Winds of Change Reach the Middle East: Kashmir cannot be too far

              

Today we saw the unthinkable become real in Egypt. Only a few months ago no one thought Tunisia would break its shackles of bondage after decades of dictatorial rule. No one had predicted it. No one was prepared for it, not CIA, not Mossad, not even the Tunisian intelligence services. Then the masters of the world dismissed the Tunisian revolution as an aberration in isolation of brewing regional upheaval and simmering revolutions. They could not conceive of a sequel to the Tunisian episode.  

Egypt was written off as a lost cause by much of the Arab and Islamic world and dismissed by the Judeo-Christian world as an owned entity, with its ruling gang hogtied with the Camp David Accord and fed by 1.5 billion dollars of annual gratuity for not attempting to break loose from the hogtie. Entire Arab world was seen as little more than savage, incapable or unworthy of democratic or governance. Indeed, the entire Muslim world continued to be ridiculed as such as late as three weeks ago, and relegated to local or foreign-supported dictatorships. All other polities, including those which practice degrading religious mythological beliefs and practices, have been emancipated and granted the right of self-determination and self-rule; all except the Muslim polities.

And today we witnessed the unfolding of the beginning of a new era—an era which will usher in gusts of freedom for those who have been denied it for too long. After the fall of Soviet Union and liberation of Eastern Europe, the winds of freedom had changed direction and bypassed the Muslim lands. The summer rains of freedom gave life to all nations in the last half the twentieth century and thereafter, but not the Muslim nations. Now that the winds of freedom have reached Tunisia and Egypt, Kashmir cannot be too far. They may swirl around in the Arab world for a little while, but they are bound to head towards Kashmir sooner than later. Kashmir has been experimenting with gradually crescendoing revolutionary spirit in the last 63 years, more than most abused nations. It is ripe for the last push for freedom and self-determination.

Kashmir is a special case in the modern history. Dominated by a large nation with no compunctions or contrition about its misdeeds, it has suffered the worst type of foreign rule in the last half century under the Indian rule.  63 years of oppression have progressively exacerbated the resentment against foreign rule. Disenfranchisement of the electorate, denial of basic human rights, restriction of free trade across the borders, sustained imprisonments of political leaders without due process, restriction of free travel into and out of Kashmir, state sponsored terrorism using local and Indian accomplices, and  torture and murder of hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris has bottled up frustration, anger and resentment among Kashmiris of all ages.

Egypt was at least nominally in the hands of the Egyptians, but Kashmir is not in the hands of its citizens, even nominally. It is ruled directly by the Indian civil-cum- military administration from New Delhi. What nominal civil and police administration we see in Kashmir is tightly controlled and orchestrated from New Delhi. Kashmir has not been for Kashmiris ever since India invaded it on October 27, 1947. It remains straitjacketed ever since, —politically, economically and culturally.  It remains in a state of suffocation intellectually and emotionally. Talk of national humiliation, the whole nation of 13 million people of Jammu and Kashmir on both side of the Cease Fire Line; including ex-patriots remains humiliated by the Indian military control. Every Kashmiri that ever walks the paths, roads and alleys of Kashmir has been humiliated more than once by more than one Indian soldier. Every Kashmiri walks in humiliation and fear of the Indian security forces who roam every nook and cranny of Kashmir.

Every household has been looted, every orchard pillaged and every town burnt down at least once, sometimes more than once.
That is why there have been recurrent popular and mass agitations and uprisings against Indian occupation since 1947, more particularly since 1990. The world witnessed the stark difference between how Egyptian military reacted to the popular revolution— deferentially and peacefully, without shooting a single bullet. After all, they were their own Egyptian brothers and fellow citizens. They shared their heritage and their kinship as Egyptians. Now contrast it with the way Indian soldiers have behaved in Kashmir even during the recent mammoth peaceful rallies and demonstrations in the squares and streets all across Kashmir. The Indian security forces murdered children as young as seven years with live ammunition, at close range. You don’t hear of any mass graves in Egypt even at the hands of brutal Nassir, Sadat and Mubarak regimes. But, you have seen evidence of mass graves scattered all over Kashmir.

That is why Kashmiris are demanding freedom from foreign rule. Kashmiris demand and deserve the  right of self-determination. They are demanding and dying for freedom. They have been sacrificing their careers and their precious lives for the sake of freedom for their nation. From little children to the octogenarians leader like Syed Ali Geelani, Kashmiris are living each moment with a hope to realize  freedom and dignity for their people. The odds are tremendous, but so is their courage is indomitable. India will one day lose grip over Kashmir. Kashmiris’ will shall prevail one day. Nothing in human history teaches us otherwise and nothing in the recent history of Kashmir itself tells us differently.

Kashmir, an ingenious nation, that once nurtured a uniquely sophisticated culture, peaceful and tranquil, in the centuries past; will one day be able to regain its capacity to rebuild that tranquil society and reclaim that ingenuity to recast itself in that uniquely sublime Kashmiri image, which is so becoming of its past legacy. We are waiting for the moment of a glorious Kashmir which will usher in a new era of uniquely Kashmiri civility in which Muslims will live in harmony with its beloved Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist neighbors.  The world will witness that Kashmiri moment, whether it supports it, or remains on the side lines as insolent and uncaring spectator.