The Black Day of Kashmir -- 61 years of pain

October 27, 2008 - 0:0

The 27th of October is a date which reminds us of one of the darkest chapters in the history of South Asia. On this day 61 years ago, the Indian army entered Kashmir to forcibly put down a popular uprising by the people who had risen against the autocratic and tyrannical rule of the Dogra Maharaja.

The action of the Indian army led to an international outcry and the Kashmir issue was taken to the Untied Nations Security Council, which established a special commission, namely the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan, with the mandate to independently investigate the matter and help the contending parties reach a negotiated settlement. The deliberations of the commission resulted in two resolutions, passed by the Security Council on August 13, 1948 and January 15, 1949 respectively, which called for a free, fair and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices to enable the people of Kashmir to determine whether they would like to join Pakistan or India. This was followed by commitments on the part of the Indian leadership to allow the Kashmiris to determine their own destiny. In a statement to the Indian parliament on February 12, 1951, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru said, “We had given our pledge to the people of Kashmir and subsequently to the United Nations. We stood by it and we stand by it today. Let the people of Kashmir decide.”
Unfortunately, despite this pledge to the international community and the promise to the people of Kashmir to hold the plebiscite, India continues to defy the world by denying Kashmiris their inalienable right to determine their own destiny. In fact, in the past two decades tens of thousands of Kashmiri men, women, and children have been martyred by the Indian occupying forces. Thousands more have been incarcerated, tortured, and maimed, and places of worship and cultural heritage have been destroyed. These massive violations of the fundamental human rights of the people of Kashmir have been fully documented by reputable international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
The non-resolution of the Kashmir dispute has led to wars between Pakistan and India and to the diversion of billions of dollars into non-productive expenditure in a region which is home to one fourth of the world’s poor. The atmosphere of tension in India-Pakistan relations has engendered instability and insecurity in South Asia. The urgency of the situation and the need to resolve the dispute as soon as possible cannot be overemphasized.
Pakistan has initiated the composite dialogue process with a view to resolve all the outstanding problems with India. A number of Kashmir-related confidence-building measures have been agreed upon and are being implemented to alleviate the suffering of the Kashmiris.
After all the years of trouble, the current peace process has raised the level of people’s expectations and should become a symbol of peace, tranquility, and fraternity in South Asia.
The people of Kashmir and Pakistan have always appreciated the position taken by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is sensitive to the pain and anguish of the Kashmiri Muslims and desirous of an early end to their ordeal. The people of Iran share deep-rooted spiritual and cultural bonds with the people of Kashmir. In fact, Kashmir is known as Little Iran -- “Kashmir – Iran-e-saghir”.
It is time for the government of India to respond to the genuine demand of the people of Kashmir and to initiate measures to end the human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir by stopping repression, releasing political prisoners, reducing its forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir, repealing Kashmir-specific draconian laws, and permitting genuine political activities. Peace and stability in South Asia can only be guaranteed if all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India, and particularly the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, are resolved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
The world’s Muslims will always stand by the Kashmiris until they succeed in their struggle to attain the right to self-determination.