Kashmir Solidarity Day – For Whom?
By: Imtiyaz Parvez
February 5 is observed as Kashmir Solidarity Day at the behest of the Government of Pakistan. The day is observed with much fanfare and numerous events such as seminars, talks, demonstrations and government sponsored meetings are arranged with active support of the Pakistan state apparatus. In these events, discussions are devoted to the so-called illegal occupation of Kashmir by India and every attempt is made to discredit presence of Indian State in Jammu & Kashmir. On the deeper side, if we look at this day under a hand lens, a multitude of questions appear in anyone with a critical mind. The foremost question is also the obvious: “Kashmir Solidarity Day – For Whom?”
Let us contextualise this show of solidarity with some history. This day was chosen for no particular historical event in Kashmir. It was actually suggested by then Jamaat-e-Islami Chief of Pakistan in 1990 to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to show solidarity to the efforts being made by Kashmiri fighters to ‘liberate their motherland’. To put this more into context, the sister arm of Jamaat in Kashmir was at that time preparing to launch its own terrorist outfit. The purpose of show of this solidarity was to propagandise the militancy in international circles and win brownie geopolitical points, rather than actually coming to any help of Kashmiris. This purpose has remained the same as has the indifference of Pakistan through these three decades. The christening of the day betrays the purpose – It is just to show solidarity, to put a little more critically, to pay lip service.
Fact of the matter is that Pakistan’s friendship with Kashmiris reminds one of a famous Kashmiri phrase – Haft Yaarez. It goes like this:
“A man was very friendly with a wild beer. They would sit together for hours in the forest and play with each other. One day the man was relaxing in the shade of a tree and fell asleep. Beer kept watching on him. A fly was repeatedly disturbing the sleeping man. All efforts by the beer to shoo it away failed and the fly again rested on the forehead of the sleeping. To teach fly a lesson, the beer grabbed a huge rock and hit the fly then and there.”
The present dispensation in Pakistan has taken this lip service to another realm altogether. In this age of manufacturing opinions and narratives in the cyber universe, Pakistan has roped in every unknown ‘intellectual’ and paid proxies worldwide to hold webinars to express solidarity with Kashmiris. After the abrogation of Article 370 by the Hindutva government of Modi in 2019, Pakistan had launched this hybrid attack of webinars to ‘help Kashmir’, laughingly at a time of communications and internet blackout in Jammu & Kashmir. The real audience has always been the international media and online networks, Kashmiris be damned. In all international forums, be it the (in)famous UN General Assembly “blood will flow in the streets after curfew is lifted” speech of Imran Khan or the damp statements in OIC, Pakistan has been left lonely even by allies. Any right (not political) thinking person would tell you that the worst enemy of Pakistan is Pakistan itself. It not only failed to express solidarity with Kashmiris after August 5, 2019 but also continues to show abject poverty in ideas diplomatically and domestically to expose the Indian oppression.
Kashmir Solidarity Day is just another day latticed on the Pakistani propaganda model still stuck in the 1990s. There is no audience for it in Kashmir and international attention is also limited to the echo chamber of Pakistan’s allies. In the aftermath of the unprecedented, albeit blatantly unconstitutional action of India in August 2019, Pakistan has been unable to corner the Indian State in the forums and economic groups that matter globally. In the geopolitical world of the 21st century, propaganda wars run through paid agents stand stark naked and in contrast to well-thought out diplomatic manouvering. The latter is something which is alien to the generals in Rawalpindi and the palm lined boulevards of Islamabad.
Kashmir does not require empty propaganda attempts to advertise its cause. What we need is real and solid efforts to amplify the rightful political demands which predate even the creation of Pakistan. The neighbour needs to remember its own occupation of 1/3rd of Kashmir and the plight of our brothers and sisters on the other side. Perhaps, it could show some real solidarity to our families on its own side before worrying about and exploiting Kashmir for its own geopolitical gains. This manufactured solidarity for us could wait, perhaps in the same manner the issue of Uyghur Muslims is waiting for condemnation.