Kashmir: Optimism for a solution heightened
Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference senior leader Professor Abdul Gani Butt is encouraged by numerologists predicting 2014, a year vital for resolution of Kashmir issue. Sixty seven occupational years gone by witnessed oppression, gory details and human right violations in Kashmir, Prof Butt declared.
India-Pakistan DGMO (Director General of Military Operations) resolved to sit across the table to agree on "more effective and result oriented" flag meetings to maintain ceasefire on the Ceasefire Line dividing the State of Kashmir. Civilian crossing over to visit their kith and kin generally become victims of two militaries facing each other to settle scores of hostility with resultant fatalities inflicted on each other frequently. Times of India reports (December 24, 2013) that flag meetings would be held to carry forward the ´positive spirit´ since 1999 Kargil confrontation. Though such flag meetings have been held many times before with no tangible outcome but this time the observers believe the seriousness shown by warring sides would perhaps culminate positively keeping in view the volatility of the situation that could trigger a devastating full-fledged war.
Pakistan´s Dawn News reports (December 24, 2013) that DGMO of Pakistan extended an invitation to his Indian counterpart and welcomed the Indian delegation led by Lieutenant General Bhatia at ´no man’s land´ near the Wagah border of India-Pakistan. The deteriorating situation along the Ceasefire Line in Kashmir was discussed and suggestions offered to reduce the tension and number of killings of innocent civilians. Pakistan claims that the decision for two armies to interact working out strategy for peace was taken at the political level. But at the same time the inclusion of foreign ministry officials in such a meeting proposed by Pakistan was, as reported, rejected by India.
A joint statement issued underlining maintenance of peace at Ceasefire Line with a joint strong vigil checking smuggling has not raised any hopefulness or encouragement among eager peoples of the two nations but politically conscious with acumen take it as a confident and constructive step to build a lasting relationship. It is believed that the two armies acting as sheet anchor will pave the way for a solution of the long standing problem of Kashmir. Pakistan, however, admitted that the formal dialogue will have to wait until after the Indian elections next year.
A thin and fragile line between past experience and present initiative exists and many political pundits and observers believe that in the absence of determined political will to resolve the issue, substantive and lasting peace will not materialise in view of deliberate exclusion of actual stake holders, the people of Kashmir. Pakistan has all along insisted inclusion of representatives of people of Kashmir in any deliberations held but India stubbornly wants to confine the issue to a policy of bilateralism. Unfortunately, India in a desperate attempt is trying to create pessimism, helplessness, despondency and frustration among people of Kashmir hoping to bring them on negotiating table for a solution on Indian terms. A forbearing nation suffering immensely has learnt to be patient and guided by their faith, resolve and determinate will fight for what they own and their rights.
The deputy spokesperson of the US State Department Marie Harf stressed the need for Delhi and Islamabad to work together to find a solution to resolve Kashmir issue. Replying a question regarding relations of these two neighbourly nuclear nations, the spokesperson responded that "We´ve always said that we believe they need to keep building a better relationship, they need to work together on these issues, and certainly we hope they will do so." The optimism and inclined indirect intervention shown by world powers definitely is a morale booster for Kashmir which has been insisting that the global community was not doing enough to help settle this humanitarian issue.
Saurav Datta referring to a still from the documentary Kashmir Torture Trail puts on record the details of methods of torture used by army and its intelligence agencies exemplifying atrocities revealed by Wikileaks like electrocution, sexual molestation, physical beatings, and moving rollers over the legs to break bones etc. Relating the torture trail of Abdul Rahman Tantray of Varmul District Kashmir, Saurav Datta records his concluding remarks saying "Although I have to spend a lot of money on court case proceedings but I don’t need any compensation from the government and will continue to fight for the cause of freedom".
Human rights activist Ms Anne V Roth of US said (December 13, 2013) that the only and amicable solution to the Kashmir and Palestine issues is early grant of freedom to the nations. "Now, the time is ripe for the international community to wake up and to find the amicable solution to all the international issues through dialogues instead of giving up the fatal tradition of using the powers against the poor nations in the world," she said.
Shekhar Gupta, a leading Indian columnist maintains that New Delhi had effectively given the army a veto on Kashmir policy permitting the generals to scuttle essential political gestures. Gupta further says that the army lacks the mandate and resources to execute the broad military aim to force a status-quo with a pretext of ´imponderables´ of post-2014 Afghanistan. It is also argued that New Delhi has failed to articulate a political vision for Kashmir and depends more on army´s mindset to use its military strength and power to integrate Kashmir with India politically, economically, socially and psychologically.
Gupta alleges that army has a vested interest in keeping the pot boiling to reap the harvest in the shape of awards, promotions, loosely monitored intelligence budgets and a free hand to fill hundreds of thousands of returning empty army trucks filled with merchandise without shelving out even a penny from their pockets. Army providing a highly militarised security environment mainly to eliminate the last Kashmiri militant fighting for independence is the task that requires fulfilment.
On a positive note there is no dearth of understanding, humanitarian and sympathetic people in India who support Kashmir cause and realise that Kashmir has not received a fair deal from respective governments of India since Kashmir’s occupation. The futility of ruling Kashmir with a barrel of gun, many believe, is eroding Indian democratic and secular image that the world still believes as ´factuality´.
NDTV of India reports (December 23, 2013) the 300 km National Highway connecting Kashmir with India is closed for vehicular traffic due to snowfall, slippery roads and landslides. The serpentine mountainous region is a natural death-trap devouring thousands of travellers every year and people generally believe that it is the nature´s decisive verdict to keep Kashmir away from India.