As Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan heads towards the hallowed turf of United Nations General Assembly to make a historic speech on September 27th that is designed to further expose the extent of brutalities the Modi regime has callously inflicted on the beautiful disputed territory of Kashmir, there is a dire need for the world community to play its part proactively and decisively to avert a disaster from materializing whose after-effects will blight the region and the world at large for times to come.
Recently, Imran Khan articulated the grave issue in these words: “We are talking about a country of over a billion people with nuclear weapons taken over by an extreme ideology. All minorities are now being systematically targeted in India . Kashmiris have been under siege for the past 28 days. This is the same RSS philosophy which led to the massacre of Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat.”
The upcoming UN General Assembly session features a face-off between the two Prime Ministers, of neighboring countries - whose domains are connected by a border, but for all intents and purposes, the leaders are each other’s antithesis, in terms of integrity, personality, credentials of academic and social dimensions - and most of all, on their visions regarding the future of South-East Asia.
For good measure, the purveyor of naked fascism in India, Narendra Modi has an ignominious track record, for he was banned from travel to the USA owing to his part in masterminding the Gujarat massacres and the destruction of Babri Mosque. Prime Minister Imran Khan, however, continues to be a political cynosure and attract international acclaim for his sagacity and vision for peace, economic progress and humanity.
His visit to the USA in July not only was a resounding success regarding the acclaim given at the White House, but also among the expectant Pakistani diaspora in States.
Ever since the BJP Government formation came on the horizon, India has been virtually swamped with cases of mob lynching and extreme thuggery - carrying overt state sanctioning for the Hindutva bigots who have been given a licence to attack and terrorise minorities.
This should not come as a surprise to those who followed closely the utterly racist and fascist one-dimensional approach leveraged by BJP in the run-up to the elections.
This was not a surprise ploy, given the abysmal failure of Modi to fulfill the promises of job creation and high growth he had made before and during their last term. What some saw as a diversion tactic, others identified as the culmination of the despicable RSS ideology of fascism which was being powered on with sheer bigotry.
Demonizing the Muslims, both explicitly and implicitly, the BJP engaged and misled the electorate into promising them a new toxic dawn - one where the grand traditions of Hindutva philosophy would hold complete sway over India, trampling the existence and the basic rights of others. It is not just the Muslims who have felt this immense spate of rage by the Hindutva mobs, but Christians and Dalits too amongst others. It is the consummation of the avowed Mussolini-inspired fascist RSS ideology propounded by Modi’s idol Golwalkar who asserted that Hindu majoritarian identity politics was the only acceptable nationalism in India.
Eminent Hindu politicians across the world including Ro Khanna, the US Congressman have been outraged by the way Modi has championed destruction of the fibre of Indian democracy.
The tide has turned violently against multiple faiths in India as Hindutva fanaticism is reaching its pinnacle, coinciding with an all-time nadir for proclaimed Indian values of pluralism and democracy. The slide has been precipitous, reducing Brand India to a poor shadow of itself. Acclaimed intellectuals like Arundhati Roy have expressed outrage over abrogation of Article 370. An avowed follower of the fascist RSS organization from a young age, Narendra Modi has been waving the specious religion flag of fundamental Hindutva ideology - something shaped and inspired by Hitler and Mussolini.
On the other hand, his counterpart in Pakistan, the cultured and suave Oxford-graduate Prime Minister Imran Khan has been for long standing up for the rights of the minorities. A genuine leader raises the public consciousness, rather than to incite and foment divisiveness.
Imran Khan openly asserted in his pre-election speeches the need to exercise interfaith tolerance and peace, citing his exposition that the quality of governance of a country can be gauged through analysing how stoutly it protects its minorities. It was more than seven weeks ago, on the 5th of August that Kashmir’s autonomy as enshrined in multiple UN Resolutions was trampled with brazen disrespect by the Modi regime. Enforcing total clampdown on the territory, the BJP Government has turned Kashmir into the world’s biggest prison, flouting the fundamental basic human rights of Kashmiris.
Literally, hundreds of thousands of Indian army regular troops and reserves have been stationed in the valley to suppress the locals from demanding their rights according to the UN Resolutions.
To hide the sheer torrent of criminality from international glare, press freedom has been totally muzzled, and witch-hunting being carried out on the whiff of a protest across India. The revocation of Article 370 depriving Indian-Occupied Kashmir of its status as granted by the United Nations, has antagonized even the small minority of Kashmiris who had a tilt towards India, with even the staunchest local proponents of Indian control over Kashmir been arrested.
