Kashmir Freedom in which shape, by Hashim Qureshi
Nationalism is the philosophy of a nation´s identity. If nationalism does not become a cause for hatred against other nations, then it is an indicator of a nation´s progress and prosperity. People of all hues and description are accommodated within this identity and every member is proud of his or her nationality. However, the pre-requisites for its proper growth are that nationalism is not exploited and instead of hating other nations, they are meted out equitable treatment. Deviation from this principle means taking the direction of fascism which gives rise to Hitlers and Mussolinis. In todays´s world, nationalism leads to national development and fraternal relations whereas its death is caused by religious extremism. In the Indo-Pak sub-continent, Egypt, Algeria and Afghanistan, religious extremism has not only made the life a virtual hell but the peace and progress of the entire world has been taken a hostage. Bomb blasts are caused on roads and in buildings, innocent people are killed and fear is struck. This is also true of the Valley of Kashmir where national liberation struggle has been taken a hostage by religious extremism. The on-going struggle in Kashmir, it is feared, may sound a death knell to Kashmir´s nationalism, her secular tradition and image and finally to her tradition of Sufism and religious tolerance. If this struggle takes the shape of religious extremism instead of a true national struggle, what would be the consequences. What shape will it give to the solution of Kashmir tangle? In what shape will the geography of the sub-continent and Kashmir come up? These questions necessitate proper assessment of international situation and also the conditions prevailing in the sub-continent and within Kashmir. Geopolitics lN 1947 the State of Jammu and Kashmir comprised an area of 222,263 square miles. Today 101,387 square miles are in India´s control and the rest 120,649 square miles are with Pakistan and China. The territory in Pakistan´s control is further divided into two parts; Northern Areas comprise Gilgit and Baltistan which is under the administrative control of Islamabad. The population in this area comprises Sunnis, Shias, Ismailis, Noorbakhshis and other communities who are identified as Shin and Oshkin. In 1947, the people of Gilgit and Baltistan rose in revolt against Maharaja Hari Singh and invited Pakistan to take control of the area. For next 25 years, Pakistan administered the area under the black laws like F.C.R. Administration was run through a resident as was the system during the British rule. Later on the nomenclature was changed to Commissioner. The Azad Kashmir High Court, in a historic decision, decreed that Northern Areas were not a part of Pakistan but of Kashmir and that the control of Gilgit and Baltistan be immediately handed over to Azad Kashmir. Pakistan managed to obtain a veradict from the Supreme Court of Azad Kashmir on some technical basis. The other part of Pakistan controlled territory comprises only 2,000 square miles and is called Azad Kashmir with six districts of Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Mirpur,Bhimber, Bagh and Poonch. Poonch and Bagh comprised only one district in earlier days but since Sardar Qayyum Khan hails from Dhirkot in Bagh, he exercised his hegemony and divided Poonch into two districts. Azad Kashmir, which in reality should be called Pakistani held Kashmir is also a conglomerate of different castes, fraternities, tribes and linguistic denominations. There are hardly any means of production or industry which would ensure a healthy transformation of economic condition of the people. The people of this area generally emigrate to Europe and the Middle East where they put in hard work to earn a living and support their families back home. It is estimated that their remittances in the shape of foreign exchange to Pakistan are to the tune of a thousand million dollars per year. Structure in Azad Kashmir As far as the people of Gilgit and Baltistan are concerned, it is a fact that they do not want to align themselves with Kashmir. Two movements are afoot there; one supports making Gilgit and Baltistan the fifth province of Pakistan and thus win representation in national assembly and the senate. The other movement, still in early stages, is that of carving Baloristan as a new territorial entity comprising Gilgit, Baltistan and some parts of Chitral. The supporters of this movement only occasionally align themselves to Kashmir. And that is because of the pressures of such Kashmiri speaking people from the valley as had come to these areas in 1942 as merchants and later on settled there. Since Gilgit and Baltistan did not take part in the national freedom struggle launched in Kashmir, therefore Pakistani rulers and its I.S.I selected Amanullah Khan from Gilgit to recruit youth from the valley and induct them into the armed struggle in Kashmir. Evidently one who has no base of his own, the agencies can detach him at any time from the struggle and render him toothless. This is precisely what the I.S.I did with Amanullah