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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Why is Kashmir etched into Pakistan’s psyche?

Will India open the doors of riches and opulence for Pakistan if we drop Kashmir from our rhetoric? President AJK Sardar Masood Khan argues that those who believe this are living in an illusion. Kashmir or no Kashmir, India will not discard that agenda. He explains why Kashmir is an undeniable part of Pakistan's psyche.

The simple answer to the question is that Kashmir is the missing limb of Pakistan, its body politic. The State of Jammu and Kashmir would have joined Pakistan in accordance with the principles laid down in the 1947 Indian Independence Act, the aspirations of the majority of the Kashmiri people, and the contiguity of its geographical territory with Pakistan.

By occupying part of the state on October 27, 1947, India wronged the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan robbing them of their fundamental rights. That’s why Kashmir does not go away, and it will not go away until its destiny is determined by its people through democratic means.

In 1947, the people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, through a heroic war of independence, liberated a part of Jammu and Kashmir. The rest of the territory was occupied by India using military power, conspiracy, and legal manipulation.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir believe that in 1947 a right had accrued to them under international law and the British colonial formula of uti possidetis juris to get twin freedoms from the tyrannical and autocratic rule of the Dogra dynasty and the possible hovering menace of the Indian rule.

Read More: PM asks UN to hold India accountable for its crimes against Kashmiri people

Those two rights were crushed by India, and the wounds have continued to fester. India and Pakistan had come into being because of the two-nation theory. Murderous communal riots broke out, killing millions.

In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the so-called secular Congress leaders, Viceroy Lord Mountbatten, the Indian National Army (INA), the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and the Maharajah’s Dogra army viciously usurped Kashmir with violent and organized communalism.

According to international media reports, of that time, more than 237,000 Muslims were killed by these genocidaires to purge Jammu of the Muslim majority. Half a million Muslims were deported to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.

Holocaust and pogrom in one go and within a month. Since then, Indian occupation forces have conducted scores of organized massacres targeting Muslims.

Pakistan’s deep-rooted bond with Kashmir

Now, these massacres have become part of Kashmiris’ collective unconscious, a term used by psychologist Carl Jung to describe the life and death experiences of individuals and nations. That is why Kashmir has become part of Pakistan’s “objective psyche.”

Read More: Looking at the sad realities of Kashmir dispute

Then there is the two-nation theory, which was no accident. It was a doctrine that evolved, driven by popular ethos, since 1857 to fight two evils: British colonialism and Hindu majoritarianism. Take out Kashmir, and a part of the two-nation theory collapses.

Analysts will be quick to point out, but what about Bangladesh. Rest assured, the creation of Bangladesh has not torn down the two-nation theory. Had that been the case, Bangladesh would have merged with India.

Furthermore, we must not forget that the two-nation theory originated in Bengal, and the
creation of Pakistan was its natural sequel. The secession of Bangladesh is as deep a rupture as the continued occupation of Kashmir.

Only those people who witnessed the fall of East Pakistan would be able to recall the pain it caused to the people of Pakistan and Muslims all over the world. Today, smarting under Indian hegemony and Islamophobia directed at it, Bangladesh is in its own right a progressive state proudly asserting its Muslim identity.

Our idee fixe with Kashmir has its own historical, legal, and ideological rationales. After sabotaging the 1947 Independence Act through the occupation of one part of Jammu and Kashmir, India swiftly moved to the UN Security Council in the hope that the world body would ask Pakistan and AJK forces to vacate the territory under their control and that would enable India to extend its occupation to AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan depriving Pakistan of its lawful territory and population.

Read More: Who killed pro-freedom Kashmiri leader Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai?

The Council, however, decided to come up with a fair formula that would ask Kashmiris through a plebiscite if they wanted to be part of Pakistan or India. From this point onward, India made relentless efforts to scuttle UN resolutions. This time the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan firmly believed that the international law had endorsed Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.

India’s machinations to suppress it fueled anger in Kashmir, even as Pakistan continued to explore every diplomatic avenue to get justice for Kashmir; however, nothing worked for them, neither a series of bilateral meetings with Indian leaders from the 1950s to the 1980s nor the pressure from American leaders like Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Clinton nor third party intercession such as by the Soviet Union.

