Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza Mirza

‘Minding Protests’: Poverty of Philosophy!

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In its editorial ‘Minding Protests’, published on 23 April 2018, Kashmir Images complains about the menace of public protests that have engulfed the Valley of Kashmir. Most of the public protests that are held in the Valley of Kashmir take place with the backdrop of a large military presence of Indian troops in the region that is rightfully demonised but wrongly presented as a ‘Hindu’ army suppressing a ‘Muslim’ population. This feeds into the twisted ‘Jinnahist’ notion of the Two Nation Theory, constantly creating division among Muslim and Hindu communities which in reality share a homogenous citizenry.

Jinnahism is a perverse negative religious/communal ideology which bases itself on fear of the ‘other’; in the case of the Indian sub-continent, of the Hindu. In the past, it has led to the painful division of the Indian sub-continent culminating in the massacre of more than one million innocent people.

Jinnahism, named after the Muslim barrister turned Indian politician who became the founding father of Pakistan, is the nationalist religious (read Islamic) chauvinism based on a religious identity which leaves feudal, religious and military political structures intact and even encourages the codification and toxic unification culminating in the reactionary symbiosis of the above mentioned socio-economic structures.

Another factor relating to the persistent violence in the Valley springs from the desire to become part of the Islamic State of Pakistan, which is neither a state nor Islamic in the true sense of the word. Pakistan is at best a prison of nations held at gunpoint by its military establishment. To give a recent example, one has only to observe the resentment against the military expressed by the newly sprung  Pashtun movement called Pashtun Tahafuz (‘Protection’) Movement led by fourth generation ‘Pakistanis’. On 23 April, they were brave enough to hold a public meeting at the historical Mochi Darwaza (Gate) in Lahore, openly declaring “Yeh jo dehshat gardi hai; is kay pechay wardi hai!” – “The {Pakistan} army is behind terrorism!”. They were referring to the military operation conducted in the name of the so-called ‘War On Terror’ in the Pashtun tribal areas officially referred to as F.A.T.A (Federal Administered Tribal Areas), which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Pashtuns as a result of carpet bombings and targeted extra-judicial killings.

In Baluchistan, there is an ongoing militant insurgency against the occupation of the natural resources of the land by military and now Chinese corporations. Sindh remains chained in the shackles of serfdom with private gaols dotted across the province. In ‘Azad’ (‘Free’, i.e. Pakistan-Administered) ) Kashmir, a population of four million remains subjugated and handcuffed by the colonial Act of 1974 cunningly prepared by the Bhutto government and then presented to the ‘Azad’ Kashmir legislative assembly and (forcefully) approved as its interim constitution. The Act of 1974 necessitates the pre-requisite of loyalty to Pakistan and the ideology of Pakistan i.e. Islam, before even one can apply for a clerical job/post let alone public office. Article 18-5 states: “No person shall be qualified for election as President unless (a) he is Muslim”. The oath designed for the members of the ‘Azad’ Kashmir legislative assembly strips an elected member of any dignity. Section 21 (6) of the Act of 1974 dictates that any person who has “been elected as Member of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly (or Council) do hereby solemnly swear in the name of Allah; That, I will remain loyal to the country and the cause of accession (!) of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan”.

The infrastructure in ‘Azad’ Kashmir is in shambles. Broken roads and lack of industry and jobs have turned young Kashmiri males into economic refugees who are forced to wander from the deserts of the Middle East to the frontiers of Europe and North America.

Any dissent in ‘Azad’ Kashmir in particular and Pakistan in general is dealt with through sheer brutality. The list of people who refuse to submit to the state narrative and have gone missing as a result runs into the thousands. In Gilgit, Baltistan even basic human rights are denied. Baba Jan, a peaceful campaigner for the protection of natural resources from falling into the hands of Chinese corporations and his comrades are serving a 40-year prison sentence in Gahkuch gaol. He and is comrades were at the forefront of a campaign demanding compensation for the victims of the Attabad landslide. Another recent victim was Ehsan Ali, the president of the Appellate (Supreme) Court of Gilgit who has been very vocal about the injustice that the people of Gilgit Baltistan face. He is also the lawyer for Baba Jan. In a late-night raid, security forces picked up Ehsan Ali and a case was filed against him on charges of blasphemy. This caused great uproar in the region and beyond, forcing the police to release him on bail after three days in detention. The peace rally held on March 16, 2018, called by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front in Madharpur in ‘Azad’ Kashmir, was brutally baton charged and fired upon, claiming the life of Naeem Bhatt.  The frustration caused by the brutality of the respective states of India and Pakistan is constantly building up on each side of the Line of Control.

Coming back to the editorial, ‘Minding Protests’ and considering the aforementioned scenario, one can conclude that the State of Jammu and Kashmir in general and the Valley in particular is faced with a serious crisis of leadership. This crisis of leadership springs from another crisis. It is the crisis of there not being a meaningful political organisation. The lack of meaningfulness in political discourse is a manifestation of yet another crisis; the poverty of philosophy, the lack of a scientific world outlook. Under these circumstances and under enormous duress, the masses turn to their traditional political organs for guidance.

The dilemma which the population of the Valley faces today is that not only have the so-called traditional political organs in the Valley proved unable to assimilate their political discourse into that of the oppressor’s narrative but that they also have been unsuccessful in developing their politics into organs for progress. Hence they have succumbed to the politics of nativism which in the case of the Valley leads us into the labyrinth of Jinnahism.

The failure of the political parties and their ideologues to provide our people with a path that shows the way has led our people astray. Jinnahism (read nativism) has led the people of the former northern India (now Pakistan) into communal and ethnic division and has not been able to solve a single issue that a capitalist democracy is supposed to address (e.g. industrialisation, full employment, national homogeneity and gender equality). This failure haunts the unconscious mind of the young people of the Valley.

In the wake of incidents such as the rape and murder of the eight-year old girl, Asifa Bano or the house-to-house military searches conducted in the name of securing peace, the population are thrown into fury.

The repressed desire to be free suddenly comes alive in the form of collective self-destructive socio-political behaviour. The passive act of individual suicide now manifests as an active collective reaction on the streets. The force with which the tear gas shells and bullets are fired upon the crowds is met with the equal retaliation of the stone pelter. The Valley now turns into a senseless and mindless brawl.

At the core of the aforementioned mindless collective brawl is the realisation of the failure of the oppressed (‘Muslim’ Kashmiris) to be able to make themselves acceptable as equal human beings to their colonial master (the Indian ‘Hindu’).  When the so-called traditional political parties try to kettle the population into the blind alley of (Jinnahist/religious/feudal) nativism, which already has been defeated by a superior (capitalist) economic system, the population rebels in such a manner that they grow out of the control of the very political organs that have in the past been rigorously preaching nativism. But the poverty of philosophy, i.e. the lack of a scientific and dialectical world outlook, obstructs from the view of the population, the direction that could lead them to construct a revolutionary path to freedom.

The writer is from Mirpur. He is the Chairman of Tehreek e Itefaq e Rai (Movement for Consensus) and can be reached at [email protected]

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