Stand with India- Condemn the Farcical Congressional hearings on Kashmir!

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Ever since the Indian Government abrogated Article 370 on August 5, 2019, there has been reams of paper written about how oppressive the Indian regime has been and how the fundamental rights of Kashmiris have not been respected. The call to respect the right to self-determination of Kashmiris has grown shriller in the recent days with some of the presidential hopefuls in the US lending their voice against the stand taken by the Indian Government and even calling for UN backed resolution.

However, it is important to be aware and understand the context in which the historic decision and the subsequent steps has been taken.

·        Article 370 was not promised at the time of signing of the Instrument of Accession (IOA). The IOA asserts that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India.

·        Article 370 was a “temporary and a transitional” provision as stated in Government of India’s Constitution Part XIII.

·        Article 370 goes against the equal rights of women and LGBTs in the State.

·        Article 370 was the reason genocide of Kashmiri Hindus happened in 1990.

·        Article 370 has led to development bring crippled completely in Ladakh and Jammu. Ladakh which constitutes 55% of the land area, accounts for only 12% of the total road length in the state.

·        Article 370 became an instrument for the various State Governments to focus only on Sunni Muslims at the expense of other sects of Muslims such as Shias and Muslims of Ladakh apart from Kashmiri Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Dogras, Gujjars, and Bakkarwals. This has led to the “Wahhabization” of the region which Pakistan has fully exploited over many decades to constantly destabilize the region.

·        Far from being the “Protector of Kashmiris” which Pakistan likes to portray itself as – Pakistan has in fact played a huge role in worsening the social and economic condition of common Kashmiris by actively supporting terrorism and encouraging the locals to participate in “Jihad”. Pakistan’s real interest in Kashmir lies in the access to region’s resources and not the welfare of common citizens in the State. This has been expounded brilliantly by Dr. Seigfried World, Director of Research, South Asia Democratic Forum, in his article (https://www.sadf.eu/focus-47-the-myth-of-pakistan-acting-as-protector-of-the-kashmiri-people/

Ever since the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent clampdown, Pakistan has been severely restricted in being able to play mischief in the region. As a result, Pakistan, which is well known for various military coups over the years and is currently led by a puppet anointed as PM by their army, has spared no efforts in propagating the “Fake” news about Indian atrocities in Kashmir in the hope that it will force the international community to pressurize India to lift the clampdown. This would ensure that Pakistan will regain the leverage required to wreak havoc in the region and India would get portrayed as the “oppressor” and the “evil”. Should Pakistan succeed in its plans, the entire world would need to be held guilty of scores of innocent lives that may be lost. It is important the global community sees through this design of Pakistan. 

India has always been a democratic country that has upheld the values of human liberty and respected people of all faiths unlike Pakistan, where minorities have almost been wiped off completely since independence. Trust in the decision of a democratic and a secular country like India is important at a time when Kashmir finally has an opportunity to break out of decades of the clutches Pakistani State and state sponsored terrorists. 

However, this trust was not evident at the recent Congressional hearings on Kashmir, which was nothing but a sham! The hearings completely ignored the human rights violation of  Kashmiri Hindus, the original indigenous races of Jammu & Kashmir. Though the hearing had numerous panelists with varying perspective, the manner in which it was conducted was designed to favor a one sided narrative! One of the invited panelists, Aarti Tikoo Singh,a journalist and a victim of the "forced brutal exodus of Kashmiri Hindus in the 1990s" and "an eyewitness to the current ground situation", was never given a fair opportunity to fully put forth her views. Nothing points to the farcical nature of the Congressional hearings on Kashmir than the fact that the US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar who led the charge against India, refuses to acknowledge Armenian genocide! Such farcical hearings, apart from damaging the relationship between two of the greatest democracies of the world, are also a taint on the Democratic institutions, which the US pride itself on.    

It is important to recognize that for peace to be given a chance in Kashmir, the Indian decision and subsequent measures need to be given a chance to succeed. Not doing so will mean that the global community will be equally responsible for peace never returning to Kashmir.