Kashmir: A Political Pawn
Revenge Must Not Be Sought By Terrorism
Soborno Isaac Bari :
[On August 25, a child went to Yale University to share his dreams of how to empower people in Kashmir, not through bombs but through books. That child is me, and this Article, Kashmir, is attached for your newspaper. Now I invite you to watch my speech, here. I believe that my Article will empower those Kashmiris who seek to take revenge against Mr. Modi. Kashmiris should take revenge by training their children to become the next Newton or Einstein or at least APJ Abdul Kalam, not the next Jaish-e-Muhammad. Sincerely, the Author.]
I came to Yale University not to praise Norendra Modi or Imran Khan. I came here to criticize their policies on Kashmir. By revoking the special status of Kashmir, India gave Pakistan a chance to use Kashmir as a political pawn. I came here to tell Mr. Modi to restore Article 370 immediately. I came here to tell Mr. Khan to stop using Kashmir as a political pawn.
When I look at the world-Syria to Palestine and Burma to Kashmir- I hear cries and torture; I see the tears and blood of oppressed people. I know my Article won't change Mr. Modi's or Mr. Khan's behaviour, but it will give hope to the people of Kashmir. It will give them strength. But, most importantly, it will give them a strategy. A strategy to turn Kashmir from being a political pawn to being the lighthouse of the world. A strategy to turn terrorists to scientists.
I was born in an American Muslim family. However, I won't write this Article as a citizen of the United States nor will I give it as a Muslim. I will give it as a human being because my identity as a human being is larger than my identity as a Muslim. When I was 4 years old, my father told me a story that his grandpa, Harun-ur Rashid, told him when he was four.
Harun told my father that his father's name was Moulovi Abdul Hadi. Hadi was an Imam at a local mosque. Hadi's father had been converted from Hinduism to Islam. That means my great-great-great-grandfather was a Hindu. If I write this article as a Muslim, I would be biased to Islam. That would be an insult to my great-great-great-grandfather since he was a Hindu. This is why, like my father, I'll write this article as a human being.
It was 2007. My father went to India, for the first time, to launch his book ceremony at Park Hotel. Dr. Muhammad Yunus came from Bangladesh to the ceremony as a chief guest. And in that ceremony, he revealed that his great-great-great-grandfather was originally a Hindu. That evening, a Muslim man knocked on the door of my dad's hotel room. As soon as my dad opened the door, the man screamed at him, "Never, never ever tell anyone your connection with Hinduism because Hindus are kafir and their religion is fake!"
My father was so shaken upon listening to this hate-based ideology that he couldn't sleep for the next five days. I learned from my dad that you should never insult any religion, including Hinduism. This is why I gave my speech at Yale as a human being, not as a Muslim.
Mr. Modi and his party, BJP thought that by removing Article 370, they corrected historic blunder, but they actually killed historic fact. I agree with Amartya Sen, Prime Minister Modi killed India's reputation as the largest democratic nation in the world.
As a student of history, let me remind you of the facts. In the first millennium, Kashmir was the hub of Buddhists and Hindus. Muslims started pilgrimage in Kashmir around the 1200s. Millions of Hindus and Buddhists were converted to Islam under the leadership of Mir Syed. Muslims started ruling Kashmir in 1340. By 1440, 90% of Kashmir was Muslim. The Shah Mir dynasty ruled Kashmir for the next 200 years. In 1586 Mughal took control of Kashmir under Emperor Akbar. Mughal ruled Kashmir for the next 300 years. Their government became so corrupt that even Muslims supported the Sikh revolt to remove the Mughal Emperor from power. Ranjit Singh became the new ruler. He ruled Kashmir until 1846. In 1846 the British put Jammu and Kashmir together upon defeating Ranjit Singh. At that time, Jammu was mostly Hindu and Kashmir was a Muslim majority area.
