The dispute between India and Pakistan on Jammu & Kashmir has existed since Pakistan aggressively, in a fit of belligerence, invaded the State following its accession to India by its ruler Maharajah Hari Singh in 1947. Successive Pakistani Governments and its Army have continued malevolently to use their forced occupation of Indian territory to divert attention from their own corruption and unending rape of democracy. The Pakistani state has and continues to sponsor and export terrorism which has caused endless suffering to the people of Jammu & Kashmir. However, despite the threats from Pakistani state sponsored terror organisations and thugs, 61.23 per cent of the people of Jammu & Kashmir said a resounding ‘no’ to terror when they turned out to vote in the last State legislative Assembly election in 2009, signifying their strong belief in their destiny, their democracy and their equal status in the Indian Union.
Listening to some of the MPs here in Committee Room 10 talk about the ground situation in Jammu & Kashmir, any observer could be forgiven to think their constituencies were based 5,383 miles away in Mirpur in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir rather than Bradford East or Birmingham Perry Barr. Of course, any half-decent MP would want to address any concern raised by their constituents, but surely it is not for our Parliamentarians to be committing this brazen attempt at interfering in the sovereign internal affairs of our friend – India. Many have rightly said, that pandering to the blatant lobbying by the same forces that sympathise and support those who help train and export terror across the world, provides immense encouragement to the proponents of Jihadist terrorism and fodder for the preachers of Islamist extremism and hate radicalising young Muslim Britons.
The Israel hating, Hamas sympathising and anti-Semite Liberal Democrat, David Ward MP for Bradford East (Maj. 365) who called for this debate about the ‘political and humanitarian situation in Kashmir’ thanked the Jammu & Kashmir Self Determination Movement (Europe) and its chairman Raja Najabat Hussein; incidentally Hussein has promised “to help elect at least 100 ‘Friends of Kashmir’ to the Parliament”. Seeing David Ward’s history of anti-Israeli and blindly pro-Pakistani statements, it is no surprise that he has once again been deployed to do the dirty-work of the ISI backed Pakistan lobby with the promise of votes of many Mirpuri residents of his constituency. A glowing demonstration of real gutter level vote bank politics of identity!
When David Ward alleges that there are human rights violations and atrocities committed by the Indian Army, he fails to realise or make any real attempt at educating himself about the actual ground reality. There is immense good being done by the Indian Army in Jammu & Kashmir. Just over the last few days, in the face of stone-pelting by Pakistani-backed thugs, it is the Indian Army which has deployed 30,000 troops, 372 boats and 84 helicopters to rescue nearly 200,000 people from the worst floods in half a century. It is the Indian Army that runs so many of the schools and medical facilities in extremely remote areas of this mountainous State. It is the Indian Army, unlike its counterpart across the border, which ensures free and fair elections by ensuring that ballot boxes are securely taken to residents in the remotest areas who are unable to make it to polling stations.
In 1999, while Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was busy taking his ‘Friendship Bus’ to Lahore amid inaugurating a new daily bus service for people on both sides of the border, it was the Pakistani Army under the leadership of Gen. Pervez Musharraf which infiltrated identity-less Pakistani soldiers into Indian territory in Kargil to derail that peace initiative. True to Pakistani Army tradition, Musharraf then went on to depose the democratically elected PM Nawaz Sharif; a strategy that the Pakistani Army continues to use when it beheads captured Indian prisoners of war. It is the Pakistani Army which just two weeks ago, once again massacred its own citizens including children in Balochistan. The presence of the Indian Army in Jammu & Kashmir is merely to secure its borders, stop infiltration of Islamist terrorists from Pakistan and ensure a safe environment for the Kashmiri people in the face of continued proxy war of a ‘1,000 cuts’ by Pakistan, nothing more.
Many would say that the sentiments echoed by Khalid Mahmood MP were being transmitted from Islamabad, for when he alleges that the figure of 6,479,375 or 61.23 per cent turnout in the last State Assembly election in Jammu & Kashmir is not verifiable and that election observers were never allowed. The reality is that the State election was covered vociferously and in-depth by both Indian and foreign media. Highly secure and tamper-proof electronic voting machines (EVM) were used, in contrast to the widespread paper based postal vote fraud that goes on in many Pakistani communities across Britain. But leaving aside all of that, it is the norm in Indian elections for activists of all major political parties to be present along with the Election Commission and the Police, everywhere from polling stations to EVM storage rooms to the actual count itself. The electoral process in India is transparent, credible and reliable.
In this May’s General Election, it was the BJP that won the highest vote share (32.6 per cent) and half the Parliamentary seats in this Muslim majority State clearly highlighting that the free people of Jammu & Kashmir vote as they wish – for inclusive development, for a Prime Minister that works for them as much as he does for Delhi or Mumbai and for a government that governs.
What is needed of us is to ensure that such an abuse of free speech, Parliamentary privilege to debate important matters and ludicrous vote bank politics is never allowed to recur as all it has done is inflame tensions and encourage divisions amongst the diverse communities here in the United Kingdom. A malicious and vexatious attempt to malign the world’s greatest democracy and our friend India! Surely, this valuable Parliamentary time should have been used to debate important matters that we have been wrongly reluctant to discuss such as the plight of the people of Balochistan being persecuted and murdered daily by the Pakistani Army.
What is needed of us is to ask some tough questions on Pakistan as to why despite suffering from terrorism itself, it continues to play a double-faced game when it comes to state funding of terror training camps, forced en masse exodus of up-to 700,000 Kashmiri Pandits by its sponsored terrorists and the exodus of Sikh and Hindu families fleeing persecution by an ever stronger Pakistani Taliban? Why is it that Christians continue to be persecuted daily and the Pakistani state remains a mere spectator of church bombings? Why is it that every time an Indian Prime Minister extends the hand of friendship and reconciliation, the Pakistani Army does its best to slap it back by unprovoked shelling and destruction of innocent border villages, their livestock and their farms?
What is needed of us is to drop any and all sense of being some sort of interfering imperial middle-man and understand that it is for the people of India and Pakistan to engage, debate and resolve this matter; to understand once and for all that whether it is the dynamic leadership of PM Narendra Modi in putting aside political differences to work constructively with Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in providing immediate help with a £210 million relief package or the unwavering heroism of the Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry Battalion which continues its unrelenting efforts to provide relief or Indian companies such as Fortis Healthcare stepping up to send 200 medical volunteers to help. India is able to handle its own internal challenges.
We must stop looking at India through an old broken prism as though it was still August 14, 1947. It is about time that broken prism was comprehensively replaced with a forward looking vision of Prime Minister Cameron, of Britain being India’s partner of choice and my call, echoed by many, for a ‘New-Old’ Special relationship with the Union of India based on more than just trade alone.
It’s about time that we all finally realised that Britain’s national interest is very much aligned with democratic India, in seeing a prosperous and undivided Jammu & Kashmir free from the clutches of an Islamist state to its west and an authoritarian communist state to its east.
Unlike this needless interfering and frankly rather offensive Kashmir debate, we need a serious debate on how we fight the scourge of Islamist extremism, fuelled by Pakistani two-faced sponsoring of global Jihadist terrorism and encouraged by shameless vote bank politics. Now, that is a debate which would truly be in Britain’s national interest!