IT was incredible defiance in the face of a horrifying loss: 16-year-old Srinagar teenager Qaiser Hameed, abducted and allegedly murdered in police custody, was buried last Saturday wrapped in the Pakistani flag. Then the mourners at the funeral itself were attacked for participating in the brave act of defiance and political protest — at least 35 individuals were injured, including several women. India seems determined to crush the very people that it falsely claims are an integral part of it; it has adopted a violent, ahistorical, inhumane approach that the world at large is, shamefully, all too willing to ignore. Yet, despite the world’s silence and the state of India’s atrocities against the people of India-held Kashmir, there are two facts that will not go away.
First, Indian repression in IHK does not work. Repression may push dissent and resistance further underground temporarily, but they eventually rise back to the surface. Kashmir is fundamentally a political problem, not a security one — the state of India cannot bludgeon its way to a new reality. Second, the Kashmir dispute is real and lies at the root of the dissent in the occupied territory and the troubles between India and Pakistan. Only a political settlement can pave the path to stability in all of Kashmir and general peace in the region — a reality that successive Indian governments, whether right-wing or otherwise ideologically inclined, have eventually been forced to recognise. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to be doubly stubborn: it does not recognise the futility of repressive measures in IHK and it does not appear to accept the inevitability of dialogue with Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute. That has helped create a dangerous instability not only in the Kashmir region, but between India and Pakistan themselves. Unless Mr Modi is willing to reconsider his approach to both IHK and Pakistan, there is little hope of the situation becoming more stable across the region.
Here in Pakistan, the Indian intransigence should necessarily be condemned and solidarity demonstrated with the people of held Kashmir. Yet, care must be taken to not allow Indian wrongs to translate into fresh mistakes by the Pakistani state. The Indian repression in IHK must be forcefully highlighted at all diplomatic forums that Pakistan can access; lack of immediate progress and absence of international sympathy for Islamabad’s diplomatic position should not mean that this path be abandoned. Indeed, the diplomatic path should be reinforced rather than embarking on futile tit-for-tat spy wars that inevitably draw attention away from the central problem. Both the political and military leadership of the country have a sensible approach on India and Kashmir: no to even the possibility of war; yes to political dialogue without preconditions. That should continue to be the approach, no matter the provocations from India.
Published in Dawn November 9th, 2016