Even in the midst of this hideous pandemic, the conflict in Kashmir continues unabated.
Whoever dies — civilians, soldiers, or militants — people are killed, women are widowed, and so many children orphaned.
One could – without directly comparing this conflict to the novel coronavirus – call the struggles in and around Kashmir a kind of slow-motion pandemic.
An Associated Press estimate on Sunday stated that since 1989 nearly 70,000 people have died violently in the tension and conflict centered in or around my beloved native land.
That statistical nugget was found in the concluding words of a news story about a hostage-taking, an Army assault to free the captives, and a total of seven more deaths – five in the Indian Army, and two rebels.
And in the days just before that, two Indian soldiers died in a separate skirmish, a Pakistani soldier was killed and three civilians on either side of the India/Pakistan border lost their lives in what reporters designated “another bout of fighting.”
As long as Indo-Pakistan relations remain strained, not only will the solution of the Kashmir question recede further and further into the background, but even the peace in the subcontinent will hang by a thin thread.
This situation is obviously fraught with disastrous consequences not only for India and Pakistan but also for the rest of South Asia.
Kashmir is a small place. One might designate it a tiny speck which could be wiped out of existence as all this violence swirls. There is more to Kashmir than that, of course, yet it is important to look at this question in the broad perspective and urge a settlement accordingly.
We want a lasting and peaceful settlement of this question, and the people cannot be ignored. Therein, I have always emphasized, lies honor, peace, and progress for all concerned.
What a grace, a blessing, it could be for all the people of the region to open – or perhaps to reopen – to hopes of decades not so long ago, when colonialism faded but had not yet been replaced by resurgent ethnic and religious antagonisms.
A conflict can never be tri;u solved by resorting to war. If Pakistan thinks it can destroy India by war, that is ludicrous. Similarly, if India thinks it can annihilate Pakistan, it is equally foolish.
The results of conflict are fresh in our minds this day.
NOTE: Dr. Nyla Ali Khan’s essays appear frequently in newspapers and on websites around the world, including in The City Sentinel newspaper and on CapitolBeatOK. This reflection is expanded from an earlier post. A native of Kashmir, she recently became a citizen of the United States.