The sentencing of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation League chief Yasin Malik to life imprisonment has caused more outrage in the Held Valley than his conviction on the original terrorism charges, because it is seen that any form of cooperation with the Indian occupiers will only be met by brute force. Though Mr Malik’s JKLF had been forced to take up arms because it saw no other way to move towards the inherent right of self-determination which had been denied to the Kashmiri people since the UN Security Resolutions promising a plebiscite, it had eschewed violence and decided to continue its struggle non-violently. However, Mr Malik and the JKLF never conceded that Occupied Kashmir was anything but an occupied territory, and proposed that apart from opting for either India or Pakistan, Kashmiris should also have the right to opt for independence. He is paying the price, and there is every possibility that the Indian government, which is holding him in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail under inhuman conditions, would like to see him dead. Already, Kashmiri Hurriyet conference leaders like Abdul Gjhani Lone, even if they engage with the Indian strate.
Syed Ali Geelani recently died in in Indian prison, his medical problems (many the direct result of imprisonment) not properly attended to. In this fashion, the Indian government is helping a process of elimination, which is meant to deprive the Kashmiri people of their genuine leadership, leaving only puppets like the Abdullah family, or the Mufti family, available, who might find that they will have to add to their acceptance of inclusion in the Indian Union, by tacking on support for the Modi government’s downgrading of the state, splitting it into two union territories, and allowing outsiders to buy property in the state.
Pakistan has made protesting noises, including the holding of a press conference by Mr Malk’s wife and daughter, who live in Islamabad. However, there is an air of ritualism about everything. Moral and diplomatic support for the Kashmiri people is clearly not cutting it. Making clever speeches at the UNGA, as the previous PM did, have not stopped the Indian state’s brutalities. Pakistan must think out of the box if it is to find a lasting solution to a problem that has scarred the lives of millions.