Kashmir key to peace

The Nation, November 22, 2009

IT reflects poorly on New Delhi’s political sense that it has failed to realise that the more it tries to suppress the Kashmiris’ urge to get out of its cruel hold, the more entrenched in the people’s psyche becomes the freedom struggle and the more conscious the world gets of the urgency with which the dispute needs to be resolved. Amnesty International recently called upon President Obama to raise the issue of India’s brutal oppression in Occupied Kashmir when he meets Prime Minister Singh in Washington. Its words, “The Indian side of Kashmir is an area where the security forces commit mass human rights abuses with impunity…facilitated by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and other similar laws.” Similarly, President Hu and President Obama, in a joint statement, have observed that the two sides, “agreed to cooperate…(in) bringing about more stable, peaceful relations in all of South Asia”. Secretary of State Clinton maintained, in an interview on Friday, that the US wanted the resumption of talks between India and Pakistan to sort out their differences, including Kashmir.

However, India has been greatly upset at these declarations and continues to defy the calls for an understanding look at the situation that the lingering dispute creates both within Occupied Kashmir and outside. It is a measure of Pakistan’s disappointment that Foreign Minister Qureshi had to say that though we were urging for the resumption of talks, we were not looking for a photo session; we wanted ‘constructive engagement and meaningful dialogue’. He stressed that any talks without the participation of Pakistan would be futile. He had in mind India’s efforts to engage the Kashmiri leaders from the occupied state to find a solution. Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit did some plain speaking, when he remarked that India did not want peace in the region. His conclusion is absolutely justified since New Delhi refuses to come to the negotiating table just because it would have to discuss Kashmir. It is well known that even when the composite dialogue was going on it avoided coming to grips with the issue. As the history of post-partition reveals, the fate of Indo-Pakistan relations is closely linked to the settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiris.

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