Millenniums before Islam, Pakistan and People’s Republic of China came into being, the land of Kashmir was a center of learning, knowledge and spiritual pursuit for followers of Vedic religion and its philosophical offshoots. However, post invasions by invaders from North West, destinies, demographics and descriptions changed.
Some of the initial invaders had to say, that if there was a heaven on earth, it was here, in Kashmir. Ironically, an entire mountain range came to be known after the genocide of the local population, which today is known as Hindukush, which means killer of Hindus.
From then onwards till the 1900s, 4 wars have been fought between 3 nuclear-armed nations and there is more to it than meets the eye.
But why Jammu and Kashmir? Why has it been so vigorously sought after by a Communist Mega Power and an Islamic militaristic neo-theocratic state?
To begin with, the highest battlefield of Siachen is very much here. For Pakistan, it is a source of freshwater, with its own resources diminishing rapidly with global warming. And fertile lands of the valley which produce crops like apples, apricots, and saffron are the reason why the Pakistani propaganda war machinery has so keenly focused on it as a priority area, in a cover of a Muslim majority region.
Not only has the Pakistani lobbyists have detested Indian claims on global forums like Organisation of Islamic Countries but has also roped in several organizations to amplify the magnitude of ‘human rights violations’ by Indian security agencies. Incidentally, there is very little that international media captures of gross human rights violations that have happened in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, which includes Gilgit and Baltistan. The Shia community has been ruthlessly targeted and locals have been displaced by Punjabis and Pashtuns in Muzaffarabad and Skardu. Serving and retired Pakistani army officers have become property owners after the forceful acquisition of land and the dummy Prime Minister stands as a mere puppet of the Pakistani deep state. Long before the Chinese ‘investments’ in ‘growth and development’ of Pakistan and Kashmir occupied by it, militancy in Kashmir was mostly replenished by black-marketing remnants of US military equipment meant for Afghan-Soviet war and drug trade by Pak army backed and trained Taliban regime. Pakistan has controlled the transfer of nuclear weapon technology to Iran and North Korea in the past, the latter of which has been facilitated by the Chinese administration. Incidentally, a new revelation came into light after Osama was neutralized in Abbottabad Cantonment, that there is a revenue stream for the Pakistan deep state that is fulfilled by harboring wanted transnational terrorists, latest being Dawood Ibrahim and several of his associates.
This has not come without a major Chinese support to Pakistan. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of which China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a major building block, has passed through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir thus undermining India’s legitimate claim to it. China has slowly been clasping smaller and less developed nations into a debt trap in form of loans and eventually taking strategic land and sea assets as collateral for non-payment of dues. This is a part of its larger strategic vision to militarily encircle India by a vision to create ‘String of Pearls’. China had fought a major war which it won in 1962 and 2 major skirmishes at Nathu-la and Cho-la in 1989 which left it badly bruised by India. There was a near repeat in Doklam near Bhutan but it was averted after the Chinese realization that Dragon fire may not work in this icy highland. China had laid claims to Arunachal as South Tibet and earlier on, Chinese had not only occupied Aksai Chin in 1962 but were even gifted the Shaksgam valley by their Pakistani friends to ensure India’s total blockage of access to Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan.
Today Aksai Chin serves as the Chinese road to Xinjiang helping it suppress its Uighur minority and ensuring its grip on Tibet which was once an autonomous protectorate of Dogra empire. China not only exploits the resources on the Tibetan plateau but is also practicing ethnic cleansing by displacing the Tibetans by Han Chinese and ensuring a slow death to Tibetan way of life which has its only last hope in India. There have been attempts to block waters of Brahmaputra to India and there have been Chinese attempts to shield Pakistani terrorists operating in Kashmir in the past. China has constantly blocked India’s permanent membership to the United Nations Security Council and Nuclear Suppliers Group. China has been a habitual encroacher with territorial disputes with Japan, Vietnam and almost every second nation in the South China sea. China has been a noted technology thief and has stolen designs from US and Russia in making weaponry of which Pakistan is a major beneficiary of.
Today Pakistan and China run a robust supply chain of small arms which are supplied not only to armies of several rogue states but also to various insurgent groups ranging from Morocco all the way to India’s North Eastern and Maoist rebels and eventually Jammu and Kashmir.
