Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kashmir Solidarity Day from Habib Yousafzai

Sat, December 18, 2010 10:51:59 PM
Humane-Rights-Agenda Kashmir Solidarity Day
From: Habib Yousafzai Email:
To: Humane Rights Agenda

Kashmir Solidarity Day

One of the founders of modern democracy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, once said, “Everything degenerates in the hands of men.”

Rousseau was aware of the degeneration and weaknesses of democratic practices in ancient Greek city-states as those weaknesses were efficiently pointed out by Greek philosopher Socrates. That is why Rousseau wanted modern democracy to be based on a social contract between the government and citizens which must be founded on what he called “the general will.” He also recommended a continuous and frequent renewal of the social contract. Today’s democracy seems to have degenerated to a point where in some countries democracy has become a breeding ground for extremism: Kashmir is a prime example of such a democracy.

The current uprising against the Indian occupation of Kashmir began in 1989, and in 1990 some Pakistani NGOs and political parties declared their solidarity with the Kashmiri people in their just struggle and declared Feb. 5 Kashmir Solidarity Day. In view of the popularity of this declaration, the Benazir Bhutto government of the time made it official and declared this a public holiday. In an article on the subject, Indian daily The Hindu wrote on Feb. 5, 2007, “It is a day of no particular significance for Jammu and Kashmir but Pakistan will observe Monday, February 5, as Kashmir Solidarity Day, as it has been doing since 1990, shortly after the armed uprising in the State began.” This raises many questions: Why isn’t it significant for Jammu and Kashmir, but for Pakistan? Why do the Pakistanis feel so strongly for Kashmir? Is it really true that the day has no significance for the people of Kashmir? Why did they then start “the armed uprising in the State” as has been reported by the paper? We shall address these questions below.

According to the United Nations -- and for all practical purposes -- Kashmir is a disputed territory. The dispute began when the colonial power, Britain, left the subcontinent, leaving behind Muslim-majority Kashmir with a Hindu ruler to decide whether the territory should join India or Pakistan. When conflict turned into a hot war, both countries took the issue to the United Nations for mediation. The UN declared the territory disputed, and on the basis of the UN principle of self-determination, the world body resolved to conduct a plebiscite in order for the people of Kashmir to decide the future of the territory. However, this resolution for peace turned out to be just the beginning of a long and bloody conflict in the UN’s history.

Since then India, which is sometimes romantically called “the largest democracy on the planet,” has flouted democratic principles and has been trying to incorporate and digest Kashmir within its territory. On the international front, it has pursued “diplomacy” and tried to convince the world that it has a secular constitution ensuring equal rights for all citizens and secured the veto power of the former Soviet Union so that UN resolutions become ineffective. On the domestic front, it has conducted rigged and stage-managed elections in order to justify its legitimacy over Kashmir -- elections that the people of Kashmir generally boycotted. In 1952, 73 out of a total of 75 candidates in the state assembly were elected unopposed. The two seats where elections were conducted were located in the Hindu-majority Jammu area. In 1956 this so-called State Constituent Assembly defied all UN resolutions on the subject and adopted a resolution declaring Kashmir an integral part of India. India made another mockery of democracy by holding another election in Kashmir in 1957 in which 65 candidates of the ruling party were elected unopposed. Such election mockery continued creating frustration among people, which turned many toward militarism, some of which sporadically produced extremist actions.

Uprising against Indian occupation

The situation deteriorated significantly in 1989 when a spontaneous uprising occurred in Kashmir against Indian occupation. Describing the gravity of the situation in the British Guardian newspaper on Aug. 22, 2008, reputable author Arundhati Roy wrote: “After 18 years of administering a military occupation, the Indian government’s worst nightmare has come true.” She highlighted the gravity of the situation and reported about years of torture, humiliation, rape and the disappearance of many Kashmiris. She described how the territory had become a real battleground for the Indian armed forces. In the same article, Roy talked about the pro-Pakistani sentiments expressed by the people of Sri Nagar, the capital city of Indian-occupied Kashmir, on Aug. 15, Indian Independence Day. Why are the people expressing pro-Pakistani sentiment? This is because nobody else has expressed support or even sympathy for the oppressed people of Kashmir.

Kashmir has not only suffered from Indian democracy; it has also suffered from American democracy, and that, too, at the hands of champion of democracy and equality Barack Obama. As soon as he came to office, President Obama appointed senior diplomat Richard Holbrooke to deal with Afghan-Pakistani conflict. Immediately, the pro-Indian lobby in Washington intervened and got Kashmir removed from Holbrooke’s assignment. Should democratic principles be driven by lobby groups? Or should democracy ensure human dignity and the individual’s right to self-determination. President Obama has come out very strongly against the Supreme Court judgment about corporate funding of lobby groups: The president’s policies must also reflect his views of democracy and lobby groups and must be applied universally.

Both the Kashmir dispute and the situation in Afghanistan have placed Pakistan on the frontline of international conflicts. Extensive international pressure on the government of Pakistan and indiscriminate drone attacks in Pakistan with no positive gesture toward solving the Kashmir dispute will only create more frustration in Pakistan. This is bound to create more instability not only in Pakistan, but more likely in the entire region. That is why the cause of the Kashmiri people demands solidarity not only of Pakistanis but of all peace-loving people around the world. It is the moral responsibility of the international community to demand that India fulfill the commitment that it made to the Kashmiri people when it accepted the UN Security Council resolution to hold an internationally supervised plebiscite to decide the future of Jammu and Kashmir.

Liberate Brother Leonard Peltier and Prisoners of Amerikan Fascism!
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