Pakistan President Arif Alvi and Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed at a protest march on Article 370

Gone are the days of dreaming to conquer India or aiming to flutter the Pakistani flag in Srinagar. Now, just honk on a red light and win Kashmir’s freedom

by Naila Inayat

On 5 August morning, as India was in Chak De mode, watching its hockey team bag a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Pakistan was in silent mode. Or was it.

There was a lot of confusion among Pakistanis, because at 9am they had to be silent but they also had to honk and create a lot of noise on Kashmir. Pakistan doesn’t know what to do. Stay silent or make noise?

At 9am, Pakistan Standard Time, everyone in the country woke up only to remain silent for a good 60 seconds. Nothing was the same after that. You’d wonder how. Well, even we still don’t know how. But we do know why. On the second anniversary of the 5 August revocation of Article 370 by India that bifurcated Kashmir into two Union territories and ended its special status, the government of Pakistan announced to give India a silent treatment and now you know how.

It was decided that a one-minute silence will be observed and traffic will be halted, in solidarity with Kashmir. The decision was announced by the interior minister of Pakistan Sheikh Rasheed, who has been in prime form in the last 10 days, sometimes riding a horse to nowhere and at others rowing his boat towards the “Kashmir Banega Pakistan” shore. Who knows it might happen sooner than later. Remember, you first read it here.

‘Repeat Telecast’

The move to remain quiet was rather surprising, considering that the positive results of Pakistan’s one-minute silence of August 2020 still haven’t been shared with us. Though one can guess the outcome would have been dangerously positive, hence the repeat telecast. Detractors may complain that silence of two years from the Imran Khan government was enough then why burden oneself with one-minute hush. The opposition leaders have repeatedly, in the past two years, labelled the Khan government as Saudagar (merchant) of Kashmir, for having not done “enough” for its cause. The government’s historic decision was to stand each Friday, which even the prime minister could not honour. Never forget, Kashmir is Pakistan’s jugular ‘vain’

Ground reality of ‘project internationalisation’ of Kashmir has been different. If 2019 resulted in black day, black display pics, emotive India ja ja Kashmir se nikal ja anthems, standing for 30 minutes in the sun, then 2020 was all about taking the Kashmir solidarity up a notch — by making a new map, claiming Kashmir as Pakistan and even the state of Jungadh, renaming Kashmir highway in Islamabad as Srinagar highway and little bit more of same: the singing, walking and of course tweeting. The map business was taken very seriously by the government as it still periodically sends SMS that not using the ‘correct’ map could get you in trouble, not minor trouble, but jail time of five years and a fine of Rs 5 million. Hope these millions aren’t the same as PM Khan’s miscounted “1 billion and 300 million” people of India. You wish!

Horn Baja Ke Haisha

Now 2021 wouldn’t be all for nothing, like we said nothing was the same. And as a result, Halloween is being celebrated, not observed, early in Pakistan this year with a special guest. A road crossing in Islamabad was adorned with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poster with him in a Halloween costume of a Dracula. “Modi destroyer of peace, if you agree, press horn,” the poster urged those driving by. Such thoughtfulness only in the name of Kashmir. The government wants Pakistanis to honk till the sound reaches the Indian PM. Can you hear us Modi? Now, long gone are the days of dreaming to conquer India or aiming to flutter the Pakistani flag in Srinagar. Now, just honk on a red light and win Kashmir’s freedom. World might think this is some joke but this is as serious as the time when Modi and Abhinandan debuted together on a poster in Lahore last October.

Pakistan is serious to reiterate that Kashmir is not an integral part of India and 5 August remains like the rest of the 364 days of the year. Don’t ever buy into the statement of any Pakistani minister who says that Pakistan wasn’t much bothered about Article 370 to start with, but then spent two years protesting it. Let it be clear that India’s Constitution is of importance, thus the public display of affection. When the PM says that once Kashmiris decide to become part of Pakistan after plebiscite, they can become independent — a third option that he often refers to. He definitely means what he says, so we shall wait another few decades for that to suffice. After all, Khan’s successful foreign policy revolves around two issues: Modi not taking his calls, Biden not calling him up.