Self-determination movement in Kashmir


Self-determination as the word itself depicts, means determine yourselves from whom you want to be ruled by. It gives the people the right to select those who they want as their leaders. A concept which is used in contrast to Self-determination is known as “Nationalism”. Nationalism emphasizes on people’s identity as a state-nation and they share their history, culture and traditions. People demand their right to self-determination sometimes from their own Government officials and sometimes they want to get rid of the colonial powers who brutally and forcefully drive their states. The UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – 1966 states that

“All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”. The term “right to self-determination’’ is usually confused with the term “right to secession”. “Right to secession” means “the right to separate yourselves from a fixed territory and make a new state”. What I think is that “right to self-determination” is an assumption and even though people select their democratic leaders with their own will but they are ruled by them the way they want. Practically, the concept of so-called self-determination is a delusion as men in power do what they want. “The “best” national state is only an abstraction, which can easily be developed and defended theoretically, but which does not correspond to reality.”(Przeglad Socjaldemokratyczmy, 1908, No.6, Pg. 499)

Self-determination movement in Kashmir has been a struggle for poor Kashmiris from 19th Century till now. This struggle began from the time when British during their colonization in sub-continent sold the state of Kashmir to a Hindu Maharaja over 7.5 million rupees. It was a time of devastation and frustration for all the residents of sub-continent because it was the first time they were being ruled by foreigners. So, we can say this was the start of conflict between Hindus and Muslims which political scientist Samuel P.Huntington referred to as “Clash of Civilizations” i.e. COC and defined the concept as that “cultural and religious identities are always a primary source of conflict”. That’s what I think would have exactly happened in Kashmir. When the desperation for Whites’ governance and negative competition for power (between Hindus and Muslims) in the whole sub-continent amalgamated, it affected the people of Kashmir. Hindu Maharajas never treated the Muslims the same way as before. It was their religious identity being Hindus which inwardly made them ferocious upon Muslims.

In 1930, people of Kashmir raised a high revolt against Maharaja, but had to face killings and oppression and about two lac people were murdered. Hindu rulers were troubling Muslims in Kashmir not by killing but also by making it a terrible state to live. A Quaker (a religious group of Christians friends) states out after his experience in Kashmir that “there was a tax on every hearth and every window. Every cow, buffalo and sheep was taxed and even every wife”.

I think if Kashmir’s fate were to be decided on the same standard as all other provinces’ i.e. Muslim majority provinces going to Pakistan and Hindu majority to Indians, the circumstances there would have been better i.e. consensus of 1941 was self-explanatory. India refused the Referendum process in Kashmir suggested by UNO in 1948 after 1st War between India and Pakistan as they knew after Referendum they might lose their hold over Kashmir and her fascinating natural resources.

India sent her troops in Kashmir which gave rise to a new conflict. Pakistani army also didn’t remain silent and support “’Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’ (HuM), ‘Al Barq’ and ‘Al Jehad Force’” to fight against Indian army. I feel that this was the mistake done by Pakistan of which consequences they are still facing and considered as “Terrorists”. This is the point where they lost World’s sympathy. In short, we can say that Pakistan also has some material interests over Kashmir and that’s why they are keeping supporting them till now. It is the lust for power and resources which are causing so much disaster and both India and Pakistan would never want to lose such rewards.

In this way, we can say that Kashmiri people voices were repressed and “War” became their fate. Neither the Indians nor the Pakistanis ever talked to Kashmiri people to ask what they want. They are just busy in fighting for their national-interests. Kashmiri people, like always, raised their demand for self-determination again in 1990 against the repressing forces of India. British Historian states that “The high idealism of the Indian government in international matters breaks down completely when confronted with the question of Kashmir.”

Rarely, when Pakistani and Indian Governments decided to talk over this matter through peaceful talks, the attacks in Mumbai and sensitive situation in Karachi somewhat enforces both sides’ officials to close their talks as they suspected each other for devastation. God knows better if there exists a third party who doesn’t want to solve this problem for his benefits and who prioritize its Economic Power over precious human lives? There might be a shutdown in their arms-making industries to provide weapons to both countries which they would never want to happen.

Whatever is the condition of peace in India or Pakistan, it always affected the innocent people of Kashmir. What I feel is that both India and Pakistan are repressing Kashmiris “right to self-determination i.e. Pakistan by supporting “Mujahideens” and India by killing innocents.

The point is, nobody bothers about Kashmiris if they ever wish to excel or to be educated? Obviously, they wished for everything, but war is in their fate and they have to deal with it.

I think, the whole story behind UNO’s silence over India’s refusal is about money. Indian Economy has improved a lot in 21st Century i.e. China and India as major economic powers in Asia. The world trade system is running through the “Theory of Comparative advantage” where every country sells for which it bears less cost and buys which it feels costly to produce herself. If India stops exporting her products to USA, they will not be able to produce those products cheaply and will sink in losses which they would never want to happen.

Ideally, we can say that the problem can be solved if demilitarization on both sides occurs, but practically it seems nearly impossible as I have already mentioned the third party i.e. so-called Peace lovers, (USA) role. USA might give funds to both India and Pakistan to remain the problem unsolved for her own interests. It might be only hoped that there might come a time when someone miraculously stands against USA and selfish Indian and Pakistani Governments to give Kashmiris their right to self-determination. I also feel that the so-called UNO was only made for the purpose to exploit third world countries.

If they are peace lovers, why is it impossible for the First World countries to boycott India in U.N and her business for Kashmir issue and their denial for Referendum? Again it is money which is playing its role.

References :-

by Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai

  • United Nations, General Assembly,  “RIGHT OF PEOPLES TO SELF-DETERMINATION, Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, Note by the Secretary-General, A/49/362, 6 September 1994 (excerpts)

Common Interests, Common Future: Dialogue Across the LOC’Clarion Hotel, New Delhi,13-14 February 2011

  • Kashmir Black Day- A Historical Background –



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