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  Asia-Pacific
Kashmir at the Crossroads
By Tanveer Jafri
Contributing Writer
Though voices of separatism and autonomy are not new in India, the problem of Kashmiri separatist movement is the most complex political problem to date. Notwithstanding India considers Kashmir as its integral part, secessionist powers in Kashmir don’t accept this claim. These separatists enjoy complete moral and political support from across the border (Pakistan). It has become internal compulsion of Pak rulers to instigate and support the separatist movements on Indian side of Kashmir. If we retrospect, Indian role in creation of Bangladesh by partitioning Pakistan in 1971 is clearly visible. Aggrieved by the events of 1971, Pakistani Army officers and leaders are certainly using Kashmir problem as a tool of revenge for that ‘insult’.

Can Pakistan’s action be anymore tolerated? Can separatists be given more freedom to play in the hands of Pakistan and poison the valley? Do common Kashmiris really want freedom? What can be the detailed definition of freedom of Kashmir? Are separatists only asking for independence of Indian part or they are imagining a big Kashmir including the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir? Should Indian Kashmir be merged with Pakistan just according to the ‘aspirations’ of some separatists? China has occupied a considerable part of Kashmir. What about it? Should the majority pro-Indian voices be ignored by the fear of a few secessionists and their propaganda to mislead Kashmiri youth against India in the name of religion? What should be the actual definition of “freedom” of Kashmir and who should have the right to define it, etc. there are many such questions which are complicated yet essential to be answered to find a sustainable solution of for Kashmir.

Violence under the ‘banner’ of separatist movement is on since last three decades. Separatists, terrorists, boasting of Kashmiri culture and Kashmiriyat, have forced hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris to leave their homes in valley. Kashmiris, majority of whom are non-Muslims, are forced to live the lives of refugees in their own country. One thing is clear by such inhuman activities of these separatists- they don’t care about Kashmiriyat or Kashmiri culture. They are just instigating violence in the name of religion. And those Kashmiri moderate Muslims, who don’t support their so called freedom movement, are either killed by these separatist or are forced to leave the valley. Thus, question arises whether these numbered separatists want an Islamic country in the form of “Aazaad Kashmir”? This doubt is cleared by the ongoing movements, protests, rallies and venomous speeches in PoK and Pakistan regarding Indian Kashmir. Supporting the stand of separatists, once again Pakistan has requested the US President to hand over Kashmir to the United Nations. This Pak statement has come at a time when Obama is visiting India. Pakistan is trying to prove to the US that Kashmir, contrary to the claims of India, is not an integral part of India, rather a disputed territory.

However, many important questions can be asked from those few secessionists who are dreaming of an independent religion-based Kashmir state. First of all, they should notice the internal situation as well as global image of Pakistan, which is conspiring religious violence and separatism in Kashmir. Has Pakistan been able to remain united since it was partitioned in the name of religion in 1947? What was the reason behind creation of Bangladesh in 1971? Apart from this, Pakistan’s internal conflicts are well known to the world. Are people talking of “freedom” of Kashmir, unaware of near daily murders and suicide attacks in the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”? Whatever be the Pakistani people’s, rulers or Army’s views vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue, it is neither a necessity nor a compulsion for Indians and Indian government to bother about that. In India, whether it is any government at the centre and Indian people or Indian Muslims all are of the view that Kashmir is an integral part of India and should remain so. And separatists should also feel that it is in the interest of Kashmiris and Kashmiriyat too to remain with India.

Barring a few jingoist forces, most political parties are of the view that Article 370 should stay and Kashmiri people be given special rights. Even a complete autonomy bill has also been passed in Kashmir in 2000. According to reports, the interlocutors appointed by the Central government will now enquire into the reasons why that bill was not ratified. By this, Central government is trying to convince the Kashmiri people to turn to the central government for their developmental needs, and not become puppet in the hands of separatists.

Some separatists claim that after “freedom” from India, Kashmir will become the favourite tourist destination in the world. This logic seems meaningless if we look at the state of affairs of tourism in Pak Occupied Kashmir, which Pakistan denotes as “Azaad Kashmir” (Independent Kashmir). Kashmir where a common Kashmiri doesn’t feel safe and about which the world knows that number of terrorist training camps are operating, where rallies and processions by militants are common sight, thinking about foreign tourists arriving there is a joke. It can be said that the issue of Kashmir can’t be settled by freedom. Therefore, it is in the interest of Kashmiris and Kashmiriyat that it keeps on symbolizing the forehead of the world’s largest democracy, of which Kashmiris and India can be proud of.



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Other Articles by Tanveer Jafri
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Mr.Tanveer Jafri, who serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times, is a noted columnist in India. He writes on a variety of issues including world peace, anti-terrorism, and national & international politics for numerous news dailies and portals in India. As a devoted social activist he is member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy.

 

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