Why silence over Kashmir speaks volumes

Pankaj Mishra writes:

Once known for its extraordinary beauty, the valley of Kashmir now hosts the biggest, bloodiest and also the most obscure military occupation in the world. With more than 80,000 people dead in an anti-India insurgency backed by Pakistan, the killings fields of Kashmir dwarf those of Palestine and Tibet. In addition to the everyday regime of arbitrary arrests, curfews, raids, and checkpoints enforced by nearly 700,000 Indian soldiers, the valley’s 4 million Muslims are exposed to extra-judicial execution, rape and torture, with such barbaric variations as live electric wires inserted into penises.

Why then does the immense human suffering of Kashmir occupy such an imperceptible place in our moral imagination? After all, the Kashmiris demanding release from the degradations of military rule couldn’t be louder and clearer. India has contained the insurgency provoked in 1989 by its rigged elections and massacres of protestors. The hundreds of thousands of demonstrators that fill the streets of Kashmir’s cities today are overwhelmingly young, many in their teens, and armed with nothing more lethal than stones. Yet the Indian state seems determined to strangle their voices as it did of the old one. Already this summer, soldiers have shot dead more than 50 protestors, most of them teenagers.

The New York Times this week described the protests as a comprehensive “intifada-like popular revolt“. They indeed have a broader mass base than the Green Movement does in Iran. But no colour-coded revolution is heralded in Kashmir by western commentators. The BBC and CNN don’t endlessly loop clips of little children being shot in the head by Indian soldiers. Bloggers and tweeters in the west fail to keep a virtual vigil by the side of the dead and the wounded. No sooner than his office issued it last week, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, hastened to retract a feeble statement expressing concern over the situation in Kashmir.

New York Times: Phone cameras fuel Kashmir’s ‘intifada.’

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4 thoughts on “Why silence over Kashmir speaks volumes

  1. Christopher Hoare

    It is likely that the huge loss of life and refugee displacement during Partition and the three wars fought over Kashmir and Jammu since, between India and Pakistan, have frightened outside meddlers to keep out of the issue. It has also been the case that local meddling by Pakistan irregulars and Indian supported elements have invariably created a worse, rather than a better situation.

    When faced with an intractable problem, the most practical course is to avoid making things worse and attempt to let those directly affected work out their own solutions. This requires time, adaption, and an exhaustion of militant energy, when a more equitable situation might be fostered — as in Northern Ireland. Direct action does not end war and conflict — only the passing away of the warmongers and combatants.

  2. scott

    “Why then does the immense human suffering of Kashmir occupy such an imperceptible place in our moral imagination?” Cowardice.

    Chris, I disagree with with you somewhat. I tend to support independence or autonomy for peoples, but those fighting are Indians and Pakistanis. This is a proxy war and the Kashmir people are left in the lurch. They don’t have an embassy (I imagine) don’t have the ability to sign contracts to extract mineral wealth, so what does any outside country have to do there?

    Considering the American relationship with Pakistan and India it is utter cowardice that we won’t/can’t bring them together and forge a compromise. Or, considering the American relationship with Pakistan and India we’d rather keep them quarreling in Kashmir which makes the area too hot to control or exploit (for it’s resources)

    It’s sad and frankly disturbing that we enjoy these petty wars that inflict terrible hardship on oppressed people. It is a corruption of our ideals and is the most myopic of policies. Warped and twisted Machiavellian men like Kissinger would call me naive, I’d call him myopic and mendacious. These machinations result in blowback and undermine our security. But, that is not Kissinger’s concern, rather, he has another agenda, to foster the interest of the war contractors he serves.

    All of our foreign policy is a fraud perpetrated on American taxpayers, against ourselves and all humanity. It only serves the Military Industrial Congressional Complex and betrays everything our founders declared they stand for.

  3. Colm O' Toole

    It’s a very valid question. I think most here understand/discuss the details of similar situations like Israel/Palestine and the public generally seems to be aware of a situation in Tibet but Kashmir does get very little attention.

    Why is this? Well firstly I think cowardice is a factor but it is also partially justified. In 2000 Pakistan/India stood on the edge of firing nuclear weapons at each other potentially killing billions on the Indian sub-continent.

    When comparing the situation to Israel/Palestine you must remember that in that case one side has a modern army/nukes while the other side has basically homemade bombs and throwing stones.

    In India/Pakistan both sides are tied in a similar “death grip” but both sides have million man armies/fighter jets/nukes. Both sides also seem very willing to exchange nuke fire “if it comes to that”.

    Personally I can understand why Western powers and the media do not want to enter into the debate and stir things up.

  4. rosemerry

    I could not watch even a minute of the video.Western media give little information on Kashmir but Arundhati Roy has written a lot about it, and it seems that the huge number of Indian military keep thye population under constant attack. India now with its “natural allies, USA and Israel”, is likely to continue its hard line as it does with the “tribals”, regardless of the wishes of the people in kashmir. The “world’s largest democracy” leaves a lot to be desires in terms of human rights.

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