Citizens Against War

WE COME TOGETHER TO STAND UNITED AGAINST WAR

We are together in our opposition to the unilateral air strikes by India’s air force on Pakistan in the early hours of 26th February 2019 and the counter strikes by Pakistan’s air force the following day. This has created a war like situation between the two countries.

The Indian government’s justification for the same was the terror attack on the CRPF convoy on 14th February 2019 at Pulwama that killed 40 paramilitaries. No words can be strong enough to condemn this or any other act of terror. However, an act of terror does not justify or legitimise the Indian government’s actions that violate the principles of international law. Equally, we also condemn Pakistan’s government and army for providing refuge to and harbouring non-state actors who encourage and engage in terror.

We recognise that terror arises and gains ground in society when democracy is undermined by governments and state forces are employed to deny people their political rights. Such is the desperation of the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir who for all seven decades of India’s independence have been denied a democratic voice in airing their political aspirations. On an unprecedented scale, over the past four-and-a-half-years the incumbent BJP government in Delhi has used state forces – police, paramilitaries and the army – against civilians to put down peoples’ voices. The people’s sense of marginalisation and despair has never been greater.

The present government led by the BJP, who along with the RSS, has advanced the Kashmir dispute as one solely caused by Pakistani promoted terror and infiltration. For BJP, targeting Kashmiris and Pakistanis has been the BJP’s route to demonise Islam whilst promoting a crude narrative of nationalism around the RSS’s ideology of majoritarian Hindutva. In the days following the Pulwama incident, physical attacks against Kashmiri students, workers, migrant labourers and so many more led by BJP-RSS vigilantes have been met by near silence Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Now war has become the weapon for advancing jingoism and bigotry in the language of nationalism and is dividing and polarising society and the people. Sadly, the media, especially television news, has played up this manufactured nationalism and have converted their studios into “war rooms” at the service of ruling forces. The hurriedly orchestrated Indian aggression is nothing but a heinous strategy by the Modi government to ensure their re-election.

We learn from the history of the Kashmir dispute, of the wars and conflicts between India and Pakistan and the history of war across the world and over time that war resolves nothing. War allows conflicts to fester and differences to grow. War causes economic hardship not for the rich but for working people, the poor, the down trodden. Forces from both sides come from these disadvantaged backgrounds and lose their lives. War does more than that. It has economic costs that take decades to repay. It destroys lives and livelihoods. It divides society. It divides people.

The only way forward in the conflict between India and Pakistan is to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute. We stand together as concerned citizens, as citizens who represent peoples’ organisations, social movements, the trade unions and the progressive civil society at large:

We call upon the governments of India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue.

We call for restraint. We call for peace.

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