Silencing LUMS, Resilencing Balochistan


*Originally posted on the Dawn Blog. Unedited version below:

“Learn about the history, complications, human rights abuses, and the struggle for justice that has been going on in Balochistan.”

Such was the description of an event that was to be held at the Lahore University of Management Sciences today.

Highly-anticipated, Unsilencing Balochistan was scheduled to have a panel including Mama Qadeer (Chairman, Voice for Missing Baloch Persons), Farzana Majeed (General Secretary, Voice for Missing Baloch Persons), columnist and activist M. M. Ali Talpur, academic Professor Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Director HRCP I. A. Rehman and activist Sajjad Changhezi. The session was to be moderated by Chief Editor of the Daily Times, Rashid Rahman.

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However, yesterday students, staff and faculty at LUMS were abruptly emailed a brief, one-liner by Ali Khan, Chair of the Humanities and Social Sciences Department:

“The scheduled talk has been cancelled.”

While the reasons were clear to the wise, it was still difficult to imagine the stomp of boots within a private academic institution’s premises resonating among its decisions and activities.

Yet a ‘direct order’ by a certain ‘institution of the state’ was conveyed to Ali Khan demanding that the talk on Balochistan be cancelled immediately.

To the utmost furore of the students, Unsilencing Balochistan had become re-silenced even before it could be heard.

It says much about that state of affairs in a country when a discussion in a private university located in modern, urban provincial capital poses a threat to the state; when a few whispers from thousands of strangled voices of suffering and struggle raised to shatter the deathly silence shake the towering walls, overshadowing the state and society, of the corridors of power in the country.

Whispers put to immediate hush shriek of a culture of coercion and injustice, of power and subjugation.

The forced cancellation of the talk at LUMS is but merely a slight brush of the all-pervasive hold that has Balochistan gripped for decades; littered its streets and roads with mutilated bodies, left it with craters for graves and vanished many into thin air.

More importantly, the event’s cancellation is a blatant pursuit of the monopolization of discourse and narratives in Pakistan by the all-mighty and powerful. A pursuit, that is not new, which has previously and continues to subordinate education to certain agendas by the perversion of textbooks in Pakistan through distortions, lies, fabrications and obfuscations.

In the case of the Baloch and Balochistan, the monopolization is so complete, and its absorption so widespread, that challenging or contradicting it has now become a ‘threat’ and abhorrent to ‘the state’. It is a narrative of the sardars, the BLA and the naïve Baloch – manipulated by all to resent and dissent against the utopia that is Pakistan which has been ceaselessly kind and generous to the people of the province.

This narrative does all but exclude the greatest violator of Baloch rights – the Pakistani state and its institutions.

Umair Javed, who also teaches at LUMS, was quick to point out that none of the speakers who were to speak at the event were linked to either of the actors upon which the dominant narrative regarding Balochistan is centered; and that the state’s side of the story on the issue has been fed to us for over 60 years.

People on Twitter were prompt in stating that talks and discussions at LUMS don’t and cannot bring change; they are insignificant. Fair enough. However, then what was so significant and alarming about a discussion within the university that called for its cancellation? It was the persisting monopoly of narrative that the talk at LUMS seemed set to challenge – a narrative that is a product of the carefully-constructed dominant discourse which brands any dissent or dispute to be anti-Pakistan, anti-state ‘propaganda’; a narrative that conflates certain institutions with the country itself, to criticise whom is to malign Pakistan; a narrative that strangles the people for it seeks to strangle their voice. This fight of narratives and discourses is not trivial but a crucial battle in the struggle for a genuine democracy in Pakistan.

And the cancellation is yet another alarming reminder of the necessity to reclaim the discourse in Pakistan, to wrench it away from the hands of the powerful to the people.

Balochistan is bleeding.

And silence in its bruised and bloodied face is very much an accomplice.

And it must be remembered that only the aggressor would stifle and silence the cries and wails of its victims; for it exposes him. And the forced cancellation of the talk sputters the same.

As the cancellation is an assault on freedom of expression, freedom of speech, academic freedom and thoughts; it is an indicator of the palpable limits to the widely-hailed freedom of expression in Pakistan which is only allowed to run rampant upon political actors and groups. It stems from the stream of logic that accepts that a democratically-elected prime minister can be sent to the gallows, another can be humiliated and sent into exile but a military dictator cannot be tried. No, never.

