Don’t trust everything you read online.
You’ll be duped into believing utter tosh. This holds true for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Had it not been for authoritarianism and control freaks, these spaces would have been wonderful places to learn facts and create vibrant friendships. Sadly, that is no longer the case. In the past, social media prematurely ushered in hope for change like the Arab Spring. Increasingly, these platforms have been subverted to spread toxicity, hatred and intergroup rivalries.
We are living in an age of mass disinformation and bullshit. The term “bullshit” was first used analytically by Harry G. Frankfurt, a moral philosopher in the 1980s. Although he was keen to point out that there was no theory for the idea, he distinguished bullshit (humbug) from lies. He postulated that liars care about the truth, if they didn’t they wouldn’t lie. Bullshiters have no such qualms, they’re motivated by different outcomes, the ability to convince people through falsehoods.
Within the context of power, bullshit constitutes spreading targeted deception about political realities and social norms that ordinary people would have no reason to suspect. With the resurgence of authoritarianism, which is as much about the narcissistic traits of strong leaders as it is about the exercise of power, autocratic regimes and allied groups are trying to undermine the societies of the governments they oppose by stoking internal conflicts between citizens through identity politics.
Despotic regimes are structurally weak. They can’t win the hearts and minds of people the conventional way. The quality of life they offer their ‘subjects’ is below the standards enjoyed in the Free World. So, they have to manipulate dissent within the societies of the Free World. They do this from the outside sitting at terminals thousands of miles away from their intended targets using fake accounts that generate fake news.
Russia and China are well known examples of how despotic regimes spread disinformation against genuine democracies. But, another salient illustration would be to cite the Kashmir Conflict and how the chief protagonists behave with dissenting opinions. The one has usurped a State (militarism) whilst the other has become the dominant political party in its country’s electoral system. Like China and Russia, both entities are authoritarian in nature but of differing degrees.
I speak of the Pakistan Army and the ‘Bharatiya Janata Party’, the Indian People’s Party or BJP. A body of accredited knowledge exists on these entities, how they emerged, the fractures and fissures they create in their respective societies and the dangers they pose for ethnic and religious minorities. Ideologically speaking, the Pakistan Army is Muslim Supremacist, whilst the BJP is Hindu Nationalist. The dangerous ideas they propagate against Hindus and Muslims are essentially ethno-nationalistic tied with notions of territoriality and politics.
On social media, the Intelligence Services of the Pakistan Army (ISI) competing with the media wing of the BJP are engaged in a coordinated campaign to stop independence for Kashmir. To give context to Frankfurt’s concept of bullshit within a real life scenario of a contested piece of territory, almost half the population of divided Jammu & Kashmir – that’s just under 50 percent of 17 million people, overwhelmingly Muslim, want independence from India and Pakistan. Numerous polls have endorsed this fact not least Ipsos Mori which found that the trend for independence has exponentially increased in Pakistan’s so-called Azad (Free) Kashmir region.
Opponents of independence want to lie about this fact telling outsiders that everyone in divided Jammu & Kashmir wants to be part of India or Pakistan. They propagate bullshit over the internet to counteract the independence struggle.
Honesty is key, and we must accept that we can be wrong on a host of issues and observations. Our observations are only as good as the knowledge at our disposal and lived experiences. Bullshit deliberately undermines this. If we value truth, facts cannot become mistruths because of whims, desires and emotional biases, or the need to take sides. The truth is never selective. It can indict a person, family, community or nation, and so, when speaking about Kashmir’s independence cause, we must acknowledge that non-Muslims, overwhelmingly Hindu, do not want to become part of an independent Kashmir State. They want to remain within the India Union, a country they love and cherish for all the right reasons. India is a rising star on the international scene. The quality of life for ordinary Indians has improved because of government policies, including those of the BJP.
Indians have every reason to be scared of the Pakistan Project and the violence it unleashed because of partition. However, we mustn’t be remiss to point out that Hindus are a minority within the divided territory, and their fear of an independent Kashmir State is borne of communal fears because of partition violence. They are motivated by a pathology of fear, an emotional reaction to a set of circumstances, not to be conflated with nationalism, an ideological position per se.
