The Reality in Kashmir

My eight-year-old son was in tears when Pakistan played India in the cricket World Cup semifinals in 2011. He knew his favourite team was about to lose.

“Papa, what are they doing? They will lose the match,” he said.

Papa had no answers. The television was switched off, and Papa had a difficult time consoling him.

Papa had never discussed the Kashmir issue, Pakistan or India with his son. And yet the kid was crest-fallen on seeing Pakistan lose.

This is the reality of Kashmir.

Some people may not like it, but Pakistan runs in our blood.

The police know it, the intelligence agencies know it, and so does New Delhi.

When Kashmiri students in a Meerut university cheered for Pakistan, they had not gone crazy. They were reflecting a sentiment, aptly summed up by Mahjoor, Kashmir’s poet laureate: …dil chum pakistanas seath (my heart is with Pakistan).

Commenting on Pakistan’s victory over arch rival India, my erstwhile colleague, Aijaz-ul-Haque, wrote in the Greater Kashmir:  dil hai ki manta nahi.

Around thirty thousand spectators from all parts of Kashmir displayed their love for Pakistan, or rather their hatred of India, in 1983 during a one-day international cricket match between India and the West Indies.  The West Indian players had probably not seen such support even at home. The same players would have been humiliated and hooted had they been playing Pakistan.

A talented cricketer from Kashmir, Parvez Rasool, created history by making it to the Indian cricket team. Kashmiris celebrated his selection.  Parvez will play for India in the coming days and Kashmiris will support him. But what will happen if, while playing Pakistan, he bowls out Shahid Afridi? The government will have to provide security for his family in Kashmir.

A kid of just eight years from Islamabad (Anantnag) suffered hemorrhage when Pakistan defeated India in the just concluded Asia Cup.  If Pakistan loses, Kashmiris die, and if Pakistan wins, we still die, but out of sheer joy.

Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Rasool Kar made an epoch-making statement while addressing a convention at Sopore on May 10, 2010: “Every Kashmiri is emotionally attached to Pakistan whether they are in the Congress or the National Conference.”

He also said that every heart in Kashmir (including his) beats for Pakistan.

Pro-accession and anti-accession political parties have to pursue a separatist agenda in Kashmir necessarily for their survival. Over the past decade, staunch separatists have fallen from grace because of their coziness with New Delhi, and pro-India parties have gained ground by chanting the separatist mantra. This is what some people call the stark reality of Jammu and Kashmir.

Nothing has changed in here in the past six decades. The Constituent Assembly ratified the state’s accession to India on February 6, 1954. Most of its members were loyal to the then Prime Minister, Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad, and behaved accordingly. Little resistance was offered to the motion. It was unanimously passed – the only honourable exception being Abdul Ghani Goni who had the courage to talk about izzat aur aabroo ka maqam (honour and dignity) for the people of the state.  His words of resistance were drowned in the deafening applause over the ratification of the accession, and he had to walk out of the house.

When members of the Constituent Assembly mocked him during his speech, Goni said: “Let us withdraw the Indian army for five days and see whom this house represents.”

This drew more sarcasm from his fellow-members, but he had succeeded in putting across his point.

On that day Goni conveyed to the house that they did not represent the people of Jammu and Kashmir. He made them aware that they were delivering fiery speeches in favour of accession only because a huge army had strangulated the genuine aspirations of the people.

Six decades down the line, members of the legislative assembly uttered the truth about Jammu and Kashmir. Responding to a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) resolution seeking the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members said: “We are in this house because the army is there to protect us.”

So, during all these years, nothing has changed in the state. The BJP members admitted that the presence of army was necessary for holding Jammu and Kashmir. If the army goes, India loses the state. What a bold admission.

A legislator made a laughing stock of himself by saying: “If the AFSPA is repealed, how can we move about?” Well said. At least the law-maker had the courage to admit the truth – that the army had to have the license to kill at will for him to uphold democracy and ‘reach’ the masses.

The reality of Kashmir has remained unchanged. The sentiment has been sustained. Syed Ali Geelani made the point succinctly a few years ago when he challenged the Abdullahs to address a rally at Lal Chowk without security.

His confident supporters amended Geelani’s challenge a bit. “We will not tell them to address a rally because we know they cannot do it. Instead let them walk from the erstwhile Palladium cinema to the erstwhile Regal cinema on any `working’ day,” they offered.

feedback: din.zahir@gmail.com

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