Belligerence begets more belligerence

The famous phrase “toughness begets greater toughness”, as quoted by Martin Luther King, expounds the shifting dynamics of struggle of the Kashmiri people for their independence. People in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK) are subject to gross human rights violations and they have been witnessing an increase in Indian aggression since the start of the illegal occupation of J&K. Thousands of lives have been lost, women raped, children and elders tortured and killed.

Since the killing of Burhan Wani, in 2016, Indian forces, faced an unprecedented level of resistance from the indigenous populace, and have resorted to extreme measures of coercion to suppress and malign the purely indigenous movement. Use of pellet guns has become a new norm in the valley. Thousands of children and young people have suffered irredeemable injuries, with Hiba Nisar, a 19-month old toddler, the youngest one to lose complete sight.

In this context, people in Kashmir are deeply agitated and hostility towards occupation forces is higher than ever before. Given the fact that Kashmiris have lost their faith in the rigged political process, their identity has largely been compromised, attempts are being made to bring demographic changes in the region, Kashmiris have been pushed to find new channels to fight against heinous designs of occupation forces.

As a result of Indian barbarism in IOK, Kashmiri youth seem to see no other way except retaliation to record their resolution to awaken the international community.  In this context, Adil Dar a Kashmiri alias as Waqas Commando of Gandhibagh hit a vehicle laden with explosives in a convoy of about 2500 Central Reserve Police Force, traveling from Jammu to Srinagar, near Goripora, Pulwama. The attack was a retaliation to the brutal killings of Kashmiris. The attack, according to various media reports, resulted in the deaths of more than 45 persons. Scores of other personnel were also injured.

As already mentioned above, Pulwama incident is the continuation of the Kashmiri youths struggle against Indian occupation and killings, spanned over many decades. It should be enough for India to admit the aspirations of Kashmiri people as well as to realise that military actions and draconian laws cannot crush dissent.

Unfortunately, in a never-ending blame game, there has been no serious coordinated effort by India and Pakistan to assess and mitigate the causes of unrest. To Pakistan’s credit, it has not only given diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiris but have also tried to internationalise the conflict, not to mention the scores of invitations issued by Pakistan to India for bilateral talks on such matters

Like always, unfortunately, Pakistan was linked to the attack by the Indian deep state as well as by tabloid Indian media to dilute the intensity of indigenous struggle of Kashmiri people. Nevertheless, Indian media have also now started to realise the intensity of the struggle of Kashmiris. According to Farooq Abdullah, Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir National Conference, “Kashmiri youth are now reacting to Indian aggression and the Indian establishment is not reaching out to Kashmiris.” In another video clip, Farooq Abdullah pointed out the awakening of Kashmiri youth wherein he said, “Kashmiris are reacting in the same way Indians treated them.”

The Kashmiris struggle for fulfilling their dream of freedom from Indian occupation is now more emotionally charged than ever. Though the current generation up against the Indian occupation forces is more educated and knowledgeable, Indians still try to smash their struggle through new tactics. However, after Burhan Wani, Kashmiris are not willing to further bear the yoke of Indian subjugation. No matter how the Indian media and polity defend their occupation in Kashmir,  India must realize that J&K is slipping away from its hands and the pulse of Kashmiri populace now lies under the thumb of resistance leadership. Most importantly, reality needs to be acknowledged that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is an internationally recognized dispute as per the resolutions of the United Nations.

Suicide bombings could be a new norm in Kashmir. Various analysts have also warned time and again about such probable suicide attacks in Kashmir, given the continuously increasing force of Indian brutalities and human rights violations. Still, India’s response and handling of Pulwama attack is below par.  To the dismay of peace loving communities of the region, India’s attitude falls short of the ideals of rationality and pragmatism.

Unfortunately, in a never-ending blame game, there has been no serious coordinated effort by India and Pakistan to assess and mitigate the causes of unrest. To Pakistan’s credit, it has not only given diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiris but have also tried to internationalise the conflict, not to mention the scores of invitations issued by Pakistan to India for bilateral talks on such matters. Almost every successive government in Pakistan has tried to engage in talks with India, but to no avail.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan did the same in his latest speech to Pakistan nation on Pulwama attack. Not only did Mr. Khan invite India to talk on the J&K conflict but also assured to take strict actions against terrorists, if India provides Pakistan with substantive evidence of their involvement in the attack. However, without such cooperation, it is unlikely that a solution will be found. Unless, India steps downs from its militarised approach in Kashmir and tries to solve J&K conflict through dialogue, violence is likely to prevail. It is only through the path of negotiations that the deadlock can be fixed and the underlying cause behind the vicious cycle of violence can be addressed.

The author, works at Islamabad Policy Research Institute

Published in Daily Times, February 23rd 2019.