By: Usama Naeem Toor
If you have ever been to Banff, Alberta or British Columbia's Yoho National Park, you'd only claim that the serenity and tranquillity overwhelms one into believing that they have reached Paradise. In such an atmosphere, you'd never want, neither expect, chaos and mayhem. However, in a similar setting but a different location, South Asia's Heaven, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), is under siege right now. J&K, about which the Great Mughal Emperor Jahangir confessed that "If there is paradise on the face of the earth, it is here.." (Page Number 15 of the document, not the pdf, First Paragraph, Last 4 lines.), is currently facing severe tribulations, for 42 days now (2). The world, unfortunately, remains distant from it.
The subject of J&K has been a contentious one between both India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947. Being a disputed territory, mostly under Indian administration, J&K was protected by the Article 370 and 35A which granted it a "special status" within India and prevented a demographic shift of J&K (Line 2 - 5,Page 14, Paragraph 2 and line 3-10). The rationale being that if the UN-mandated referendum were ever conducted, it would be solely the Kashmiri population deciding the matter. However, with the rise of Hindu-Nationalism in India, and rising tensions against Pakistan, the BJP, India's governing party, scraped both Articles on 5th August 2019(5). The scrapping was swiftly followed by the arrest of the Kashmiri political leadership, and Kashmir was placed under a severe curfew, rendering no-flow of information into or out of Kashmir (6).
The provisions of Article 370 permitted the State of Jammu and Kashmir to be an autonomous state within India, having its own parliament, laws and even a flag (Page 1, Paragraph 1, Line 3-5). However, the scrapping now means that they are under Indian central government's control, indirectly confirming that J&K is not a disputed territory, as its residents would characterise it, but rather a state within India. On the other hand, the scrapping of Article 35A, which designated as to who could claim to be a resident of J&K, and allowing only those people employment, landowning and settlement in J&K, also invoke serious consequences. (Page 14, Paragraph 2 and line 3-10) With the scrapping, vast amounts of Indians are now sanctioned to settle in J&K, which, as feared, might trigger a demographical change (7).
Unfortunately, for the Kashmiris, the world has and will remain indifferent to the atrocities being committed. India, being a huge market, has the support of major powers within the United Nations (8), with the United States declaring it as India's "internal decision" (9). Worse, the Muslim-majority Kashmiri population is not even supported by the Muslim Nations, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) awarding India's Prime Minister UAE's most prestigious honour in the aftermath of this terrible act (10). Pakistan, with few of its supporters, only remains in the battlefield to contend for the Kashmiri people(11). However, in the face of such overwhelming support for India, it seems a rather futile endeavour. Ultimately, it appears that the salvation for South Asia's Paradise, and also of its dwellers, remains a far-fetched prospect, for now.
Usama Naeem Toor is a student of Economics and Business at Simon Fraser University. Born and raised in Pakistan, Usama’s main interest is understanding the central intricacies of the socio-economic situation of Pakistan, and to find its solutions. However, Usama possesses an interest in a wide range of subjects including World History, Islamic Philosophy and Jurisprudence, and current aﬀairs. In his free time, Usama likes to read books, play videogames and sports such as Football, Cricket and Table Tennis, and hang out with friends.
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- Reuters. (2019, 16th September). Day 42 of Kashmir shutdown: Restore normal life to Valley, India's top court tells Delhi. Retrieved from https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/india/day-42-of-kashmir-shutdown-restore-normal-life-to-valley-indias-top-court-tells-delhi-1.66457615
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- Rai, M. (2018). The Indian Constituent Assembly and the Making of Hindus and Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir. Asian Affairs, 49(2), 205-221.
- Article 370: What happened with Kashmir and why it matters. (2019, 6th August). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708
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- Indians are Looking for Property Agents in J&K after Govt Scrapped Article 370. (2019, 6th August). Retrieved from https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/indians-are-looking-for-property-agents-in-jk-after-govt-scraped-article-370-2259233.html
- 'Sovereign decision': Russian envoy backs India on Kashmir move. (2019, 28th August). Retrieved from https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kashmir-internal-matter-bad-news-for-pakistan-from-russia-too/story-ITIDLX5glOYMztuYVvJsVL.html
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- Al Jazeera. (2019, 24th August). India's Narendra Modi gets top UAE honour amid Kashmir crisis. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/india-narendra-modi-top-uae-honour-kashmir-crisis-190824102342849.html
- Thakkar, C. (2019, 15th September). Why Pakistan Needs a New Strategy for the Pending Political Gulf Crisis. Retrieved from https://nationalinterest.org/feature/why-pakistan-needs-new-strategy-pending-political-gulf-crisis-80601