The Cat’s Paw Syndrome!


The uprising which resulted after the killing of Burhan Wani has entered into the fifth month. Everything continues to be virtuallyat a standstill. The massive and spontaneous uprising throughout the valley has sent a clear message to the world that everything is not alright in Kashmir as claimed by some ultra-nationalists in India. In the meantime, the two neighbouring countries are escalating the tensions with the possibility of a clash which could be disastrous for one and all. They have a long history of destructive clashes. However, the worst sufferers are the Kashmiris who have been facing the brunt for last 70 years or so. The conflict in the sub-continent resembles what is known as a “Cat’s Paw Syndrome”!

An ancient fable tells the story of a monkey who came upon some chestnuts roasting in a fire. Lacking the means to retrieve the tasty chestnuts from the fire, the clever monkey managed to convince a somewhat dim cat to reach into the flames with his paw and fetch them. The monkey got his chestnuts, the cat was rewarded with a nasty hotfoot, and a metaphor for “chump” was born. While the original “cat’s paw” was someone who is tricked into doing something dangerous or foolish on behalf of someone else, the term has broadened somewhat over the years. Today’s “cat’s paw” may know very well what he or she is doing. The Kashmiri Cat has been facing two monkeys fighting for the chest nuts. The two monkeys who are each other’s neighbours have been making Kashmiris pull their chestnuts out of the fire. In the process, the Kashmiris have always only been burning their paws!

One monkey’s chest nut is called the “Two Nation Theory” while as the other monkey’s chest nut is called the “Secularism”! These two sub-continental monkeys in turn have become cats for bigger monkeys like USA, Russia, and Britain. Thus there is a chain of monkeys and cats in the sub-continent pulling out chest nuts from the fire which has been raging for last seven decades. The fire was originally started by the British colonizers by dividing the sub-continent into two antagonistic countries. In fact, as revealed by the declassification of documents relating to partition, the whole plan was engineered by the British who went to great lengths not only to start a fire but ensured its perennial burning! The chest nuts these foreign monkeys are pulling out of the sub-continent are massive defence contracts.

India is at the moment biggest buyer of foreign weapons. Prime Minister Narinder Modi is desperate to get all weapons of destruction from all over the world. Fighter jets, anti-air missiles, submarines and whatever is available for killing human beings and destroying habitations. He has been striking deals with the Americans, the Russians and so on. These imports cost billions of dollars which could easily be used to ameliorate the lot of the teeming millions living below the poverty line. Pakistanis are receiving more military aid than urgently needed economic aid. The world armament market is a $1,000 billion and American share may be more than half! Probably, armaments are the only means to keep their economy going? To keep on retrieving these sweet chest nuts these powers need to keep the fire in Kashmir burning. This explains their apologetic attitude in refusing to mediate in the dispute. If they wanted they could get the things straightened out in a matter of days. However, they would never like the conflict of which they are the main beneficiaries to die down!

One positive attribute of the present uprising is that a large number of youth appear to be disillusioned from both the monkeys. Quite often slogans have been raised, “No India, No Pakistan; We want Freedom”! “Azadi” which means total and complete freedom is the buzz word. Unfortunately, some traditional leaders still look towards outsiders even beyond the borders of the sub-continent to bail them out. The new generation brought up in the conflict of last two decades is totallydisillusioned with both the countries of the sub-continent. However, unless the Kashmiris ask both the monkeys to get lost and are prepared to sort out their problems themselves, their ills will not go away. The ideal for Kashmiris is neither to become themselves the “Cat’s Paw” nor use others as their “Cat’s Paw”! They have to develop the individuality and the self-confidence to be totally on their own. That is the first and the foremost quality of an independent nation! Let us hope and pray that the new generation is able to do so!

Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir Email: [email protected]


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