Repatriation of Stranded Pakistani Women:


 A Continuum Struggle between Blood and Hope in IOK

Mahwish Bakht;

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically transformed the meaning of state security. Countries like Afghanistan, China, India, Iran and Pakistan are striving hard to combat their internal security challenges. The defenseless people in conflicted zones are besieged with exigent contests and felonious laws. A new chapter of humanitarian crisis has been written in IOK’s history after 5th August, 2019. As BJP has ripped out the unique identity and autonomy of the disputed Kashmir region with tooth and nail. Now, it’s hard to figure out the human security and values in the bifurcated union territories. By snuffing out Muslim majority via socially, economically and politically, the international community is least captivated by the curfew imposed in erstwhile state more than 600 days ago. The vindictiveness of Indian government against Kashmiri Muslims have acted as an array of endless agony. The deceptive politics of BJP rule revolves around anti-Muslims like CAA or updated NPR laws; and anti-autonomous Kashmir region. With the abrogation of Article 370 and 35(a) and executing massive changes in administrative setup of Kashmir region, BJP regime consider it as opening of new avenues of development in “Naya Kashmir”. Under the Indian military governance, there are approximately 370 susceptible Pakistani and Kashmiri women from Pakistan wedged in IOK for more than two decades according to The Economic Times (2019) and Al-Jazeera (2021) reports. While protesting in Srinagar, they mentioned approximately 500 Pakistani families had resettled in IHK under the “Return and Rehabilitation Scheme” of 2010 announced by Ex-Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah and Ministry of Indian Internal Affairs. Interestingly, all have (majority are widows/divorced) Adhar Cards and their names are also included in the voter list of the area. These stateless subjects have faced eternal torments and caged in disputed region. Among them, there are 250 Pakistani side homeless Kashmiri women (mainly from Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Rawalakot, Kotli) trapped in disputed Kashmir. Indian administration has always shown averseness in the provision of Indian citizenship rights, identity cards and passports by citing them with two reasons: they are Pakistani nationals and living in IHK as illegal individuals. Hence, they all are demanding either Indian citizenship or deport them to Pakistan These Pak-women are living in uncertainties, facing endless curfews, identity crisis, children are psychologically traumatized, bearing animosity and subjugation from Indian armed forces publicly and privately. While under the Geneva Conventions (1906, 1929 & 1949), Indian state is responsible for instructing its armed forces to remain obliged to the International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) in peace and conflict time in IOK. Under Customary IHL Rule 134, Section A. General (Military Manuals) states that “India’s Army Training Note (1995) ordered troops not to ill-treat anyone and in particular women and children”. Contrary to this, the victims have faced detentions in IHK local jails for 2-3 years and still appearing for hearings in courts for their unproven offenses. However, Indian National Laws for Juvenile Protection (2000) doesn’t provide protection to Kashmiri children. Meanwhile, the local administration always deceive to the central authorities, agencies and embassies about their protection. The aforementioned women and children right protection case is indeed highly complex with the evolving political situation in Jammu and Kashmir region after 2019. The struggle of gaining legal identity, schools are not admitting their children, connectivity to their families in AJK, Pakistan and approaching higher authorities for justice are big challenging tasks for them. Although, the rehabilitation policy of 2010 promised them hassle free movement across the border but it has displaced and mortified them. The callous behavior of BJP government against Pakistani migrants in IHK is the serious violation of paragraphs 4 and 5 of UN Declaration (1974) on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict state and UNSC Resolutions (2139, 2165 & 2258). India has been ranked at 53 position by International Democracy Index (earlier it was 27 in 2019) due to the failure of good governance and crushing of civil freedoms, according to Economist Intelligence Unit report (2020). Meanwhile, the Freedom House (2021) has demoted India from “free” to “partly free” status shared with Ecuador, Mozambique, and Serbia. Like its democracy, the freedom of expression is dearth in India. Especially in Disputed Kashmir, as no one is free neither before nor after its manifestation including YouTube/ Twitter headquarters. Therefore, availability of fast internet services, free discourse of true realities and sharing unheard voices of Kashmir region to international audience is now tough spot. The security forces are arresting social activists, students, journalists and sealing news agencies offices under Public Safety Act (1978) those who publish or write against government’s acts in IOK on media. Currently, Indian Administration is applying its containment policy from individual(s) to institution(s) indiscriminately. In the era of technological advancement and role of public opinion in state affairs, his leadership is still practicing majoritarianism and authoritarianism to gain their national interests. By disempowering the Kashmiri Women from their basic human rights, GoI is setting an example of unprecedented oppressions in Jammu and Kashmir. In the presence of extended BJP’s imposed curfew in IOK, along with the statements of Afghan Taliban on Kashmir Issue has raised insecurity in New Delhi. To secure its strategic depth, counter Pakistan’s proximity, and inhibit the looming threat of Afghan Taliban alliance formation in Occupied Kashmir, India is going overboard for negotiations with Afghan government (2021). At the same time, GoI is blaming Pakistan for supporting militancy regionally but his brutal reign is ample in promoting armed uprising and anti-state sentiments among youth. As Indian EAM in UNSC (2021) mentioned we are not safe until we all are safe. Mr. Modi should pay heed to EAM’s statement by the lens of regional security complex theory with respect to his role in deteriorating the security situation in Occupied Kashmir after August, 2019, igniting conflicts within a conflicted zone, impacts of fueling rivalry against Pakistan internationally and threatening regional peace. India should learn lessons from rise of Taliban’s in Afghanistan and avow the significance of the enduring peace in Disputed Kashmir is associated with the peace and development of South Asia. The IHOs, Pak-MOFA, and Pakistani Embassy in India must undertake humanitarian interventions for immediate evacuation of their nationals from IHK. There is a dire need for long awaited fast clearance process for Pakistani migrants in IOK during pandemic. The GoI is entirely responsible for providing them human treatment under ICRC approved norms of Customary IHL. For future, both sides should expedite the SOPs for trans-border movement and people to people connectivity. These avenues can also assist in the prevention of prolonged Indo-Pak deadlock on Kashmir Dispute after 2019.