Shaping Perceptions on Kashmir

Islamabad might have heaved a sigh of relief after Beijing blocked New Delhi’s attempt getting the UN Sanctions Committee to impose a ban on Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar. However, while Islamabad may be seeing this as proof of its “sweeter than honey” and “all weather” friendship with Beijing, this move may not be in its long term interests. This is because it’s obvious that blocking New Delhi’s proposal by Beijing was done at the behest of Islamabad and this is likely to antagonise the international community which is suffering from‘terror paranoia’. Consequently, this may ultimately end up helping India in gaining global sympathy as New Delhi is already playing the ‘victim of terror’ card! 

This is not the first time that Beijing has blocked New Delhi’s move to get the UN to act against those whom it claims are masterminding terrorist activities in India. In April last year, it blocked New Delhi’s attempt to get UN sanctions against United Jihad Council chief (UJC) and Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Sallahudin. Two months later, it did the same when New Delhi approached the UN Sanctions Committee to seek clarification from Pakistan on the release of 2008 Mumbai attack accused Zakiur-Rehman Lakhvi. It may be recalled that when Lakhvi was released, the most influential nations raised serious concerns on this development and this is worrying since it ultimately impacts the Kashmir issue!

Our leaders constantly impress upon the international community that the resolutions on Kashmir passed by the UN Security Council (UNSC) need to be implemented forthwith. However, with Beijing blocking action against Pakistan based persons accused of being involved in terrorist activities, how can we hope the UNSC to take a sympathetic view in our case? Readers would recall that when Lakhvi was released, except for China, all other permanent members of the UNSC (USA, Russia, UK and France) expressed their unhappiness over this development. 

We could always argue that being an accused in the 2008 Mumbai attacks Lakhvi has nothing to do with the Kashmir struggle. However, since he is a high ranking commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is waging an ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir (that the Hurriyat fully endorses), the unhappiness expressed by four of the five UNSC permanent members at his release does create a negative perception on the ‘K’ issue at the international level!

Islamabad’s deviant attitude towards terrorism has also created a negative global perception regarding the Kashmir issue. In its editorial after the Easter Sunday suicide attack in a Lahore park, the Washington Post sympathised with Islamabad and the people of Pakistan. However, it went on to say that “Exceptions cannot be made for jihadists who fight for causes favoured by the Pakistani elite such as the “liberation” of Kashmir from Indian rule or Taliban battling the Afghan government.” I’m sure our leaders would dismiss this suggestion as gibberish coming from a daily being published in an ‘imperialist’ nation. 

However, what the Washington Post editorial has said reflects the international perception that the ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir is not an indigenous uprising but is being controlled by Pakistan and those whom we proudly hail as ‘freedom fighters’ are seen by the international community as “jihadists”! Our leaders seem to have all the time in the world to accuse the international community of contorting reality due to vested interests and a prejudiced mindset, yet they don’t seem to find the time to spare even a few moments for doing something that would put things in the correct perspective!   

What further aggravates this problem is that our leaders appear to be so enamoured with Islamabad that they don’t seem to be concerned even a wee bit about the negative perception that the ‘armed struggle’ is having on the Kashmir issue. This callous attitude is all the more mystifying as despite their tall claims, the separatists know very well that the Islamabad-Hurriyat combine cannot get us our ‘right to self determination’ on their own steam and so international support for Kashmir has to be garnered. However, this can only be achieved by doing away with rhetoric and instead putting across such a convincing case that compels the global community to take note and act for resolving the ‘K’ issue. 

Only someone suffering from acute delusions would ever expect the international community to support a cause that proudly admits using violence as a means to achieve its objective of the ‘right to self determination’? When our leaders make proclamations like  that “We (Hurriyat) never denied or ignored the role of gun in our struggle,” how can anyone expect the international community to believe their assertion that the ‘right to self determination’ struggle is a peaceful movement?  Similarly, you can’t shape positive perceptions merely by going about decreeing that while the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a terrorist organisation, the LeT is not as it fighting a ‘legitimate war’ against ‘occupational forces’ of India! 

Nor can you expect global sympathy when you eulogise Al Qaida founder Osama bin Laden and call him a “martyr” who fought against “imperialist forces.” 

Therefore, just repetitively clamouring for implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir and leveling uncharitable allegations against the international community for its inaction will take us nowhere. While Pakistan may support our cause, the insignificant influence that it has over the international community severely restricts its ability to play any meaningful role in resolving the Kashmir issue. Moreover, all said and done the solution to end the Kashmir imbroglio has to be found by the people of Kashmir themselves. Therefore there is an urgent requirement to seriously introspect on what it is that’s really impeding implementation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir. Once this is done the focus should shift to finding ways to remove these hurdles. 

When every nation (including Pakistan) and all international organisations without any exception are emphasising on the need for a “peaceful resolution” of the Kashmir imbroglio, I don’t see why our leaders are themselves complicating the issue and creating a negative perception on Kashmir by attempting to legitimise violence. Those who have thrown in their lot with violence will naturally defend it with all they have as their very existence depends on it.  Perhaps that is why UJC Chief recently said they were actually “fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir.”


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