Khan. In Azad Kashmir, people of different ideologies are to be found in different political parties. For the last fifty years, autocratic rule has prevailed depending on the good will of Islamabad. But when differences cropped up, the good will was lost and the person was deposed. This game was played with late Mir Waiz Maulavi Yusuf Shah, Sardar Qayyum Khan, Sardar Ibrahim Khan, K.H. Khurshid and Mumtaz Rathore. By and large, Muslim Conference has remained in power for the most part of the time in Azad Kashmir. Its slogan has been Kashmir banega Pakistan (Kashmir will become Pakistan). But when PPP came into existence, Sardar Ibrahim Khan separated from the Muslim Conference and formed PPP in AK. This party came to power twice and it floated the slogan “Make Azad Kashmir a province of Pakistan”. Nationalists As far as nationalist are concerned, the younger generation in Azad Kashmir wants an independent Kashmir. Like us, they are also dreaming of an entire independent Kashmir as in 1947. Unfortunately owing to personal differences, nationalists are divided into several groups. By adopting wrong strategies, there are further divisions among them. Theirs is a strange philosophy. While living in Azad Kashmir, they are struggling for the freedom of Indian occupied Kashmir. However, National Students Federation, National Lliberation Front, ( led by Maqbool Bhat’s son Showkat Maqbool Bhat) and Peoples National Party AK,and National awami Party( NAP ) do speak of liberating AK and Gilgit and Balltistan and actually they have also put in some effort. But intelligence agencies and pro-Pak accessionists accuse them of working for India. In the case of Jamaat-e-Islami, it never had a strong position in AK so as to win even a single seat in the assembly. But they do mange to organise rallies by orchestrating Islam and hate-India slogans and by alluding to armed struggle in Kashmir valley. These rallies are generally meant to collect funds and incite religious feelings in the minds of teenagers whom they eye for recruitment in the rank and file of Kashmir militancy. Since the nationalists do not have an organised party and leadership, therefore, even the staunch nationalist could not continue his march along the path of real struggle. This was because either there was no proper organisation or that nationalist leadership sold itself to the intelligence agencies. Apart from this, those engaged in national liberation struggle were bogged down by problems of material survival which invariably forced them to migrate either to the Middle East, Europe or Pakistan. Take the example of Liberation Front. As long as it worked with ISI and other organs of Pakistan, its members continued to receive training in camps, arms, ammunition, funds and publicity to the extent that in the context of Kashmir, Liberation Front became almost omnipresent. But when secret agencies took Hizbu’l-Mujahideen and some more organisations under its wings and strengthened them , Liberation Front found itself ditched. Through the instrumentality of Hizbu’l-Mujahideen, many capable and patriotic youth of Liberation Front were liquidated in Kashmir. In these circmstances in Gilgit and Baltistan, PPP and the Shia group of Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Fiqh-e-Jafariyya won in Council elections. It is believed that although the people there were not fully satisfied with the arrangement, yet in the light of freedom struggle in Kashmir, they were not prepared to join the peoples’ struggle now going on in Kashmir valley. They considered themselves part of Pakistan, because Pakistan to separate them from Azad Kashmir( P.O.K )and ruled them from Islamabad for last fifty years. As far as Azad Kashmir (AK) is concerned, there is a large number of nationalists in that region. But despite that, the nationalists are not knit into an organised structure nor are they prepared to embark on anti-Pakistan uprising on a scale on which the people in the valley have risen against India. The main reason for this deficiienccy is that the activists in the valley receive substantial support from Pakistan and pro-Pak accessionists in AK. The nationalists in AK are not receiving help from any side. That is the reason why even well-known nationalists usually fight elections as independent candidates. Class (biradari) and region are important factors in the social structure of AK. The nationalists must perforce take that into consideration. They cannot come out of these trappings. Therefore it is evident that somehow they have to rationalise their equations with two major political parties, namely Muslim Conference and AK Peoples Party. In other words, they,too, must allow themselves to be bogged down by sub-regional politics of Poonch, Mirpur, Kotli and Muzaffarabad segments plus the biradari that dominates these. As students, these nationalists introduce themselves in the context of national freedom by delivering fiery speeches from the platform of National Students Federation. But in practical politics they cash their nationalist past in one of the two major parties namely Muslim Conference and PPP. In this