Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pankaj Mishra is at it again

Pankaj Mishra who has specialised in the art of blaming almost all, if not all the sins of the world on Indian policy in Kashmir is at it again. Mercifully this time not in the main New York Review of Books but in its newly instituted blog. His point this time is that there is no solution possible in Afghanistan without a solution to the problems in the Kashmir valley. Of course in the very large, super-large universal scheme of things, perhaps all effects are causally interconnected. But Mishraji has no such over-arching view of the world. His point, if I may simplify matters a bit, is that human rights violation by Indian forces in Kashmir (oops, I should say 'India-held Kashmir' the politically correct term) is more or less at the root of all evil and in particular, the evil at work in Afghanistan. In other words, Mishraji, who has specialised over the years in hurling unsubstantiated accusations against the Indian Army in Kashmir and elsewhere, is back to his old tricks.

The pathetic human rights record of Indian forces in Kashmir is not in doubt (though it is fashionable amongst the Mishra ilk to forget why they are there in the first place) but a correct statement of fact does not necessarily causally link it with another correct statement of fact. The problems with this leap of logic is of course beyond Mishraji. Rambling through a litany of Indian sins (which includes apparently the dismembering of Pakistan, conveniently ignoring or forgetting the actions of Yahya Khan's troops that precipitated that action) and some mind boggling connections like Hamid Karzai's education in Himachal Pradesh, his column finally and drearily makes its predictably way to the 'obvious' conclusion -- that the Kashmir problem is what is preventing a solution to the US's imbroglio in Afghanistan.

The issue that completely escapes his notice (after all, one can't think of everything, poor fellow) is the Pakistan Army's support of militants in Kashmir and elsewhere either directly or through the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), its obsession with India as the enemy and finally the Army's desire to keep some of the 'friendly jihadis' in its camp to continue the so-called proxy war in Kashmir with renewed vigour at a later time. The obvious fact that has been underlined often even in the mainstream Pakistani press like the Dawn by its retired Army and Navy commanders that every single war India and Pakistan have fought was initiated by Pakistan (and more specifically the Pakistani Army) has also escaped Mishraji's notice. So the painting of India as the bad boy in the block, seems, to put it mildly, far-fetched, considering that we have been at the receiving end of the terrorist violence for the last two decades. Picking on one incontestible fact -- that of India's human rights record in Kashmir -- Pankaj Mishra has yet again concocted from the recesses of his mind a fantasy world of mischief, war mongering and insurrection, at the heart of which lies the Republic of India.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

The first link (to the NYR blog) goes somewhere else...

Rahul Basu said...


Venkataraman said...

"...that we have been at the receiving end of the terrorist violence for the last two decades."

Over the last decade, Pakistan (the common people of Pakistan i.e.) have just as much been victims of terrorism.

Rahul Basu said...

I don't think the two situations are exactly equivalent. In Pakistan the people they nurtured for years have turned against them. (A bit like Bhindranwale and Indira Gandhi). Secondly what is remarkable is that most surveys carried out in Pakistan show the younger generation actually admiring of Islamic Law and the Pakistani Army. The tide turned somewhat after that infamous Swat valley video of a young girl being caned by the Taliban

In India's case there are people being actively trained from just across our border in Kashmir to infiltrate and create havoc in India. The terrorist training camps are not fiction. No country OTOH has trained any terrorists to go in and attack Pakistani establishments. It's their own creation.

I find this moral equivalence of bracketing India and Pakistan as 'both having suffered greatly from terrorism' somewhat far-fetched. And the usual stick to beat India with -- its human rights record in Kashmir -- is, though true, a red herring. Even if all human right violations in the Kashmir valley stopped from today, terrorism will not.