Tahir Iqbal

Kashmir is a bone of contention between Pakistan and India.We often hear about the spellbound beauty and the magical tales associated with the valley that is unfortunately gloom with the grief and sorrow of its bereaved denizens.Hundreds of protesters demanding their right of self rule were maimed by the Indian military and paramilitary personnel’s. Atrocities committed by India in the disputed territory of Kashmir wreaked havoc among the public.Use of pellet guns to disperse the protesters has been castigated by international media.The fresh wave of violence and protests erupted after encounter of a separatist teenager Burhan wani by Indian army,who was considered as a charismatic hero and social media star by Kashmirs. The whole Kashmir episode is filed with the blood and coffins.

Until fourteenth century,the valley of Kashmir was ruled by various Hindu and Buddhist rulers.From about 1350-1580 it came under the rule of Muslims after attack from Afghan and Turk warriors.In eighteenth century,the territory came under the rule of Sikhs.Following the first Anglo Sikh war,the state was ceded to British empire under the treaty of Lahore which transferred it to Gulab singh through the treaty of Amritsar.From then until 1947,Kahmir was ruled by the Maharajas of Jammu and Kashmir.

The territorial conflict for Kashmir dates back to 1947 when,at the dawn of freedom,India was split to form a new state for Muslims. Every Muslim majority area was focused by Jinnah to become a part of Pakistan.By that time 75% population residing in the Kashmir was Muslim so Jinnah wanted the territory to join Pakistan.

British viceroy who handled the partition gave the authority to individual rulers of states to decide whether they want to join Pakistan or India.The ruler of Kashmir Maharaja Hari singh decided to join neither,he wanted to stay independent as accession to India could promote unrest in the minds of Muslims whereas joining Pakistan could be opposed by the minority hindus and sikhs. But his decision was impractical at the time because Kashmir was landlocked state and it was an apple of discord between Pakistan and India.Pakistan made various efforts to convince the Maharaja for joining Pakistan.Quaid e azam wrote many letters to him promising a fair treatment but in no vain.Muslim League after getting a cold response from Maharaja clandestinely supported the revolt.Tribesmen of NWFP were prepared to fight a war for Kashmir,this whole plan was made by the Prime minister Liaqat Ali khan with the assistance of Sardar Shaukat hayat khan.The violence erupted in the eastern part of jammu and Kashmir which resulted in a large scale killing and massacre of thousands of Muslims. More than two lakh Muslims got killed and thousands of women were raped by the members of RSS, a Hindu extremist organization.However Muslims got control of most of the western parts of state under the leadership of Sardar Ibrahim,a Muslim conference leader.

Maharaja’s army had outdated weapons,they were outnumbered and it was impossible for them to fight back so a request was made by Maharaja to Delhi for military assistance which the Indian government accepted after putting a demand that the valley had to accede to India before the latter could assist the army of Maharaja in fight. Maharaja signed the treaty of accession on 26 October 1947 which was accepted by the governor general.The treaty stated that after getting control over the territory,a referendum would be held in Kashmir and people would be given the right that where they wanted to live.

Indian forces entered the valley and a war broke down between local rebels and Indian army.Pakistan army provided all kinds of support to local mujahideen or rebels who were fighting for Kashmir.Later regular army got engaged and Indo Pak war of 1947 took place.

On 1 November 1947 Lord Mount Baten visited Jinnah and he offered to conduct a plebiscite in the valley but the Quaid rejected it on the basis that valley was under the control of Indian forces and the people of Kashmir won’t be able to exercise their right to vote freely.Matter was carried out in U.N by India and a commission namely UNCIP(United nations commission of Indian and Pakistan) was formed.Commission suggested the withdrawal of the armies of both countries and a plebiscite afterward but neither party was willing to step up.Pakistan was asked to withdraw the forces and tribesmen from Azad Kashmir which was rejected by Pakistan on the plea that there would no guarantee that India would withdraw its troops afterwards.

During 1950,Indian Prime minister Jawahir lal Nehru met with his Pakistani counterpart Muhammad Ali Bogra and the former accepted the demand of plebiscite but after joining of CENTO by Pakistan,India got a chance to get away from the demand of plebiscite.Furthermore a constituent assembly was elected in Kashmir in 1951 which ratified the state’s accession to India.It is worth mentioning that the elections held in Kashmir were reportedly rigged and the government formed failed to capture the confidence and support of masses.

In 1962,a war broke down between India and China on a disputed territory in Kashmir which was claimed by China,the war was won by the latter and the Indian controlled area “Aksai chin” was annexed by China.

Pakistan and India failed to agree on a peaceful solution of Kashmir so in 1965,an operation code named “Operation Gibraltar” was carried by Pakistan through mujahideen and led by Pakistan army,the mission was to capture Kashmir but it failed and India attacked Pakistan resulted in a befitting response by Pakistan troops. 

In the war of 1971,East Pakistan got separated and Pakistan was defeated,ninety thousand troops were captured by Indian army and huge swathes of land became under the control of latter. Simla agreement followed the war which stated that both countries would resolve the bilateral issues amicably and through table talks. Kashmir issue caught special attention of both premiers during Simla agreement.

General elections were held in Kashmir in 1987 and right wing parties coalesced under the umbrella of Muslim united front(MUF).MUF aimed to islamize the system after formation of government.Public of Kashmir supported the coalition and the rallies of MUF were crowded by thousands of people but surprisingly election results turned to be different from the expectations of public.International media reported that elections were rigged by the congress party.After elections,unrest and disturbance in the minds of kashmiris became widened which resulted in an armed struggle for freedom in 1989.

