Tuesday, September 26th, 2017
Home »Editorials » Growing global concern over Kashmir
The world is watching with increasing anxiety, and openly expressing it too, India's grave human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir and the upping of ante against Pakistan amid bellicose rhetoric. On a visit to India, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dwelt at length, in a TV interview, on the Kashmir question saying "we want this region to be peaceful. ... Right next to the prosperity of the Kashmiri people, we need security and stability in South Asia." And that the way forward is "to build bridges, strengthen dialogue between different stakeholders. We shouldn't allow more casualties to occur." He offered a helping hand towards that end "we can be involved in multilateral dialogues... to settle this question once and for all." Earlier last month, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, had said the Trump administration was concerned about the relationship between India and Pakistan, and that instead of waiting until "something happens" it would try and "find its place" in efforts to de-escalate strain between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Although India had reacted angrily to Haley's mediation offer, saying its position for bilateral redressal of all Indo-Pak issues has not changed; the ground realties are changing fast urging course correction. Various opinion leaders within India have been expressing concern over the mood in the occupied territory, telling their government its 700,000-troop security presence may help India to hang on to the territory but it had lost the Kashmiri people. Already in less than a year's time - since the current wave of uprising triggered by the killing of resistance fighter Burhan Wani began - Indian security forces have killed more than a hundred stone-throwing youth, blinded scores of others with pellet gun shots, and thousands have been arrested and tortured. In a recent move, all social media services have been blocked to prevent people from organising protests. Yet clashes between stone-pelting Kashmiris and security forces remain a daily routine. It is pertinent to recall here that a fact-finding team of "concerned citizens", led by a former BJP foreign minister Yashwant Sinha, after two visits last year to the Valley had noted in its report an increasing lack of fear among the Kashmiri youth in confronting the security forces. While recommending improving the human rights situation as well as a multi-dimensional dialogue for settling the Kashmir issue between India and Kashmiri leaders and between India and Pakistan, the report had also warned that what happens in the period after April 2017 is expected to be much higher in magnitude and intensity.

The recent visit by Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal, a close confidante of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for not-so-secret a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif indicates New Delhi is finally beginning to recognise the need for reviving the dialogue process. This much welcome development is attributable to at least three factors: one, Indian security forces' failure to suppress Kashmiri uprising; second behind-the-scenes efforts by international intermediaries; and third, the Modi's comfortable victory in the crucial UP state election as well as municipal election in Delhi, allowing him to relax his anti-Pakistan ultra nationalistic stance. Friends of both Pakistan and India, like President Erdogan, and of course the US, need to nudge the Indian government towards a meaningful discussion of the Kashmir dispute and resolve it "once and for all", ushering in a new era of peace and progress in this entire region.

the author