“This is a holy war”, said Imran Khan, “we are with them, because we want to please the Almighty” — and by this, the Prime Minister has become the first contemporary Muslim leader to exalt the cult of Jihad that had acted at the personal or syndicate level, and was akin to the Kharijite concept and alleged to be terrorism — of the wider and credible meaning of Jihad that is performed under a legitimate state authority. But the question is, are we ready for a strife that will drag our youth into a war, and for a holy war that can easily turn into a holy nuclear Jihad? Is this what we expected of the PM? Has he not been too swift in going from an “ambassador of Kashmir” to a war-fanatic?
What we wanted from the state was diplomatic activism. We wanted the state machinery to be absolutely vocal about the Kashmir crisis, go to all diplomatic fronts and repeat the Kashmir narrative so loud that the issue would become a permanent feature in the conscience of the international community and that humanity would feel the burden of this impending genocide of the Kashmiris right upon their instant memories and soul. But had we wanted the state to drag us to war?
The thought of war is painful. We have witnessed the devastations of war not so long ago and not very far from us. We have seen the Afghans battling for their freedoms for over 17 years now; we have seen complete cities converted into rubble in Syria and Libya; we have seen migrants fleeing for their lives in the millions; and we have seen these wars leaving millions of deaths unreported. So are we ready for all that?
But in retrospect, what were we expecting to achieve with our diplomacy? Diplomacy is not mere rhetoric, as many presume. In fact we must pay heed to the notion that we are all humans and humans communicate by way of spoken words. Nations are sets of individuals and in the community of nations relationships are built on the words we say to each other at the state level. But can we keep on saying things that we don’t really mean? No, we have to convert our words into actions too. We can’t say we are going to teach India a lesson and will stand with the Kashmiris, and then let business prevail as usual. We have to cut our economic ties with them, we have to deny them our airspace, and we even have to gun down their air force the moment it enters our airspace. Yet have we contemplated what the eventual goal of our whole diplomacy is?
Our diplomacy in the matter of Kashmir is a little complicated. When Kashmiris were being inflicted torture and abuse for so many decades, we voiced for a Kashmir that would be free to choose its own destiny. We had wars with India but eventually wanted a peaceful resolution to the issue. But with India’s annexation of India-occupied Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, the scheme of things has taken a completely new dimension. Now India has made a move that poses an existential threat to Pakistan.
For 17 years, Pakistan has suffered the adverse effects of the war in neighbouring Afghanistan. Pakistan’s involvement in a war being waged across its borders was, among others, also to keep India out of Afghanistan. Not because we despise India having peaceful economic relations in the region, but because India was more active in anti-Pakistan covert missions than it was in economic activities in the 24 consulates it had made in Afghanistan — most of them on the Pak-Afghan border. One must reckon that the phenomenon of terrorism was unknown to Pakistan before the US invaded Afghanistan and India was provided a safe haven to enter Afghanistan under the protection of the US/Nato complex. This terrorism that peaked in 2009 was eventually countered with largescale military operations by the Pakistani Army. But interestingly this phenomenon of terrorism was effectively curbed only after a major US withdrawal in 2013, after which the Indians also lost their foothold in the country.
Considering the ambitious nature of Indian foreign policy that allowed it to attempt crossing Pakistan and fix its clauses inside Afghanistan, one cannot be oblivious to the fact that in doing so and in befriending Iran with the Chabahar project, India would be completely encircling and choking Pakistan — not only with its covert operatives but also economically. Only Pakistan’s policies have disallowed India to succeed in its ambitions, both in Afghanistan and Iran. But immediately after that defeasance, India has now attempted to hanker into Kashmir, perhaps with the intention to tighten its grip around Pakistan from this direction — and certainly to be able to direly alter Pakistan’s economy and security — weakening Pakistan to the extent that Kashmir would become a direct pathway to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
It is not that Pakistan’s own interests overshadow the desperate human rights situation in Kashmir which has been multiplied by the repeal of Article 370, as India’s intentions in Kashmir will never be fulfiled as long as the Kashmiris keep resisting and hindering India’s complete control over the state — which is what will lead to the inevitable genocide of the people of Kashmir at the hands of an Indian imperialist mindset. We are human, and we are beaten down by the everyday torture, abuse and killing of our brethren who live not outside but inside the bounds of our own state. And this is our diplomacy. A diplomacy based not on any duplicity but on the intense truth of the suffering of a human community. And the eventual goal of our diplomacy is to end not only this cancer of atrocities in IOK, but also to end the ever-impending fear of India’s decadent ambitions over Pakistan.
So are we ready for this call for Jihad? Should we remain in a state of abeyance under India’s intentions of completing its horrors on the Kashmiris and become emboldened to extend its claws into Pakistan? Should we glue ourselves in a passivity that urges us to view India as a successful secular democracy with peaceful intentions or should we open our eyes to India’s realpolitik, which is not a submissive politics but an aggressive and imperialistic one?
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2019.