On the Pakistani side, the numbers that want to remain with Pakistan have dwindled massively and resentment is brewing against the enforcers of Pakistan’s neopatrimonial order – the corrupt Military Complex, which is seen as a problem across the world; I have a working definition of corruption when I say the institutions of the Pakistani State are corrupt. I’m not using this word flippantly. It is not “fake news” to say, progressive and democratic countries are suspicious of Pakistan, a dysfunctional Military State on the verge of becoming a Failed State. A broken State is useful for a regime that grows rich and powerful by generating internal conflicts (real) and external threats (fictitiously). Pakistan’s Kashmir region has become a colony of the Army, the educated civil society of Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistan have grown weary of how they are ruled. Since 1947, Pakistanis have grown poorer due to policies of the Military.
To counteract facts like the ones cited above, the propagandists go to work trying to undermine truth, trying to silence it. Because they have access to political power and control the State’s ability to use cohesive violence they bully, harass and intimidate dissidents inside Pakistan. Outside Pakistan and online, they accuse their opponents of being “mentally deranged”, “angry”, “immoral”, “foreign agents”, drowning their voices through the cacophony of innuendo and slurs. They’ll impersonate and manipulate their opponents’ social media messaging to undermine the actual message, “liberation of the truth”. Instead, they make it about hate speech, imputing bad intentions through smear campaigns.
They call this tactic “psychological warfare.”
Ultimately, because they know how to manipulate online algorithms used for online searches, they kick their opponents’ websites, posts, tweets, videos, off search engine results, spreading malware on their devices. These are aspects of 21st century authoritarianism. It is naked control-freakish behaviour courtesy of modern surveillance technologies.
Wikipedia posts are usually returned at the top of every search result when a piece of information is googled. With this knowledge the ISI and BJP protagonists write posts on Kashmir, creating false narratives around the divided territory’s sub-regions, peoples and cultures. The intention is to control and police the narrative. What they write is bullshit to manipulate how unsuspecting outsiders view the landmass and the plight of ordinary natives, especially those sympathetic to independence narratives.
Having written the biased posts, they stop others from correcting them through spurious claims that they’re protecting the posts from vandalism. The editors who volunteer themselves to review posts on Kashmir are drawn from the same interest groups writing the posts, undermining Wikipedia’s objectivity and usefulness despite the altruistic intentions of its founder, Jimmy Wales.
Wikipedia has become a gift to the Gods of Propaganda. It lacks accountability. Powerful interests know exactly how to control information on the site. It has become an outpost for authoritarian actors who undermine genuine freedom of thought, unbiased knowledge that is still accredited in books of pioneering scholarship.
The official narratives of India and Pakistan erase Jammu & Kashmir’s separate character and distinct history as a frontier region. Both entities want to reduce a territorial conflict about self-determination and human rights to identity politics, the basis upon which they manufacture splits between the group identities involved in the dispute. In centuries by-gone, the peoples of Jammu & Kashmir were identified as mountain communities removed from the political and social ecologies that shaped the British Indian discourse in North India. All manner of myths were created about them, some of which were exotic (for women) and others were less flattering (for men) but that’s what I mean by narrating facts honestly and outside the political contexts of bullshiters.
Wikipedia is now the optimal way to deceive people by allowing political propagandists to write whatever they want, giving sustenance to the Indo-Pak claim that the original inhabitants of Kashmir have no right to lay territorial claims to their ancestral lands, or that only some groups have that right depending on how closely they proximate to the official narratives. To become relevant to the Kashmir Conflict, the ISI and BJP disingenuously co-opt various identities, Pahari, Dogra, Kashur, Mirpuri, Pandit, Gujjar Bakarwal, (“Muslim” vs “Hindu”) for legitimacy purposes all the while denuding the same communities agency to speak for themselves, cynically splitting them (divide and rule). Without ownership of these populations and the associations made with them, India and Pakistan are trespassers into the region of Jammu & Kashmir, a fact that has not gone unnoticed.
