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Kashmir – is peace possible?
By Asghar Ali Engineer

Every time there is move for peace, terror killing starts. This time too innocent Sikh drivers were pulled out of their vehicles and shot. Does it deserve to be called Jihad? Certainly not. I would also like to point out here that extremist violence in Kashmir cannot qualify for Jihad. Firstly, the Qur’an does not use the term Jihad for war or violence or killing, for that matter. For that other word qital has been used or its derivatives. Jihad in Qur’an means utmost efforts to promote justice, goodness, benevolence and controlling base desires. However, what we witness in Kashmir is mockery of Jihad. There it has degenerated into wanton and selfish killing. As far as Jihad is concerned one makes strenuous efforts not to harm anyone unnecessarily. There are several instances during the Prophet’s time when Muslims did not kill their enemy when they felt it would amount to killing the enemy for selfish reason. 

Apart from the fact whether it is Jihad or not what is important is to note that violence will not solve the Kashmir question. What has happened is enough of violence. Ultimately it is political solution which will bring about the final resolution of the Kashmir problem. In an age of democracy and human rights, violence has very limited role. If it was resorted to draw world attention to the problem it has served its purpose. The Kashmiri people have made enough sacrifice of their lives. More than 50 to 60 thousand people have already been killed in this senseless violence. How many more will have to lose their lives? And with all this can Kashmir achieve its freedom through violence? Then losing all these lives could have been worth it. Ultimately it will have to be resolved through negotiations. Then why not negotiations now to save many more innocent lives? 

If the extremists are fighting – as they claim - for freedom of the people of Kashmir, why this terror. Even the newspapers from Kashmir valley cannot publish what they want. If they do, their editors are abducted and killed or their papers are not allowed to be sold in the market. They are ostensibly fighting for freedom and making people unfree. With this culture of violence and extremism what will be the quality of freedom in Kashmir if it is subsequently won? 

India won its freedom through involvement of the masses and through democratic means and it developed a culture of democracy and this political democracy has survived in India despite many hurdles. The people of Kashmir had an excellent opportunity in 1990 to fight for their demands democratically as there was a mass uprising there against injustices perpetrated against them for all these years by the Central Government. But they lost that excellent opportunity by taking up guns. They thought, 'we will take up guns and azadi (freedom) will be now and here'. It was, to say the least, a gross miscalculation. 

Indian military and para-military forces have been alleged to have indulged in excesses and killed innocent people and raped women in several instances. If government of India puts a stop to these gross violations of human rights of people of Kashmir it will earn further support not only internationally but also from the people of Kashmir themselves. The people of Kashmir by now know fully well that the militants cannot be their saviours, as now they are fighting for their own survival rather than for freedom of people of Kashmir. If there is any honourable solution within framework of Indian union they will welcome it. 
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