It has been more than a hundred days since Narendra Modi sent 600,000 of his soldiers to occupy Kashmir in early August. The world shrugged and went about its business. Pakistan launched a diplomatic offensive to get its Arab and Muslim allies to condemn the action and urge Mr. Modi to back down. It was water of a duck’s back.
The world has moved on. Business has absolute precedence over all other considerations. The capacity to discern right from wrong has been lost. The rule of law, human dignity, and the fundamental right of people to determine their destiny are concepts that have been thrown to the wind. What a fall this has been!
To his credit Prime Minister Imran Khan, at a plenary session of the UN General Assembly in late October, delivered a widely applauded speech in which he minced no words. He even vowed to fight to the end – a terrifying prospect for two nuclear armed states with a combined population of a billion and a half people, roughly a quarter of the world’s population.
Sadly, since that heartfelt speech, in which the Prime Minister made a passionate appeal to the world community to intervene to end Mr. Modi’s illegal occupation of Kashmir, nothing has changed. And nothing will. We in Pakistan need to realize that we are on our own.
Mr. Modi does not understand the language of peace. He is a man on a mission. Words, soft or hard, are not going to deter him. The children’s rhyme says it well: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’. And so it is with Mr. Modi. He views appeasement as weakness or stupidity. He will not be moved by words or reason.
He is determined to establish the supremacy of a particular creed, no matter what the cost. And in the end, sadly, it will be his people, all his people, not just Muslims, Christians and Sikhs who will suffer.
The illegal annexation of Kashmir, the ceding of the Babari Masjid site to build a Hindu temple, the mass eviction of ‘foreigners’ from Assam, the public lynching of people caught eating beef or slaughtering cows, the forced conversions of Muslims and Christians, and the threat of beating them to death for failing to acknowledge Lord Ram as their god. All these and more are symptoms of the demons that gnaw at Mr. Modi’s mind.
The only way Mr. Modi will back down is if Pakistan convinces him that his actions will entail consequences. This will call for more than just words and diplomacy. We need to understand that we are alone, and that it is up to us to stop Mr. Modi from pulling the world into a new global war.
The great powers made a fateful error when they sought to appease Adolf Hitler after his invasion of Poland in 1939. It was an error that was to cost the planet millions of lives and the near complete destruction of Europe. We stand today, here in the Subcontinent, at the precipice of a similar moment. The choices and decisions we make today will determine the ultimate price we pay in the future.
Prime Minister Khan ended his speech in the UN with these words: “This is the time when you, the United Nations, must urge India to lift the curfew; to free the 13,000 Kashmiris who have disappeared meanwhile and this is the time when the UN must insist on Kashmir’s right to self determination.”
It is time for him to realize that the UN will not do anything, nor will anyone else. We own this and it is ours to get right. Yes, we are in the throes of an economic crisis, and yes there is political infighting and turmoil. But let’s not forget that we are still the owners of one of the most powerful armies in the world. What use is a powerful army if we can’t even use it to leverage our interests? It is time, Prime Minister, to put them to work.
By this I do not mean that we go to war. But to at least convey the message to Mr. Modi that we are ready to do so. To this end let’s bring all the fighting divisions, armour and men, that we can spare to the front line. Just this action alone will put immense pressure on Mr. Modi. He has more than half a million men deployed in Kashmir to suppress a local population which hates them. He cannot risk an attack from the front when 30 million Kashmiris are ready to take on his soldiers occupying their land. Indeed this is a tactic that India itself has employed in the past when its perceived interests were at threat. Why should we then demur when a population of 30 million Muslims is invaded and occupied?
We do not want a fight. But we must make clear to Mr. Modi that if he does not withdraw his forces from Kashmir and restore to the people of that benighted land their rights then we are ready for war.
You put it well, Prime Minister, in your speech to the UN: “Supposing a country 7 times smaller than its neighbour; faced with a question. Either you surrender, or you fight till the end. I ask myself this question. And my belief is ‘La ilaha illAllah’, there is no God but one. We will FIGHT!”
The time has come to demonstrate that you meant what you said. The world has not yet caught on to the danger that Mr. Modi poses to the whole planet. Just as it did not understand the danger that Mr. Hitler posed in 1939. Let’s not make the same mistake today that was made 80 years ago when a fascist and a tyrant was allowed to go too far. And the world paid a near unbearable cost to stop him.
The elite special forces unit of the British Army, the SAS, has a motto: Who Dares Wins. This is a motto we need to make our own. All tyrants are bullies and cowards. And the one we face today on our eastern border is no different. Whether his occupation of Kashmir stands or not ultimately rests on our willingness to dare him.