Difficult to Hide Home Truths
Difficult to Hide Home Truths, Pre-Occupation with NaMo, Small Time Politician Sharif. Two interesting developments that have a bearing on Kashmir...
Two interesting developments that have a bearing on Kashmir today and tomorrow have been missed by the Government-owned radio and TV. Even our private channels ignored them largely because of pre-occupation with NaMo (Narendra Modi) and MoNa (Modi No). Probably, if his aides did some home work, Modi could have used the development as yet another Scud Missile to target the Grand Old Party and its crown prince, Rahul Gandhi, whom Modi endearingly addresses as Sahebjadae.
First some background. Across Pakistan, October 27 is observed as Black Day saying that it was on this day India had forcibly occupied Kashmir. Pakistan has also been observing February 5 as Kashmir Day to show solidarity with the people of Kashmir. Historically, this day has no special significance; yet it has become an important day in the Pakistani calendar because of Nawaz Sharif, a successful Punjabi businessman, whom the army groomed into a successful politician.
Two decades ago, Sharif was still a small time politician; when he set his eyes on national scene, he found in Kashmir, which, for Pakistan is its jugular vein, the perfect platform to strike it big. So, he issued an appeal for a nation-wide strike to “protest against the Indian occupation of Kashmir”, and called upon people to “pray for the success of Kashmiri freedom movement”. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government of the day quietly declared February 5 as a public holiday. My guess is that Sharif’s Kashmir fixation has much to do with his less-talked Anantanag (Kashmir) roots. His family moved out of Kashmir long years before the Partition, stayed for a while near Amritsar, and after 1947, migrated to Pakistan Punjab. Once a Kashmiri always a Kashmiri, so goes the local saying. True to this adage, he visits PoK (“Azad Kashmir”) whether in or out of power, often to enjoy the Kashmiri winter, like he did last year by spending a quite day in the last accessible village near the LoC.
The present spurt in ceasefire violations along the LoC since his return to the driver’s seat in Islamabad may be one of those accidents that shape history. We will know as we go along but the short point in the context of this column is not Sharif-centric. It has much to do with people on both sides of the Kashmir divide and how they view the Black Day that Pakistan observes in their name, and in their cause, projecting Kashmir as “a land engulfed in flames”, and as “a picturesque valley with a barbed wire drenched in blood”.
Both in Jammu and Srinagar, the Pundit community, particularly the champions of Panun Kashmir, takes special care to observe October 22 as the Black Day. And vent their anger that they became subjects of ethnic cleansing with Delhi remaining a helpless by-stander. This October 22 acted as a grim reminder of the distance the Kashmiris have travelled from the days of ‘tribal invasion’ in 1947.
Every one of the organizers of the Day knew, mostly firsthand, the way tribals acted after they entered the valley at the behest of Pakistani Army. For instance, some armed tribals, indulged in looting whatever had caught their fancy. Most of them, if not all, had heard about gold but had not seen it by then, and, no surprise, they mistook shining brass for gold, and plundered brass vessels, as a veteran of the old times recalls with a big grin these days.
The simplicity and innocence of the tribal invaders had another fall-out. It threw the Pak army plans for Kashmir into disarray, and Rawalpindi is still unable to put its act together even after making private jihad the corner stone of its Kashmir policy.
Leaders of various parties who joined the Black Day organised by Jammu Kashmir Unity Foundation (JKUF) made one point. It is that it is patently wrong to term the October 22, 1947 invasion of Kashmir as a tribal raid since Pakistani Army used the innocent tribals as “shield” to hide the true nature of the invasion. This is not a new claim. Several Indians, including government functionaries, have been making this observation at home and international platforms like the UN, but the Pakistani media, and Pakistani leadership - government and army- have been pooh-poohing these contentions. Not any longer. A beginning in “roll back” has started.
The threat faced by private jihad to Pakistani State appears to have stirred a very influential section of Pakistan into admitting home truths before the home audience. As journalist Hamid Mir, a leading light of the Pakistani media, says, this is a difficult job since “in Pakistan, State departments and non-State elements have very low levels of tolerance”.
Mir himself anchored a special programme of Geo TV (from the Jung stable) on “Whether Pakistan State adopted private jihad as foreign policy?” Ignoring the stream of SMS threats, he and his panelists fielded questions from listeners in the context of an “All-Party Conference (APC)” held by Prime Minister Sharif for a mandate to talk to the Pakistani Taliban. And as Mir wrote later, “we explained that use of non-State elements by the State had not begun since 1979 after Russia’s attack on Afghanistan but it had begun much earlier when a tribal force was sent to Kashmir”.
The four -hour long programme also exposed that taking the excuse of Kashmir’s issue not being resolved, “Gen. Ayub Khan initiated Operation Gibraltar in 1965, and sent guerrillas to Kashmir, which resulted in an Indo-Pak war”. If you know Urdu, read his piece in the original at http://jang.com.pk/jang/sep2013-daily/20-09-2013/mulkbharse.htm. And draw the inevitable conclusion that it is difficult to hide the truth – anywhere any time.
Let me conclude with an apt observation from Mir: “India also sent Mukti Bahni in 1971 to break up Pakistan, but the Indian state did not use its citizens against Pakistan but used the Army whereas Pakistan used non-State elements for Kashmir’s freedom again and again, as a result militancy penetrated into Pakistani culture.