An ‘Age of Revolution’ is how the period between late 18th to mid-19th centuries is described by sociologists and political scientists as well as political economists. It was a period in modern history when revolutions took place in the Americas and Europe. It was during this period in history that absolute monarchies were brought down or their powers curtailed in favour of public representative governments and in some cases a written constitution was adopted.
This was undoubtedly a period in history that gave birth to the modern concept of nation and nation-state. The industrial revolution in England, the Atlantic revolutions, Latin American revolutions resulted in the abolition of feudalism and the birth of the absolute hierarchy of trade and finance capital over the affairs of the state.
Consensus among historians, social scientists and philosophers exist that all these revolutions began after a certain section of social strata got inspired by the new ideas that formed the political narrative known as Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a cultural/ideological rebellion against the decay of feudal socioeconomic production relations that paved the wave for industrial society. Similarly, Industrial society gave birth to a new cultural/ ideological representation among forces of production and was based on the theory that society was divided into two antagonist classes: the capitalist and the working classes. This led to the formation and crystallization of the ideology of Marxism.
In Europe, Enlightenment gave rise to a social contract between the monarchy and the parliament as well as between the state and its subjects. The manifestation of this was western democracy. Marxism, on the other hand gave rise to horrific dictatorships in Russia and the central Asian states and in China and later in Eastern Europe and Cuba. The economic models of western democracy and the Marxist states were respectively two poles of economic extremes. One being based on free market and the other based on centralised and nationalized economies.
Both have failed as they try to grapple with the cycle of economic crisis that is caused due to the unbridled pursuit of profit or in case of Marxist economies the strangulation of free enterprise. In Pakistan-occupied Kashmir including occupied Gilgit-Baltistan (PoK-GB), people have never had the freedom to flourish under either of the systems since both territories lacked big landlords or rich industrialists. The main economic activity in both territories to this day have been government employment or economic migration to the Middle East, Europe, West Asia or North America. The people of PoK-GB have never been in control of their destiny.
They have depended on the ‘good will’ of the state of Pakistan and the occupying army for economic handouts. Therefore, psychologically they are more inclined toward the concept of fate and trust in Allah. This makes the majority of the population vulnerable to fall prey to ideologies of various kinds. The most dangerous ideology that my people have fallen victim to is radical jihadi Islam. During the 1960s, the upper intellectual strata of PoK was influenced by the Marxist ideology and a brief romance with the Chinese revolution and the idealism of guerrilla war as a legitimate tactic to gain freedom from Pakistan occupation became an obsession.
The Marxist tradition simply refused to recognise the national question in PoK and made the cause of independence subservient to class struggle that was Pakistan-centric. However, during the early 1980s, when Pakistan started the Afghan-Jihad, things changed for the worst. Now the ideology of radical Islam was touted in PoK as a means to salvation and linked to Ghazwa-e-Hind. Again making the struggle for freedom from the colonial oppression of Pakistan subservient to the requirements of global Islamic jihad. Both, the ideology of Marxism and the ideology of radical Islam and jihad, have been instrumental in holding back our struggle for freedom from Pakistan and re-join with mother India.
It has taken a long time for the young generation to come to terms with the fact that their relation with Pakistan is not that of equals but of master and subject. Over the past 4 years, social unrest and economic crisis has deepened their understanding of the colonial nature of their relation with Pakistan. Social media revolution has helped the young generation to explore the world wide web and look for answers to their miseries. They have realised that it is Pakistan which attacked their state and divided and occupied their lands. This realisation has brought a new life into the struggle for their salvation. Anti-Pakistan slogans have become the norm of any political or economic rights protest in PoK-GB. More and more young people want to join India and the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It is under the threat of this new wave of radicalization that Pakistan has relaunched the Jamiat e Tuleba e Islam, a youth fascist organisation, in almost every college in the PoK.
A conference to stress the finality of the prophet of Islam, Muhammed, was held on April 30 in Jhelum valley, another seminar under the title ‘Nizam e Mustafa’ is being planned for Mirpur city. Pakistan military officers are regularly giving lectures to high school students on the tenants of Islam and Jihad and a new jihadi organisation, Janbaz Force, has recently been launch. The purpose of the recent endeavour of raising the jihadi sentiment among the youth in PoK is to ‘re-educate’ them in the narrative of Jinnah’s two-nation theory and Islamic religious fascism. Islam as an ideological weapon is being presented to the youth of PoK as a way of salvation from the decaying socio-economic conditions of PoK.
The truth of the matter is that occupation, plunder and loot of our natural resources is the root cause of our backward socio-economic condition. The way out of our misery is not hidden in the tenants of Islam but by rebelling against the occupation and becoming masters of our own natural resources. For this to happen a battle, not between ideologies but, against ideologies must be fought. Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoK. He currently lives in exile in the UK.