It is incredibly unfortunate that Indian politicians even hinting at a more mild approach to the Kashmir question are accused of everything from treason to insanity by much of Indian media, as well as by mainstream Indian politicians. But the fact is that contrary to conventional thinking, a Jammu and Kashmir that is able to at long last exercise its UN mandated right to engage in national self-determination though the implementation of the plebiscite ordered by UN Security Council Resolution Resolution 47, would be even better for India than for Pakistan.
As things stand, Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) requires the presence of 600,000 soldiers in order to keep Kashmiris from taking their destiny into their own hands through the power of self-government. In this sense, Kashmir’s resistance to Indian occupation is similar to the resistance of all Indians against British colonial occupation, insofar as even prior to 1947, it became clear to Britain and to the wider world that India could not be ruled through subjugation to a foreign sovereign. As India’s resistance to occupation grew, those in London and other major world capitals realised that India’s freedom was inevitable rather than negotiable.
But while mainstream Indian politics is not prepared to accept this, there is a more fundamental issue at hand. Every time a Kashmiri civilian is slaughtered by an Indian soldier, that civilian is the son of a Kashmiri mother whose life will forever be filled with sorrow as a result. Likewise, while the rules of engagement are different in respect of targeting soldiers rather than civilians, Indian soldiers in IOK also have mothers and they too weep for their children. Making matters all the more tragic is the plain fact that there is no need for a single Indian soldier do die in Kashmir and hence, there is no need for any Indian mother to bury her son. The only reason they are doing so is because of a venal class of politicians, most of whom have never seen combat – sending these sons of India to die in order to do to the Kashmiri resistance that which the British Raj did to the Indian resistance during the Amritsar massacre of 1919 and during similar atrocities.
While India works tirelessly to promote its own narrative about Kashmir, the age of social media is challenging this in many ways. Just as movements like BDS seek to highlight the plight of occupied Palestinians and their right to resist occupation and just as Indians themselves are rightly proud of the pan-Indian resistance to the British Raj, so too are millions throughout the world coming to realise that Kashmiris are not putting their lives on the line in order to resist India because they want to prove some obscurantist point – they are doing so because they seek freedom and India has disallowed a genuine peace process from taking place that would make armed resistance both futile and redundant.
Of course, one of the main reasons for India’s occupation is because New Delhi fears that an independent Kashmir or one peacefully integrated into Pakistan would cut India off from vital water supplies. However, this argument too is logically one for peace rather than occupation. If Indian leaders were to take the initiative in arguing for the importance of a peace process, the entire international community would have a vested interest in making certain that either a Republic of Jammu and Kashmir or Pakistan would cooperate with India over water rights, just as many nations throughout the world do in respect of shared natural resources.
Instead, India is merely kicking the can down the road, insofar as Indian leaders are either deceiving themselves or are otherwise are lying to their people by saying that somehow there is a military solution to Kashmir when in reality, Kashmiris will resist until their democratic rights are secured, thereby making a military solution impossible.
The fact is that if India embraces peace and works with the international community to implement UNSC Resolution 47, fewer Indian sons will die in a needless occupation. This ought to be reason enough for Indians to realise that they stand more to gain by allow peace to prevail in Kashmir than does a Pakistani state that is at peace with its own Kashmiri population. Furthermore, arguments about Pakistan surrendering its own territory prior to a plebiscite have long been discredited, as even Australian diplomat Owen Dixon realised in the early 1950s.
In this sense, rather than India stubbornly arguing over the minutiae of competing interpretation of UNSC Resolution 47, India’s leaders should instead come to grips with the facts. In Azad Kashmir and in Gilgit-Baltistan, there is not an armed struggle for freedom because the population feels free. In IOK, the opposite is true because clearly the majority of the population do not feel free. Therefore, the key point of Resolution 47 ought to be striven for in order to save human life and to end human strife.
If Indians are not moved by the deaths of Kashmiri civilians, surely they ought to practical enough to realise that Indian soldiers are losing their lives due to the same proximate cause – that of an untenable occupation. Not only are Pakistani lives not being lost in the peaceful parts of Kashmir, but Pakistan as a state has itself done far too little to even speak about Kashmir, let alone become directly involved in the resistance as is insisted by Indian politicians who often sound more like conspiracy theorists.
This is the clear solution. The fact that the language of peace is mocked by Indian political figures is the only reason that the language of peace has not become the lingua franca of the region. The sooner this changes the sooner lives can be saved on all sides.