Across the Free World there is outrage against authoritarianism and its controlling antics to police the narratives of endangered peoples. Some people are turning to Encyclopaedia Britannica, an older and reputable source of knowledge, which has retained the confidence of millions who value real knowledge and not pseudo facts (bullshit). Britannica writers and editors are not immune from error, they do make mistakes. Their intellectual investiture in the ideas they espouse is not infallible. Some contributors are biased. But their errors can be subsequently amended through an academic process that puts transparency and accountability at the heart of the editorial process. Imparting true knowledge is the goal of Britannica, and not swaying people’s minds in an ideological direction.
If you listen to the bullshiters on Quora, Reddit or YouTube, you’d think that Encyclopaedia Britannica like the BBC are outposts of colonialism, but what they won’t tell you is that Britons were the first victims of British Imperialism; entire swathes of dispossessed ‘white’ people were forcibly deported to the New World. Imperial Britain was the first power on earth to criminalise slavery, sending gunboats to disrupt the North Atlantic Slave Trade. Why did an Imperial Power do this? Because ordinary Britons, mostly reformist Christians, rose to holding the colonial mindset to account.
British society has changed unrecognisably since then. Today’s British State is not yesterday’s British Empire. The State has been empowering diverse lifestyles to become a genuine reflection of itself, a collective consciousness. It’s an ongoing and bumpy process. Some of the fiercest critics of UK government policies (and previously colonialism) come from Britain’s Free Press; without a Free Press, there can be no democratic system anywhere in the world. The people working for the BBC, Guardian, the Independent and the Spectator, from all sides of the political spectrum, are enlightening us about colonialism, despotism, racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, unfettered capitalism, disinformation and the dangers of authoritarianism.
Now look at the people criticising the BBC and “Fake News”? Lots of them come from the Far Right and are supporters of white supremacist ideology speaking about the “Great Replacement” and the evils of “the metropolitan liberal elite”. Race claims amount to bullshit. But, if you listen to White Supremacists carefully, they sound just like Pakistan’s Muslim Supremacists and India’s Hindu Nationalists. These identities have a lot in common, they spew hatred of minorities and outsiders couched in pseudo facts. They speak of present-day grievances and national greatness in yesteryears. They seem to obsess about an idyllic past that never existed. Crucially, they create boundaries between otherwise fraternal people.
♥ See, ‘How ‘right wing’ became the smear for those we disagree with’ by Konstantin Kisin; the Spectator
Tribes take sides but genuine knowledge can never take sides. Knowledge demystifies people’s ignorance on issues irrespective of their feelings and emotional attachments. Disinformation on the other hand deliberately mystifies the truth to cause confusion and doubt, and it is always emotive. It stirs a group’s feelings, making them feel insecure, anxious and under threat, suspicious of “outsiders” not endorsing their confirmation bias. This is exactly how the BJP-ISI behave towards Kashmir, playing the people of Jammu & Kashmir against each other, as if they are separate peoples with no right to claim a shared homeland politically. Social Media is used to amplify these manufactured contestations and deliberate fabrications, distorting historical truths whilst spinning facts.
People are now becoming distrustful of Google LLC, a company that became an overnight success story and which symbolised hope for lots of people. Its market capitalisation will soon reach the 1 trillion dollar mark following in the footsteps of Apple Incorporated and Microsoft Corporation. Adorning its “about us” page are the words, “our mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.
Useful to who?
It seems Google products are collecting information on their users without their genuine consent, forcing consent through mandatory “opt-ins” whenever a google product is used or downloaded on a mobile device, tablet or desktop. This data is then mined and sold to commercial interests that know everything about their customers’ habits in a spooky kind of way. Users are not just sold products but are spoon-fed confirmation bias and fashionable behaviours, reinforced in ways of thinking that otherwise need challenging.
Tech savvy people are aware of how people’s data is being mined by the big digital companies and are consciously turning to less sophisticated browsers. Instead of using Google products that control users’ cameras and microphones without their knowledge (which shouldn’t be confused with permission), they’re now using DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckGo is becoming the “go to” of people who don’t want to be spied on anymore. Increasing numbers of people are ditching WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger replacing them with Signal and Telegram apps in the belief that the latter companies genuinely encrypt people’s conversations, messages and calls (data) from “interests” trying to surveil them.
