Wednesday, November 15, 2006

drumrolls please, we have a build-up...

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The last thing I read before I went to sleep was a chapter from the book ‘Shantaram’. He was told- a dream is the place where a wish and fear meet, and a nightmare is when they are the same thing. Interesting, I thought, as I fell asleep.

Well, I had a nightmare, followed by a dream. And let me tell you, when I woke up, I was completely speechless. It made sense, what I’d read. I love dream analyses, I keep an irregular dream diary- but this, THIS- this, was absolutely fascinating. A wish and a fear.

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A waking nightmare is a whole different ballgame, and as I watched this tragedy unfold in Kashmir on my television, I wondered how it is that I was born into what I believe is a post-materialist generation, while my fellow Kashmiri’s in the state will not understand that concept for generations to come.

Ghulam Nabi Mir hurled a bomb at worshippers at Tahab. He was paid 1000 rupees for the job. He claims the Hizbul Mujahideen paid him, the Army seconds his account, although the militant outfit denies involvement, saying they would never jeopardize their freedom struggle by throwing a bomb in their own stronghold- Hizb’s south Kashmir base.

You know what struck me as the police [army?] questioned him as to why he did it [the camera’s were there]- that he mentioned he had been paid a thousand rupees, (besides the death threats), and he did not realize what a meager amount it was, despite the questioners surprise as well.

‘ONLY a thousand?’

Five people died. That’s the number of an average family. So this is how much life in Kashmir is worth?

It speaks volumes about the poverty and desperation in the region.

At work, I was asked today if I had an opinion on the joint Indo- Pak terror deal. Do I? It’s all well and good to sign a deal, but what is the guarantee that it will work? Do we trust each other to be honest? Will we share information? Will they share information?

Brief re-cap for those joining us now: Especially in the Indian controlled region of Kashmir, intensified insurgency and the presence of the Indian army (for safety measures) has led to an unbearable state of affairs. Bombs, terrorist attacks and more bombs have kept the region from functioning normally- and people like Ghulam Nabi Mir at having the chance for a ‘real’ life. Although we had our problems since partition, after the end of the Soviet-Afghan war, Afghani Mujahideen fighters infiltrated the state making things worse. Along with the separatists who wage war to free Kashmir from the clutches of India, this makes for a terse situation.

Now, for the longest time, India has insisted that Pakistan is behind the terrorists. Pakistan toned down their involvement by calling the separatists ‘freedom fighters’ and lamely admitted that they were sure there was cross border terrorism, but somehow avoiding responsibility for it.

Manmohan Singh called India and Pakistan both ‘victims of terrorism’ in Havana. Really? We are victims of cross border terrorism while they set up state sponsored training camps under the ISI which perhaps have a life of their own. To equate the two is wrong, but perhaps he was trying to extend an olive branch and lay the foundation for a peaceful future.

I thought to myself today, why would Pakistan want to sign this deal? After 9/11 Musharraf certainly tried to disassociate himself from the terror groups, and the Lashkar and Jaish were banned. [We know they do exist, just under different names.] Now, this move by him was certainly clever given the international suspicion regarding Islam- and especially Islamic fanaticism- but is it a path he can hope to stay on?

[If you watched Jon Stewart’s interview with the General on the Daily Show, he does admit that when the US asked them if they were with the Allies or not, he thought about the best way out, and took it. When the situation does not apply, will the strategy change?]

A view I’d read on the Internet argued that while Pakistan remains an Islamic state, how will it turn its back towards the Islamic extremism successfully? Is the extremism coming from Afghanistan as they claim or vice-versa as Karzai would?

G. Parthasarthy, former Ambassador, has a bleak view of this new joint venture and calls it a trap. It is a mistake to move away from internationalizing the issue, and now if India were to complain about another Pakistan sponsored attack, we will be told to discuss it in our new forum. The questions that need to be clearly answered before we can trust our neighbors are straightforward: do they still continue to use terrorism to reach their foreign policy goals?

But a differing view was offered by a Professor at Jamia Milia, Radha Kumar, who said the fact that Pakistan had even begun to admit that ex-Lashkar operatives do exist instead of hotly denying their existence altogether is progress; and this platform will make it easier for the rule of law to apply.

Personally, I have so many dear Pakistani friends that at times I find it next to impossible to believe that we should not trust them. But personal friendships forged in Montreal are very different from matters of national security. Personal friendships did not make Ghulam Nabi Mir’s life less desperate.

There is much to gain for both countries if we could normalize relations, but to do that the one unanswerable question of Kashmir needs to be answered. Ask yourself this then: if we move away from Siachen, will the Pakistan army try and re-capture it? Can you say no for sure? Ay, there’s the rub!

