New Zealand's mainstream media has fallen prey to a highly erroneous-spin, on the Indian state of Kashmir currently being minted by some of the major global media outlets, like The Guardian, BBC and the Washington Post, by doling out false narratives of the ‘Indian occupied Kashmir’ kind – no thanks to absolute ignorance.
The current level of global media interest on Kashmir is completely justified and was largely expected, following the Indian government's recent scrapping of Article 370 of its Constitution that gave a special status to the state.
However, what was not expected, and is unprecedented, is the level of misinformation on Kashmir issue by some of the major global media outlets.
Yes – In calling the Indian state of Kashmir as ‘India-occupied-Kashmir,’ these major global media outlets are not only defying the age-old broader and an informal diplomatic approval on the issue but are also demonstrating an unprecedented urge to distort facts almost maliciously on the Kashmir issue.
Is it happening under a creative license of intellectualism or under the influence of any lobbies is unclear.
Admittedly, it is not for the holy-cause of beholding the rights of those who have been either subjugated or suppressed by a seemingly ‘dictatorial third world regime’.
India is not a ‘third world dictatorial regime’ in the sense of the term that is normally understood with a poor human rights record deserving of the kind of treatment that some major global media outlets are currently handing-out in their respective publications.
To say the least, India is the world's largest functioning democracy, which has time and again demonstrated its inherent ability to implement its people's manifested political will of changing governments without least disruption.
If some political observers cast aspersions on India's rising power and global status as the fastest-growing major economy and an increasingly important strategic player that deserves a slightly better representation than what it is currently getting in the global media while dealing with a complex border-issue.
Then, it deserves slightly better attention, purely on its democratic credentials.
Indeed, Kashmir has been at the centre of the dispute between India and Pakistan, with at least one full-scale war (1948) and one limited conflict (Kargil War 1999) having been fought between two of them.
It is also accepted that Kashmir has been restive, facing a prolonged three-decade-old insurgency that has been seeking to break India's political will of keeping its border and sovereignty intact.
However, what is not accepted and is an absolute sham is the assertion that Kashmir is occupied or controlled by India.
To put it right, Kashmir is a part of India – an integral part – and the global media has to accept and reflect this fact in their respective publications.
For uninitiated, Kashmir issue is an ignominious outcome of British colonialism, which had planned for a complete Balkanisation of India by disorienting 565 princely states to choose to accept or reject the idea of a free, independent and a united India.
It was only to the credit of the then Indian political elite to prevent any such Balkanisation by getting princely states to accede to the dominion of India.
The princely state of Kashmir had then signed the Instrument of Accession– a legal document executed by its ruler Maharaja Hari Singh to accede to the dominion of India (October 26, 1947).
Contrarily, it is Pakistan, which had sent expeditionary forces then and had occupied Kashmir, defying the legal accession by the free-willed princely state of Kashmir – a position that it maintains till date, despite being in complete denial to international law.
The then Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten accepted the accession with a remark, “It is my government's wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Jammu and Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader, the question of the state’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people.”
Since then Pakistan and India have been embroiled in the flexing of diplomatic and strategic muscles to affirm their respective narratives and change the status quo, with Pakistan being the initiator – all the time.
India – at best has been satisfied with maintaining a status-quo and rightly so -to gain political capital and strategic maturity to challenge the status quo.
It is for the current Indian political elite to decide if India has generated enough political goodwill and strategic maturity to challenging the status-quo – legislative, constitutional or territorial.
If the current Indian political elites are confident enough to believe that it has enough political capital to change the constitutional status-quo by Indian constitution's Article 370, then it is for them to decide, and face the consequences, if any, in the near future.
However, by no means, some short-sighted political observers can coin a new word "India occupied Kashmir" and weave an altogether new but spurious narrative for public consumption.
The government's recent abrogation of Article 370 still has to stand the scrutiny of the much-respected Indian judiciary – which had a proven resilience to stand ground against any legislative or executive encroachment on the sanctity of the Indian constitution – followed by the electoral scrutiny by the people of India.
At best, the decision to scrap article 370, is the part of the ongoing and highly emotive contestation of ‘the idea of India,’ including on what will rule the roost eventually – compassion toward, or assertion of power, on the people of Kashmir.
It is purely an internal matter of India and only people and civic institutions of India, including Indian media, can delve upon.
It is certainly not a business of any external agency to either wish or tries to dictate the ‘idea of India.’
And the global media’s current representation of the Indian state of Kashmir as an India occupied or India controlled Kashmir is a repugnant transgression and vehemently rejected.
New Zealand’s mainstream media would be well-advised to not fall in this trap of so ignorantly misrepresenting the Kashmir issue.