Sunday, July 17, 2005

Kashmir... A matter of ego more than anything else

Give up on Kashmir! Are you kidding? We have fought wars over it; we've sacrificed our brethren in carnages over "this piece of land". We can't even imagine giving up on it. Leaving Kashmir --- is simply out of question.
This is the way most Pakistanis and Indians think, or shall I say that this is the way most Pakistanis and Indians have been made to think. But do we really mean it when we say that we won’t give up on Kashmir because we’re concerned about the Kashmiris being killed? I doubt.
It leaves me wondering, because had our concerns really been for the Kashmiris, we would've stopped this carnage, years ago. We'd have let go of Kashmir decades ago because the sufferers are always going to be the Kashmiris. We would've receded ages ago because our presidents might be fighting for Kashmir form the comfort of their presidencies but the death toll is rising in the houses of Kashmir. We wouldn't have been fighting on who's supposed to own what, because each day that we waste asserting our demands adds to the 'dark age' of Kashmir.

Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir

I speculate if our apprehensions really are for the Kashmiris. I wonder if we are thinking about the Kashmiris only and not ourselves. I wonder if the plight of the Kashmiri people is more important to us than our own egoistic beliefs.
We've been delaying the fate of Kashmiris to serve our egos. It seems that we are not going to give up unless we satisfy our egos. We are not going to show any flexibility, because no matter how much time it takes, we want things to be dictated to our terms. We want the other nation to kneel down in front of us and accept each and everything that we desire. It’s become a matter of ego more than anything else for the people of the subcontinent.
It’s just our egos that compel us to want Kashmir. The obsession to see ourselves triumphing over a nation that we've deemed as our biggest enemy for more than half a century, is the driving force behind our contemplations.
A Pakistani would never leave Kashmir because he has always considered it as a part of his country under siege and he wants it back; and an Indian would never fathom the idea of segregation from Kashmir because that would mean a defeat at the hands of Pakistan, something he can never absorb.
But who's suffering?
Only and only the poor Kashmiris.
But can we help it? Let's put ourselves in perspective...
"'Kashmir bane ga Pakistan' - Kashmir is bound to be a part of Pakistan. It always was. We do not and CANNOT have an alternate way out of this." This is probably what a quintessential Pakistani would say if asked about his feelings towards Kashmir.
"Kashmir bane ga Pakistan" [Kashmir will become (a part of) Pakistan] --- this slogan has been echoing in our ears for decades. The notion that Kashmir is bound to be a part of Pakistan has slowly but surely skulked into our sub-conscious. When made to ponder, we might say that our only concern is the freedom of Kashmiris, but somewhere deep down, we are falling a prey to our own ego.
I am not saying this because I wouldn't like to see Kashmir as a part of Pakistan. Which Pakistani would not? But I am saying this because had I been an Indian, I could've never imagined giving up on a piece of land that has been a part of my motherland for more than half a century. Nobody would like to get a part of his body removed however sore it may be.
One might say that if I were India, I'd have let Kashmir free. I'd have let go of Kashmir to put an end to all the massacres and bloodsheds that have haunted the Kashmiris for years. But then, this would have meant that for all those years, for which I have held Kashmir, I was wrong. All those wars shouldn't have or wouldn't have occurred had I acceded Kashmir to Pakistan decades ago. I think this is reasoning enough for India to keep the hold of Kashmir. And also, the Indians would never like to be defeated at the hands of Pakistan. We, Pakistanis and Indians, cannot even tolerate losing a cricket match to the other, let alone a territory. We are peoples that burn the effigies of our cricket players if they lose a trophy to the other nation, just imagine what we will do to our leaders if they lost something as valuable as Kashmir to the other country.
So where are we heading? Are we going to keep fighting until we are blue in the face? Would the Kashmiris never be able to enjoy freedom? Would they never be given the opportunity to exercise their right to decide their won fate? I hope not.
I strongly believe that we've got to flex ourselves and think outside the box. We've got to bend. We've got to give in if we really want a solution. What we've got to acknowledge is that the right to decide the fate of Kashmir lies with the Kashmiris and only the Kashmiris. What we should be doing is helping them decide, not telling them what to do.
I, for one, am not interested in the piece of land that is Kashmir. And I hope that I can say this for most of the Pakistanis. We do not need the resources that Kashmir's blessed with. We do not care about the benefits that come with Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. What we want is a peaceful Kashmir, a free Kashmir. We want the Kashmiris to breathe in harmony. We want them to breathe in peace. We want them to breathe the free air that is every human's birthright. But more so, we want them to breathe.
This is not the consideration of a politician who’d want to “win” Kashmir as a feather in his cap; this is not the contemplation of an economist who’s worried about what comes with Kashmir; this is the say of a human being, a Muslim, a Pakistani.

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