April 2003 News

As Iraq slips into anarchy Kashmir fumbles for words

16 April 2003
News Network International

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir's Muslims, who had loudly protested the US-led aggression against Iraq and expected a bitter battle, are in a state of collective shock after watching the regime in Baghdad collapse meekly and seeing Iraqis loot their own country. Pro-Iraq euphoria seems to have suddenly melted after televisions beamed images of Iraqis making away with articles looted from abandoned government buildings. The failure of the much hyped Republican Guards to offer a stiff resistance to the advancing coalition forces was an injury, but the real insult for Kashmiris seems to have been the looting and rioting crowds that showed up everywhere as Saddam Hussein's grip loosened. 'It was supposed to be one of the greatest civilisations in history. Mesopotamia existed as the cradle of civilisation thousands of years before America was even discovered. Kashmiris seriously believed in the patriotism of the people of Iraq, though they hardly approved of Saddam Hussein's credentials to rule that country,' said Gulam Nabi, a retired schoolteacher. The majority of locals believed US and Britain would get bogged down in Iraq like Vietnam. That not happening - despite initial reports that the US war plans had gone haywire - has confused Kashmiris. 'I believed there would the mother of all battles and also that Saddam Hussein had been preparing for the obvious during the last 12 years,' said a renowned historian who did not want to be named. 'He (Saddam) proved to be a lousy mouse that perhaps hid in a rat hole and got smoked inside. Killing innocent Kurds is one thing, fighting a professional army with technological supremacy quite another. 'But Muslims all along their glorious history have fought wars with enemies who were far superior in numbers and weaponry, and yet they won. In our religion it is as important to return a victor as it is to get martyred for one's country. Neither of the two things happened in Iraq,' the historian added. Saddam Hussein might be no hero in Kashmir, but everyone sees American President George W. Bush as an invader and somebody who facilitated anarchy in one of Islam's holiest lands. 'He (Bush) is Satan incarnate and I hope nobody doubts that now,' KMNS quoted Habibullah Islamic scholar as saying. He, however, tried best to qualify his comment as to why Iraqis were out rampaging their own hospitals, hotels, palaces and even foreign embassies. 'It is looters who greeted invaders in Baghdad. That happens always when countries are degraded into anarchy. And yet most Kashmiris feel hurt because fellow Muslims are behaving the way they are in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq these days.' Said another prominent Muslim cleric 'Kashmiris really believed that the Tigris and Euphrates would be red with blood. That is the great history of Islam in Karbala. Imam Hussain, the Prophet's grandson, gave his life, but refused to surrender. 'Now the same city is falling like a house of cards and you ask me why I am shocked. Agreed that the present war is not something that concerns the great ideals dear to our 'imams' (priests), but a country is a country. Invasion is unacceptable, whatever the reason.'


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