Having reignited the Cold War – this time replacing erstwhile Soviet Union with China – the Donald Trump’s America is dangerously bending backward to win over India on its side. It appears willing to do anything that helps the Modi government in its attempts to suppress insurgencies, including the Kashmiris’ daring Intifada. During Modi’s visit to the White House, it declared Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist. And now on the occasion of India’s independence day, the Trump administration went a step further and declared the Hizb a Foreign Terrorist Organisation and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. By this action, the United States seeks to deny the Hizbul Mujahideen the “resources it needs to carry out terrorist attacks.” The latest wave of Kashmiris’ Intifada is the toughest the Indian forces in the occupied Kashmir have to contend with. No amount of brutalization seems to be succeeding to snuff it out anytime soon. As New Delhi rulers raise the blood-stained ante of more violence they want the world to look the way other than at the rivers of innocent blood, miles of graveyards and ever-present anti-India protesters on the streets of Srinagar and other cities. Freedom is the Kashmiris’ birthright, recognised by the United Nations. And Hizb is one of the Kashmiris’ setup that is working to that end. By accusing the Hizb of terrorism the United States has clearly taken the sides in a dispute. Under Donald Trump’s watch, the most powerful image of America is no longer the Statue of Liberty – but his métier to surprise the world by stepping in where angels fear to tread.
By branding Hizb a terrorist outfit the President of the United States has exhibited his contempt for people’s right of struggle for freedom. Pakistan is therefore rightly distressed – though no one here or in occupied Kashmir thinks that Trump’s action would have any negative fallout on the stridency of the Kashmiris’ struggle for self-determination. It is only a sop to please Modi, and that’s it. If their president has taken the side of the oppressor it is the Americans’ own concern. And if he is leading them to another spell of Cold War that too is for them to worry about. But this time it is not the internally volatile Soviet Union the US could cash in on; it is the former ‘Middle Kingdom’ that Washington has challenged and the outcome could be just the opposite. But no less pointedly, the Trump move tends to paint the American people as zombies who don’t care for human life and are ready to be indifferent to the suppressed people’s urge for freedom. In this age of ubiquitous media presence can any sensible person anywhere in the world be insensate to the atrocities India’s occupying forces perpetrate on unarmed Kashmiri protestors? It is our hope when Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif meets his counterpart in Washington the host government shall rethink its move, not only by clarifying its ill-conceived idea of branding a freedom-fighting organisation as a terrorist entity but also call upon India to return to the negotiating table for peace talks with Pakistan with Kashmir at the centre-stage.