MORE than a month after India launched its ill-advised adventure in occupied Kashmir, protests regarding the dire human rights situation in the held valley refuse to die down.

On Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan led a charged rally in Muzaffarabad to highlight the troubles across the LoC; he rightly warned the world that Indian repression in the held region would end up fuelling extremism, as people would opt to fight New Delhi’s brutality using “all means”.

Indeed, the reports trickling out of the valley indicate a pitiful situation for the residents of India-held Kashmir, as they remain under lockdown with little freedom to speak of.

It is to be hoped that Pakistan’s efforts to highlight the Kashmir question internationally are having some effect.

Read: UN chief calls for 'maximum restraint' in occupied Kashmir

UN Secretary General António Guterres says he remains “very concerned” about the situation escalating into a confrontation between India and Pakistan, while adding that the situation needs to be addressed “with full respect of human rights”.

Elsewhere, numerous American lawmakers have urged their president to mediate between Islamabad and New Delhi, and have called for India to lift the curfew in IHK.

The situation in Kashmir “has grave implications for democracy, human rights and regional stability. ...” one congresswoman has said.

Indeed, in the age of social media and breaking news, it will be very hard for India to keep a lid on the brutalities it has unleashed on the Kashmiris.

Despite India’s mantra that ‘all is well’ in the held region, the realisation is slowly growing that India’s military enforcers have unleashed a reign of terror in IHK ever since Article 370 was scrapped last month — although condemnation by world governments has been disappointingly muted.

But India can no longer pretend that Kashmir is an ‘internal’ matter; it stands badly exposed in IHK and no amount of spin can convince neutral observers that the situation in the region is normal. Indeed, Pakistan’s diplomats have of late proactively highlighted the deplorable situation in IHK in key world capitals.

However, the key question is that despite the global cries for justice in Kashmir, and calls for a negotiated settlement to the problem, will India listen?

Up till now, the right-wing BJP government in New Delhi has shown no sign of bending its rigid stance and lifting the inhumane blockade of Kashmir.

Perhaps the only way this can be achieved is if the US and other strategic and economic partners of India exert enough diplomatic pressure on New Delhi and point out repeatedly that a peaceful solution is the only option for Kashmir, and that continued obduracy risks setting the entire region alight.

While the Kashmiris are putting up a brave front in the face of Indian brutality, if this issue is not handled with care, there is a very high likelihood that the entire subcontinent may get caught in an ugly conflagration.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2019



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