In the first few days of August tens of thousands of additional Indian troops were deployed in Kashmir, schools and colleges were shut, tourists were ordered to leave, telephone and internet services were suspended whilst regional political leaders were placed under house arrest. Soon after, the Indian President issued a presidential decree supplanting the Indian Constitution’s Article 370, which grants Jammu and Kashmir autonomy in managing its internal affairs with the exception of defence, foreign affairs and communications. This means Indian occupied Kashmir is now an integral part of India. There are many aspects and moving pieces in the Kashmir issue and this Q&A attempts to provide answers to the most common questions.
1. What is the Kashmir dispute?
The dispute goes back to the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. Britain’s partition plan was to see the Muslim majority provinces become Pakistan and Hindu majority provinces become India. Kashmir was unique in that the majority of its people were Muslim, but was ruled by a Hindu ruler, Hari Singh. Singh ultimately joined India in exchange for military protection against Pakistan. What began as a proxy conflict soon morphed into the first of India and Pakistan’s three wars over the territory. The governor at that time, General Lord Mountbatten stated that in view of India and Pakistan’s competing claims for Kashmir, should be confirmed by a “referendum, plebiscite, election”. This solution of a plebiscite in the entire state, including the Indian and the Pakistani sides was outlined in the UN resolutions of 13th August 1948, 5th January 1951 and 24th January 1957. The resolution required both Pakistan and India to remove their militaries for a plebiscite to take place. The implementation of UN resolutions has been Pakistan’s long-standing position on Kashmir. The majority of the inhabitants of Kashmir are Muslims, making the outcome a predictable one. India maintained its military occupation and has avoided the idea of a plebiscite through one excuse or another for the last five decades.
2. What does India want to achieve?
India under Nehru rejected the UN resolutions and plebiscite plan and refused to withdraw its troops. Ever since, successive Indian governments have consistently distanced themselves from a firm commitment to hold a plebiscite in the territory. The Indian policy has been one of working towards a bilateral solution to the problem of Kashmir and the negation of UN resolutions. Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said about the UN resolution “The UN Security Council has dealt with this matter over five decades ago. Since then the political, economic, social and demographic realities have changed beyond recognition.”
Successive Indian governments have used brutal methods and tactics to maintain their grip on occupied Kashmir. Due to the geography of the area India claims, it costs India much more than Pakistan to continue with the conflict. Maintaining supplies to the Indian troops stationed on the Siachen Glacier requires them to be flown in and supplied via the air. For these reasons, India has historically taken a no-nonsense approach to dealing with indigenous attempts to undermine Indian writ.
India wants to take full control of the Indian administered side of Kashmir and is willing, in the process, to commit genocide upon the Muslim majority population. The takeover will mean Indian companies and India’s Hindu population will be allowed to settle and take land in Kashmir, similar to the Zionists in Palestine.
3. What does Pakistan want to achieve?
Pakistan’s position on Kashmir was always that Kashmir was wrestled from them and the return of this land would be achieved in a referendum which would prove that Kashmir with 80% of its population being Muslim an inseparable part of Pakistan, this formed the basis of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy.
This all changed after 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror and America’s demands upon the rulers of Pakistan. In 2003, Pervez Musharraf began the abandonment of the right of Kashmir for a referendum and liberation from India. This development was significant because no ruler of Pakistan dared to speak directly with India over a resolution for Kashmir. In June 2003 visiting Camp David Musharraf explicitly announced that his visit had approved a road map to solve the issue of Kashmir and added his readiness for concessions. Concessions included Pakistan abandoning jihadi groups, dismantling militant camps and imprisoning militant leaders alongside reducing troops along the line of control (LOC) and abandoning financial support for the Kashmiris. Musharraf justified this by arguing that this was the only way of protecting Pakistan. Nearly two decades later this unflinching support has only strengthened India’s grip over Kashmir.
