Jammu and Kashmir has suffered a lot since 1947. India and Pakistan must restore peace in the region
Terrorism is the result of incompatible interest of various groups, individuals and even the states. At this juncture of time, India, Pakistan and somehow China are involved in tension over Kashmir. As SAARC chair, and a contributor of Gorkha troops to Indian Army which become the victims of geopolitical constraints, Nepal needs to remain vigilant about the situation likely to flare up in its neighborhood.
Kashmir issue has become further complicated after China vetoed sanctions against Jaise-e-Mohammad (JeM) and its leader Moulana Masood Azhar at United Nations Security Council (UNSC). JeM has also been charged of terrorism by France, the US and the UK.
The UNSC took several resolutions including 1373 to form Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC) after September 11, 2001 attack. In all these activities, it was proved that Pakistan was protecting terrorist outfits in one way or the other. Ironically, Nepali land had been used by the terrorist outfits active in fomenting terror in Kashmir.
Division of Kashmir into India, Pakistan and China is controversial. This land is disputed since 1947. Due to mushrooming militancy all political endeavors to settle the dispute has failed. The reason, says Laurel Miller, Director of Crisis Group, Asia Program is “lack of autonomy and political freedoms, combined with the heavy handed security response” which will lead to “more violence and unrest in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir”. It is worthwhile to ask why are there more tensions in India-administered Kashmir than Pakistan occupied Kashmir?
Basically the UNSC pursued a resolution 1267 in 1988-89, 1999 as well as resolution 2253 in 2015 to sanction Taliban, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. The role played by Pakistan to stabilize Afghanistan and surroundings were not only controversial but was also seen to provide fertile ground for terrorists.
Moulana Masood Azhar belongs to Afghanistan and has link with al-Qaida. Due to UNSC resolution 1267 and sanction compulsion, Pakistan banned his Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM) in 2002 following its 2001 Indian Parliament attack. The Jihadist groups like Lashkar-e- Toyyaba, Jamaat-ud- Dawa has link with Azhar. Although JeM was banned by Pakistan, it continued link with al-Qaida and operated for recruiting, fund raising, planning and launching attacks from Pakistan.
The JeM connected Adil Ahmad Dar (Waqas Commando) who carried out a suicide attack on February 14, 2019 in Pulwama was a native young man joining JeM last year. He joined the group due to Indian atrocity and humiliation. Killing of Burham Muzzuffar Wani, a dashing Hizbul Mujahideen by Indian troops in July 2016 not only encouraged youths to join this group but also accelerated militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir.
As per UN Human Rights report of June 2018, the reason of rights abuse on both sides of the Line of Control was due to the violence committed by security forces. The report apprehends the political dimension of the dispute between India and Pakistan at the center stage that failed at conflict transformation. It urges to establish a commission of enquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into the allegations of rights abuse.
Likewise, there are reports that Pakistan is imposing restrictions on freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). It restricts full ability to obtain information about the situation. In other words, whole Kashmir region is in trouble because of Indo-Pakistan-China rivalry.
What will be the consequences if the tension escalates between India and Pakistan in the days to come? Because India is in elections at the moment, perhaps it does not want unrest in Kashmir as it will have spillover effect on Muslim votes. There will also be the possibility of Hindu-Muslim riot. In such case it will be untenable for India to manage security situation as well. Pakistan’s continued support against UNSC resolution 1267 to the outfits that has link with al-Qaida will only be possible from Chinese veto that it is exercising to block resolution at the Security Council.
As media has revealed China is supporting JeM as it is managing tribal resistance on behalf of the Pakistani Army to construct China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a mega project under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). If it is true, such approach to garnering security for CPEC will become the subject of harsh criticisms. Such a mindset from the power centers will further escalate tension in the region.
Long term solution of J&K will only be possible if all actors show restraint and international independent investigation is carried out. China must not obstruct resolution so as to give upper hand to terrorist groups. J&K has suffered a lot since 1947. India and Pakistan must restore peace in the region. As Nepal is buffer to India and China and has open border with India, Nepal also needs a careful policy to safeguard its territory against possible use by terrorist outfits to cause harms to our neighbors.
The author, a former Brigadier General of Nepal Army, is a PhD in Conflict Management and scholar of security and strategic studies