Double talk, double standards

Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna’s recent visit to Pakistan concluded without much tangible progress.

Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna’s recent visit to Pakistan concluded without much … okay, any … tangible progress.

The Indian delegation kept insisting on discussing terrorism, that is, the Mumbai attacks. I wonder how they define what is happening in Indian Kashmir. In Mumbai, 166 people died over the course of three days. In Indian Kashmir, thousands of people have died over the course of many, many years (there are several tallies of the death toll since there is limited access to the region). Those dead in both cases did not deserve to be killed. Are the killings in Indian Kashmir, then, any less atrocious than the ones in Mumbai?

Terrorism cannot be seen in isolation. Where the Indians insist on talking about the terror attacks on Mumbai, they should take the prolonged terrorism in Indian Kashmir just as seriously. Mumbai is India’s financial capital, hence it is understandable that there must be immense pressure on the government to address the issue. In fact, the pressure is palpable – India has not carried out an execution since 2004 and Ajmal Kasab may be the first case in six years. Further, many Indians, including the families of some of the victims, have long called for Kasab’s execution and the clamour grew stronger after his conviction.

However, even after the Indian Army claimed responsibility for deaths during protests in Srinagar, including that of a 17-year-old boy who was killed during a demonstration, there seems to be no call for justice in India. Pakistanis have been quiet too … the only ones who have raised a voice are religio-political parties who have invoked the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to stop the massacre of Muslims.

The solutions to deadlocks on both issues – Mumbai and Kashmir – will only be found when leaders on both sides are honest about them and consider them of equal importance. Lasting peace will only be established when people are valued for being humans rather than Muslims or Hindus, rich or poor and when “heavens on earth” are given the same importance as “financial capitals”.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2010.

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