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Hilal English

Palestine and Kashmir: Two Illegal Occupations, Two Epic Struggles

November 2023

The article delves into the historical backgrounds of the Palestine and Kashmir conflicts, both stemming from events in 1947 and 1948. It discusses the intensification of these struggles, with occupying forces committing war crimes, and recent shifts in global sentiment in favor of Palestinian rights. The article mentions the challenges of finding a resolution to these ongoing conflicts and their impact on the regions.

The years 1947 and 1948 mark the creation of nation-states of India and Israel. Every year on May 15, Palestinians around the world mark the Nakba Day, or catastrophe, referring to ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, when nearly 15,000 Palestinians were killed and another 75,000 injured.  Interestingly, Uganda and Argentina were also considered by pioneers for the creation of the Jewish state but eventually settled on Palestine. A year earlier, on October 26, 1947, Kashmir was handed over, from an unpopular ruler without the legitimacy of popular vote, to the Indian state. 
The conflict between Israel and Palestine reflects a longstanding struggle in the territory, encompassing the land between Jordan River to the east and Mediterranean Sea to the west. This conflict has deep historical roots, shaped by statehood claims from both Israelis and Palestinians, which have been supported by various international agendas and activities over time. 

Palestinians and Kashmiris have struggled for their rights over the years in accordance with international law, though they were generally ignored by world at large. As the two struggles intensified, occupation forces of Israel and India tightened their stranglehold and overtly committed war crimes in a routine manner.

Palestinians and Kashmiris have struggled for their rights over the years in accordance with international law, though they were generally ignored by world at large. As the two struggles intensified, occupation forces of Israel and India tightened their stranglehold and overtly committed war crimes in a routine manner. 
It was a measure of the deterioration of the moral fiber of these two societies that, instead of censuring such acts, the bloodthirsty majoritarian citizenry in Israel and India cheered on, while the murderers got away unpunished. This situation might have received a shock after the events of October 7, 2023, as common folks in country after country expressed solidarity with the right of Palestinians to a homeland of their own, in accordance with the United Nations (UN) resolutions reached from time to time.
The Palestine conflict dates back more than a century, with flashpoints building from UN’s initial Partition Plan in 1947 to the 1973 Yom Kippur War, to the recent escalation of conflict sparked in October 2023. Despite the ongoing efforts to broker peace, including the 1979 Camp David Accord, the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, and the 2020 Abraham Accords, conflict has persisted primarily due to Israel's refusal and its failure to uphold the agreements made.
Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu presented a map of the Middle East during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, claiming even more Arab territory as belonging to his country. Neither Israel nor its backers seem inclined towards a ceasefire, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) persist in relentlessly and brutally bombing civilian population centers. Certain Israeli lawmakers, such as Revital 'Tally’ Gotliv, a member of the Knesset, have engaged in extremely irresponsible behavior, deserving of the strongest condemnation. Gotliv's call for Israel to use its "doomsday weapon," widely interpreted by most military observers as a reference to weaponry from its nuclear arsenal, is notable, despite Israel never officially acknowledging the existence of such weaponry.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was not far behind when, in a lengthy response to a CNN anchor, he made a call for the extermination of the entire population of Gaza. Did these two lawmakers even take a moment to consider the gravity of what they were saying? Advocating the annihilation of an entire population that lacks regular armed forces to defend itself is deeply troubling. This stance, especially coming from Israel, a nation that has experienced unspeakable atrocities against its Jewish population during World War II, is highly distressing, to say the least. As The Guardian newspaper recently pointed out, this latest conflict marks the beginning of a chapter that is likely to have far-reaching consequences, affecting millions of lives, both in the Middle East and beyond, for years to come.
Israel is currently undergoing a process of introspection, with certain philosophical voices, such as the renowned Zionist writer, Ari Habit, expressing concern for their country. In a recent article in the Hebrew newspaper Haaretz, he suggested that they might be dealing with the most challenging people in history, for whom the only solution is to acknowledge their rights and bring an end to the occupation.
He is concerned that Israel may have reached a point of no return, where it can no longer bring an end to the occupation, halt settlements, and achieve peace. Additionally, it may no longer be possible to reform the mindset of Zionism and preserve democracy. He argues that if 'Israeli' and Judaism are no longer vital components of identity, and if every 'Israeli' citizen possesses a foreign passport, not just in the technical sense but also in the psychological sense, then the situation is irreversible.

In 1968, excavations by Dr. Catelyn Kapino, a British archaeologist and Director of excavations in British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, concluded with evidence that presence of traces of Solomon’s Temple at the bottom of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is also a lie. A student of history cannot but notice the similarity where Hindutva ideology in India sees a Ram Temple under every ancient mosque, numbering about 3,000, and is determined to raze them to the ground.

