Colonialism is alive and well. Last week, India forcefully asserted its control over its portion of Kashmir. A communications blackout left people worldwide worried about the fate of their relatives in an area that contains the only Muslim majority in India.
This is a problem created by Britain. Broke, it dropped its empire with no thought for the future of its former subjects. Pakistan and India went to war. In Kashmir, families and communities were divided. Two wars have since been fought over control over this land. At no point has this been about the will of the people of Kashmir.
The latest assault on Kashmir’s self-determination seems to be all about the continued consolidation of power by India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. Politicians need to divide and conquer, preferably by creating an “other”. To do just that, Modi has focused on ethno-nationalism, and a version of India that alienates its Muslim people. Pakistan is the ultimate other. This is about two countries that need to hate each other to justify internal abuses.
Grabbing Kashmir is a provocation. It is a calculated decision in a series of decisions that sometimes lead to war. This latest move might very well end up in war. Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, has upped the stakes, saying: “The time has arrived to teach you a lesson.”
South Africa is ostensibly in an alliance with India, if the awkward staged photos from Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) meetings are anything to go by. This is a Brics that claims to be about creating a new world order.
If we continue to allow our partner to brutalise Kashmir for political gain, we are no better than the colonial powers we seek to consign to history.