In the twenty first century it is observable that ideological constructs such as self-interest, material gains, siding with the apparent stronger entity in a conflict and deep societal polarization often outweigh; communal/national interest, siding with those who stand for truth, justice and rights and taking a unified approach towards problem-solving. The Quaid rightly enunciated Kashmir as Pakistan’s ‘jugular-vein’ and precisely for that reason it has been pressed upon since inception in 1947. A polarized and divided Pakistan cannot effectively take up the Kashmir cause in the international arena. Consequentially; ownership of the Kashmir cause and formulating long lasting unity within Pakistanis is outright necessity.
Kashmir and the atrocities faced by the populous identify with Pakistanis on three interconnected facets; as Pakistanis, as Muslims and as Human Beings. Candidly; Pakistanis staunchly support the Kashmir cause first and foremost as patriots, because the issue is an existential threat to ‘Pakistan’ itself. Undoubtedly, the fundamental basic troikas of ideals underpinning Pakistan are ‘unity, faith and discipline’. Nevertheless, internalizing these ideals reveals that ‘unity’ is to be treated as first amongst equal concepts, for without unity amongst citizens on national-security issues all is lost. Unity is a paramount pre-requisite for nation building, especially for delivering on the promise of ‘Kashmir bunay ga Pakistan’
Historically; the dispute dates back 72 years. Long before the damning Indian constitutional amendment of August 2019 the conflict had been labelled as a potential nuclear flashpoint by analysts. The Indian oppression stems from a multitude of reasons. With the culmination WW2 in 1945, the founding-fathers leading the struggle for Pakistan had ideologically based it on the ‘Two Nation theory’ demanding a separate Muslim dominated homeland free from Hindu subjugation. However, this ideology never resonated with certain fundamentalist Hindus, in particular the RSS ideologues who inspired by Nazism preached the ideology of Hindutva (greater Hindustan). RSS is cornerstone to the quagmire faced by Kashmiri Muslims with the incumbent PM of India a life member and BJP being the political offshoot. Frankly, India never properly recognized the birth of independent states in the sub-continent and since 1947, has eaten away at Muslim majority areas claiming independence. It commenced with subjugating independent princely-states of Junagarh and Hyderabad. Simultaneously, Indian troops entered the state of Jammu and Kashmir which lead to the 1947 war. Treachery led to another war in 1965 and subsequently Hindustan instigated the war of 1971 and the unfortunate debacle of Dhaka (East Pakistan). Whereas, Kargil conflict of 1999 could have easily escalated to full fledge asymmetric warfare. Hence, ever since Modi’s second term in office and resurgence of RSS, objective Pakistani analysts are not surprised by the revival of the ‘existential threat’ that looms since inception. The contemporary Kashmir misadventure is unequivocally linked to this plot.
The onslaught on Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty by India is not limited to Kashmir rather it is multi-faceted and complex; encompassing sponsoring of separatist groups and terror attacks in Baluchistan as demonstrated by Khulbhushan Jadhav case, exploiting grievances, hijacking movements, fifth generation hybrid warfare by spreading disinformation, overhauling culture and society by seeping ideals into social fabric via Bollywood songs and movies, supporting wannabe anti-state activists and even staging false flag operations to malign Pakistan as epicentre of terrorism in international quarters, in order to steer attention away from decades long Indian state sponsored terrorism in IOK.
Geo-politics today, labels Pakistan as the ‘Global pivot’ - sandwiched between competing USA and China. Indian oppression in occupied Kashmir is imperative to destabilizing Pakistan; misconstruing the Kashmiri freedom fighters as terrorists serves to overshadow Pakistan’s relationship with the West, and fuels the Indian dream of becoming the regional partner of the USA/Israel/NATO nexus by projecting itself as the plausible regional counter weight to a rising China challenging ‘unipolar global order’. India projects itself as; progressive, secular, modern and democratic echoing all the sounds that resonate well within Western societies. Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh are satellite states, with tentacles in Afghanistan only Pakistan stands between hegemonic designs. India miscalculates that the West will be blackmailed into supporting it on Kashmir for fulfilling own Global political objectives.
Furthermore, the strategic and geographical seeds of this conflict were latently sown pre-partition as the boundary commission setup to delimit areas comprising Pakistan or India made many critical errors. Had these Muslim majority areas been delimited favourably, India would have been cut-off from Jammu & Kashmir. Without dwelling, it is noted with cynicism that ‘Nehru’s charms’ and the age old strategy of ‘divide and rule’ are indeed dark chapter(s) of partitioning history.
