Muted response to The Kashmir Issue

Reflection of Changing priorities of the Muslim Leadership?

When it announced that it had revoked the special status conferred upon and its previous agreements with, the Muslim-majority territory, India seized upon a reality about Kashmir. The reality that Kashmir’s 8 Mn Muslims have become the world’s forgotten people, when the international community no longer can summon the will to sanction or stand up against thr oppressors and violators of human rights and international law. Indian security forces instantly moved in, as New Delhi proceeded to action its strategic aim of changing the region’s demographics, and implementing its ethnic cleansing ‘the new Hindu nationalist settler-colonial’ project. This will systematically transform settlements into mini-cities, seizing and stealing lands from the Kashmiris and given to Hindu Indians, while Muslim citizens of this besieged state will be denied the same rights that have been afforded to their colonisers. Plan sounds familiar? It’s probably because our minds are drawn towards the Zionist oppression in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Decades of State sponsored terror and militancy have ensued a cycle of violence where the rights of Kashmiris have been repeatedly violated – they have been victims of torture, threats, extortion, arrests, and killings. The people of Kashmir themselves have always been hostile to the presence of India’s troops on their soil and have shown an iron determination to resist tens of thousands of killings, and thousands of rapes, disappearances and torture inflicted upon the population at the hands of these foreign occupiers. Long standing agreements in place have in fact afforded the Kashmiri people the right to determine their own destiny.

The dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan has been a searing wound for decades, with the roots of the conflict lying in their shared colonial past. Both fought three wars over the contested territory, while the Great Britain which colonised them, keeping aloof from the explosive developments in the region. This conflict thus largely reflects a bitter and troubled legacy of British colonialism and without a shade of doubt the leftover from the decolonization process. In fact, drawing parallels with the Palestine crisis, another British colonial legacy, renowned author Arundhati Roy aptly captured this development thus ‘How carelessly imperial power vivisected ancient civilizations. Palestine and Kashmir are imperial Britain’s festering, blood-drenched gifts to the modem world. Both are fault lines in the raging international conflicts of today. The parallels between the two have never looked as ominous as they do now. Reasons for the conflict over Kashmir are argued among contenders on a number of points, more often than not to serve globalist interests rather than the fundamental needs or desires of the Kashmiris themselves. There are many outside players at play which have exacerbated the human rights situation in the Kashmir region.

Israel has been playing a big role in India’s escalating conflict with Pakistan. Modi appears to be taking a page straight out of the Israeli playbook. Critics have warned that metamorphosis in Kashmir could mirror Jewish settlements in the West. Many of the Indian ruling party BJP’s aspirations and policy proposals for Kashmir are imitations of extant Israeli practices in Palestine. Key among these is the desire to build Israeli-style Hindu-only settlements in Kashmir as a way of instigating demographic change as seen these days. For months, Israel has been assiduously lining itself up alongside India’s nationalist BJP government in an unspoken – and politically dangerous – “anti-Islamist” coalition, an unofficial, unacknowledged alliance, while India itself has now become the largest weapons market for the Israeli arms trade… Several Indian commentators, however, have warned that right-wing Zionism and right-wing nationalism under Modi should not become the foundation stone of the relationship between the two countries, both of which – in rather different ways – fought the British empire.

It is pathetic that the international community is, yet again, responding to Kashmiri fears and suffering with callous indifference. Its concerns are pretty much confined to hoping Pakistan and India don’t end up nuking each other into oblivion. The international community’s involvement in the Kashmir dispute is a history of repeated frustration and failure. All have recognized that the continuing refusal of the Indian government to countenance an international role in Kashmir makes it likely that any outside efforts will be as unsuccessful as others were in the past. India cannot however get away from the fact that Kashmir is an “internationally recognized disputed territory”; thus unilaterally changing the status quo of the state, is “unacceptable. It is clear that the spirit of the 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means” , in accordance with the UN Charter is in tatters. It is doubtful to what extent UN will consider using the UN doctrine of the principle of ‘Responsibility to protect,’ (R2P)-the international understanding to intervene to stop atrocities from taking place, in the light of the many ‘crimes against humanity’ being committed against the Kashmir people under cover of lockdowns and blackouts.

What is more troubling and concerning is the sheer indifference of the ‘so-called’ Muslim world or Ummah, with Arab leaders even rewarding the oppressors. Whereas the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has expressed its “deep concerns” and condemned “illegal Indian actions” in Kashmir, the leaders of Muslim-majority countries by and large have been conspicuously mute or worse, as typified by Saudi Arabia refraining from taking a position on recent developments and with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) praising New Delhi by arguing that India’s revocation of Article 370 will “improve social justice and security and confidence of the people in the local governance and will encourage further stability and peace”. Shamefully amidst these developments in Kashmir, the ruler of UAE, Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed graced Modi with the “Order of Zayed” medal, the Kingdom’s highest civilian order. Even, both Kings of both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain too conferred their highest Orders on Modi on earlier occasions.

However, this shameful scenario with regard to betraying Muslim causes by the Arab leaders in particular is not entirely surprising. In fact, Palestinians today are torn between Trump’s arrogance and Arab indifference. In an article, Faarah Adan says, ‘Arab leaders laid down the very foundations that led to the pitiful conditions in which the Palestinians exist today. The Palestinian road to peace and self-determination is hamstrung not only by Israeli aggression but also by decades of indecisiveness and the Arab leaders’ bumbling incompetency’ . Arab regimes—particularly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt—like Trump, find themselves more aligned than ever with Israel on regional priorities. Equally shameful, when 22 mostly Western ambassadors wrote to the U.N. Human Rights Council in July, expressing concern about China’s mass detentions in the Xinjiang region and calling for “meaningful access” for “independent international observers”, another letter was delivered signed by 37 ambassadors, which included a dozen Muslim governments including Pakistan, endorsing, what China whitewashed as a “counter-terrorism and de-radicalization” operation and claimed that “the fundamental human rights of people of all ethnic groups there are safeguarded.” . On the other hand, gross human rights violations are worse off too in the Muslims world.

This trend is pointing towards change of priorities of the Muslim leaders in the modern context. What is clear is that Modi’s unilateral declaration on Kashmir fits the mould of Trump’s declaration on East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. In this context, Modi riding roughshod over Kashmir is nothing surprising. In dealing with recent conflicts, the Muslim leaders also thus appear to be joining Trump/ Netanyahu/ Xi Jinping/Modi club, in putting flesh on the skeleton of a new world order that enables civilizational leaders to violate international law with impunity. It also allows them to cast aside diplomacy and ignore national, ethnic, minority, religious and human rights. The Muslim world’s varied responses to multiple crises that target the rights of Muslims suggest not only impotence, but also a growing willingness to sacrifice causes on the altar of perceived national interest and economic advantage. The question is whether that is an approach that would be popularly endorsed if freedom of expression in many Muslim countries were not severely restricted. The risk is that leaders’ inability to gauge public opinion or willingness to ignore it will eventually come back to haunt them.