Keep on Mounting the Pressure on India Over Kashmir

Source: BBC/Getty Images

Source: BBC/Getty Images

The last thing an Indian nationalist wants to talk to you about is Kashmir. It’s because looking the other way when it comes to Kashmir has become the defining factor for the Indian nationalist. And it’s not just Kashmir. From Parveena Ahanger to Soni Sori and Irom Sharmila, there are many voices slapping the brutality of the Indian establishment that are discounted every day.

But don’t get me wrong. This does not imply by any means that the fire inside the Indian nationalist has died. They are ready to come at you harder than ever when the question is asked, especially now with an upper hand in the national politics, but their response would be anything but about Kashmir. It may be about Baluchistan, about radical Islam, about the treatment of minority groups in Pakistan, about what sort of hell Pakistan has become. But hardly ever about the subject under discussion.

Probably the only reason for that is that other than conscientious objectors in India, only the people and the government of Pakistan realize the moral responsibility to speak out about Kashmir for the most part. Despite the allegations and/or possible militant interference. Despite being a country “inspired by terrorism.”

Even the honorable Prime Minister of India, who is the true voice of his most avid followers, had similar answers to offer on Kashmir. Nothing substantial and a lot of embarrassment.

This only goes to show the moral state of the Indian nationalist mind. But more than that, it also gives you an insight into the priority that Kashmiris hold in India. It shows how much Indian nationalists care about the people of their inseparable part, and which worsens the feeling of isolation among Kashmiris.

Source: AP/Dawn

Source: AP/Dawn

There is no doubt that the Kashmiri freedom movement has had overwhelmingly Islamist tilt since the insurgency of the 1980s, backed by the Pakistani establishment. However, since its defeat, the Indian state has not had much to offer to the Kashmiris either. It has failed to win hearts and minds, like so many other border states where Pakistan was not a factor. It’s about time the Indian people realize that the brutality of their establishment is not always about retaliation to Pakistan’s interference.

A war of words on Kashmir, as long as it remains a war of words, is always going to be a losing battle for the Indians because there really is nothing to defend there. The way to hurt an Indian fundamentalist nationalist the most is to target where it hurts the most. Their nationalistic pride.

You cannot possibly defend shooting more than a million pellets aimed right in the eyes of your people. You cannot possibly defend killing dozens of those young protesters. But the plight of the Kashmiri people is far more than just the recent unrest.

Indian Occupied Kashmir is one of the most heavily militarized regions in the world, where thousands have been killed. According to independent observers such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, rape is used as effectively an instrument of war and domination in Kashmir, as well as the impunity with which the security forces act. You don’t have to be an expert to know that Kashmiris in the valley are treated as second class citizens.

Pakistani nationalists display a similar attitude toward Baluchistan, so Prime Minister Modi’s comments about it should be the least of Pakistan’s worries. Again, it is a matter of waking up to the human rights abuses going on in your own backyard. The recent disappearance of journalist Abdul Wahid Baloch is the latest of the unanswered question marks and a very serious one too.

But bringing up Baluchistan as a response to a question about Kashmir and vice versa is only indicative of the lack of interest in even addressing the issue at hand. Such arguments can be expected from twitter trolls, not from the leadership of a country. Though sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference.

Source: Ahmad Kakar/new-pakistan.com

Source: Ahmad Kakar/new-pakistan.com

But it is bad news for the Pakistani dove who wants unconditional peace with India. Modi’s comment potentially offer legitimacy to the argument that Pakistani establishment and nationalists have been making for years. This is particularly counterproductive as the focus toward Taliban and Islamist militants could shift back to India as the primary enemy. But that is not India’s problem. It is Pakistan’s problem, and unfortunately, the warmongers on both sides enable each other.

What the Indian nationalist fails to understand is that not everyone is interested in Kashmir defecting to Pakistan. Not everyone is even interested in the independence of Kashmir, even though these suggestions may seem to be the only relief to the troubled Kashmiri people.

Despite the history, if the Indian government and military start treating Kashmiris with a little more respect, the entire rhetoric about the Kashmir issue could disappear. But the fact remains that neither Kashmiris, nor the rest of the Indians have a remote understanding of each other’s viewpoint and have little in common. The cultural divide between the two makes the problem even worse.

However, whenever the Pakistani stance would move forward to actively support militancy in Kashmir, particularly through Islamist militants, the entire moral side of the argument is sabotaged. It only takes the world’s attention away from India’s brutal treatment of who are supposed to be their own citizens. This is where the support and freedom given to the likes of Hafiz Saeed must be discontinued.

Let’s keep mounting pressure on India when it comes to Kashmir. But it would only work effectively when we officially remain confined to a war of words.

A version of this post was originally published in The Nation blogs.
Advertisements

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.