Kashmir: Diplomatic Deception Is No Solution
By Tariq Shah
15 December, 2010
Gandhi Ji once famously said: “An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.”
Is there anything more damning to the collective conscience of a colonial nation than having to govern through deception, or control through repression, an unwilling people who have no confidence in its institutions, who do not subscribe to its ‘idea’, or who do not give a damn to its ideals?
Is there a strategy more erroneous to plan, more perilous to execute, more difficult to sustain, or more uncertain of its success than to coercively manufacture allegiance to forced occupation where the population relentlessly and repeatedly rebuke the occupier?
Is there anything more damaging to the institution of the Fourth Estate – -the print and electronic media- – than its criminal silence, or worst the shameless glossing- over the deeds of the deceptive and repressive techniques of the political-establishment –military complex?
The deceptive ways and means of New Delhi’s repressive rule in Kashmir, and the shameless way the nationalist media are glossing- over the goings-on in the traumatized valley behooves a nation that believes in freedom only in spirit but not, in principle- – a nation full of self-doubt.
It has been rightly said: “If you’re going to hold someone down, you’re going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain. You are confined by your own repression.” A decidedly counterproductive rule in some armies is to subject an unwilling soldier to physical torture until his morale improves. Thus, the sarcastic phrase: “the beating will continue until the morale improves.” New Delhi has obviously chosen to continue on this futile path to contain Kashmir unrest by administering a mixture of military force and diplomatic deception, and hopelessly hold onto an expectation that Kashmiris will in the long-run willy-nilly yield to Indian rule.
The irrefutable truth is that Kashmiris’ yearning for peace and progress is matched only by their enduring aspiration for freedom from the Indian rule. True, the self-determination movement has been subject to the mundane, if unfortunate, forces of history- -greed for power of some, economic interests of others, political intrigue, compromises, strategic blunders, neglect, etc. However, the freedom sentiment has resolutely resisted total abandonment; this ideal has recruited new adherents as some of the old ones gave in. And, it will continue to do so.
Perhaps taking literally Slobodan Milosevic’s gospel that under foreign occupation, people “forget their history, their past, their tradition, their national symbols, their way of living, often their own literary language”, New Delhi continues to hope that people’s memory is inherently short. It unbelievably hopes that hearts and minds could be won in Kashmir in spite of the brutal repression; the population is susceptible to deception, and people’s perceptions are manageable through mind control, perception management, psychological operations ( psychops) and Chanakyan double- speak.
New Delhi is perhaps oblivious to the fact that through its repressive rule it continues to create generations of Kashmiris with stabbed hearts and traumatized minds. In Kashmir, it has worked very hard to create hearts that cannot be won, and minds that cannot be changed. When can a Kashmiri’s memory fade? Kashmiris will neither forget the geography of their history nor the history of their geography! They will not forget their fallen tulips and smothered roses- – young girls and boys who have been brutalized and decimated by the state.
New Delhi must be credited, however, with its relentless – -and often successful- – efforts – – to put up a facade and manage some diplomatic brownie points by confining expressions of Western concerns, for example, to only a nuanced prodding by Obama, as against his pre-election promise of ‘serious engagement’. Remember though, as Wikileaks fiasco has amply demonstrated, this gentle public prodding may not necessarily be reflective of what transpired behind the doors.
India has been unsuccessful- – at least so far- – in getting China change its stand on the stapled visas’ issue, or in convincing Iran to recant its recent statements of support for Kashmir. Since national self-interest dictates these diplomatic postures, there is no guarantee that these countries will continue to resist Indian pleas; they may soon jolly well give up their ‘pro-Kashmir’ stances. How will that change the ground reality in Kashmir?
Google may or may not show Kashmir as a disputed territory; does that make it an integral part of India? If the UN permanently deletes from its lists the ‘Kashmir Question’, it may provide only temporary consolation to New Delhi; will it have any transformative effect in Kashmir? After all, when was the last time the UN ever discussed Kashmir? And, who cares?
