Between history and the current, between religious and ethnic tensions, between principle and hypocrisy, there is so much to unpack when it comes to Kashmir.
There are at least three different positions in Pakistan with regard to the latest developments in India and Kashmir.
Pakistan’s commercial liberal mafia, sponsored by PML N, is shamelessly gleeful and is egging on India to attack and destroy Pakistan. Then there are irresponsible voices on the hard right like Sheikh Rashid and others who want Pakistan to respond with military force. Both of these are destructive voices and must not be entertained.
Thankfully Pakistan has decided to take a moderate stance by downgrading diplomatic ties and suspending bilateral trade. This is more in line with the moderate voice of PPP as well, which called for the joint session of parliament on Kashmir.
From the beginning, Pakistan’s case for Kashmir was always rooted in deep emotions. It felt Kashmir was an integral part of a nation state carved out on the basis of a religious identity – a faith identity that eschewed sectarianism and was willing to accommodate other faiths.
From the very beginning, Pakistan made a mess of its national aspirations to have Kashmir included within its final territory. Pakistan was willing to argue that Hyderabad and Junagadh should accede to Pakistan because they were ruled by a Muslim head even as Muslims formed a minority within the States.
Contrary to their stance on Hyderabad and Junagadh, Pakistan argued that Kashmir’s Hindu ruler should not accede to India because Kashmir had a Muslim majority.
In the end, Pakistan lost all three. Real politick is not based on emotional aspirations – it is based on ground realities. India was the larger, economically stronger and more stable state and prevailed.
Pakistan tried the armed struggle option and here also, the tactics applied were flawed and predictably backfired. Pakistan choose to send tribal sectarians. Aside from the atrocities committed by tribal Jihadis, Pakistan could not ensure their withdrawal in order for the UN plebiscite proposal to go through.
Since 1989, rogue elements like Hamid Gul have damaged the Kashmiri cause. Various Jihadist proxies have severely damaged Pakistan’s internal stability as well as international standing and this has hurt the indigenous struggle of the Kashmiris.
In 2008, Pakistan had an opportunity to turn away from this failed strategy but Pakistan’s right wing politicians opposed mechanisms like the Kerry Lugar Bill which tied financial aid to Pakistan by curtailing Jihadist organisations that were active in Kashmir.
By the time Pakistan finally decided to change course in 2014, it was too late. A day late and a dollar short.
On every other front, Pakistan has regressed. Voices within Pakistan want to dictate to India on constitutional matters while disrespecting Pakistan’s own constitution and trying to derail the 18th Amendment.
Pakistan has itself not provided proper constitutional frameworks for Gilgit Baltistan or FATA. Nor has Pakistan respected the voices of its Baloch, Seriaki and Sindhi sub-Nationalist groups.
Princely States in Pakistan like Khairpur and Bahawalpur have long been ripped up and assimilated into Federal structures.
How can Pakistan make a case against the intended demo-graphical changes in Kashmir by the Modi government?
Are we forgetting the sectarian and ethnic demographic changes forced on Gilgit Baltistan.
Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir can best be described in the thoughtful speech of Bhutto. It is an emotional affirmation where the State has few practical solutions.
Both Pakistan and India are suffering from an identity crisis and the cost is being paid by the one and half billion of humanity that resides here. And the flash point of this crisis is Kashmir.
Pakistan’s identity crisis are well documented and revolve around its sectarian elites fetishistic a selective group of brutal Muslim conquerors and ignoring centuries of shared history, culture and art.
Contrary to the self-loathing liberals of Pakistan, often afflicted with UP elitism and other chauvinist strains prevalent in sections of Pakistan’s intelligentsia, India too has a raging identity crisis. This psychosis has emerged a few decades later than Pakistan.
In India, the Hindutva movement fetishes history before the Muslim invasion of Sindh. As per this identity crisis, a Hindu India was fantastically peaceful and egalitarian. Holy men cum scientists were busy colonizing Mars and Jupiter while dancing to Bollywood show tunes and write intricate programming code.
Both identity crisis are constructed around caricatures and hyperbole. The British fully exploited these crisis by nurturing the most regressive and sectarian elements of each community. None of this was more evident than the destruction of Lucknow’s composite culture.
This psychosis is being played out in Kashmir and we in Pakistan can only focus on peace and internal change.
Where our collective yearning of Kashmir can be articulated in the peaceful and thoughtful words of Bhutto as opposed to a befuddled Niazi.