Indian soldiers examine the debris after an explosion in Lethpora in south Kashmir's Pulwama district. Image Credit: Reuters

On Thursday, in Srinagar, a suicide bomber drove an SUV into a bus carrying Indian troops and managed to set off the explosives that took the lives of 44 paramilitary personnel. This is yet another sordid chapter in Kashmir’s recent history. The militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) based in Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, and Pakistani authorities immediately dismissed accusations by India that Pakistan was linked to the attack. For seven decades now, Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region has been at the heart of hostility between India and Pakistan.

Hostilities between Indian forces and Kashmiri insurgents is nothing new. Late last December, security forces shot and killed seven Kashmiri civilians who were protesting the death of other Kashmiris. That led to a wave of agitation with the last two months witnessing an increase in violence between the Indian forces and Kashmiris.

2019 has not been a good year thus far. With India and Pakistan trading accusations back and forth, it does not bode well for peace and tranquillity for the region. The two nuclear-powered nations, each with the capability to destroy the other, have yet to make any serious attempt to seek a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue.

Back in 1948, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution, establishing a special commission to investigate the conflict following the partition in the subcontinent that led to the creation of two independent countries — India and Pakistan. Subsequent to the commission’s recommendation, the UN Security Council ordered in its Resolution 47, passed on April 21, 1948, that the invading Pakistani army retreat from Jammu & Kashmir and that the accession of Kashmir to either India or Pakistan be determined in accordance with a plebiscite to be supervised by the UN.

For 71 long years since that resolution, which promised so much, the people of Kashmir continue to wait and remain mired between Indo-Pakistan politics. Many died natural deaths, while many others were killed unnecessarily through violence. The plebiscite never happened. The dispute over Kashmir had in fact led to multiple wars between the neighbouring countries and has escalated tensions since. The region’s people are said to have fewer aspirations of normality that their counterparts in other parts of the country.

Taking a stand

This prolonged state of unquenched promises and frequent violence in the region has led to the formation of many militant groups who see no alternative except to take a stand with guns and bullets, leading to a fresh cycle of violent reprisals and where many of the victims are often the innocent.

Generations have been born in the region, hearing of the promise of autonomy, only to realise that it had not yet materialised. Some, unfortunately, were swayed by the romantic calls of violent resistance and would likely join elements that would spread their discord not only in Kashmir but in other parts of India.

The future of Kashmir should put an end to all rounds of violence and a fresh round of political manoeuvres that would satisfy the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and a non-threatening alliance with its neighbours should begin.

India today is a country motivated to exorcising widespread political corruption in its march towards democracy. Pakistan has its own internal and fragmented issues to deal with. The people of Kashmir are left to wonder when they would be given the chance to decide their own fate, a promise inscribed in the annals of UN resolutions some 70 years ago.

Considering humane aspects

There are many global conflicts that are often kept alive because of self-interests, with nary a thought for the enormous human sufferings they spawn. It would appear to an alien from outer space that the human race is purposely indeed headed for self-destruction and oblivion. So many of our conflicts could be resolved if leaders would stop to consider the humane aspects. Suppression by military force ultimately results in unbridled militancy, and we are witnessing the after-effects of such sordid actions around the world.

Pakistan and India must cease and desist the game of one upmanship. Such politics results in giving rise to terror groups intent on promoting their violent agenda, while innocents suffer. It is high time that the leaders of both India and Pakistan address the issue of Kashmir along UN resolutions, and allow the Kashmiris to determine their own fate. That right of self-determination was promised to Kashmir by the UNSC. It is time we let mature politics take over and let the people of Kashmir decide their destiny.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena.