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OP-ED: Nations divided by history

  • Published at 05:12 am August 3rd, 2021
A region divided

Numerous internal conflicts continue to plague the world

There are many nations and communities that became divided after years of animosity, but were later reunified. 

The reunification of Germany is the best example of such reunification. Vietnam, Romania, and Moldova are also living peacefully as one ethnic community or based on nationalism.

North and South Yemen’s unification in May 1990 formed the present Republic of Yemen. Yemen has topped the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with women and children, and especially infants, bearing the brunt of the civil war.

Many historians argue that China should also be listed as a unified country following the rise of the Communist Party. But the controversial invasions of Tibet and East Turkestan (Xinjiang province) have provoked a political crisis after ethnic Tibetan and Uyghur Muslims refused to accept the Chinese Communist Party’s hegemony.

Thousands have fled the region, including the most revered Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, after the invasion of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Today, the ethnic Tibetan and Uyghur are dehumanized and marginalized, and the majoritarian Hans from central China govern the nation.

Cyprus remains divided since the slice of cake is shared by the Turkish and Greek military. Despite their United Nations-brokered peace, the rival countries refuse to withdraw troops occupying the picturesque island.

Korea is another bitter example of a split-up since the Korean War (1950-53). North Korea remains under the hegemony of China. The giant neighbour provides military aid and spoon-fed economic benefits to the despotic rule of the Kim Il-sung dynasty. The reunification of Korea remains a far cry, and the tears of thousands of separated families in Korea have dried.

In South Asia, however, several ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural communities have been divided by a thick line since the partition of 1947. The British colonialists deliberately wanted to divide Punjab and Bengal. Their prime annoyance was that native revolutionaries against the British Raj were fortunately born in Bengal and Punjab.

Pakistan, months after independence in August 1947, sent troops to forcibly occupy an independent Balochistan. It was also able to grab a chunk of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in 1948, and still retain the territories. The annexed “heaven on earth” is “Azad Kashmir,” governed by a puppet administration handpicked by the generals in Rawalpindi GHQ.

Both the United Nations and the OIC have shown cold feet on the issue of Kashmir. The UN Security Council Resolution 47, adopted on April 21, 1948, concerns the resolution of the Kashmir conflict.

Before 1947, J&K was a princely state under the British Raj, and was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja. With the declining British Empire, it was decided that the rulers of 584 princely states would be given the option of “accession” with any new of the countries of India and Pakistan, or remain an independent nation-state.

The raiders of Kashmir were recruited from the fiercest Pashtun warriors, and the Maharaja fled to Delhi and signed an accession treaty in October 1947. The clandestine invasion happened with the full knowledge of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and a green signal from Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan.

Promptly, India took the matter to the UN Security Council and claimed Pakistan’s armed barbarians had attacked J&K, which was Indian territory. The UN Resolution 47 urged that armed Pakistan nationals and tribesmen be withdrawn. Similarly, India must withdraw its military and hold a plebiscite (referendum) to determine the future of the people of Kashmir.

Neither India nor Pakistan have any intention to withdraw troops, and the neighbours have fought four wars over Kashmir. Meanwhile, the Pakistan spy agency ISI regularly infiltrates militants and jihadists to give a strong message that they have not forgotten Kashmiri Muslims.

Kashmir is one of the world’s few countries where truce along the Line of Control (LoC) remains elusive, because of “high walls” that leaders have built between the nations.

Saleem Samad is an independent journalist, media rights defender, recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He can be reached at [email protected]; Twitter @saleemsamad.