Sound bites: Kashmir, one year after the abrogation of Article 370

Bureau Report

Last year, on August 5, India revoked the constitutional autonomy of the Muslim-majority state of occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Thousands of protesters were detained, political leaders were put under house arrest and a communication blackout was imposed in the valley.

One year on, the Indian government has continued to clamp down on free speech and restrict the movement of Kashmiris.

Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement released to the press that the Indian government’s claims that it has improved Kashmiri lives ring hollow.

“The authorities instead have maintained stifling restraints on Kashmiris in violation of their basic rights.”

We reached out to other experts to speak to about the one year siege of occupied Kashmir, and the way forward for neighboring India and Pakistan:

One year on, New Delhi may like to believe that it has “normalised” Kashmir.

It has cited statistics showing fewer people joining militancy and decreases in attacks, and it has trumpeted new development projects. But the fact of the matter is that much of [occupied] Kashmir, and especially the Kashmir Valley, continues to seethe and refuses to accept that it’s become a formal part of a nation that it wants no part of.

Additionally, because of the Article 370 repeal, India finds its always-precarious relations with Pakistan and China all the more tense. In effect, India has accrued considerable costs through its decision one year ago, and the full implications and consequences will only become more clear in the months and years ahead.

The world’s largest democracy under Narendra Modi has become a country where it’s open season on minorities.

The Indian polity’s swing to Modi’s Hindustan has not just burst the bubble of “secular India” but it has also led to major human rights violations. The Indian prime minister is following the Israeli model in occupied Kashmir.

It has been a year, to date, and an entire state remains cut off from the rest of the world. Political leaders, such as Mehbooba Mufti, are still under detention.

The revoking of Article 370 is not just a territorial move but also a political statement against the Muslim minority in India. It is unfortunate that the international community has not said much about the Kashmir issue due to its economic interests, which are tied with India.

It saddens me to see how Pakistan is losing on the diplomatic front, despite standing legally and morally on terra firma when it comes to Kashmir.

We have failed to devise a coherent diplomatic strategy beyond making hoary statements, composing emotional songs, changing the names of main highways, and observing silence in solidarity with the people of Kashmir.

Unless we come out of this state of complacency, Pakistan will not be able to get the world to pay attention to the atrocities being committed in the valley. What we can do, and we must do immediately, is to appoint a special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir, who will prepare and coordinate our Kashmir diplomacy.

Pakistan is not without plausible options, but is the country willing to piece these options together into a strategic whole? Let’s hope the government is listening.

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