THE killings were brutal, unacceptable and violated international law, but at this stage ought they be termed shocking? Such is the calculated brutality and political mindlessness in India-held Kashmir that the further escalation of violence — security forces shooting live ammunition into protesters at the site of an alleged encounter with Kashmiri fighters resulting in the deaths of at least seven civilians — cannot be regarded as a criminal aberration or a sudden catastrophe. It is much more.
Indeed, the strong reaction by the OIC has indicated that the killings in the Pulwama district of IHK could have rippling consequences across the international community.
As reported in the Indian media itself, five of the at least seven civilians killed by Indian security forces on Saturday were teenagers; the other two were in their late 20s and reported to be the sole breadwinners of their families.
The tragedy of youths killed, maimed, injured, disappeared, tortured and arbitrarily detained in IHK is known to anyone willing to observe India’s murderous and repressive policies in IHK.
But is it not time for the international community to take a genuine interest in what is being done in India-occupied Kashmir in the name of security, and to hold the security forces and government of India to account?
Until now, the world community has largely been willing to ignore the plight of the people in IHK.
When the Pakistani state attempts to draw attention to the violence and repression, it is often met with scepticism and questions about this country’s own human rights record. But that is whataboutism of the highest order.
Kashmir is a disputed region and recognised as such by the UN; Pakistan has a legitimate interest in what happens in the whole of the Kashmir region.
Moreover, while problems do exist inside Pakistan and are often highlighted by the media and political class here, the state-led repression in IHK is undeniable; has escalated; and appears to be an attempt to change political realities in the disputed region through state-led violence.
The international community must take note not just of the recent violence in IHK, but the overall pattern of illegal control that the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attempted to extend in the disputed region.
True, India is a rising economic power with enormous amounts of defence and infrastructure expenditure. International powers both big and small are drawn to new markets for their products, and India is a market that they cannot afford to ignore. But at what cost?
The international order championed by Western powers and most developed countries is ostensibly rooted in human and political rights that India’s appalling actions in IHK are actively negating.
The world’s attention must turn towards the violence India is perpetrating in IHK. The international community has leverage with India; it must use it as a moral imperative at this time.
Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2018