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Jawaharlal Nehru said the only alternative to coexistence is co-destruction. If only hopes and fears meet to resolve themselves. If they turn out to be the same thing, we may never wake up from this nightmare.

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3 comments:

Ksingh said...

ok so kashmir it was time it had to be touched.

for manmohan singh to equate india and pakistan as " victims of terror" is as good as reversing our stand against pakistan for the last fifty years. yes pakistan has its own problems along the afghan border and in the frontier provinces, but that does not justify their sponsored terrorism in kashmir. the problem lies with the congress government which from 1947 has followed a policy of appeasement- be it towards the minorities, backward classes or our foreign policy.
i agree india cannot take a stand like the USA and say " you are either with us or against us" but we need to take a stand on what we are gonna do to tackle this issue (kashmir). government after government(both state and central) have abused kashmir and the kashmiri people, running buses across the LOC or playing cricket matches is not helping the average kashmiri because for 1000 rs he will still hurl a grenade.
why not tackle the issue at hand, kashmir was legally acceeded to india by Maharaja Hari Singh the last ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, a Pakistani claim that it " should" have been given to Pakistan has caused this whole problem. the point is that no one "gave" kashmir to india, it was a choice made by the last ruler of the dogra clan.

the separatist movement is as fake as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) known as Azad Kashmir across the LOC. a country controlled and funded by islamabad. if the sepratists had a genuine agenda one could have believed them, but they all are funded from pakistan be it the jklf,Hizbul et al. these sort of people instead of being deemed as acting against the nation are glorified by allowing to cross the loc on the srinagar-muzzafarabad bus, where yaseen malik the leader of the jklf ( while being interviewed by Barka dutt) proudly claimed this is the loc he crossed many times in early '90's.

There is a term in Jammu and Kashmir called Kahmiriyat, which more than a term is the way of life in the state since centuries. The peaceful co existence of a variety of religions on the same land. the states history has exmplefied this- the last rulers of J&K were hindu rajputs ruling a majority muslim state without strife. personally as a hindu living in the valley one never faced a problem, uptill 1989-90. when state sponsored terrorism (of course helped by our own corrupt abdullah-rajiv govt) saw what is nothin short of ethnic cleansing with hindus being driven out of the valley.

Jammu and Kashmir needs help and an honest hand like the former governer Jaghmohan ( i recommend his book " My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir") who had no personal gains from the state, no money to pocket from the large funds that are given to the state government.

Till then we look to the future a future where a Kashmiri has a financially secure, peaceful life where he/she doesnt need to destroy a mosque for 1000 rupees.
Inshallah !!

The Dude said...

I have to say that you guys have the most interesting blog conversations... There are however some little tidbits you should chew on.
I do think that its idiotic to try and equatte India and Pak, but there are certain aspects of our history that people tend to either ignore or gloss over. For started, though it is true that the last ruler of J&K ceeded the rule to India, it was always a doubtful move even back then with many questions raised. What is a fact however is that Ksingh is right about Kahmiriyat which is one of the things I love about Kashmir - when we say a place is a melting pot, this is how it should be, all living together with peace,goodwill and tolerance... Ive been back there the last few years for the first time since 1989 and though dampened, their spirits arent as low as you might imagine from our wondrous newsmedia.

What I really want to mention here to correct a misnomour ist the real reason why this fighting has lasted so long, at least in my opinion... Do you remember that post independance Pakistan was 2 stated across India - West (Pakistan) and East (Bangladesh).

It was during their civil war that we Indians took matters into our hands - matters that shouldnt have been any of our business - and proceeded to march into Bangladesh and win them their fight. Now be fair and distant and tell me if you were Pakistan and this happened to your country, would you be easily forgiving of the country that cost you half yours? Whether they would have won at the end without our interferance is irrelevant, what IS is the fact that we butted in and made a far greater enemy than we expected. I too have friends that reside in Pakistan, and we have never found our religious differences to be a problem, but there are too few who can see beyond the veils of stupidity and hatred.

I live J&K and think that it is better with India and belongs with us, but we cant fight forever, sooner or later the people will ask for plebiscite and then who knows?

As far as the idea of no value on human life goes, yes there are those kinds everywhere from the most developed to the most devestated country, and they are always only a few but sadly those few can do immense damage.

To me Kashmir is like home and I have many many fond memories of it, I only hope that we can find a peace between us before this land known also as the land of the gods is destroyed forever...

Woodstock11 said...

I did not read the whole post. But that Shantaram passage was really thought provoking.

I too have erratic dreams..and have wondered what do they mean... I guess i need to start keeping a dream diary