An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard while a Kashmiri woman passes nearby amid a curfew. Photo: iStock

The bomb attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitary officers in Indian-controlled Kashmir on February 14 should be seen as a matter of serious concern for the whole world.

Pakistan and India are both nuclear states and traditional rivals. Since the partition of British India in 1947 and the subsequent creation of the independent states of Pakistan and India, the two have been involved in four wars, including one undeclared war, and many border skirmishes and military stand-offs.

The Kashmir issue has been the main cause of most major conflicts between the two South Asian countries. Under the plans for partition, Muslim-majority regions were to be part of Pakistan and Hindu-majority regions were to be part of India. However, India illegally occupied part of Muslim-majority Kashmir.

There is a UN resolution calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir, which would give the Kashmiri people the right to chose to become part of Pakistan. But India has refused to implement the resolution since 1948. Pakistan has been asking India for a dialogue on the peaceful settlement of the Kashmir Issue, but New Delhi has rejected Islamabad’s requests and has continued to suppress the Kashmiris.

The people of Kashmir have been peacefully protesting against the Indian occupation, but New Delhi has been using its military might – around 900,000 troops – to deny them their right to self-determination

The people of Kashmir have been peacefully protesting against the Indian occupation, but New Delhi has been using its military might – around 900,000 troops – to deny them their right to self-determination. The people of Kashmir are unarmed, although they sometimes throw stones to express their anger, but the well-trained, well-equipped Indian army uses all types of lethal force to suppress them.

The international community has repeatedly condemned India’s excessive use of force and human rights violations in Kashmir. This persistent use of such extreme force against Kashmiris may force them to opt for armed struggle for self-determination if they see that as their only recourse.

Last Thursday’s blast was a reaction to the Indian army’s atrocities, but New Delhi will likely use the attack to divert public attention from its failures. The BJP is facing the strong possibility of defeat in the upcoming election, threatening to end Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political career. Foreseeing this outcome, Modi will use every dirty trick in the book to make Pakistan look villainous.

Pakistan has repeatedly offered India opportunities to resolve all issues between the two countries, including Kashmir, through peaceful dialogue. But India’s refusal to participate continues to undermine the pursuit of regional peace and stability. The time has come for India to recognize that its policy of using force over the last seven decades has failed and will never succeed. India should act rationally and come to the peace table to resolve the Kashmir issue once and for all.

This part of the world is highly populated – there are 1.2 billion Indians, 1.4 billion Chinese, 220 million Pakistanis and 150 million Bangladeshis. Any misadventure in this region could cost an enormous number of lives. As both India and Pakistan are nuclear states, the threat this dispute poses to humanity is beyond calculation. To prevent such a tragedy, the international community, intellectuals, think-tanks and other influencers must work to defuse the conflict by encouraging India to come to the peace table.

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