The fringe becomes the core in Pakistan
Behind the scenes preparations were on last week for a summit level meet between India and Pakistan in New York later this month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
But in the Pakistani capital, one of India’s most wanted, Hafiz Saeed was threatening, “India should stop describing Kashmir as its indispensable part, otherwise every part of India would be dispensable for us.” Last Friday, Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-dawa was allowed to hold a Caravan rally in Islamabad, minutes from the Pakistan Army headquarters at Rawalpindi, on the occasion of the country’s Defence Day (the day they actually lost a war to India in 1965).
At the rally, former ISI chief, Hamid Gul thundered, “They (India) should know there are a lot of people here who are waiting for the conquest of India. It will be our privilege to take part in this war.” Let it not be misunderstood that these are “fringe elements” of Pakistan, as some self-proclaimed doves in the Indian media believe. These slogans are aggregated and disseminated by mainstream media and mosques within hours.
On Dunya TV, Express News, ARY, GEO TV, PTV; talk shows after talk shows have commentators, politicians and former soldiers talking about India’s grand designs to launch conventional and proxy war on Pakistan. The LoC incident is now pedalled as something staged by Indian troops to “invade Pakistan via Kashmir like India tried in 1965 via Lahore”. Threats: “India ko pata hona chahiye ki vahan chidiya nahi chehkegi, mandir kii ghantiyaan nahiin bajengi” (Sheikh Rashid) which in other words means that Pakistan will respond to a conventional war with a nuclear strike. “Humne apne nuclear asley museum may sajaane kay liye nahii banayein,” says a former ISI chief.
In Urdu newspapers like Nawa-e-waqt, Jung, Ausaf and Roznama Dunya, similar viewpoints are expressed where there are ‘reports’ of Indian defence personnel visiting Israel to import chemical weapons to launch a chemical attack on Pakistan. Others say that the narrow-minded Hindu mindset prevents India from accepting UN mediation in Kashmir. They openly ridicule Nawaz Sharif’s statements of improving trade relations with India. Bizarre claims that India sees Pakistan as a mere market for its manufacturing industry, intending to flood Pakistan with drugs and medicines to spoil generations of Pakistanis abound.
There, Zubin Mehta’s concert is viewed as an attempt by India to change the Islamic nature of the Kashmir Valley. Even though Zubin Mehta is a Parsi, he is described as a Jew and the concert as a massive Mossad-RAW-German-US conspiracy to “subjugate the Kashmiri people”. While reams of newsprint are devoted to Indian Kashmir, there is little thought spared for Pakistan Occupied Kashmir - the so-called Azad Kashmir - even in the liberal media.
Pakistan has recently raised the level of Mangla dam to 1,237 feet. This has displaced of thousands of people and many mosques and graveyards have been submerged. No attempt was made to relocate the mosques. Imagine the outrage in Pakistan if any mosque in Indian Kashmir had met the same fate? This issue was barely reported in the Pakistani media.
But our own Kashmiri separatists are desperate to curry favour with any and every Pakistani bearded lunatic – from Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin’s schmuck love, to Abdul Turabi and ‘Sandwich Sammy’. The latter being the nickname for Maulana Samiul Haq, who was once caught “in action”, in an Islamabad brothel, with two partners, one being a woman. SAS Geelani and his Hurriyat team find nothing wrong in joining cause with such people but are opposed to music in the Valley.
Nawaz Sharif is trying to formulate a National Security Policy amidst leaked Snowden reports that the US spends billions of dollars to gather intelligence on Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Relationship with India, Afghanistan, America and China will form a major part of that policy. But the exercise is being undertaken when Pakistan still does not have a defence minister, a foreign minister, a national security advisor and an ambassador to the US. Sharif is handling all this on his own.
Nawaz Sharif has to get his act together. And Manmohan Singh is on the last act and scene in his 10-year book as Prime Minister. There is no chapter of significance that they both can pen in the India-Pakistan tome. No harm will come if the two meet and express willingness of the two countries to want peace in the region. But at this stage, neither has the mandate to do anything more. They have more pressing domestic issues to tackle first.
Smita Prakash is Editor, News at Asian News International. You can follow her on Twitter @smitaprakash