The freedom struggle rose up in 1989 and many militant organizations waged a guirella war against Indian forces.Ever since 1989,the valley has been echoing with the voice of bullets and gernades. There were prominent Kashmiri leaders who were heading militants. Yasin Malik,Amjad wani and Farooq dar are some of the names which attracted the attention of World due to their armed struggle. Yasin malik later renounced the armed struggle and he got involved in political struggle for rights of Kashmiris.

After the ending of Soviet war,thousands of mujahideen turned their attention towards Kashmir and many militant organization were set up,prominent among them were Harkat ul mujahideen,Hizb ul mujahideen,Al badr mujahideen,Jaish e Muhammad and Lashkar e Tayyaba.Jaish and Lashkar are still considered a threat by India and it had repeatedly tried to put the names of their respective leaders,Masood Azhar and Hafiz saeed in the list of international terrorists.

India has been hurling allegations on Pakistan that it is behind the armed militias struggling for independence.Pakistan has always denied its role in attacks inside the valley.

It is worth mentioning that some international militant organizations like Al Qaeda also supports the ideology of Kashmiri separatists on the basis of Islamic ideology. Usama bin laden was a vocal for kashmiris and in one of his video messages,he urged the Kashmiri mujahideen to revamp the struggle for independence.After 9/11,U.S attacked Afghanistan and India tried to divert the attention of US to Kashmir by reiterating that Kashmiri separatist were terrorists and Pakistan was backing them but due to the vested interest of U.S with Pakistan,the issue could not be highlighted as it was expected.

Indian atrocities in Kashmir are no more a secret.Human rights organizations claimed in 2011 that 2156 bodies had been buried in different graves and they were killed in fake encounters by Indian forces.Moreover an “Armed forces special powers act” was introduced in the territory which gave immense powers to Indian army to held any suspected militant without trial for two years.Amnesty international alleged Indian forces of violating human rights and targeting innocent children and women without any justification.

Kashmiri struggle of freedom turned violent recently when a Kashmiri separatist leader Burhan wani got killed in an encounter with Indian forces.Wani was considered as a symbol of bravery,courage and fortitude in Kashmir.He was an educated youngster who turned towards militancy in his teenage after observing the brutal use of force by the oppressor Indian army.He was a social media star and his videos on social networking websites galvanized hundreds of Kashmiris to join the armed struggle against Indian occupation.Kashmir caught the attention of international media when thousands of Kashmiris defied the curfew announced by Indian forces and participated in the funeral prayers of Wani.India tried to suppress the situation through brutal use of force.Pellet guns were used which turned hundreds of kashmiris blind and the situation is becoming more worsened day by day.Last week Yasin malik was arrested and tortured in such a demonic way that he is in critical condition.Pakistan is raising its voice on all possible forums against indian occupation.In 71 th United Nations general assembly session,Prime minister Nawaz Sharif tried to highlight the issue,his speech was focused mainly on Kashmir.But India cried over Uri attack by accusing Pakistan of supporting and perpetrating the attack which caused a heavy loss to India.Kashmir is a reason that both neighbors are spending a plentiful amount of budget on defense.It is an impediment in the way of peace between Pakistan and India.

Indian view on Kashmir is based on the agreement made between Maharaja and Indian government and later an agreement between Maharaja and Lord Mount batten which annexed the land to India on 27 October 1947.Constituent assembly elected in 1951 approved the annexation of Kashmir with India according to the latter so it consider Kashmir as a part of India.India accuse Pakistan of supporting terrorist elements and it has always tried to divert the attention of World from the human rights violation in the valley by hurling allegations on Pakistan.India stands on the point that United nations resolution 1172 urges both countries to solve the issue with mutual consent and it tacitly approves the stand of India which is negated by Pakistan.Another united nations security council resolution 47 states that a plebiscite must be done but Pakistan first withdraw its troops from the valley.

Pakistan stands on the principles of humanity.We have a strong bond with Kashmiris because the establishment of Pakistan was based on two nations theory and Kashmir was a Muslim majority area ruled by a Sikh ruler.Like other princely states,kashmiri people were not given the right to choose  which country they want to join.United nations resolutions were not accepted by India as it is still reluctant to hold plebiscite in the area.According to many independent polls,Kashmiris no longer wants to be a part of India. More than five thousand Kashmiris have laid down their lives for the cause of independence.Pakistan states that indian forces were present in Kashmir before the instrument of accession.Pakistan protests against the extrajudicial killings of Kashmiris by law enforcement agencies.Indian security forces have been assaulting civilians,raping women,devastating the homes and maiming protesters for many decades.

                          Kashmir issue can be solved only after bridging the lack of trust.Both India and Pakistan has to play their roles in normalizing the relations.Both countries have to denounce the support of terrorism.India should stop using force against peaceful protesters and the international community should mount a pressure on India to hold a referendum in the valley according to UN resolutions.If India is sincere in solving the issue,it should immediately go for the option of plebiscite.India must keep in mind that they have to reap what they are sowing today.United nations and US should throw away the callousness and complacency regarding Kashmir issue as the region contains three nuclear armed countries.Any escalation can turn the volatile region into a war zone. Kashmiris have genuine grievances that must be addressed.Peace cannot be ensured without ensuring the rights of oppressed communities.