Since Musharraf, Pakistan’s rulers have used the issue of Kashmir for their own political interests. It has escalated and de-escalated conflicts in this area and this has led to no gain either for Pakistan or Kashmir. All the while the people of Kashmir have sacrificed much of their blood in a fight against the Indian aggression.
4. What is America’s position on Kashmir?
From the beginning of the Kashmir conflict, the US endorsed UN resolutions on the matter of Kashmir and supported Pakistan’s demands for a plebiscite in the territory. But the US was in the midst of the Cold War and that was its priority.
The 1990s saw the Kashmir issue addressed on many occasions by the Clinton administration, reflecting US support for Pakistan. In 1994 Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphael issued a controversial statement criticising India for the excesses in Kashmir resulting in a frenzy of turmoil in the Indian political circles. But the liberalisation of the Indian economy in the mid-1990s allowing multinational companies to enter the Indian market and heralding India’s embracement of the global world market saw the US policy change. The US saw this opening up of the Indian economy as being beneficial to US business. The American pro-business lobby and the trading community exerted pressure on Washington to change its policies towards India and it was at this point that the US began a shift of policy, leaving Pakistan behind, and changing its position on Kashmir.
The 11th September attacks on America and the subsequent war on terror saw the US actively engage in the Kashmir dispute. This newfound interest in the region coincided with US policy to form and develop a strong alliance with India, which escalated and came to fruition since the BJP came to power. In order to bolster the relationship with India and to facilitate Indian transition towards a regional bulwark, the US changed its policy towards Kashmir by appeasing Indian demands to reject UN resolutions and to increase pressure on Pakistan to concede to a bilateral solution to Kashmir.
So what does America want to achieve? By the late 2000s, China was a clear rising power and India for the US was to be the regional bulwark in South-Asia in America’s containment strategy of China. The US views India as a counterweight in containing China. The problem was India’s military is completely focused upon maintaining its occupation of Kashmir and was in no position to deal with China. Thus resolving Kashmir for the US is a priority to free up India to deal with the American strategy of containing China. America wishes to bolster India as a serious power in the region so that is can stand up to China in that region.
The US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on 5th August 2019 that the United States is “closely following” the situation in Kashmir, though she noted that the Indian government described these measures as “strictly an internal matter.” This means the US supported India’s move, which is in line with its views since the 1990’s
5. What does Indian occupied Kashmir becoming a part of India mean?
It means Kashmir will become Asia’s Palestine. Hindu’s will be able to buy property and establish settlements and forcibly alter the dynamics of the territory. The BJP and its ultra-Hindu supporters have wanted to completely annex Kashmir in the same vein as the Zionists want to with Palestine.
The Muslims of Kashmir will lose their land, property and more importantly their lives as the Hindu Government of India has shown hatred and is willing to massacre the Muslims. India will gain more territory and the upper hand in the Kashmir region. While Pakistan will look like the cowards who stood by and just did diplomatic actions to no real avail. America will have achieved its aims by weakening Pakistan in the region and will give India the edge over Pakistan.
6. How has Pakistan responded to the Indian escalation?
Speaking at a joint session of Parliament on 6th August 2019, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan threw a rhetorical riposte: “What do you suggest I do?” Khan continued, “Through the United Nations Security Council, we are studying it now, we will raise it in the General Assembly, we will talk to heads of States at every forum… we will raise it in the media and tell the world.” Pakistan has expelled Indian High Commissioner to its country, recalled its own High Commissioner to India and has cut off the negligible trade between the two countries.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at a televised press conference on Thursday 9th August “Pakistan is looking at political, diplomatic and legal options. We are not looking at a military option … We have taken the decision to safeguard and be vigilant against any misadventure.”
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Tuesday 6th August that his troops are prepared to “go to any extent” to help Kashmiris. Pakistani Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said if India attempts “to undertake any misadventure” then “Pakistan’s response will be stronger than its retaliation to Balakot strikes.”
