http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?266293The Boiled Frog
The slow erosion of plurality, secularism and shrinking political and economic space for the disfranchised has created the situation that exists in Pakistan today. Kashmir seems to be slowly but surely headed the same way
One doesn't need to be a South Asia specialist to be concerned about the alarming situation in Pakistan. Its economy is in doldrums. The political situation continues to be grim: While a ballot box produced a civilian government, the country nevertheless continues to be run by military generals, who not only control its internal security and defence, but also its foreign policy, strategic assets, and a large part of its economy. The law and order situation is growing worse by the day - frequent sectarian violence has now reached the heartland of the nation and appears to be a precursor to a nascent civil war. The country is being drawn into a somewhat reluctant war (at America's urging) against Islamic zealots who are trying to enforce Nizam-e-Mustafa region-by-region and attempting to steal its nuclear weapons.
When Hindu and Sikh populations started diminishing rapidly, no one seemed to care. When Pakistan repudiated Jinnah’s vision and started officially classifying some Muslim faithful as heretics, warning bells should have gone off. When the Pakistani Army started indoctrinating soldiers as Islamic warriors, it conveyed a message that was overlooked. When “blasphemy laws” were enacted, it generated no rage among the elite (and so-called secular) majority. When people started battling each other in streets of major western cities in Pakistan, and names likes Sipah-e-Sahaba and Tehrik-e-Jafria were still relatively unknown, most sectarian violence in Pakistan was brushed off by local civil society as mischief created by “paid Indian agents”. And finally, when Kashmiri militants were trained and dispatched to create mayhem and unleash violence on the Indian side of Kashmir, not only was that mission deemed as a “sacred duty” but many willing Pakistani civilians, along with its security forces, fully supported the jihad against India.
Today, the violence that was engineered to bring death and destruction elsewhere has come home. Pakistan literally is being torn apart by a civil war that is pitting Sunnis against Shias, Islamists against Sufis, and the army against radical Islamists fighting to enforce Nizam-e-Mustafa. Given that Western generals and politicians are micro-managing Pakistan’s ruling elite with their own agenda and objectives, Pakistan's future is more dependent than ever on foreign authority and finances. It is a sad picture.
Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, a prominent analyst and visiting scholar from Pakistan, recently gave a talk at Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington, one of the leading think tanks dealing with South Asian matters, which highlighted some of the above. “It is too late for Pakistan to turn back from the path that it has embarked on," she said. "The nation’s political and strategic culture is hostage to three As – Army, Allah and America. The country that Pakistan was envisaged to be at the time of its creation by its founder does not exist anymore, nor can we go back.”
Her observations about the behaviour of Pakistani intellectuals and secular civil society, who failed to take notice of slow changes in the social and religious landscape around them, reminded me of the classical tale about boiling a frog in a pot. If a frog is thrown in a pot of boiling water, it will invariably jump out of the pot and try to save itself. But if the same frog is thrown in a pot of cold water that is heated very gradually, the frog does not realize it is being cooked, and sadly by the time the realisation dawns, it is too late to jump out because of its ebbing strength.
[B]Is Kashmir getting “cooked” slowly without anyone realizing it? Or directly put: Do Kashmiri intellectuals realize how rapidly social and religious landscape is deteriorating around them to the point that Kashmir valley is slowly turning into a mini-Pakistan?[B]
She conducted a poll among students in the top 10 elite universities of Pakistan. These students, mostly belonging to the ruling elite (wealthy feudal families or senior military officers with mostly secular upbringing and life style), will eventually define the future of the nation. Surprisingly, the poll results indicated that these students, coming mostly from liberal backgrounds, valued their pan-Islamic identity as more important than their national or even family identity, and while a majority of respondents agreed that “al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization,” a resounding majority also agreed with the Pakistan government’s decision to strip “Ahmadis” of their Muslim identity, and most respondents (potential future leaders) viewed only Sunnis as true Muslims.
It is easy to brush off any inference that Kashmir is going to turn into another Pakistan. In fact, Kashmiris would rather not be associated with Pakistan, as determined by the opinion poll conducted by the Chatham House in 2009 on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), and released in May 2010. On the Indian side of Kashmir, only 2% opted to join Pakistan (28% opted to join India, whereas 43% opted for independence), but the reality is reflected in the hold that Islamists have over Kashmiri society today. Many will argue that Kashmir's real problem is a public desire for "azadi", but a truly independence-seeking public would be inclusive and bring all constituencies and diverse interests on board. That is not so in Kashmir where the anti-India liberation movement is stridently radical and fundamentalist in its outlook and appeal. Indeed, harvesting religious sentiments is the "low hanging fruit" that even so called pro-India political parties in Kashmir find convenient to pluck, reinforcing a subtle agenda to capitalize on the narrative that is increasingly strident and pan-Islamic in its undertones.