Thus, the ‪#‎ShameOnLUMS‬ trend which absurdly holds the university at fault for planning such an ‘anti-Pakistan’ event and justifies the subsequent cancellation. The social media trend is but sharply reflective of the pervasive absorption of the dominant narrative regarding Balochistan, which includes conflation of an institution of the state with the state itself, and the consequent acceptance of limitations to academic freedom and discussion in Pakistan – a stark legacy of decades of dictatorships and authoritarianism that is pulsating strong even during an ostensibly democratic period; indicative of where true power lies even today

In a time such as this, the invaluable and timeless words of the great Eqbal Ahmad draw us back to them.

While famously speaking against the brutal army action in East Pakistan in 1971, and how uncanny to find striking relevance, sewn deep in his words for East Pakistan, to Balochistan, he wrote:

“I do not know if my position would at all contribute to a humane settlement. Given the fact that our government is neither accountable to the public nor sensitive to the opinion of mankind, our protest may have no effect until this regime has exhausted all its assets and taken the country down the road to moral, political, and economic bankruptcy.

 However, lack of success does not justify the crime of silence in the face of criminal, arbitrary power.”

And as the crime of silence reigns today; and if voices are a threat, then speak, nay, scream we shall.

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The Pakistan At The Periphery of The World’s View


Since the onset of Pakistan’s engagement in the War on Terror, the country nosedived in its entirety; politically, socially and economically. Not only was this unfortunate plunge a harbinger of possibly, the worst of times for it but heralded the introduction of a gamut of negative stereotypes in relation to Pakistan and its citizens.

Largely owing to the almost-routinely involvement of Pakistan or any individual with even a faint connection to it in incidents or reports of terrorism, the spread of these stereotypes and a fixed image of ‘The most dangerous place on Earth’ has completely buried the Pakistan that existed before and still exists for the world to witness.

Despite a tumultuous 64-year old journey and contrary to the belief that Pakistan ‘ a land virtually barren of achievements’ – it has had its fair share of achievements, pride and glory in every field.

Pakistan has played a significant role on the international stage.

Hardly two months after its creation in 1947, Sir Zafrullah represented Pakistan in United Nations General Assembly as the head of its delegation and soon emerged as the most excellent of a spokesperson for the causes of the Muslim World and other countries.

Perhaps, the greatest of the countless incomparable services he rendered was his exemplary advocacy of the cause of Palestine and Kashmir. Him being a champion of the former cause garnered enormous appreciation, acknowledgement and reverence from almost all Muslim countries and leaders at that time.

‘In October 1947 he delivered a speech on the Palestine issue in the UN General Assembly, which is one of the most strong case ever presented for Palestine to date.

[ Quoting from another blog on him ] :

‘His speech on Kashmir Issue on January 15, 1948 in the UN Security Council is considered as the most comprehensive presentation of the Kashmir Issue ever on international stage, his speech continued for 7 straight hours and resulted in materialization of UN resolutions on Kashmir.’

Through his stupendous championship of such causes, he also became an evident proponent of the advance of universal values, peace, human rights, democracy and justice as from 1948 to 1954 he represented Pakistan at the Security Council (UN) and outstandingly spoke for the liberation of Libya, Northern Ireland, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia and occupied Kashmir.

To date, none have come into sight that could rival the towering statesman, who was honored in his lifetime by numerous countries by bestowing highest of civil awards or a deserved deluge of praises, in prowess or services.

Pakistan’s Eeqbal Ahmed was a distinguished intellectual, ‘prolific writer and journalist, he was widely consulted by revolutionaries, journalists, activist leaders and policymakers around the world. ‘

He had joined Algeria’s National Liberation Front and was offered an opportunity to join the first independent Algerian government and refused in favor of life as an independent intellectual.

In the words of Edward Said, who penned a moving obituary on him in the Guardian in 1999, Eqbal Ahmad brought wisdom and integrity to the cause of oppressed peoples.

