The recent overtures of peace between India and Pakistan are rather extraordinary not only because of the suddenness at which they have come into existence but also the speed with which they are gaining momentum. The developments are indeed welcome step in the direction towards peaceful and sustainable resolution of decades old Kashmir dispute that has virtually destroyed Kashmir’s formerly plural society, economy and dented its future prospects of peaceful, stable and prosperous living.
What began as an extremely rare joint press release by Indian and Pakistani military authorities regarding ceasefire along the disputed Line of Control weeks ago has since then led to torrent of reconciliatory overtures between India and Pakistan. It was followed by a surprising statement from General Qamar Javed Bajwa, an upper caste Punjabi Jatt Muslim army general representing Pakistan’s ultimate power center, calling for peaceful resolution to decades old Kashmir dispute and pushing for peace talks with India at an academic seminar in Islamabad. Soon Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also joined in and expressed his desire for good relations with India and asking India to take first step in this direction.
And finally, the recent letter of congratulations by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi sent to his Pakistani counter part on Pakistan Day, the day when in 1940, Muslim league demanded an “independent country” for British India’s Muslim minority marked a remarkable culmination to the recent bonhomie between two nations, which were further reflected by the rather muted mention of Kashmir on Pakistan Day celebrations and the renewal of talks on sharing Indus river water between Indian and Pakistani officials after many years.
So, what does it all mean for Kashmir and the people of Kashmir?
While there is a definite relief among people of Kashmir that things might finally look bright for a permanent and sustainable peace in Kashmir valley, which has seen an immense turmoil, violence and disturbance in last over three decades, there is lack of euphoria and a lot of soul searching as to why did Kashmir valley and the people of Kashmir have to suffer so much unnecessarily.
Many international political analysts often ask, if Pashtoon Kabaili raiders had succeeded in incorporating Kashmir valley within Pakistan in 1948, would there have been a similar kind of violent separatist movement against Islamabad by Kashmiri people for Kashmir’s “independence”, like it happened under Delhi’s administration over Kashmir valley? The answer, which every one knows in Kashmir but would not admit is NO.
The trouble of an average Kashmiri Muslim with India has always been India’s Hindu majority character. Kashmir’s Muslim majority may try to hide the communal colors of their grievances with India by stating that their “struggle for independence” has always been “political”, but it has never been so. My generation of Kashmiri Muslims who were born in 1990s and have only seen death and destruction have paid the biggest price for Kashmiri Muslim society’s proxy Hindu phobia. And for this we allowed ourselves to be played into hands of our so called “Muslim brother” mulk of Pakistan.
We don’t want to acknowledge this but the fact is that our misplaced sense of Islamic solidarity with Pakistan brainwashed us into using a political administrative fraud of rigged state assembly election in 1987 by our own Muslim Kashmiri Chief Minister and turning the same into Islamic “jihad” against Hindu “kafir” India. For four decades since 1948, Kashmiri Muslims lived with peace and prosperity under the same Hindu “kafir” administration of Delhi. While there were genuine political grievances with the authoritarian conduct of Delhi’s central government, but J&K was not the only state to have so. Many other Indian states had the similar grievances against Delhi and yet, it was only in Kashmir valley, that it took the turn of holy war between faithful and kuffar. We cannot brush our subtle and not so subtle Hindu phobia into portraying ourselves as Muslim victims of Kuffar. The brutal and forced exodus of Kashmir’s Hindu Pundit minority continues to make my generation answerable for the so called “secular” nature of Kashmir’s “independence struggle”, when we had no hand whatsoever in the unfortunate tragedy.
More importantly, while we question Delhi over its highly oppressive way of quelling armed resistance in Kashmir valley over three decades (and rightly so) at every international occasion, we never hold Pakistan responsible for pushing Kashmiri Muslims into this mess.
When we don’t show honest solidarity with Muslims of Jammu, who are ethnically, linguistically and culturally different from Kashmiris and close to Pakistani Muslims and yet, we trusted Pakistani Punjabi Muslims more than our own blood brother community of Kashmiri Pundits. While we talk of the humiliation of our women at the hands of rogue elements of Indian armed forces, we don’t talk about thousands of our own Kashmiri Muslim women, who were sexually exploited by thousands of Pakistani and other foreign and Kashmiri Muslim militants for two decades for which they would secretly throng to abortion clinics of Jammu, Chandigarh and Delhi. Many of these Kashmiri Muslim women, who are now in their middle ages are suffering silently as we as a Kashmiri Muslim society have instructed them not to talk about injustice done by our own “Muslim” mujahids?
Pakistan infested our peaceful Sufi Islam oriented Kashmiri Muslim society with guns and violence, which forced the Indian state to respond brutally. What did we expect that Delhi would give us “freedom” like a piece of cake? How would “independent state of Kashmir” react, if hypothetically South Kashmir was to ask for “independence” from “independent Kashmir”? What did West Pakistan did to Bengali Muslims of East Pakistan who asked for independence from Punjabi Muslim colonial Raj? The answer is 30 Lakh Bengali Muslims murdered and 8 Lakh Bengali Muslim women mass raped by West Pakistani Punjabi army. And what is the same Punjabi Pakistani army doing in Baluchistan and Pashtoon tribal areas today?
The question that my generation of Kashmiri Muslims need to ask is that, all this sugar-coated shenanigan of “azadi” that many Kashmiri Muslims of my father’s generation indulge in, never had any international support ever. Except for rogue Muslim nations, no major Muslim nation including, Saudi Arabia, Iran and OIC never truly supported Kashmir’s so called “independent” movement like they have done for the people of Palestine.
Despite Kashmir’s Muslim population living in denial, world has always seen through our Hindu phobia and after three decades of complete death and destruction of Kashmir valley, loss of lover one Lakh people, total destruction of Kashmir’s economy, ripping apart of Kashmir’s secular social fabric and the worrying fast takeover of extreme radical, orthodox, conservative Islamic elements of Kashmir’s own moderate Sufi Muslim character and the rapid decline of Kashmiri sufism, what has Pakistan’s “support” to its “shah rag” delivered us ? A broken state, demotion to an inferior status of a Union Territory, a radicalized, militarized and economically broke Kashmir valley.
This is a time to make Pakistan answer for its follies and dangerous experiments that it has been indulging in Kashmir valley taking advantage of the religious sensibilities of Kashmiri Muslims.
But No More…..
(The author is State Secretary of People’s Democratic Front)