These Paintings, Video and a Viral Pic Tell-Tale Kashmir Unvarnished

IRSHAD SALIM, (Islamabad,; Oct 31, 2018): Poignant artworks by Pakistani children on Kashmir went on display at the embassy in Riyadh –a first such expose  on the occasion of Black Day October 27th –depicting a kaleidoscopic expression of form, color and substance of a human event undergoing generational metamorphism for the last 70 years and counting.

The Pakistani embassy in Washington also held an exhibition on the Kashmir struggle the same day.

Both Pakistani missions abroad considered two most important stations of the country on its diplomatic front had organized the foreign outreach and awareness program on its dispute with India’s occupation of the Muslim-majority valley as world community digs into the UN Human Rights Report on abuses and excesses by Indian Security Forces as Kashmiris’ protests against Indian repression uptick and their struggle for self-determination gains more traction.

None of the children in Riyadh who put their thoughts on canvas probably have visited the pristine Himalayan valley and seen it, nor have they probably witnessed Kashmiris struggle to get rid of India’s onslaught against their will and determination.

Their works appear that they experience all that’s happening up, close and personal –their impressionable visuals of the occupied valley release with a broad stroke the same broad humanistic tone the dispute is itself embedded with–the Kashmiri youth and women have been demonstrating the same on the streets –the global community incrementally has been recognizing that no action talks only may no longer be the convenient option.

A similar but textual narrative of human rights abuses in the occupied territory have been maturely and dexterously bound within the UN Report (published in June 2018) tacitly calling out for action, and for posterity’s sake too. So does these awesome works by the children in Riyadh.

Though the world community is somewhat realizing (better late than never) that Kashmir movement can’t be brushed under the carpet any longer, or just simply called an unfinished agenda of 1947 India partition and then walk away, these child paintings served on the table may add salt and pepper to make the issue global just as this video on the iconic pic by Kevin Carter did decades back, “The Vulture:

Can we afford to wait for such a pic from Kashmir to go viral? Vultures don’t discern between a child dying of hunger and thirst and a child dyig as he or she bleeds to death due to pellet gun wounds or as collateral damge of “target killings”.

May be Nicholas Kristof, a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, could take a yatra to the valley and discover another Mukhtar Mai and possibly help stop more in the making by addressing the larger issue for his influential NY Times readership constituency.

He’ll also realize just as lthe UNHRC report said, that while Indian-administered Kashmir has experienced waves of protests in the past, this current round of protests involve far more people than the past, and the profile of protesters has also shifted to include more young, middle-class educated and intellectually-charged Kashmiris, including females who do not appear to have been participating in the past.

The generational change comes despite the presence of 700,000 Indian troops in the valley, which would make it one of the most militarized conflict zones in the world and simmering with passion and zeal for self-determination –it has painted a new canvas in the region.

The prestigious and influential Foreign Policy magazine wrote in 2016 that India is losing Kashmir. So did former occupied Kashmir’s chief minister and leader of the regional National Conference party Farooq Abdullah.

This week, the All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) of the British Parliament condemned India for using excessive force in Kashmir and refusing to allow independent observers from the UK to enter into the Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) to monitor the true scale of human rights abuses.

Chris Leslie, a member of the British Parliament associated with the Labor Party and the APPKG chairperson, unveiled a report Tuesday evening, alongside dozens of Labour and Conservative MPs as well as Azad Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan.

The APPKG comprises over 70 parliamentarians from the House of Commons and Lords.

The report notes that “repeated requests notwithstanding, no representative of either Indian central government or the J&K state government has agreed to give evidence, verbally or in writing”.

The release of this report is being seen as the second big breakthrough after the one previously published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in June 2018, highlighting the human rights violations in IoK.

The two reports internationalize Kashmir no longer just a dispute between Pakistan and India –nuclear flashpoint in the region, but a global village community member southeast of the UN Headquarter in New York and the world capitals (US, UK, Saudi Arabia), having matured to decide on their own which way they want to go.

After all, the world community in April 1948 passed a resolution in the UN Security Council stating plebiscite was the only solution to 1947’s unfinished agenda of partition. That, the children can’t express this concept though art does not takeaway the wind from the valley. It seems to be blowing naturally.

(The writer is a Pakistani-American business & construction consultant, analyst, and Editor-in-Chief of PKonweb, DesPardes and BE2C2 Report)

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