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Kashmir: A dangerous nuclear flashpoint

By Brig Asif Haroon Raja

Sixty three years have lapsed but Kashmir dispute remains unresolved. During this period, besides several military standoffs, two full fledged Indo-Pak wars and two localised conflicts in April 1965 and in summer of 1999 took place on account of Kashmir issue. India has been defying UN Resolutions on Kashmir and playing monkey tricks all these years to avoid resolving the dispute. Indian security forces have kept the people of Kashmir suppressed through use of brute force and has hid its gross human rights abuses under the cover of blatant lies and deceit. Today Kashmir has turned into a dangerous nuclear flashpoint.

The peace loving and docile Kashmiris patiently waited for 43 long years in the hope that India would fulfil its solemn commitment and hold a fair plebiscite but when they found that India will never give them their just right, they ultimately decided to pick up arms and push out Indian Security Forces (ISF) illegally occupying their land since 1947. Armed uprising in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) in end 1988 added fuel to fire to militancy in Pakistan, which had intensified during the eight-year Afghan Jihad.

Tens of die-hard Jihadi groups cropped up to assist the Kashmiri struggle. Large amount of funds were collected for the cause of Kashmir. The people of Pakistan who have always regarded IOK as part of Pakistan and an unfinished agenda of partition left behind by scheming British were deeply pained over the atrocities committed by ISF upon hapless Kashmiris. The ISF had been given a licence to kill and to use rape as a weapon to break the will of freedom fighters. The world took no notice of worst human rights abuses by ISF nor made any effort to find a political solution on the basis of UN Resolutions.

The US which had drawn closer to India after 1990 started changing its stance by undervaluing UN Resolutions and terming them as outdated. Israel which had also forged special ties with India imparted training to Black Cats Commandoes of India in specialised counter insurgency operations and taught them new methods of torturing detainees so as to break the back of movement. Indo-Israel propaganda machinery supplemented by western media started projecting Kashmiri freedom fighters as terrorists and Pakistan as an abettor of terrorism. Full throttle was given to the theme of cross border terrorism. Efforts were geared to get Pakistan branded as a terrorist state.

The religious right in Pakistan sympathised with Kashmir cause and took out rallies in their support and also took practical steps to alleviate their sufferings by providing financial and material assistance. The general public filled up money boxes placed in front of each mosque wholeheartedly. The seculars particularly the liberal elite by and large took least interest in the plight of Kashmiris. Rather, they subscribed to Indo-western propaganda and pressed the government to rein in Jihadists to appease India.

Reign of terror unleashed in IOK by over 700,000 ISF, Indian intelligence agencies and Hindu extremist groups have turned the vale of Kashmir into hell. The whole valley is drenched in human blood but the conscience of the international comity is dead. Shrieks and cries of ill-fated Kashmiri men, women and children get drowned under the din of gunfire, one-sided propaganda and patronage of USA and civilised west. Instead of cautioning India to restrain from human rights abuses, the entire pressure was exerted on Pakistan and held solely responsible for worsening security situation in IOK. Despite use of excessive force and worst form of torture, the flame of liberty lit by handful of Kashmiri fighters kept burning vigorously. No amount of brutality could weaken their resolve to keep fighting till the accomplishment of their due right of self determination as provided for in UN Resolutions.

Indian inhuman cruelty alienated the Kashmiris and their hatred for India touched new heights. Except for insignificant number of Indian toadies enjoying fruits of power at the cost of enslavement of five million Kashmiris, each and every Kashmiri yearns to get rid of India. Having seen the ugly face of India and miserable plight of Indian Muslims, they have lost all trust in duplicitous Indian leaders. Conversely, their love for Pakistan is growing by leaps and bounds. They want to be part of Muslim Pakistan and not of Hindu India where Muslims are treated as second rated citizens. They know that secularism in India is a big farce since Hindu extremist forces are far more powerful than Hindu secularists who are too weak to question them.

Takeover of power by Gen Musharraf in October 1999 brought smiles on the faces of depressed seculars particularly when he came out with his concept of enlightened moderation. The fortunes of Kashmiri resistance forces that were giving a real tough time to 700,000 ISF as well as Jihadi forces in Pakistan plummeted in the aftermath of 9/11. New laws framed by USA on terrorism changed the complexion of freedom movements within Muslim world overnight and freedom fighters were branded as terrorists. This rule was applied in IOK as well which impelled India to apply full pressure on Musharraf to change its policy on Kashmir.

Ten month military standoff in 2002 followed by the US pressure forced him to ban six Kashmir oriented Jihadi groups and to freeze their accounts. Besides allowing India to fence the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, he took stringent measures to control cross LoC movement and also started hounding extremists. He also took on board moderate leaders of All Parties Hurriat Conference promising them an out of box solution to the dispute falling outside the ambit of UN Resolutions. These measures favoured India but went against the interest of Pakistan and resultantly rolled back the momentum of liberation movement. Indian military hastened to claim that it had succeeded in crushing insurgency in Kashmir. Pakistan thus lost the lone card of Kashmir which it could play against India which held several cards.

As a consequent to blocking Jihadi groups from assisting Kashmiris, these groups in revenge joined hands with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and TNSM and started fighting Pak security forces, thus compounding Pakistan’s security problems. These groups facilitated TTP in launching suicide and group attacks within cities. Kashmiris saved the day for Pakistan when they bounced back in the valley in 2008 in the form of violent strikes and protest marches which flabbergasted India. Mumbai attacks were hastily engineered in November 2008 to distract the attention of the world from Kashmir, to put off Indo-Pak composite dialogue which was in advanced stages and to exert pressure on Pakistan to stay away from Kashmir.

Kashmiri movement took a new turn in 2010 when the teenagers with stones in their fists came in the forefront and kept raising anti-India and ‘freedom from India’ slogans despite being ruthlessly killed and tortured by ISF. Unarmed movement of tender age boys captured the attention of the world and for the fist time India found itself short of lame excuses. It could not possibly dub unarmed small boys as young as 8-15 years as terrorists. Nor could it justify its brutal actions against them. Apart from many in western countries, several intellectuals and human rights activists within India have started to sympathize with Kashmiris and are condemning ISF brutalities. Arundhati Roy has taken the lead and has not minced her words in saying that Kashmir is not part of India as claimed by Brahman Indian leaders and that justice should be meted to the people of Kashmir.

In a seminar recently organized in British Parliament, the parliamentarians lent unflinching support to the right of self determination of Kashmiris and have stressed upon their government to use its good offices to solve this chronic dispute. They also called upon India to withdraw its forces from IOK and to facilitate granting right of self determination to Kashmiris. Black day was organized by Kashmiris on both sides of the divide on 27 January and also in Pakistan and other parts of the world reminding India to prevent its forces from massacring innocent Kashmiris and to grant right of self determination to Kashmiris. Rumbling within India for a solution is getting louder.

Indian leadership will never risk holding a plebiscite since it knows that the result would be to its disfavor. It will keep dragging its feet until it is forced to give up its obduracy. The US must play its role to solve this dispute to avoid a nuclear holocaust in the future.

Brig Asif Haroon Raja, a Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces War Coursequalified, holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought 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 number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready. He is a defence analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defence and political matters for numerous international/national newspapers/websites.

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