For much of the time Indian-administered Kashmir runs on an undercurrent of barely-contained anger as far as the general populace is concerned, but from time to time an event happens which causes the pot to boil over. It was the death of young separatist leader Burhan Wani that triggered the most recent incidents that have left 18 dead so far and a widely-defied curfew. It is alleged that Wani was a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen and he was a charismatic figure, one of the ‘new breed’ of separatist activists who have known nothing other than a life under Indian occupation. PM Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the killing of innocent people and the excessive use of force against those who were protesting.
The Kashmir issue remains the single greatest impediment to peaceful relations and regional development in the entire sub-continent. The UN in a Security Council resolution has affirmed the right of Kashmiris to self-determination. For all the difference it has made it might as well not have been passed at all. India is no more interested in compliance that it was decades ago and is sufficiently powerful to fly in the face of world opinion regarding human rights and prolonged injustice. The prospect of resolution through a plebiscite is nowhere in sight.
At the same time as events above were in train there was deadly violence in Azad Kashmir’s Haveli district, between supporters of the PPP and the PML-N who were supposedly jointly celebrating an Eid Milan party. Five died. Both parties appear to have opened fire on one another and there was widespread looting and burning of public property. Once again political differences led to death and wanton destruction and once again the tensions that underlie Azad Kashmir proved to be uncontainable. There is no prospect of that changing in the foreseeable future and Kashmir as a whole, whoever rules or administers it, appears condemned to a miserable existence. It could all have been so different, but bad history makes a pitiless master.
Editorial Note Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th 2016.