‘Round the clock’ commercial surveillance and authoritarianism are two sides of the same coin. Digital media, an otherwise liberating human experience, in the hands of authoritarian forces will become as dangerous as Nazism and the Communist Gulags. Human rights activists are fighting back against the encroachment of their liberties in a world increasingly dominated by interests that want to suppress knowledge and truth. Social media apps make this vice-like grip on power all the more possible. Because of how these apps work, they’re gifts to authoritarian actors.
We are already in an Orwellian-Huxley World.
Countries like Pakistan and to some extent India constantly surveil dissidents (conveniently labelled “terrorists”) who do not agree with policies against insurrectionist regions. Again, we must be honest when we make our comparisons without taking sides. India is a functioning liberal democracy that is being weakened by authoritarian actors; genuine democrats of all ideological colours in India are fighting what appears to them to be the inversion of democracy. Pakistan is a Military State that has never been a genuine democracy throughout the greater part of its 70 year history. It is controlled by autocratic actors manipulating Pakistanis through pseudo-Islamic messaging to the chagrin of the world’s genuine democracies. There is nothing genuinely Muslim or democratic about Pakistan. On both counts ordinary Muslims and democrats are victims of the country’s hegemonic political culture. Minority Muslim groupings like the Ahmedis (legally prohibited to identify as Muslims) and Shia are victims of this hegemony just like Christian and Hindu minorities exposing the lie that Pakistan exists for Muslims. ‘Muslim Pakistan’ doesn’t exist for the majority Sunni Muslims either, constantly targeted by elements close to the intelligence services.
Which Muslims does Pakistan exist for?
Kashmir is not ‘Muslim Pakistan’ or ‘Hindu India’, it is essentially a third country like Afghanistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, which should have become independent after 1947 according to the wishes of its then ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu Monarch whose population was majority Muslim. This is another fact of history greatly distorted by the bullshiters. If we examine the nature of social and political movements in Kashmir before partition, we discover that the ruling elite and the political class (two separate entities) were reconciled with the idea of an independent Kashmir State so long as it was headed by a constitutional Monarch in a system were people’s rights were enshrined in law and protected by a post-feudal socialist order. People-inclusive aspirations began to triumph in Kashmir motivated by an inclusive kind of politics we take for granted in the West sitting on different sides of a complex political spectrum.
Once the communal murders began in the Punjab Province of British India and non-Muslims started to flee into Kashmir State from what is today Rawalpindi, Kashmir’s Hindus wanted to join India because they were scared of being governed by Muslims. Muslims fearing Hindu and Sikh reprisals wanted to join Pakistan without discounting the aspirations of pro-Pakistan supporters. My maternal grandfather, a native of Jammu & Kashmir and a young veteran of the British Indian Army wanted Kashmir “State” to become part of Pakistan. I could easily describe his cohorts as patriots of Pakistan. We should never distort history because the historical claims diverge from subsequent narratives and grievances, bullshitters want to police those facts.
But the majority of the people, ethnically and religiously diverse, would have been content with an independent Kashmir State governed under a Constitution and Bill of Rights. The terms “Kashmir State” or simply “Kashmir” are used interchangeably with the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir (the official name), but even this historical naming convention is being problematised cynically, giving the lie to the idea of true and false Kashmiris within the context of self-determination.
Hindu Nationalist deceit on Kashmir is not as bad as Pakistan Supremacist deceit though. But, deceit is deceit. Deceit deceives and never enlightens. The authoritarian-like government in India at present is very honest about denying the ethnically diverse peoples of Kashmir the right to self determination because it thinks it is the unrivalled colonial master of the Indian Republic – the BJP Reich. It is operating like Apartheid South Africa and Jim Crow America creating laws intended to disenfranchise not just Muslims, but Sikhs, Christians and Hindus in favour of rightwing Hindus. Parallels can be drawn with the Third Reich; Jewish ‘nationals’ were made stateless by the Nazi Party, which became the German State through electoral politics. History, it seems, is repeating itself.
This is how the Free World perceives India’s governing Hindu Nationalist party (the BJP), whilst being sympathetic to Indians who want to preserve the coherence of their Republic; if Kashmir breaks away, lots of regions might become secessionist. These are the fears in Spain, Canada and Britain, but unlike authoritarian regimes, genuine democracies do not lie about the identities of the native peoples and neither do they write them out of history or the regions they come from. Their objections are principled, logical and utilitarian, and not borne of hate for any one particular group or identity.