group can be included leaders like Mumtaz Rathore, the former Prime Minister and Mian Bashir, a senior minister. These conditions are hardly conducive for the nationalist movement to aspire for a definite shape and structure. As already said, in elections they got bogged down in local and non-proliferating politics.In practice they have been only supporting one of the two major political parties namely Muslim Conference and PPP. Invariably elections in AK are won either by the Muslim Conference or PPP. It may, therefore, be inferred that the people in AK want the present status quo to continue. This status quo is based on the perception of Pakistan that Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan are already with Pakistan, the part of Kashmir under Indian occupation has also got to go to her because Pakistan considers the whole of Kashmir as its property. This stand of Pakistan, however, is not supported by any legal or moral justification. According to UN resolution, Pakistan must withdraw all her troops from all parts of Kashmir in the event of a plebiscite. Again with reference to UN perceptions, the accession document signed by the Maharaja of Kashmir (1947) makes India’s position legally stronger in comparison to the claim of Pakistan because plebiscite has to be conducted with Indian army in reduced numbers continuing its presence in the state and the committee appointed by the UN supervising the conduct of plebiscite. Kashmiris and Pakistanis should be thankful to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who took Kashmir issue to the UNO. It has, therefore, to be seen what kind of freedom for Kashmiris is envisioned by the religious extremists of Pakistan, Azad Kashmir and Kashmir itself when they raise the loud cry of Islam. On the basis of language, religion and culture, the State of Jammu and Kashmir comprises three regions. Ladakh has an area of 96,701 sq kilometres, Jammu has 26,293 sq kms comprising six districts of Udhampur, Doda, Kathua, Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch. The smallest region in terms of land mass is Kashmir valley with 15,853 sq kms as its area. Kashmir region comprses six districts namely Anantnag, Pulwama, Srinagar, Baramulla, Budgam and Kupwara. The three regions are inhabited by people of different ethnicities such as ( on the basis of culture) Kashmiris, Dogars,Bakarwals, Dards, Balti, Ladakhi, Pushwari, etc. In terms of language and dialects, we have Kashmiri, Dogri, Gujri, Dardi, Balti, Punjabi etc. In Jammu, there are Dogra Hindus and in the rest except the valley of Kashmir, Muslims are in minority and thinly dispersed throughout the regions. They are described as Gujjars, Bakarwals, Dards, Baltis, Shia, Poshwari etc. These denominations have always kept themselves politically away from Kashmiri speaking populace. The Bodhis and Muslims of Ladakh and the Dogras and Muslims of Jammu regions have always considered themselves separate from Kashmiri speaking Muslims and Pandits. Likewise Kashmiri speaking Muslims and Pandits, too, have considered themselves separate from others. To them Kashmir valley means Kashmiris, calling the rest as Gujjars, Paharis, Pohul etc. This was the reason why Kashmiri Pandits resented rehabilitation of non-Kashmiri speaking refugees in the valley in 1948-49 who had come from the present Azad Kashmir. Their argument was that owing to the rehabilitation of these non-Kashmiri refugees, there would be tremendous stress on the population of the valley which in turn might adversely affect local culture. Secularism under stress The tragedy of Kashmiri Pandits is that though they ardently love their motherland, yet they look more to India and, in the context of religion, consider themselves more secure with India. This was considered their crime though the Muslims who demand Pakistan are not considered traitors in the eyes of the champions of national liberation. It is to be noted that at the very outset of the on-going national liberation struggle in Kashmir when Liberation Front was the only organisation making armed struggle for attaining freedom, Kashmiri Pandits were forced to leave their place of origin. On individual level a Kashmiri Pandit might have done some excess or denied the right of others, but as a community they never harmed anybody. It was the Kashmiri Pandit who rose to the envious position of teacher (guru) and the Pandits brought the light of education to their Muslim compatriots in Kashmir. Strength of Kashmiri Pandit teachers in Islamia High School and College in Srinagar was 40 per cent. I developed taste in history because of my history teacher. Our science teacher also was a Pandit. The sports teacher, Nereh Bhat (Narender Bhat) took great pains in developing sports in our school to the extent that we always won the first position in the district. These teachers were secularists to the core. How sad that we have not been able to protect our culture of secularist traditions; how unfortunate that we could not protect our teachers, our neighbours and our friends of Pandit community and their properties. This failure will be considered a tragedy for our nation by any stretch of imagination. For several centuries in the past, these Pandits had been living together with their Muslim neighbours in peace and amity. During the turmoil of 1947, Kashmiri Muslims came forward to protect them and their property and thus a unique example of inter-community tolerance was demonstrated during a turbulent period of Kashmir history. Today some Pandits are raising their voice for `Panun Kashmir.