When my granddaughter, Hanain – meaning ‘sweet’ in Brahvi language – read the article written in Urdu by a colleague a few days ago, she asked me a pointed question that we, as a nation, are ready to rise in the support of Kashmiri people at this critical juncture. I did not have a straight answer to her question. I fiddled for a long time to find an answer looking at the thin demonstrating crowds in different cities, the political polarization in the country recalling the rhetoric from the opposition and treasury benches in the joint session of the Parliament and the raging war in social media between the opposition and the ruling party using fake videos to undermine each other and discredit the armed forces of the country too. Regretfully, I had no satisfactory answer to her question.
The ache I felt over my nation’s indifference to the critical situation emerging from the arrogant move of the fascist Hindu regime to reduce the beautiful valley of Jammu and Kashmir into a vast and open dungeon where there is no more chirping and gurgling of birds; where the pure air wafting from the lush green mountains are polluted by the suffocating gun powder; the fair bodies and faces of the Kashmiri boys and girls are riddled with pellets; the streets are trampled by the long boots of soldiers with their fingers on the triggers, forcing the people to remain inside their dwellings; where the life-saving drugs and provisions are falling short; the press is gaged and means of communication cut off; the leaders and activists are locked down. Kashmiris have given unprecedented sacrifices in their long struggle for freedom undaunted by arrest, arson, rape, and death. They would add a new chapter of bravery to the voluminous record of their sacrifices once the restriction of curfew is relaxed.
The fascist Narendra Modi is dangling carrots of peace, development, and prosperity in exchange for freedom. The human instinctive aversion to slavery changed the direction of the not-too-distant history in many a continent. Slavery is the ugliest blot on the brow of humanity and the worst enemy of the human dignity. Despite formidable challenges, the human will and human urge for freedom finally prevail. The human ideals for justice and freedom emerge in the mien of insuppressible power to defeat bayonets. Still fresh in our memory is the humiliation of colonial imperialists by this power, and the wriggling of the Asian, African, and Arab nations out of their bloody claws. The evolutionary human history will have no other exceptional course for the just cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The dark nights of oppression will, sooner or later, be illuminated by the glow of freedom and the people of this scenic valley, like all other nations, will also emerge as a free nation and master of their destiny singing songs of freedom and marching forward in unison.
Today, as usual, the world is in a state of denial, it will appreciate the spirit of Kashmiri people for freedom tomorrow. It fails to differentiate between a freedom fighter and a terrorist today, it will recognize the freedom fighters as heroes of the free Kashmir tomorrow. It has been so in the history of the struggles of the oppressed nations for freedom. Mighty colonial powers were defeated and forced for shameful flight by tiny nations. There is no escape from the verdict of history. The oppressor of the people of Kashmir has a frayed and cast-ridden society afflicted by tens of hundreds of ethnic, linguistic and cultural fissures. It has many skeletons of secessionist movements rattling in its cupboard that include Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Tamil, and Himachal Pradesh. The liberal, secularist and democratic governance were stemming these secessionist movements from gathering momentum. The narrow Hindu majoritarian nationalism inspired by RSS ideology has already shaken the foundations of this liberal, secular and democratic polity.
My nation is slumbering as usual – a slumber we have indulged in on many occasions in our short history –may it be the discrimination against Bengalis, Baloch and Sindhis, and denial of rights of ownership to them over the resources of their lands; the unjustified acts of oppression including military operations and forced disappearances in these lands; the intensification of nationalist and parochial feelings in the sub-nationalities of the federation. We lost the bigger part of the country but never learned from our mistakes. We continue to slumber. We continue to neglect grievances of Sindhis and Baloch with regard to federal jobs and federal development schemes and distribution of irrigation waters. Prime Minister Imran Khan has been championing the cause of justice for long years. Justice with smaller provinces will bind them strongly with the Federation. One of the salient features of statecraft is not allowing the fissiparous political and economic issues to fester and spiral into daunting challenges.