In a ‘Factfile’ for Islamabad Policy Research Institute titled ‘UN Peacekeeping Missions and Pakistan’, it is stated:

‘Pakistan is contributing to UN peacekeeping since 1960 and is the single largest contributor of UN peacekeeping forces, with more than 11,000 Pakistani military personnel serving in UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.

As of June 2013, the Ranking of Military and Police Contributions to UN Operations, states 114 countries contributing a total 91,216 military observers, police, and troops to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations; and Pakistan forms the single-largest contributor with the highest number of troops (military and law enforcement) to various UN Peacekeeping Operations worldwide.

Pakistan’s contingent for the UN Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone in 1999-2005 is also said to be cited by the UN Peacekeeping Headquarters as a ‘Role Model for all UN Missions’.

‘The Pakistan Naval Academy, which was established in 1971, has since its inception trained over 2,000 personnel from other countries, including Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Qatar and Bahrain.’

Pakistan also has a history of hosting several communities of disparate peoples’ from around the world [ Either fleeing from violence or other reasons ] and refugees. It received about six million Afghan refugees from 1979 to 2001.

Along with hosting about 200,000 Burmese people who are largely based in Karachi [ To be precise, they are Rohingya Muslims from Western Burma who claim to have fled their homeland of Arakan State under the persecution of Muslim citizens by the Burmese Junta ]. A considerable number of Kurds from many countries also came to reside in the country and some still do.

In a report released by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, with a staggering 1.6 million, Pakistan hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, nearly all from Afghanistan.

There was also a time, in the ’70s, ’80’s and 90’s and even just before the fateful year of 2001, when students from other countries, would come to Pakistan in pursuit of education; from Palestine, Iraq, Iran and other Middle Eastern Countries.

Apart from such matters, Pakistan has produced many notable personalities and individuals in other fields.

In the sports circuit, Jahangir Khan surfaced as the World’s No.1 player.


Stated on Ideas Evolved :

‘Pakistani control over the British Open and the World Open was created in 1976. The names of such great maestros such as Azam Khan, Roshan Khan, Mo Khan, Qamar Zaman, Jahangir Khan, and Jansher Khan have dominated the sport.

Moreover, Jahangir Khan is considered by many to be the greatest player ever to grace a squash court.

During his career he won the World Open six times and the British Open a record ten times.
Between 1981 and 1986, he was unbeaten in competitive play for five years. During that time he won 555 matches consecutively. This was not only the longest winning streak in squash history, but also one of the longest unbeaten runs by any athlete in top-level professional sports.’

Sultan Mohammed Khan Golden ‘a motorcar and motorcycle stuntman and jumping specialist, who introduced the sport of reverse motorcar jumping – set the world record by reverse jumping 150 feet over 15 cars.’

Sultan holds his self-set world record of jumping over 22 cars covering 249 feet distance, under his belt, among other things.

Hockey is the country’s national sport, in which it has thrice won the gold in 1960, 1968 and 1984 Olympics. Pakistan hockey team also won the Hockey world cup four times in 1971, 1978, 1982 and 1994. And the last major event: Champions trophy was won in 1978, 1980 and 1994.

Latif ur Rehman, Habib ur Rehman, Abdul Rasheed Jr and Dr. Atif Bashir are among Hockey legends from Pakistan.

In 1978, Pakistani hockey artistry also played a part in helping Argentina win the FIFA World Cup win.

The brilliant Sohail Abbas has the highest number of goals in field hockey history to his name: 348.

It is said, that there are only two major religions in Pakistan; Islam and Cricket.

Not only does the nation have utmost madness for it but Pakistan’s Cricket Team has shone since it ventured into the game. They won the World Cup in 1992, the T20 Cup in 2009 and since then, many Pakistani cricket players have made records and earned great wins, including that of the Blind Cricket Team and Pakistan’s Women Cricket Team.

 

brazuca-manufacture70% of the world’s footballs are made in the city of Sialkot. In the 1980s, Sialkot gained international recognition when it produced the Tango ball used in the 1982 FIFA World Cup and now, with the Brazuca of FIFA 2014.

