Kashmir: South Asia’s Palestine?
The former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir, is seen by many as South Asia’s Palestinian counterpart. Bordered by Pakistan, India, China and Afghanistan, each country has laid claim to the territory that lies in the foothills of the Himalayas. It has been caught between continuous contestation of borders and autonomy since the partition of British India.
With India unwilling to acknowledge the demands of the people for freedom, and therefore avoiding debate on resolution, Kashmir’s future looks like it will remain in limbo for years to come. But with the recent Jan Lokpal protests and the Arab Spring, will India take note and give the people of Kashmir the right to self autonomy? Or will it continue to arm itself with Israeli weapons and training in the name of counter-terrorism? The Jan Lokpal protests were carried out in support of social activist Anna Hazare and his continuing pressure on the Indian government to push forward an anti corruption bill that would see the establishment and enforcement of legislation against endemic corruption.
Recently discovered unmarked graves of over 2000 bodies, of insurgents and local Kashmiris, have brought to the surface the horrific extent of the conflict that has left thousands of women widowed and subsequently abandoned by the Indian state with no knowledge of the fate of their husbands. An often forgotten and unreported conflict, in the name of diplomacy, Kashmir is slowly voicing itself onto the international agenda. But will Western powers support Kasmiri freedom, or will Indian diplomatic relations be put first?
Join us at the Frontline Club with an expert panel to discuss where Kashmir stands in its fight for freedom and the options that lay before it.
Chaired by Victoria Schofield, journalist and author of Kashmir in Conflict. She is an independent analyst and commentator on the Kashmir conflict for news agencies such as BBC World, Al Jazeera, CBS and CBC. She was also an independent rapporteur for the 4th Global Discourse on Kashmir that was sponsored by the International Council for Human Rights.
Mirza Waheed, journalist and novelist. Born and brought up in Kashmir he joined the BBC’s Urdu Service in London in 2001. His first novel, The Collaborator, is set in his hometown during the early 1990s, and depicts the conflict between India and Pakistan and its effects on a border village in Kashmir.
Subhash Chopra, former The Times journalist and author of Partition, Jihad and Peace: South Asia after bin Laden.
Ashis Ray, Times of India journalist and former CNN South Asia Bureau chief and consultant editor.
Imran Khan, correspondent for Al Jazeera English. He has reported extensively from Pakistan, Afghanistan and from across the Middle East.
Lawrence Sáez, Senior Lecturer in Comparative and International Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) with expertise in Pakistan and India. Chair of the Centre for South Asian Studies.
Image Credit: Kashmir Global courtesy of Flickr