Kashmir, You are in Our Hearts …

The sons of Adam are part of one single body
They are of the same essence.
When time afflicts us with pain
In one part of that body
All the other parts feel it too.
If you fail to feel the pain of others
You do not deserve the name of man


These famous verses, written by Sheikh Saadi of Shiraz centuries ago, currently grace the entrance of the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, acting as a motto of sorts for the international organization that was supposedly formed to protect the basic rights of the entire humanity.

One wonders, however, why it is that when, in any international conflict or dispute, Muslims are persecuted, these words lose their effect and meaning for the so-called champions of Humanity. Are 1.6 billion Muslims not part of those deemed as the “sons of Adam?’ Are we some lesser form of humanity, some subspecies that does not deserve the same rights that the rest of humanity is entitled to?

I remember I was 15 years old when me and my cousins, grieved by the plight of our Kashmiri brethren, put together posters depicting their incessant suffering and distributed those posters amongst our neighbours to raise awareness for the ‘Kashmir cause.’

This was back in the early 90s when the Kashmir freedom movement was seemingly at its peak, while Indian State Terrorism in Kashmir also appeared to have reached its pinnacle. Reports of extrajudicial killings, abductions, torture and rape perpetually emerged from the valley. Yet, despite all the oppression and suffering, freedom from Indian clutches appeared quite a tangible reality – much anticipated, much expected and much hoped for …
Then came 9/11, following which the Kashmir freedom movement just sort of stalled under the gradually increasing whirlwind of islamophobia, which included a global crackdown on so-called Islamists/Jihadists. Like many other legitimate, and primarily Muslim, freedom struggles around the world, the Kashmiri Movement got stigmatised as a terrorist movement; and for us, Pakistan, who struggled against our own self inflicted demons, Kashmir lay cold and forgotten, quite like a lost cause …
I don’t want to go into the how and why of things at the moment. Though I am a writer, and I do look for facts, and I have written about Kashmir in the past as well, but right now, I have just picked up my pen because my heart is too grieved to remain silent. I am, at the moment, a human being who feels their pain, a mother who identifies with the grief inflicted upon a mother when her child is abducted, a woman who empathises with the humiliation and rage of the woman who is raped by the occupier …
Humanity’s history – though it may have been rendered glorious by stories of growth and progress, is, at the same time, tarnished by chapters of unfathomable horrors. They include mass genocides like the Jewish holocaust, the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the systemic slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia, Rohingya, Gaza. One of the most harrowing chapters in this endless book of horrors is the incessant suffering within Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir where more than a 100,000 people have been killed and thousands more raped, maimed and blinded in the past 3 decades or so …
Kashmir has been bleeding for the past 7 decades, but now, following the reprobation of articles 370 and 35A, and the enforced ongoing curfew and lockdown by the Indian Security Forces, the situation clearly appears to have deteriorated enough to give rise to a full-fledged humanitarian crisis in the valley. Yet this world comprising of 6 billion homo sapiens watches silently …
The important question is, how can humankind so complacently endure this injustice and so calmy witness such atrocities committed by an illegitimate Occupation in Jammu and Kashmir? How does it continue to maintain this criminal silence? What’s more is that these atrocities are taking place in this so-called civilised world, in the 21st century, so to speak, yet the self-proclaimed champions of humanity choose to merely stand by as silent spectators.
As for the so-called Muslim Ummah, that is another story altogether… The wound inflicted by those who claim to be our “brothers,” some by way of their silence, and some by openly collaborating with and even rewarding the oppressors, is simply unendurable. The pain, intolerable. The crime, unspeakable…
However, I am sure I speak for every Pakistani when I say this. Dear Kashmiris! The people of Pakistan stand by you. You are in our hearts. Our eyes cry for you. Our hearts bleed for you. Our lips pray for you. We will continue speaking out for you. We refuse to be part of the criminal silence being observed by the rest of the Muslim World. Our Collective Conscience will never allow it.
Your courage is unmatched for. Do not let the oppressor break you. Let them witness your resilience, your endurance. God is with you. The dawn of freedom will soon be upon you.
As Iqbal said:
Shab guraizaan ho gi aakhir jalwa e khursheed say
Yeh chaman maamoor ho ga naghma e tauheed say
The night will eventually disappear by the sun’s appearance,
And this orchard will be filled by the light of Tauheed!

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