India’s promise of ensuring Kashmiris’ right to self-determination reflects in numerous UN Security Council resolutions, including the UNSC Resolution 47 of 1948. Yet, in the past two years, fulfilment of this right has necessitated the use of metal pellets, bullets and chemical shelling. This dichotomy between stated commitment and actual practice delivers a deathblow to India’s solidarity with indigenous Kashmiris. It reveals the selective application of the law in one of the largest democracies in the world, as innocent Kashmiris are denied fundamental rights. More importantly, at a time when the world as a whole is uniting against Israeli aggression in Gaza, India’s recourse to violence takes the credibility away from its Kashmir argument. Between July 2016 and March 2018, the prospects of peace in Kashmir have reached an all-time low. All fundamental indicators of peace — freedom of expression, association, press — have owed to aggressive state interventions. According to a 49-page UN report on Human Rights violations in Kashmir, nearly 130 civilians were killed at the hands of Indian security troops. The majority of these fatalities occurred during protests against forced disappearances of thousands of civilians, unlawful arrests of prominent journalists, and state-sanctioned communication blackouts. Within the same period, civilian injury estimates stood more than 9,042 — sustained primarily from pellet-firing shotguns, an instrument not known to have been used against demonstrators anywhere else in India. It is no coincidence that all the protests that have been dealt with force are precisely those directed at the Indian state’s occupation. This systematic suppression of dissent reflects a conscious state policy towards Kashmir — one where armed intervention at the cost of human rights is not an anomaly but is the order. Interestingly, India’s official position maintains that Kashmir is a matter of territorial sovereignty. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar rejected the UN-led Kashmir report, terming it ‘fallacious’ and its findings a ‘violation of India’s territorial integrity.’ Even if India was to justify significant human rights violations in the name of territorial sovereignty, the fact that Kashmir has the largest military presence in the world is hardly a democratic remedy for peace. At a time when the world as a whole is uniting against Israeli aggression in Gaza, India’s recourse to violence takes the credibility away from its Kashmir argument. And if Indian military presence in Kashmir is aimed at achieving that very outcome, presumably, it would have happened decades ago The deployment of over 700,000 Indian soldiers in the region rhymes with Israel’s military occupation of Gaza, as well as the use of military force by North Korea to sanction public arrests and executions. Not a single precedent exists in modern history where the forced occupation has spelt an end to the prolonged conflict. And if Indian military presence in Kashmir is aimed at achieving that very outcome, presumably, it would have happened decades ago. A popular argument underpinning the Indian rationale in Kashmir is Pakistan’s support for armed groups. This argument held some weight during the 1980s and 1990s when the concept of jihad in Kashmir was consciously promoted by dominant elements of the state. But today, there is little evidence to suggest Pakistan’s sponsorship of armed uprisings in Kashmir. Radical groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba have been largely silent since 2008, and Pakistan’s support for Hizbul Mujahideen, beyond 1997, remains unsubstantiated. With a democratic system evolving on the back of the 18th Amendment, there appears to be little will on Pakistan’s part to stick to the same policies which were imposed via unconstitutional means. Moreover, the birth of TTP out of the Afghan war, coupled with renewed international pressure to move against JuD, reveals a slow yet definite attempt to steer clear of state-sponsored jihad in Kashmir. A 1990s lens to gauge Pakistan’s current security posture is barely plausible. Instead, India’s sustained military presence in the region appears to be a crucial factor in encouraging resistance. Several examples in recent history see to this correlation: Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the rise of PLO and Hamas, and the US invasion of Iraq and its role in pushing disbanded Iraqi Republican Guards to join hands with ISIS. The list is exhausting, and the message simple: no state in the world should expect to exercise force without consequences. The strategy of violent suppression has proven untenable, and civil resistance, inevitable. Ultimately, India’s prospects of establishing a credible case on Kashmir rest on how thoroughly it accounts for its indiscriminate use of force. By rejecting valid reports and resorting to undemocratic means to tackle dissent, the notion of “territorial sovereignty” does little to salvage its narrative. The writer is a student of Public Policy at NUST Published in Daily Times, June 27th 2018.