As Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers prepare to hold their first substantive talks since the Mumbai attacks, Kashmiri-Canadian Council (KCC) welcomes resumption of dialogue between the nuclear-armed rivals – as result-oriented negotiations are the only way to bridge the divide between India and Pakistan. KCC hopes both New Delhi and Islamabad understand what is at stake – without a settlement of the Kashmir issue, peace between two long-time adversaries or for the entire region is a pipedream.
The Kashmir issue has dominated the geopolitics of South Asia for nearly 63 years because of continuing rivalry between India and Pakistan. The rivals have fought three major wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed region of Kashmir. The unresolved issue of Kashmir is the root of the nuclear arms race between New Delhi and Islamabad, which has resulted in the diversion of resources from human development to militarization. Unfortunately, the people of Kashmir are caught in the middle of this deadly tug-of-war.
Since October 1989, the 700,000 strong Indian forces have killed more than 100,000 Kashmiris – many more scarred and wounded, to silence the people’s demand for justice, respect for human rights, freedom and the right of self-determination. They continue to carry out arbitrary detention, summary executions, custodial killings, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, rape, sexual exploitation, torture and fake encounters.
Generations of Kashmiris have grown up under the shadow of the gun; not a single family is unaffected; property worth hundreds of millions of dollars has been destroyed and the suffering and devastation continues unabated that has inflicted loss of life and destruction on an unprecedented scale, sadly drawing no significant attention from the international community.