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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



The mission for self destruction

It is an unpleasant job to pontificate, more so when a neighbour is the object. But when that neighbour refuses to observe established norms of goodwill and friendship and his behaviour crosses limits of, there arises the need to bring him round through gentle persuasion in the hope that sanity and reason might prevail.

We refer to Pakistan, a neighbouring country with which we have historical, cultural, linguistic and ethnic relations. It was once a part of India but its people decided to carve out another state. That is fine and a reality nobody can deny or challenge. If the people of Pakistan find it good for themselves to disown these relations, it is fine. We should have no problem with that because we do not want to thrust ourselves on anybody much less those who decided to live separately.

But certain developments are taking place in Pakistan, which, from our point of view, are not only harmful to our interests as a neighbouring nation but may eventually contribute to the destabilisation of that state and the resultant instability in the region.

A state founded on religious consideration is inherently an unstable state in the context of modern world where tendency is for secularist and pluralist approach. This is because of imperatives of modern society dependent on scientific and technological advancement.

However conceding that a state formed on the exclusive basis of religion need not entertain fears of instability, it remains to be said that allowing the state institutions rest exclusively on religious extremist ideology, is fraught with serious consequences.

Successive Pakistani regimes from the times of Ziau’l- Haqq down to present day, adopted the policy of encouraging religious extremism in Pakistan. As long as a people remain economically deprived and politically marginalised, they are more and more vulnerable to the haranguing of religious entrepreneurs. This has been the history of the people of the East.

The phenomenon becomes more insidious when landlords of medieval type continue to concentrate political power in their hands directly or indirectly. In this way, the ruling apparatus needs to create the phobia of threat to religion. All those systems and institutions that might undermine the authority of the landlords and the power structure created by them, are identified as ‘ the enemy’. People of a different faith whether within the territorial jurisdiction of that state or outside it, become the first among the unwanted.

But if the things were to stop at that point, perhaps the situation could have been retrieved. When the religious extremists find themselves overtly and covertly supported by the governing machinery, then there appears the arrogance of the majoritarian faith. In Pakistan, after the extirpation of nearly ten million Hindus at the time of partition, the extremists naturally looked for an enemy. Apart from the Ahmadis and the Shias as ‘the enemy’, the Barelavis and Deobandis within the Sunni sect became one another’s sworn enemies. Sectarianism began eating like canker into the vitals of Pak society. Brutal inter-sect killings were made in villages, towns, market places, congregation grounds and finally in mosques while the faithful bent in prayers. Today, we find sectarian armies (lashkars) armed to the teeth and brandishing swords to destroy families and settlements. Where is this going to lead the Pakistan society? Of course today we have a lawless country with a lawless people devouring its own progeny and dismantling it own home.

The religious extremist organisations in Pakistan have almost sidelined the state authority and taken into their hand the course of events for the people of that land. When armed gangs of radicals threaten to destroy a government that does not fall in line with their ideological frame, the state ceases to be sovereign. In the Muridke convention of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, an extremist religious armed group, the slogan was raised that each faithful (momin) should contribute ten rupees, the cost of a bullet to kill an Indian. The government of Pakistan not only overlooked it but also in fact had deputed its representative to endorse the views of the frenzied leaders. In such a state, if it becomes improbable to carry on fire and brimstone to the neighbouring land, is it inconceivable that they will not turn the guns on their own people and begin their annihilation for one reason or the other? Is it not happening today? Do we not find bomb blasts every other day in towns and cities? What is the condition in Karachi? Aren’t there “ no go” areas”?

When the rulers find these horrendous acts of terrorism taking place, they look for an escape valve, the ‘ foreign hand’ and now the ‘RAW’ come handy. It is so because there has been stupendous indoctrination done to coerce unsuspecting people into believing.

In the name of Islam, Pakistan opened its floodgates for the receipt of American weaponry for onward transmission to the Afghan mujahideen. Nobody can say with certainty what percentage of this war material found its way into Afghanistan and how much was retained by Pakistan to militarise the fundamentalists. Where did the brave adventure of US - Pak combine take poor Afghanistan? Today, out of a total population of nearly two and a half crore people in that country, more than half are either dead, wounded or in exile. The fratricidal war, with no end in sight, is the gift of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Islamic brethren in Afghanistan. The day is not far off when those who lionise Pakistani radicals for a role in fundamentalising society in Afghanistan, will realize what they have brought upon their own people. The case of Kashmir is no different. And when that happens, as it should happen by simple logic of history, what will be the position of the feudal - military combine in Pakistan.? Are they not sowing the wind to reap the whirlwind?

Pakistan’s essential problem is the loss of identity. She wants to detach herself from the ethos of the subcontinent and seeks to be identified with the Arab world. Both things are unrealistic and cannot happen. It is a wish which history repudiates and logic rejects. In a bid to see the former contingency fructify, she has floated venomous hatred campaign against India and the Indians (Muslims included). And to hope for the realization of the latter contingency, she has fundamentalised her society or rather Wahhabised it in a bid to please the Saudis. The albatross hangs by her neck.

Torn by the imperative of constructed identity, tormented by  the fallacy of religion as  cementing force among ethnic groups, plagued by the rising crescendo of overbearing religious militias, Pakistan has steadily created for herself conditions that may lead her to disintegration. She has not been able to decide whether she is happy with theocracy, basic democracy, outright democracy, martial law regime or Executive Chieftainship. In the words of one of her military rulers, she is  "more allied than ally" with the USA. Today the same USA is keeping a close watch on her to declare her a terrorist state.

The solution of these frustrating problems rests with the people of Pakistan. They have to think for themselves. We can, at best, join our voice with political pundits in saying that by and large, a people get the government they deserve.



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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference, 1993
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