In 1941, when Hitler was about to unleash his terror upon Europe, the British conducted a census in Jammu and Kashmir-which revealed the following statistics: Muslim, 77%; Hindu 20%; and Buddhists/Sikhs comprising the remaining 3%. At the end of the Second World War, when the British lost their policing power to the United States, they decided to free British colonies around the world, including India. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to keep India together, but Muhammad Ali Jinnah demanded to separate Pakistan based on Islam. As a result, Pakistan was born. At that time, Kashmir was neither a part of India nor a part of Pakistan. However, Pakistan always pretended that Kashmir was part of Pakistan since the 1941 census, which revealed that over 90% of the Kashmir people were Muslims. However, Kashmir decided to remain independent. As a result, Pakistan lost its patience. On October 22, 1947, Pakistan sent Pashtun militias to Kashmir in an effort to capture it. They terrorised Srinagar, its capital.
However, the people of Kashmir did not like Pakistan's aggressive behaviour. They called for India's help, much like Bangladesh did in 1971. However, India gave a precondition: Kashmir must join India as a state. Kashmir agreed under one condition: India would always allow it to exercise autonomy over everything except Foreign Affairs. India agreed and Article 370 was created and added to the Indian Constitution. Indian armies started entering Kashmir to kick out Pakistani militias, which led to the first Indo-Pakistani war. The war broke out between two newly independent nations: Pakistan and India. Pakistan started using a different strategy to capture Kashmir ever since they lost the 1947 war: terrorism. If Pakistan had just a bit more patience in 1947, if they hadn't sent Pashtun militias to Kashmir, Kashmir might've even joined Pakistan or it might've remained as an independent country, but Pakistan ruined any such possibility by using violent tactics to pressure Kashmir.
Once again, Modi's decision to remove Article 370 was accompanied by a huge security clampdown, which is dangerous and wrong. Pakistan will use this opportunity to mislead the Kashmiris and tempt the uneducated Kashmiris to take revenge against India by committing terrorist attacks-much like they did in February, 2019 killing more than 40 Indian soldiers. However, Kashmir should never use terrorism to defeat Modi because doing so would allow Pakistan to use Kashmir as a pawn. If Kashmir wants to take revenge against Modi, they should immediately divorce two evils, Pakistan and terrorism, and embrace education, especially math and science.
Now I want to talk to the people of Kashmir as directly as possible. Give up terrorism. Stop sending children to Lashkar-e-Taiba to receive Taliban training. You do not need to make your children Osama Bin Laden; instead, you should plant a bigger dream in the mind of your children. A dream that they too - if they try - can become the next Sir Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein. If every child grew up with this dream of becoming the next Sir Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein, they would at least become the next A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, if not Newton or Einstein. If you start nurturing your children from today, in 20 years, you would be able to make 5000 A. P. J. Abdul Kalam in Kashmir. If you do that, then Kashmir will become the lighthouse of not only India but also the world. Kashmir will become the model for a new type of revolution. Brothers and sisters of Kashmir, this is the only way you can stop Mr. Modi and Mr. Khan from using Kashmir as a political pawn for their ongoing dispute. That is the only way to take true revenge.
This year, my book, The Love, will be published in India for Mr. Modi because he is not a human. He is a Hindu. There is no Hindu human, no Muslim human, no Jewish human, and no Christian human. There is just the human. This is why I told the publisher to send a copy of my book to Norendra Modi. I'm sure once he reads my book, he will turn human from being a Hindu, go to Lok Sabha, and say, "As a Hindu, I love Hinduism, but I also love other religions, including Islam." He will also make a trip to Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Sabha to say, "As a Hindu, I love Durga Puja. But I love to celebrate other religious festivals, such as Eid."
I know I won't be able to find a publisher in Pakistan, so I'll go to Islamabad, sit down in front of the Prime Minister's office and wait until Imran takes my book from my hand. I want to give him my book because he too is not a human. He is a Muslim. I believe Imran will become a human once he reads my book and he will go to Pakistan Parliament to make a historic announcement: "Pakistan will no longer supply bombs to Kashmiris to kill Indians; rather, we will supply books and pens to make Kashmir the lighthouse of India." He will also tell the people of Kashmir that revenge must be sought by education, not terrorism and "if you [Kashmiris] seek to take revenge, you must do so by training your children to become the next Newton or Einstein, not the next Osama or Jaish-e-Muhammad."
(Soborno Isaac Bari is the author of The Love. In 2016, at age 4, Bari received a letter of recognition from President Barack Obama for his accomplishments in math and science, and in 2018, at age 6, he received a letter of recognition from Harvard University for his problem-solving abilities.)