The Reasoned Review

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Rioting in Kashmir

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The Guardian has a pretty good report up on the latest riots in Kashmir. As a prelude to the upcoming Indo-Pakistani peace talks, they demonstrate the power of Kashmir’s perceived injustice, and the meaninglessness of any “peace plan” that fails to redress their grievances.

So the rocks thrown by Mehraan and his friends have a wider resonance. Enemies of India claim the violent demonstrations in the city reveal the iniquity of the “occupation” of Kashmir and the commitment of locals to independence or accession to Pakistan. Enemies of Pakistan dismiss men like Mehraan as being in the pay of politicians and Pakistan’s intelligence services.

“The stone-pelters are being paid and being used by people who want to keep things on the boil and to create the impression that things are not OK [in Kashmir],” said Kuldeep Khoda, who runs the state police force.

Mehraan and his friends tell a different story, however. As he strode through the rundown Nowhatta, collecting fellow stone-pelters as he went, the shopkeeper said he started attacking security forces when his cousin was shot dead two years ago. Then he was arrested and, he claims, tortured. Since then, he says, he has wanted two things: “Azadi” (freedom) and “blood for blood”. Alongside him, a 14-year-old says he started a few weeks ago when his friend was killed, allegedly by security forces. “These things happen and nothing is changed and then they happen again,” he said.

One startling omission from the Guardian article – and, indeed, from most of what you read about this dispute – is UN Security Council Resolution 47, which allows for a plebiscite for Kashmir to decide its fate, and which India and Pakistan have for the most part ignored since 1948. The only fair solution to this dispute is an internationally-monitored plebiscite, wherein Kashmiris can vote for which country they want to belong. After all they have been through, I think “independence” (that is, “neither”) should also be an option. It’s astounding to me that none of the papers are pushing for this, and instead are trying to paint this in a “on one hand… but on the other hand…” style narrative. The solution here should be clear.


Written by pavanvan

February 21, 2010 at 9:59 am

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