Kashmir: South Asia’s Palestine?

November 23, 2011


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By Marise Jeyarajah
The club hosted an animated discussion last night on the controversial issues surrounding the future of Kashmir. Chaired by author and broadcaster Victoria Schofield.

Kashmiri born Mirza Waheed, BBC Urdu journalist and author of The Collaborator, opened the event by giving his account of the ‘turning point’ events which took place last summer in the Kashmir Valley:
“We had this uprising, in the valley,where hundreds of thousands of young people came out to the streets protesting against the Indian rule […] at the end of it we had 119 young people dead. They were killed on the streets, I refer to that as they were murdered because  these were not militants, these were not armed insurgents […] they were young boys.”
Waheed expressed disappointment towards the response of the Indian government as he considered that they had not taken responsibility for the deaths of the young people. He went on to say:
“People want to be given a chance to decide their future. That right has been denied consistently and brutally.”
Imran Khan, correspondent for Al Jazeera English, spoke of the Pakistani government’s mentality towards the situation in Kashmir:
“Standard narrative from Pakistani’s that say they have done everything they can to try and get a solution to this coflict […] what Pakistani’s now feel is that the plebicite needs to happen. If you speak to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs they’ll say that there needs to be a referendum;  the Kashmiris themselves need to decide.”
A divide occured when, Times of India journalist Ashis Ray, went on to defend India’s administration of Kashmir.
“There were certain rumblings of resistance and there was certainly disaffection among a section of people in Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir, but this was aided, abetted and fuelled by Pakistan. This is a fact of history.”
During the partition of former British India, the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir had to choose to join either Pakistan or India, reminds Schofield as she tries to bring perspective back into the discussions, a new section has arisen within the Kashmiri population that wants independence.
Lawrence Saez, Senior Lecturer in Comparative and International Politics at SOAS interjected arguing that the Kashmiri people need to better their ‘PR strategy’:
“They have done a catastrophic job of promoting their cause. When I look at Burma, when I look at Tibetans they have a figure head, a person that people can rally around […] The first thing they need is to realise what they need to do to obtain their objective, whatever it may be.”
Khan reiterated this point later in the discussion as he outlined the importance of raising international awareness of the situation in Kashmir.
Subash Chopra saw a solution through the relationship between India and Pakistan as he believed that a good relationship between these two countries could lead to a positive outcome for Kashmir.
“The common things which have survived, in spite of war in spite of battles, for instance the Indus Waters Treaty has survived 60 years, the LOC, line of control in Kashmir, that has survived for many years and over the last 20 years, India and Pakistan have been regularly and religiously exchanging information on nuclear issues.”
The discussions reflected the pessimism a lot of people feel when approaching this ‘intractable conflict.’ Despite their disagreements on how to resolve the conflict, there was agreement at least that the political dicussions had moved on since the outbreak of violence 1989 but that a definite solution was still not on the horizon.
ProudKashmiri.jpg
Image Courtesy of @Laki03


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One thought on “Kashmir: South Asia’s Palestine?”

  1. westwoodwizard says:

    LOL….this was overall one-sided. The Indian perspective was given less time and the moderator Victoria Schofield is wrong. The Maharaja was not required to accede to India or Pakistan. Read the Indian Independence Act that was passed by the British which created the dominions of India and Pakistan and dealt with the question of the princely states.

    Schofield tried to silence Ashis Ray so many times. She is described as an independent voice on Kashmir but as a British Christian she holds anti-Hindu, anti-Indian views. Furthermore, she was best friends with the late Benazir Bhutto dating back to their days as students at Oxford. So much for her objectivity which explains why she kept saying history was not important in the discussion. She is very pro-Pakistani, pro-Muslim.

    There were references to the voice of Kashmiris yet the only voices were those of Kashmiri Muslims. A Kashmiri Pandit Hindu was not asked to be a panelist nor were any in the audience allowed to speak. They only allowed Kashmiri Muslims including a journalist who claimed to be objective but she too failed to mention that the Kashmiri Muslims eradicated 450,000 Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley.

    Even though it was clearly explained that the former princely state is more than just the Kashmir Valley and its Muslim population…the discussion was just about that. No viewpoints from a Jammu Hindu, Ladakhi Buddhist or from anybody from Pakistan-controlled J&K (Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan).

    So many references by Pakistani journalist Imran Khan to the voice of Kashmiris yet all he cared about was the voice of Kashmiri Muslims..not Kashmiri Pandits.

    Also, references to the plebiscite were made again by the biased audience including some stiff who says he works for the Pakistani High Commission and Ashis Ray was the only one to make reference to the fact that first precondition of UN Resolution 47 was never met by Pakistan which was to withdraw all of its troops as well as withdraw all Pakistani nationals and the tribal invaders not native to the state. They would not let him talk and kept shouting over him. Only after the first precondition was met would India then withdraw most of its forces and only maintain a minimum force to take control of the state and hold a plebiscite. India cannot hold a plebiscite in a state it does not control in its entirety. It controls 60%, Pakistan 30% and China 10% which was a later development. Nobody from the Pakistan side or audience wanted to address the specifics of UN Resolution 47 for good reason.

    Also, the demographics have been altered which was not discussed. The Kashmiri Pandits were chased out at gun point. Hindus and Sikhs have been also eradicated from Azad J&K. Pakistani nationals have moved into the state in large numbers since 1947. Restoring the demographics back to 1947 is pretty much impossible. Also, whether a referendum would be conducted for the entire state as a whole or region by region is another question. The biased panelist and audience with one exception did not make reference to the other regions of the state. Finally, the Kashmiri Pandits want a separate homeland created out of the Valley regardless.

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