Pakistan International Airlines was the first airline in the world to operate scheduled helicopter services. One of PIA’s Boeing 720s broke a world record that year, when it flew from London to Karachi non-stop in 6 hours and 43 minutes and 51 seconds during its delivery flight from Seattle, a record unbroken to this day. Also in 1978 the airline provided help to Somali Airlines, Air Malta and Yemen.

artworks-000003919565-07myxb-originalPakistan boasts of internationally acclaimed musician, late legend and maestro, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who is said to be one of the most celebrated artists to have ever been born. Many famous artists like Peter Gabriel, A. R Rahman and the late Jeff Buckley admired and were influenced by him. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan made it to TIME magazine’s list of ‘Asian Hereos’ in 2006.

ytutA renowned painter and master of the Chughtai Art, who was admired by the likes of Picasso and Queen Elizabeth II, the late Abdur Rehman Chughtai’s works are at the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Peace Palace Hague, United Nations Headquarters, New York, Kennedy Memorial Boston, US State Department Washington DC, President’s House Bonn, Nizam of Hyderabad’s Palace, Queen Julianna’s Palace in the Netherlands, Emperor’s Palace Bangkok.

Pakistan’s Ismail Gulgee was also globally known for his outstanding work as an artist. 

                    Edhi

Abdul Sattar Edhi, the illustrious philanthropist and a truly inspiring ‘living saint’ runs the the world’s largest ambulance help service and charity.

Dr. Abdus Salam

Coming to the sphere of science, Pakistan has the distinction of being the homeland of Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus Salam who, although tragically shunned by the state, was a man beyond brilliance. He helped lay the groundwork for the discovery of Higgs Boson.

 

Rahman Syed

Rahman Anwar Syed, on whom the Malaysian exalted title of Datuk was bestowed for his contribution to the social and economic well-being of Malaysia is best known for his discovery of the biological method of oil palm pollination. 

To name one, in the literary domain Pakistan’s Bapsi Sidhwa is admired by many. Pakistan’s writers and novelists are also winning acclaim and the country’s literature festivals continue to attract thousands each year.

The prestigious Harvard Medal of Freedom award has only been given to a total of three people, including Nelson Mandela and Pakistan’s former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Ali Moeen Nawazish is a record-holder for 22 A’s in A-levels. 17-year old Ibrahim Shahid set the record recently by 23 A’s in O-levels.

The late prodigy Arfa Karim, was surpassed by compatriot Babar Iqbal, who at 12 of age, became the Youngest Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and she, at the age 9 had became the Youngest Microsoft Certified Professional.
He also set up three other world records Youngest Certified Wireless Network Administrator at the same age, Youngest Certified Web Professional Associate at age 10 years and in 2009, the feather of the Youngest Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist was added to his hat.

 11-year-old Sitara Akbar, became the youngest student in the world to have passed the British Ordinary Level (O’Level) examination – passing six O’level subjects including Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

In addition to this, she also attained seven bands out of nine, in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) , scoring 7.5 in the testing system.

               

Nazir Sabir and Hassan Sadpara are two Pakistanis who achieved the feat of climbing Mount Everest.

While Samina Baig is the first Pakistani and Muslim woman to have achieved the feat of scaling seven highest peaks in seven continents.

 

Visual-effects specialist and artist Mir Zafar Ali was part of the team that won the Oscar award for best visual effects in 2007 for The Golden Compass; he has a plethora of hugely successful films to his credits, including Frozen which earned him his latest Academy Award. Other movies to his credit are: The Cabin in the Woods (2011), X-Men: First Class (2011), Hop (2011), Yogi Bear (2011), Aliens in the Attic (2009), Island of the Lost (2009), The Mummy (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), The Golden Compass (2007), Surf’s Up (2007), Spider-Man 3 (2007), Ghost Rider (2007), Open Season (2006), Monster House (2006), Stealth (2005), and The Day After Tomorrow (2004).

The second and more-famed Pakistani to win an Oscar was Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for her documentary ‘Saving Face’.

To mention a historic event in its history, the Muslim World’s first female Prime Minister, the late Benazir Bhutto was elected twice in Pakistan as was the Speaker of the Parliament Fahmida Mirza in 2008. Today, from ministers, political parties’ members, journalists, human rights activists, social entrepreneurs to teachers, singers, actresses to doctors, police officials to fighter pilots – Pakistani women are leaving no field behind in their participation.

