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India-held Kashmir is in the grip of chaos
India-held Kashmir is in the grip of chaos

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Once again, India-held Kashmir is in the grip of chaos. At least30 people have died in the violence triggered by the killing of Burhan Wani, in2016 who wasa young separatist militant.

More bloodshed can be expected unless the security forcesrefrain from resorting to brute force that has included the use of liveammunition to disperse angry protesters.

It is a familiarscenario, with the usual condemnations emanating from Kashmiri leaders. But thelatter can do little unless they come together to try and revive internationalinterest in the Kashmir dispute by persistently pointing to the injusticesinflicted on the ordinary public, and highlighting the Kashmir dilemma as ahistorical one that needs a political solution.

The key issue isthat New Delhi has always looked upon the Kashmir unrest as a law and orderproblem. Its position that Pakistan fuels dissent within IHK is untenable, forwhile Islamabad did, in the past, actively encourage Kashmiri separatistgroups, today it offers moral and diplomatic support.

Indeed, thecurrent disaffection with New Delhi’s rule is very much an indigenous Kashmiriphenomenon, while India’s harsh methods are helping create a new generation ofmilitants, such as the late Burhan Wani.

For nearly threedecades, India’s approach has failed to pacify Kashmir.

Now new ideasare needed that can help bring peace to this troubled region. In Srinagar, theBJP rules in a coalition government with the PDP.

Considering thatthe BJP is in power both in Srinagar and at the centre, surely the party has agood idea of the Kashmiris’ suffering and can advise New Delhi accordingly.

Sadly, theruling party, instead of working on ways to calm tensions, is focusing on planssuch as diluting or removing Article 370 of the Indian constitution, whichrecognises Kashmir’s special status.

Such a movewould only fuel further disaffection in the region. A wiser approach is needed— one which would involve discussing Kashmir in the Comprehensive BilateralDialogue with Islamabad, whenever that resumes — with the Kashmiris themselvestaking an active part in the conversation.

A peacefulsolution acceptable to Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir should be thegoal arrived at on the negotiating table.

Meanwhile, it isunfortunate that the reaction on this side of the fence to the violence in IHKhas been lukewarm.

While there hasbeen condemnation by the Foreign Office, in Azad Kashmir, where leaders nevertire of pledging their allegiance to the ‘Kashmir cause’, parties are too busyelectioneering to raise a voice against injustices across the LoC.

Mainstreampoliticians, too, are barely moved. For example, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’scomments about the Sharif-Modi friendship harming Kashmir’s cause appear to beaimed more at the PPP’s rivals than at raising genuine concern about theviolence in IHK.

Pakistan’sposition on Kashmir will only be undermined if leaders here resort to suchpoliticking.