´ They have a strong argument. They say that they have been driven out of their homes by terrorising them, by attacking their honour and by killing some of their members. Now they are living in sub-human conditions in refugee camps in Jammu and elsewhere. When told that they left their homes on the promptings of Governor Jagmohan. they say that nobody would leave comfortable homes and go in exile to unknown and inhospitable places to live in tents where life is virtual hell. Assuming that they left at the behest of Governor Jagmohan, but what has been the fate of those Pandits who stayed back in Kashmir. A dental surgeon and his wife, who were rendering service in Srinagar,were one day called by some unknown persons at their house and then gunned down at the doorstep. Rosy and her mother were raped and then shot dead including Rosy’s father. The Pandits ask why have their houses and shops been looted and then burnt. They ask whether this is the treatment which Islam permits to be meted out to one’s neighbours? Should not these developments be good enough to scare a community away? Is not there strong logic in their demand for a separate homeland? But demanding the separate home land on the basis of community or religious is also against the integrity and unity of the India, same like a jamaati-e-islaami’s stand on the Kashmir? Regionalism Since a long time, the people in Ladakh have been demanding that Ladakh be given the status of autonomous hill council and placed under central administration. During Dr. Farooq Abdulla’s first stint, a strong movement for these objectives was launched in Ladakh. Likewise Jammuites are also demanding autonomy for their region. When people in the valley ask for Pakistan on the basis of religion without taking the people of other regions into confidence, all that will happen is that instead of strengthening national freedom movment, people of other regions and faiths in the state will begin to feel insecure and thus will ensue the process of parcelling the state into fragments. In what shape will Kashmir then emerge if the solution is desired to be found on the basis of the type of struggle we have launched? This is a big question looking directly into the eyes of Kashmiris. We the nationalists of Kashmir are baffled by the very question. The current atmosphere of communalism will turn Kashmir into another Bosnia fragmenting her into regions, districts , sub-districts and the rest of it. Fragmentation of Kashmir Pro-Pakistan groups and Pakistan want Kashmir to become a part of Pakistan. I need not emphasise the point that Pakistani rulers and majority of her politicians call pro- independence activists traitors and Indian agents. They label independence of Kashmir as a conspiracy either by the Indians or the Americans. Evidently in a prospect of independent Kashmir, Pakistan will have to vacate Gilgit and Baltistan, a situation which does not go in the interests of Pakistan at all. Therefore, when the proposition of independent Kashmir was in circulation in western political circles and was also placed before Pakistan, she rejected it outright. Pakistan knows that in the event of independent Kashmir, her overland link with China via Gilgit along the Silk Route will be broken and her northern borders will shrink to Kotli Satyan, Kohala and Daena instead of Kahuta, Chakothi, Bhimber and Neelam valley. It will be barely 22 kilometers away from Kahuta atomic plant and will come close to Garhi Dupatta instead of Neelam Valley. The nationalists are trying to make Pakistanis understand that in a prospect of independent Kashmir, Kashmiris would like to live as their younger brothers, and that their military pressure would be pronounced on Indian border because they would be relieved from their concerns in Kashmir. But Pakistanis just laugh it away. Let me disclose here that in 1985, some Pakistani officials and ISI representatives met with our four-member delegation headed by me. In that meeting, we precisely adopted the same line of argument. History has taught us that friedship among countries on the basis of religion cannot be lasting one. Economic interests and international alignments are major factors cementing friendship among nations. Relationship between India and Bangladesh on one hand and Pakistan and Afghanistan on the other could be identified as good examples. A close study shows that inner circles in Pakistan ruling clique and their policy planners want only the valley of Kashmir so that Pakistan would feel herself more secure with control over the sources of water and the Silk Route. They are ready to let Jammu and Ladakh regions remain with India. But in order to