Pakistan’s fascinating ‘lost children of Alexander’, the pagan Kalash tribe are relatively well-known but lesser known are the indigenous Africans of Pakistan called the ‘Sheedis’; both of which only add to the cultural vibrancy in the country.

Bu7ylhyIQAAhYBbWith looming mountains and paradisaical scenery  in the northern areas, green fields in Punjab, desert areas in Balochistan and meandering rivers in Sindh, all four seasons that are followed by different natural delicacies and festivities of the people, sumptuous food and scrumptious desserts [ Be it the spicy biryani of Sindh, the delectable ’siri paey’ of Punjab, savory Balochi ’sajji’ or the mouth-watering ‘namak mandi’ of the northern areas] while possessing a string of fascinating monuments, forts and remains of the different civilizations; Moenjodaro, Harrapa, Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Sheesh Mahal, Rawat Fort, Rohtas Fort, Derawar Fort etc  – Pakistan is a land with its fair share of problems, but a vivacious historical and cultural landscape.

Above all and everything else, Pakistan is the country that has stood against all odds gallantly as their lives became dispersed into a cycle of terrorism that has, till now, consumed 50,000.
As the terrorists blew their mosques, schools, buildings, shrines, hospitals and the bodies and limbs of their loved ones were strewn on streets, and nature shook its geography loose by earthquakes and the most devastating floods in recent history  – Pakistan held together, braved through all with resilience.

This single fact stands tall on its existence and is a feat itself.

Pakistan isn’t a land virtually barren of achievements; it is just, among all other descriptions and harsh facts, of mettle and and lioneheartedness an emobidement.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

* This is a site that was created solely for the purpose of cataloging and informing people of all the positive news related to Pakistan these days. The achievements and other seldom- good news.

Kashmir Bleeds, Does Anyone Heed?


*Published at Dissident Voice.

Befittingly termed once as ‘Heaven on Earth’, with millions martyred since the past 6 decades, thousands of half-widows, orphans and missing – Kashmir today is a Palestine-in-the-making of Asia.

As the Kashmir intifada continues, anyone keeping a keen eye on the serpentine course of events there is bound to be surprised as to why the coverage and attention of international media does not keep up with the importance and intensity of resistance to the Indian Occupation of the region?

[Read the precise history of the issue under the sub-title of ‘Background of the Kashmir Conflict’.]

For the past six decades, Kashmir has hung in the region as a pendulum of conflict between two countries with only one demand of the Kashmiri people, Azadi or freedom from Indian Occuption and their right to self-determination.

It has been tried to stifle this voice of theirs by bullets, lynching, rape, arrests, arson and humiliation which are what solely today’s Kashmiri youth or the ‘Sang-baaz’ (Stonepelters) have grown up knowing as gruesome child-hood memories.

But what needs to be highlighted, is how the international community is turning a deaf ear to the cries of Kashmir today when they are ringing higher than ever.

 Aalaw (Meaning ‘call’ in Kashur), is a site set-up by ordinary Kashmiris to help show the ground-realities there. It has updated the list of killings in Kashmir since 11th June:

“Summer in Kashmir has been drenched in blood which witnessed killing of many civilians, mostly teenagers, allegedly in police and CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) action mostly since June.”

113 people have been murdered brutally and one can gage if this is the case for 4 months, what really has been happening in Kashmir for the past 63 years.

 

The atrocities in Kashmir can also be recognized by a data included by Pakistan’s Parliamenatary Committee on Kashmir a few years back :

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS COMMITTED BY INDIAN TROOPS IN IOK

 
(FROM JANUARY 1989 TO FEBRUARY 2006)

Total Killings                                  90,776
Custodial Killings                            6,817

Civilians Arrested                        111,269

Houses/Shops Destroyed           105,143

Women Widowed                         22,371

Children Orphaned                     106,616

Women Molested                           9,637

(Source: All Parties Hurriyat Conference)

 

After much happening, recently the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon evinced his cognizance of the savagery in Kashmir by hesitatingly issuing a feeble statement (calling an “immediate end to violence” and pleading for “calm and restraint by all concerned”, thus equating the people of Kashmir with their oppressors)expressing concern over the situation there but by knwoingly not addressing India which should be diretly done as expected from the Head of an organization as the United Nations.

