At the stroke of midnight, Pakistanis along with Kashmiri nationalist across the world will observe solidarity with the oppressed people of Indian occupied Kashmir.

Let’s review the whole Maharaja Hari Singh story and what factors lead to the merger with India. As far as the history books go, Maharaja wasn’t keen on joining either side initially, however, was forced to sign the Instrument of Accession to the Indian state.

“Now, therefore, I Shriman Inder Mahander Rajrajeswar Maharajadhiraj Shri Hari Singhji, Jammu and Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibbetadi Deshadhipathi, Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, in the exercise of my sovereignty in and over my said State do hereby execute this my Instrument of Accession [. .]”

Mr. Jinnah and the Muslim league perhaps assumed that the land flowing with milk and honey, as they say, would soon join Pakistan considering the majority Muslim population. Few months into independence Pakistan and India had their first military debacle while we secured Gilgit Baltistan and modern-day Azad Kashmir, our foes were able to retain Srinagar and adjoining Jammu territories. Decades later the line of control still sparks violence with households destroyed on both sides of the border by retaliatory firing. According to official reports, India had violated the 2003 cease-fire agreement 1700 times last year and as unprovoked firing continues, 70 skirmishes were reported in the last 12 days. It was pre-partition, the Himalayan valley was known for communal peace when Hindu Muslim violence had erupted across India. Even after acquiring Srinagar, Indians have till date failed miserably in suppressing the armed struggle.

The valley is reported to be the most militarized region in the world with the controversial Armed Forces Special Power act 1990 in place. The most recent wave of violence was triggered when Burhan Wani was killed, a militant or a freedom fighter is yet to be decided by the stakeholders. There are multiple forces at play here comprising of Hurriyat leaders, Mehbooba Mufti`s government, Kashmiri nationalist and pro-Pakistan forces. These forces have made the average Kashmiri vulnerable and miserable over the years growing up with protests, curfews, strikes, and violence.Recently when Major Gogoi was appreciated by his superiors for using unarmed protestors as a human shield, though we know India has no compliance with humanity for ordinary Kashmiris, this commendation sure made them a failed state.

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The advent of social media and smartphone armed Kashmiri youth have revamped the face of the struggle. It isn’t about Delhi or Islamabad now, no doctrine in the world can justify massacres, custodial killings, and fake encounters speaking against those might be anti-national for Delhi. The right to self-determination is what has been the most important phenomenon of decades of struggle yet political elements on both sides of LOC differ in terms of the status of the state. The mood on the streets of Srinagar has changed drastically, they are not willing to be used by Delhi or Islamabad for political honeymoons anymore. Kashmiris are far more strong, united and willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to attain freedom.

An average Kashmiri who has been on the receiving end is yet to see a long-term resolution of the conflict. Normalcy is what the people want and if the situation persists to be the way it is, Mehbooba Mufti might be witnessing another debacle in her government. She wants the kids of Kashmir to chase birds, bees, and butterflies but the first women chief minister of Jammu should realize that her fantasy to be converted into reality won’t be anytime sooner. It’s the state lead doctrine that categorizes Kashmir as an asset, outweighing all those forces which may or may not harm its strategic significance for a nation which constitutes approximately 17% of the world population.

Our Kashmir policy might be the only policy which has been the same since partition. Kashmiris to be awarded the right to self-determination according to UNSCR (United Nations Security Council Resolution) no 47. The underlying problem might be the same but changing world dynamics and heavy instability in the region have altered the Kashmiri diaspora. Pakistan has to go beyond diplomatic tea sessions with Hurriyat leaders and recognizing the struggle on mere religious grounds which has been another misadventure.

The stakes are high for both the countries to respond to growing poverty, malnutrition and areas requiring humanitarian assistance. Srinagar may be different from Muzaffarabad, the ultimate loser are the Kashmiris who crave for peace every single day.

Shehryar Imran Ejaz

Shehryar Ejaz

Shehryar Ejaz

Shehryar serves as the Editor In Chief of The Daily 360. He is currently pursuing his undergraduate from Lahore University of Management Sciences. Twitter: @sheryejaz


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