The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) took up the issue of Jammu & Kashmir for a closed-door discussion on 16 August 2019, almost after 50 years. The issue was proposed by China, one of the permanent members, after the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote to the UNSC President Joanna Wronecka about human rights violations by India in the Indian-administered parts of Jammu & Kashmir. The disputed territory of Jammu & Kashmir, which is divided between India-administered Jammu & Kashmir, and Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir, stirred a recent surge of tension between the nuclear-power hostile neighbours who fought two of their three major wars over it. A recent decision by the Indian parliament to end the official special status of Jammu & Kashmir under its control, and its subsequent bifurcation to impose a direct rule of New Delhi, instigated a global outrage, with Pakistan and China criticising New Delhi vehemently.
On 5 August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime, led by his Hindutva fascist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), brought a sudden end to the semi-autonomous status of India-administered Jammu & Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which hitherto allowed the former princely state to have its separate Constitution and flag, although it remained under India’s direct military-colonial rule for more than seven decades. Article 370 was a tunnel through which India’s Constitution was implemented in Kashmir.
Though successive governments in the past stripped the essence of Article 370 and left only the skeleton of its original form on papers, none tried to abrogate the Article itself as it would nullify Jammu & Kashmir’s accession to India. Modi’s abrogation of Article 370 legally translates as the official annexation of Jammu & Kashmir. As Jammu & Kashmir is an internationally-recognised disputed territory, India’s sudden adventurism irked both Pakistan and China. Going further, New Delhi even asserted that the whole of Jammu & Kashmir, including the Pakistan-administered part, belongs to it and as a sovereign state it can take any decision on its territory.
Before Modi’s home minister and the outgoing BJP chief Amit Shah declared the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution — which hitherto gave the Jammu & Kashmir legislative assembly an exclusive power to define permanent residents of the state and disallowed the sale of land to outsiders — Jammu & Kashmir experienced a total forced shutdown by India. The tourists and Hindu pilgrims visiting their holy shrine Amarnath were forced to leave Jammu & Kashmir by the government, which used a terror threat hoax to spread panic among the visitors.
The people were locked in their houses for days and rendered incommunicado as the government snapped their telephone, mobile, internet and cable television connections. All mainstream pro-India politicians, including three former chief ministers, as well as separatist leaders, have been arrested. Campuses of educational institutions, government offices and commercial buildings have been occupied by the Indian forces and the entire region was garrisoned by 4 August evening; the press remains gagged while only concertina wires and military jackboots rule the streets as graveyard’s peace was imposed by New Delhi before it placed its card on the table.
There was an international outcry over the situation and accusations of India’s brutal violations of human rights in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley resurfaced intensely, as the foreign media outlets like the New York Times, the BBC, etc, published stories of military atrocities against the people, especially the youth, who resorted to sporadic protests. There were optics of protests in the Kashmir valley and the Indian forces were found firing on protesters. The gloating of the Indian Hindutva fascist camp and the Modi regime over the macabre atrocities committed by the Indian forces in Jammu & Kashmir, their attempt to gag the media, forced the international bodies to raise objections, albeit quite cosmetic ones.
However, despite its long meeting on the Jammu & Kashmir issue, the UNSC merely asked India and Pakistan to resolve the issue through bilateral talks. It didn’t dare to take any firm stand on Kashmir, and pushed the ball back to the court of New Delhi and Islamabad, with a clear aim at maintaining the status quo. Though both India and Pakistan claimed their moral victory, this UNSC decision became a setback for the Kashmiris and global peace. The UNSC’s standpoint is a sheer mockery of the Kashmiri people’s agony and a total exclusion of their say in this long-drawn conflict that has placed both nuclear power neighbours in an eyeball-to-eyeball position and jeopardised the lives of the Kashmiri people.
Why the UNSC’s call to dialogue won’t resolve the current crisis?
The UNSC’s call to India and Pakistan to resolve the conflict situation and the crisis over Jammu & Kashmir through bilateral talks is not going to help because as an expansionist and hegemonist power backed by the US, the western imperialists, Zionist Israelis, Wahhabi Saudi Arabian monarchy and the reactionary Gulf monarchies, the Indian ruling classes will not retreat on their Kashmir standpoint. The Modi regime will continue with the muscle-flexing strategy to keep Pakistan on its toes and thereby, earn immense popularity within India, where the neighbouring Salafist state is perceived as a hostile power.
Prime Minister Modi’s agenda is to turn India into an official Hindu Rashtra (theocratic Hindu state), which is also the ultimate goal of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — the BJP’s ideological mentor and the fountainhead of Hindutva fascism — and changing the demography of Jammu & Kashmir, which was the only Muslim-majority state, by replicating the Zionist Israeli settlement-colonisation policy is one of his strategies.
The RSS or the BJP won’t retreat on the Kashmir issue as it’s closely connected with the Hindu Rashtra project, which the Modi regime is keen to establish by 2022 through a series of amendments to the Indian Constitution to change its secular and democratic character. Any retreat, following the international pressure, even if that means talking to Pakistan, will be perceived as a compromise by the core vote bank of the BJP — the hyper-nationalist upper-caste Hindu elites and urban middle class — who have voted it back to power in the last election. Modi’s landslide victory in the recent election can be credited to his jingoistic campaigning and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Kashmir, as the focal theme of Modi’s war against Muslims, can’t be on the negotiation table at all.
