Can India and Pakistan be equalized on Kashmir?
From a long time, I have observed a particular bunch of people have become habitual of drawing a weird analogy between Pakistan parts of Kashmir with the one under India occupation.
They push this absurd analogy by constantly posting stuff related to it on social media and through closed-room discussions.
This repeated line of thought, packaged and repackaged, apparently does not hold any truth. But the very idea of promoting the constant propaganda seems to be distorting history and criminalize the role of Pakistan with respect to Kashmir.
We can’t draw analogy between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. How can we equate the two Kashmirs? If we do compare, we implicitly accept that Pakistan is committing gross violations of political and human rights in Azaad Kashmir, just like Indians are doing in their portion of Kashmir from past 70 years, specifically from last 30 years.
This needs to be understood that India-Pakistan analogy on Kashmir is a politically neutral statement. It sounds good to Indian ears. It makes the state instruments believe that if Kashmiris doesn’t likes them, they don’t like the Pakistan either. This act of balance provides them with an escape route to keep their vested interests, lying with the state, intact. By equating the two, they do not embarrass India, neither have they made them ever angry.
This bunch of people talks about the pro-freedom politics as well on public forums. It keeps them relevant in Kashmir. It helps them to remain in circulation and gather the limelight. By the way pro-Indian politicians like Engineer Rashid, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have also reminded India about the dispute. Sheikh Abdullah did it in the past to cull more favors from the New Delhi.
However, while doing so, this bunch of people does one thing; they limit their criticism to the extent which will not hurt the Indian interests. Their talks are so measured that it fits into the ambit of democracy as defined by India in Kashmir.
By treading this path, they make it sure that they would rub their shoulders with social, cultural and political circles of India. Hence, their whole effort is focused to get accommodated within the larger spaces of the state to live an easy life.
One thing which we forget is that, in Kashmir, if one is politically balanced, it means he/she is siding with the status quo. It simply means you are toeing the statist line. I think they are willingly doing it.
Such people, who are always comparing India and Pakistan on Kashmir, are only visible either behind the key boards or in the coffee shops. I have never seen even one of them working on the ground to help the oppressed. But when they hold keyboards, they are masters at reinterpreting the political sentiments of the oppressed to suit their own ends. For them, talking about Kashmir is just a time pass, an issue which will bring attention and fetch them a good job, mainly in India.
Having said that, it does not mean there are not genuine nationalists in Kashmir. The nationalist constituency is large in the region. I have always kept them in high regards for their belief, their steadfastness, and their idea of political freedom as Kashmir being an independent nation, and their relentless struggle for which they are suffering day in and out. Their immense contribution in the freedom struggle since 1960’s is open to all eyes.
Recently, I found the genuine nationalists too were concerned about this coffee sipping bunch of people. They too seem to be puzzled and shocked over the consistent stream of propaganda unleashed by them to criminalize the Pakistan. They told me they were extremely angry since it is ridiculous to compare Azaad Kashmir with the Indian controlled Kashmir.
“How can they do it,” a Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader told me. “There is no comparison between the two Kashmirs. Their idea seems to have the sole aim; to criminalize the Pakistan- which is the only supporter of Kashmir cause. This line suits the Indian state only. We reject this line. We see it as a grand game being planned behind the curtains”.
There is difference between criticizing Pakistan and running a constant malicious campaign to put India and Pakistan in the same bracket. Inherently, it is a false analogy and smacks of dubious politics. There is striking resemblance in this thinking of Qureshi’s, Chodhwry’s and these handful of individuals. Who knows they are working for the same master?
Let us put the Kashmir partition into right perspective. It will help us to understand whether the comparison between India and Pakistan is absurd or not:
- Pakistan had no army in 1947. The small army, headed by General Gracy, a British General, refused the orders of Mr Ali Mohammad Jinnah (founder of Pakistan) when the Indian army entered Kashmir. The General said he can’t go against the Indian army since it was headed by a British commander. He simply refused to comply with orders.
- The people of Gilgit Baltistan, precisely Gilgit wazarat, along with the Gligit scouts, led by the British army commander, rose against the soldiers of Mahraja led by Gansara Singh. They defeated them. They waited for weeks for the Pakistan to come and take over the affairs. Later they themselves merged with Pakistan. Besides, the Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan region were not part of Kashmir in the treaty of Amritsar, the official document by virtue of which Kashmir was sold to the Dogra rulers. The Mahraja coerced people there to join them, leading few military campaigns as well, after British left the GB region. As such, the people of GB, who were forcibly taken into the princely state headed by maharaja, had every right to decide their political future in 1947.
