THAT the phrase ‘Masla-e-Kashmir’ has become part of the Urdu lexicon (meaning, the most intractable issue) is indicative of how it affects every soul in the country. It thus entitles a non-expert like me to comment upon the Kashmir issue.
India-held Kashmir (IHK) has been such an emotive subject for Pakistan that there have been three desperate attempts to take it by force. First in 1947, when a spontaneous attack by mostly non-state mujahids from erstwhile North-West Frontier Province and twice more by leaders who wanted to become immortal in the annals of Pakistani history. In 1965, Gen Ayub Khan authorised the infiltration of Kashmir, which led to a war. And then in 1999, Gen Musharraf carried out an infiltration operation in Kargil to cut off Indian supply lines to IHK.
This time, an Indian PM is aspiring to immortality in his country by swallowing Kashmir through Nazi tactics and changing its demographics through ethnic cleansing.
Aware of the internal ramifications and risk to India’s secular global image posed by his gamble in IHK, Modi is in a hurry to change the situation irreversibly on the ground and is willing to go to any extent in the use of force and political machinations. The complete veil of secrecy over what is happening in Kashmir, to the extent of making fools of themselves by sending back from Srinagar a delegation of opposition parties led by Rahul Gandhi after inviting them, is very ominous.
Pakistan must consistently equate Modi with Hitler.
During the slaughter of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and the Sikhs in 1984, the Indian government kept mum and did not respond to criticism, nor called off its thugs before the objective of exterminating the desired number of ‘miscreants’ was achieved. I suspect something of that sort is happening in Kashmir currently.
It is, therefore, imperative that Pakistan’s response has to be focused, bold and urgent. One can pick holes in the handling of internal affairs by Prime Minister Imran Khan, but in handling the world, whether it be to solve country’s economic crisis or project the Kashmir crisis, he has made us proud.
His journey from a super sportsman to a fiery and clean leader of the world’s fifth-most populous country is a story that resonates with most international leaders, especially in the West, and the general public. For the first time, Pakistan has a leader who is being noticed and paid attention to by the world. One hears of unprecedented anticipation among the international community and the Pakistani diaspora in the US and Canada over his upcoming address at the UN General Assembly in September.
This combination of a desperate enemy in the form of Modi, who wants to ‘solve’ the Kashmir problem once for all, and a charismatic Pakistani leader in the form of Imran Khan is unique in the history of Indo-Pak animosity. It can be turned to Pakistan’s advantage if we play our cards well. Some of the practical things that should be prioritised, in my view, are as follows;
Firstly, the ideology of BJP/RSS as being akin to Hitler’s fascist ideology must continue to be highlighted at all forums, at a heightened pace and as state policy. Modi has to be equated with Hitler and India equated to a Nazi fascist country consistently, much like the Indians refer to Pakistan as a terrorist country at the drop of a hat.
Secondly, as a preemptive measure, the government should also continue to warn of a false flag operation by India through a Pulwama type incident, alongside taking high-profile steps internally against jihadist elements. The fact that any internal incident in India cannot be of help to Pakistan in the current situation, given IHK’s home-grown independence movement and the Indian government’s own provocative steps, needs to be emphasised.
Thirdly, the details of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, both strategic and tactical, should be highlighted in the media to draw a picture of the Armageddon the world will face in the event of a nuclear clash. The conscience of the world will only awaken when fear of a nuclear debacle is impressed upon it. Internet videos (to be managed) can effectively convey how a nuclear war in the subcontinent will have worldwide repercussions.
Fourthly, it is important to disseminate details of the horrific human rights abuses by India in IHK and generally against its minorities through social media. All state and non-state organisations in Pakistan should be given this task. There can be no better information blitz.
Lastly, it would be in the interest of the Kashmiris if they demand azadi only, without visibly displaying their love for Pakistan, because it makes their movement look managed by Pakistan, which it is not , and provokes the Indian government and public to further dig their heels in.
This is a do-or-die moment for the Kashmir issue and taking the eye off the ball will be disastrous.
The writer is a former civil servant.
Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2019