ISLAMABAD, SEP 30 /DNA/ – The Kashmir issue is primarily a legitimate war of liberation being fought by the people of Kashmir with the support of Pakistan, a fundamental party to the conflict, for the last 75 years. It is not just a case of human rights violation, and must be highlighted as such to validate the applicability of international laws of war and Indian occupation’s actions as war crimes. For this, a common narrative and unified direction is crucial, along with the implementation of robust strategies.
These views were reflected during the 20th meeting of the Institute of Policy Studies’ Working Group on Kashmir (IPS-WGK), a body of experts and opinion leaders on Kashmir affairs that meets regularly after the illegal revocation of the special constitutional status of IIOJK by the BJP-led Delhi regime on August 5, 2019.
The session, titled ‘Assault on Kashmiri Identity and its Likely Implications’, held to discuss the Indian moves to disempower Kashmiri Muslims and their consequences, was chaired by Khalid Rahman, chairman IPS, and joined, among others, by Ghulam Muhammad Safi, veteran Kashmiri resistance leader; Ambassador (r) Syed Abrar Hussain, vice chairman IPS, Dr Idrees Abbasi, former secretary law, Azad Jammu & Kashmir; Advocate Nasir Qadri, director, Legal Forum for Kashmir (LFK); and Raja Sajjad Khan, director, Kashmir Policy Research Institute (KPRI).
The experts discussed how the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been pushed towards disempowerment, which is not just limited to the political sphere. India is attempting to systematically disempower and marginalize the Muslim majority, its culture, and its political representation. India has also targeted Urdu and Kashmiri languages, literature, and even Kashmiri cuisine, in addition to curtailing the number of Muslims in bureaucracy and electoral constituencies.
The discrepancies of the Delimitation Commission’s final report were also pointed out. It was highlighted that though the report is claimed to be based on an outdated 2011 census, it has neither considered geography nor population as the criteria for the demarcation of electoral constituencies. Moreover, it defies the principles of democracy and shows discrimination.
It was further highlighted that the Indian measures like the delimitation of constituencies have not only caused Muslim political disempowerment by increasing six seats for the Jammu (Hindu majority) division and one for the Kashmir (Muslim majority) division but also created a divide within the territory, as 16 seats have been reserved for the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribe (ST) communities.
While discussing the importance of Articles 370 and 35-A, which have now been abrogated by the BJP-led regime, it was noted that the marginalization and disempowerment of Kashmiri Muslims have been a perennial motive of India. Before the scrapping of special status and the 2020 Delimitation Commission, India had been making covert attempts to bring demographic changes in the territory enshrouded in the name of shelter, industrialization, etc.
The experts warned that, before India establishes a legal justification for its illegal occupation by holding a plebiscite in Muslim disempowered Kashmir, Pakistan should timely capitalize on the international law, as Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention prohibited the transfer of civilian population into a disputed territory. Furthermore, they called for an enhanced and prominent role for indigenous Kashmiris – the state subject card holders – to present their case to the world.
The meeting stressed that no one should be mistaken that whatever is happening in Kashmir, whether it is oppression, genocide, appropriation of land, or repression of indigenous people, is an undisputable manifestation of the Indian settler-colonial agenda and an evident violation of international law.
While denouncing the Indian settler regime, the working group emphasized that Indian steps to marginalize and eliminate the indigenous Muslim majority population of the territory are not only changing the nature of land but every other aspect of people’s lives as well. It was emphasized that Pakistan’s and Kashmiri freedom movement’s narrative should be centered around the war of liberation and not just the human rights violation case.