By Ibreez Ajaz
[T]his year marked a turning point in many Arab nations. Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Oman- all were in the throes of revolt and rebellion. Masses united under one banner of resistance: “Ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam” (the people want to bring down the regime). And so they did. They fought, protested, and lit up the night skies. They took pictures, shot videos, shared stories across the web. They took their destinies into their hands, pushed passed social barriers and religious divisions, and prevailed.
As for our end…what exactly are we doing? Shut downs are per the whims of old-school leaders who live in luxury while the common man starves in the streets, the cold burrowing deep into his soul. Everyday we’re told the recycled mumbo-jumbo that every politician is taught to throw at us. We succumb to our own indifference. As Camus rightly stated: “Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing human. It is always the same words telling the same lies. And the fact that men accept this, that the people’s anger has not destroyed these hollow clowns, strikes me as proof that men attribute no importance to the way they are governed; that they gamble- yes gamble- with a whole part of their life and their so called ‘vital interests’.”
And then there’s the Arab Spring. What set them off? Human rights violations. Kleptocracy. Inflation. Government corruption. Unemployment. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Almost as though it’s something we’ve grown accustomed to, an issue we no longer bother protesting. They took to the streets, disobeyed and demonstrated, spread their activism online, and set up protest camps. The world watched and tyrants trembled as the youth riled their respective nations for the prospect of liberty and freedom– even unto death. No fear could be discerned in their eyes, their hearts quaked not for fear of the chains of their oppressors. They knew what they wanted, and went for it, at all costs.
Back in the Vale, there seems to be a loss of an inherent fear/respect/love for a higher being. There is also an ever-growing trend of the belief that since one has already done so much wrong, what is another strike on the wall? Why should one care about anything beyond their own hide? Is it really Western influence that is to be blamed on the current chaos that’s sweeping our nation? Or is it perhaps misinterpretations amongst the up and coming generation as to what their rebellion stems from? I’m more in favor of the latter. It kills me to see the ignorance that breeds in my country, the lack of respect towards one another, and the budding danger of falling prey to one’s own apathy. From whence will betterment arise? Everyone is pointing fingers, bickering about trivial matters, squabbling over minute details. Who is running the country? More importantly, who is running the uprising?
It’s as though we all await a foretold Mahdi to arise and save us from our squalid conditions. Well guess what Kashmir. No one is coming to save you. God forbid you actually put in some effort, no strings attached, and work towards a common goal. A more woeful state could not be found the world over than the constant upheaval that aptly characterizes this hell on earth. Time and again our masters guide our motions, tug at our chains, and whip us into subservient beings. And we, like the pitiful dogs we are, lick our wounds and return for a fresh beating.
Where others would use the internet to their advantage, to tell the world of what’s really happening, we set up pages that attack other groups with Kashmir agendas. When will we grow up? Who cares which leader is behind one support page or another? We get nowhere with our internal strife. When will the progeny of Kashmir come to the frank realization that in order for our country to stand up and walk on its own, it must first utilize both feet? External forces tie our laces together, and our hands slap at each other to be the first to undo the harm. We punish ourselves when we choose to pull rank, pass judgement, and petulantly respond to situations. I can see the grave marker now: ‘Here lies Kashmir, done in by disinterest.’ Perhaps I’ve offended you. I’ve noted that most from our populace only respond when a fight’s at the door. So, let’s spar. Allow me to elucidate on my comment of the apparent ennui that has overtaken the nation.
Not a day passes that we aren’t reminded by one fellow in charge or another that in order to better our situation, the occupying forces must be thrown out, India and Pakistan should give us our full recognition, a plebiscite should be put forth, the UN should take note of our actions, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Alright, we get what they’re saying. Now, just who is responsible for the trash in our roads? Does the CRPF force us to urinate on public walls? Perhaps Manmohan Singh passed an ordinance making it illegal to be polite? Or how about all the filth in our lakes? Where do the fingers point when it comes to all of this? Why are not our supposed heads taking the initiative, and making their number one priority beautification of the land?
Let’s hypothesize for a moment. Let us contend that Kashmir has received its freedom. Everybody’s happy, a new nation has been formed, and U.N. has given their recognition. Okay. Now what? Elections will start, rigged of course. Industries will collapse after being so dependent these past decades. Lawlessness will fill the streets. The government will crumble, militias will get a stronghold, and then, out of the ashes of a burning land, will arise a figure who will speak of bringing reform, justice, and change. And so will begin the downward spiral to dictatorship. It’s just as Oscar Wilde said– “When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.”.
If there is no foundation to build upon, how can one hope for a country to form? The shaky basis we currently flout, were we to attain independence tomorrow, would lead to instant upheaval and riots that refuse to quell for days. Without the meal ticket that has sustained for more than half a century, we’d become another blot on the map of development, another statistic of illiteracy, poverty, despair, and destruction. So in the end, who would have the last laugh? Do we not have even the slightest sense to realize the prerequisites, the things that must be accomplished, the sweat and toil that need to form rivets down our backs before what we hope for were to come true?
[pullquote]The first words that fell from our lips were ‘Azaadi!, the first steps we took were for independence, but as we toddled our way to self-determination, schisms and barriers in the forms of religion, weapons, and money snatched the rug from underneath us.[/pullquote]We should herald in the new light of prosperity, and bring back to the Vale forgotten desires, hopes, and aspirations. How can we be expected to follow leaders who know nothing of our misery, who were not born into a taunt and electric war zone as we were? The first words that fell from our lips were ‘Azaadi!’, the first steps we took were for independence, but as we toddled our way to self-determination, schisms and barriers in the forms of religion, weapons, and money snatched the rug from underneath us. And so we tumbled to the ground and began to cry, reaching our arms out towards the endless sky, asking for help from God above. So He gave us ways to prop ourselves up, to regain our balance, but we staunchly refused such aid. We’d rather He scoop us up Himself than our striving to stand again. So there we sit, growing older day by day, but just as teary-eyed, and with a pout a mile long. Our obstinacy has made it difficult for anyone to change our diaper, which reeks and causes festering sores.
Why do we sacrifice our well-being over trivial matters when there is much more to be concerned about? Do we see anyone else fighting our battle abroad, other Muslim countries shutting down to protest what’s going on in Kashmir while we find ample time to project their issues? We should work to make Lal Chowk akin to Tahrir Square, to brighten up the lanes with the outpouring of our souls, the energy and want and desire of a new land. Trees will sway with our chants, the soil will reverberate with our stride, and the air will exude the ambient fragrance of a renewed dream.
Ibreez Ajaz is studying at Mymensingh Medical College, Dhaka. She can be contacted at www.koshur.weebly.com