InternationalVolume 12 Issue # 09

Kashmir’s killing fields

The Line of Control in Kashmir seems to be on fire – literally. During the last two-and-a-half months as many as 200 Indian cease-fire violations have been recorded, while unprovoked shelling by the Indian troops has taken a heavy toll of lives, mostly of innocent civilians, on the Pakistani side. The Modi government is doing all this in flagrant violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement and international laws and conventions governing inter-state relations.

Recently, the situation took another ugly turn when the Indian troops targeted a civilian bus and an ambulance on the Pakistani side, causing nine civilian fatalities. Following the brutal killing of young Kashmiri leader Burhanuddin Wani in July, the Valley erupted into a fresh vortex of violence which the 700,000-strong Indian troops have been trying to quell through blatant violation of human rights.

Since the extrajudicial killing of Burhan Wani, around 150 people have been killed, over a 1,000 have been blinded by pellet guns and more than 16,000 have been seriously injured. According to an estimate, over 10,000 Kashmiri young men have been arrested with no news of their ultimate fate. As a Foreign Office spokesman recently pointed out, the spiraling state violence in Kashmir has sent “Indo-Pak relations on a rollercoaster ride down a steep slope.”

With each passing day, the situation has gone from bad to worse with India showing no signs of relenting or reining in its trigger happy troops. It is clear India is deliberately heightening tension on the Line of Control and Working Boundary to cover up its security forces’ atrocities against innocent Kashmiri people in the occupied territory. It may be recalled here that some time back in order to divert the world’s attention from its criminal acts, India first blamed Pakistan for the Uri army base attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed and then declared that Indian forces carried out a surgical strike across the LoC – a claim which later turned out to be fake. Following the Uri incident which occurred days before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was set to address the United Nations General Assembly regarding Indian human rights violations in Held Kashmir, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also stepped up his campaign to isolate Pakistan diplomatically.

It is not difficult to see through the sinister objectives India is trying to achieve through its ceaseless and unprovoked violations of the LoC. Apart from deflecting attention from its crimes against humanity in the Valley, it is also using the tension along the ceasefire line to promote terrorism in Pakistan. India is also brazenly active on Afghan soil in support of elements hostile to Pakistan. New Delhi’s pronouncements against Balochistan and CPEC are other manifestations of India’s mala fide intentions.

Needless to say, the growing escalation along the Line of Control has the potential to explode into a bigger conflict which may sear the peace of the whole region. The Uri attack in September and the so-called surgical strikes by India in response, together with the rising body count in both parts of Kashmir, have altered the previous military dynamics and created dangerous new expectations on the Indian side. With several civilian and military casualties on the Pakistani side — including three soldiers and nine bus passengers killed by Indian firing and shelling last Wednesday — and the Indian military claiming beheading of one of its soldiers, the tension has been touching the breaking point.

The constant unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian forces are a serious threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation and wider conflagration. Pakistan has constantly tried to engage India in talks for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir quagmire but New Delhi has refused to budge from its rigid stand. Since a bilateral peace mechanism does not seem to be working at all, it is time for the international community, and more so the United Nations and UN Security Council Members, to intercede in the matter to bring the bloodshed in Kashmir to an immediate end.

Kashmir is a universally recognised dispute with numerous UN Security Council resolutions emphasizing the need for its solution. It is indeed regrettable that despite the passage of more than 68 years since the adoption of multiple UN resolutions, the people of Kashmir still await their just cause to be taken up by the international community.

In the larger perspective, the Kashmir dispute is not only a constant source of tension and instability in the South Asian region but also poses a threat to international peace and security. It is clear that peace and normalization between Pakistan and India cannot be achieved without a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. It is time the UN woke up from its slumber and selective policy and took practical steps to ensure that the people of Kashmir exercise their right of self-determination in accordance with its various resolutions and the UN Charter.