At noon Friday, all Pakistanis will stand for half an hour. Gone are the days, years or decades when we used to stand with the Kashmiris metaphorically; now we will stand…literally. Once every week, for thirty minutes. That’s doable, right?
When India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was wrist slapping US President Donald Trump in France, Prime Minister Imran Khan was addressing the nation telling how Pakistan will go to any lengths to support Kashmir. Little did we know that standing from 12 to 12:30 pm on a Friday would be the start of those lengths. A bit much, I would say.
But why half-an-hour and not an hour, or two or four hours? And what will we do while we stood in the streets, at offices, schools or in our homes? The prime minister said he will share the details soon.
Khan’s literal stand for Kashmiris
But the netizens are also asking how will this affect the health of the Kashmiris or what will be achieved by this. They probably don’t know that calling a half-an-hour show the ‘Kashmir Hour’ and blaring sirens and singing national anthems is one way to cross the Line of Control, to internationalise the ‘Kashmir cause’, through sound waves. And according to some sources, the traffic will be halted across Pakistan for that half hour. Modi will be scared, I assume. And there will, of course, be that slogan we all have heard since our childhood: Kashmir Banega Pakistan.
All this makes Imran Khan, the self-proclaimed ambassador of Kashmir, credible when you look at his statement announcing the future Friday plans. He said India has “played (its) trump card”. “They don’t have any card to play now. Now, whatever needs to be done will be done by us and the world,” the PM had said Monday. From how it’s turning out, it seems Pakistan has all its cards intact.
And they are being put into play one by one.
An underpass in Lahore that was called Waris Mir has now been renamed “Kashmir Underpass”. The government in Punjab has similarly vowed to rename roads, bridges, and parks after “Kashmir”. It may sound ridiculous but that’s the best the Punjab government has to offer – other than chief minister Usman Buzdar holding a cabinet prayer meeting to solve the Kashmir problem.
What if the country’s name is changed to Kashmir! Wouldn’t it solve the problem once and for all? ‘Kashmir’ will definitely become free for sure. This will be similar to how PM Khan inadvertently had solved the Kashmir issue earlier, when he said Germany-Japan have a shared border, which could mean that India and Pakistan aren’t neighbours either.
Unhappy and ungrateful
Pakistan is officially a whiner that isn’t happy with anyone, and by that, I mean no one at all. Look at the United Arab Emirates. How can it give the highest honour to the Indian prime minister, Pakistan asks? Just as it can’t figure out how to deal with this situation officially. So, when Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani postpones a meeting in the UAE in protest, foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi calls it his “right” but also says in the same breath that ‘Pakistani awam is jazbati’ and doesn’t see how the Emirates has helped us financially.
Yes, let’s forget that the UAE has pledged to help the country out with a support package of $6.2 billion and trend #ShameOnUAE hashtag because we are so angry. Vows were made (on Twitter) that Pakistanis will stop visiting Dubai, shopping at their malls, and even fly Arab airlines. If you don’t fly their airlines, how do you even go out of the country, considering there aren’t many flying options in Pakistan as it is? How will this affect the people of Kashmir whom Pakistanis are hellbent on helping?
Banning the banned
Bans and boycotts look good in the virtual world, especially when they don’t exist.
Take for instance Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s statement that Pakistan is considering “a complete ban” on use of Pakistani land routes for trade purposes between India and Afghanistan. Yes, the same route that India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar claims Pakistan never actually gave New Delhi the access to. No harm in banning non-existent things when the purpose is so sincere: “#Modi has started we ll finish!”
After the abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian government, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan announced that Pakistan is banning Indian films – the same films that were already banned since the Balakot airstrikes in February. But like we just learnt, there is no harm in banning the banned.
Pakistani media regulator has banned broadcast of advertisements featuring Indian models on airwaves, saying that their sight “aggravates miseries of Pakistanis who are perturbed over Indian atrocities on Kashmiri brethren.” If that is the case, then Pakistanis are aggravated since birth given the amount of Indian content that they have consumed. The same set of people who will put up black DPs and then head over to Netflix to devour Sacred Games.
‘How dare you’ style angry
Talking about Netflix, Pakistanis are also angry with Shah Rukh Khan. Did he not consult the producer-general across the border when he decided to make Bard of Blood? That’s reckless behaviour, of course, why would he do that?
King Khan is still lucky than Priyanka Chopra, for whom Pakistani human rights minister had to take time out from her busy schedule to write a complaint letter to the UNICEF, only to hear from the UN body that she “retain(s) the right” to speak in “personal capacity”.
Pakistani celebrities don’t want anyone to show Pakistanis in a bad light, as terrorists or as collaborators. Especially when people like Hafiz Saeed, who roamed the country’s streets once, are now in jail; or when Masood Azhar, who was recently crowned a global terrorist, could rightfully claim he had nothing to do with Pakistan. No one should show such things, especially Bollywood.
Pakistan is angry. But it has a history of outraging at its own cost. Like when protests broke out against Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s publication of a series of satirical cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad in 2005. Several Pakistanis were killed and injured in the protest violence; the outlets of Norwegian phone company Telenor, KFC restaurant and banks were robbed and set ablaze by mobs. That was blasphemy and this is Kashmir. In both cases, the losers are always the poor people and the economy of Pakistan.
Abrogation of Article 370 is a blessing in disguise for Imran Khan regime, whose first year in office has been dismal on all fronts. But it can now conveniently look for cover behind the project internationalisation of the ‘Kashmir cause’.
The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.