It is pertinent to mention here that Kashmiri population are only demanding that they should be given their rights of self determination under the UN Resolution. That leaves one to wonder what the purpose of the UN is if it lacks the will to exert pressure to execute the process defined under its own resolution leave alone stopping tyranny anywhere.

 

This dispute is also viewed as a possible cause of a future ‘nuclear clash’ between India and Pakistan therefore making the conflict a matter of international importance.

One would concur with what Ms.Maria Sultan wrote :

“The liberation movement is often depicted as a ‘terrorist’ militancy instigated primarily by Pakistan.”

It is doubtless that the foreign media, for a long period, has portrayed the freedom struggle of Kashmir wrapped in a dirty glaze of militancy and extremism (which is exactly what the oppressors in the case : India, have shown to be which would be similar to belieiing what Israel has to say about Palestine) showing the people of Kashmir to be terrorists funded by Pakistan which is certainly irrational to say the least.

 

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated at the UN:

“No one any longer can seriously believe … that Pakistan can orchestrate thousands of people…”

This time, the Intifida in Kashmir is not about men only but it involves women and children, armed with stones and sticks, stepping out to defy the curfew or protest.

 

The Sang-Baaz have taken to the streets and have become a single force mirroring the rise of the third Kashmiri generation in resistance to Indian Occupation.

Tariq Ali wrote a brilliant article ‘Not Crushed, Merely Ignored’  in July over the killings in Kashmir, him being in oblivion about them and the Foreign Media hypocrisy over it :

“….As far as I could see, none of the British daily papers or TV news bulletins had covered the stories in Kashmir; after that I rescued two emails from Kashmir informing me of the horrors from my spam box. I was truly shamed. The next day I scoured the press again. Nothing. The only story in the Guardian from the paper’s Delhi correspondent – a full half-page – was headlined: ‘Model’s death brings new claims of dark side to India’s fashion industry’. Accompanying the story was a fetching photograph of the ill-fated woman. The deaths of (at that point) 11 young men between the ages of 15 and 27, shot by Indian security forces in Kashmir, weren’t mentioned.

Later I discovered that a short report had appeared in the New York Times on 28 June and one the day after in the Guardian; there has been no substantial follow-up. When it comes to reporting crimes committed by states considered friendly to the West, atrocity fatigue rapidly kicks in.

An Amnesty International letter to the Indian prime minister in 2008 listed his country’s human rights abuses in Kashmir and called for an independent inquiry, claiming that ‘grave sites are believed to contain the remains of victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses which occurred in the context of armed conflict persisting in the state since 1989. The graves of at least 940 persons have reportedly been found in 18 villages in Uri district alone.’

The figures provided by the IPTK are startling. It claims that the Indian military occupation of Kashmir ‘between 1989-2009 has resulted in 70,000+ deaths’. The report disputes claims that these killings are aberrations. On the contrary, they are part of the occupation process, considered as ‘acts of service’, and leading to promotion and financial reward (bounty is paid after claims made by officers are verified). In this dirty and enduring conflict, more than half a million ‘military and paramilitary personnel [more than the number of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan combined] continue to act with impunity to regulate movement, law and order across Kashmir.”

 

 

M Yusuf Buch, a former adviser to the UN and former Pakistani ambassador wrote an excellent and a must-read piece on Kashmir under the heading of ‘India Fesering Wound In Kashmir’, starting from the beginning of the conflict, India’s reneges and failure to honor its pledges by Nehru, the response of the world to it to the recent-day events there :

[Excerpts;]

“The Kashmir dispute has persisted for more than six decades and, to put it simply, the world has become used to it. Second, the United Nations has been marginalised during the last two decades with the consequence that the Charter is beginning to be looked upon as almost an antique. Third, callousness, if not outright cynicism, has become the reserve fund of diplomacy. A blindness to human reality is reflected in the vocabulary employed when situations of international conflict are talked about. Two adjectives used when an indirect reference (a direct reference, mind you, would be frowned upon by India) is made to Kashmir: the adjectives: ‘historical” and ‘long-standing’. Factually, the adjectives are not wrong. But they come handy because by drawing a curtain over reality, they provide a moral justification for studied inaction.