Moreover, much to the dismay of the international community, the Hindutva fascist Modi regime, which is disenfranchising Muslims in Assam, which has the second-largest Muslim population after Jammu & Kashmir, and wants to replicate the same exercise throughout the country, has never considered the Jammu & Kashmir issue as a “problem”. Recently, riding on horseback of audacity and driven by sheer hubris, Rajnath Singh, Modi’s hardcore RSS buddy and the defence minister, amplified the Hindutva fascist propaganda on Kashmir by declaring that India will not talk to Pakistan over Jammu & Kashmir, and even if it talks then the topic will be Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This rhetoric came after the UNSC declaration, which shows that the Modi regime is seriously interested in aggravating the Kashmir crisis even at the cost of a conflict with Pakistan. As India reels under a severe economic crisis, a conflict with Pakistan remains Modi’s ticket to rescue from public ignominy.
When India isn’t even acknowledging the Jammu & Kashmir issue as a problem, when it’s increasing its troop presence in the Kashmir valley by leaps and bounds, when it’s jailing and maiming even minors, then there is no way it will discuss and resolve the Jammu & Kashmir issue with Pakistan, especially after creating a nationwide euphoria on it by appeasing the jingoistic Brahminical aspirations. The Indian ruling classes and the Modi regime are on their mission of expansionism and it has the backing of the major imperialist blocs of the world. There is no way Modi will talk to a far weaker Pakistan and jeopardise his political and economic game plans in the region.
Why Kashmiris are at a loss due to the UNSC’s “bilateral talk” offer?
By asking India and Pakistan to resolve the Jammu & Kashmir issue through meaningful bilateral dialogue, the UNSC has done great injustice to the people of Jammu & Kashmir. India and Pakistan have been fighting over the strategically-important Jammu & Kashmir since 1947 and both claim it to be their rightful part. However, the Kashmiri people’s voice remains unheard in this brawl between the two nuclear powers. What do the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh want? What’s especially the views of the Kashmiri people, who have suffered immensely during a three-decade-long rebellion against Indian occupation? Who is going to talk to them? Who is going to earn their confidence and not treat them as expendable?
The UNSC didn’t care to know the views of the people of the region. It didn’t even give them a chance to be a party to the dialogue to resolve the issue. If India and Pakistan even hold a dialogue, it will be between two powers with obnoxious colonial agenda over Kashmir and will not truly reflect what the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh want. There is no monolithic Kashmiri group and there are a plethora of political alignments in Jammu & Kashmir, especially about its status and its future. Therefore, there can’t be a single or dominant view about Jammu & Kashmir and all views must be taken into consideration for the sake of a real, pro-people and democratic solution of the Kashmir issue in a non-violent way.
When it excluded the Kashmiri people, the most oppressed people in Jammu & Kashmir, from having a say in the issue concerning their lives, and gave the baton to India and Pakistan to decide upon the fate of more than 163 million people of the state, the UNSC endorsed the colonisation of Jammu & Kashmir by these two powers. It stops the road to a non-violent, democratic and widely-accepted solution to the Jammu & Kashmir issue, even if we consider the odd presumption of India agreeing to take part in a bilateral talk with Pakistan on the problem.
By stopping the scopes of a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, the UNSC actually gave leeway to militancy in the valley, which is gaining popularity as the political bankruptcy of the pro-Indian politicians is exposed during this crisis and a major void is created in the political stage due to the brutal clampdown by India, and it poses a major threat of a resurgence of militancy in the Kashmir valley. A resurgence of militancy will give impetus to the Modi regime to fan xenophobia and Islamophobia in India, and get endorsement for the most inhuman suppression of the militancy using brutal force. All the bloodshed in the valley will now exhibit the inefficiency of the UNSC.
Why the UNSC had to take a middle-of-the-road approach?
All the five permanent members of the UNSC: the US, the UK, France, Russia and China have strong business interests in capital and market-friendly India. With a huge market, a great reservoir of virtually free mineral resources and cheap labour, India is a haven of imperialist loot and plunder under the neo-liberal economic order. Be it the US, the UK, France or Russia, who have strong ties with the Modi regime, or the Chinese, who, despite their allergic reaction to Indian foreign policy and expansionist greed, have their eyes set on the lucrative Indian consumer good market, the stakes are always high in spoiling bilateral ties.
When the economic stakes are that high, when there are existing investments, projects in the pipeline and a larger scope to exploit India by oiling the palms of the ruling dispensation, then it’s, of course, unlikely that countries like the UNSC permanent members will speak against India. It’s also not feasible for them to side with Pakistan in any conflict with India as it has a tiny market, market-unfriendly socio-economic conditions and lack of peace for investments. Yet, Pakistan is crucial for the US, Russia and China due to its geostrategic location and proximity to Iran and Afghanistan.
