Views from Srinagar
THE concussions from post-Wani Kashmir have undoubtedly hit our collective imagination in Pakistan – it represents a Kashmir as a paradise that has seen curfews, deaths, banned newspapers, suspended internet and pellets. Ever since protests began, this Kashmir somehow sneaked its way in on prominent Pakistani channels viewed by millions of Pakistanis across the country, even if it lasts few minutes. If these images were not enough to lift eyebrows among public, our PM Nawaz Sharif left no stone unturned to stimulate and showcase support for the Kashmiris (Indian side). The government narrative is unambiguous – all Pakistani citizens stand for Kashmir in one voice. Or is it really so?
The dilemma is that our current stand on Kashmir crisis might be sending unintentional signals across the border. Our realities in Pakistan have noticeably changed and we have come a long way from the 90s era. In today’s Pakistan, our domestic issues take precedence over all other things. Today, India-bashing does not guarantee winning elections. Anyone familiar with Pakistan’s state of affairs would endorse that Kashmir was not a major feature of political campaigns during 2008 and 2013 elections. The 2008 elections kept us occupied with ‘long marches’, civil rights movements and freedom for judiciary. By 2013 elections, PTI was drawing larger crowds on the slogans of ‘insaaf’. Throughout this time, all major parties opted for non-hawkish stance towards India and apparently stayed hushed on Kashmir.
However, with emergence of Modi politics in India, things have changed fairly quickly. PM Nawaz Sharif who began his current tenure with peace-overtures towards India suddenly went for U-turn. He, at one point took domestic criticism for Ufa-diplomacy by going out of the way to accommodate the Indian premier. Nonetheless a year later from Ufa – he seems to have put his peacemaking ambitions on the backburner and appears to deal aggressively with Modi led India. In recent PaK elections, India-bashing was everywhere to be seen. The famed, fearless and outspoken Asma Jehangir felt compelled to label Modi as a ‘cunning fox’.
So what’s so wrong with India? Why did peacemakers and notable personalities among us suddenly felt the need to turn up the heat? Part of the answer lies with Modi-politics in patronizing sense of denial in India.
Last month, Rajnath came to Islamabad for interior ministers meeting at SAARC regional summit. The focus was expected to be regional – not bilateral. However he was fully equipped with his country’s bizarre philosophy. He came to sell the narrative that by some stroke of miracle we were contributing to an unmistakably indigenous Kashmiri uprising. His eye-wash on Kashmir not only managed to turn SAARC into a bilateral event but he unconsciously contributed in raising Kashmir at an international forum. Modi – the man himself has pioneered the art of deniability. He cynically gibed with reference to Balochistan and so-called ‘PoK’ in a very unskillful manner while India struggled to hoist its flag on I-Day in Srinagar. Their accomplice, Mehbooba Mufti doesn’t feel the need to worry since these trouble-makers are no more than five percent of the population.
The ultimate idiocy came from Manohar Parrikar. He believes we Pakistanis are living in hell.
The hell that Parrikar was referring to is rather relevant to India’s siege of Kashmir more than anything else. No one unfurls Indian flags in PaK, Gilgit Baltistan or Balochistan. We have not witnessed suspension of internet services in Muzaffarabad or Gilgit to keep calm on our streets. On the other hand Mehbooba Mufti has no explanation for merciless curfews and pellets, or justification for maintaining AFSPA in a state where she thinks only a minority are creating trouble.
Nonetheless, BJP-PDP nexus are handicapped with their inability to see larger scheme of things. As though they are the workhorses– trying best in pursuit to appease their masters in New Delhi. They failed to visualize that their hate mongering towards Pakistan may temporarily satisfy an intolerant India but it won’t substantially contribute in bringing normalcy to Kashmir. Sadly, in the midst of this tussle, none of these politicians showed any sign of remorse, empathy or sympathy towards countless deaths and pelleted Kashmiris.
Indian army’s conduct in Kashmir is sufficient to vilify India on any given day. They were expected to introspect and acknowledge that this wave of discontent could only be resolved by India and India alone. They should have been looking for solutions from within Indian borders rather than harping on our involvement in Jammu & Kashmir. It appears that India is still living in the past and has not moved on from the 90s era. India’s ignominious sense of denial dissociates them from any problem solving ability.
The irony is that growing intolerance in India quelled voices of sanity during the crisis. Any sensible citizen would ask if this could have happened in New Delhi? Could protesting residents of New Delhi be under siege like this? Would we have witnessed a two-month long curfew, murder of protestors or shutting down newspapers? The answer is – No! So how does this siege and subsequent killings become justified in Srinagar? A stone-throwing protestor cannot be equated to an armed militant by any stretch of argument. Civilian protestors have to be treated differently than the militants.
Gone are the days when India could blindly lay blame anywhere and get away with it. Gone are also the days when we hijacked indigenous Kashmiri movement. One only hopes India to realize that burying its head under the sand and point at Pakistan isn’t going to solve its problems. The sooner India understands this, the better for it.
—Courtesy: Rising Kashmir, Srinagar.