– Shantanu Mukharji
On August 5, this year , the Indian Parliament through a legislation, scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution which till then meant a special status for the people of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Those who were not having any benefits from this Article, naturally felt discriminated for the last over seven decades and now. But after this landmark step, there seems to be a sense of relief to those, hitherto deprived by the privileges, and there are noticeable traces of jubiliation in India.
On the other hand, however, Pakistan which has been sponsoring cross border terror through its militant arms terror outfits like Lashkar e Toiba (Let), Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) and other terror outlets who have been perpetrating terror in various parts of Kashmir as part of the Pakistan’s designs to foment ceaseless violence in Kashmir by killing innocents and drive a wedge between the Indian Government and Kashmiri Muslims. In this devlish plan, there has been and still is a pro active participation of Pakistan’s intelligence outfit, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in unleashing mindless violence and attempting to destabilise normal activity in J&K. Frustrated by the fresh measures undertaken by India, Pakistan is now covertly resorting to false propaganda against India trying to internationalise the so called Kashmir issue though it has failed miserably in the face of excellent approach of international relations on part of the Indian government.
Against the backdrop of these ongoing developments, it is imperative to examine Kashmir related facts in a historical and objective perspective. Pakistan is in forceful occupation of Kashmir which it calls as Azad Kashmir though it was occupied by force in 1947 through a proxy military action of tribal warriors belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Pakistan held Kashmir is the most brutalised region in South Asia. While Pakistan is crying hoarse to draw international attention on the developments in Kashmir in India, it is conveniently silent on the human rights excesses in its own occupied Kashmir. The region is starkly impoverished with poor level of education with hardly any development worth the name. Employment and welfare schemes including health are much below par. Tourism activity is abysmally low.
The government in place in the Pakistani occupied Kashmir symbolises only mere tokenism. In fact, it is bursting with activities of repression and absence of any civil liberties. Any uprising by the local Kashmiris is suppressed by force and highhandedness of enormous proportions. Any signs of minor dissent is snuffed out immediately. The legislature and the ministers are existing merely on names. They have no power to exercise to govern or to inject any hopes to the poor Kashmiris. Under these realistic circumstances, it is incumbent on part of Pakistan to first look after its ‘own’ Kashmir which is illegitimate and deserves attention than pointing fingers to the fresh developments happening in India.
Because of the stifled media and muzzling of speech or writing, the voices of dissent remain buried under the carpet. Undercurrent discontent is massive and unless they are timely addressed and corrective measures taken, Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) will erupt with devastating consequences threatening to further disintegrate Pakistan. As it is, there is large scale of dissent prevailing in Baluchistan and separatist trends are being noticed elsewhere. Any further volatility emanating from PoK, in all likelihood, will be very costly to the Pakistan establishment which is complicit with the military and the ISI to abet terror in India and Afghanistan. Such plannings will not help as Pakistan doesn’t seem to have learnt any lesson from the pages of history. The independence of Bangladesh in 1971 after a liberation war is still fresh in mind of everyone. Pakistan is repeating the same mistakes by suppressing the dissent of its own people ignoring their plight and aspirations. PoK is a good case in point and worth illustrating to Pakistan to keep its house in order. If it thinks it can take on India, militarily or diplomatically, its sadly mistaken. Pakistan stands alone today and even the Muslim nations are ignoring its calls for support for J&K. With an exposed nation, which is already showing traces of failing on all counts, it is important to control the terrorists and terror within its own territory to earn some credibility. Mr Imran Khan, your time begins now. Or it will be too late and that may happen too soon.
(Writer is a New Delhi based columnist on matters of security and a security analyst. He was also the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. The views expressed are personal.)