ECONOMIC prosperity could be achieved in South Asia without the resolution of Kashmir dispute but peace could not be. Kashmir, the longest unresolved issue on the agenda of the United Nations, is an unfinished business of partition of India in 1947. Arundhati Roy in one of her famous books entitled “War Talks” writes, “How carelessly imperial power vivisected ancient civilizations. Palestine and Kashmir are imperial Britain’s festering, blood-drenched gifts to the modem world. Both are fault lines in the raging international conflicts of today.”
Kashmir dispute came to the limelight and has been in the news recently with the Iran offer to mediate the issue between Pakistan and India wherein Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost divulged the aforementioned interest in an interview that “Tehran is willing to mediate between Pakistan and India over the long-standing issue of Jammu Kashmir if requested.” He further added that Kashmiris hail Tehran’s readiness to use its special relations with both Pakistan and India in getting birth right to Kashmiris struggling for past 77 years. Though Iran has all along been extending moral, political and diplomatic support to the cause of Kashmir in and outside of the UN, and Kashmiris openly acknowledge this support but its stance over Kashmir dispute was not as clear as this one. In past, it did not want to meddle in the imbroglio to the extent that it chokes the normal ties between India and Iran. However, it occasionally made efforts to ameliorate the growing tensions in Kashmir and requested India for restraint on humanitarian grounds.
Much has been written on the Kashmir issue and there is much more need to highlight this issue again because the real sufferers are the people of Kashmir and the regional stakeholders who want to promote regional peace and economic integration. Kashmir dispute is more a humanitarian issue than merely a dispute between India and Pakistan. Human rights abuses in the Indian-occupied Kashmir range from mass killings, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. Since December 1989 more than 100,000 Kashmiris have been killed by Indian forces. In 2011, EU had discovered 24,000 unmarked graves in Kashmir. Hundreds of bodies were those of local Kashmiris. Indian forces in Kashmir even show a little mercy on Muslims who want to perform religious rituals. Last year, a prominent pro-India Kashmiri politician, Mr. Tariq Hameed Karra, had resigned from India’s Parliament and from his regional party to protest a government crackdown in Kashmir that prevented people from offering Eid prayers for the first time in the occupied region.
In order to achieve peace in the region, there is a proposal that heads of political parties of both parts of Jammu and Kashmir be allowed to form a Grand Peace Council (GPC). The Council should mull over the details of the dispute and its long delayed history and should come out with a formula to be discussed later with Pakistan and India. The responsibility of this issue was also on the shoulders of the big and important Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.
Pakistan knows that all roads to peace and prosperity in South Asia go through Kashmir. It has always been a vocal moral supporter and sympathizer of the Kashmiri’s right to self-determination. It wants a peaceful negotiated solution to this dispute which has bedeviled regional relations between the two neigbours. Pakistan is open for talks on this issue anytime, anywhere with generous mindset. On the contrary, India has rejected Pakistan’s invitations to hold talks on the future of Kashmir. India needs to talk about this issue of urgency. The dispute is solvable if the disputants believe in dialogue and consultation. Former President of Pakistan, General (R) Pervez Musharaf rightly said in of his interviews that “We must learn from history, there is no military solution for the Kashmir issue, we have to understand this reality.”
—The writer is a Researcher at Islamabad Policy Research Institute, a think tank based in Islamabad.