ensions between South Asia’s super powers -- India and Pakistan -- are once again on the boil, after a car laden with explosives was detonated by a suicide bomber in Indian-occupied Kashmir, killing 40 Indian paramilitaries. Kashmir is occupied by both India and Pakistan, while a small portion of the territory is under Chinese control.
The explosive-laden vehicle was driven by a member of the the Pakistan-based militant organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed, which claimed the attack and published pictures of the suicide bomber. If the the group is to be believed, the suicide bomber was a local Kasmiri.
If this is so, it marks a dramatic shift from the past where militants were largely from Afghanistan, Pakistan or radicalised Islamic fighters involved in the Libyan and or Iraqi wars. The fact that the suicide bomber was a young Kashimiri reveals a growing radicalisation of Kashmiri young men and women who have grown up under what they see as an Indian army of occupation and growing atrocities against Kashmiri civillians.
In its UN report of June 14, 2018, on the situation of Human Rights in Kashmir, the UN accuses India of using excessive force against civillian demonstrators, unlawful killings and a very high number of civillian casualties.
The report adds that despite Pakistan’s denials of any support extended to extremist groups, across the Line of Control in India-administered Kashmir, experts believe Pakistan’s military continues to support such operations.
Pakistan’s new Prime Minister --World Cup winning star cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan, denied any Pakistani involvement in the incident. He called on India to provide proof of Pakistan’s involvement in the atrocity.
In the light of the UN report it is not surprising that hardly anyone in India or elsewhere seems to believe him. In the aftermath of the suicide attack, the Indian Prime Minister has threatened Pakistan with reprisals. Pakistan’s military leaders responded by challenging India ‘not to mess with Pakistan...’
The tragedy, is that nobody seems to care for the real victims of the unfolding tragedy in Kashmir and its people. These unfortunates are being treated as collateral damage by South Asia’s two super powers.
The rest of of the world recognises the power-play between India and Pakistan for what it is a battle of prestige. Neither side -- either India or Pakistan -- cares a fig leaf for the Kashmiri people.
And today, India is escalating the ante by attempting to politicise sport. Last week India refused to grant visas to two Pakistani shooters and their coach who were due to compete at a World Cup shooting event in New Delhi. As a result of which, India has been effectively barred by the International Olympic Committee from hosting Olympic-related events.
Not learning from this situation, AFP reports of February 22 indicate, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to write to the International Cricket Council (ICC) asking them to sever ties with nations that back terror. It follows the February 14 suicide bombing in Kashmir that killed over 40 Indian paramilitary personnel.
To Sri Lankan’s, the BCCI’s demand, that the ICC sever ties to nations that back terror is to put it mildly, shocking. Lankan’s could scarcely forget the support India gave the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during its reign of terror in this country. During LTTE’s reign of terror, over a thousand members of its armed forces lost their lives.
Over 600 policemen were killed in a coldblooded clash after they surrendered to the group in Batticaloa. Busloads of civillians were targeted and killed. The group wiped out nearly all civillians at the Muslim village of Palliyagodella. It ethnically cleansed Jaffna and Mannar of Muslims.
But Lanka, to its credit, did not let its political problems spill over into the field of sports. It did not go crying to international sports federations to sever ties with nations it suspected of helping and giving succour to countries which armed, provided bases and carried out cross-border terrorist attacks on its soil.
The Kashmir issue is a legacy of British colonialism, created just so-as-to keep ex-colonial nations’ divided, weak and dependent on imperial power structures.
Pakistan and India have fought numerous wars over Kashmir. Its time these countries which boast of ancient heritages, put together their collective wisdom and help the Kashmiris to sort out their own problems.