by Zafar Bangash (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 6, Shawwal, 1437)
While the Kashmiris valiantly resist the brutal Indian occupation, their friends around the world need to develop a coherent strategy to help them overcome one of the most brutal militaries in the world.
The hapless people of Kashmir are once again at the receiving end of Indian brutality. Since the latest uprising, sparked by the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8, scores of people have been killed and thousands injured. In a new tactic, the Indian military occupation forces are using rubber-coated steel pellets that have blinded hundreds of people. Photos of badly punctured eyes, faces, skulls and bodies have appeared in the social media.
Reaction to the latest bout of Indian bloodletting is also all too familiar. The government of Pakistan has condemned such killings and brutalities; India has parroted its traditional line: Kashmir is its “internal matter” and Pakistan should keep out. There have been protests in different parts of the world including Britain, Canada, and other places. Different cities of Pakistan have also seen mass protests. Unfortunately, there has been little reaction elsewhere, much less condemnation of Indian crimes against the Kashmiris.
For the record, Kashmir is not an internal matter of India regardless of how often and how loudly the Hindu rulers of Delhi parrot this line. It is disputed territory whose future must be determined according to the wishes of the people through a referendum. There are several United Nations Security Council resolutions affirming this. When the problem first arose in 1947, Indian rulers including India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru promised to respect the wishes of the people. But once India had tightened its military grip on the state, it back-peddled from this pledge arriving at the nonsensical claim that Kashmir is an “integral” part of India.
One can continue to reiterate what the historical background to the dispute is, and there may be some utility in this, but what is important is to think of other ways to help the people of Kashmir. First, it must be recognized that the UN is not going to implement its own resolutions. The UN is not an independent body; it serves the interests of dominant powers. These powers — whether the US, Britain, France or Russia — are not interested in helping the Kashmiri people at the expense of antagonizing India.
Unfortunately, Pakistan’s diplomacy has failed in communicating effectively the significance of the Kashmir dispute. Even its allies in the region — the Arabian regimes and others — that call upon Pakistan for help when they are in difficulty, have done little beyond lip service for the Kashmiris. Not much, however, can be expected from these clownish Arabian rulers.
Friends of Kashmir around the world must think of more creative ways to increase the cost of India’s illegal occupation. There are many nonviolent but effective ways to make India pay. It can start with a boycott of Indian goods worldwide. There are millions of Muslims residing in Europe and North America. They can launch a campaign to boycott Indian goods. There are many non-Muslim peace activists that are just as concerned about the plight of suffering humanity. They can be mobilized in support of the Kashmiri people. Similarly, student groups at university campuses should be mobilized for Kashmir in the same way as they have been in support of Palestine.
Second, the ugliness of India’s caste system needs to be exposed. It is nothing but religiously sanctioned apartheid. If political and social apartheid in South Africa was exposed and ultimately defeated, why not confront Hinduism’s religious apartheid in like manner?
Third, Bollywood actors and actresses regularly appear at various events in Western countries. There should be protests held at such events to highlight the cause of Kashmir. True, inside Pakistan, there are also groups that are enamored with Bollywood culture but we need not detain ourselves with these opportunists whether among the political elite or in the media. They are part of the problem, not the solution.
Finally, the people of Kashmir must be made aware that they are not alone. They should not lose hope in a better future even if the present is grim and dark. Social media can be used for this purpose.
What is required is a commitment to truth and justice and a determination to carry it through to the end.