India not yet ready to confront truth on Kashmir - UN human rights report on Kashmir
0 comments | by Jawed Naqvi
INDIA’s summary rejection of the UN human rights report on Kashmir has predictably found allies in the opposition parties, chiefly the Congress.
This is partly because the Congress party is crammed with nationalists who are difficult to differentiate from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Also the subject of discussing military in a critical light is treated like a hot potato. With the general elections looming less than a year away any acceptance of criticism of state institutions is deemed risky. According to the UN report, the Indian government steadfastly refused to allow UN rights observers into Jammu and Kashmir. When they approached Pakistan to visit Azad Kashmir to monitor their side of rights abuses, they were told it was fine provided they first got permission from the Indians to visit the part of Kashmir held by them. There was one occasion people remember when the late Asma Jahangir was permitted to visit the strife-torn region to monitor the situation there. As a general rule foreign observers are barred from visiting the area to monitor abuses.
I asked the spokesperson of the Concerned Citizens Group, a motley group of former ministers, officers and officials who have been reporting from Kashmir what their reaction to the UN report was. They said they were still studying it. There’s very little to study. There are facts one can question or feel embarrassed or angry about. The rejection of the report in order to pander to some lingering or robust nationalist sentiments underscores the need for politicians like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn to emerge from the ranks of Indian and Pakistani leadership so as to cast a self-critical look at the state of affairs in their respective regions. This is the first report on the situation of human rights in both IHK and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. On the Indian side, the report covers Jammu and Kashmir, consisting of the Kashmir Valley, the Jammu and Ladakh regions. On Pakistan’s side, it covers Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. India has used this to point to Pakistan’s occupation of the region without acknowledging its own occupation. The focus of the report is on the situation of human rights in India-held Kashmir from July 2016 to April 2018 “over which period allegations of widespread and serious human rights violations were received, notably excessive use of force by Indian security forces that led to numerous civilian casualties”. Should the Congress party dispute that in responding to demonstrations that started in July 2016, as the report says, “Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries”.
It quoted civil society estimates as saying that 130 to 145 civilians were killed by security forces between mid-July 2016 and end of March 2018, and 16 to 20 civilians were killed by armed groups in the same period. “One of most dangerous weapons used against protesters during the unrest in 2016 was the pellet-firing shotgun, which is a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun that fires metal pellets.” What is the dispute here? If the numbers seem exaggerated discuss it, refute it.
Take a look: What pellet guns have done to protesters in Kashmir
That’s what happens in parliaments where leaders like Corbyn and Sanders keep the vigil. In the same context, the report says, since the late 1980s, a variety of armed groups have been actively operating in the IHK, and there has been documented evidence of these groups committing a wide range of human rights abuses, including kidnappings and killings of civilians and sexual violence. Should the government of India be refuting this? Firstly, because of fear of penetration of terrorists into Muslim Indian states. Secondly, stability in Afghanistan is necessary for the implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India). On May 21 in Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold, militants killed five specialists who conducted an inspection of TAPI construction sites. All of the above risks are relevant for Pakistan, which has the longest border with Afghanistan (2,670 km). Along it live tribes of Pashtuns, whose support is used by the Taliban. In addition to the threat of ISIS and the separatism of the Balochs, Islamabad fears a strengthening in the region of India. Under the administration of President Donald Trump, the United States has sharply deteriorated relations with Pakistan, which the Americans accused of supporting the Taliban. Washington decided to bet on India, actively involving it in the Afghan settlement.
Everyone faces a choice as to how to build relations with the Taliban, which is subjected to harsh pressure from the ISIS. And there is an internal confrontation. In this situation, the SCO countries need to build up relations with the Taliban in a new way, regard it as an organization that does not have expansionist plans, plans to export the revolution beyond Afghanistan. There is a common interest here (the SCO countries)
The unification of the efforts of regional countries, despite the presence of rivalry (China and Pakistan against India), is important in order to prevent unilateral and destabilizing actions by the United States, which believe that it is possible to resolve the conflict by dropping the "mother of all bombs". In recent years, the SCO has expanded its membership. In June 2017, India and Pakistan became full members of the organization, whose main task was the fight against terrorism. Iran, having observer status, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Turkey (dialogue partner) and a number of other countries are applying for participation in the SCO. In the future, the SCO can become the same political platform for Afghanistan, which today is Astana for Syria. Both here and there, at first glance, irreconcilable historical rivals are involved in the process. In Syria, before the start of the Astana process, Iran and Russia confronted the pro-American line of