By Imran Khushal
The standard operating procedure at the Line of Control in Kashmir is as follow:
Indian army targets a household in Battal, Nakyal, Khuiratta or any other “sector” of Azad Kashmir, alongside the line of control, commonly known as LoC. Locals gather resources, arrange funerals for the dead and ambulance for injured to send them to Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
Meanwhile, Inter-Services Public Relations, ISPR, issues a statement, telling; how many are injured and how many got killed. Local media takes the press release from its website and fill in their “LoC news template” with new information.
The template looks like this;
“At least —– people were injured and —- were killed in firing as Indian Border Security Forces targeted civilians in ——- sectors across the Line of Control (LoC) on ……, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement.”
They fill the blanks, the news becomes something like this;
“At least 10 people were injured, five were killed in firing as Indian Border Security Forces targeted civilians in Battal, Khuiratta and Nakyal sectors across the Line of Control (LoC) on Sunday, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement.”
A few people read this, fewer share and even fewer comment. These comments look like this.
Time passes, sometimes hours, sometimes days. They target another household in another sector and the whole cycle repeats.
No one in Pakistan or India really seems concerned, except those who are assigned to do so. In fact, no one actually cares about what happened and why happened. No one asks a question, no one bothers to give an answer. Sometimes even after weeks, no news appears on the TV screens about the atrocities across the LoC. Sometimes, it gets covered but in a way that it really does not make any difference. No prime time show discusses the role of media in the transformation of the Kashmir dispute because they all in one way or the other are not doing what quality journalism requires from them. The least they could do, they can ask questions? They can ask, what policy PMLN, PPP, PTI and other stakeholders have on this matter? They can ask how these parties can solve problems of people of Azad Kashmir when they are unable to speak for their very basic right, right to life?
Politicians in Jammu and Kashmir remain focused on the valley. Politicians in Azad Kashmir convinced on their impotence, prefer not to try to do anything about it. They are not bothered because their party heads in Bani Gala, Raiwind and Larkana do not have “this petty issue” on their agenda. So, they do the same.
This SOP is disastrous and it needs to be changed. The SOP, which is forced upon the people of Kashmir by the brutality of the Indian army, insensitivity of Pakistani media and inability of politicians of Azad Kashmir, has to be changed. It has to be changed to reflect a reaction against the atrocities of the Indian forces, the silence of international peace organizations and lack of medical facilities in Azad Kashmir.
No doubt Indian forces, who have made the life of thousands of people living across LoC worse than hell, are culprits. But that does not spare those enjoying privileges, if not power, in Muzaffarabad and earning big times from the “Kashmir cause”. They either have to relinquish their status, perks, privileges or whatever they have or raise the voice of unarmed civilians being slaughtered like animals.
People of Azad Kashmir should no longer accept this lame excuse from their leadership that they have nothing in their powers. If they cannot reach international peace organizations, hold a meeting, conference, seminar to invite the international community to see what is going on and arrange protests in front of India’s foreign offices, they should not be in any leading position. And this is minimum of what anyone, being a prime minister, president and a member of legislative assembly of Azad Kashmir, must do.