WEB DESK: Overwhelmed by the uncontrollable protests in Held Kashmir, the killing of Kashmir resistance fighter Burhan Wani has sparked off, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have decided offence is the best defence.
In his Independence Day speech he let out a tirade against Pakistan, bringing up Balochistan – forgetting that India itself is grappling with about a dozen insurgencies in different parts of the country-and making the incredible claim that he had received messages of support from leaders in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. In the ongoing uprising in the Valley, Indian forces have killed nearly 70 protesters and injured more than 6000, many of them brutally blinded by pellet guns fired in their faces.
Still the protests have no sign of abating. For over five weeks, the Valley has remained under curfew and a complete media blackout. Which speaks volumes about what the Kashmiri people want. Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussain, has expressed frustration over the situation, saying it is unfortunate that sincere attempts by the UN to independently assess the facts in relation to reports of human rights violations have failed, and that “without access, we can only fear the worst.”
Pakistan being a party to the Kashmir dispute, as recognised by two UN Security Council resolutions, of course could not remain a passive bystander. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wrote letters to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Islamabad also extended an invitation to New Delhi for secretaries’ level talks on Kashmir. The response it received is rather absurd though not surprising given Modi’s offensive mode. His government said it is willing to send its Foreign Secretary Subramanyam Jaishankar for discussions but these must focus on “infiltration and terrorism.”
This is as preposterous a position to take as can be. For, talks between two opposing parties are never a one-sided affair. In setting its own agenda India is essentially saying that any discussion of the Kashmir situation is out of the question, and that what is happening in the Valley is the result of ‘infiltration’ and Pakistan instigated ‘terrorism’. Which suggests over 6000 people wounded in Indian security forces firing and those who lost eyesight to gun pellets are all ‘infiltrators’. In that case, the Modi government should have no qualms about letting the UN Human Rights Commission send its team to ascertain the identity of the victims.
The US has been expressing concern, but it is worried more about the rising tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours than the events in the Valley. Sadly, Washington never tires of lecturing countries like Russia and China over human rights, but is yet to utter words of condemnation about its strategic partner’s grave human rights transgressions.
One can only hope the UN Secretary-General and the world human rights body will not restrict themselves to issuing statements of disapproval. They and the US must do more to end the reign of terror in the Valley and persuade India to come to the negotiation table to find a peaceful settlement of Kashmir according to the wishes of its people.
Source: Business Recorder