Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s remarks may have surprised many in the policy circles but the history of the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader’s interest in Kashmir dates back to late-1980 when he visited the Valley and delivered a sermon at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid.
By Javeed Ali
On July 3, Supreme leader of Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, raised the Kashmir issue again. This time, he referred to Kashmir while delivering a lecture to the high ranking members of Iran’s judiciary including Chief Justice, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani. The leader called on Iran‘s judiciary to pursue issues like Kashmir and Myanmar legally and adopt official position on such international issues. This is the second time in a span of 10 days that Imam Khamenei has referred to Kashmir. Earlier on June 26, the leader, during his Eid-ul-Fitr sermon, urged the Muslims worldwide to support the people of Kashmir who, according to him, face oppression even during the fasting month of Ramadan.
The revolutionary leader told a gathering at Tehran’s Great Musalla (Prayer Ground), which was also attended by Iranian President and top military commanders, besides diplomats from Muslim nations, that the Islamic world must explicitly support the oppressed people of Palestine, Yemen, Bahrain and Kashmir. “They must express their disavowal and aversion of tyrants and oppressors who assaulted them in the way you saw even during the month of Ramadan.”
Like previous statements of Imam Khamenei on Kashmir, this was also welcomed by prominent leaders, journalists, analysts, lawyers, thinkers and those people who want a final settlement to Kashmir dispute. It comes under the important parameters of Iranian policy to support the oppressed people throughout the world, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. The commemoration of Quds Day, which was founded by Imam Khomeini (R.A.) to express solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine and for their liberation from the clutches of Israel, is one such endeavour to stand with the oppressed people. This day is not only meant for the Palestinian cause but for all oppressed nations across the globe against all oppressors. Islam teaches us that human conscience must take account of any atrocity taking place anywhere in the world and we must speak and denounce such acts. Even a single word of condemnation, which is spoken against the oppressor, comes under the purview of noble cause.
Kashmir is very close to the heart of Imam Khamenei. He is fully aware about the daily sufferings and miseries of Kashmiris and has always expressed his concern. He seriously desires a sustainable solution to Kashmir imbroglio so that Kashmiris can live in peace in their own land.
Imam Khamenei visited Kashmir in late-1980 and went to Grand Mosque of Kashmir, Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, where he offered Friday prayers which was then led by Late Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq. The leader then delivered a 15-minute sermon, which was hugely applauded by thousands of people present there. The sermon played an important role in further strengthening the bond between Shias and Sunnis in Kashmir.
Imam Khamenei has touched the issue of Kashmir number of times. On May 25, 1990, the leader said: “Everywhere in the world where there is a Muslim community, they receive a much harsher treatment compared with others. Kashmir is a contemporary example for this. Muslims there speak out their rights. Anyone who is informed of what Kashmir has gone through, knows what Muslims of Kashmir express is nothing but truth and justice. Those who silence them have an unjust cause. Those who attack them are the ones who are doing the wrong action. Sadly the world watches all this in cold blood.”
On September 11, 1994, Imam Khamenei stated that for the Islamic Republic of Iran, the issue of Kashmir is an issue of humanity and Islam, since the Muslims here are subject to oppression and tyranny. He said Iran has always expressed to the government of India our abhorrence towards what is being done to the Muslim people of Kashmir and the country will continue to express the same feelings in various circles. On April 12, 2001, the leader said that the issue of Kashmir will also be solved in the best way which guarantees the rights and interests of the people living in this region so that they will be provided with peace and comfort.
In 2010, Imam Khamenei on three occasions conveyed a message to Hajj pilgrims wherein he stated: “The major duties of the elite of the Islamic Ummah is to provide help to the Palestinian nation and the besieged people of Gaza, to sympathise and provide assistance to the nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Kashmir, to engage in struggle and resistance against the aggressions of the United States and the Zionist regime.” The Indian external affairs ministry then had issued a demarche thrice since June 2010 in that year to Iran over what it called supreme leader ‘s ‘adverse’ remarks on the Jammu and Kashmir issue. It had followed India’s vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In April 2017, Iran’s envoy to Pakistan, Mehdi Honardoost, expressed the willingness of Iranian government to use its special influence to mediate between the conflicting parties on Kashmir issue and help bring sustainable peace in the region.
Without being expedient and taking into consideration the commercial interests, the Supreme leader always spoke on a just cause of Kashmir and also highlighted the need to solve this long pending issue calling it an issue of humanity.
Imam Khamenei wants humanity to solve the Kashmir dispute as per the wishes and aspirations of people of Kashmir and that’s the main reason his eminence has said that Kashmir is an issue of humanity. But he can never allow violence of any measure in Kashmir perpetrated by any party or group. He can never say anything which goes against the principles of Islam. Supporting Kashmir cause doesn’t mean to support violent means like the recent lynching of a DySP Mohammad Ayoub Pandit at Nowhatta in the premises of Jamia Masjid.
The statement of Imam Khamenei should not be construed as if he backs the violent means of achieving a political goal. Stone pelting or any other means of violence in Kashmir can never be justified in context of Islamic principles. Islam can never permit anything which is detrimental to peace of anyone belonging to any sect or religion. We need to ponder that violence can never bring any resolution to Kashmir tangle. Violence has only brought destruction to Kashmir and India and Pakistan are least bothered about it.
Moreover, strikes or Hartals, which only snatch the right of earning livelihood through legal means, is not a well-founded strategy to achieve a cherished dream. It should be evaded as it only harms Kashmiris than the enemy we are confronting. Furthermore, it has been proven beyond doubt that keeping our businesses shut for months achieves nothing. It only makes us economically dependent on others. Everyone has to earn a livelihood to sustain his or her life. But when shutdowns become a norm, how can a person earn legal earning?
Depriving a person to meet his ends is certain to make him a possible criminal, thereby harming him and the society at large. Besides, we can’t keep our children educationally backward. They need to attend classrooms to groom their talent and compete with the world. We can’t afford to keep children away from schools and colleges. Let them read for Kashmir and for its final settlement. Illiterate people can do nothing conducive for Kashmir. Why we need to shut our schools and colleges for us to attain our desired goal? It’s a foolish act which is only damaging our cause in the long run. Moreover, the atrocities committed by all quarters should be condemned. We should avoid selective condemnations which we usually do as per our requirement and line of thought.
Let’s fight for the cause of Kashmir in the true spirit of Islam without any violence or bloodshed which I believe is the reflection of recent statement of Imam Khamenei. We cannot afford to lose our youth endlessly. We need them for our present and for the future of Kashmir too. Kashmir’s leadership should formulate a well thought-out strategy which can save our youth and also moves the struggle to its logical end.
(The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Oracle Opinions.)