Kashmir becomes a boiling point between two nuclear neighbors

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Pakistan took independence from British India in August 1947. Since then Kashmir has been a bone of contention between the two bordering countries.

Both countries (Pakistan and India) have a long history of enmity on Kashmir and fought four declared wars in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999 where Kashmir was either a direct or indirect battleground. 

Kashmir is basically a land dispute which has deep roots linked with the partition of the subcontinent. The United Nations has many resolutions on Kashmir issue but even after 74 years yet it seeks a solution.

Kashmir is part of the Himalayan region that both Pakistan and India claim is completely theirs. Before partition this area was a princely state called Jammu and Kashmir, but soon after the sub-continent was divided up at the end of British rule, it joined India in 1947. 

Currently India holds 65 percent of the total territory of Jammu and Kashmir while remaining 35 percent areas are under the control of Pakistan with a ceasefire line agreed called LoC (Line of Control). There has been violence in the Indian-administered side – the state of Jammu and Kashmir – for 30 years due to a separatist insurgency against Indian rule.

The Indian Government, On August 5, 2019 revoked article 370 of India constitution, which resulted in nullification of the special status, to Jammu and Kashmir—an area run by India as a state, which consists of the larger part of Kashmir, which has been the subject of dispute among India, Pakistan and China since 1947. After the decision, hundreds of thousands of Indian troops were dispatched to Kashmir, (approximately 800 thousand Indian soldiers are deployed in Kashmir), educational institutes were closed, Internet and telephone services were disconnected, travelers were ordered to leave the area and local political leadership was put under house arrest.

The above decision geared up tensions between two neighbors. Indian air force violated the international boundary on Feb 26, 2019 and dropped a payload in Bala Kot area inside Pakistan. In retaliation, Pakistan air force hit the Indian Jet and captured Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Feb 27, 2019 who was released after a couple of days and handed over to India authorities. 

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This series of events added fuel to fire as tensions increased on LoC. There was an exchange of fire between the two armies that caused heavy losses of soldiers on both sides and civilian casualties on Pakistani side due to unproved shelling.

Pakistani premier Imran Khan raised the same issue in the United Nations Security Council meeting in 2019. He said, “The Kashmiris are caged like animals in their homes, their political leadership arrested, and 13,000 boys picked up & taken to unknown locations. Youngsters blinded with pellet guns. This will only lead to further radicalization. Supposing a country 7 times smaller than its neighbor, faced with a question. Either you surrender, or you fight till the end. I ask myself this question. We will FIGHT! If a conventional war starts between 2 nuclear countries anything could happen. This is one of the most critical times. Pakistan will be blamed should something happen. Two nuclear-armed nations almost went head to head in February 2019. And this is why the UN has a responsibility. This is why you came into being in 1945!”

Above all, the most suffering people are the local Kashmiris, who faced exchange of fire on both sides of the LoC. Couple of weeks back Eat News team visited the Kashmir administered by Pakistan. 

The team witnessed people living in an uncertain psychological state of mind. They believed that any fire or shell could hit them at any time, including their families, home and livestock. Uncertainty compelled them to establish bunkers along their homes so in case cross border firing / shelling they would be able survive.

37 years old Qasid Khan who owns a cloth business in Chakoti Bazaar of Kashmir, is always afraid of any aggression because this bazaar is in the direct range of Indian firing.

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While speaking to Eat News he said, “Since escalation mounted up, our business and income has dropped down, in vague situations people never spend money, which ultimately affects our revenue generation”. “We have minor children at home, sometimes we are not able to sleep in the night due to heavy sounds of shelling, our children are constantly scared by this cross-border conflict, but we are happy that both sides are now working for peace”, he added.

A ceasefire pact was established on LoC in 2003, but still unprovoked conflict and use of intense ammunition has a worse effect on the life of a common Kashmiri.

Muhammad Ramzan, 40 years old native trader says, “Both countries cannot achieve prosperity and ease until the Kashmir dispute is resolved.

“In the time of conflict our children have been given days off from schools, sometimes I thought their future is at stake; we are concerned about our next generation. International community and United Nations should take notice and intervene in the situation, still I am happy that Pakistan and India are taking optimistic and positive steps to find a peaceful end of this historical dispute”, Mr. Ramzan shared his thoughts with Eat News.

Even in this high-tension critical time, there is hope, as the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGsMO) of India and Pakistan held discussions over the establishment of a mechanism of hotline contact.

The two sides reviewed the situation along LOC and all other sectors in a free, frank and cordial atmosphere. According to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), “in the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace, the two DGsMO agreed to address each other’s core issues / concerns which have the propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence.”

Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease-fire along the LOC and all other sectors, with effect from midnight 24/25 February 2021. Both sides reiterated that existing mechanisms of hotline contact and border flag meetings will be utilized to resolve any unforeseen situation or misunderstanding.

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Common Kashmiris believe the ongoing conflict is not in the favor of anyone on either side of the LoC. Disputes should be resolved through dialogue and table talk.

War is not the solution to any problem. Peace in Kashmir is linked with the prosperous future of Pakistan and India and also works as a catalyst for the shining, wealthy and breeding future of the region. It will happen only when two nuclear nations will sit together to address the Kashmir issue according to the United Nations resolutions.

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Mohammad Farhan Niazi is a correspondent for Eat News in Pakistan and is an experienced senior producer with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in feature and news writing, non-linear editing, radio, multimedia journalism, Online journalism, film production, and sound. Strong media and communication professional graduated from University of Peshawar.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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