India and Pakistan have waged two wars over Kashmir and are now in possession of nuclear weapons. Even before the British left the Indian subcontinent in August 1947, Kashmir was a hotly contested territory. India has warned Pakistan that it will pay for the Pulwama attack which occurred on February 14. Adil Ahmad , a home-grown, local Kashmiri militant, rammed an SUV packed with explosives into an Indian military convoy, killing 44 paramilitary personnel and himself. India has blamed both Pakistan and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a proscribed organisation in both India and Pakistan, for what it classifies as a ‘terrorist’ attack. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded stating that the attack was a matter of grave concern and that Pakistan condemned heightened acts of violence in the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan rejected India’s latest accusation. It denies giving material aid to Muslim separatist fighters in Kashmir. Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has strongly stated that India’s allegations were presented without any supporting evidence; he also referenced India’s tendency to blame Pakistan for any incidents occurring within India Occupied Kashmir (IOK) without engaging in dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue. “We have repeatedly seen India taking the mantle of judge, jury and executioner,” the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement. Since their independence 72 years ago, India and Pakistan have fought three wars which they both claim in full but rule in part. India has long accused Pakistan of training and arming militants and helping them infiltrate across the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) that separates the two sides. Pakistan recently said India’s accusations stemmed from its attempts to divert attention from its “state terrorism” and “brutalisation of peaceful, unarmed Kashmiris”. More specifically, the right of Kashmiris to self-determination has been recognised at the United Nations (UN) through numerous UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. The right to self-determination – and the legitimacy to agitate for its realisation – is not in question under international law, a right to which the Kashmiri people are also entitled. The Indian rhetoric has included threats to militarily retaliate against Pakistan in reprisal for the Pulwama incident, in contravention of established international law – including Article 2(4) of the UN Charter – in an act of unilateral and unjustified belligerence. State sponsorship, to the degree where the right to self-defence is enabled, requires actively controlling and commanding such outfits. New Delhi has failed to provide the people of Kashmir with any political representation and has instead violently oppressed them While Pakistan continues to provide moral support to Kashmiris suffering under occupation, under international law it is not per se unlawful to provide military support to such territories as well. However, Indian journalist Santosh Bhartiya in an open letter to Indian PM Narendra Modi published in ‘Rising Kashmir’ claims that although “the land of Kashmir is with us, the people of Kashmir are not with us.” The journalist presents findings from a four-day trip to IOK in the letter, addressing the use of excessive force against protesters, the anger of the Kashmiri people, and the mishandling of the Kashmir issue by India ? particularly, the Modi regime. Further, he commented on how New Delhi has failed to provide the people of Kashmir with any political representation and has instead violently oppressed them. Different voices have started to rise in India, ranging from former Indian finance minister Yashwant Singh ,Former Indian Supreme Court Justice Merqunde to Bollywood stars like Kamal Hassan. An entire Kashmiri generation that was born in 1952 has not seen a single day of democracy and has never experienced what democracy is all about. The Kashmiri people wonder why they don’t deserve a normal life, as the people of other states in India live and enjoy democracy. Will they carry on their lives in fear of guns, bullets, pellets, and day-to-day massacres? Are they destined to live like slaves forever? Under the partition plan provided by the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir was free to accede to India or Pakistan. The population of the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir is over 60 percent Muslim, making it the only state within India where Muslims are in the majority. High unemployment and complaints of heavy-handed tactics by security forces battling street protesters and fighting insurgents have aggravated the problem. Violent insurgency in the state has ebbed and flowed since 1989, but the region witnessed a fresh wave of violence after the death of 22-year-old militant leader Burhan Wani in July 2016. In 2018, the death toll for militants and security forces in Kashmir touched the highest point in a decade, according to official figures, with 356 killed. Human rights groups put the civilian fatalities at over 100. Almost no experts believe the situation will improve in the short term. The incident in Sirnoo, in the district of Pulwama, illustrates a turn for the worse. As security forces carry out operations, they are frequently confronted by crowds of people who, rather than scattering, try to block their way. Undeniably, India used “excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries,” according to a report released in June by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report also cited India’s use of “inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate” pellet-firing shotguns as a means of crowd dispersal, which left hundreds blinded. India rejected the report’s findings. The upturn in violence coincided with the absence of any meaningful political process to address Kashmiri grievances on the part of the federal government, whose embrace of Hindu chauvinism has distressed Muslims across India. In this context it is, therefore, imperative that Pakistan and India work towards a genuine resolution to the Kashmir issue that is in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people along a peace process, rather than involving themselves in rhetoric and vitriol to isolate the other within the international community and delay the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The writer is a doctor, educationist, Human Activist, Blogger, certified trainer and Poet Published in Daily Times, February 25th 2019.