Article: A step at a time for Kashmir

Arhama Siddiqa

We live in a time where countries commit war crimes without beating about the bush. These countries are unabashedly cheered on by consonant blood thirsty citizens and as a consequence their leaders.

Saying that they get away with open murder would be playing down and trivialising the extent of their misdemeanors.

The question then arises: what constitutes the definition of an occupation? Is open massacre and annihilation by a leader deemed an ally acceptable? Is it justifiable if executed by one of the largest global markets?

The situation in illegally occupied Jammu & Kashmir reinforces these beliefs.

More than two years, twenty-nine months, 21170 hours and four waves of Covid-19 pandemic the situation in IIOJK has not changed much since the abrogation of articles 370 and 35A by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Recently, Professor Gregory Stanton, a genocide studies academic who had predicted the Rwandan massacre of 1994, cited Indian acts like the revocation of the autonomous status of Occupied Kashmir as well as the introduction of the Citizen Amendment Act in 2019 as being on the same wavelength as the Myanmar government’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims. The Rohingyas were first declared non-citizens before being expelled through violence and genocide. The present government in India too has left no stone unturned in its efforts to change the human ecology in Kashmir.

With the way things were going, he forewarned that a reduplication in Indian Occupied Kashmir with the Muslims being the target was imminent.

Torture, sexual violence and forced disappearances are still rampant and intricately linked to the denial of political sovereignty of Kashmiris. The aforementioned change in demography is proceeding at a lightning pace with more than 600,000 Indian Hindus having been granted the right to not only buy property but to attain employment in Muslim majority territory. All the while indigenous Kashmiri Muslims (almost eight million) are denied this right. Moreover, the Indian government has set up a task force to monitor all dissent and have the authority to expel and replace all those who are deemed openly hostile to Indian rule. These anti-democratic measures institute vade mecum of ethnic cleansing. In 2021 alone, more than 350 people were killed in IIOKJ — a majority of them civilians — and more than 1600 Kashmiris were arrested.

Over the years, the vocal and expressive Kashmiri voice has become much muted. It appears since human rights organisations are hapless in the face of the impudent and audacious acts of barbarisms by governments instituted in stifling democracy, they require inward reform if they are to deliver justice. There is an urgent need of transnational solidarity and activism, especially in times when every country seems to have — on the surface at least — gone rogue.

The recent small pockets of solidarity expressed for the Kashmir cause should provide impetus for human rights activists to not quell down. For instance, there has been much hue and cry from Indian quarters when it came to light that the World Health Organization’s map shows Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan. In the same degree, Amnesty calling Israel an apartheid state is also a bonus seeing as how it has spread the genocidal venom across the world, most noticeably in India which takes its blue print from Israeli genocidal tendencies.

Last year’s efforts by Islamabad, especially in line with its shift from geopolitics to geoeconomics, has given the country a sound voice of reason in international affairs. Hence, Pakistan should carry on advocating for Kashmiri rights and keeping the matter active on the international table, so as to avoid the issue at hand denigrating into a wisp of non-existence and into cold storage.

The mantra should be to go forward — at however much snail-pace.

A step at a time in the right direction is better than motionless redundance.

Courtesy The Express Tribune

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