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August 24, 2019

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By Amir Zulhayyad

The dispute over Kashmir which involves Pakistan and India has been ongoing since the partition of India by the British colonial government. Kashmir was once a sovereign territory Without the consent from the Kashmiris the territory was divided into two by the colonial power and given over to India and Pakistan after which Kashmir became Azad Kashmir administered by Pakistan and the Indian administered Kashmir. Since then every dispute between India and Pakistan becomes one over Kashmir.

Do the voices of Kashmiris matter now that it is the 21st century?

In the mainstream media, the coverage ignores the people of Kashmir. There is very little to none relating to the population. The narrative of the media is mainly focused on issues regarding the two regional powers. It covers only the actions taken by the New Delhi and Islamabad governments both distant centres of power. As Nitasha Kaul (as cited by Naina Bajekal in TIME) says, “Kashmir was always seen as real estate, not a place with people”. This shows how India and Pakistan treated Kashmir. They launched missiles and fired heavy weapons on Kashmir without a thought for the Kashmiris themselves. The news will then always be about India attacking Pakistan or vice versa. Given this situation, we often forget that the one who suffers most are the Kashmiris. They are but victims of a war between two nations.

In the most recent event India revoked Article 370, the constitutional provision granting autonomy to Indian-administered Kashmir, thus downgrading Kashmir from being a state to federally administered union territories of Jammu and Kashmir further causing the under-representation of the Kashmiris.

Furthermore, the manner in which Article 370 was revoked is totally authoritarian. It was done without any consultations with Kashmiri leaders. New Delhi revoked the rights of the autonomous region. Then, they cut off the internet and line network connections in Kashmir, blocking out all communications. This move ensured that no information could leave or enter Kashmir giving New Delhi total control over the territories.

The voices of the Kashmiris were, over and over again, throughout the territorial disputes between India and Pakistan, ignored.

But the only way to have justice and peace in the valley is to involve the Kashmiris themselves. Let their voices and opinions be heard and give them what they want. The international community must take a a new position on Kashmir. Rather than thinking for them and be bogged down by the vicious circle of violence between India and Pakistan, we must think of the people of Kashmir. This is the only way to resolve the issue and bring peace to Kashmir. If the solution proposed continues to be one imposed on them by outsiders we will never see an end to this dispute. And the suffering of the Kashmiris will continue unabated.

23 August 2019

International Movement for a JUST World (JUST)