We can curse Modi from here to Timbuktu for what he has done. We can mount any number of diplomatic crusades against the violation of its own Constitution by the Indian government. And, of course we can go around the world trying to rouse the global conscience against the blatant human rights violations in India-occupied Kashmir (IoK), that are being committed with complete impunity by the Indian troops now numbering over a million against the unarmed, besieged and terrorised citizens demanding azadi. We can also observe numerous Black Days to commemorate the shocker.
But can we change the new reality created by doing away with Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution? And remember, war is no option. On the face of it and as of today, it appears that this is going to be an irreversible development. The Line of Control (LoC) seems to have disappeared into thin air and a line denoting the international border has emerged in its place.
How have we reached this point of total impotence in our struggle for Kashmir — the land we call our jugular vein — and which we have been funding? Why could we not pre-empt this move which is being likened to the East Pakistan debacle in proportion? Shouldn’t we hold those assigned the responsibility of safeguarding our interests in Kashmir accountable? Of course, the argument against it would be: No, this is not the time for conducting such an exercise. We need complete national unity today — everyone on the same page. But that was the argument used when we failed to reach Srinagar before the Indian troops did in 1948; when we went to war in 1965 without any preparations; when the country stood dismembered in 1971 (Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report was never officially made public in Pakistan); when we lost Siachen; when we faced the ignominy of Kargil; and when the US Seals flew in and killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. Had we held those responsible for the long list of debacles mentioned above, accountable, perhaps August 5, 2019 would not have happened.
Realistically speaking, nothing has changed for Pakistan. IoK was a disputed territory for us even when Articles 370 and 35A were in operation and would remain so even after their abolition. But we would need to mobilise the world opinion in favour of our contention, now that the LoC has been forcibly obliterated by India, annexing disputed territory into the Union.
This is going to be an extremely challenging task because lately, the world at large had already started accepting the Indian claims that Pakistan-sponsored jihadi organisations Lashkar-i-Taiba of Hafiz Saeed, and Jaish-i-Mohammad of Masood Azhar, were actually behind the bloodshed in IoK.
Ours is a simple case. India, the world’s largest democracy, has failed to win the hearts and minds of a handful of peaceful people even after having kept them under forcible suppression for 72 long years. Over the last almost 30 years, New Delhi kept this population under complete subjugation, stationing a contingent of 700,000 armed-to-teeth troops with orders to shoot-to-kill even stone-throwing street urchins. Last year, they used pellet guns blinding hundreds of children. And now just before withdrawing the special status of IoK, re-enforcement by the thousands has been sent in. All political leaders, even those who had been siding with the Indian government like Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — all former chief ministers of IoK — have been jailed. The Hurriyat leaders are already in prison.
Pakistan’s case is based on principles. The Muslim-majority princely state belonged to Pakistan because that was the basis of the Partition of India — the two-nation theory. India’s case was that Kashmir’s accession validated the theory of secular nationalism on which it was founded. Now this argument of India has been invalidated by BJP’s Hindutva principle which means India is a Hindu state and all other religious minorities should either embrace Hindu religion or leave India.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2019.