Why You Should Be Wary of Pakistan’s State Propaganda About Kashmir

Source: Dawn

Following the shocking move of the revocation of Article 370 that grants special autonomous status to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Central Government in India has cracked down on civil liberties. The state has been in a virtual state of a shutdown for more than 10 days and restrictions such as suspension of landline are recently being eased.

The Central Government in India has incarcerated the major political leaders including former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, his son Umer Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti. The Hurriyet leaders are a no-brainer. The state is under a communication blackout to this day and only one major protest has been tolerated to date. Anyone within India and outside with concern about democracy and human rights was appalled by the situation. However, the malicious Indian right-wing in their urge for greatness have sadly turned a blind eye to this coercion.

Of course, this sudden and shocking development slowly provoked a negative reaction in Pakistan. The country’s ruling party PTI came back with a Modi/Hitler and BJP/RSS/Nazi Party analogy campaign. They and the Prime Minister are still going in full flow against the Modi administration. This came after a rather mellow speech from the Prime Minister in the joint session of the parliament, in which he criticized the “fascism” of the Indian government and for locking up the entire opposition. This immediately attracted criticism and right after the speech, the PML-N leader of opposition Shahbaz Sharif accused him of being a worse oppressor of the opposition than the Indian government.

However, many commentators did not take a lot of time to point out that Pakistan had little credibility to lecture India on violation of democracy and human rights, thanks to its own dismal record at home. Currently, Pakistan is making headlines around the world on curbing the press while jailing the entire opposition and other dissenting activists. Designed to appeal to its global audience, the bombardment of tweets of its social media team of copywriters and graphic designers on overtime were particularly embarrassing and disconnected to history.

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While there is little doubt about the fascism of BJP, it is more comparable to that of the Pakistani Islamist nationalists supportive of the Pakistani military and the PTI itself instead of Nazis in Germany. And if we are at comparisons of Nazi’s treatment of the Jews, the treatment of Ahmedis in Pakistan strikes an eerie similarity. Furthermore, Pakistan has done far worse in East Pakistan, tribal areas, and Baluchistan than what India can ever hope to do in Kashmir. The following tweet is actually more accurately reflective of how the right-wingers on both sides are indeed coming together to validate the two-nation theory.

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There are a couple of reasons why the Pakistani administration’s official narrative reeks of intellectual dishonesty. Pakistan does not recognize the problem created by the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits (Native Hindus) from the valley. Furthermore, analysts such as Tariq Pirzada are openly inciting violence or genocide against any Hindu citizens that settle in Kashmir. Aren’t elements of Pakistan promoting communal supremacy in the State too? And if that is not the case, why is the mention of Hindu Pandits absent from the communication of Pakistani propaganda.

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Now you can dismiss this as an opinion of an individual but the Pakistani state has backed Islamist militancy in the State for a long time. Not only this influence has resulted in the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the State but has also seriously hampered the legitimacy of the Kashmiri struggle for autonomy.

Some of the Kashmiri Pandit opinion leaders on social media, especially the notable actor Anupam Kher, often sound bitter and quite a few of them have been cheerleading the draconian measures of the BJP government in Kashmir. However, such voices should not mislead the focus on the need to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits in the valley. Any political resolution in the valley is incomplete without their voices.

Pakistan’s so-called moral case of Kashmir on the international forum is plagued with its own share of hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty. The following tweet of the Pakistan Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, lauds China, Pakistan’s usual partner on the Security Council forum, for “as always standing up firmly on principles and upholding international law.” Though you can be pretty sure that Madame Ambassador would never have bothered to call China out on the treatment of Uighur Muslims (something where PTI’s Nazism and “Final Solution” analogies are conveniently missing) since she is such a huge proponent of principles and upholding international law. Even though some people would be laughing at a Pakistani diplomat invoking principles and international law.

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Pakistan would like you to believe that India is already committing. There is some degree of truth to the targeting of Kashmiri Muslims by the Indian state in recent years, well before the Modi administration, but the Islamist trends in the Kashmir separatist movement are the major reason behind them. To this date, the Prime Minister is continuing his tweets to condemn Narendra Modi as Hitler and his party as Nazis. That also raises questions about the maturity of this narrative. Does this mean that Pakistan has rejected the Indian administration and will not engage in talks with them for peace in the future?

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Pakistan has already taken the issue with the United Nations, which has disapproved of India changing the status of Kashmir. But that is where its influence ends for now. While it is positive to see that India is being held accountable at some kind of international platform for its recklessness but that still does not legitimize the reckless misrepresentation of facts and intellectual dishonesty of the Pakistani Prime Minister and the ruling party who could themselves be criticized for their own fascism any given day.

Another Moment of Our Insignificance

Source: dawn.com

Source: dawn.com

It was that moment again. The moment that you would anxiously dread for your entire life. Just like dreading war in peace time. Just like anticipating an intruder without a gun.

It feels like staring at death. In sheer terror, you scramble to save your life, leaving behind all this dear to you, except your life. Something which you are condemned to carry with you.

Looking at everything you built, waiting for it to crumble down.

Thankfully, many of us escaped the ruthless blow of Nature, but many among us did not.

On October 26, that fateful day, the earth shook again, and almost swept everything away. And only those who live through the disaster, those who survive it, could tell you what it felt like.

And for those who could not make it, let’s keep them in our thoughts forever. For it so easily could have been us and our loved ones, as they are.

