CAN ISLAMABAD LAUNCH A “BDS CAMPAIGN” INSPIRED BY PALESTINIANS IN KASHMIR

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The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) late last month denounced India’s removal of Kashmir’s special status and called on the Narendra Modi government to respect human rights and refrain from changing the demographic structure of the territory, and settle the dispute through the United Nations. Pakistan has been pushing for months for meeting like this one that took place in June this year, and the OIC had been slow to respond.

Conspicuously, individual Arab Gulf states have also not been forthcoming since last year offering tepid or muted responses, or no comment at all. Worse it gets when both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates even expressed tacit and implicit support for India’s repressive and anti-democratic measures in Kashmir, with the former dismissing New Delhi’s abrogation of Article 370 as an internal issue, and the latter arguing it would improve social justice and security…and further stability and peace.

The Kashmiris, who stood up for the reinstatement of their special status, soon found themselves in a never-ending military lockdown. It has been fourteen months that the Kashmiris are being denied their fundamental rights to life. Every now and then, news floats, which states the firing of pellets on a Kashmiri congregation. These pellets are lethal to the extent that the victims are continuously reported to have lost their eyesight while many are losing their lives. The vulnerable Kashmiris seem helpless in every aspect. Recently, the president of Azad Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan, proposed a BDS movement to counter the Indian State oppression, which has been in effect before at similar Israeli oppression of the Palestinians.

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions was a movement first established in 2005. It was initially based on the principle that the Israeli oppression of Palestinians is unacceptable and that the 57 members of OIC should abide by this movement. The idea behind is the international recognition of the oppression being caused by a state on any other nation or a group of people. In this case, the movement demands the Muslim majority states to boycott the oppressive Indian state and grant the Kashmiris equal rights as for the rest of humanity.

The term boycott suggests that India has to be boycotted on all grounds. It includes boycotting on cultural grounds, the education institutes, sporting events, and most importantly, all the local companies and the Indian based multinational companies. Divestment refers to the pulling out of all the investments previously done in the Indian state.

These could be in the form of pension funds, banks, and international institutes. It also involves pulling investments from any international company that assists or backs the Indian oppression in Kashmir. The last clause of sanction points out that the government and states should bear the responsibility and end all the businesses immediately with the Indian state. It also comprises the idea that all the military trades and free trade agreements should be brought to an end with immediate effect.

It also demands all the abiding members to pressure international forums such as the United Nations, SAARC, etc. to suspend the Indian membership.

Far from stability and peace, the situation for Kashmir’s 8 million residents has moved from dire to catastrophic during the past year. India has not only escalated its military presence and anti-militancy operations in the Muslim-majority territory, but has also granted domicile rights to non-Kashmiri Indians, specifically those who have resided in the territory while serving in the military, or educational and civic institutions.  More than 25,000 domicile certificates have been granted in the past six weeks alone.

The reoccurrence of the BDS movement in Kashmir is due to its similarity with the Palestinian state. With many commonalities, there are quite a few differences when compared to the Palestinians. The differences, however, only portray the worsened Kashmiri position than the Palestinians.

The Kashmiris are deprived of their fundamental right to determine along whom and where they want to live. The demographic changes in Kashmir are the same as the Palestinians. However, the Zionists were unable to cause any significant change due to the population differences between them and Palestinians. The case, however, is different in Kashmir.

It will hardly take two to three years until there will be radical changes in Kashmiri demography. Another common ground between the two oppressed states is the stationed military and armed forces that do not shy away from using arms to attack the locals. Many reported cases go unnoticed where the victims as young as ten years are reported to have lost their eyesight if not their lives. The motives behind the stationed militaries are religious in both cases.

In an international virtual conference convened in Istanbul on Sunday and Monday, both Khan and Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz called on both the United Nations and Organization of Islamic Cooperation to take immediate steps to stop India changing demography and distinct identity of the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

There are some differences between the two, the ones that only demonstrate the worsened state of Kashmir. The Palestinians are represented in many considerable international forums. It has been identified by 138 members of the UN and is a non-member observer there.

Palestine is a member of the Arab League, OIC, and the G-77. Kashmir, however, has always been a disputed territory, let alone qualify as a nation and then be represented anywhere on the international forums. This makes the Kashmiri global political position too weak to be recognized. All this, combined with the feeble support they receive from the fellow Muslim states, represents a very weak case of Kashmir globally.

This is Pakistan throwing down a direct challenge to the OIC, calling upon Muslim-majority countries to implement immediate and concrete measures to disrupt India’s effort to carry out demographic change in Kashmir.

 The intelligentsia in the Arab world and their naïve public became aware of the anti-Muslim stance that the Indian establishment possesses. The Indian affective intelligentsia now seems to leave their Indian friendly claim. This causes difficulties for the Arab rulers to continue their supports for the Indian governments. There might not be a better time to start the BDS campaign with all the mighty and immediate effect.

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