India’s Nationalists and Pakistan’s Supremacists are engaged in identity politics of the ugliest kind.
How India behaves towards pro-independence Kashmiris is reminiscent of Britain’s imperial past, a legacy that has been documented and critiqued by British writers not afraid to speak their mind. Britons of conscious have never needed a “group” to feel safe from the ‘nationalistic’ mobs, however threatening the patriotic rhetoric. North Americans, Europeans, Australians, New Zealanders, all fit this paradigm despite nativists slandering them. If one looks to migration patterns across the world, there is a reason why lots of migrants and asylum seekers head for liberal democracies and its not’s just about economics but humanistic values. Liberty (human rights) and the right to exercise it is at the heart of the Liberal Order.
Pakistan’s Supremacists behave far worse than India’s nationalists, and it can be demonstrated convincingly that Pakistan’s Military Complex is inherently dishonest in its dealings with domestic audiences and the international community. It has a history of terrible crimes which include war crimes against ethnic Bengalis (formerly East Pakistanis). Pakistan’s Army murdered and raped pro-independence Bengalis amidst a culture of casual racism and contempt, they would speak of Bengalis as being “black faced” of “short stature” from “low caste backgrounds”. The imagery in question was influenced by colonial prejudice. Not one soldier was prosecuted for war crimes, whilst some were awarded medals for gallantry.
According to Human Rights Organisations, ethnic minorities are endangered in Pakistan because of the dominance of ethnic (urban) Punjabis, although I should point out that describing urban Punjabis (from the cities) as ethnic Punjabis is misleading. Citified Punjabis have consciously abandoned a Punjabi identity in favour of adopting Urdu and North Indian cultural norms. Where they share an illusory kind of ethnicity with rural Punjabis, they still feel removed from them in imaginary social class terms frequently othering them through negative stereotypes.
Pakistan’s Intelligence Services have been playing the ethnically diverse populations against one another cynically. Pejoratively known as the Punjab Army (for all the wrong reasons), the Military Complex is controlled by an unelected body of Generals constantly meddling in the affairs of democratically elected civilian governments. The ISI is only accountable to the Generals and not the executive branch of the civilian government, constantly undermining the democratic institutions of the State whilst generating hatred against democratically elected politicians, who are smeared as untrustworthy.
Because of how Punjabis are wrongly conflated with the Pakistan State, the word “Punjabi” has become a dirty word in Afghanistan, India and ethnic areas of Pakistan, notably amongst Pashtun, Azad Kashmiris, Baluch and Sindhis. Native Urdu speaking communities like the Muhajjir in Karachi have long complained about the dominance of Urban Punjabis in their affairs. In Afghanistan, the Pakistan Taliban are pejoratively known as the Punjab Taliban.
Since 1947, the Military Complex has grown increasingly rich by pilfering Pakistan’s wealth at the expense of ordinary people, the majority of whom remain destitute. It controls an entire State to exploit at whim, without any external pushback from civilian governments, greatly disempowered by the propaganda consumed by disenfranchised voters.
Western observers have accused Pakistan’s Military Complex of being “pathological liars” especially when it speaks about Indian demons. The Intelligence Services were accused of exploiting protests in India’s Kashmir against ‘New Delhi’ misrule in the late 1980s to retain the Army’s strategic position of dominance in domestic politics. Pakistanis have been brainwashed into fearing India because of an insurrectionist Kashmir. Insightfully, there were no mass human rights violations in Kashmir between 1948 and 1989. The Soviets were defeated in Afghanistan in 1989 and Pakistan infiltrated veterans of that war into Kashmir. The Valley has been burning ever since. Conflict has become a commodity of the Pakistan Army. It shows no let-up in undermining civilian governance within its borders and outside.
