Mr Bashir Assad, a Srinagar-based senior journalist and researcher engaged in peace-building initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir, said the Pakistani narrative on Kashmir is getting an edge over the real stories … reports Asian Lite News
A prominent Kashmiri author told the diaspora to stem the Pakistani propaganda to denigrate the image of the Valley in the global arena.
Mr Bashir Assad, the author of three famous books on Kashmir – K File: The Conspiracy of Silence and Kashmir – The War of Narratives – An Insider’s Perspective and Kashmir beyond Article 370, told a London gathering that Pakistan is using a two-pronged strategy to fuel terrorism in Kashmir.
“The Pakistani propaganda is spreading the idea of the Islamic Caliphate to radicalise the youths in the Valley. They are using the outdated UN resolutions and plebiscite calls to muster support from the global audience. It is high time to stem the false narratives on Valley.”
The event was organised by South Central Asia Academic Forum (SCAAF UK) in London to discuss Bashir’s new book “Kashmir – The War of Narratives – An Insider’s Perspective.”
Mr Vinod Tikoo, founder member of the Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre in London, welcomed the gathering.
Ms Bismah Mir, the editor of The Kashmir Central, also addressed the gathering. She said the militants are using rape as a weapon to terrorise women and children in the Valley. “They are forcing youngsters to join the militant by threatening their mothers and sisters.”
Mr Assad, a Srinagar-based senior journalist and researcher engaged in peace-building initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir, said the Pakistani narrative on Kashmir is getting an edge over the real stories.
“The stereotypical Kashmir narrative runs on a grinding machine of disinformation, half-truths, and concocted accounts unrelentingly flowing from Pakistan,” said Mr Assad. “This is an obfuscation of truth. Through the cruel, merciless arms of terrorism, atrocities, and pain have been inflicted upon the Kashmiris. Hair-raising terrorist atrocities over more than 30 years tell the story of how Pakistan has ripped apart the life and happiness of Kashmiris.”
He urged the Kashmiri diaspora from the Valley to come forward and stem the misinformation campaign of Pakistan. He also revealed that the high number of Mirpuri immigrants in countries like the UK makes the Pakistani version dominant in the media and political circle. Some leaders are creating vote banks and setting personal agendas by using Kashmir cards.
“Everybody wrote about Kashmir,” said Mr Assad. “There will be oceans of content about Kashmir. Most of them are confining to certain narratives. My concern in is about the society and the society has been destroyed by these narratives. The eco-system created by these narratives.”
Mr Assad said the militants are relying on the creation of an Islamic Caliphate in the Valley to garner support at the local level. They are exploiting the outdated UN statements to grab attention on the International arena.
He also said the revocation of Article 370 has changed the power balance in the union territory. But, the Muftis are still wielding power in certain areas. This has to change.
Mr Bashir said there won’t be peace in Valley unless all stakeholders – the Kashmiris themselves, the Indian state and the political parties in Kashmir get together and negotiate peace with the militants. The ideology of holy Jihad and the aspiration for the kingdom of God has now co-opted women and teenagers as their strongest campaigners in Kashmir, turning paradise into hell. The change from a political problem to a religious matter needs to be understood and strategically challenged.
Mr Burzine Waghmar, Royal United Services Institute, said the global communities are not updated on the latest stance on Kashmir by the United Nations. He said the international body has already announced that the call for the plebiscite is obsolete. The Clinton administration had also clarified the US stance on Kashmir during the President’s tour in India.