Pakistan, and indeed most Kashmiris, have rejected the decision by the Narendra Modi government in India to grant domicile certificates to thousands of Indian citizens living in occupied Kashmir. The move is Modi’s latest attempt to change the demographics of the disputed region by allowing people who have no ancestral ties to the area to claim local residency. In many cases, these will be government officials, including security forces, giving the ruling BJP the ability to also change the political structure of the region. The insidious move also allows the children of government officials who had served in IOK to claim domicile, even if those children have never set foot in the territory. This would allow them to steal jobs, educational opportunities, and land from actual Kashmiris.
The effort has been moving along steadily since May, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 33,000 people have applied for domicile certificates since mid-May, and a whopping 25,000 have already been approved. Unsurprisingly, a large number of certificates have been issued in areas where the demographic balance skews Muslim. This would be key to influencing any eventual plebiscite in the region, which is required under the UN Security Council Resolutions regarding the disputed territory.
The “bogus domicile certificates”, according to the Foreign Office of Pakistan, are “illegal, void and in complete violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and International law including the Fourth Geneva Convention.” Pakistan also reiterates that “the recipients of the domicile certificates must know that India has no legal authority to bring in and settle people from outside” the disputed region. Unfortunately, as much as Pakistan tries to call the world’s attention to this issue, it has become abundantly clear that the world leaders don’t care about disrupting economic ties with the Modi government over the rights of Kashmiris. They are more than happy to let millions of Kashmiris know that billions of dollars in trade with India are worth much more than their lives.
The fact of the matter is that, even excluding India’s closest allies in Russia and US President Trump, Europe alone could set India straight. But then who would buy Rafale aircraft?
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2020.