Pakistan won thd International Cricket Championship against India by 181 runs—-considerably a huge margin. Indian’s were obviously hurt and more so because they felt their team had not given their best. However, there was joy and jubilation over Pakistan’s triumph in Indian-held Kashmir. This joy among the Kashmiris was also read as a sign of excitement over India’s defeat. In a valley whose population is oddly tilted in favour of the Indian army, where guns are always ready to shed its powder on protesting Kashmiris, and where the Indian state could resort to any tactic to mute and undermine Kashmiris struggle for independence, celebrating Pakistan’s victory is not a small step. It not only speaks about the bravery of the Kashmiris, but it also reinforces their disdain for India and its policy toward Kashmir. Over the last one year since the martyrdom of Burhan Wani, a wave of new insurgency has broken out in Kashmir, which has been brutally confronted by the state in the language of rape, blind eyes, custodial torture, curfews and ruthless firing on protesting crowd. In spite of all this Kashmiris keep burying their martyrs wrapped in the Pakistani flag.

Kashmir is not just a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. It is an ideological tussle that will never cease to inflame sentiments unless the Indian government takes into consideration the will of the Kashmiri people and let them decide who governs them. A puppet head of state would remain a thorn in their side. The 1989 insurgency broke out in the wake of rigged elections. The trend continues. To date, governments in Kashmir represent the interest of Delhi more than the interest of the Kashmiris. The current spate of violence by the Kashmiris is a backlash of recent rigged elections. The writing on the wall is simple to understand, though.

The BJP government has been ruling India with an anti-Muslim mindset. Scenes of lynching Muslims over eating beef and crass treatment to those who had been observant of their faith be it Christians or Muslims has exposed India’s false claim of secularism. Sane voices in India have been warning the government of losing Kashmir if the valley is not allowed a path of its own choice to lead a peaceful life. People in Kashmir want to see an end of the army’s deployment in their state that has virtually taken from them the freedom of movement and speech. A slight aberration, depending on what that means to a given officer, by a commoner, could either lead to torture, blinding of eyes, or at times killing. Indian Congress leader Sonia Gandhi has pointed out recently India’s flawed approach on Kashmir. Even Mehbooba Mufti, CM Kashmir, has criticised the BJP for pursuing a wrong strategy to quell the insurgency. Kuldeep Naire, veteran Indian writer, has openly said that Kashmir was slipping from the hands of India. However, looking at the rising discontent and open aggression against the state shows that Kashmir has already slipped from the hands of India, and what it is holding is just a piece of land. Whether India believes it or not, the reality is that the current struggle for independence in Kashmir is no more a sponsored struggle from Pakistan. The youth of Kashmir has taken up to them to fight it to the finish. Not that there is zero support for their Kashmiri brethren from the other side of the border, but in the larger scheme of things, the struggle of Kashmir is more indigenous and is less reliant on outside sources. Therefore the question arises, does this new development exonerate Pakistan of its responsibility to support Kashmir?

The consistent enthusiasm of the Kashmiri people for their association with Pakistan makes the responsibility even bigger. It demands from Pakistan that it intensify its diplomatic efforts to realign the international opinion in favour of the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. The world’s silence over the atrocities in Kashmir because of India’s diplomatic effort that diverts world attention to its consumer market can only be rebutted through an equally rigorous portrayal of an India where human rights are violated discriminately, especially in Kashmir.

Lately, Pakistan’s response to the Kashmir issue has been lukewarm. The group comprising parliamentarians set-up to rally international support were found half-prepared to garner the needed assistance. However, with the initiation of CPEC, which is bound to change the dynamic of this region, Pakistan should seek the involvement of China and Russia into the Kashmir issue just as they are involved in solving the Afghan cause. The dynamics of the insurgency in Afghanistan and Kashmir could be different but the danger of the Kashmir struggle morphing into terrorism under the assistance of other regional terrorist network cannot be ruled out. After all, both Afghanistan and Kashmir are fighting for their right to have an independent state without the influence of foreign or rogue state forces. In this context, it is imperative that Kashmir should also stop bleeding, and Pakistan has to take a more robust lead in seeing this happen.

 

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Lahore.

durdananajam1@gmail.com