Militarism has produced negative results for Pakistan. Its nationals are being viewed with suspicion by virtue of association. Ubiquitous inequality, injustice and corruption pervade the country. Pakistanis speaking about the plight of the world’s oppressed end up undermining those causes. Moreover, traditional Muslim allies no longer trust Pakistan’s regulatory and certifying structures because the qualifications awarded can be purchased through bribes. Aside from having one of the world’s most underfunded educational systems (as percentage of GDP) with the lowest ranking universities globally, pilot licenses have been found to have been bought. We learn that doctors and medical practitioners have purchased their degrees. Foreign aid never reaches the destitute. According to Professor Hoodboy, formerly of Karachi University and a graduate of MIT, doctorates can be awarded to Phd students for researching spiritual beings. Pakistanis are a deeply superstitious people who believe in ghosts and demonic possessions. They are growing increasingly contemptuous of scientific knowledge and modern modes of thinking.
There’s a litany of these charges. These are all facts and not bullshit.
As I write these words, China, an ally of Pakistan is committing a genocide against Uighur Muslims in a region that was occupied through military force. This area of China used to be called Eastern Turkistan. Uighur Turkic Muslims are not reconciled with Chinese Communist rule, and so they are being stripped of their distinct cultural identity and forced into a non-Muslim Han Chinese identity. Uighur women are being sterilised and their children have been taken away to be brainwashed in education camps. The Uighur have become a minority within their lands.
This would be akin to Pakistan forcing Urdu, which used to be called Hindustani onto every Pakistani whilst forcing Azad Kashmiris (ethnic Pahari speakers living in the Western Himalaya) into an illusory ethnic Punjabi identity, which Urdu speaking Punjabis degrade. There may be no “education camps” reminiscent of the ethnic cleansing in China, but Pakistan has a long history of subtly brainwashing its nationals to hate their ethnic backgrounds. In fact, the Bengali Freedom Struggle began life to protect its native language in 1948, 1 year after Pakistan’s founding to give context to the country’s inbuilt racism. The first East Pakistanis the Pakistan Army targeted were intellectuals. The reasons are obvious, Bengali intellectuals spoke truth to power.
There are no parallels in the Muslim world between Pakistan and other Muslim nationalities. Egyptians, Iranians, Turks have all preserved their region’s pre-Islamic heritage. It is not an exaggeration to say Pakistanis, particularly of the urban bent, hate everything about their non-Muslim past courtesy of the bullshit they consume daily. How they opine about minority cultures within Pakistan is very revealing of deep seated atavistic shame and self-revulsion.
The Christian West including Jewish Israel has spoken out against the ongoing genocide of Uighur Muslims. Pakistan’s Muslim Supremacists support Communist China and pretend that everything is wonderful in Xinjiang Province. They deride the plight of the Uighur Muslim population. Humanitarians across the world are shying away from Pakistanis who hypocritically decry, for instance, Israeli human right’s violations whilst callously reticent about China’s genocide against Uighur and Kazakh Muslims.
Gulf Arabs are retreating from Pakistan despite hosting millions of Pakistani expatriate workers remitting billions of dollars to families failed by the Pakistani State. The Saudis have been providing oil and gas to Pakistan at greatly subsidised rates because the State cannot afford to honour its Balance of Payments. Only 1 percent of Pakistanis pay tax on their incomes and this includes almost half of Pakistan’s lawmakers. Pakistan has been a constant recipient of IMF and World Bank loans; billion dollars worth of aid has vanished over the years, diverted into the bank accounts of the Military, “charity directors” and “senior bureaucrats”.
There’s deep consternation at Pakistan’s duplicitous behaviour in the West, a Cold War ally. It is a fact of history that Pakistan’s Military Complex made overtures to the West for aid to ensure parity with India’s Army, thereby becoming an American proxy against the Soviets by its own choosing! Following 9/11 and America’s war on terror, it transpired that the Pakistan Army had been sheltering Osama Bin Laden.
At the time, Bin Laden was the world’s most wanted terrorist, the leader of the Al-Qaeda network and a sworn enemy of the Arab Monarchies. His network was responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and countless deaths across the world. Saudis and lots of Arabs perished at the hands of his supporters. ISIS have been described as al-Qaida on steroids to understand the trajectory of these problems and the role the Pakistan Army played in fomenting global terrorism.
