While insisting on an end to the military confrontation between India and Pakistan, the American and British administrations have been instrumental in fuelling the tensions.
The proposed placement of US troops and surveillance equipment in highly sensitive Kashmir, just as in Afghanistan, would only sow the seeds for a broader and more devastating conflict that has the potential to drag in other countries.
British Foreign secretary Jack Straw made a special trip to Islamabad recently, to accuse Musharraf of “aiding ‘terrorists’ in Kashmir” and demand that he curb “extremists,” i.e. anyone fighting against the Indian occupation. Britain’s New Labor has thus acted as a kind of brokerage firm for the British arms industry, and Tony Blair has been a most effective salesman when it comes to peddling his wares in New Delhi.
The Vajpayee government, which seized on the US invasion of Afghanistan to call for Pakistan to be branded a “terrorist-sponsoring country” and for Kashmir to be included in Bush’s “global war on terrorism”, believes that a military solution is suitable.
India made its warring position clearer last year, when George Fernandes, India’s defense minister, declared: “We could take a strike, survive and then hit back. Pakistan would be finished.”
The Pakistanis, for their part, are playing a strictly defensive role in this current nuclear drama. Outnumbered by India’s massive army, which is poised on the border, its only advantages are a more modern air force, its special relationship with the US – and the willingness to press the nuclear trigger.
Energized by a sense of religious messianism, and dedicated to the restoration of a lost empire, the BJP fascists have a lot in common with their Israeli allies – most importantly, they have a common enemy in Islam, now commonly referred to as “Terrorism”. Embarked on an extensive program of military cooperation, the two countries have affected a similar stance in the post-9/11 era: that of being more royalist than the USA when it comes to the issue of terrorism.
The Israelis have argued that, like the Americans in Afghanistan, their incursions into Palestinian territory are justified in the name of the “war on terrorism.” Likewise, New Delhi, in justifying its ongoing subjugation of Kashmir and incursions into Pakistan, cites the pursuit of “terrorists” as justification – and darkly hints that Pakistani intelligence masterminded the recent attack on India’s parliament.
At the core of the South-East Asian conflict is the issue of Kashmir, which India has invaded, and holds against the will of the predominat Muslim population. While formally agreeing to hold free elections, India has managed to delay the process – since 1948, when both India and Pakistan voted for the Indian resolutions that called for a UN-supervised plebiscite. India’s Occupied Territories, like Palestine’s, are held under martial law, and that is not the only parallel: here, too, religious ideology provides a ready justification for a foreign policy of militant expansionism, the unanswerable justification for daily atrocities visited on an occupied people.
For more than 50 years the world has ignored the plight of the Kashmiri people. It is only because of the recent threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan that the world has started ‘talking’ about Kashmir. However, the opinion of Kashmiris about their own situation under Indian military occupation and how to resolve it is not sought out.
More than 700,000 Indian troops confront less than five million Kashmiri civilians in the valley. The experience of military repression has been brutalizing. The atrocities by Indian occupation forces include torture, rape, murder and disappearances. Human-rights activists have documented more than 75,000 killings and a similar number of disappearances in the valley. The horrifying number of ‘disappearances’ exceeds the scandalous proportions reached during General Pinochet’s rule in Chile.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority recently warned that Israel might carry out massive killings of Palestinians, even genocide, in case an all-out war broke out between India and Pakistan.
Whether the imperialist powers are willing to sacrifice their sinister agendas remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the resistance fighters in Kashmir are being inspired by the brave martyrs in Palestine, both of whom share a common dream: freedom from colonial occupation.