Naseer A Ganai
Even the United States would be surprised if it comes across its fans in Kashmir. Not fans, it has lovers here! I think whole Kashmir has fallen for it. It is sort of masochistic relationship. In bollywood terminology, it is one-sided affair. The affair, in which Kashmiris have taken thousands of troubles to get attention of America. But the beloved America had other priorities.
Upto 1990 it had Russian concerns and it was busy with Afghan jihad to oust communists from Afghan soil. Once the mission was accomplished, it forgot Afghanistan and the Afghans. During Bush senior era it switched to Iraq and went after Saddam Hussain describing his nuclear weapons as threat to the World peace. In relatively peace time of President Clinton, it was caught between beautiful legs of Monica Lewinsky.
In Bush junior period America went back to Iraq. Instead of weapons of mass destruction it found Saddam in tiny cellar in Trkrit and presented his head to the world.
Then 9/11 happened and Bush junior declared that you are either with us or against us and rushed to Tora Bora Mountains of Eastern Afghanistan to get Osama. But instead of Osama it got stuck between Good Talibans and Bad Talibans. Now in times of Obama it wants to pull out its legs from both Iraq and Afghanistan. But at the same time it continues to threaten Iran.
These tantrums of America did not make Kashmir to lose hope. Kashmir continues to love America. Heart is strange thing. Once it falls for someone, it falls like overhead bridge of the Delhi Common Wealth games. It does not care, what will others say? It never thinks what people will think. And it just cares whether the beloved has heard him or not. Kashmiri continues to believe that a day will come when America will see logic in his suffering and strikes.
I wonder why America is loved word in Kashmir. Long back when George Bush senior ordered sanctions against Iraq in the first Gulf War, Kashmiris unlike other Muslim countries of the World cursed Saddam. They said that the World was about to take decision on Kashmir when Saddam invaded Kuwait and took away Kashmir from the limelight.
America is deep in our psyche. In 2000 AD speaking on the Autonomy resolution in the State Assembly, Dr Farooq Abdullah poured his heart out. He took the debate back to 1953 when an American diplomat Adlic Stephon had met the then Prime Minister Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. Dr Farooq said next day when Stephon could not go back to Delhi as weather was not conducive, his father (Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah) telephoned Stephon to have tea with him. It was second meeting between the two. The Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru read too much in the meeting and perceived that Sheikh has entered into an agreement with the United States of America, Farooq said. Subsequently, Sheikh was dismissed and arrested.
In early nineties when armed insurgency erupted in Kashmir, America continued to dominate discussions that usually take place here on roadsides, in mosques and near shops. These heated discussions over the World affairs would start with America and end with America. Robin Raphel, Medeline Albright, Bush, Clinton, would often come up in these discussions. The discussions would be dominated by the avid listeners of the BBC Urdu service. And some ten years ago, the News programme of the BBC Urdu service was staple diet of every Kashmiri. I would often hear them speaking about “American Pressure” and as a youngster would wonder what kind of “Pressure” Americans have with which they force the nation-states to comply with its whims.
I was young and instead of being active participant I would always prefer to be passive listener to these roadside conferences on the World affairs. Often they would discuss India has tremendous pressure of America. Something soon is going to happen, they would say. One person was ardent fan of the US. He would always advice that we should shout pro-America slogan. Only America could make the difference, he would argue. There was no one to challenge his argument.
Life moved on and nothing changed over the years. Today my hair lining is receding and whatever hair has remained is turning grey, but the discussions continue. The roadside shops have been taken over by English speaking netizens on social newtworking site Facebook but the topic of the debate continues the same. The arguments are the same. That will the President Obama say something about us when he will be in New Delhi next month. That India this time has pressure of America. That situation in Afghanistan would make things different for India after NATO forces leave Kabul. That Omar’s “international issue” talk in the State Assembly is an indication that America is interested and they have roped in Omar.
There is so much America in our daily talk that I wonder when some analysts say there is growing Islamic fundamentalism in Kashmir. The changing geopolitical realities do not matter to Kashmiris. Only what matters is whether America is interested or not. The geo-political realities might be against Kashmiris but still they pin hopes on America. They say that India and Pakistan will only settle Kashmir, once there is American pressure. I wonder what kind of Islamic fundamentalists are these Kashmiris? Strange type really. They want to be allies of the US. They appeal to the conscience of America- separatists openly and pro-India politician subtly and Kashmiris masses constantly. They have it seem belief that America has a conscience.
God bless America and all of us who believe that it has conscience!