There are certain political segments in our society who do not care about the sanctity of the basic laws governing the federation, federal units, and division of resources and regulating the provincial matters. On every other occasion, they try to deepen the fissures of division in the society at the federal or provincial levels weakening the nation as a whole. The executive remains complacent or restrained by narrow political considerations and fails to appreciate the dangerous consequences of such acts.
Freshly, petitions have been filed in the Sindh High Court to stay the issuance of domiciles to Sindhis coming and staying in Karachi from other districts of the province as if Karachi is a separate and alien land. They claim that 40% of Sindh is evacuee property and, therefore, belongs to them in exchange for what their forefathers had left back in India in 1947. Have claims for evacuee properties not exhausted after all these 72 years? This is how ridiculously they have been fueling antagonism in this peaceful land under the nose of our federal intelligence agencies.
We are slumbering again and failing to appreciate the dangerous consequences of the fascist move in Kashmir. This fire of Hindu nationalism will not stop in Kashmir. It will try to consume Azad Jammu and Kashmir and head to Pakistan. What the people of Jammu and Kashmir want from us – a united condemnation of the new wave of oppression perpetrated on them by a Hindu fascist regime. What we witnessed here was that our worthy political leadership from across the aisle was having their own political axe to grind – some demanding, in a not-so-subtle way, a price for support to the executive on this trying occasion. We wonder why our patriotism or unified stance on any vital national issue may be subject to concessions from the executive – concessions unheard of in civilized societies. Should the national institutions of the country be restrained from discharging their constitutional functions for some time in order to promote unity in the nation?
There is chaos on social media. No institution or no a leader is spared from disparaging comments. Does the executive have no law to regularize this disgusting flow of disinformation? Videos of interviews and speeches of prominent persons and even the Presidents of brotherly countries with false translations in Urdu or faked voices attacking the credibility of general elections, the patriotism of Prime Minister Imran Khan and disparaging the national institutions including the armed forces are freely posted on social media.
One of these videos involving President Tayyip Erdogan was shown by a private channel with the false and the true translation in Urdu a few days ago seeking the comments of a very senior journalist, Mujeeb Ur Rehman Shami. The poor fellow had nothing to say other than a sheepish smile. Judging from the current narrative of some leaders, it should not be difficult for us to conclude who is indulging in such obfuscation on social media. At least, they should have spared the most revered Muslim leader of the standing of President Tayyip Erdogan.
The critical situation arising out of the drastic move of Narendra Modi had afforded a golden opportunity to our opposition for rising above all political and parochial considerations and offering the executive its full cooperation in an act of solidarity with the embattled people of Kashmir. The institutions of the country need to be functional – more so in critical situation – with a free hand in the discharge of their duties. There is no concept of democracy without fair elections, opposition, and freedom of press, accountability and fair dispensation of justice, rule of law, equality before law and sanctity of human rights and human dignity, tolerance of difference of opinion.
We have a fledgling democracy. We have had the third election in the post- Musharraf rule. There have been complaints of irregularity in every election. For that matter, no election since 1970 has been free from controversy. What is gratifying to me, at least, is that we have set on the path to representative governance passing falteringly through pitfalls, stumbling rocks and hindrances and forging fitfully towards the most beautiful valley that is called ‘democracy’. We shall learn to respect democracy and the essential ingredients of the representative governance. We need time to change the mindset willfully created and nurtured in the nation by unrepresentative rulers. People – living with a system for long years – develop a sense of awe and fear of it and are obstinately reluctant to come out of its stranglehold. We are passing through such a period.
Despite all this, history will not forgive us if we faltered to rise in an uninhibited national spirit to show our solidarity with the besieged people of Kashmir at this critical juncture of their struggle. Both the executive and opposition should fear the harsh verdict of history which pursues the coward as long as the written word survives in this world. Peep into the history of the Sub-continent and you will come across the names of Jaffar and Sadiq written in bold letters as traitors of their nation.
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