Has this hands-off approach by UNO on Kashmir ended its UNMOGIP mission on either sides of the LOC? Has this shameful neglect changed Kashmiri hearts and minds? Has it stopped the summer 2008 and summer 2010 rebellion in Kashmir? Late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, had aptly dismissed the UNO as “a tuck shop” – – a den of gossip, where individual countries in and by themselves can accomplish nothing, but collectively conclude that nothing can be done. No wonder then, the UN has earned the image of a “toothless tiger” with a loud growl but no bite.
As a short-term objective of perception management and mind control, India will always be able to manage diplomatic ‘double- speak’ from some world powers. Is that of any material consequences on the ground? What is of importance is whether in doing so, if New Delhi will be able to change the ground reality in Kashmir. Will the entire world’s publicly offered diplomatic support to the Indian position on Kashmir translate into Kashmiris’ acquiescence to the India rule?
Will silencing Arundhati Roy silence the streets of Kashmir? Will Professor Noor Mohammad Bhat’s incarceration silence his students? Will the Kashmiri youth take any notice at all of a ‘show cause notice’ on Congress minister Sham Lal Sharma?
The shrill answer is no, it will not change the ground reality in Kashmir. These diplomatic lies and repressive techniques will only reinforce Kashmiris’ mistrust of New Delhi as an imperial manipulator and a colonial exploiter. In the long-term strategic terms, the net loser of this Chanakyan maneuvering will be New Delhi- – not Kashmir or Pakistan. That Kashmiris have hit the cul de sac in their relations with India should be no secret to the policy makers in New Delhi and beyond. Gandhi Ji once famously noted: “An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.”
How long can you keep Kashmir under the colonial yoke, enmeshed in a matrix of false pretenses- – deception, coercion, propaganda, bribery, psychops etc? Having shed your British colonial yoke 63 years ago, what justification, can you furnish for the continued theft of Kashmir’s sovereignty?
You want to believe comical Farooq Abdullah’s shameless falsehood when he says, “India is written all over every Kashmiri’s heart” since this feeds your own follies. You do not want to believe the upright Sham Lal Sharma’s truth since it pricks a hole into your ‘integral part’ rant. It is immaterial whether there is any truth in the claims of discrimination against Kashmir or discrimination against Jammu. It is not what is but what people think is that shapes their political behaviour. People’s perceptions are their reality. How much more time will you want to waste before you take this self-evident truth seriously?
On the other hand, and perhaps more importantly, the India media will be serving national interest better if it shuns the path of deception through broadcasting. Indian media has unashamedly become the handmaid of political and corporate elites; it is focused more on gathering revenue by catwalks of scantly covered fashion models than by projecting the truth about Kashmir. Most news about the national security is presented through the tainted glasses of paid agents of the intelligence agencies.
These implants have harmed India’s own national security by molding the public opinion against India’s neighbors, and more so against the Kashmiris’ resistance movement. Only a self-regulated, self-correcting, and introspective print and electronic media will serve India’s national security interest better. The intelligence agencies have their own axes to grind.
The Indian media have graduated from the initial denial mode to a redefining of the ’Azaadi ‘slogan in Kashmir. The glossing-over mode, however, unabashedly continues. The latest twist given to the deafening Azaadi chorus is that Kashmiris want Azaadi from unemployment, corruption, and bad governance, and not Azaadi from the Indian control. No, Kashmiris Azaadi movement is about restoration of an unfettered sovereignty to their divided nation through an end to the foreign rule. There is scantily any need for redefining ‘What Azaadi means?" for a Kashmiri.
Rather than wasting precious resources on keeping the propaganda machine well oiled, India’s establishment and its media will do well to spend these valuable resources to correct the falsified perceptions of its own people. India’s unsuspecting masses have been tricked into believing during the last six decades that the troubles in Kashmir are of Pakistan’s making, and that Kashmiris love India. This is not to say there is hate for India in Kashmir. Far from it, Kashmiris want India to prosper and do well; they merely want an end to the forced and a dysfunctional marriage. Let the deception end – -now.
The writer is a freelance citizen writer