The naked lie of “protecting national security” peddled by India before the unconstitutional act of Article 370 revocation, bears testament to the litany of lies India has weaved for decades in order to pull wool over the eyes of the global community.
As documented by Human Rights Watch, in India, “Soldiers and police use rape as a weapon: to punish, intimidate, coerce, humiliate and degrade. Rape has also been widely reported during counter-insurgency operations elsewhere in India, particularly in Assam and other areas of conflict in northeastern India.” Kashmiri women have taken the brunt of this extreme brutality for decades, as the successive Indian governments have turned the valley into a living hell, using rape as a weapon of intimidation.
Pakistan has been demanding that Kashmiris be given their right to self-determination through a plebiscite as specifically accorded to them by multiple UN Resolutions on the issue. It should be the people of Kashmir themselves who must be given the opportunity to exercise their right to decide their fate, and not India or Pakistan.
Where India has, for decades, turned the beautiful valley into the world’s most heavily militarized zone, treating the population with an iron fist, Pakistan on its part, in the area of Kashmir it holds on the other side of Line of Control, has given total freedom to the people and provision of all fundamental rights to be practised without any coercion or compulsion.
Where Pakistan has unconditionally allowed total and uncontrolled access to international journalists and United Nations monitors to inspect and observe the situation and governance on its side of the Line of Control, India has been running away, denying international monitors and journalists access to Indian-occupied Kashmir.
The reason is palpable and perceptible: India is committing the gross acts of crimes against humanity on a grand scale. Even pellet guns are being used, in contravention to the international laws and norms, blinding and permanently crippling protestors indiscriminately.
Kashmir is no longer a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. With the scandalous violation of the UN Resolutions through revocation of Article 370 and annexing territory of Kashmir unilaterally, India has effectively shut all the doors on any bilateral talks for resolving Kashmir.
It is time for the international community to step in and stop the dangerous charade Modi is playing. Already, some BJP Government Ministers have made their intentions clear regarding how they intend to escalate the matters and further their hegemonic designs in the region. This uncivilized and thoroughly terrorist mindset, as propagated by the Modi regime is a clear and present danger to world peace.
The choice is stark, as much as it’s a matter of listening to own conscience - Indian commercial clout may be immense, but humanity is the bigger currency. Those in the world community showing indifference and merely paying lip-service at the most horrific crimes against humanity being perpetrated by India in Kashmir, will find themselves at the receiving end one way or the other if the rabid Hindutva scourge is not contained.
Imran Khan has to be listened to, as his case is most cogent and overpowering. He is a man of peace, as affirmed by his achievements and politics of tolerance and justice. Before Imran Khan’s political party PTI came to power last year in a historic election quashing the decadent status quo, Pakistan had been ravaged by internecine religious and sectarian strife. However, due to the focused and balanced equitable policies and charismatic leadership of Imran Khan, these matters have largely been brought under control.
As contrasted with what Modi has been exhorting the baying mobs for a long time, never once has the Prime Minister of Pakistan given even a semblance of approval to the gruesome practices of intimidation and other violence of any form.
Rather each and every time, he has vociferously condemned any attack on a community based on its ethnic or religious affiliation, especially in the case of minorities. This has pulled back the country from the brink of utter chaos, with his ascendancy as the Prime Minister providing the defining catalyst for inter-communal solidity.
Such a humanitarian and responsible attitude, as that manifested by Prime Minister Imran Khan, is the need from leaders of stature in the new world order.
That both India and Pakistan have nuclear capability, should in itself be a major reason for the international community to play its part more robustly to avert the potential conflagration matters have been sliding towards which can swiftly escalate into a catastrophe for the region and beyond.
However, a more powerful reason for decisive role-playing is borne out of the immense human rights violations that have been perpetrated by India in the occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Time has come for yielding to the logic of conscience and humanity, and of sensible realpolitik too to save the region from descending into a meltdown of epic proportions. Imran Khan, on his part, has taken the mantle of furthering the case of eight million brutalized Kashmirs in the world, and exposing the evil face of Modi’s RSS-centric fascist policies which have already damaged India’s social fabric.
The world must take notice and reverse the cataclysmic damage triggered by Modi. This is what will save the world from the menace of unbridled Hindutva fascism, and this is the right thing to do as well, for reasons more than one.
ZARTAJ GUL WAZIR
The writer is
Minister of State for Climate Change, Government of Pakistan.