Rebuttal to Sushma Sawaraj on Kashmir

On July 23, 2016, while responding to Nawaz Sharif’s victory speech in Azad Kashmir, India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj called Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir ‘delusional.’ She described Pakistan’s support to the Kashmiri struggle for freedom as ‘exporting terrorism. ’ She also stated that Pakistan’s institutions are ‘duplicitous’ in their dealings with Kashmir.

For the record, Sushma Swaraj’s diatribe needs to be addressed point by point.

Ms. Swaraj terms Pakistan’s belief that Indian occupied Kashmir will one day become Pakistan ‘delusional.’ Delusion is divorced from reality. It signifies madness. Einstein aptly describes madness as repeating the same act over and over again and each time expecting a different result. India’s actions in Kashmir portray the same madness.

India keeps murdering popular Kashmiri leaders over and over again and each time believes the Kashmiri passion for freedom would go away when the leader is no more. From Maqbool Bhat (killed in 1989) to Afzal Guru  to Burhan Wani, India has repeatedly murdered Kashmiri leaders and hoped the clamor for freedom will be quelled thereafter. Each episode of killing has deepened Kashmiri passion for freedom and intensified the struggle to obtain it.

India’s expectation is grounded in the ‘delusion’ that the Kashmiri masses will accept Indian occupation if brutalized enough. For the past seventy years, India has continued to brutalize the Kashmiris under the same delusional belief. Is this not a play out of perennial delusional disorder in New Delhi?

Sushma Swaraj also alleges that Pakistan’s institutions follow a duplicitous policy on Kashmir. History bears witness to the fact that it is not Pakistan but Indian institutions who have acted and continue to act duplicitous in Kashmir. In 1948, New Delhi initiated the involvement of  the United Nations Organization in Kashmir and pledged that it will hold a plebiscite to decide the issue of Kashmir according to the wishes of the Kashmiri population. Subsequent actions reveal that India acted duplicitous when it ran to the UN to help end the war. It was merely buying time out of a war in which Pakistan enjoyed mass support in the field while India encountered mass hostility.

Faced with a choice between resolving the Kashmir issue through further bloodshed or through a peaceful plebiscite, Pakistan chose the latter. The lives of Kashmiris mattered to Pakistan then, as they matter now.  What matters for New Delhi is the real estate in  Kashmir, not the people of  Kashmir.

Further evidence of New Delhi’s duplicity in the matter is evident from  India’s truancy from UN over Kashmir. It is currently exemplified in her attitude towards  United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). Pakistan has consistently allowed UNMOGIP to find fact along the line of control and anywhere in Pakistan’s side of Kashmir while India has disallowed UNMOGIP to step out of its office premise at Sonawar in Srinagar.

Swaraj accuses Pakistan of exporting terrorism to Kashmir. India knows what it confront s in Kashmir is not terrorism but popular struggle for freedom, fed not by Pakistan but by India’s relentless repression of the Kashmiris. In  August 2015, India’s senior most commander in Kashmir General Saha told the media that there was zero infiltration from across the line of control. A year later, Kashmir is in the grip of revolutionary fervor for freedom like never before.  Disallowing the indigenous population peaceful plebiscite for self determination, the need of which is acknowledged and agreed to by India as early as 1948, is the root cause of unrest in Kashmir and the appeal of leaders like Burhan Wani. During the 1990 uprising against Indian occupation of Kashmir, the popular slogan was ‘Until a plebiscite is held, our struggle will continue.” In March 1990, more than a million Kashmiris marched onto the UNMOGIP headquarter in Srinagar and called for a UN supervised plebiscite. The Kashmiris continue to turn to the UN for help, as do the Pakistanis. India runs in the direction of brute force  and violence which in turn begets further violence.

India’s bid to deflect attention from its failure in Kashmir by chanting the terrorism mantra is not succeeding even at domestic level, let alone the international one. Kashmiris don’t want religious extremist law. They are educated, secular youth demanding right to self determination. It is the legitimacy of their cause, and the criminality of India’s action to counter it, that has led to the rise of voices in support of Kashmiri people inside other parts of India. The support shown at JNU campus since February of this year by Hindu students and members of faculty, the editorials in mainstream Indian newspapers,   and the pronouncements of senior Indian politicians such as Congress leader P. Chidambaram signify the widespread sympathy Kashmiri cause has begun to attract inside India itself.

Ms. Swaraj declares that the country that bombards its own people has no right to criticize India in Kashmir. Hope you watch TV and read news, Ms. Swaraj. Before the military operation began in FATA in the summer of 2014, the civilian population was cleared out of the area and moved to safer places where it was kept under state protection in full gaze of national and international media. Compare this to your government’s policy towards the hapless masses in Kashmir, who your troops are killing for sport.  Your head should hang in shame. Millions responded to Pak army’s call for evacuating FATA before the operation. Non Muslims and Muslims alike trusted the Pak army with their future and abandoned their homes to go to alternative places of sanctuary created for them by the state in Pakistan. Can India get even one thousand Muslims in occupied Kashmir to leave their homes and move to a place of safety outside the Occupied Kashmir, designated as IDP sanctuary by the Indian military? A thousand may be an unrealistic demand. Can the Indian military gain the trust and cooperation of even five hundred Kashmiri Muslims in this way?

Even the mightiest of armies have had to capitulate to people’s desire for self determination. The French had to surrender before an Algerian mass uprising even though they had succeeded in decimating the FLN. The Italians conceded in Libya. The Americans had to pull out of Vietnam. Russians pulled out of Afghanistan. Masses can not be held against their wish. Having involved the UN, instead of letting it handle the crisis in Kashmir, India has let its defense establishment handle it through AFSPA.

The barrel of a gun can never replace legal frameworks that govern peaceful existence in human societies. Kashmir will win freedom from India, Sushma Swaraj, not because Pakistan’s policy on Kashmir is ‘legitimate’ but because India’s policy in Kashmir is utterly ‘hopeless.’



Author: zeenia satti

Zeenia Satti is a political analyst and columnist based in Islamabad, Pakistan. She has studied Middle Eastern Affairs at Harvard University, USA. She works as Executive Director at PPLDM, Pakistan's People Led Disaster Management. ( Follow her on twitter@zssatti.

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