While the US wants to use Pakistan as a base against Iran in future military aggression on the Persian Islamic Republic, and also wants Islamabad’s involvement in resolving the Afghanistan stalemate, China is interested in securing its business interests in Pakistan, especially its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Russia too wants a stake in Pakistan’s defence market and is strengthening both military and business ties with the country, though not at the cost of jeopardising its stronger ties with New Delhi.
Under such complex geopolitical compulsions, it was obvious that though the UNSC permanent members appeased the Pakistani government by discussing the Jammu & Kashmir issue in the closed-door meeting, none of them, including China — Pakistan’s all-season-ally — would irk India by taking any step against it. The new nexus between the Indian rulers and the US-led imperialist bloc came out to the rescue of New Delhi, as its Kashmir sins were atoned by the UNSC in an unapologetic fashion. Even China remained a mute spectator to ensure its business interests in India remains secure.
The post-UNSC scenario
While both New Delhi and Islamabad hailed the UNSC’s middle-of-the-road approach as their victory and tom-tommed about the same using their PR mechanism, the actual situation remained unchanged in Jammu & Kashmir, where though schools have officially opened, however, no student could attend classes; though internet service (2G) was restored in some parts, it was snapped as soon as people’s resentment boiled down to the streets.
Indian Defence Minister Singh issued a veiled nuclear threat to Pakistan by citing the fact that India will not deter from using nuclear weapons first. The Pakistani government started a cacophony over Hindutva fascism, though overlooking the ugly mushrooming of Salafist terrorism in its own courtyard, to instigate mass opinion against the Modi regime at a global scale. The tirade on social media and the mainstream media of both countries continues, with an excessive overdose of fake news on Kashmir. However, none of them showed any eagerness in really resolving the issue rather than milking it to score diplomatic and political brownies abroad and home.
After achieving initial success in making Kashmir and Indian atrocities there as a major discussion topic, especially in the US where many candidates are in the preliminary poll fray, the Pakistani government got another setback when the US cut down financial aid to Islamabad, which helps its economy in a major way, and later, when Modi had a long discussion with the US President Donald Trump on Kashmir, during which he ensured that the US tilt towards India and not towards its older ally Pakistan. Though Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan too claimed that he spoke in-length about the Kashmir issue with Trump, the US’s reluctance to support the Pakistani establishment stemmed out from its dire need to keep India under its fold as it tightens the noose around China using Indian people as its cannon fodder.
There is no scope for any bilateral talks between India and Pakistan over Jammu & Kashmir, as the Indian rulers continue to use the Kashmir optics to flare up jingoistic pride among the Brahminical upper-caste Hindus and their indoctrinated lower-caste and Dalit followers. The BJP and the RSS are using the opportunity to consolidate its hardcore vote bank in states like Maharashtra, Haryana and mineral-rich Jharkhand, which will be going to polls later this year. Also, the Kashmir optics will reap rich dividends for the Modi bandwagon during the Delhi and Bihar assembly elections scheduled for 2020.
While the Kashmiri people reel under the juggernaut of military oppression, their politicians — both mainstream and separatists — arrested, and the entire valley fumes in an ominous silence, the UNSC’s sheer neglect of the Kashmir issue, its indifferent towards the Kashmiri people’s agony, exhibited why the Kashmiri people’s struggle for democracy and self-determination is not merely against India, which is an agent of the bigger imperialist powers of the west, it’s also a vehement struggle against the imperialist powers that are keen to prolong the sufferings of the Kashmiri people so that their agony can be used for profiteering, violence can be used to extract super-profits and war can swell the coffers of the capitalist clan.
What lies ahead for the Kashmiris?
For Kashmir, the issue is not about drawing international attention towards it. There is actually no genuine socialist country in the world right now that can support it selflessly and assist its cause. The post-Cold War diplomacy has always been about markets, resources and labour. There will be hullaballoo only when access to markets, resources or labour would be threatened by a government. So the UNSC will discuss Syria, the imperialists will blockade Iran or promote a forceful regime change in Venezuela, however, at the same time they will ignore Palestine or Kashmir with the utmost indifference.
For Kashmir, the path ahead is a self-reliant struggle for democracy and self-determination. It’s a path that the Kashmiri people have to traverse alone and scale the treacherous terrain with determination and zeal to achieve salvation. Only by relying upon their own strength, only by forging a strong unity, only by not capitulating and only by creating a new leadership, which will become the visionary vanguard of the Kashmiri cause, can the overwhelming masses of Kashmir achieve their greater goals.
The UNSC is merely an imperialist lobby group and it’s unlikely to support people’s struggle for freedom because the imperialist powers want to retain a status quo in most of the semi-colonial and neo-colonial territories to ensure the reign of loot and plunder under the cover of the neo-liberal economy continues with impunity. The Kashmiris must shed all illusions of receiving support from the very powers that arm and sharpen India’s teeth. It’s the Kashmiri people’s struggle and no one can help them, except their resolution and unity. When these two will be fortified, the Hindutva fascist attempts to colonise and subjugate the Kashmiri people will suffer its worst setback. The very setback that’s quite imperative now for the survival of Kashmir and whatever it represents.