Another illegal move by India

n flagrant violation of international laws and its own constitutional provisions, India has gone ahead and formally bifurcated occupied Kashmir into two union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Laddakh. On August 5 New Delhi had revoked Article 370 of its constitution that gave special status to Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Under the new arrangement the disputed region has been divided into two Union Territories, one comprising J &K, and the other Laddakh, which is contested by China.

The Indian move has been strongly criticized by Pakistan and China both of which are party to what is an internationally recognised dispute. In a statement Pakistan’s Foreign Office has made it clear that the unilateral step by the government of India cannot change the disputed status of the region. It is an internationally recognized disputed region, and no step by the government of India can change this: “These changes are illegal and void as per the relevant UNSC resolutions, and do not prejudice the right to self-determination of the people of Occupied Jammu &Kashmir.”

The reaction from China has been equally strong: “India is challenging China’s sovereign rights and interests by unilaterally revising domestic law. This is illegal, null and void. It will neither change the fact that the relevant region is under China’s actual control nor produce any effect.”

To be sure, India’s latest action does not in any way alter the disputed status of Kashmir. First of all, the change is unacceptable to the Kashmir people who have for the last three months been braving the onslaught of over 900,000 Indian troops who have imposed an oppressive lockdown on the occupied Valley along with communications blackout and mass detentions. Scores of unarmed protesters have been killed, and women subjected to harassment and sexual abuse. The very fact that New Delhi is reluctant to lift restrictions points to one thing: that the people of Kashmir have rejected New Delhi’s annexation move.

Legally speaking, India’s domestic laws cannot override its international obligations nor the bilateral Simla Agreement. Under UN Security Council resolutions, J&K is a disputed territory. The Simla Agreement of 1972 clearly states that “neither side shall seek to alter it [the Line of Control, thereby the region’s disputed status] unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations.” Delhi government’s one-sided actions therefore are of no legal value.

Needless to say, India’s sinister designs are aimed at obliterating the Kashmiri identity and creating a new demographic reality. As a step towards this, the Kashmiri flag has been done away with, and people from outside the state have been allowed to buy property in IHK. Unfortunately, many of the states that claim to be champions of human rights look the other way when it comes to censuring India’s behaviour in IHK.

Despite everything, for the Kashmiri people and Pakistan, the status quo ante still prevails. The world must realize that there can be no peace until and unless J&K is resolved according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people. China too is not going to give up its stance on the border issue with India. However, despite New Delhi’s best efforts to mislead world opinion on the situation in IHK, the truth is bound to emerge sooner than later.

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