Whilst the Indian Army is busy rescuing tourists, ordinary Kashmiris in heavily flooded areas of Indian Occupied Kashmiri (IOK) are left to fend for themselves or drown in the process.
The monsoon has come. The seven heavens have decided to weep at once. The monsoon has come. The mighty rivers of Hind and Sindh have unleashed their fury upon the lands, east and west. The monsoon has come. The dams upriver have been flung open. The monsoon has come. The angry ocean has chosen to rest on the heads of the poor and defenceless of Qasim’s progeny. The floods have come.
The September 2014 floods have ravaged the upper and lower Punjab basins in Pakistan. They have seeped onto the Potohar Plateau and now threaten Sindh proper. Hundreds have died, hundreds of thousands displaced and billions of dollars of damage has been wrought. These are some of the worst floods in living memory, (See PKKH’s first-hand report) and yet despite the devastation and our Governments’ habitual inaction, the Pakistani people have once again come together to help those suffering and in need of support. Hundreds of small and large local NGO’s have rushed to the scene to deliver much needed life-saving medical aid and rations. Pakistanis from far and wide, rich and poor, have sent donations to these NGO’s in millions of dollars but above all, the Pakistani Military has once again taken the lead in rescue operations, water diversion, aid delivery and rehabilitation. These floods have been devastating and there may be more to come, however, the affected Pakistanis will eventually pull through, because they have the support – they have us. The Occupied Kashmiris though, have nobody whom they can look up to, in their hour of need.
The Kashmir Valley in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) has been completely flooded since the beginning of September. The floods have wreaked havoc, destroying houses, devastating food supplies, cutting transport links, and washing away the building blocks of civilization (BBC report). As I write, many hundreds are dead and more than 1.5 million are stranded without access to drinking water, food and shelter. They have been like this for more than three weeks now – waiting for someone to come and help, waiting maybe for the Indian government, to fulfil its promises to them under which it has occupied them for the past 65 years or so.
Yet, nobody has come; neither the Indian Army, nor the Indian Government, nor the puppet state government of Omar Abdullah. Leaving aside smaller towns and villages, even the main city of Srinagar has been left to fend for itself. Other than a few air drops of some packets of expired, yes expired biscuits, there has been no aid, no convoys, no rescue efforts. Nobody cares if they are alive, injured or dead. It is as if the entire Indian psyche has decided to forget them, to abandon them. They are after all renegade subjects, are they not? They do not recognize the Indian occupation, so why help them? They throw stones at us, so why not get rid of them? Let them drown; good riddance! Maybe the Indians are looking at their close Israeli friends and taking a leaf out of their book? It wouldn’t be the first time they attempted to emulate the apartheid Zionist model.
Indian emergency services are however busy rescuing Western and Indian tourists from the valley. More than 300 rescue missions have been flown by Indian Army helicopters to extract tourists from their idyllic mountain-top retreats (TOI). Yet not one of those has managed to rescue a Kashmiri resident of the valley or even drop supplies. The Indian media is carrying dramatic front page pictures of helicopters pulling up the rescued, yet they conveniently forget to mention that those rescued are all tourists. The majority of the Indian people aren’t really asking any tough questions either.
The Delhi government has also refused to allow foreign NGO’s into Kashmir, standing firm on its long-term policy of a media blackout in the valley. In order to hide its crimes of mass murder, organized rape and enforced disappearances, the Indian Government does not want foreign NGO’s to be able to see the ground situation themselves. This has robbed millions of Kashmiris from much-needed assistance in their time of utmost need.
Thus the Kashmiri people of IOK are alone. They already live under occupation. Now they are thirsty, hungry, cold and homeless as well. Left to die by their occupiers and ignored by the world. Who will be their saviour? Is there any amongst us?
Of course the Kashmiris will say that they do not need the faux pity of an occupier or their breadcrumbs – that they are enough to help themselves. The Kashmiris are a proud people and their self-reliance is indeed commendable but the situation on the ground is extremely dire and they do need outside assistance.
Therefore, Pakistan must aid them in their hour of need. The Kashmiris are our brothers. They are Pakistanis under occupation. We should not fail them again. The first thing the Pakistani Government should do is to highlight this issue in the International media. Through a persistent Pakistani media campaign we should expose the inaction of the Indian Government and their complicity in disallowing aid into the valley. This would then eventually be picked up by the International press.
Once the issue is on the table, the Foreign Office must coordinate with friendly countries to bear International diplomatic pressure upon the Indian Government to force it to talk and act on the issue – send and allow aid into Kashmir. This is not impossible, as pulling the right strings through our lobbyists in Washington, London and Riyadh, significant pressure can be applied on Delhi; especially, since this is a clear humanitarian issue and India would be concerned about tarnishing its ‘TV-advert democracy’, for fear of losing investments. In the meanwhile, Pakistan must use its contacts with the Freedom Movement in IOK to provide funds, if not goods to the affected people. These funds would come from the Pakistani State coffers, rerouted and cleaned Internationally to deter India, identifying and seizing them. This appeal is not to the administration of Nawaz Sharif, who will most likely do nothing as he is seen to be too close to Modi in India. This appeal is to the Armed Forces, who must use their newly ‘gained’ space in the political spectrum to pressurise the Government to forge ahead.
The long-simmering anger of a people under occupation is resurfacing again. The Indian government has not just robbed them of their freedom but also delivered nothing in return. Kashmiris may once again be at the stage that they were in the late 1980’s. With the US retreating from Afghanistan this year and a likely Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan on the horizon which could leave thousands of freedom fighters jobless, the Indian Government should be very careful how Kashmiris view Delhi. Now would be a very bad time to anger the Kashmiri people. Let them drown and those who survive will most definitely make you pay for it.