It has been almost thirty years since Kashmir Day was first announced, but perhaps, in the history of the subcontinent, there has never been a moment when this day was more significant than it is today. India’s repression of Kashmiri rights has continued since it first took control of Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK) but this has turned into a new and entirely different strategy ever since the Modi government came into power.
The actual execution of this plan began in August last year, however, the writing was always on the wall for all to see. Modi’s fascist ideology was included in BJP’s manifesto, the repeal of Article 370 was planned ahead of time and the status quo as it stands, is exactly what Modi had wanted all along. It is no accident that Kashmiris have been under lockdown for 185 days, nor is the state-sponsored terrorism, the use of pellet guns and violence an unhappy coincidence. It is all a systematic effort to break an organic resistance movement for self-determination and a means to take Kashmir from those it belongs to; its inhabitants.
In Modi’s objective to build an India divided along religious lines and try and supress the rights of Kashmiris through a more permanent policy, controlling the narrative was supremely important. From using Pakistan and anti-Muslim sentiments in his election campaign, to accusing us of fomenting terrorism as a means to deflect from his own heinous actions: the Indian Prime Minister’s RSS roots have formed the base of this rejuvenated Hindutva policy ever since the BJP’s rise to power.
India is fighting tooth and nail on all diplomatic fronts to try and isolate Pakistan, because it knows that by doing this it can effectively tailor the narrative on Kashmir and pretend that its brutal actions there are only peaceful developmental initiatives. In this fight, our defensive capabilities are already well-prepared and ready for anything the enemy might throw at us. But equally important is fighting the narrative that India is trying to build; normalising brutality in Kashmir and painting us as the villain.
This is one fight where each and every Pakistani has to contribute; we must continue to sift through the lies propagated on both traditional and social media by the eastern neighbour. Thankfully our government, the armed forces and average citizens have been successfully defending against the information warfare that the enemy is engaged in and have out in a crucial contribution in turning the tide against the Indian narrative internationally.
The journalists, hawks, politicians and all other right-wing individuals from across the border can parrot the opinions of the Modi government all they want; their views now only exist in an echo-chamber. The rest of the world recognises that the Modi government in India has gone beyond the rights afforded to a state and marginalised a community of 200 million people, alongside imprisoning 8 million of them in an open prison.
India has used its economic clout and the façade of being the world’s largest democracy to its fullest extent, and only its close relationship to some important nation states has kept the issue of Kashmir from being a key agenda item on every international forum in the past six months. But even this has not been enough. India’s trading partners across the world have condemned India’s actions in IOK. Key trading partners such as Malaysia have openly sided with Pakistan, world powers such as the US and UK have also voiced their apprehensions and even neutral bodies such as the UN have come out in support of Kashmiris. The fact that the security council discussed Kashmir as an agenda item in a closed-door session is a feat in itself; and India only has itself to blame for becoming a worldwide example of injustice.
Comparisons have been drawn to the Nazi state of Germany, and it is all but established that India is taking lessons straight out of the Israeli playbook on how to marginalise an entire community based on their religion. This perception of India does not only exist here at home, there are protests all over the world against the Modi government’s actions. The fact that the Indian people themselves have stood up against this injustice in large numbers tells us that Prime Minister Modi’s days are ultimately numbered. The world no longer has the space for this divisive narrative, and a reaction against such policies will always rise up organically, no matter how hard the government tries to stifle independent thought and action.
Today, much like the past 185 days, are thoughts are with the Kashmiris in IOK; those that have been tortured, lost family members, been abused, arrested or are currently restricted to their homes without any contact with the outside world. If they had access to our words, we would reiterate our commitment to their cause and reassure them that they are never alone. The prayers of over 200 million Pakistanis are always with them, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that our shared dream of Kashmiris successfully wresting their right to self-determination, will one day – in the not-too-distant future – turn into reality.