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The Kashmir Issue?

This year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) turned out to be more than the usual bickering between India and Pakistan, it was an ugly spat, with some nasty verbal blows exchanged between both countries. Sushma Swaraj, the current Minister of External Affairs of India, had some sharp observations on Pakistan’s apparent love for state sponsored terrorism. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, accused India of “war crimes” in the Kashmir valley and “exporting terror” to Pakistan. [1]

Source: The United Nations

The speech was inherently about Pakistan’s role in terrorism, but the issue is inadequate to explain without involving Kashmir. Kashmir is one of the heavily militarized states in the world, with parts administered by India and Pakistan, and a small part by China. Pakistan considers Kashmir to be its “jugular vein” while China has its own ambitions to build a gateway to Pakistan, to further solidify their relationship and get a strategic hold against India.

To give you some context, it all started under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan. The maharaja (local ruler), Hari Singh, chose India and a two-year war erupted in 1947. Since then, Pakistan and India have waged three wars against each other, two of which were focused on Kashmir. India and Pakistan have both declared themselves to be nuclear powers. [2]

It also has a lot to do with the water resources that flows through Kashmir. Pakistan relies heavily on glacial waters flowing from the region for its irrigation needs while India is heavily involved with its hydro-electric projects in the region, Pakistan fears that its water supply will be diverted in the future. [3]

The region is extremely volatile and as we speak, a paramilitary camp in Indian-administered Kashmir is being attacked by suicide bombers, in which one Indian soldier and three militants died. Since the formation of India’s new government in 2014, the tensions have risen exponentially in the valley. As opposed to the old government, the new one is pugnacious and has taken a no-nonsense stand against Pakistan’s continuous export of terror. This has led to numerous ceasefire violations between both countries in recent times. The encounter of Burhan Wani, commandant of militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, caused an uproar in Indian administered Kashmir. Street protests and violence followed, accompanied by the Indian authorities use of pellet guns against the protesters, that resulted in children losing their vision, according to a few news sources. [4]

Although there have been sincere cases of peacebuilding efforts from both sides, there have not been signs of any resolution so far. A few people in the valley want Kashmir to be a separate state, which is unlikely to happen and will not be supported by both countries. All diplomatic talks go down the drain after a ceasefire violation. Pakistan has employed other tactics like psychological warfare by sending its own people across the border to instigate unrest amongst Kashmiris. This has led to a rise in protests that has caused the Indian authorities to retaliate aggressively when a situation arises.

Source: Unsplash

Both countries are unwilling to back down, which brings me to the most important question, how will the residents, who want nothing to do with this issue, ever lead a normal life? Major evacuations during bombardment have become part of their lives. They have become wary of both countries and they want peace at any cost. Villagers staying close to the Line of Control (refers to the military control line between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir) pay a heavy price when ceasefire violation happens. Children, women and the elderly are the ones paralyzed amongst this unrest.

It’s been a long time since this started and I do believe the Kashmiri residents of all, deserve peace and stability more than what these two countries deserve. It is unfathomable to even think about development without having a truce first. It doesn’t seem as simple as it sounds but I believe both countries should get past their diplomatic efforts and agree on a decision. It is highly unlikely that either one of the countries would be giving up the land they occupy, so either they both should agree on a decision in terms of land or let the Kashmiris decide what is good for them. The Kashmiri community needs a conclusion but after traversing some pages on the internet, it makes me sad to mention that the situation is still the same, even worse now. Both countries put forth their selfish agenda instead of making a sincere effort to do something constructive for the Kashmiris.

As Bertrand Russell rightly said, “War does not determine who is right – only who is left”

[1] "India calls Pakistan 'Terroristan' in UN speech row." BBC News. September 22, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2017.

[2] "Kashmir conflict." Wikipedia. November 13, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2017.

[3] Snow, Shawn. "Analysis: Why Kashmir Matters." The Diplomat. September 20, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2017.

[4] Sultan, Aarabu Ahmad. "Concern in Kashmir over police pellet guns." BBC News. July 19, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2017.

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