Lastly, wars are often propelled by the inherent desire to usurp resources. Water is the singular most precious element for life. Wars of the future are often forecasted as being fought over water, as the planet grapples with water scarcity. Annexing Kashmir means controlling the head-works of the rivers flowing through Pakistan from inside J&K, violating the Indus Basin Water Treaty and tantamount to testing nuclear Pakistan’s survival instinct. Amending, Articles 370 & 35A of the Indian Constitution and refurbishment of troops in IOK to clamp down on dissent against this heinous decision has led to a blanket siege. With a population of 8 million under complete communications blackout since 2 months, IOK is the largest open-prison in the world plus the most militarized zone.
In tactical terms such a vast ‘conflict spectrum’ beckoned a ‘sophisticated full spectrum response’ with all stake holders of civil-military leadership working in synchronization. From the outset, military realities remain unchanged. Pakistan’s Air Force enjoys absolute air superiority over its counterpart and Military’s resolve and ability with nuclear capable ballistic missiles to deter against penetration of Pakistan’s borders is intact. However, diplomatically; in the arena of global civilian political outreach and communication, Pakistan’s viewpoint has reached world powers. The foreign office has stepped up, whilst the ISPR is playing an active role in shaping national cohesion, stability, calmness and composure. The past 2 months we have witnessed PM Imran Khan assert himself as the ‘Global Ambassador for Kashmir cause’. It is commendable, that this time round a sustained and serious effort is underway at internationalising, mainstreaming and apprising the entire world of the plight of Kashmiris as the conflict enters a decisive phase. Hourly coverage on national airways coupled with condemnation of Indian actions has persistently been published in all major international media outlets. Many world leaders have strongly spoken for the Kashmiris. The OIC, China, Turkey and Malaysia have condemned Indian oppression. The condemnation initiated by Pakistan now firmly resonates world over and international human rights organizations are calling-out Modi and demanding respite in the curfew. Kashmir is a subject of vociferous discussion by legislators in UK, USA, Australia and Canada. The interactions followed by UNGA address by the PM has made the case for the world to choose whether they stand with justice, dignity, human rights or without remorse or shame with material gains stemming from financial market of 1.2 billion Indians. The Simla Agreement & Tashkent Declaration stand legally null and void due to Indian breach of terms and it seems the UNSC has some serious work to do as Pakistan will simply not let this issue die down.
Consequently; India stands exposed, without a legitimate justification, its erstwhile propaganda and imagine of a secular progressive nation are shattered in totality and forever seals its dream of permanent UNSC membership,. Modi has boxed himself into a dark corner, has alienated all diaspora of Kashmiri leadership, acted without anticipating a courageous Pakistani reaction and now seems desperate, frustrated and clueless as keeping 8 million people in permanent lock-down is just not possible. The Kashmiris once out of this clamp down must display phenomenal courage and find solace in Pakistan’s efforts for them while they endured. Every Pakistani sympathizes with Kashmiris; the flavour of Kashmiri struggle for independence, resistance against oppression has become part and parcel of national celebrations whereby the Pakistani national flag finds itself a counterpart in the AJK flag. The trendy anthems, manifold documentaries, and constant microscopic attention being given to the cause will gradually lead to internalization and become a unifying factor for the nation.
“To continue on; the limitless efforts being done for the Kashmir cause carve out a roadmap. To find desired solutions collective responsibility must be undertaken by citizens and the state alike. This jolt must make us collectively realize that the enemy has reached our shores and is hell bent on dismantling us therefore we cannot continue taking our nation and its pressing concerns for granted. ‘A house divided cannot stand’ and we have an adversary lurking in the shadows that believes in ethnic cleansing and genocide, ready to take advantage of any slip up. Collectively and united we all can ensure freedom for Kashmiris, if by no other means than by honest owning up of the necessity of self-preservation for Pakistan. By analogy; in International relations terminology, Afghanistan is dubbed as the ‘Global U-turn’ as the country has fought off three global superpowers of different eras in global geo-political ‘great games’. This resilient nation has a history of internal fighting over power and turf, whereas they shed their differences and unite to take on any nation externally threatening their existence. The message is simple; just like a typical Pakistani household functions, where siblings and parents argue and fight but if the integrity of their home is under question it is an unwritten rule to combine efforts to fight off the threat. There is strength in genuine unity. Sense of duty and sacrifice prevails over self-interest in times of adversity. Our collective survival instinct must kick in.
