Published in "The Nation" https://nation.com.pk/19-Feb-2021/kashmir-and-the-bigger-game
In the disputed lands of Kashmir, children are profoundly affected by situations of crisis they do not understand. The culture of violence prevails in their daily lives with damaging consequences. Children’s well-being should be the concern of the entire society but why is it always the children who have no part to play in the politics of power, that suffer the most?
An armed revolt has been going on against Indian rule in the region of Kashmir for decades, claiming tens of thousands of lives. Even before India and Pakistan won their independence from Britain, the area was bitterly contested. The accord to align Kashmir with India resulted in decades of rivalry in the disputed region, including two wars and a longstanding insurgency.
The underlying reasons of conflict among two states remain the moving force of international relations that have led to a great deal of diplomatic activity. After years of debates and resolutions, none of these efforts have shown any significant results, and the cost of war is heavy on the Kashmiri children both mentally and physically. Lack of food, malnutrition, and illness are a part of their daily lives. Mistreatment is their daily routine, which is a violation of basic human rights and of family rights.
The children in Kashmir are experiencing violence both directly and indirectly as their lives are shaped by a sense of injustice, and the susceptibility to accept violence increases with time. All these things have a negative impact on their mental health.
The future of any society is its youth; they are supposed to be protected by the society and not used by it. The Convention on the Rights of the Child asserts that: “The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.” Even though many resolutions have been approved at the United Nations to protect children in a situation of crisis, these laws prove difficult to be applied, and the physical and emotional suffering experienced by these children has lasting repercussions for them.
The Kashmir problem is a mixture of state terrorism, revolution and general horror that has continued for decades in history. Consequently, Kashmir came to play a huge role in the respective politics of both India and Pakistan as the issue has outlived the Cold War and the old feud that Kashmir is not self-sufficient unless it accedes to a major state, has lost value.
If we are unable to solve the issues that have a direct impact on the psychology of our children, then how can we cope with bigger emerging issues that define our truth? We do not want to be a part of the faction that does not want to negotiate Kashmir and seems to be content with the bleeding souls of a suffering land. We cannot be cautious in a massive war by calculating and concluding its uncertain outcomes, while the psychological damage that is done everyday rips our children of their rightful childhood.
History cannot be undone, and Kashmir may have ceased to be the only cause of bad relations between two states, but it remains a major cause. It is also a symbol of their failure to compose their differences and live in peace. Over the years, several proposals have suggested the possibility of putting an end to this major dispute, but it is important to recognise the crucial role of time in resolving the Kashmir problem. History has been a testament to the fact that time is not on our side as the Kashmir problem has been mismanaged by two generations for decades.
It is not our intelligence or our knowledge of the past that defines us, but instead our lessons that we have derived from them. So basically, our identity is not what we have come to know, but what we stand for. The responsibility for standing up for future generations of Kashmir lies on all of us, when we think, write or speak, we do it to raise awareness for suffering souls. In the hopes that those higher authorities who have the power to make amends may take the right actions. A nation’s integrity is based on the realisation that it needs to raise a voice against corrupted powers, not on reminiscing the past. It’s the only way to acknowledge that the power to heal young wounds lies within each one of us.