The battleground of Kashmir has worsened in the last few years as the narratives peddled by the Pakistan government remains predominant in the international forum. As these narratives become popular, people stop questioning the legitimacy of such tales. This phenomenon is heightened as India hasn’t been vocal enough on the reality of Kashmir.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is and has always been an integral part of India for the following reasons:
1. Treaty of accession - Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Treaty of Accession as he realized the vulnerability of Kashmir when Pakistan first ensured an economic blockade and then invaded Kashmir with the aid of tribals and the Pakistan army. A few key points need to be reiterated with respect to the treaty:
a. The Treaty of Accession signed is exactly the same as the one signed by the rest of the 552 princely states.
b. The Treaty signed by Maharaja Hari Singh reads – “…I Shriman Inder Mahander Rajrajeswar Maharajadhiraj Shri Hari Singhji, Jammu and Kashmir Naresh Tatha Tibbetadi Deshadhipathi, Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir State, in the exercise of my sovereignty in and over my said State does hereby execute this my Instrument of Accession..” This statement and Maharaja Hari Singh’s title underlines the fact that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir including POJK, Aksai Chin and Tibet are an integral part of India.
c. India could only provide military help if Kashmir was a part of India as Lord Mountbatten insisted – hence the Treaty of Accession was imminent. Further, Scholar Prem Shankar Jha had stated that the Maharaja had decided, as early as April 1947, that he would accede to India if it was not possible to stay independent. Pakistan’s advances reaffirmed his decision.
2. Atrocities of Pakistan – Pakistan disregarded the standstill agreement and has had its eyes on Kashmir right from 1947. In its zeal to make Kashmir a part of Pakistan, it has committed and continues to commit violations and atrocities on various fronts:
a. Pakistan has always taken the first step in fomenting trouble in the region. The conflict of 1947 and 1965 was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to precipitate an insurgency against the ruling party.
b. The world has never questioned the mysterious disappearance of Hindus and Sikhs in POJK since 1947. Using the 1941 census and applying a modest historical growth rate, it is estimated that over 150,000 Hindus and Sikhs have gone missing. It is believed that the women were sold in bazaars of Peshawar, Jhelum, and Rawalpindi while the men were killed/converted.
c. As the subsequent wars of 1965, 1971 and the Kargil war failed to deliver the results for Pakistan – it has then resorted to a proxy war with India thru proliferation of terrorist camps and ideologies which are exported to the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan redirected its Mujahideen resources after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan to Kashmir. Jihadis by the 100s were directed to go to Kashmir and foment trouble along with significant material support from Pakistan. They continue to indoctrinate the Kashmiri youth with religious fanaticism driving them to adopt separatist ideologies and even sign up for suicide as evident in the recent Pulwama attack.
d. Export of this Islamic radicalization led to the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pundit community in 1989/90 wherein approx. 600,000 Hindus living in the Kashmir Valley fled. The international forum talks about human rights violation of the local Kashmiri Muslims but not the displaced Kashmiri Hindus who are now refugees in their own country.
e. Anti-India terrorist infrastructure is intact in Pakistan and specifically POJK. People in POJK are arrested and disappeared if they refuse to join or try to leave the forces engaged in the ‘Jihad’ inside Indian-held Kashmir. A significant number of cases point to the ISI’s involvement in these disappearances.
2) Aksai Chin – Aksai Chin constitutes about 37,000 kilometers and accounts to 20% of the Jammu and Kashmir state which is now being controlled by China.
3) If one looks deep into the history of Kashmir, it was the spiritual and intellectual abode of ancient India and produced intellectuals like Patanjali, Bharat Muni, and Abhinavgupt. The Hindus had ruled it from 3238 BCE for about 4787 years before the Islamists treacherously captured it in the 13th Century and existed for just 470 years tyrannizing and butchering Hindus. Whose Kashmir is it then? Can one justify a land captured unceremoniously and tortured for conversion to become the land of the capturer?
4) A threat to the sovereign territory of India – Half of Jammu and Kashmir has been occupied by Pakistan and China illegally. The army is the last line of defense of any sovereign state and army is there in J&K purely in response to the illegal occupation of foreign nations and to tackle exported terrorist philosophy of Pakistan whose strategy is to ‘Bleed India with a 1000 cuts’.
In lieu of the above points, it is clear that Pakistan has breached the rule of law as the first step, continued to instigate trouble thru indoctrination and anti-India activities, silenced the minorities voices of Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs and contributed to the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pundits. In addition, China has also occupied 20% of the state and seems to be in cahoots with Pakistan’s plans as it wishes to complete its CPEC project.
Will the world wake up to the true picture of Kashmir or just be influenced by the “self-determination” narrative?
-Sweta Bhatia & Pradhuman Singh