On the global front; the government must stick with its international law approach; as the Indian PM and BJP Hindu supremacists do not realize that India is signatory to, bound by and acting in, severe violation of Human Rights law, UN Charter and UN Treaty Body systems/Conventions entrusted with protecting human beings; against Torture & racial discrimination, protecting rights of Children and of Women (CEDAW), the right to life, freedom of expression, religious freedom etc. Also, the right of self-determination is a third generation human right legally recognized world over; hence the Kashmiris are well within their rights to demand the same by plebiscite. The RSS assassins of Ghandi and his ideology, reincarnated and amalgamated into a disgusting being in the form of Modi, has by now committed the International crimes of; genocide, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression and efforts must relentlessly be kept up to shake up the conscience of UNSC so that the matter is referred to the International Criminal Court. Furthermore, under Public International law dictates, India has repeatedly violated Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. The purpose of the UNSC is to preserve and eliminate threats to world peace and with India refuting 11 UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir till date the Council must be convinced to act in accordance with law and enforce the same through Article 41 (non-military enforcement e.g. trade embargoes, sanctions) and Article 42 (military enforcement) under Chapter 7 of the UN charter.
Furthermore, we Muslims must introspect and develop a sense of self-correction. An inactive, polarized and divided OIC enables 1.8 billion Muslims to suffer world over, therefore sectarian differences must be kept aside to galvanize support for the Kashmir cause. There are lessons for Muslim in the destruction of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and with the only nuclear Muslim state staring down the barrel all must put their priorities in order.
The state; must learn from 1979 and 2001 whereby global superpowers made knee-jerk decisions to completely reverse their policy in our neighbourhood and conveyed it to us via ultimatums. Wisdom entails staying away from devastating regional conflicts and looking inwards towards rebuilding and strengthening Pakistan. That alone will ensure lasting security and stability for our future generations.
Every Citizen; must realize that the two nation theory has been revalidated, the nation faces a continued existential threat invariably linked up with the Kashmir cause, and it is our national duty to serve the nation in our capacity. If you are living inside Pakistan make a conscious effort to set goals that unite us, rather than losing friends and family in drawing rooms and whatsApp groups over petty political point-scoring that divides us. There have been remarkable shows of solidarity via campaigns and protests world over by ‘overseas Pakistanis’ who serve as ambassadors of the cause. We all must educate yourselves and disseminate salient information worldwide on the Kashmir cause to peers, colleagues and co-workers. Contribute towards imagine building of the nation to dispel misplaced propaganda labelling us all as terrorists. Ironically; religious parties have never enjoyed mainstream power in Pakistani politics whereas fanatical, Hitler inspired RSS/BJP has been in power for 6 years in India now. Talk sense and the world will listen to you.
The truth does hurt but it must be told boldly and without hesitation. The strongest tool in the world is the ‘media’ as it has the power to make up the minds of the people. Our opinion makers must act responsibly. Media personnel, anchors and owners must realize the gravity of the situation and rather than having 3 guests who blurt only divisive narratives and rhetoric on a daily basis, discussions must be conducted and moderated with a solution-oriented approach, making sure that issues of national importance (especially Kashmir) are treated above and beyond issues of domestic political significance. Major responsibility rests upon the political opposition as well; it is disgraceful to see them shout slogans aimed at survival of party heads while the President of Pakistan in his (yearly) address is highlighting the Kashmir issue. Those who would do us harm will always exploit such divisions and fault lines; our own history of 1971 serves to exemplify this fact.
The one country that has a special role in all of this is China. It took Ladakh from India in 1962, hence has a direct stake in J&K and in Pakistan’s stability due to BRI’s project (CPEC) and its global economic objectives. China is also a member of the UNSC and the upcoming challenger to the unipolar political setup of the globe. Our civil-military leadership shall have to display statecraft and finesse in walking a tight rope while dealing with the diverging interests of the Chinese and Americans, while still exposing Indian aggression in IOK and re-emphasising the legitimacy of the Kashmiri liberation struggle.
Remember fellow countrymen, liberation struggles are long and require time, sacrifice, perseverance and patience. The freedom struggle for Pakistan started in 1857 and culminated in 1947. There is a heavy burden on the youth of this nation which we can only discharge hand in glove. If, God forbid it comes to it the forces and masses will unequivocally stand together like a rock against those who would oppress us. This capacity and resolve is omnipotent. Patriotism, nationalism and a sense of duty and shahadat is embedded in our collective mind-set. Come hell or high water we will fight to the last breadth. Wars (fought in self-defence) are not fought to rebuild economies rather to safeguard pride, dignity, honour and independence.
Pakistanis! We must collude on Kashmir for preservation sake, rise to the occasion, take responsibility, accept our strengths and weakness and act smartly. Understand the mind-set of the oppressor, hold the line, and hold the resolve to deter. Remember the underlying determining factor will be our ability to create unity, sense of national-duty/national-interest and putting Pakistan first.
We Pakistanis are passionate souls and if upped against the wall we will unleash many a ‘surprise’. Alas! Even India knows that the ‘tea is fantastic’ this side of the border, especially since ’28 May 1998’.
Aptly; Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah stated:
“There is no power on earth that can undo Pakistan”