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Three Parallels

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s rant on Kashmir at the United Nations General Assembly was effectively countered on the basis of facts by the Indian representative, Vidisha Maitra. This response not only poured contempt on the Pakistani narrative, but also put it in the historical perspective of that nation’s past misdeeds. It also continued with the Indian approach of not giving too much importance to Kashmir as an international issue. In line with this strategy, Prime Minister Modi had focused firmly, instead, on the basic problem of ‘international terrorism’ in his address to the UNGC, earlier. That does not mean, however, that those inclined to fish in troubled waters will be convinced by mere facts in an age when perception matters much more. The thrust of Khan’s by now much repeated narrative is along three parallels. First, the threat of a nuclear holocaust in the hope that the world intervenes! Any mediation would imply that Pakistan has a stake in Kashmir. That it has failed to abide by the UN resolutions on the subject for seven decades and tried, instead, to circumvent them by using force, is being overlooked as unimportant. At the same time though, he is sending out a message to the jihadis in his own country about the possible consequences of their actions if the confrontation escalates! The second argument is based on the alleged human rights violations. There are always takers for this as it makes politicians seem good people – particularly those in the opposition – and provides them an opportunity to whip up emotions amongst their constituents. In most democracies today, the definition of these rights has been almost entirely monopolised by the left, the politically correct and the confused liberals. Depending on the readership, the media has become adept at turning victims into villains and vice-versa. So, it is no surprise that Khan found a willing taker in UK’s Jeremy Corbyn and faced docile and uninformed journalists in a number of arranged interviews. His third argument is based on the allegations of Islamophobia and the ‘fascist’ nature of India’s present government. He has picked up on the Indian opposition’s narrative that targets the RSS and the Hindutva ideology of the BJP. He is attempting to take leadership of the Muslim ‘Ummah’, including Indian Muslims, and trying to make it a religious war. Here, too, he has had support from those practicing similar politics – Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for instance, who has worked assiduously on demolishing secularism in Turkey ever since he became President. Khan’s basic demand, however, is that the ‘cruel’ curfew be lifted. When things return to what is considered ‘normal’ in J&K, he will claim it as a victory. He hopes that this will satisfy public opinion at home and, maybe, he will come out looking a hero.