Outrage can make you comfortably numb and conveniently dumb. Case in point: us.
It has been three weeks since India re-annexed Occupied Kashmir. In these three weeks the Indian government has gone from cocky arrogance to vain contemptuousness to jittery uneasiness at the global reaction to its unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional step.
In these three weeks, the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir have gone from shell-shocked disbelief to unrestrained bitterness to volcanic anger that is now manifesting itself in spontaneous demonstrations in fearless defiance of the occupation force crawling over every inch of the re-occupied occupied territory.
In these three weeks, the government of Pakistan has gone from ill-prepared surprise to unpracticed response to de-motivated anger at its own helplessness towards the gravest of all provocations by Narendra Modi.
The scorecard is rather un-pretty: Indians are watching their arrogance gradually evaporate in the wake of Kashmiri defiance; Kashmiris are watching the world let them suffer on their own without batting an eyelid; and Pakistanis are watching their state writhe in uncontrollable agony fuelled partly by manufactured fury at having been upended by India on the one policy that defined all our policies.
Three weeks is enough time to digest the shock of August 5 and apportion blame where it rightfully belongs. Three week is also enough time to figure out what to do next. And three weeks is more than enough time to differentiate between “doing” for the sake of doing and “doing” what makes a difference. No surprise then that India’s re-annexation is spiraling down the global public opinion charts; no surprise then that Kashmiris in re-occupied Kashmir are back on the streets after the initial few days of quiet; and no surprise then that Pakistan is wallowing in the deep pool of its flawed and ill-conceived Kashmir policy.
What makes it worse is that Kashmir’s “muqadma” is the most righteous of causes. Legally and morally everything favours us. Kashmir is an internationally recognised disputed territory, Kashmiris are virulently anti-India, and India has broken every rule of the global rulebook to subjugate the Kashmiris through brutality. Everything is wrong for India in Kashmir. Everything is right for us. As if this wasn’t enough, India went ahead and re-occupied an occupied land while flouting all international laws and its own Constitution too.
And yet we are short of options? And yet we are caught napping? And yet we are struggling for support?
Truth is a powerful weapon. That’s why states and governments and peoples in positions of authority fear it. Look at the pathetic condition of the hapless and pitiable Indian media. If ever there was a case of watchdogs turning into lapdogs, here it is. The Indian government fears the truth in re-occupied Kashmir. It fears the reality of Kashmiris’ defiance.
Truth is a powerful weapon. That’s why India is not the only state and government that fears the truth. You bludgeon a watchdog into becoming a lapdog and you suffer grievously in the long run. But short-sighted states and incompetent governments only realise this when the damage is done.
The truth is that citizens of Pakistan have a right to be furious. It is a right forged in the flames of a nationalism that promised us victory in Kashmir at all costs. The citizens of Pakistan invested in this nationalism because this nationalism was rooted in a righteous cause. This investment, we were told over the decades, would pay dividends. And so we waited, and waited, and waited…
If only the Pushtun militias had captured the Srinagar airport in 1947, we were told; if only we had taken Occupied Kashmir during the 1962 Sino-Indian war; if only the Indians had not crossed the international border in 1965; if only “victory” would not have been lost in Tashkent in 1966; if only the Kargil operation had been better planned with clearer objectives; if only the Musharraf formula for settlement of the LoC had been accepted — and if only Modi had not ripped apart Article 370 and re-occupied Occupied Kashmir.
If only, if only, if only…
So here we stand today — hapless in our helplessness — while Kashmiris heroically take on the might of their brutal occupier. Here we stand today with our rousing speeches and motivational tweets; here we stand today with our valiant songs and emotional skits displayed at rallies across the cities and towns of Pakistan; here we stand today with politicians in Raybans hurling verbal thunderbolts at New Delhi and media persons in flak jackets conducting faux shows that will “highlight” the cause; and here we stand today doing the only real thing in our control — ensuring headlines and airtime for our fashionable fury.
That’s the sum total of our seven decades long Kashmir policy. The citizens of Pakistan have a right to be angry.
But wait. Wasn’t there something something in the UN Security Council? Or something something said by this, that and whatshisname leader? And isn’t there something something that will be a game-changing speech at the UN General Assembly session? And of course how can we forget the demonstrations in world capitals and sloganeering that deafens the roar of the international community and vindicates our position, and that we are, of course, on the path to redemption.
So let us ask questions that every citizen of Pakistan has the right to ask: Will speeches at international forums make any difference to India? Will we be able to sway the permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council to pile pressure on India? Will our traditional allies Saudi Arabia, UAE, China come out fully in support of our righteous cause? Can we make the UN General Assembly condemn India’s human rights violations in re-occupied Kashmir? What options do we have to revoke India’s annexation of August 5 if international forums, organisations and bodies do nothing?
Who dare answer?
The fiery flames of our fashionable fury may help us deal with our demons but they do little to hurt India or help the Kashmiris. India will lose Kashmir, that much is written. But when that happens, sadly, it won’t be because of us but despite us.
Perhaps it is time we learnt to emulate the iron will of the Kashmiris. Their struggle is whispering something to us, as is the history of all such struggles against occupation. If we talked less and listened more, we may grasp a thing or two.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2019.