Kashmir Day: Hit and run

Shakir Husain
Kashmir Day is today, and people all over Pakistan are trying to figure out what to do with their Thursday. Nobody quite knows what they’re supposed to do on Kashmir Day other than sleep late, eat halwa puri, and maybe watch a few Indian movies. For the more involved, Kashmir Day provides a day for people like Qazi Hussain Ahmed to lead marches supporting the Kashmiris – Qazi Sahib is probably not too fond of halwa puri or Bollywood; and at his age sleeping in is probably not an option either. Most people that I have talked to find it absurd that Qazi Sahib and his friends never find the time to protest when militants decapitate fellow Muslims in Swat (and elsewhere in Pakistan) and blow up girls’ schools in the Northern Areas.
Most Pakistani citizens have more than enough problems on their plate to really care about Kashmir. I mean this in the most non-offensive way possible. But let’s be honest and look around us for a moment – our country is a mess. Politically, we have had to watch insecure pygmies with fragile egos duke it out without really caring about the people who voted for them. And for good measure our political leadership’s ability to sympathize with the “masses” is manifested by them acquiring luxury vehicles, VIP perks for themselves and their families, and the pursuit of VIP aircraft which can ferry them across our pure land. The greed and avarice that’s on display would put even the most brazen Citibankers to shame – I’ll exclude Shaukat the First from that list though.
Next up is our crumbling infrastructure about which the less said is better. Despite having mysteriously acquired nuclear weapons, Pakistani companies (both state and private) are unable to build a road which can withstand a rain or two. And then there is the power “situation”. There’s an acute shortage of power in a country which has no business having a power shortage given our geography in terms of natural water reservoirs. While far poorer countries than ours have resolved to reduce their dependence on oil as a primary source of energy for power, our bureaucrats and politicians remain clueless. For the past 9 years I have been hearing about CNG buses for Karachi as Delhi has done to reduce carbon emissions, yet nobody quite knows where these buses went to. We’ve been hearing about mass transport facilities for the citizens of our urban centers which have failed to materialize for all the wrong reasons – money. Yet there’s enough money to buy luxury vehicles for everyone and their grandmothers.
Law and order in Pakistan would be a good idea but the less said about it the better. Our crime fighting capability is still stuck in the 18th century and I was amused to read a statement by a police official in Karachi that the fingerprint unit was going to be “reactivated”. Yes, good idea officer especially since the technology is a couple of centuries old now. While senior officials wouldn’t be caught dead (no pun intended) in anything but the latest four-wheel drive, the average cop is untrained, outgunned, unfit, dangerously unmotivated and also understaffed with some of the lowest police/population ratios in the world. The few good officers that are left in the police force and other law enforcement agencies are transferred around on the whims of politicians and bureaucrats sitting on their high perches. So it’s not exactly a surprise as to why there has been a complete breakdown of law and order.
Most Pakistanis are under the misinformed impression that the Kashmiris under Indian rule want to join Pakistan. Ladies and Gentlemen, I hate to break this to you but the Kashmiris are way smarter than that. They have no desire to join Pakistan given the state of our nation; rather in the best case they seek independence as has been clearly stated by their leaders. They are even willing to settle for quasi-independence if push came to shove. But to join Pakistan is definitely not an option given what a royal mess we’ve made of our own four provinces. Indian occupation has been harsh as all occupations are, but before we go out to liberate Kashmir, Palestine, and every other Muslim land in the world let us first look within and sort the matters out in our house before we embark on these ambitious journeys. And let us stop the madness and stop declaring holidays – there are far better ways to express solidarity with a people than eating halwa puri and watching mindless television.
*(The writer is a Pakistani entrepreneur and business consultant).
-(Courtesy: The News)

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