âKashmir banega Pakistan” echoes in the streets of Pakistan and in news bulletins of various TV channels. In the middle of the noise and the desire to inherit our right, history, sadly, repeated itself once again. Our anger trumped our humanity, and we overlooked what really mattered: the people of Kashmir.
The problem lies in the fact that most of us are grossly uninformed about the desires of our Kashmiri brothers. So let us break this issue down today and set out some goals before we march in the colours of our flag, allowing the real issue to be buried under our patriotic gains.
For quite some time now, the Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOJK) has existed in an austere state of non-existence. India’s abolition of Article 370 revoked all forms of IIOJK’s so-called autonomy of and divided it into two federations. Kashmiris are in a terrible situation.
Modi’s government is a repressive regime just like the one established by Israel in the West Bank. Led by the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing Hindu nationalist political party, this constitutional amendment is an attempt to dilute the cultural and religious identity of the only Muslim-majority state in India. As if the Indian army’s human rights record was not already under heat, especially due to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, this recent decision is a direct violation of Kashmir’s sovereignty and an attempt to seize the land, once and for all.
Eight million people live in an almost complete alienation from the outside world with cellular networks often disabled and frequent internet shutdowns. Modi’s action in the IIOJK should not be taken as something unprecedented given that it is simply the fulfilment of a long yearning and an ideological prophecy that he campaigned for.
By grabbing IIOJK, Modi has successfully placated all those advocating for Hindu nationalism, making himself the “father” of what is known as the “New India.” But India is a diverse nation and Modi’s main allies are the Hindu extremists. Though Modi tries to keep IIOJK under the pretence of “inclusive nationalism”, his policies against Muslims show a different agenda, otherwise. Therefore, the Muslim population in IIOJK that is silently sitting right now is a ticking bomb waiting to erupt.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent claims to give Kashmiris a voice and a say in their matter is simply brushed under the carpet. The resolution to the conflict lies in the slogan “Kashmir banega Kashmir” and not on historical claims that India and Pakistan have on the region.
As citizens of a country that advocates unity, faith, and discipline, it is our duty to actively try to assuage the situation. Although we cannot take any legislative action, there is a plethora of things that we can do at an individual level. Working at the grassroots level we must first create as much awareness as possible. Student-led societies, political entities and journalists need to create content, organise peaceful protests and reach out to their local representatives. Those who live abroad can also do their part by bringing the issue to light at an international level by reaching out to their embassies so that governments of other countries are also aware and can press for a conducive solution on international platforms such as the United Nations.
It is time for us to stop being spectators and break the shackles of oppression and injustice that incapacitate us.