He continues that it is not the United Nations or the European Union that will stop the settlements.  The only power in the world capable of saving "Israel" from itself, are the "Israelis" themselves, by devising a new political language which recognizes the reality that Palestinians are indeed rooted in this land.  He urges his countrymen to find the third way in order to survive here and not perish, as time marches on.  
Interestingly, he asserts that Israelis, since coming to Palestine, realize that they are the product of a lie invented by the Zionist movement, during which they used all the cunning in the Jewish personality throughout history. By exploiting and exaggerating what Hitler called the Holocaust, the movement was able to convince the world that Palestine is the “Promised Land” and that the alleged temple is located under the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is a monstrous lie. 
In 1968, excavations by Dr. Catelyn Kapino, a British archaeologist and Director of excavations in British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, concluded with evidence that presence of traces of Solomon’s Temple at the bottom of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is also a lie. A student of history cannot but notice the similarity where Hindutva ideology in India sees a Ram Temple under every ancient mosque, numbering about 3,000, and is determined to raze them to the ground.   
The struggle of Kashmiris is even older and has its roots in events about two centuries ago when Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler, conquered Kashmir and British seized it from his successors. During the period before that, Kashmir was mostly a participant in the struggles for power between China, Tibet and various Muslim empires based in Central Asia.
Kashmir was a coveted territory because it controlled a handful of barely traversable passes in the Himalayan and Karakoram Mountain ranges through which Silk Road trade was conducted between China and India. Those linkages are what sparked British colonial interest in Kashmir in the 19th century. Mindful of Russian expansion, Kashmir was sold to Ghulab Singh, a turncoat from Ranjit Sigh’s court. 
At the time of partition in 1947, last of the Dogra dynasty, Hari Singh, ruthlessly prevented attempts by Kashmir’s Muslims majority to have a say in their future. Since then, India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads with each other and fought three wars. In 1962, the two countries held six rounds of talks at Foreign Ministerial level between Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Sardar Swaran Singh but any breakthrough remained elusive.  
After the 1971 War, India and Pakistan signed the Simla Agreement and agreed to resolve the dispute bilaterally. However, no progress was made because India perceived the Simla Agreement as a means to tighten its grip on Pakistan and dictate its terms. The late General Pervez Musharraf acknowledged that lasting progress could not be achieved through bilateral negotiations.
Following this, India and Pakistan initiated the 10-Point 'Composite Dialogue Process' (CBD), covering various aspects such as peace and security, Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek Boundary Dispute, Wullar Barrage/Talbul Navigation Project, economic and commercial cooperation, counterterrorism measures, and humanitarian issues.
The chosen method in CBD was dismantling of barriers between Kashmiris, for whom it would have been possible to travel and trade across the Line of Control (LOC), which roughly divides the state into Indian and Pakistani administrated halves. But unfortunately, like all other agreements, it soon lost steam primarily due to trust deficit on both sides. 

When a Palestinian child was asked about the number of times they pray daily, they elaborated, "Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha, and Janazah (funeral) prayer." As long as Palestinian children pray six times a day, and well-intentioned advice from modern-day intellectuals like Ari Habit falls on deaf ears, whether in Palestine or in Kashmir, it is unlikely that peace will prevail in these two regions.

The current siege of Kashmir by Indian forces started with the murder of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, when Kashmiris came out in thousands to mourn his death. The savage response of the Indian state to the popular crowd support for the slain commander was unprecedented.  
The pellet gun, a weapon banned in many countries, was used to blind and maim hundreds from a one-year-old child to the elderly.1 Yet, Kashmiris continue to protest against the Indian state routinely and call for azadi (freedom). 
The current circumstances must be viewed in a broader historical context. In the region, there are approximately 500,000 military personnel, which means there is one soldier for every 25 civilians. The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society reports more than 70,000 killings, about 10,000 enforced disappearances and 7,000 mass graves.2 Torture, rape, sexual violence, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings are widespread. These human rights violations are intricately linked to the denial of political sovereignty to Kashmiris. 
According to former Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, by 2006, India and Pakistan had agreed in principle to sign a series of agreements resolving their long-standing territorial disputes.3 These signings were to have led to an agreement on the joint administration of Kashmir by India and Pakistan, under which both would withdraw their military forces from the region, setting up final status talks. Sadly, the process fell to India’s electoral constraints and the fall of President Musharraf’s regime. Subsequently, the revocation of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution has complicated matters further. 
The recent murder of a Sikh activist in Canada by Indian agents compelled influential Canadian politicians to acknowledge, on the floor of parliament, that India is indeed using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. This acknowledgment comes in contrast to India's practice of consistently blaming Pakistan for the unrest in Kashmir while also being accused of committing war crimes when the local population engages in protests.
An interesting question was raised some years ago: When is an occupation not an occupation? Is it when it is carried out by one of the world's largest markets? When is a butcher not a butcher? Is it when he is a prime minister or when he is an ally? When a Palestinian child was asked about the number of times they pray daily, they elaborated, "Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha, and Janazah (funeral) prayer." As long as Palestinian children pray six times a day, and well-intentioned advice from modern-day intellectuals like Ari Habit falls on deaf ears, whether in Palestine or in Kashmir, it is unlikely that peace will prevail in these two regions.

The writer is a retired Vice Admiral of Pakistan Navy.
E-mail: [email protected] 

1.   “Kashmir: Hundreds Suffer Eye Injuries from Pellet Guns.” n.d. www.aljazeera.com. Accessed October 24, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/8/22/kashmir-hundreds-suffer-eye-injuries-from-pellet-guns.
2.   “Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP Kashmir)-Official Website.” 2018. Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons. August 8, 2018. https://apdpkashmir.com/.
3.   Hussain, Zahid. 2015. “Kashmir Issue: The Story of a Lost Opportunity.” Dawn. August 26, 2015. https://www.dawn.com/news/1202851.