Economic aspect of Pakistan’s Kashmir stance

One myth must be squashed. Kashmir is not responsible for the slow economic growth of Pakistan. There are other factors that keep pushing down our macroeconomic indicators, such as hidden wealth, a subterranean economy that refuses to join the tax regime, chronic dependence on external debt, corruption, and rent-seeking.

Despite these barriers, Pakistan’s economy is poised to grow rapidly in the coming years. Kashmir is no drain on economic development. So this is a false argument if ever invoked. With or without Kashmir being a factor, we still need to allocate resources for the armed forces for our national security because we have long vulnerable borders on all sides that need to be defended 24/7.

Read More: India turned Kashmir into ‘planet’s largest concentration camp’: FM

Will India open the doors of riches and opulence for Pakistan if we drop Kashmir, hypothetically speaking, of course? I do not think so. Current and past literature dating back to the very  inception of Pakistan substantiates that India wants to emasculate our country and turn it into its economic satellite for raw materials, semi-finished goods, and a monopolist’s consumer market.

Kashmir or no Kashmir, India will not discard that agenda, and it will not matter whether the reins of government are with the proponents of Hindutva or a disingenuous brand of secularism.

Pakistan’s economic opportunities lie in its north and north east, Western Hemisphere, the south, southeast Asia, and Africa; not with the eastern neighbor though we share the same subcontinent and have multiple cultural, social, and historical linkages. The division with the eastern neighbor is strategic and civilizational.

Furthermore, the fault line of Kashmir sits at the center of the existential divide that we live through. Maybe one day wisdom would prevail, and India’s people would be persuaded to give Kashmiris their right, and we would be able to create South Asia’s brave new world, to
borrow Aldous Huxley’s phrase.

Read More: PM calls for unity among Muslim Ummah to support Kashmir, Palestine

Jinnah’s assertions holding true

Not in the near future, though, because Kashmir is burning. One part of Pakistan is burning. What Quaid-e-Azam dreaded in the 1940s for the entire Muslim population in the subcontinent is unfolding in Kashmir right now before our eyes.

Jammu and Kashmir are being Saffronised; the Muslim majority is being reduced by settling Hindus from India; Kashmiris’ land is being grabbed; their resources plundered; an artificial Hindu Rashtra is being raised on the dead bodies and stolen suffrage of a besieged people. Any wonder why Kashmir is etched on Pakistan’s psyche?

If Pakistan would passionately galvanize world forums and its own population for Palestine, it could not remain impervious to the wild-land fires in its own backyard for mercantile gains from India, which too are illusory and theoretical.

These fires, by the way, will not lick at Jammu and Kashmir and be done. The inferno will head towards Pakistan if we do not read, hear or heed the loud threats of the BJP and RSS leaders to undo the ‘vivisection’ of Akhund Bharat in 1947.

Read More: India broke the promise made to Kashmiris, says Omar Abdullah

The currency of hatred will sear both India and Pakistan. By geography, the two nations are destined to co-exist for centuries. Kashmir is what divides them, among others; it can also unite them if India for once agrees that this is a problem that needs to be resolved justly. Otherwise, we will be condemned to a never ending conflict.

Sometimes, politicians and analysts presume that Kashmir is all about India and Pakistan. Yes, but it must not be forgotten that it is primarily about 20 million Kashmiris living in their own land of 85,000 square miles, rich in human and natural resources, second to none, compared to many other peoples forming the comity of nations.

Why should the majority of them live as captives, slaves, and indeed modern-day serfs of an imperialist India? For the past seven decades, Kashmiris are being punished mainly for their deep aspiration to become part of Pakistan. India has no other quarrels with them if they choose to be willing citizens of the Indian Union. Kashmiris have not made that choice. Then should Pakistan ever ask why Kashmir is etched in its psyche?


President of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan was previously permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN (2012- 2015). He has a track record of international leadership in diverse matters encompassing peace and security, nuclear diplomacy, social and economic development, and international humanitarian law.