UK scholar urges Kashmir solution to avoid Pak-India conflict

Srinagar, April 16, 2019 (PPI-OT): Avinash Paliwal, a lecturer and deputy director of the South Asia Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, has said that India’s heavy-handed campaigns under multiple governments have increased alienation among the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Avinash Paliwal in a media interview in London said that the use of force to quell dissent in occupied Kashmir was not unique to the current Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, which was in power from 2004 until 2014, also used similar tactics.

He said that the lull in active resistance in Kashmir between 2003 and 2008 led to a false sense of normalcy among India’s policymakers, who mistakenly viewed the reduction in resistance as a sign that their strategy was working. “That illusion was shattered in 2008, when mass protests rocked the Kashmir valley in response to an Indian government plan to transfer a plot of public land there for use by Hindu pilgrims. The situation continued to worsen after that,” he added.

He said, “India’s heavy-handed response, which has only intensified since 2014, continues to disrupt the everyday lives of Kashmiri people. Young Kashmiris, most of whom grew up witnessing state oppression and violence, are angry at the Indian state.” Meanwhile, voter turnout rates for local and general elections in the region are some of the lowest in India, he said and added that anti-India sentiment in Kashmir engendered as a result of its own policies.

Stressing that India will have to accept that Kashmir is a contested issue, which requires a negotiated solution, Avinash Paliwal said, “…there will be a need to include local Kashmiri voices from across the spectrum…. Only a long-term political solution forged through dialogue can prevent a serious [Pak-India] conflict from flaring up again in Kashmir.”

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