Dead Silence and Nothing Else

Dead Silence and Nothing Else

Najib Anwar

 ‘If man didn’t sometimes close his eyes tightly, he’d end up not seeing what’s worth looking at.’

                                                                            Fragment 59 of Feuillets d’Hypnos by Rene Char

Tariq Ali, the eminent journalist and author had recently put forward a succinct observation. Talking on the show, “Global Empire- Kashmir: Blinding the people” on Telesur channel, he observed, “Were these atrocities being committed, let us say for the sake of argument, on this scale by the Taliban, what could have been the reaction? A Nobel peace prize was given to an Afghan woman who was badly injured on a terrorist attack on a single school girl bus and she is very courageous and I like her and so I am not grudging her there. But I am saying (if) that was the reaction on one attack whereas in Kashmir this sort of thing is going on every single day”- what is the reaction of the western world? Complete silence.

He even compared the atrocities in Kashmir with the Chinese attacks in Tibet, which is clearly not in this massive scale; but the reaction of the western world is worth noting. It erupts in horror, shock; the finest actor in the Hollywood embraces Buddhism and what not. But when things in much, much larger scale happens in Kashmir, it is dead silence. “We don’t know about it, we don’t want to know about it,” Tariq rues. And why this dead silence? Because these atrocities are being committed by a country, which is regarded as friendly to the western world and democratic as well, howsoever, sham that democracy might be.


Tariq was in conversation with journalist and novelist, Mirza Waheed and both of them came down heavily upon the brutalities committed by the armed forces. Mirza was scathing when he said that both India and Pakistan treat Kashmir as a cartographical, territorial entity. I heard this criticism recently in Srinagar again.

Driving down the road, my friend Sajad Rasool curtly said- “for India, Kashmir is nothing but a colony.” Looking outside the window of the running car on the misty Srinagar afternoon, I remembered having heard this similar feeling in Bangkok years back. The crisis in the Southern Thailand was flaring up at that time. I was discussing this development with my aunts in their house one evening on the dinner table. One of them, Nanthana Neeyaphan said- “there is a terrible disconnect between the central government and the people of Southern Thailand, who are mainly Malay Muslims. Bangkok treats them as colonised people.”

This terrible disconnection is seen in Kashmir, in Southern Thailand and wherever Majoritarian are in control over the minority. This is a ‘post colonial hangover’ to say the least. The right to self determination is being muzzled by both states. They treat their ‘so called’ colonies as ‘Other’. However, article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights categorically states- “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

But governments, whether in India or Thailand or anywhere else, care little.

And the rest of the world is in mental torpor. The world has become benumbed, voiceless. No protest seen for atrocities committed, no voice heard on the question of      self determination.

It is dead silence and nothing else.

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