What's Behind Pakistani Flags At Rallies In Valley

3 May 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arun Joshi

Jammu: What lies behind the waving of Pakistani flags and raising of pro-Pakistan slogans in Kashmir? There is something more than what is being interpreted. It is not that pro-Pakistan constituency is expanding nor does it signify that the separatists have discovered a new psychological weapon to frighten India. All across the Kashmir valley a universal fact stands out that two psychologies are converging - first, it is the deep frustration with the system as a result of the failure of tantalising hopes turning into nightmare; second, the usual suspects have once again seen a chance to derail the recovery of Kashmir from economic distress and political instability. It was Pakistan that had coined the slogan 'We want freedom' in the late 1980s when it realised that Pakistan was no more a dreamland for Kashmiris. Now, when it has become a catchphrase, Pakistan is reverting to divert the people in Kashmir to the old slogan 'We want Pakistan'. In the 1960s, people, angry with the government and the system, would raise slogans 'Our leader Ayub Khan (then it became Yahya Khan), we want Pakistan). But this slogan lost its relevance after Pakistan got split into two in 1971, not only history but the geography too changed. Bangladesh appeared on the world map. Its provincial wars and insurgencies are taking Pakistan to Balkanisation, once again threatening the very existence of the country, notwithstanding its claims to the contrary. So, it is stoking the anger of people of Kashmir to give an impression back home that Kashmir is 'giving an expression to its love and sentiment for Pakistan'. This is what Pakistan's Foreign Office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam would like the world to believe. The waving of Pakistani flags and pro-Pakistan slogans renting the air are manoeuvred by the elements who want to hit at the economy of the Valley and also destabilise the political set-up. Tourist season has arrived - the good news is that tourists are coming in hordes. But when they see Pakistani flags and their ears are filled with 'Pakistan zindaabaad' slogans, they feel scared. They think of taking the next flight back home. The rest of the job is done by TV channels for whom it is a story without understanding that how much it hurts the economy of the place and causes alienation of people. Pro-Pakistan elements are tenaciously trying to dilute the Kashmiri identity. People in Kashmir elect their governments - in 2008, 60 per cent voted; 2014 saw 66 per cent turnout. This political reality cannot be undermined by a few flags here or there at some regular intervals. The pro-Pakistan elements want to show that Kashmir is on the boil and it should be addressed at their terms. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed should understand this behind-the-scenes game of these elements. Neither arrests nor any chest-beating will yield anything. The answer to the problem is to end alienation. It requires out-of-the-box solutions. Sending some of these elements behind bars will not help. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it does have a role in what is happening in Kashmir. The fertile ground has been provided by the corrupt system, insensitive political leadership and also continual denial of justice to people - not only in the cases involving rape and murder but also road rage, where the mighty and their wards feel that they have the right to kill people because they know that they can get away with it. This is the breeding ground of frustration which stretches when the politically influential or those with some money power manage to get government jobs. That's where the frustration is tapped by religious zealots and political merchants. This has been happening time and again. There is a huge vacuum and that is being filled by the indoctrinated youth. They feel betrayed and seek solace in radicalism. For them, waving of Pakistani flags or raising pro-Pakistan slogans is not an expression of love for Pakistan, but a clear demonstration of their anger against the system which has snatched away their hopes and dreams.