Duplicitously, the Pakistan Army was siphoning US military aid to prosecute America’s war on terror. The Army was tasked with locating Bin Laden’s whereabouts in the Tora Bora mountain complex that spans the Pac-Afghan border. Eventually, American intelligence services located Bin Laden. He had been given refuge in a military garrison town called Abbottobod, a short distance from the Federal Capital. Two American Apache helicopters flew into Pakistan territory under the cover of night, and neutralised Bin Laden in his “fortress like home”, killing his bodyguards. They flew back to Afghanistan with Bin Laden’s corpse, burying him at sea according to Muslim burial practises.
The Pakistan Army’s military weakness was exposed to the world in one swoop. It couldn’t do anything except spread conspiracy theories about the operation. Newspapers and TV channels ran stories about the hoax nature of the American operation, apparently Bin Laden was never in Pakistan. Ordinary Pakistanis opined that “he was a CIA agent just like Malala Yusuf”, a schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban; “9/11 was a Jewish conspiracy” and “the world fears Pakistan because it is a nuclear power!”
The ISI have been harnessing conspiracy theories to keep a poorly educated urban population in check, and these claims frequently circulate WhatsApp. Diaspora Pakistanis are plugged into the same networks, and one can trace the journey of bullshit across social media bubbles. Covid19 is another of the fanciful conspiracies, which might explain why so many young British Pakistanis, well-intentioned people otherwise, are refusing to vaccinate because of the bullshit they’re consuming.
Pakistan military talk has always been bluff and bluster. It is designed to deceive people about the military’s critical worth to an impoverished society that desperately needs schools, hospitals, roads and jobs. The spokespeople of this scam continue to give rehearsed speeches about wanting to help Kashmir against India. Hypocritically, their version of Kashmiri freedom is merger with Pakistan, criminalising independence for Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir (stopping it from becoming independent, or returning to Jammu & Kashmir).
In Pakistan’s “Free” Kashmir region, advocating for freedom is prohibited; activists promoting independence are harassed, locked up and disappeared. Pro-independence Kashmiris are intimidated mercilessly, their reputations are slandered and they are libelled through innuendo. Pakistan’s Military empowers native clients, a tactic that was used by the Princely State’s former rulers, empowering the “Namardar” communities (tax collectors), many of whose scions continue to influence Azad Kashmiris at the expense of a genuine freedom struggle. Pro-Pakistani and pro-Army nationalists from Azad Kashmir have ended up in British politics, disempowering native Azad Kashmiris, whilst undermining progressive British values.
Social media posts ensure that no one knows what’s really happening in Kashmir. Pakistan’s Supremacists and Hindu Nationalists are writing the native and indigenous peoples of Kashmir out of their history and ancestral tracts of land. Both interests create confusion about the ethnic demography of the region, arguing dishonestly that one group of people are the genuine stakeholders whilst other groups are (fictitiously) recent migrants to the region. When Pakistani officials use the term Jammu & Kashmir and speak about the right of ordinary Kashmiris to self-determination, they deliberately exclude Azad Kashmiris through verbal chicanery. They argue that Azad Kashmiris are happy to be under Pakistan control.
When it is demonstrated that Azad Kashmir is not Free, Pakistani detractors argue that Azad Kashmiris are not ethnic Kashmiris but ethnic Punjabi “peasants” to confuse people about the group identities behind the grievances undermining the universality of the pro-independence discourse. Moreover, the “Punjabi” ethnic proposition is false designed to disconnect ethnic Kashur speakers (Muslims) from ethnic Pahari speakers (Muslims). When it is demonstrated that the ethnic claim is a political ruse, the propagandists then argue that Mirpuris (the largest AJK and JK expatriate community outside Kashmir) are not Azad Kashmiris but Punjabis because they are Pothwaris from Northern Punjab (a region in Pakistan), a ruse to deceive and create doubt.
To understand the anxieties behind the false proposition, pro-independence politics took off in Mirpur during the early 1970s with the emergence of the JKLF and the British-Mirpuri transnational network; Azad Kashmiris from the Andarhal Valley of Mirpur became staunch backers for Kashmiri independence, whilst the spokespeople of this national consciousness came from Kotli, erstwhile Mirpur District. During the same decade, Pakistan Officialdom hacked Mirpur off Kotli and then did the same with Bhimbar later, pitying Mirpuris against each other. Today, the residents of Kotli and Bhimbar no longer see themselves as Mirpuris, which is the very definition of divide and rule.
