While the world has been engrossed in the US elections and mourning Brexit, 500 Kashmiris in Indian administered Kashmir were blinded over this summer. The modern-world’s first mass blinding. Kashmir has become a sinister purgatory place, where a Kashmiri’s sin, their plight for freedom, is punished.
Once known for its heavenly beauty, Kashmir is now home to the deadliest military occupation on the planet; all while world-powers continue to remain in their cushioned position of ignorance.
India has skilfully used a broad brush to paint Kashmiris in colours of terrorism. Rather than recognising that this conflict is impeached with Human Right’s violations which requires a political dialogue-based solution, India has conveniently labelled Kashmiris as jihadists and extremists financed by Pakistan. This indoctrination by right-wing media has allowed the country to slip out of this so called ‘terrorist problem.’ Although Pakistan’s involvement on the other side of the border is rightly questioned, the truth is you cannot instigate a mass uprising decade after decade through monetary or other incentives. And so, the emerging superpower, and the largest democracy in the world has management to gain its place in the world without ‘resolving’ the Kashmir conflict.
The (former) President of the United States (a country that love's meddling in people's business) Barak Obama declared the Kashmir Conflict as one of incredible importance on his critical to do's. This was before his first election, after which he has served as President Twice. Obama's final remarks on the Kashmir issue is that it is a "India-Pakistan Matter" and he was "happy" for them to resolve it amongst themselves.
Why is the international community ignoring the fact that India behaves like a rouge-state in one district, and secular in another. Fear of accountability and prosecution has been removed from the mind of the Indian forces. Reality is that 2016 was a bloody summer in Kashmir, as was 2010, 2008, and 1999; and there will be many bloodier summers to come. The truth is that this summer was the longest siege in Kashmir history, children have not been able to go to school for three months. Rape? Kidnappings? Why is it justified to perforate the eyes of over 500 people over three months? Majority of them youth? The pellets used by the Indian military to blind Kashmiris were used to hunt animals and blind prey in flight. The ‘non-lethal’ weapons are now banned in several countries around the world. Why is it okay to dehumanise Kashmiris and reduce them to the likes of animals? Indian forces attempt to justify themselves: they were on the streets; they were protesting against the government! Even so, democratic secular institution justify itself in this manner? Oppressing a province comprising of millions?
There appears to be a wave of hyper-nationalism world over. From Trump, to Brexit and India trying to bring the ‘Hindu’ back in ‘Hindustan’. In Pakistan it seems more so a wave of religious beaconing where we are plunging into a bubble of intolerance of minorities, we lack forbearance. In India, the likes of Arundhati Roy, who raised her voice against Indian oppression in Kashmir, illustrating it as “one of the most brutal military occupations in the world” threatened to face legal action for speaking against her country. She has also voiced her doubts on Pakistan’s involvement in the 2008 Mumbai Attacks (which as you can imagine, didn’t go down too well). Over the years, the Indian government has silenced citizens believing the esoteric notion of state-supported oppression in Kashmir, and has accused them of betraying their country. Conversely, soldiers of the Indian army fail to realise they are modern-day Janissaries, and are coached into thinking they’re protecting Kashmiris from themselves and are forming a citadel like protection over them.
Pakistan maintains Kashmir is its jugular vein. Although Human Right’s violations in Indian administered Kashmir is 43%, Azad Kashmir still reports 19% Human Right’s abuse. Pakistan’s love and support for Kashmir is far from unconditional, in fact I would label it slightly opportunistic. It’s but a mere coincidence that the largest nuclear Islamic country in the world only comes forth to support Kashmir when India’s brutality is on the rise. Pakistan ought not to be in this dream-like trance where it believes that it can echo its triumph against the Soviet Union, by helping (for the lack of a better word) Kashmiri’s fight against the Indian Army. Although yet to be evidenced, but Pakistan’s involvement, whether direct or indirect, has ended up harming the Kashmiri separatist’s movement.
Pakistan and India share a relationship of varying degree of love and hate. Which naturally is directly proportional to the situation in Kashmir. Both countries share an erratic narrative of blame over media which has engulfed the truth. They blame each other for meddling in Kashmir and Baluchistan respectively, all while the voice of Kashmiri’s remains conveniently silenced as a result of their hubris.
Simply put: the truth is the world does not need another Palestine, nor do they have the time. While Kashmiri’s are lamenting the lack of sympathy from the world, it is simply not that geo-politically important for super-powers to invest time, money, and above all effort.
Pakistan and India need to swallow a hard but vital pill: Kashmiris want Independence.
Unless India and Pakistan don’t put away their self-centred political agendas, stop brutality and listen to the voice of Kashmiris, it will not be brought onto the global stage.
Until then, Kashmir will remain locked away in a tiny drawer of a cabinet in our moral imagination.
Note: Inspired by Mirza Waheed at the Lahore Literature Festival in London
Published by Manahil Malik