This year Independence Day comes at a time when Indian-held Kashmir is witnessing Kashmir’s ‘third intifada’. This current intifada comes in the age of information empowerment of the Kashmiri masses where monopolisation of information by the Indian establishment and brutal security apparatus is not possible.
Pakistan, however, has been found wanting in developing a strategic response commensurate with the demand of time to cease this historical opportunity. Although a belated and lukewarm response was initiated, it remains below the genuine expectations of the Kashmiris who are fighting in a life and death situation. Unfortunately, the very vibrant and vocal civil society of Pakistan – which remains on the forefront for every issue concerning human rights and rule of law – has not raised the issue of human rights violations in IHK with much vigour.
People were seen swarming Bollywood blockbusters across cinemas in Pakistan, when the Kashmiri youth were being brutalised and sprayed with blinding pallets exclusively meant to deface their faces. Unfortunately some media commentators also tried to confuse the general public by downplaying the spirit of the third intifada in Indian-held Kashmir.
Even the base camp of the freedom of Kashmir, Azad Kashmir, was bickering on non-issues during the recent elections. What kind of message are we sending across to the Kashmiri youth who are waving Pakistani flags in every demonstration and are proudly burying their martyrs draped in Pakistani flags in order to announce the dawn of a new intifada?
There is a dire need to highlight the ethos of this third intifada – called Wanism.
The construct of the third intifada, or Wanism, stems from five major strategic factors. Hurriyat leaders have displayed unity and perseverance and the baton of political struggle is being passed to a new but energised youth, who as flag-bearers of their previous generation of freedom fighters, have decided to reinvigorate the struggle through a political movement of resistance. In appearance it draws strength from Palestinian Intifada and in spirit it maintains the continuum of history.
The general disenfranchisement of Kashmiris and a feeling of frustration due to Indian machinations, false pledges and brutality has forced the Kashmiri youth to cross the Rubicon. Like the famous slogan of Now or Never during the Pakistan movement, Kashmiris are now looking at a final solution to their legitimate aspirations of freedom written over seven decades in pure blood.
The Modi-Doval strategy of bulldozing the Kashmiri freedom struggle through disproportionate use of military force, and a general feeling of hatred between Hindutva flag-bearers and the Kashmiri youth have made the situation untenable.
The apathy of the international community to the plight of the Kashmiris in IHK has left no option for them but to come out in the open and defy the Indian occupation and illegitimate rule.
Pakistan’s lukewarm response to successive waves of freedom movements after the late eighties and the apathy of successive Pakistani political leaderships to pursue their cause in the international arena has led the Kashmiri youth to follow an indigenous but political path.
The Indian response has been to brutalise the common Kashmiri while presenting a softer face to the international community via local puppets in Indian-held Kashmir – from Mehbooba Mufti and Umar Abdullah to Pradhan Mantralay in the South Block. The Hurriyat leadership and Kashmiri youth have rejected these Indian tactics.
The information empowerment of common people across the globe has allowed the Kashmiri youth to create their own version of the Arab Spring through social media platforms. Wanism is a product of this major change and will snowball into a gigantic storm. Burhan Muzaffar Wani Shaheed is more dangerous in his grave than he was on Facebook pages, and that is where Wanism becomes a major movement in itself.
Arundhati Roy is one of the few sane voices who have been trying to highlight the role of the Indian establishment in suppressing other communities like Sikhs, Dalits and Muslims.
In an interview with Havana Times in 2013 she described the plight of Kashmiris as, “today Kashmir is the most densely militarized zone in the world. India has something like 700,000 security forces there. In the ’90s, the fight became a freedom struggle… since then, something like 68,000 people have died, maybe 100,000 tortured, 10,000 disappeared...
“Can you imagine living in a place where there are so many soldiers, you can’t–you go out of your door, you come out, come to a barrier. Every aspect of life, whether it’s joyous or otherwise, is sort of diverted through the military…And it’s become a very ugly stain on people who have some self-respect. And I’m talking about Indians, you know, I’m talking about somebody like myself, that it makes me feel that it’s such a morally reprehensible thing to be living in a country that is doing this to a people and keeping everyone quiet about it.”
The biggest question is: what can Pakistan do? Somehow Pakistan has failed to appreciate the historical significance of the third intafada in the information age and the role that can be played by common people, the youth, civil society and political leadership.
A few suggestions would be:
A national narrative to support Kashmiris at this historical juncture should be developed on three major thrust lines – awareness, sympathy and vigorous support by whatever means.
The media needs to discuss this via all available platforms through an informed debate involving academia and intellectuals; barbershop gossip is not enough. Indian atrocities need to be exposed through formal and informal media including social media.
This is the first time that the Sikh Diaspora and Sikh community within India have supported their Kashmiri brethren for their just struggle against Indian oppression. This campaign needs to be appreciated and dovetailed as a major thrust line to support Khalistan Referendum 2020 themes to gain maximum leverage.
Lastly, the political leadership should spare more time to galvanise the nation at this historic juncture and make the case of the third intifada of Kashmir or Wanism as the bedrock of our future Kashmir policy; nations get limited chances and opportunities like this and only those succeed whose leadership exploits such fleeting opportunities to preserve their national interest.
The writers are freelance columnists based in Lahore.