We might interpose a question or two here. What is ‘historical’ about the young woman who has just been widowed and gang-raped? What is ‘long-standing’ about the elderly man whose only son, his sole support, has been killed? Again, what is ‘long-standing’ about the hordes of unarmed teenagers who are resorting to the practice of pelting the Indian occupation troops with stones in Srinagar and other cities

….. India stations more troops in Kashmir than the United States did or does in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Can this situation be dismissed as ‘historical’ and ‘long-standing’?

If it is being so dismissed at present, the dismissal is aided by the language employed. We are being told of an ‘insurgency’ in Kashmir. The term may not be inaccurate but it promotes a misperception. What is going on in Kashmir is not an insurgency against an authority that was once regarded as legitimate; it is a resistance to alien military occupation.

The uprising in Kashmir has been marked more than once by the entire male population of the cities (excepting only the aged, the sick and children) coming out together in the streets to demonstrate peacefully against India’s military presence in their homeland. Could such a pointer have been mistaken, or would it have been allowed to be mistaken, far less ignored, if it had happened in a Western country?”

It is visible that India has emerged as a vibrant and growing economy in Asia, offering much to the Western countries and this ‘E’ Reason is one of th major causes behind the almost non-existent standpoint on Kashmir of the ‘Superpowers’ and those countries that have claimed to be the torch-bearers of human rights previously. India is a much-needed ally of the USA in South Asia as a counterweight against China, which leaves the sensitive issue to be either vaguely or rarely addressed as to not miff them thus acquiescing with their ‘Atoot Ang’ farce.

Written back in 2005, the article titled ‘The Atoot Ang Farce’ points out :

“India has responded to this uncontrollable situation in three ways: it has isolated the occupied state by denying access to international human rights groups and media; it is perpetrating systematic atrocities in the form of collective punishment, mass killing, mass confinement, inhuman and degrading treatment, torture, starvation, molestation and rape – over 31000 women have been either molested or raped- arson, loot and custodial killings; facts are being distorted and the freedom movement is being propagated as terrorism with support from Pakistan. Indian media has helped its government in camouflaging the reality in Kashmir by churning out lies, fabrications, excuses, blames, abuses and myths.”

If not the International Community, one expects the foreign media to stop its selective coverage and come to show Kashmir as a disputed territory.

In today’s era has become a powerful instrument for sparking awareness in minds all over the world and a catalyst for setting the stage for a change. Its role in covering the diverse incidents of cruelties were vital in making the people and Governments watching them, imbued with the feeling of their moral responsibility to adopt a firm stance on such issues.

Also the Pakistani Media needs to outgrow its immature phase of developing , kicking up an unnecessary rumpus out of every political statement, but help divert the concentration of people towards burning subjects such as that of Kashmir which is as greatly related to Pakistan as it could be. The lack of media coverage from Pakistan’s side on the Kashmir Conflict is facilitating India to brand its oppression and gross human rights violations there as an  ‘internal matter.

Children as young as 8 are being killed in Kashmir, youthful and innocent Kashmiri girls are raped infront of their brothers and fathers yet there is no protest from the world , while when a woman is ordered to be stoned to death on the charges of adultery in Iran – even the First lady of France speaks up. People are not allowed to give blood to their injured or the dying loved ones in hospitals due to curfews. Where is the world on this? All countries that declare themselves to be champions of human rights, equality and freedom? Where are all the activists? Why this silence and bias?

 

Even Indian Civil Society Members have protested against the open genocide in Kashmir. Where is the Pakistani Civil Society? And it should be remembered that Kashmiris are against the Indian Government, not the people, who are in a state of amnesia regarding the promises their revered PM Nehru had made over Kashmir which they failed to fulfill. Mere rhetoric will not do, both Governments need to set Kashmir as a top priority as there can be no peace in Asia along with the establishment of its presence between the two nations, without this quagmire being solved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiris.

 

KASHMIR BLEEDS, DOES ANYONE HEED?

 

– Hafsa Khawaja