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Kashmir’s Identity under Threat: ‘Humanitarian Regimes’ vs ‘Might is Right

Muhammad Mehran Iqbal

Kashmir, famously renowned as heaven on earth, Its identity is under the threat of Indian aggression. A princely state during 1846-1947 under the British Raj in India called “Jammu and Kashmir” is now divided into many administrative territories i.e. Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh. The post-war 1948 cease-fire between India and Pakistan divided Kashmir into two parts, Pakistan’s Administrative Kashmir (PAK) aka Azad Kashmir and Indian Administrative Kashmir (IAK) aka Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan established a semi-autonomous state called Azad Kashmir and India gave a special constitutional status to the territory of Jammu and Kashmir. A de-facto border called Line of Control (LoC) was established between both states. India and Pakistan agreed that Kashmir is a conflictual territory between both states that required special attention and proper resolution. Internationally Kashmir is declared as ‘Conflict of Interest’, therefore, UN adopted a resolution on Kashmir “United Nations Security Council Resolution 39” presented on January 20, 1948. For the last 73 years, both states observe continuous clashes, cross-border firing, low-intensity conflicts and skirmishes across LoC. But what recently India has done in IAK is out of question. India lock-downed Kashmir completely from any external contact while forcefully and unilaterally invalided Kashmir’s special status in October 2019 given by its constitution.
The world had shown their interest and concern about IAK in pre-COVID-19 phase upon Pakistan’s continuous efforts of highlighting Indian atrocities and human rights violations in the region. Before the Indian seizure of Kashmir in August 2019, Office of UN High Commission of Human Rights (OHCHR) had published a report on July 8, 2019, discussed human rights violations in Kashmir. India in response denied the report and almost a month after it, seized Kashmir completely and overturned its autonomous powers. In January 2020, after six months of seizure, the US based Human Rights organization “Human Rights Watch” had slammed India for atrocities and other human rights violations in the Kashmir. OHCHR, UN and Human Rights Watch are worth mentioning because these regimes claim to be an ombudsman for human rights safeguard in the world. Besides these regimes there are local, regional and international reports, scholars and analysts have talked about Indian atrocities in the region.
Moreover, India has violated a series of UN resolutions, bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan, and International laws and customs on human rights in Kashmir. The warnings of Human Rights safeguard organizations aren’t credible enough to stop India or at-least make India to reduce the human rights violation there, instead India is going all out with its nefarious agenda in the region. This leads us to the question of the credibility of international regimes that claim to be established for peace, stability, human security and check and balance in the international community.
The international security and human rights regimes have any credibility and power to enforce their decisions or it needs international states and major powers to enact their decisions. The question arises, what are the hindrances to these regimes to take action in Kashmir against Indian aggression, these actions could be in many ways if not a direct military confrontation such as sanctions, trade barriers, diplomatic isolation. The logical answer is there is no support from major power in the decision to act against India. The major states that keenly get involved in international affairs have their own interest in the region. The US a strategical ally of India is not opposing any of its regional aggression so that it become a regional threat and challenge for China. US assumes in such a scenario China will get busy in regional politics rather than its trade war with US and economic growth. On the other hand, China is pro-Kashmir in whole situation but China has a basic understanding that no country will interfere in Chinese internal affairs and China will not interfere in other countries’ matters. It is in low-intensity conflict with India but not for the Jammu and Kashmir but for the Ladakh that is associated with Tibet. Russia and France are selling weapons to India. Hence, every major power has its own stake in the region which is not conflicting with the Kashmir issue. Therefore, states as international players seem to play a minimal role in the scenario. It implies that these security and humanitarian regimes require international support of major powers to implement their decision. In such a scenario, these regimes can become the puppet of major powers. Therefore, influential states use such regimes for their own interest, as UN doctrine R2P is used to intervene in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Libya, and Yamen, etc.
There had another debate rather R2P implies on Kashmir or not, in this regard, numerous scholars and analysts have discussed the case by analyzing the current situation of Kashmir and clauses of R2P and have concluded that R2P implies on Kashmir’s situation. The R2P was even applied in pre-COVID-19 scenario when Indian atrocities and human rights violations were at its peak, more recently India also started violation of International Law i.e. International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty “Forced population transfer as a crime against humanity”. Such violation is considered as an attack, and to explains it further, the document state:
An attack may also be nonviolent in nature, like imposing a system of apartheid, which is declared a crime against humanity [by the] Apartheid Convention of 1973, or exerting pressure on the population to act in a particular manner, may come under the purview of an attack, if orchestrated on a massive scale or in a systematic manner
India has started forceful restatement of its citizen in the Kashmir region, it is providing land and incentives for those who agreed to settle in Kashmir. These demographic changes of Kashmir will damage the identity of Kashmiris to its core. It is unethical, immoral and unlawful according to international laws. Kashmir that once famous for its natural beauty, tourism and renown as heaven on earth, has been famous for a buffer zone between India and Pakistan. due to the special status and semi-autonomy given to the region, it has its own identity, now India has started shredding the identity of Kashmiri people. The resettlement of the people from southern and eastern parts of India in Kashmir without the will of Kashmiris and forcefully relocation of Kashmiris in other parts of India is a vital threat to their identity. On the contrary, in PAK, Gilgit-Baltistan wanted to be merged with Pakistan as its fifth province, but Pakistan provided it autonomy and semi-provincial status so that it empowers people of Gilgit-Baltistan and at the same time they can keep their original identity and also Pakistan wanted to comply with UN resolutions and resolve the issue of Kashmir accordingly.
The takeout is, it is important to intervene in Kashmir on the humanitarian bases due to Indian atrocities, human rights and international humanitarian laws violation in the region. So far, the humanitarian and security regimes have only slammed and given light warnings to the Indian government that has been ignored. The international regimes need to be strict on Indian government and question its actions to prove their credibility in the region. Otherwise, a trend of “might is right” will follow under Indian lead. Rather these regimes manage to make major powers to deter India or itself take a firm stance against aggression and stop India from performing international crimes. The duty also extends to the United States because the US has given himself the role of world policeman when it intervened on humanitarian bases in Afghanistan and Middle East to establish peace. India is a strategic ally of US, but when you channelize an authority then there is no exception for friends or partners. What it takes to stop India from further atrocities a firm stance and call from the president of the United States. Whatever measures are needed to be done should be done by the US and International Humanitarian and Security Regimes, they need a swift action against India to stop it from further Human Rights and International Laws violation.

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