As Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif heads for Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, for his first face-to-face meeting with his Indian counterpart later this month, Kashmir will be high on his agenda. The same, however, cannot be said for Atal Behari Vajpayee.
While calling on Islamabad not to internationalise the issue and to seek, instead, a bilateral solution to the dispute, India’s past performance leaves no room for optimism. On June 26, Delhi brushed aside a proposal from UN secretary general Kofi Annan to send his personal representative, Alvaro de Soto, to the region to discuss the Kashmir question. The UN assistant secretary-general was told not to visit Delhi because there was ‘nothing to discuss.’
Since coming to power nearly four months ago, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has excelled in provocative statements and irresponsible behaviour. The nuclear explosions of May 11-13 were but one manifestation of Indian belligerence and hegemonic tendencies which have exposed its true face to the world.
In addition to check-mating Delhi’s blackmailing tactics, the Pakistani response to Indian explosions has thrust the Kashmir dispute into international limelight delivering India a stunning reversal. But it would be simplistic to assume that this alone would help resolve the issue. Nor would Delhi be persuaded to mend its belligerent ways and agree to hold a referendum as demanded by the people of Kashmir and called for in UN security council resolutions.
Indian duplicity on the Kashmir question is well-known. As prime minister Sharif urges Vajpayee during their meeting on the side lines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting on July 29-31 to adhere to principles of good neighbourliness, he should not repose too much confidence in the Hindu’s words.
Vajpayee represents the supposedly ‘moderate’ face of Hindu nationalism but he leads a party that reflects the worst aspects of Hindu chauvinism. Hindu fascists have intensified plans to erect a temple on the site of the destroyed historic Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. And Vajpayee has re-appointed Garesh Saxena as governor of Kashmir in addition to handing over responsibility for the troubled State to home minister Lal Krishna Advani. Both Saxena and Advani are Hindu fascists.
Saxena gained notoriety during his first stint as governor when he instituted an iron-fist policy. His tenure was marked by wanton killings, gang-rapes of women and torture of thousands of young men in Kashmir. By the time he was replaced in 1993, Saxena had left a legacy of death and destruction.
Since returning to the post, this former spy chief (he retired in 1986 as head of India’s Research and Analysis Wing [RAW] - its foreign spy agency) he has re-introduced the policy of mass murders and sabotage. Indian Black Cat terrorists operating under RAW have targeted innocent civilians on both sides of the border. There is not only increased shelling of border villages using heavy artillery - a deliberate escalation of the conflict - but also more gruesome murders of innocent Kashmiris. Even Mufti Muhammad Saeed, a former Indian home minister, lamented on June 26 that the human rights situation in Kashmir had deteriorated.
This was inevitable with Saxena back in Srinagar. The Indian-puppet chief minister, Farooq Abdullah, is equally adamant about killing innocents. Anyone opposed to Indian occupation or to his rule is immediately branded a militant, and that is sufficient reason to have him executed.
The Special Operations Group (SOG), a terrorist outfit created by Abdullah, is one of four paramilitary units that targets Kashmiris suspected of backing the ‘militants.’ The other three are the Border Security Force, the Special Task Force and the Indian Army’s Rashtriya Rifles.
Indian duplicity is evident in other ways as well. Even Advani has started to talk about resolving the Kashmir dispute bilaterally. During his visit to Srinagar on June 24 - there was a complete shut down in protest over his presence in the city - he spoke as usual from both sides of his mouth. While calling for a peaceful resolution to the dispute through bilateral discussions, he urged the Indian occupation forces to deal firmly with the ‘militants.’ He also urged a pro-active policy.
Indian pro-activism has been evident since Advani’s advent as home minister. There are almost daily acts of sabotage in Pakistani cities. Passenger trains are blown up and bombs explode in crowded markets killing innocent civilians. India hopes to create instability in Pakistan thereby forcing Islamabad to forget about Kashmir. This also appears aimed at preventing the issue from gaining more international support.
In addition to the UN secretary general’s renewed interest in the region, especially pertaining to Kashmir, last month US senator Tom Harkin also tabled the ‘Kashmir resolution’ in the senate. Harkin’s Resolution 252 underscores the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, saying it has become a ‘threat to international peace.’
The resolution, tabled on June 19, says that the detonation of nuclear devices by India and Pakistan has ‘underscored’ the need to re-examine relations between India and Pakistan and re-focus attention on the tensions created by the 50-year old Kashmir dispute and it is in the interest of US ‘security and world peace’ to have a ‘peaceful and just settlement’ of the dispute.
While international attention to the Kashmir dispute is welcome, India will only be persuaded to agree to a just solution when the cost of its occupation increases to an unacceptable level. This is an aspect that needs immediate attention. If Delhi does not desist from its terrorist activities in Pakistan and the mass murder of Kashmiris under its occupation, then Indian fault lines need to be deepened to let it taste a dose of its own medicine.
Muslimedia: July 16-31, 1998