FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Can Kashmiris Speak? If So, Will We Listen?

by

“Kashmir, a picturesque Himalayan valley, has been a bone of contention between two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, since the decolonization and partition of Indian subcontinent”- This is how every media agency describes the situation in Kashmir. From Times to Guardian, Kashmir is about geopolitics. This callous and irresponsible appropriation of Kashmir’s decades-old indigenous resistance movement not only contributes to the “History of Hunters” but also helps the perpetrators of death and injustice to escape responsibility.

India and Pakistan, backed by corporate media and their respective lackeys, lambast each other for decimation of human life in Kashmir while the people of Kashmir keep dying, one or several at a time. Nobody stops to think that a place, a civilization that’s older than most of the nation-states in contemporary world are being tortured, raped and silenced by the coercive agencies of both India and Pakistan. I am neither a fan of numbers nor of comparing the suffering of two peoples but it’s pertinent to mention that figures of mass-graves in Indian-Occupied Kashmir surpass that of Augusto Pinochet’s Chile. A recent study by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) revealed that since 1989, Indian-Occupied Kashmir’s women have faced sexual violence far greater in numbers than Sierre Leone, Chechnya and Sri Lanka. Why are we being mowed down, maimed and muzzled? What’s at the heart of Kashmir’s humongous suffering? The answer to this is simple – A Kashmiri asking for the Right to Determine his/her political future. A Right that has been denied, misrepresented and twisted through the powerful narratives surrounding Kashmir from the last 68 years of occupation. A regular theme that encapsulates Kashmir is of Indians and Pakistanis killing each other to control a piece of Alpsian land.

Let me break the capsule. Both the countries are militarily occupying Kashmir from the past 68 years and when we hear about them killing each other, they’re actually exchanging firepower along a de-facto border that divides Indian and Pakistani Occupied Kashmirs. These regular battles don’t affect people living in Karachi or Mumbai but kill, injure and dispossess Kashmiri people. A population whose 200,000 people have been already “dispensed” during the last 25 years. In Indian clutches, Kashmir has been inundated with 700,000 soldiers, exceeding the amount of troops deployed by the foreign occupiers in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. Indian troops, occupying Kashmir, aren’t restricted to certain enclaves or border areas but move within the population, eagle-eying everyone from workers to college-students and schoolkids. This orwellian web, a Benthamite Panoptican keeps Kashmiris under constant survellience, right from streets to facebook. Same is the case with Pakistani side. A Human Rights Watch report and recent revelations of a former BBC- journalist, give a slight idea of how Pakistani agencies keep firm control on every aspect of life in Pakistani Occupied Kashmir.

Coming back to the representation of Kashmir in popular language, everyone seems to be in a limbo of omitting two central factors. First, the brutal military occupation of Kashmir. Rather than calling it an occupation, everyone cleaves Kashmir into “administrative units” of Pakistan and India. This tones-down, rather absolves the brutality that Kashmiri people face every minute. The justification that the rhetoricians of this deceit give is that Kashmir, on both sides, has got a government. However, they censor the fact that modern military occupiers are not in the business of replacing civilian administrative structures with military juntas. Rather, they occupy and rule by controlling and collaborating with civilian governmental structures e.g. The Palestinian Authority in West Bank. The censorship also aids the occupying powers in shrugging-off any responsibility that international law has put-aside for them.

This shouldn’t leave a doubt that occupiers play no role in creating these structures in the first place. They manipulate Kashmiris into what Franklin Giddings, the imperial sociologist, calls Retrospective Consent. In rough terms, Giddings’ idea is to force people into enslaving themselves. India and Pakistan accomplish this in Kashmir through periodical elections. Second, the narratives of Kashmir’s active resistance movement are falsified by, well, making it disappear. Cloaking the movement under a fistfight between India and Pakistan, Kashmir’s resilience is erased-out and focus is laid on sort of classic imperial battle to rule over a “savage population”. Kashmiris “cannot represent themselves, they must be represented” seems to be a common stand of both the contestants. Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani premier, recently echoed this belief while announcing that, “after India and Pakistan, United States is the third most important party in solving this conflict.” Anything missing? Yes, the powerless Kashmiris.

India’s self-fulfilling tornados of narrators meanwhile try to dissolve the indigenous resistance of Kashmir into an external phenomenon. Although, people from as far as Afghanistan have fought the repressive Indian rule in Kashmir, the genesis of our movement is wholly indigenous. Foreign fighters started trickling into Kashmir after 90s while Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, the first nationalist group, was established by two Kashmiris in 1977.

Hours after Modi’s visit, Indian occupying forces killed a 22 year old demonstrator in Srinagar.

More recently, in the spring of 2010, when Arab Spring was months away, Kashmiri teenagers filled the streets with stones in their hands and songs of freedom on their lips. 122 young Kashmiris lost their lives but Kashmir is still portrayed solely as a “bone of contention” between India and Pakistan. Dehumanization has its types. Kashmiris are mere ossifications. Not only are we occupied, killed, dispossessed but our discourses and identities are monopolized and appropriated into the master-discourses of India and Pakistan’s geopolitics, the states that have turned into undeclared empires since their independence in 1947. India enacts colonial legislations in Kashmir while Pakistan, in the part they’ve occupied, demands absolute loyalty for the metropolitan.

After 68 years of brutal colonization, from the position of what some might call a subaltern, today I want to pose this important question. Can a Kashmiri Speak? Is the world ready to listen? Or, are we merely the grass that’s worthy of being crushed and deserves no attention in the fight between two bulls with nuclear balls?

More articles by:

Umar Lateef Misgar, from Islamabad Kashmir studies International Relations at Islamic University of Science and Technology. Feedback-umar.misgar@gmail.com. Twitter @Kaashur

February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail