Pakistani protestors delivered a strong message in London, but it was perhaps not the message they had hoped for. Promoted as ‘Million March’ for Kashmir, the demonstration was meant to sensitize the world on the tragic issue of Indian occupation of Kashmir. Instead, it only sensitized the world on the acute political polarization among Pakistanis.
The London demonstration was supposed to be unique because it was going to showcase a million people led by mainstream political figures instead of protests led by religious groups. The message to the world was supposed to be that Kashmir deserves world’s attention and that common people are demanding it, and the world was supposed to listen.
That’s what was supposed to happen.
What actually happened was a farce as the event was hijacked for petty political purposes and the plight of Kashmiris was drowned out by the political abuse of party activists. In the worst instance, Imran Khan’s nephew and a group of other PTI activists were taken into custody by London police for their antisocial behaviour attacking PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while he was was speaking in support of Kashmiri freedom. Apparently, plight of Kashmir is less important than scoring cheap political points by Hasan Niazi and his fellow PTI activists.
In any case, millions did not show up for the march, and Indians jumped on the opportunity (which was presented to them like a special gift) to laugh and ridicule Pakistan’s disarray. The rest of the world tuned out. In the end, the only message delivered was one that reinforced the perception in the world’s mind that Pakistanis are so unreasonable they even attack each other on issues they supposedly agree on.
If we are going to help Kashmir or any other cause of global importance, we must first take a moment of sober reflection on where we and our positions currently stand in the world. We are not taken seriously because the world looks at the dysfunction in our country and among our people and ignores anything we have to say. We must turn our focus inward and address the dysfunction at home. Until then, our attempts to change the situation in Kashmir,or anywhere else, will continue to fail.