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Solidarity with Jammu & Kashmir: The Need for Action
The people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, have suffered decades of an inhumane occupation. As if this was not enough, the Indian government completely set aside international norms, and its own commitments, to annex Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August 2019.
The promised right to self-determination, endorsed by UN Security Council resolutions, was jettisoned. And, along with this illegal annexation, human rights violations intensified.
The actions taken by the Indian occupiers, especially after August 2019, reflect an elaborate strategy of military occupation, land confiscation, influx of non-Kashmiris, and creation of new settlements. The strategy comes straight from the Israeli playbook of Palestinian occupation.
The International Russell Tribunal on Kashmir, held in December 2021 in Sarajevo, expressed deep concern at the restrictions on fundamental freedoms and gross human rights violations. The Tribunal heard accounts of widespread disappearances, torture, and the use of rape as a “primary weapon of the Indian army in Kashmir”. The Tribunal concluded that these crimes seem to meet the “definition of genocide.”
Today, Kashmir has been turned into the world’s largest prison. The spate of killings of the Kashmiri youth appears to be part of the policy of elimination of the young.
The situation in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir is dire. Solidarity today with the Kashmiri people, therefore, should not be confined to a series of public events held on 5 February. Solidarity must be made more meaningful.
It should manifest itself in concrete actions that would, firstly, alleviate the suffering of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, and, secondly, help in the realization of their right to self-determination.
We need to be clear: the struggle of the occupied people of Jammu & Kashmir to live in accordance with their wishes will be long and difficult. India has always sought to renege on its international commitments to the Kashmiri people. However, the current Indian government is ideologically committed to reject the rights of the Kashmiri people. The prospects of political solutions are bleak.
Quaid-e-Azam was prescient in understanding the mindset of the Indian leadership when making the demand for Pakistan. Today, the reality of this mindset has come out in the open, whether in the context of Jammu & Kashmir or, more broadly, in the treatment of Muslims and minorities in India. Even the “saner” elements in India continue to evade responsibility in this regard.
Today, the Indian occupiers are aggressively pursuing policies of demographic, electoral, and settler engineering. The people of Jammu and Kashmir face an existential threat. Solidarity, today, demands more resolute measures. The focus should be on actions in three areas.
One, comprehensive media and communications strategies need to be developed. Sustained international attention is required to get traction for a just solution for Jammu & Kashmir in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.
For this, the Kashmiri and Pakistani diaspora, and international human rights activists, need to be mobilized for a broad international campaign. The visibility provided to the anti-apartheid struggle, and now for the Palestinians, was made possible only through sustained media campaigns and many years of hard work by a network of supporters.
Effective media campaigns and a broad network of activists are a prerequisite for generating international pressure against Indian policies.
Two, measures need to be taken in the realm of lawfare. All legal options should be carefully examined to raise the Kashmir issue in international fora. Legal experts at the International Russell Tribunal on Kashmir at Sarajevo had focused on four thematic areas including genocide, de-colonization, settler-colonialism, crimes against humanity (mass graves, rape as a weapon of war).
Their findings could be used to launch legal challenges in various international bodies. It would be helpful to set up a small group of international law experts to examine lawfare options.
Three, a viable course open to the people of Jammu and Kashmir is to take sustained civil disobedience actions. There is rich literature on civil disobedience that draws upon the history of such movements. There is a need to learn from this literature and develop “menus” of possible actions.
This would facilitate measures that the Kashmiris can take. In this context, a small group of political scientists and Kashmiri activists can be convened to develop civil disobedience “took kits” that would have utility for the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
Pakistan’s rationale is inextricably bound by the idea that we will side with the oppressed and resist the oppressor. This underpinned our support for decolonization, the anti-apartheid struggle and the ongoing struggle of the Palestinians. It also underpins our unflinching solidarity with the people of Kashmir. But, today this solidarity needs to be urgently translated into specific actions.
*The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the position of the institution.