The recent violent struggles in Kashmir, dubbed the Burhan Aftermath, have drawn attention to a rift between two neighbouring countries that has its genesis in the partition of India in 1947. In dividing India, two countries were established not as friendly neighbours but as two competitive nations pitted against each other separated by religion and national political identity. Pakistan faced the unfortunate reality of having to start effectively from scratch, whereas India largely inherited the legal, social and democratic structures the British had left behind. These issues aside, while Kashmir was granted a UN plebiscite to determine its future, neither Pakistan nor India was prepared to let go of a territory deemed an important part of the psyche and memory of each nation.
After two wars between India and Pakistan, a series of highly charged events in Kargil at the end of the 1990s took both countries perilously to war. The events in Kashmir since July 2016 have witnessed some of the most heated exchanges between the two political entities, but more importantly significant civilian casualties in the Kashmir valley. A curfew lasted for nearly two months,until very recently, and the extensive use of pellets as well as bullets by the Indian army, combined with operations by the Indians and the Pakistanis, have led to over 70 deaths and over 7,000 injuries.
One issue that Kashmiris are opposing is the Israeli-like settlement programs, which have severely dislodged the Palestinians from their homes and their lands. Kashmiris face the brunt of a mighty occupying force, which displays all of the characteristics of oppressive regimes, driven by ideology, religion, and the sheer egoism. External powers disempower groups and ultimately physically remove populations from their historical origins, replacing their memories with new histories in the image of the oppressor.
These recent Kashmir clashes have raised to the surface tensions that have been simmering for decades, but catalysed by assassinations, reprisals, curfews and various human rights abuses that have resulted in a ban on media and the Internet, the shutting down of mosques and vigorously enforcing a closedown of the region in all but name. While Pakistan and India blame each other, it is a largely Muslim majority population of Kashmir that face the brunt of the conflict and the tragedies that unfold on a daily basis.
At the end of the Second World War, Britain was unable to hold on to its existing territories and left various parts of the world somewhat in a hurry. The conflicts in the north of Ireland, Palestine and Kashmir are all a legacy of the hasty departure of the British from once-colonised areas. While there is some peace in Northern Ireland, hard fought after many years of struggle and strife on all sides, the situations in Palestine and Kashmir are utterly shameful. One can no longer point the finger to the failed British policies of years gone by, but the lack of international support in relation to these fragile hotspots. With a great deal of bias in media and among geopolitical actors and states concerning these sites, the future of these territories is uncertain.
There can only be a democratic solution in Kashmir, with the Kashmiris deciding their political future through their own determinations – removed from the external interests of their eager neighbours. However, this seems to be a long way from becoming a reality, with little or no international support to make it happen. The whole world has fallen asleep in relation to the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. Meanwhile, often regarded as one of the most beautiful parts of the natural world, Kashmiris face the reality of being disdained by the world.
Both India and Pakistan need to allow the Kashmiris to determine their own future and the international community must step in to ensure exactly that.