Let Kashmir breathe

Published May 16, 2020

PAKISTAN has once again called on the world to take urgent notice of the unending asphyxia that the Kashmiris have been subjected to and demanded that the held valley be at least allowed the supply of medicine and food.

Giving a policy statement in the Senate on Thursday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi lambasted the Indian government, holding it responsible for the situation in occupied Kashmir in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The communal mindset of the Narendra Modi set-up has been fully reflected in how the rulers in New Delhi have inspired through their actions a witch-hunt in which zealots have painted Muslims as ‘willing’, indeed ‘sponsored’ carriers of the coronavirus. The minister’s words captured some of the anger with which these preposterous insinuations against a large religious group in a country that calls itself a democracy have been greeted. Mr Qureshi linked the escalation in cross-LoC violations by the Indian army to New Delhi’s desire to deny the world a clear, unblocked view of what it is like to live under an occupying force. There have been more than 900 instances of such violations since January. When one looks at the steep increase in these violations since the new order under which India forcibly snatched the occupied region’s special autonomous status was enforced last year, an increasingly grim picture emerges.

A lot has been in turmoil since the annexation of a thinking, breathing people whose aspirations for freedom have been well-documented over decades. Countries across the world are experiencing the feeling of isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic. People and governments, scholars, politicians and lawmakers of all stripes have suffered from a sudden denial of essential freedoms as the number of infected individuals rises. They had taken their liberties for granted and it can be safely assumed that they at least wished others to lead their lives with the same degree of freedom they enjoyed. They must have seen the virus as a confirmation of what the deprivation of freedom can do and how it can be overcome. Experts hopefully talk about a new world emerging from this horrifying bout with the virus, shrugging off all that scarred the previous one. A humane approach, culminating in freedom, towards subjugated peoples everywhere must be one of the main themes around which this new world is to be created.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2020

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