Communists call for solidarity with Jammu and Kashmir

CPC demands that Canadian government oppose war and respect the right of national self-determination

The Communist Party of Canada has released a statement condemning the Indian government’s attack on the national rights of Jammu and Kashmir. On August 7, India passed legislation abrogating Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional special status and denying it of its right to Indian statehood. “In the process,” warns the CPC, “the reactionary government of Narendra Modi has fanned the flames of ethnic and religious division, regional conflict, and war involving nuclear armed states.”

The CPC also denounced the response of the Canadian government, calling it “feeble and opportunistic.” So far, the only official response from the government has been a single, five-sentence statement of concern from Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, in which she “encourages consultations with affected communities.” Noting the danger of war, the Communist Party demands that the Trudeau government take steps to “play a productive, democratic role in avoiding regional conflict and war.” The Party also calls upon the Canadian government to defend the national right of self-determination, “in Jammu and Kashmir, and throughout the world including in Canada.”

The following is from the Communist Party statement:

Jammu and Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in India. At the time of independence and partition, it joined India on the insistence of a majority of its population, who defied the proposal of both their feudal ruler and the British government for an independent princely state. They also rejected the proposal to join Pakistan, fearing that feudal and religious interests would dominate. The agreement to join India included guarantees of autonomous rights, which became crystallized in Article 370 of the Constitution, such as its own constitution and legislative jurisdiction.

The border disputes that erupted with Pakistan, escalating into the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947-48, were deliberately encouraged and supported by the British government which wanted to provoke division and retain a separate, isolated and weak client state in the region. Foreign interference, especially from imperialist states and organizations, has continued to distort and undermine democratic and peaceful efforts to resolve the conflict.

Modi’s BJP-RSS government has consistently promoted the irredentist dream of “Greater India” based on Hindu nationalism. By dissolving the state of Jammu and Kashmir, dividing the territory, and placing it under direct control of the central government, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act threatens to silence the voices of millions of Muslim Indians and replace them with Hindu nationalist rhetoric. Alongside his legislative attack on Jammu and Kashmir, Modi unleashed a military attack by flooding the territory with troops and imposing a lockdown. Telecommunications and public transport are closed down and thousands of people have arrested, including the leaders of all major opposition parties. People who have violated the imposed curfew have been shot and killed.

Shortly after the lockdown was imposed Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated that India’s future adherence to a no-first-use nuclear weapons policy “depends on the circumstances.” This was a clear threat to Pakistan, whose Prime Minister Imran Khan warned that inaction against India’s assault on Jammu and Kashmir will mean “two nuclear-armed states get ever closer to a direct military confrontation.” The risk of a regional war is clear and dangerous.

Despite this urgency, the response of the Canadian government has been completely inadequate. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has only issued only one 4-sentence public statement, in which she made a general appeal for “meaningful discussions and consultations.” The government has not criticized India’s attack on the national rights of Jammu and Kashmir, nor the military crackdown, nor the Indian government’s escalation of nuclear threats against Pakistan. Thousands of people in Canada have denounced Freeland’s statement and protests have been organized across the country, but the government has not responded.

This is a clear case of the Canadian government acting on behalf of corporations in Canada, placing the interests of capitalist profit far ahead of those of peace and human rights. India is a key economic partner for Canadian corporations – trade with India is currently at around $8.4 billion and increasing, and the Trudeau government is eagerly continuing its efforts to negotiate a CEPA with India. Conversely, trade with Pakistan is much lower, at around $1.2 billion, and is declining. More notably, foreign direct investment (FDI) from Canada is $2.6 billion with India but only $31 million with Pakistan, indicating that Canadian capital relies heavily on investment in India for its profit.

Canada’s weak intervention in this dangerous situation is also connected to the question of national rights. A key feature of the multinational Canadian state is the domination of the English-speaking Canadian nation over other nations, including Indigenous nations, Quebec, and Acadia. For the Canadian government to speak out in support of the right to national self-determination for Kashmir would immediately open the same question within this country. The Trudeau government will not risk this – instead, it relies on national inequality within Canada as a way to maintain corporate access and control over resources and territory.

The Communist Party of Canada demands that the Canadian government act immediately to oppose war and respect the right of national self-determination by:

·      Calling upon the Indian government to withdraw its security forces and end the lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir;

·      Denouncing India’s posturing about first-use of nuclear weapons;

·      Supporting democratic and peaceful efforts to resolve the crisis, under the auspices of the United Nations and centred on the right of Jammu and Kashmir to national self-determination.

Furthermore, the CPC demands that the Canadian government develop and pursue its own independent foreign policy of peace and disarmament, and recognize and implement the right to national self-determination within Canada.

The above article is from the September 16-30, 2019, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.