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Yasin Malik’s life imprisonment sends a strong message to Kashmiri separatists, Pakistan First Post 01 Jun 2022
The sentencing of Yasin Malik resulted in every Pak entity, worth his salt, commenting on it, in addition to officially sponsored protests in POK. Yasin Malik’s wife, Mushaal Malik, had a week earlier, requested Imran Khan, whose anti-government march was to reach Islamabad on 25th May, to delay it by a few days so that the focus in Pakistan remains on Yasin Malik on the day of his sentencing. She had stated, ‘if you delay your long march by a day or two, it will make no difference to you. I know internal politics are very important, but Kashmir is more important.’ Yasin was sentenced to life imprisonment on 25th May.
Comments from Pak politicians were on expected lines. Shehbaz Sharif stated, ‘Today is a black day for Indian democracy & its justice system. India can imprison Yasin Malik physically, but it can never imprison the idea of freedom he symbolises.’ Bhutto added, ‘India can never silence Kashmiris’ voice for freedom and self-determination.’ The Pakistan army through its media wing, DG ISPR stated, ‘Such oppressive tactics cannot dampen the spirit of [the] people of Kashmir in their just struggle against illegal Indian occupation.’
The Pak foreign office summoned the Indian charge d’affaires to lodge its protest. The Pak government wanted India to acquit Malik of all charges and release him from prison. They also demanded that all other Kashmiri leaders be released from prison. Bilawal Bhutto even wrote to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on similar lines. A few days earlier the Pak National Assembly has passed a resolution expressing solidarity with Yasin Malik. Within Pak it has been projected as if India has jailed an innocent freedom fighter.
Pakistan even pushed the OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries) to issue a statement on Yasin Malik. The OIC’s human rights wing had stated that he was jailed on ‘concocted charges following sham trial in India. Such acts of blatant human rights violations against innocent Kashmiris are aimed at denying Kashmiris their legitimate right to self-determination. It not only constitutes travesty of Indian justice but also exposes claims of democracy.’ India countered these comments stating, ‘Through these comments, OIC-IPHRC has implicitly expressed support for terrorist activities of Yasin Malik, which were documented and presented in the Court. The world seeks zero tolerance of terrorism, and we urge OIC not to justify it any manner.’
What Pak misses out that none of the 56 members of the OIC independently issued any comment on Yasin Malik, aware that he was a terrorist responsible for multiple killings, subsequently moving towards terror funding, inciting and masterminding terrorist attacks, while claiming to talk peace. All OIC members, less Pakistan, abhor terrorists and their sympathizers. The comments by the OIC would have had value had it been backed by other nations.
Lack of support from OIC nations will never find mention in Pak media as it would emphasize Pakistan’s failed policy on Kashmir. Pakistan leaders were forced to comment as the ISI desperately seeks to keep the Kashmir issue alive, despite being aware that it has almost no takers in Kashmir. The Indian foreign ministry ignored all Pak politicians’ comments, while only responding to the OIC.
Yasin had limited options. He was aware that the case involving his killing of air force personnel has yet to be brought to court. By refusing to challenge the charges, he was projecting himself as a victim, rather than as an accused. His next case will come up in some timeframe, so would cases against Yasin’s accomplices. The move has begun and will not slow down.
In the valley there were sporadic protests which ended with a whimper the same day. With no funds to sponsor violence, only his ardent backers displayed some form of anger. Barely fifty people turned up at Maisuma, the region to which Yasin Malik belongs, during the announcement of his sentence. Shops were shut voluntarily. Internet was suspended for some time only in Maisuma remaining uninterrupted across the rest of the valley. A sharp fall for a man who could at one time command thousands to come onto the streets, pelt stones, disrupt lives by imposing hartals and openly challenge the state. The life sentence will ensure that he is forgotten with time. A death sentence could have made him a martyr, exploited by Pakistan.
The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a grouping of all Kashmir valley based political parties issued only a statement through their spokesperson, MY Tarigami, ‘The life sentence given to Yasin Malik is unfortunate and a setback to peace efforts. We fear that this will add to the uncertainties in the region and further encourage separatist sentiments.’ The reality is that peace talks were moving nowhere. With the Hurriyat redundant and all shots being called from Rawalpindi, any talks with Kashmir separatists were meaningless. Hence, in 2019, the government withdrew all privileges given to separatist leaders. Further, with Yasin out of the picture, valley politicians will be heaving a sigh of relief.
If Yasin Malik is considered a freedom fighter in Pak’s eyes and is fighting against Indian oppression in Kashmir, then the Baloch, fighting for independence from Pakistan’s illegal occupation of their homeland are also justified freedom fighters. The subjugation of Baluchistan with enforced disappearances, random killings and zero development more than justifies the Baloch demand for independence. Kashmir officially acceded to India with Pak refusing to adhere to even the first condition in the UNSC resolution, while it militarily occupied Baluchistan, despite signing a standstill agreement.
The sentencing of Yasin Malik is a message to all terrorist supporters and financers, that India will never forget. There were no comments against the sentencing from any Indian politician or leftist intellectual, implying Yasin had been dumped. Pictures of a broken and defeated Yasin Malik proceeding to jail displays the inglorious end of a man who once considered himself as the head of state of Pak aligned Kashmir. It is time India reminds Pakistan of its hypocrisy on differentiating freedom fighters from terrorists.