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Kashmiris liken post-Trump deal Palestine to own region

Trump deal akin to what Indians did to Kashmir -- taking away everything and saying it's for your own good, says expert

Hilal Mir  | 29.01.2020 - Update : 29.01.2020
Kashmiris liken post-Trump deal Palestine to own region

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

As expected, U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his so-called peace plan for Palestine on Tuesday, touching a raw nerve in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir, which was stripped of its autonomous status in August last year.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, both experts and locals argued that unilateral solutions to long-standing issues like Palestine and Kashmir, would not work.

"The deal offered by President Trump is akin to beating an injured man and persuading him to accept it as treatment. The deal once again shows how oppressed peoples have been used as pawns in both domestic and international politics by world powers," asserted Farrukh Fahim, an academic at the University of Kashmir.

Support for Palestinians runs high in Kashmir, with thousands having taken part in street protests against the Israeli bombing of Gaza in 2014, and boycotting Israeli products. Pro-Palestine slogans are a common sight on the walls of the capital Srinagar and other rural towns.

Kashmiri leaders and Pakistan have often expressed concern over India's close relations with Israel, with New Delhi being the largest buyer of Israeli arms and Israeli experts training Indian security personnel. Further, India was one of the 15 countries that abstained from voting on a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council condemning Israel for perpetrating violence in Gaza last year in March.

Altaf Ahmad sells blankets in Srinagar, which has been dubbed Kashmir's Gaza Strip for its pro-freedom demonstrations and clashes with Indian forces.

After learning of Trump's so-called "deal of the century" in the morning news bulletin, Altaf told Anadolu Agency: "It [Trump deal] seemed similar to what Indians did to us. Took away everything from us and then tried to convince us that it is for our own good."

Last year on Aug. 5, India revoked the special status, or limited autonomy, to Indian-administered Kashmir — a region subject of dispute among India and Pakistan.

Kashmir's previous status had prevented Indians from buying land or seeking employment in the region. Its inhabitants now fear they will be overwhelmed demographically and that "Israeli-style" settlements would be built in Kashmir for Indians.

Noor Ahmad Baba, a retired political scientist, said the only positive thing about Trump's deal appears to be the realization that no political conflict could be left unaddressed.

"But more importantly, it tells us that you cannot address these issues unilaterally. Therefore, Trump's deal appears to be no deal at all. This has the lessons for Kashmir. You cannot change its political character unilaterally. This cannot happen. You have to address this issue in all its dimensions, internal as well as external," Baba said.

He stressed that Kashmiris should consider changing global realities and renegotiate their terms so that, like Palestinians, they could have a life of "dignity and honor."

For Sheikh Showkat, a political analyst and former law professor, Trump's so-called peace deal holds both reasons for hope and foreboding.

"Kashmir is not as central to the western world's priorities as Palestine. But a resurgent China and a deepening partnership between India, the U.S. and Israel are changing that. The world can no longer ignore Kashmir," Showkat said.

"As of now, I don't see Imran Khan on Trump's side, like Netanyahu, accepting a raw deal on Kashmir," he added.

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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