drag India to the negotiating table, they maintain pressure on Muslim dominated areas of Jammu namely Doda and Kishtwar through the instrumentality of armed militants. They do not mind recruiting Afghans, Pakistanis, Sudanese and others to conduct insurgency operations there. Apart from this, occasional statements of Pakistani and Azad Kashmir political figures in regard to the proposition of division should also be taken note of. Dixon Plan also surfaces now and then. Some voices have been raised suggesting that Jammu and Ladakh be given to India; Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Kashmir to Pakistan and the valley of Kashmir be made independent. India does not seem to be in any mood of taking back Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan. However in order to maintain pressure on Pakistan, the Indians use the lever of threatening that they would throw Pakistanis out of Azad Kashmir. They even get resolutions passed by the Indian parliament to this effect. In the same vein, Pakistan too, cannot wrest Kashmir from India’s hands. But if in the background of on-going turmoil in Kashmir, Pakistan succeeds in prompting international policemen to offer themselves for resolution of Kashmir tangle, then fragmentation of Kashmir will be writ large on her balance sheet. In that scenario of division and sub-division, if, for example, the valley is given freedom, the question is what will the people of the valley do with it because it will have to be further divided to give the Pandits their homeland. Thus having turned Kashmir into another Bosnia, what would be the parameters of our economic viability and security? Shall we not be dependent on India and Pakistan for contacts with the rest of the world? Today, as we find it, Pakistan has rescinded the transit rights of Afghanistan although according to international law a landlocked country is to be provided access route to the international waters by her neighbours. Had not Pakistan to incur the enemity of Russia for the sake of Afghanistan? What will be the economic strength of fragmented Kashmir? The economy of the valley cannot be run by tourist industry alone. Even there are some hard pre-reaquisites to make tourist industry economically viable. It asks for free atmosphere and acceptable political system. What will be the political system for a region with just thirty or thirty five lakh population divided into various religious and cultural denominations and varrying perceptions? Isn’t it that like Pakistan and Afghanistan, we get embroiled in large scale sectarian and factional feuds ready to lynch one another? (to be honest we are already doing that exercise). Then nothing can stop Pandits from getting their portion – Panun Kashmir – even if it is in the shape of concentrated localities. What is more, will it not usher in the dark and dangerous prospect in which the story of 1947 communal carnage of Jammu will be re-enacted? The large Muslim minority in various parts of Jammu region will, in the event of the danger of pogroms, migrate to the valley. Can Kashmir bear the burden and what will be its repercussions? Division of Kashmir on communal basis will, eventually, engulf the whole of India and its flames will consume millions of innocent people in the entire sub-continent. Assuming for a while that Pakistn succeeds in wresting the valley of Kashmir, even then the fate of Muslim minorities in the State will be only exodus from their homes and hearths. In such a situation nobody can guarantee the safety of 180 million Muslims of India. One shudders on the mere thought of it. In the event of such an unprecedented carnage, people will yearn for another Gandhiji who had gone on strike unto death in order to stop the massacres in Calcutta. People will remember Waris Shah who, moved by the suffering of a daughter of Punjab, wrote his immortal poem. But alas, there is neither a second Waris Shah among us today nor did India produce another Gandhi. Therefore patriotic Kashmiris, good Muslims and humanist sections in the sub-continent and in Asia should vehemently oppose division of Kashmir in the name of religion and community. In fact they should initiate resistance to such a move. This is the reason why we repeatedly say that reviving the 1947 position of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, free and fair elections should be held in both the parts and the duly elected representatives of Kasshmir (both parts) be given an opportunity of talking to both India and Pakistan for a lasting resolution of Kashmir tangle. And a lasting solution will be one which is acceptable to the people in Kashmir, people of all faiths. Disinformation Let us admit frankly that we the masses of the valley have been made victims of propaganda of a golden dream by people with vested interests. We should try to dissect these golden dreams in the context of international and regional situation. Such international organistions as keep close watch on emerging situations anywhere in the world and are always ready to supervene, do not give an iota importance to Kashmir issue. They consider it a