Wake up and act
India and Pakistan have a duty to come out of the slumber and face the bitter truth
VIEWPOINT BY NAYEEMA AHMAD MAHJOOR
Can you believe that a country which is facing a tough fight for its survival on many fronts stands accused of fishing in the troubled waters of Kashmir? During the armed phase of the Kashmir movement it was not hard to accept the claim that Pakistan had supported and promoted separatism by placing arms in the hands of the youth. But can Pakistan be blamed for exporting stones now? Those politicians who think Pakistan is behind the latest unrest in Kashmir are burying their heads in the sand. For the last sixty years the people of the sub-continent are sick of listening to claims and counter claims of India and Pakistan every time something nasty happens in these countries. It is high time for the politicians of these countries to listen to their own masses and recognise the plight of millions of people who have been made hostage to petty politics.
From terror attacks to natural disasters Pakistan faces every conceivable calamity and the country needs help, support and sympathy from its neighbours rather than accusations. The blame game politics might alienate Pakistan to the extent that it ends up turning into a hub of terrorism. This would be detrimental to peace and harmony in the entire South Asia region. The country is on the brink of Talibanisation, which has already crept deeper into its society. The more you alienate it the more lethal it will become.
How can a country create unrest in Kashmir at a time when it is struggling for its existence, when it is facing the worst ever floods in the north over-stretching its armed forces to save four million stranded people in the inundated areas, when it is trying to bring some semblance of peace in its commercial centre after the killing of a political leader, when it is being prowled and pounded by drone attacks on its tribal population, when its own people are creating mayhem in the Pashtun belt, when the international community is threatening it with dire consequences for its “export of terrorism” and when its resolve to get rid of terrorism is met with the resentment of its radicalised society. Pakistan is in deep trouble and the trouble is unlikely to remain confined to its borders. It may spread beyond if not handled properly. The strategy of the global community of fighting Al-Qaeda and its allies on the borders of Pakistan has proved dangerous to the country as a whole and has put it at risk of disintegration.
If we believe India’s statement about a Pakistani hand in the recent protests and demonstrations in the valley, should India make it worse by issuing harsh statements? The cycle of accusation and counter accusation knows no end and will derail any chance of a peace process between India and Pakistan. Pushing your enemy towards the wall is a foolish policy in the current geo-political scenario in South Asia.
Pakistan has a lot on its plate and it seems highly unlikely in the present circumstances that it can play any role in derailing the peace process or any dialogue initiative with the Kashmiri leadership. What it cannot afford is to remain silent on the atrocities unleashed on the population. There is another problem being anticipated by the international community after its exit strategy is implemented in Afghanistan. If the reconciliation process goes well with the Taliban and peace returns to the war torn country, analysts apprehend that the Taliban might easily move towards the valley to show solidarity with the Kashmiri movement. Even Pakistan would not be in a position to prevent them from this adventure that has a precedent in Pashtun history (i.e. 1947). It is a general perception among global policy makers that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, once free from NATO forces, may start moving towards other regions, as already seen in Yemen, Sudan or other places.
Kashmir may become another hub for their activities if the situation is allowed to deteriorate and is not taken seriously. The changing geo-political scenario in South and Central Asia has direct implications for Kashmir and there is no escape from its consequences even if all the borders and check points are sealed, manned or mined.
The Taliban are not only dangerous for Pakistan though nurtured and cared for by its army but they are lethal for India as well if the alienation of the Kashmiri people deepens and the issue is left unresolved for too long.
The Indian Government often says that Kashmir is a domestic problem and that it is capable of handling it on its own. India's mishandling of the current uprising is borne out by the fact that tens of thousands of people have come out on to the streets, despite repeated pleas from Indian politicians for calm.
The Indian Government would not have felt challenged by simple protests that later on turned into Azadi slogans if it had the ability to handle the situation. It is high time for Indian authorities to understand and recognise that the Kashmir problem is more than just a domestic law and order affair. Even otherwise humdrum protests about water and electricity have a tendency to turn into freedom processions because the political sentiment is inherent in all these protests. Neither the local nor the Indian politicians have the courage to realize the magnitude of the sentiment that has now turned into a volcano of hate and anger.
The only useful statement of Omar Abdullah so far has been his admission that Kashmir is a political problem that deserves a political initiative. Do the Indian authorities listen to him or take his word seriously? People still have serious doubts. One gets the feeling that as soon as the situation calms down, the authorities in New Delhi will go back to slumber and forget their promises. And, next year there will be more deaths, more statements and more silence later on.
The Indian Government should at least listen to its own politicians, intellectuals and security agencies. When its own politicians speak of their shrinking spaces and inability to reach out to their own voters, and when its military admits its lack of experience in handling agitated civilians, New Delhi cannot put a leash on the popular sentiment, and the policy makers in Delhi need to recognise their dilemma and initiate a solution to the problem before it further escalates. By remaining in denial mode they will make it worse.
From Narasimha Rao to Vajpayee, Indian Governments has often expressed a strong determination to resolve the issue and said ‘sky is the limit’. One fails to understand why, after the slogans are chanted, Kashmir gets relegated to the bottom of the priority list. To use a cliché, why does Kashmir get put on the back burner, only to be brought into the limelight when something flares up? The problem has become so grave and intense that it has not only consumed hundreds of lives in Kashmir but has also hampered the development of friendly relations between India and Pakistan.
Anger, hatred and animosity between the two countries might serve the purposes of some powers whose ammunition industries are big suppliers in the region, but the forces of hostility between India and Pakistan are ripping apart a society that shares the same culture, language, values and relations.
(Nayeema Ahmad Mahjoor is a noted broadcaster who works with BBC, Urdu Service)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 7 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 8 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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