Srinagar, Jan 19: Civil society groups and individuals from Jammu and Kashmir are deeply distressed at the emerging situation in Jammu and Kashmir, consequent upon the brinkmanship and belligerent policies and statements made by official representatives of India and Pakistan. The recent reckless statement made by the Indian Army Chief where, inter alia, he said, “We will call the (nuclear) bluff of Pakistan. If we will have to really confront the Pakistanis, and a task is given to us, we are not going to say we cannot cross the border because they have nuclear weapons. We will have to call their nuclear bluff.” This was responded to by combative statements made by Pakistani authorities including the one made by the Pakistan Foreign Minister who said, “… amounts to an invitation for a nuclear encounter. If that is what they desire, they are welcome to test our resolve…” We have seen in the past that these irresponsible statements lead to the immediate escalation of violence at the Line of Control (LOC) and accusations and counter-accusations. The same happened this time as well.
Jammu and Kashmir is witness to and victim of Indo-Pak wars and unabated militarized violence for last many decades. Because of their experiences of suffering, the people of Jammu and Kashmir are very conscious that these irresponsible statements can escalate into a full-blown war between the two nuclear powers and lead to terrible brutalization, primarily of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Further, soldiers from both armies become cannon fodder. Similar intransigence was witnessed between the years 1999 to 2002, during which India and Pakistan mounted a limited war in Kargil, but what remained invisible was the escalation of violence on the people of Jammu and Kashmir around this period. This military adventurism also took a huge toll on soldiers from both sides. Significantly, despite the three wars and all military manoeuvres in last seven decades between India and Pakistan, the countries have been unable to resolve or end the conflict. Therefore, the civil society of Jammu and Kashmir earnestly appeals to the leadership of both the countries to end belligerence and replace it with rationality and dialogue to peacefully resolve the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
In this context, it is most opportune to recall the Pentagon lead study, which estimated, in the event of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, that 12 million people would die. We appeal to the civil society groups of India, Pakistan and the world at large to not remain silent in this situation, which can lead to a major catastrophe. The silence of those who believe in dialogue, peace and justice will only embolden the vested interests that are keen on escalating tensions between the two countries. We hope that the civil society groups and those who believe in non-violent conflict resolution will mobilize themselves by persuading both the countries to shun nuclear sabre-rattling and to engage in meaningful political dialogue, a dialogue which is time-bound and result oriented and leads to the eventual resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
The signatories are Abdul Majid Zargar, Chartered Accountant, Civil Society Activist, Adv. Parvez Imroz, President – Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor – The Kashmir Times, Dr. Altaf Hussain, Pediatrician, Civil Society Activist, Dr. Ather Zia, Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Gender Studies Program, University of Colorado, Dr. Gazalla Noor Amin, Secretary General, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Dr. Ghulam Qadir Allaqband, Consultant Physician, Dr. Javid Iqbal, Writer, Civil Society Activist, Dr. Mehboob Makhdoomi, Writer, Columnist, Dr. Mona Bhan, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, DePauw University, Dr. Mubeen Ahmed Shah, Ex-President Joint Chamber of Commerce and KCC&I, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, President – J&K RTI Movement, Dr. Shujaat Bukhari, Editor in Chief, The Rising Kashmir, Essar Batool, Author, Civil Society Activist, Feroze Ahmed, President – Human Welfare Voluntary Organization, Gowhar Geelani, Journalist, Political Commentator, Iftikhar Geelani, Senior Journalist, Mehmood ur Rashid, Columnist, Mirza Waheed, Writer, Mohammad Ashraf, Ex-DG of Tourism, Jammu and Kashmir, Mohammad Junaid, City University of New York, Mohammad Saleem Beg, Convenor – INTACH, Mohammad Shafi Pandit, Ex-Chairman J&K Public Service Commission, Monisa Qadri, Faculty IUST, Nusrat Andrabi, Ex-Member JK Wakf Board, Prof. Gul Mohammad Wani, Department of Political Science, University of Kashmir, Prof. Hameeda Nayeem, Department of English, University of Kashmir, President – Kashmir Centre Social and Development Studies, Prof. Noor Ahmad Baba, Dean School of Social Science, Central University of Kashmir, Prof. Siddiq Wahid, Ex-Vice Chancellor, IUST, Prof. Suvir Kaul, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania, Riyaz Masroor, Senior Journalist, Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker, Sanjay Kumar Tickoo, President – Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, Siraj Ahmed, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Syed Shakeel Qalandar, Ex-President FCIK, Civil Society Activist, Syeda Afshana, Faculty, MERC, University of Kashmir, Yousuf Jameel, Senior Journalist, Zahir ud Din, Journalist, Author, Zareef Ahmed Zareef, Poet and Civil Society Activist and Khurram Parvez, Human Rights Activist.