Forgetting Kashmir

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The Pakistani Ambassador to the US very intelligently announced to the world, that a settlement of the Kashmir dispute would inevitably lead to decreased militancy in the region. This might be the only way to draw Western attention to the Kashmir issue, which it has turned a blind eye to since the independence of both India and Pakistan in 1947.

While tracing the history of extremism in the region, Ambassador Jilani reminded the US of the Western world’s contribution to fostering extremist thought within Afghanistan. This has always been ignored in the US and beyond, but should be reiterated to remind the world that Pakistan is not the only country to blame. The selective historical interpretation of the international community has pinned the blame of extremism solely on the shoulders of Muslim countries, while the US’ own involvement is completely ignored.

For India, unlike Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, militancy in the region is inextricably linked to self-determination, where in the other countries it has more to do with establishing a more rigid and inflexible legal and social system. India points its finger at Pakistan for this, while Pakistan cites the atrocities committed by the Indian security apparatus. The truth lies somewhere in between. Either way, there can be no argument to the fact that a settlement on this issue would most definitely lead to greater security in the region, as one entire facet of jihadism would have no reason to exist. If the will of the Kashmiri people is respected, there would be no cause to take up arms in its name.

While it is true that the lack of resolution on the Kashmir issue has led to growing militancy and jihadist tendencies in the region, it is important to remember that historically, the Pakistani state is also not free of blame. For that matter, neither is India, which has carried out some abominable humans rights violations in the disputed territory. What is supposed to be an issue of self-determination is used for political gains on both sides of the border, and the only ones that lose out as a result of this are the Kashmiri people. The silence of international organisations such as the United Nations and world powers only exacerbates the issue. The right of self determination of Kashmiris is, and always will be inalienable, and it is time that both India and Pakistan start listening to what they want, and their allies step in to make sure this happens

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