US’s ‘silence’ on the issue of Kashmir (editorial note Daily Times)

According to the US State Department, the United States has been quietly engaged with both Pakistan and India for the need to have a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. More than 37 Kashmiris have been killed, and more than 3,000 have been injured by the Indian forces during the protests that followed the killing of the Kashmiri militant leader, Burhan Wani. Despite growing tensions between Pakistan and India in the past few weeks, the US had avoided taking a public position on the situation, other than expressing concerns over the violence. The muted US response gave the impression that the US government takes the Kashmir issue as purely an internal Indian matter, and that the United States was minding its own business not getting involved in what it calls a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India. But the State Department in a news briefing clarified that it was in touch with both India and Pakistan on the issue.

The relations between the US and India have improved significantly in recent times. The US in its position as the world’s sole superpower must not remain quiet on the issue of human rights violations and the killings in Kashmir following the emergence of reports of widespread violence and civilian deaths in international media. Amid the tussle between the two nuclear-armed South-Asian nations, it is the people of Kashmir who are facing the brunt of the situation. Not just the US, other major powers, as well as the UN, should be concerned about the situation in the region. The movement by the Kashmiris is not a recent one. The State of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed on 14th of August 1947 is a disputed territory, as recognised by the UN. Despite both Pakistan and India claiming the territory, the main stakeholders, however, are the people of Kashmir. Over the years, there have been several uprisings against the oppression of Indian forces in the region.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited global powers around the world for the sake to improving ties and economic relations. In the wake of the prevailing situation in Kashmir under the Indian forces, there might be concerns about the Indian “image” in the international community. Increasing concerns in the international media could push India to clarify its position on the situation in Kashmir, including human rights violations. India should realise that by suppressing the voices in Kashmir, it is not doing anybody justice. It should look into the concerns of the youth who is rising against the Indian occupation of the valley, with Burhan Wani being the face of the youth that has taken to armed militancy.

In the current situation where the people of Kashmir are suffering, it should not be about taking sides for the US. It should ask India to avoid the use of violence in the region. Moreover, India cannot continue to blame everything on Pakistan, and should listen to the plight of the people of the region who are the main victims here. In 2010 Kashmir unrest, massive protests had erupted following the assassination of three people portrayed as “Pakistani infiltrators” by the India forces, who were later found out to be locals murdered in an encounter. Therefore, India should focus on the issue at hand as to why the youth is moving for liberation movements. A peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue is necessary for lasting peace in the region. *

(editorial note-Daily Times-July 17, 2016)

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