Published in The Rising Kashmir on Aug. 19 ::
August 19, 2014 is the day that would be celebrated as World Humanitarian Day with United Nation’s theme “The World Needs More”. As one takes account of the hostility in Gaza where Israeli strikes are killing unarmed civilians including women and children, the theme as well as observance by the UN comes out as a set of paradoxes. World surely needs more, but certainly not the ones whose impartiality can be questioned today. Since the day Iraq was invaded and regime changed, it has been more than 11 years and there is no sign of normalcy returning. The liberation war for Iraq has long back failed and the entire region has been pushed into series of conflicts resulting in loss of human lives. In Afghanistan, notwithstanding the claims, democracy is fragile and US troops pullout is a gamble. In Syria the situation is no better and in Palestine (Gaza) as United Nations officials described earlier after the ruthless killing of children sleeping in a school shelter, the act of Israel is a disgrace to the world. How can the world observe and celebrate a humanitarian day with all these happenings – blatant violations of human rights to the extent that they become war crimes? Is the whole world suffering from an acceptable delusion to ignore target killings in limited numbers and with limited strikes? The belief that premier peace keeping agencies of the world have lost relevance is gaining its ground. Still, far from those tragic episodes, it is no better here also. Violation of human rights in J&K state have been piling since armed insurgency surfaced and counter insurgency operations started. There are many cases, reports about civilian killings, failure to observe standard procedures, harassments and torture that have gathered dust now. While people keep waiting, expect interventions and many a times even go knocking doors of those who have worldwide presence and jurisdiction, it all ends up as exercises in vain. Some time ago, in J&K state, the role and relevance of United Nations and human rights watchdog was called into question. There is not a single example of any intervention or a hard stand taken to protect rights of the people that one can recall. Like the rest of the world that stands baffled as how to observe a humanitarian day when TV screens display how wayward the defenders are, in Kashmir too people are in a fix to understand the nature of an exercise that has become meaningless. On humanitarian day we wish whatever human is left in those who carry heavy responsibilities wakes up to the distress calls.