Wither Muslims unity?
This year Kashmir Day is of greater significance for one simple reason. In August last year India had unilaterally revoked Article 370 of its Constitution that dealt with the independent status of the Jammu and Kashmir state. It separated J&K and Ladakh and put them under different administrative regimes. Now it is legal for all the Indians to buy land in the valley and domicile there.
The worst part of all this is that the eight million people of the valley, majority of them Muslims, are against this move and fearing reaction, strong one at that, India has deployed some 800, 000 troops there, keeping the local population under perpetual curfew. One cannot even begin to imagine how the people there are holding up to the worst conditions and shortage of supplies and absence of medical facilities and closure of schools for children and all. Communication channels are closed since August. Internet services are grindingly slow. Political leaders even those who previously were thought to be pro India are either under arrest or in protective custody. Whatever the jargon, no political activity of any kind is allowed to take place in the state. The pro independence leaders such as Yasin Malik, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Syed Ali Gillani too are facing prolonged incarceration.
What is more, India has decided to make life difficult for other minorities in India by introducing other legislation that aims to exclude non Hindus.
That was the reason the whole of Pakistani nation celebrated the day with a renewed vigour and zeal. There were human chains formed all across the country particularly in the region bordering Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Major cities and towns saw people coming out in large numbers to show solidarity with the people of Kashmir. Not only that, Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora around the world tried to prick the conscious of the world over prolonged and worst kind of human rights violations.
Pakistan government too has been actively engaging with the world capitals and human rights organizations as well as United Nations to remind them of their role in the conflict. Over the last six months, UN Security Council met twice on the subject of Kashmir which is no small feat considering that the last such meeting of the SC had taken place in mid 60s.
Worryingly enough, all of these efforts have not resulted in budging India from its position. And one wonders what will it take for the world to come together and speak with one voice over the flagrant human rights violations in the valley. At the risk of repeating ourselves, we would say the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation should rethink how it works to address the issues facing the Muslim world. As Prime Minister Imran Khan pointed out in Malaysia that the forum needs to be revitalized if it were to be effective. It is not without reason that Jeddah blames certain Muslim countries of conspiring to create a parallel forum for it knows that the OIC has become a handmaiden of a few countries with deep pockets and does no more than a mere lip service to festering issues such as Palestine and Kashmir.