Modern Day Colony in South Asia

India and Pakistan have a choice of accepting international intervention or come to a practical solution of the Kashmir dispute through a mutually negotiated agreement that also involves Kashmiris.

Very few people know that there is a modern-day colony occupied by three nuclear powers right there in our neck of the woods.

Not only the two South Asian nuclear powers, India and Pakistan who have been occupying Kashmir for the last sixty four years, another nuclear giant in the vicinity China is also a party to the dispute who has acquired the Northern part of Kashmir’s territory in an agreement with Pakistan in 1963.

The recent crisis between India and Pakistan over the Line of Control in Kashmir proves that it is still one of the most volatile disputes in the world today that needs to be resolved before we can even think about a durable peace in the region.

As a legacy of the British colonial rule in the subcontinent, Kashmir has been the center of two major wars between India and Pakistan and a small-scale war in Kargil in 1999 when India and Pakistan already had nuclear weapons in their arsenals.

The dispute has already claimed 50,000 to 80,000 lives, with thousands disappeared, imprisoned and tortured. Kashmiris initiated an armed struggle in 1989 with the help of infiltrators who came from Pakistan that dragged too long until the two countries started negotiating the dispute.

Ironically, it was the Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf, the same general who masterminded the Kargil adventure, was at the verge of making a deal with India when he was ousted by the lawyer’s movement and political pressures.

The deal that was being discussed, accepting the current status quo, proposed to make the Line of Control (LOC) an international border but allow trade and human cross-border movement between the two parts of Kashmir. The plan was the most practical idea agreed upon and rumored to be accomplished through back channels between India and Pakistan.

The internal struggle in Kashmir has died down to a great deal but the dispute is still alive. Several Jihadi outfits, some internal and others created by Pakistan, are inactive now in the valley.

Activities of the Pakistani supported groups Hisbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e Tayyaba and Jaish-e Mohammad have tremendously subsided. However, new youth movement might be on the rise which off and on, surfaces in the valley equipped with new weapons of cyber war on the computer.

Realizing the ground realities, resistance groups have started considering peaceful options with India and Pakistan. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), on the other hand is talking about an autonomous Kashmir as a new strategy.

As a practical way out and as a first step to autonomy however, both JKLF and the Hurriyet Conference support the Soft Border solution which proposes to maintain the current LOC as an international border and open it for human and trade activities between both parts of Kashmir.

State sponsored atrocities in the Indian controlled Kashmir are rarely discussed in the media these days. India currently has around 500,000 soldiers and paramilitary forces in Kashmir armed with modern weapons and the infamous Special Power Act to suppress Kashmiris. Incidents of rape, torture and extra judicial killings in the valley place India in an embarrassing position whenever they surface on the media.

This large military presence and its atrocities, however, has been widely criticized by international organizations and human rights groups.

Distribution of water between Pakistan and India involves another major issue of the dispute which offers some optimism in terms of a promising model of negotiations in the past. All rivers in Pakistan flow from Kashmir and merge in the river Sindh before becoming part of the Indian Ocean.

The 1960 Indus Water Treaty provides a practical system of distribution of water with negotiations and dialogue. Pakistan has been raising voices that with building new dams, India is restricting distribution of water to Pakistan. As the water resources deplete in both countries, this issue will remain a prominent part of any discussion on Kashmir.

A hypothetical simulation conducted by the U.S. Institute of Peace proposes an interesting but eye opening solution to the Kashmir issue. After developing a scenario of a dangerous engagement of armed forces of India and Pakistan with a potential of becoming a nuclear war, the simulation suggests intervention of international and American forces under the umbrella of a UN Peace Mission.

The proposed solution justifies foreign intervention as the viable option for resolving this old issue. According to the proposed solution, India and Pakistan will finally agree on a solution mediated by China and the United States at the risk of foreign intervention.

India and Pakistan have a choice of accepting international intervention or come to a practical solution of the Kashmir dispute through a mutually negotiated agreement that also involves Kashmiris.

Any such solution, however, has to include wishes of the people of Kashmir by involving them in tripartite negotiations, who have been suffering for a long time.

(From Viewpoint Online)

 

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