Confusing times!


  (Old Proverb)

Niloofar Qureshi
These are confusing times. What you see is not necessarily what it is; what you hear may not be what is being said and what you perceive as something obvious may not be the reality. You go through the daily ritual of diligently reading the newspaper every morning in order to know what is going on, but instead of getting answers, you end up as confused (if not more) as you were yesterday, since nothing seems to make sense anymore!

Let us start with India, which has all along been crying hoarse about Pakistan ‘sponsoring’ terrorism in Kashmir. But when the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bats for India on this issue (remember the ‘keeping snakes in the backyard’ comments which she repeated twice?), New Delhi fails to take the cue. The UJC Chairman Syed Sallaudin openly declares that his militant conglomerate is “fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir” but New Delhi does not seize this opportunity of launching a diplomatic ‘offensive’ to encash upon the admission coming straight from the horse’s mouth. Instead, New Delhi seems content with its drill of regularly handing over ‘dossiers’ which it claims contain ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Pakistan’s dubious dealings, even though Islamabad conveniently consigns the same to the dustbin!

The Indian PM breaks tradition by not making any observations on the Kashmir issue during his national address on the occasion of Independence Day. However the Defence Minister A K Antony does make a statement: “A part of the territory of the State (J&K) is under illegal and forcible occupation of Pakistan.” It appears that New Delhi has now found a new cause of worry and use of ‘State sponsored’ terrorism ‘stick’ to beat Pakistan is now passé.  And this is confusing because until now, while New Delhi liberally used the ‘terrorism’ angle, it only raised the PaK bogie to ‘checkmate’ Islamabad when it was confronted by Pakistan at the UN on the Kashmir issue.

 Even though India has always maintained that PaK has been ‘illegally occupied’ by Pakistan, it is extremely confusing as to why it has consistently displayed its lack of concern on the ongoing strife and sectarian violence in the Gilgit-Baltistan regions of PaK. This stoic silence of New Delhi is really very confusing as it tantamounts to an admission that either it does not care for its ‘oppressed citizens of PaK’ or that it considers this an internal matter of Pakistan! So by making territorial claims on PaK sans humanitarian concern for the people living there, hasn’t India indirectly supporting Pakistan’s cause of reviving the UN resolutions issue on Kashmir? So why is New Delhi so upset with President Zardari’s statement that ‘Kashmir is a symbol of UN’s failure”?

Next is the perfunctory manner in which Pakistan is handling the ‘K’ issue. Kashmir has been virtually ‘sacrificed’ by Islamabad in its quest for economic gains and the reality that there can be no lasting peace between New Delhi and Pakistan until Kashmir is first resolved, has been brushed aside. Through wide ranging economic concessions including grant of ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status to India, Pakistan has unwittingly sounded the death knell of the Kashmir ‘cause’. Intermittently reaffirming its commitment on Kashmir is nothing more than an elaborate public relations exercise being undertaken by Islamabad as an ‘emotional investment’ to keep the Kashmiris on their side while promoting commerce with India.

Pakistan has reaffirmed its wholehearted support for the ‘Kashmir cause’ and has expressed its anguish at the plight of the Kashmiris being annihilated by the Indian security forces. But if it is so concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the people of Kashmir, why did it target innocent civilians in the Uri sector? Hasn’t this given the Indian army an excuse for retaliating in a similar manner? Will this not result in a chain reaction which would break the fragile peace that has prevailed along the LoC? And so, isn’t the recent statement of Chairman Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq that “It’s Kashmiris who are being killed on both sides of the LoC,” the grim reality which highlights the consequences of Indo-Pak acrimony?

The Hurriyat leadership too leaves no stone unturned to confuse the public. While one separatist leader calls the UN resolutions on Kashmir ‘impractical’, another leader insists that India implement the same. And while one implores to the international community to intervene on this issue, another states that the Hurriyat is prepared to ‘forgo international facilitation’ for resolution of the Kashmir issue. The problem with the Hurriyat is absence of unanimity in its views and lack of clarity as regards the roadmap of the ongoing struggle for the ‘right of self determination’. So, while the ‘preferred personal choice’ of one leader as regards the future of Jammu and Kashmir is its accession with Pakistan, for another it is nothing else but freedom from both India and Pakistan, i.e. complete ‘azadi’.  

While the Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Muhammad Yasin Malik was impressing upon the visiting Amnesty International team that “despite no violence, the number of these troops is not decreasing but increasing with each passing day”, the militants were quick to belie Malik’s claim by going on an unprovoked shooting spree in a hotel in Pantha Chowk killing two civilians. By indulging in this senseless act of violence against the innocent locals, haven’t the militants actually come to the rescue of New Delhi which is facing the heat from all quarters for its refusal to remove AFSPA from J&K? So, when Hurriyat (G) chairman SAS Geelani writes in his autobiography that “When (the) gun lost control, militant groups lost moral standing,” isn’t he making an accurate and judicious observation? Hasn’t this incident given Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde the opportunity to assert that "When I was in Jammu and Kashmir, locals asked me to remove the army from the Kashmir valley. But I told them that we can’t do so till the situation is peaceful. I will remove the army when the situation is peaceful”?

The time has come when all sections involved in the Kashmir issue need to seriously introspect and start acting in unison as this movement is presently like a rudderless ship in choppy waters. The bottomline for all the players should be that their actions must not imperil the common man on the street or put him through avoidable inconveniences and that they should put an end to all ill-considered and spontaneous acts which achieve nothing material, but in the bargain only weaken the ongoing struggle. Till this happens, the plight of Kashmiris will remain akin to that of the proverbial ‘unfortunate jug’ and they will continue to be killed on both sides of the LoC!  

 
Author resides in New Delhi and can be mailed at niloofar.qureshi@yahoo.com