Kashmir’s movement for Azadi or freedom is not a case of democratic mis-governance or decay of democratic institutions but it is an outcome of a forced incorporation of a people in a country against its will. Yasin Malik
Srinagar, O7 Jan 2017:
Respected chief guest, chairman and other dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen……
Firstly I would like to thank the Young Parliamentarians’ Forum of Pakistan, National Assembly of Pakistan for inviting me to address this august gathering of learned people. Honorable Parliamentarians, Honorable Ambassadors, and respected scholars, I say, Asalamualeikum to all of you. We all yearn for Salam or peace in the South Asia and in the world. As a member of the oppressed Kashmiri nation and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, I pray for the growth of cordial relations between Pakistan and India, which is a precondition for the resolution of Kashmir Conflict and for a lasting peace in South Asia.
The young and dynamic group of Pakistani Parliamentarians, who are the future nation and State builders of Pakistan, would hopefully share my sentiments regarding the importance of promoting sustained efforts at peace building in South Asia, particularly aimed at improving Pakistan-India relations.The brunt ofPakistan-India border hostilities is borne by Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control and naturally the people of both parts of divided Kashmir are the biggest votaries of peace.
Ladies and gentlemen ……
The theme of this International Seminar rightly focusses on the humanitarian dimensions of the Kashmir Conflict, when a peoples uprising in India occupied Kashmir has been brutally suppressed by Indian military and paramilitary forces. The five month long mass uprising was crushed by an unbridled use of force. The Indian Central Police Force admitted to firing some 1.3 million pellets in the first month of the uprising, which has resulted in a plague of dead and damaged eyes. Doctors in Kashmir estimate the total number of eye injuries caused by pellets in the first four months of the uprising to be 1178. Human suffering is impossible to quantify but numbers do tell a story in Kashmir. Around a 100 people have been shot dead by bullets or mowed down by a rain of pellets, around 15000 Kashmiri youth have been injured ,roughly 10,000 youth have been arrested, most beaten and tortured in detention centers. Neighborhoods have been harassed en masse by Indian police and military forces, who in day and night raids and have administered collective punishment to Kashmiris in the form of destruction of their property, ranging from destruction of window panes, doors, laptops, motorbikes, cars or whatever has comes in the sight of rampaging troops. Parents and elderly relatives of young protestors have been arrested to force young protestors into submission. Democracies like India not only maim and kill but they also indulge in blackmail. They punish the families and relatives of dissidents to force them into silence.
We have heard a lot about human security from the United Nations. The International Community tells us that the world must move from the outdated conception of state centered national security to a people centered conception of human security. We also hear about the doctrine of R2P, about a State’s responsibility to protect its citizens but we continue to see the limits and repeated failures of liberal humanitarianism the world over. Many powerful western governments have encouraged subjugated peoples like Kashmiris to give up armed struggle and adopt non–violent means in their struggles for freedom. In the past ten years, Kashmiris have primarily relied on non-violent means in articulating their aspirations for Azadi or Independence. However, Indian State has responded with an increasing use of military force to suppress mass uprisings in Kashmir and choked all spaces for non-violent resistance. The people’s uprisings of 2008, 2010 were crushed by massive military force and the story of the 2016 people’s uprising has seen history repeating itself.
The world largely remains mute to the sufferings of Kashmiris. Diplomats of major Western democracies have even stopped paying lip service to the question of human rights in Kashmir. When some of them visit India occupied Kashmir, they lecture us on the virtues of India’s participatory democracy and about India’s democratic successes. It is like blaming the victim. Democracy, be it in a formal sense or substantive may work for the Hindu middle classes and the elite in India but Kashmiris have since 1947 harvested a bitter fruit of this democracy. This is not to suggest that Kashmir’s movement for Azadi or freedom is not a case of democratic mis-governance or decay of democratic institutions but it is an outcome of a forced incorporation of a people in a country against its will.
India as a growing market has become the darling of powerful western countries. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has listed India as the number 1 importer of weapons for the years 2010-2014.A major western power, France recently inked an arms deal with India, which is worth 8.8Billion US dollars. In the world of big business and arms deals, where do western powers stand on human rights? Can the oppressed people of Kashmir and other oppressed nationalities expect any solidarity from western democracies like USA, UK, France AND EUROPIAN UNION, which have huge economic stakes in the weapons industry? Can the David of Human rights really triumph over the Goliaths of War industry and big business?
A poor country like India is spending 40 Billion US Dollars on its military annually. A smaller economy of Pakistan has an annual defense budget of over 8 Billion US dollars. The defense budgets of the two countries continue experiencing a regular increase annually. The primary reason behind this massive spending on arms is the Pakistan-India rivalry over Kashmir, which leads to a huge loss of precious economic resources and limits economic potential of both the countries. Not surprisingly the Human Development Index Rankings of India and Pakistan stand at 130 and 147 respectively.
A just and lasting solution to the Kashmir conflict, which gives primacy to Kashmiri self-determination, would usher in an enduring and positive peace in South Asia. It would not only put an end to the suffering of Kashmiris but also help unlock the massive economic potential of South Asia, with a population that roughly adds up as one fourth of the world’s total population.