Downing Hemlock | Pakistan Today

Downing Hemlock

Arundhati Roy, that gadfly of the Indian establishment, is in trouble again. Not bad enough was the fact that she was sympathetic to (and some say assisting) the Naxalite rebels in Indias red corridor that she had to top it off with a controversial statement about the latest round of anti-government protests in Kashmir. Saying that Kashmir is not an integral part of India was bound to ruffle feathers. And she knew it. But it was, as she maintained, what everyone in Kashmir says everyday.

The outrage of the BJP at the statement and its politicking against the Congress, who they alleged was looking the other way, led to rumours that arrest warrants in her name had been issued. That was to be expected: the Booker-winner has been on a roll as of late, sparing neither government, political parties, judiciary, army or the business elite. The smug manner observers in Pakistan would react to news of the possibility of her arrest depends on the level of idiocy they are on. Level One will hurrah at the fact that an Indian thought of as a symbol of pride by her countrymen has come out in support of the Kashmir cause. Level Two will scoff at the Indian state which, despite claims of being a liberal democracy, inhibits freedom of speech. It is only the rational folks who would realize that Pakistan grants even lesser freedoms to its public intellectuals. The space of free debate, the leeway to give statements that could be construed as seditious is tiny in comparison to India.

The aggression of the Indian security forces in Kashmir is blatant. The tilt of the people of the occupied valley towards Pakistan is also obvious. All it takes is an objective analysis. But certain truths, in certain settings, require a lot of courage to say. We as Pakistanis should know. More power to those who speak the truth, wherever they are. The camaraderie between speakers of the truth transcends borders.



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