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The violence and unrest in Indian Held Kashmir (IHL) continues, as the strike enters another day. Indian officials openly admitted that they were “not expecting such a reaction” to the killing of militant leader Burhan Wani – but what could have been expected was another war of words between Pakistan and India, and we saw that aplenty.


The pattern is familiar by now. Pakistan’s condemnation of the “excessive use of force” and its demand that the Kashmiris be allowed to “exercise their right to self-determination” was met with the standard Indian response – let India deal with its own “internal matter” and that Pakistan stop interfering.

While this would have been the end of most ‘discussions’ on this matter, the extent of the unrest – 32 dead with the death toll rising – has compelled other parties to intervene and vitiate the stance that Kashmir is indeed a global issue; in clear hard terms.

On Thursday, Stephane Dujarric – Spokesperson of UN General Secretary of Ban-Ki-moon – stated that the use of violence against Kashmiri civilians by the Indian state greatly concerns the United Nations, and that it had not “brushed aside” the issue. He goes further and offers the good office of the General Secretary to “mediate”.

There it is, Pakistan’s most bitter complaint – that the international community had left Pakistan alone to deal with the Indian occupation of Kashmir – has been addressed, at least partially.

But after years of flagging international interest in the Kashmir issue, the Foreign Office will take anything it can get, and it roundly welcomed the UN’s statement – as it should. Despite Indian claims, the military occupation of Kashmir, and the original UN decision stressing the need of a plebiscite, remains ground zero of this conflict.

As the increasingly blurred and difficult distinction between ‘freedom fighter’ and ‘terrorist’ demonstrates, self-determination struggles are never easy to define. Pakistan’s claims of illegal occupation enforced by police brutality and India’s claim of Pakistani sponsored militancy both hold water. There is no “correct’ version, and facts are always clouded by nationalism and propaganda– ambivalence is always a necessity in complex conflicts.

Hence a negotiated settlement is the only way forward. The international organisations tasked with stopping exactly these kinds of conflicts should step in – it is time. India and Pakistan can only work this out through mediated dialogue. Sticking to one’s own set viewpoint will never lead to progress – a commodity seriously needed in the violence-struck Kashmir.

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