Kashmir Crisis: A challenge to world conscience

Benjamin Franklin, a signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence from Britain, and a man responsible for negotiating a treaty between the colonies and France, asked, “When will mankind be convinced and agree to settle their difficulties by arbitration?” Perhaps the simple answer to that is that it will occur when power is distributed among men in such a way that it cannot be abused by any individual or nation, and that both personal and national sovereignty is once and for all respected. Inventors cannot stand confusion.

They look for ways to simplify, to turn what is thought to be unrelated into a unity of parts that mean something or that can be used in a practical way.  No doubt he viewed war as stupidity, a useless way of dealing with problems.  As an ambassador for the colonies to Great Britain between 1767 and 1775, he sought constructive relations between the two countries. He was in fact a loyalist, a man who believed that the king should have more power (it was simpler), but became a patriot and ultimately a believer in liberty and the self-determination of those who wanted to escape tyranny, It was through Franklin’s agency, his power of persuasion, and perhaps France’s discomfort with growing British strength, that France aided the American colonies and brought balance to what might have been a lost cause for the American Revolution. Franklin obviously believed that resistance by the colonies was a preferable route to capitulation.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety “ he wrote,  “deserve neither safety nor liberty.” With sufficient resistance one has the strength to demand negotiations if winning outright isn’t in the cards. A man who is weak can demand nothing. The need for both resistance and arbitration in the case of Kashmir is obviously needed, but we have a balance of power problem just as the colonies did in the beginning.  India’s 900,000-plus troops stationed in Kashmir combined with its control over local law enforcement presents a difficult if not insurmountable challenge to those willing to resist the foreign occupation. The presence of such a large number of troops plus seventy-three years of conflict would seem to most observers a clear indication that Kashmir’s differences with India are intractable and irresolvable given the persistent resistance, despite the serious imbalance of power between the two.

While a lot has been said during the last few sessions of the United Nations General Assembly about international peace and security on one side and conflict resolution on the other, all emphasized the need for cooperation and not confrontation. Third party engagement or facilitation is needed as it yielded results in persuading India and Pakistan to reach a ceasefire agreement on February 25, 2021 after a lapse of 18 years. President Biden shook the conscience of the world powers when he spoke about the situation in Bosnia at the United States Senate on December 13, 1995 in these words, “A decade and a half ago, war tore this country apart and left at least 100,000 dead… and millions homeless. The genocide at Srebrenica brought home the unspeakable savagery of that war to the world. It was a call to conscience. My country – for too long on the sidelines – could no longer stand by.” President Biden should know that in Kashmir too more than 100,000 people are dead and ‘Genocide Watch’ has issued a Genocide Alert for Kashmir.

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai


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