The Afghanistan quake was 7.5 strong on the scale. Some were calling it the worst earthquake in the history of Pakistan, but I knew they were wrong. It was nowhere near as devastating as the 2005 Kashmir quake, that I ironically wrote about just weeks ago. But it was pretty devastating nevertheless, especially for the people of KP, Northern Areas and Afghanistan.

And believe me, we can never understand the pain of those who lost their loved ones and homes.

But that’s not all what this week brought. It also .

In Rawalpindi and Islamabad, it had already been overcast and rainy for the past two days. And on the eastern dawnsky, Mars, Jupiter and Venus were converging in a magical astronomical display, only to be repeated after decades.

I missed it. Two days after the quake, I managed to find clear skies on the morning of the 28th. With what I had, I managed to take these.

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Maybe, some of you could spot Mars if you look hard enough. If you have the time for it, that is.

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Looking up at the sky at that moment was a different feeling altogether.

A feeling of significant insignificance.

If I Were an Indian National…

Every Pakistani, whether they admit or not, is bonded with India, a mass of land we also refer coldly to as the sub-continent. Making that point clear, I would like to say that it is not difficult for me to understand a veiwpoint loyal to the Unity of India, to which I have no problems at all.

Because after all, I am an Indian too, despite the fact that I was born in Pakistan and am a Pakistani national. But despite all that, most of all I am a human being before and more than anything else. But this is really not what I am writing about here.

What I write about now concerns humanity more than country or politics, which are the least of my concerns. I want to write a few words on the violence in Jammu and Kashmir. Although I have been refraining to make any comment on the subject at all, but my conscience had the better of me, which was an indication that at least some part of it was indeed alive.

I have had a few Kashmiri friends so I have some idea about the problems faced by Kashmiris and what they really want. In fact, if any one of you makes the effort, which is not hard to do, you can easily put yourself in a Kashmiri’s shoes in order to learn how they feel and what they have been going through.

I understand the presence of Indian Armed Forces in Kashmir, and I also understand the difficulty of India’s position as far as the troubled State is concerned. But despite all that, I have to say that encouraging and approving of the violence and atrocities going on there out of patriotism for India is simply inhuman to me.

While some people may object to this piece due to the fact that why a Pakistani is speaking out against the violence in Kashmir, I would simply like to say that I would have done the same and would have felt the same way If I were an Indian National.

I would simply say that humanity should be held supreme to politics and patriotism, read armies brutally murdering defenseless citizens.

But thankfully, at least the Indian media is covering the matter relatively sensibly this time around, although not to the Indian ultra-right, since some people in the media are acknowledging India’s mistakes and asking questions of how the government is handling the matters there. The educated in India are certainly offering me, if not the Kashmiris, a ray of hope towards the resolution of the problem.

Amid all the nonsense and the insensitivity of brutal rightist patriots, I cannot help but admire the honesty, the daring and the outspokenness of people like Arundhati Roy, who indeed has a soul of an artist. But really while I tried hard to approve of all that violence, I figured out that I would have to cease to be a human being first in order to do so.

At least she has the guts to say that Indians are not doing something right in Kashmir. I cannot help but feel sorry for the insensitivity of the patriot scholars who call her a traitor. I do not consider them educated. A loyalist to humanity is greater than a patriot to a nation. But it is nothing new. People who speak the truth have often been labeled as traitors , such as Asma Jehangir on the other side of the border.

As for the Indian patriots complaining why Kashmiris want “Azadi” or “Freedom”, ask the question to Kashmiris. Had they been living in peace, would they have  ever demanded it, even if the idea was injected by foreign infiltrators from Pakistan? Would have they not rejected it because thinking that way would be treason?

To my mind, the Kashmiris do not care about what will happen to them as long as they can be free, even if global and neighboring regional powers make the land their battlefield, since it will be up for grabs for them. Things can hardly get any worse for them than whatever has been going on for more than two decades now.

While I acknowledge and condemn the exodus of the majority of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley at the hands of the extremists there, I cannot help but notice the oppression of the majority of Kashmiri Muslims at the hands of the Indian Security Forces there as well, trying to be as impartial to both these groups as possible.

Had all this been happening in Pakistan, I would have condemned it still. Had I been an Indian, my opinion would not have been any different. I condemn all such acts, whether carried out by the Indian or the Pakistani army, by the Indian or the Pakistani police or by any other authority-abusing-citizen-terrorizing-so-called-law-enforcement-authorities anywhere around the world.

I condemn violence and I condemn injustice.

Courtesy: The Hindu

But it is not hard for me to imagine at all, that if my family were killed by the Indian forces, and if my mother, or my sister, or wife, or daughter, or any other female friend were raped by the Indian Forces, then surely my patriotism for Indian would fade away there and then.

There is just no other way to it.

It is a well-known fact that among all conflict zones occupied by armed forces around the world, Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir has the highest count of sexual assaults made on women. I am not really a supporter of the Kashmiri Freedom movement, but if that is what the Kashmiris of both sides want to live in peace, let it be, even if that hurts the Indian and Pakistani egos.

But for those who want to do so, to my mind the best way to help Kashmiris right now is to leave them on their own, so that they can find their way to freedom themselves. Freedom is never granted, but it must always be earned.

I don’t want to sound audacious but Kashmiris in the Pakistani Occupied Kashmir are living much more affluently, comfortably and in peace. At least even if no real economic relief is being offered to them, they are generally living in peace, without which how can you ever have peace of mind and pursue any further socioeconomic advances? I know that because I know them and they freely live among Pakistanis as equals, not as rebels.

Still they ask Kashmiris why they want freedom. Pretty much like asking a dying patient why he needs a doctor.