It is for this reason, ISI-BJP controlled online platforms must be avoided at all costs to be alert to the lies and deceit being spread about real and fake Kashmiris. Pakistani Supremacists and Hindu Nationalists are one entity when it comes to stopping independence for Kashmir. They spread the same propaganda to undermine the diverse people of the region, who will become ethnically cleansed from their homeland if authoritarianism succeeds in changing the demography of the erstwhile Princely State. Non-Muslims have already been ethnically cleansed from Pakistan’s Kashmir. This policy extends to minorities. Revealingly, Shia Muslims are no longer a majority in Gilgit Baltistan. Ethnic Pahari speaking Azad Kashmiris are being forced into a false Punjabi identity to stop them feeling fraternity with India’s Dogri and Kashur speakers. Just like the Turkic Uighur Muslims are being replaced by the Han Chinese, Azad Kashmir’s Muslim Paharis will be replaced by Punjabis and Pothwaris from Pakistan’s Punjab Province. The children of ethnic Paharis will become estranged from the lands of their ancestors, as if their mothers and fathers were imposters to their memories.
It will be as if they never existed.
The same will happen to India’s Kashmir where Kashur, Pahari and Dogri speakers will become endangered minorities. Ordinary Muslims, for their part, will be demonised as the scions of invading foreigners. This fait accompli will also apply to the Hindu Dogra and Kashmiri Pandits, who will be assimilated into a North-Indian identity.
Irrespective of how far the push back will be from courageous resistance activists exposing the bullshit, or whether in time Hindus and Muslims will retain or forego a shared past, it should not stop the collective opponents of authoritarianism across the world from exposing the lies being spread in the name of authoritarianism. Within the context of Kashmir, this bullshit benefits two interest groups, the one being Supremacist (Pakistan Army) whilst the other is Nationalist (BJP) in its virulent “ethno” form.
The propaganda war against the peoples of divided Jammu & Kashmir is being fought through Digital Media. The deceit is giving way to prejudice. Discrimination normally occurs after prejudice takes root in a society followed by persecution once the prejudice is politicised. It can culminate in genocide. We’ve learnt a lot from how the “Aryan” “Nordic” Europeans dehumanised the supposedly “Semitic” and supposedly “Middle-Eastern” Jews before gassing them in concentration camps. Genocide scholars observe the same patterns at work in Eastern Turkistan (Xinjiang Province). Holocaust Deniers in Pakistan have millions of Facebook and Twitter followers.
It’s an insult to the truth of those painful memories when Pakistan’s Premier, Imran Khan, a client of the Pakistan Army, speaks passionately about the “Nazism” of Hindu Nationalists. As I conclude this article, the Pashtun ethnic group is being persecuted by Pakistan’s Security Services. The young leadership of this movement are fighting against rampant oppression against their community conveniently co-opted by the Pakistan Army when it needs soldiers and fetishised faces for Army posters. Pashtun intellectuals of conscience are being incarcerated whilst their reputations are being assassinated by Pakistan’s supposedly Free Press. British and North American Pakistanis are silent, tweeting #BLM and #MeToo hashtags, shedding crocodile tears for #Palestine.
In 1971 millions of ethnic Bengalis were butchered to death, 200,000 women were raped and kept as comfort women in brothel-like situations. Pakistanis denied that genocide. The BBC reported on those crimes as did the Free Press from around the world. Those interviews still exist to appreciate the nature of bullshit masquerading as truth.
“The day Pakistan builds a memorial in Lahore or Islamabad acknowledging how the Pakistani army killed and raped Bangladeshis during 1971, I will forgive Pakistan that day.” Nayanika Mookerjee
We must step outside our information bubbles to appreciate the redeeming quality of truth and the invidious nature of bullshit. Individuals searching for confirmation bias that validates their group identities become fodder for the most insidious of ideas. Authoritarian entities know exactly how to satiate them emotionally. They feed them bullshit
♥ See, ‘BBC Story on ‘Pakistan’s Secret Human Rights Abuses’ A Pack of Lies; (Army Controlled Media; )