Kashmir is not Pakistan’s ‘jugular vein’

Instead of dreaming about adding to our land mass, let's fix all the damaged veins within Pakistan

Many years ago Pakistan decided that it will show solidarity with Kashmir by closing down the country on February 5 every year. Yesterday, on the said date, various Islamist/extremist organizations decided to hold rallies all over the country. There was a lot of outrage at the fact that while the government had said that these organizations were banned, they are still allowed to hold rallies and their leaders continue to speak openly, even in the news media.

Why was anyone surprised at that? Banned or not, these are the ‘assets’ similar to the ones the establishment has used to conduct jihad in Kashmir. They have been lovingly nurtured to promote this agenda in order to free Kashmir, to counter India. Basically to overcome any threat, real or perceived, that might be heading towards this great land of ours.

So when we were all singing about the strength of faith and country; when we all were so thrilled that ‘action’ is being taken, after the Peshawar attack, by banning these organizations and hurriedly hanging some terrorists, we forgot that what we were expecting would never happen.

Yesterday, these so called banned organizations were saying the first thing leaders of each political party say: Kashmir will become a part of Pakistan. They were promoting the agenda of the establishment, the agenda without which it would perhaps seem less important. How can they be banned?

As a result of our deep belief that Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan, we bring our economy to a standstill for a day each year. In protest to it not being a part of Pakistan, we contribute to an already depressed exchequer, by not working.

I submit that Kashmir is not the jugular vein of Pakistan.We have survived without it for this long. The jugular vein is the one being slowly cut through allowing such organizations to continue. It is being cut through ensuring that the masses in the country are bred on jingoism and hyper-religiosity and when we lose millions of rupees by closing down the country, instead of providing more funding to the education sector.

Our jugular vein is slashed each time there is minority genocide in the country, with nary an active response from the same people who promised retribution – finally – after the Peshawar attack. It is nicked a little bit each time citizens are arrested while protesting against Shia genocide (on the same day that ASWJ holds a huge rally and threatens those citizens for protesting against its barbarity). For when you cannot control the devils you have nurtured for so long, what is left for you to do to show your strength but to arrest someone, anyone.

So I say again, Kashmir is not the jugular vein of Pakistan. And therefore, it would be much better for us to move on from Kashmir and concentrate on the issues that are bleeding the country to death, slowly but surely. Instead of dreaming about adding to our land mass, it is necessary to fix all the damaged veins within Pakistan. Let's work on that first. We can worry about Kashmir later.

Saima Baig is a Karachi-based environmental economist, climate change consultant and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter

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