SRINAGAR: The Eid festival in Kashmir is often marked by government blockades and separatist resolutions. This Eid, however, Kashmir resonates differently as Gaza in Palestine continues to bear the brunt of merciless Israeli aggression. The much touted parallels between Palestine and Kashmir may not hold ground yet the Palestinian conflict has finally infused an anti-West discourse into the realms of Kashmiri resistance.
In past decades, although Israeli aggression in 1967 and 1982 evoked protests, people here would see Washington and London as pivots of external intervention. The reaction to Muslim issues elsewhere, due to inherent expectations from the West, has long been a subdued affair. But that seems over. It is for the first time that for so long Kashmiri streets resonated with slogans against Israel and America; even a boy was killed while protesting child deaths at Gaza.
The groups which have been avowed haters of India and tactical supporters of the West are now openly rallying against the United States and Israel. For past weeks the Kashmir has been seething over the Israel’s military assault against the largely unarmed Palestinians. This interesting transformation has thrown up a unique affinity between Indian and Kashmiri world views. Does this political shift, though still limited to the West’s atrocities in Palestine, blur the context of anti-India movement in Kashmir?
“The Kashmiris have always looked to the Western powers and sought help against India. But the sad part is that the western powers have always used Kashmir’s call for help as a means to extract political and economic dividends from India. But India is now a lucrative market for the West’s arms industry, which needs fanatic buyers like India,” says Abdul Qayoom Shah, an avid watcher of the world developments.
Only few years ago, an insignificant meeting of diplomats would evoke screaming newspaper headlines, suggesting that a breakthrough was around. But that has changed. Now, Kashmiris don’t discriminate between Israel, India and America when they choose to blame the “culprits of the Muslim misery.” Some observers view this change of discourse as beginning of the untold affinity with Indian stance on Kashmir, others term this as an “extravagant analysis.”
Alongside the anti-Western stream of notions, in the close context of Palestinian conflict, Kashmir is also witnessing brewing unease over the meek postures of the rulers in the Arab and other Muslim countries.
Muhammad Farooq Rehmani, a Kashmiri separatist living in Pakistan, says, Its the most horrible and deceitful time of the Muslim history. If on the one hand Muslims in Palestine and Kashmir are being massacred by Zionist Israel and Indian troops, on another they themselves too are slaughtering each other or used by their enemies. He further says in a statement, Lust for power has made the Muslim rulers blind to the extent that they kill their countrymen and plunder the national economy for selfish gains.”
Not just the Pakistan-based Kashmiri leaders, the discord-ridden Hurriyat Conference leaders have been repeatedly terming the Arab and other Muslim rulers as the “latches of the West”. In a metophoric reference to the Muslim rulers’ collaboration with the west, Syed Ali Geelani, who heads a faction of Hurriyat Conference , said in a statement, “We see the axe cutting off Muslim heads but we don’t see the handle. It’s like forest trees crying against the woodcutters, forgetting that the handle provided to the axe came from their branches.” Besides Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar, Shabir Shah and even Yasin Malik, seen as a liberal nationalist, have scathingly criticized America, Israel and UK.
Analysts here wonder whether this shift from a tactical pro-West stance to the loud anti-Americanism and a brewing support for democracy in the Muslim world, has any bearing on Kashmir’s resistance movement. “Kashmiri Muslims are genuinely concerned for the Gaza tragedy but it is interesting to note Kashmiris striking a unique affinity with India’s foreign policy that recognizes Palestinian rights and supports UN resolutions on Palestine,” says an analyst without commenting on what would it mean to Kashmiris.
Since the world is in a flux, Kashmiris literally feel disoriented. “These are the times when the leaders take decisions. Some decisions pay off yet some boomerang. Gandhi knew Britain would lose, he launched quit India movement; Sheikh Abdullah sensed Pakistan won’t remain in one piece after fall of Bagladesh so he mellowed down his anti-India rhetoric. Gandhi’s decision paid off yet Sheikh’s boomeranged. Let’s see how the current band of leaders respond to the changing world scenario.”