India’s Obsession of Pakistan Ignores Elephant in the Room: Occupation of Kashmir

The Flower - Pakistan Monument at Night

In the aftermath of the Pulwama attack in Kashmir which resulted in the death of close to fifty Indian military forces, shockingly but not surprisingly, very little debate over the “blame game” has ensued.

Instead, the mantra that has defined India’s public opinion has been: “Blame Pakistan”.

As the Indian government began pointing to Pakistan as “blameworthy” and signaled tough responses, opposition parties, military spokespeople, analysts and media all rose up agitating for war on its Muslim neighbor.

Lacking ethics and devoid of integrity, the ghost of the “Blame Pakistan” movement has begun hovering over a public discussion on the heavy toll of the attack.

The overwhelming notion that grieving families of the victims want their deaths avenged – and that it has to be shaped by military action against Pakistan, seems to reflect the national psyche via talk shows, media reports and the emotional war talk by BJP leaders.

Though dissenting voices are known to have called for calm accompanied by demands for a thorough investigation into the attack in order to determine how an impenetrable fortified military base within Indian occupied territory could be reached by hostile forces, these are on the margins.

Yet what they ask for makes perfect judicial sense. To discard due process as a nuisance and a hindrance for exacting revenge on Pakistan is to behave like the colonial settler regime Israel.

India supposedly enjoys the credentials of an independent state with roots deeply embedded in a freedom struggle against British colonialism. Yet, seven decades since independence and partition which saw the emergence of Pakistan, instead of collaborating with each other to deal with the vestiges of British imperialism, the two countries are on the edge of a new war.

At the heart of the current impasse remains the Occupation of Kashmir. Close to a million Indian soldiers, armed to the teeth are deployed to suffocate Kashmiris. An unbearable situation which inevitably causes provocation by policies of “shoot to kill” designed in New Delhi.

The overbearing military presence of troops whose reputation is sullied by incidents of rape, torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without trial and mass murder, will certainly be met with resistance.

To imply that legitimate grievances against the Indian army’s brutal conduct are being manipulated by Pakistan is disingenuous. The fact is that successive Indian governments from the time of the Congress until the current incumbent regime led by a rightwing ultra-nationalist Hindu party, the BJP, Kashmir’s demands have been suppressed.

These demands are consistent with international conventions on human rights: remove your army and allow us to exercise our rights as embodied in UN resolutions on a plebiscite.

Instead of complying, India has chosen the Israel-option of Occupation by brute force. A valueless exercise of futility by any standard. Yet India persists, believing that if Israel can get away with its policies of ethnic cleansing while global powers remain muted, so can it.

No surprise then to discover that the military pact India has with Israel extends to the arms trade, training and a common denominator being a determination to crush resistance under the pretext of the “war on terror”.

Israeli fascism has joined heads with New Delhi. As in the case of Palestine where Iran is viewed as an existential threat to Israel, so too have India’s relations with Pakistan been defined.

A strange anomaly but true nevertheless that instead of focusing on the elephant in the room – Occupation, India, with the current emotional impact that the attack has had, has mobilized non-state actors to clamor for war on Pakistan.

The gung-ho approach of media commentators, regime spokespersons, opposition parties and military forces make a toxic combination. It doesn’t augur well for any of the parties: neither India, nor Pakistan. Except for the military industrial complex which thrives on war.