Two countries, two leaders, two strategies on Kashmir. It is clear that India and its prime minister are loath to talk Kashmir in a global forum. Kashmir is an internal matter and it is set to remain so. Period. On the other hand, for Pakistan the only matter worth talking about in international fora is Kashmir. Nothing else.
This became clear yet again when Narendra Modi and Imran Khan addressed the annual UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Friday.
They spoke within an hour or so of each other but they could not have sounded more different. Modi highlighted the dhobi list of positive gains India is said to have made in recent years and made a commitment to achieve more in the direction of climate controls, renewable energy, poverty removal, etc.
Nary a word even edgeways about Kashmir or the junking of Article 370 and the accompanying lockdown in the Valley. Modi felt no need to say so in as many words but his silence on Kashmir was in itself meaningful. For India Kashmir was an internal matter and that is the way it shall be.
The Indian PM, confident and surefooted, seemed to have signaled to the leaders of the wider world assembled in New York for the annual jamboree, to steer clear of Kashmir.
On the other hand, Imran Khan had precious little to say to fill his over-the-top harangue of nearly an hour other than to wail about Kashmir, the alleged army siege of his beloved Valley, the untold repression and hardships on his fellow Muslim brothers by a Hitler-like Modi who draws his ideological sustenance from the Hindu supremacist neo-Nazis of the RSS.
He talked of the anger building up in Kashmir which was bound to erupt soon in Pulwama-like terror attacks, instigating such attacks actually. Also, the Pakistani playboy-turned-a-puppet in the hands the fat-cat generals in the Rawalpindi GHQ, lamented the failure of the Islamic world to take note of the gross atrocity on fellow Muslims in Kashmir.
He droned on and on like a broken record, far exceeding the allotted fifteen minutes given by the Chair to say his regulation piece and make way for others, there being a long queue of speakers at the annual speakathon for the world leaders to exercise their lungs amidst a welcome break for rest and recreation in the Big Apple at taxpayers’ dollars.
But one theme stands out from Khan’s sorry perorations at home and abroad since August 5 when the Indian Parliament with an overwhelming majority annulled the special status of Kashmir to further integrate it into the Indian Union.
And that is of sheer helplessness, of Pakistan’s inability to respond militarily to the deletion of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate Union Territories.
Given the sorry state of Pakistan’s finances, and the inability of its armed forces to engage India in an armed confrontation, Khan and his minders in the Rawalpindi GHQ have sought to give their obsession with Kashmir a definitive religious colour.
Appealing to the larger Islamist world, Khan told the UN that they should come forward and help rescue the Muslims in Kashmir.
Of course, he did not bother to look into his own backyard, at fellow Muslims treated worse than third-class citizens. Baloochs, Pushtuns, Ahmadiys, Shias, Mohajirs were lesser Muslims for the ISI whose killer squads targeted them at regular intervals.
Of course, the handful of Hindus and Sikhs still left in Pakistan live in a constant dread of forcible conversions, of being trapped in the infamous blasphemy law, of being denied basic protections under the law. Of course, it is nobody’s case that things in Kashmir are normal.
They aren’t. It is however the job of the Indian government, and not Pakistan’s, to set them right, to try and bring it back to normality. India has sense to recognize that Kashmir needs to be returned to normalcy sooner than later.
Even a senior US State Department official said so last week. But by constantly harping on Kashmir, Pakistan harms the cause of the very Kashmiris it apparently seeks to help.
Leave Kashmir and Kashmiris alone for India to do justice to them as it does to its disaffected citizens in any other part of the Republic. By choosing to internationalize Kashmir, all that Pakistan does is it strengthens the resolve of Indians and their governments to treat it as an internal matter, to be resolved to the best of their abilities.
We cannot have outsiders messing around in our internal affairs was the powerful message that Modi delivered on his successful sojourn to the US. As for Khan, whatever message he conveyed to the world it went unheard since nobody seems to come to his aid when he falsely cries wolf, wolf.