Whilst India has moved troops, cut communication links and imposed a curfew, Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders have undertaken actions completely disproportionate to the actions undertaken by India. Aside from rhetorical support the civil-military leadership has undertaken no action to show its displeasure.
On the 10th of August no restrictions on Indian aircraft from using Pakistani airspace was even in place. Indigo Air flights from Chandigarh to Dubai continued to pass through Pakistani airspace as noted in one tweet. It is as though Pakistan has accepted the annexation of Kashmir.
7. Should Kashmir not be allowed to become an independent nation?
Kashmir is not a nationalistic issue, rather it is an Islamic issue as it’s Muslim land that is under occupation by the belligerent state which is pushed and supported by the US. The occupation of Muslim land is not negotiable from an Islamic perspective. For those who may believe a nation for the Kashmiri people is some sort of solution then they should look at Pakistan, Jordan, Kosovo, Iraq and Syria where the masses suffer in poverty and brutal dictators who oppress the people. These nations created by the departing colonialists or via international struggle between the powers are a geopolitical chessboard to be used in the pursuit of their strategic goals.
Kashmir is a strategic territory and has mineral wealth that India has its eyes on, and will use all measures to control it. It would be extremely naïve to see a Kashmiri nation state as an independent state.
8. Why does Pakistan not liberate Kashmir?
There is only one reason this has not taken place and that is due to the rulers of Pakistan not doing so. The rulers use Kashmir for electoral purposes and to gain public support, but never with the intention of practically doing so. They abandoned the Kashmir cause due to pleasing their masters in Washington who have their own strategic goals, which doesn’t include strengthening Pakistan and liberating Kashmir.
The issue of liberating Kashmir is not down to the inability of the Armed forces, it’s a known truth on a number of occasions the Pakistan army has entered into India occupied Kashmir. It is the spineless leadership of the Pakistan political and military leadership that have de-escalated its army from the occupied territory and towards counter-terrorism operations in the tribal areas. The issue has never been capability.
The defeatist and subservient political medium in Pakistan and its affiliated diaspora in the West have and will continue to facilitate the US and Indian solutions.
9. What options does Pakistan have?
If viewed from a nationalist lens then many of the possible options are not available, but when the people of Kashmir are viewed as our Ummah and Pakistan fulfilled its destiny and was the Khilafah then it would remove the nation state borders and work to unify the Muslim states to act as one against the Indian state’s aggression.
The Khilafah would call upon the Muslims of Bangladesh to block Indian access to its seven sister states critical to India’s economy. It would look to take the Siliguri corridor below Nepal to suffocate India. It would stop the natural resources that arrive or are planned to arrive to India from Afghanistan and Iran through Pakistan.
The Khilafah would expel the maligned US influence in the region.
10. What can we do?
There are many things we can do to help in this situation, such as:
Raising our voices to highlight the real game being played in Kashmir and the wider region. We should expose the plots and plans of the kuffar and highlight that they do not have the people’s interests at heart.
Generate articles and posts on social media to highlight the problem and its solution according to Islam. The people of Kashmir are Muslims and their salvation is only in Islam. Islam addressed all areas be they political, economic, foreign policy and diplomacy.
Become more attached to the Muslims in the Muslim world as they are part of our Ummah. Muslims should reject the nation-state, this is alien to us and it’s a European export to the Muslim lands. It has created more problems rather than reduced them. The Islamic ruling system based upon the Islamic ideology is the unifying force and only through this will the Ummah be able to live in peace and dignity.
Show how Islam is the solution to the region and how nationalism is not the solution. Numerous non-Muslims have written about the impact Islam had upon the region and how it was a unifying force and gave many non-Muslims rights; rights their own religion did not give them. Islam has a long and rich history in the region as it is part of the heritage and fabric of the region.
Our message needs to be one of liberation to any occupation. Kashmir is occupied land and we must motivate the armies and people of power in Pakistan, Iran and Turkey to move to the aid of our brothers and sisters in Kashmir as the obligation falls upon them all to act and not just condemn.