It has been well over forty days since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in India announced the revocation of Article 370, stripping the Indian-occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir of nominal statehood and whatever semblance of autonomy it had. The act was pre-meditated. Fearing backlash over the unilateral move, the Indian government placed the occupied territory in a lockdown, cutting it off from the rest of the world quite literally. Communication lines have been severed and there is a restriction on movement.
But that’s not all. There is a human cost that brings with it horror stories of abuse, rights violations, torture, arbitrary arrests and curbs on speech. The entire spectrum of the territory’s political leadership is either incarcerated or under house arrest. Organised crackdown on dissent and a deafening silence of the local media are some of the most worrying steps taken by the BJP-led government. The hyper-nationalistic rhetoric being peddled on a vast majority of Indian media outlets is an attempt to control narratives. The Indian state has been largely successful on that count.
The August 5 move is a striking reminder of how hostile political ideologies drenched in a hatred of ‘the other’ act. The grim possibility of betraying a people already betrayed has been made a reality by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Pakistan’s diplomatic options are limited. With the region faced with a tense situation amid escalating tensions between India and Pakistan, there is a need to make a concerted effort for peace – one that can bring stability to the region and prosperity to its people.
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At the heart of this turmoil are the Kashmiri people, left suffering and forced into silence. While solidarity can bring some comfort, it cannot by itself bring lasting peace. And for a people who helplessly wait for a verdict on their fate, enforced silence remains not an option but the only way.