- The fight to liberate Azad Kashmir was led by the people of Mirpur and Poonchis, who were mostly ex-British soldiers. They rebelled against the Mahraja before the Tribals from Pakistan’s Waziristan region entered into Kashmir. After they secured the region of Poonch and Rajouri, they called the Pakistani army. It took Pakistan eight months to deploy its meager troops in the region.
- The Pakistan later ceded large parts of Poonch and Rajouri regions, thinking the plebiscite would be conducted which never happened due to India’s refusal.
- The Kashmir valley did not erupt in 1947 since it was politically divided. A large portion of people sided with National Conference led by Shekih Abdullah while the rest were with the Muslim conference. The Tribals entered after the Poonch rebellion started. The nascent Pakistani state had helped them, but it was purely done as a Muslim goodwill gesture. The tribals were told that Maharaja was treating the Muslim subjects badly, that they were suffering, which later became the cause of their arrival to Kashmir. They wanted to free Kashmir from the rule of a communal despot. The propaganda unleashed by the pro-Indian forces including NC was such that it changed the whole narrative, depicting them as barbarians. The truth was that only a handful of Tribals went back alive.
- Apart from this, the Kashmir issue has been kept alive by the Pakistan even as the Indians wanted to settle the Kashmir question way back. The Indians repeatedly offered Pakistan to keep the portion of Kashmir which they had, and they will keep the one under their occupation.
Now the question is how Pakistan had occupied the part of Kashmir which lies under its control. These facts can’t be buried under layers of lies.
The Pakistan has not deployed more than half a million troops to repress the people, neither people in those parts have risen against the state of Pakistan. The Pakistani state had always talked about the participation of Kashmiris in any talks aimed to solve the Kashmir dispute. India had always rejected it. They have termed Kashmiris as the one who will decide their destiny, as major stakeholders, which Indian state has refused to recognize. They have advocated the UN sponsored plebiscite, which Indians refuse.
How does then Pakistan can be equalized with the India on Kashmir? And how Pakistan shares equal burden with India which has led to suffering of Kashmiris? Or which option Pakistan has not utilized to push India for talks?
Abandoning the long held position on Kashmir, in 2005, former Pakistani president and military dictator General Parvez Mushrraf went to the extent of saying that Pakistan was ready to demilitarize the region provided India does the same. He said let Kashmir, specifically valley, self rules. India again refused.
The Pakistan as a state might have done lethal mistakes in dealing with Kashmir, but equating them with India, is not justified. This smacks of dishonesty and dubiousness.
The truth is that Sheikh Abdullah backed the accession with India, played instrumental role in bringing the Indian army. The Pakistan did not supplied guns to Kashmiris in 1988; yes Kashmir crossed the Line of Control asking for guns since they were stung hard by the Indian state. Why we lie? Kashmiris asked for guns.
The Pakistan is the only country which advocates the Kashmir cause. They are the one who raise the issue internationally. Now I will be told that countries have interests when they do such things; yes they do have. But for them Kashmir now is more of a baggage due to which they had suffered as a country. They did not left us and put their own country at stake just for ideological reasons. They have survived without us for 70 years; they can do it for next 70. The Indus water treaty has survived all wars. If it would have been all about the water resources generating from Kashmir, they would have struck good deal with India for securing water rights and abandoned Kashmir cause.
It does not mean they should not support the Kashmir movement. Being a party to the Kashmir dispute and well wisher of Kashmiris since it shares ideological, cultural historical and religious connections with Kashmir, the country has to aid Kashmiris who are fighting their war of survival. They have to highlight the cause and the brutal repression led by the Indian state inside Kashmir. We should understand that Kashmir issue is alive internationally because of Pakistan. Take out the Pakistan equation; it appears the Kashmir issue, for which people have sacrificed lives and had given everything, is nothing other than a petty squabble between India and Kashmiris. It has no significance then.
As being oppressed, Kashmiris need to build alliances and differentiate between friends and foes. The Indian freedom fighter Subash Chander Bose sided with the fascists during the World War 2. He did it despite knowing the politics of fascism. The Palestinians never speak against India despite it is a close ally of Israel. They do it since India supports a separate Palestinian state. Our acts politically and diplomatically should be mature. Imagine if our lone supporter stops supporting us then what is going to happen? The voice will not reach even New Delhi.
Those people, who have left no stone unturned to criminalize Pakistan, are straight forward lackeys of the state. Their very act of drawing analogy between India and Pakistan is giving legitimacy to the status quo
I am not against the people making political choices. It is ultimately up to the people of Kashmir, who are struggling, dying and suffering, to decide their political destiny as a collective unit. They have the right to decide whether they want to remain an independent state, or with Pakistan or India, but spewing unreasonable venom against somebody is nothing, but a mere propagation of lies for small petty interests.
Let the good sense prevail.
This article was originally published here.
(Author is a journalist. He tweets at @waseemkhalid.)
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.