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Kashmir Solidarity Day is observed on 5 February every year since 1990 across Pakistan and by the Kashmiri Diaspora abroad to portray solidarity with the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), who for more than seventy-seven years, remain shackled in the chains of domination.

Over one hundred thousand Kashmiris have lost their lives in their struggle for getting rid of the yoke of Indian tyranny and the quest of their right to self-determination, guaranteed under UN Resolutions of 13 August 1948, which India never allowed to be implemented.

Pakistan has been raising the Kashmir issue on a global level to seek a solution under the aegis of the UN Resolutions but international opinion or the UN have remained unmoved.

Various wars and skirmishes between Pakistan and India, including the First Kashmir War (1947-48); Operation Gibraltar, which became the precursor of the 1965 Pakistan-India war and also served as a catalyst for machinations by India to launch the 1971 Pak-India war; the1984 Indian surreptitious move to gain control of the 70-kilometre-long Siachen Glacier and its tributary glaciers; the 1999 Kargil Operation—a desperate bid by Pakistan to unfetter Kashmir from the clutches of India all failed to change the horror being meted out to the hapless Kashmiris at the hands of Indian security forces.

Various draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA), Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) were introduced by the Indian government to give unbridled powers to the Indian Army and Police.

Different regimes in India only tightened their grip on IIOJK but the advent of Narendra Modi’s government in 2014—exposed a clear agenda for Kashmir—based on a multi-pronged strategy: sweeping IIOJK polls, repealing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and annexing it to India; changing the demography; weakening and denigrating Pakistan so it can no longer provide even diplomatic support to the Kashmiris.

Under Modi’s watch, fifth generation warfare comprising propaganda and launching false flag operations with the heinous agenda of not only besmirching Pakistan but also strangling the Kashmiris further, have been at their peak. After being re-elected in May 2019, on 5 August the same year, the Modi regime repealed Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution and in violation of the UN Resolutions, amalgamated J&K and Ladakh into the Indian Union.

Meanwhile, Pakistan—weakened economically through ill-planned policies and badly battered by the havoc wreaked by terror attacks—could barely raise a whimper against the illegal Indian action. In December 2019, a further emboldened Modi promulgated the draconian legislations: National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to target Muslims in India and unleash extreme barbarity to subjugate them, turning them into second class citizens, stripped of their privileges, rights and even dignity.

Pakistan continues to express solidarity with Kashmiris and other Indian Muslims, but is constrained by its internal political turmoil and frail economy from being the true champion of the oppressed people of IIOJK or the Indian Muslims.

The casus belli for India’s hostility and continued intransigence towards resolving the Kashmir issue, stems from the sources of the main rivers flowing into Pakistan, being located in IIOJK.

Pakistan-India water dispute erupted in April 1948 over the sharing of water rights to the Indus River and its tributaries.

India’s East Punjab province shut off water running to the West Punjab province of Pakistan via the main branches of the Upper Bari Doab Canal as well as the Dipalpur Canal from the Ferozepur Headworks.

It was only resumed after the signing of the Inter-Dominion Accord of 4 May 1948, which required India to release sufficient water through existing canals to the Pakistani regions of the basin in return for annual payments from Pakistan.

It was a temporary solution and did not allay Pakistan’s apprehensions till the ratification of the 1960 World Bank brokered Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), which gave the control over the waters of the three “eastern rivers” — Beas, Ravi and Sutlej — to India, and control over the waters of the three “western rivers” — Indus, Chenab and Jhelum — to Pakistan.

Prima-facie it resolved the water dispute, but time and again, India has been violating the IWT, by constructing dams and reservoirs not conforming to the stipulated parameters, restraining the flow of water during droughts and releasing excess water causing floods in Pakistan. India has also been using water as a weapon.

In the aftermath of the 2016 Uri false flag operation, Modi threatened to revoke the IWT declaring: “blood and water cannot flow together.” India restarted the Tulbul Project on the Jhelum River in the Kashmir Valley, which was previously suspended in response to Pakistan’s objections.

In 2019, in the aftermath of the Pulwama false flag operation, Indian Union Minister for Water Resources Nitin Gadkari said that all water flowing from India will be diverted to Indian states to punish Pakistan for its alleged connection to the attack.

Bolstered by Pakistan’s internal strife and New Delhi’s enhanced standing in the world owing to its economic and industrial growth, on 25 January 2023, India issued a notice to Pakistan accusing it of being “intransigent” on the implementation of the IWT, officially notifying Pakistan to renegotiate the treaty with the plea that Pakistan is repeatedly indulging in unjustified actions, that are against the spirit and objective of the treaty, to scuttle the Indian projects.

India maliciously posted a fake news on February 3, 2023: ‘China scuttles Pakistan’s Neelum Jhelum Project over delayed payments.’

The notice came after years of disagreement between the two countries on two hydroelectric power plants planned by India in Jammu and Kashmir - the Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts).

India threatened to declare the IWT null & void and claim rights/control/ownership of all the waters flowing into Pakistan. The response from Pakistan to the notice issued by India stated that Pakistan can not take risk of abrogating IWT being a lower riparian party and expressed its desire to adhere to the procedures stipulated in the IWT.

Since 2024 is the year of election in India, it is feared that like in 2019, on the eve of the elections India carried out a false flag operation in Pulwama. Using it as an excuse, India carried out a surgical attack in Pakistani territory, claiming to have killed 350 jihadis in a fictitious terrorist training camp in Balakot.

In reality there was no camp and Indian Air Force attack aircraft dropped their munition in the wilderness, causing no damage apart from felling some pine trees.

The very next day Pakistan retaliated by launching a counter attack in which two Indian Air Force fighter aircraft were shot down and the pilot of one was captured alive. Despite the loss of face, Narendra Modi carried out a propaganda based on lies claiming major gains and of teaching Pakistan a lesson. Gullible Indian voters believed the plethora of lies and voted the BJP back into power. An emboldened Narendra Modi took the extreme step on August 5, 2019, amalgamating Indian Occupied Kashmir into the Indian Union.

This year, Modi may not need another false flag operation, since he has solidified his hold on the forthcoming polls through another Chanakyan plot. Modi . Modi performed the consecration or Pran Pratishtha (ritual of putting the soul inside an idol) of Lord Rama—a mythical but much venerated deity and the lead figure of Maharishi Valmiki’s Hindu epic Ramayana—at the temple in Ayodhya in the North Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. The site of the Ram Temple is the very spot where the 16th-century Babri Masjid was torn down by a frenzied Hindu nationalist mob on a grim winter morning in December 1992.

This has paid huge dividends to Modi and paved the way for declaring secular India into a Hindu Rashtra and all but securing his victory in the polls.

Pakistan, on the other hand, faces numerous challenges because of its weak economy, diplomatic isolation and political upheavals. The need of the hour thus is for Pakistan to stabilise its political and economic position to regain its place in the comity of nations, only then it will be effective in supporting IIOJK.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

S. M. Hali

The writer is a retired Group Captain of PAF, and now a security analyst

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