the undying passion to sacrifice and die, they are now opining that the battle of conception for another Pakistan in the womb of India will deliver sooner than later.
Kashmir is an international issue and if the world wants peace in the region, then Kashmir issue will have to be resolved. Sooner India understands this reality and gives up its stubborn stance, better it will be for India and the region as a whole. The UN and the world powers must take note of the human crisis and intervene to stop the bloodshed and human rights abuses in IOK, pressurize India to accept Kashmir as a disputed territory, treat the movement as freedom movement, demilitarize Kashmir, free the political prisoners, dismantle torture cells, abolish black laws, and cooperate in holding free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspices. Since the US is partisan, Russia and China can play a key role by agreeing to become mediators.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books including two on Kashmir, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. [email protected]
Brig. General Asif Haroon Raja a Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces WarCoursequalified holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought the epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously.
He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt, and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently.
He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written a number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready.
He is a defense analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defense and political matters for numerous international/national publications.