case of religious extremism and as cancerous as Afghanistan. During Benazir Bhutto’s visit to the United States, President Clinton, while supporting elections (in Kashmir) had said: ” ……….. of course the Indians now are talking about election. It will be interesting to see who is eligible to vote, what the conditions of the election are, whether it really is a free referundum on the peoples´will.” But Benazir contended that her American visit was a success, and consequently, distorted the statement of the American President. She said that the American President felt that the peoples’ will in Kashmir can be ascertained only through free referundum. She eschewed reference to elections. It is amusing to note that invariably Indian and Pakistani bureaucrats and mandarins give their own interpretation to the statements and reports of foreign political leaders and organisations. At a point of time in recent days, there ensued a spate of statements and counter-statements between the Indian Home Minister and the American embassy in New Delhi. The American ambassador met with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of India to tell them that American Assistant Secretary of State, Robin Raphel, had stated before the Congressional Committee for South Asia that plebiscite in Kashmir as stipulated in 48 – year old UN resolution was no more practicable. But, of course, a solution to Kashmir problem in changed circumstances will have to be found according to the wishes of the people. This solution can be found when both the countries include Kashmiris in their talks. The truth is that the Americans apprehend emergence of Afghanistan-like situation in Kashmir with rising crescendo of religious extremism, That could lead to eruption of large scale communal violence in the entire sub-continent. As already said, in the event of a plebiscite, Pakistan will have to withdraw all her troops from Gilgit, Ballltistan and Azad Kashmir in accordance with the UN resolution. The results of a plebiscite cannot be conjured up by entertaining the wishes of Kashmir valley alone. And in the event of results not going the way Pakistan likes, Silk Route will go out of her hands. The Americans will use it as a lever to foster the policy of encirclement of China if the exigency of geopolitics demands it. At the present moment, the US does not want to antagonise India. Her relations with Iran are already strained and Sino – American relations are too fragile to bear stress and strain of rapidly changing alignments in eco-strategic world. If China, India and Iran form a nexus, then the US shall have to bear herself in South Asia with utmost caution. She will have to reckon with the nexus. Indo-US trade relations are widening and deepening day by day. Why should the US endanger such a vast market just for the sake of a tiny stretch of land called Kashmir. History stands witness to the reality that western powers always keep their economic and political interests ahead of every other consideration. These interests are protected by means fair or foul. When they needed the people of Afghanistan against Russia, they labelled all religious groups of Afghanistan as crusaders and provided them with enormous funds by way of assistance to carry out jehad. Not only that, through a media blitzkrieg they projected Afghan resistance as a decisive battle for protection of freedom and democracy throughout the world. But when their purpose was served, they have become silent spectators of the same Afghanistan drifting down the precipice of destruction and annihilation. Afghanistan turned into desolation and ruination, makes them beat not an eyelid. This is a living example of imperialist powers fomenting regional problems and instigating conflicts between the nations in order to exploit the people for their selfish interests. In order to maintain their stranglehold on Gulf oil and secure markets for the sale of oil and arms, they forged an alliance of western countries and of the Islamic world against Iraq. This spelled destruction for that country. But now feigning humanism, some human rights organisation and the UNICEF, the organ of the United Nations, create loud noise that children, women and old people in Iraq are dying of hunger and that economic embargo imposed on Iraq be lifted. Those who had ganged up against Iraq in the war, including Islamic countries, have no qualms of conscience so that they might gang up to provide relief to the hungry and dying co-religionists of Iraq. It has to be remembered that the US and Europe are gradually reaching their economic optimum. In order to maintain the present living standard of their peoples, they may have to take recourse to colonialism. Now a new area has been explored to perpetrate colonialism and that is the area of trade and marketting. Fomenting problems and complicacies of regional level is a crucial instrument in their hands to be used against the targetted countries. These instruments take various shapes: sometimes these appear in the guise of human rights violations or enticements for global trade and open market and at other times as renewed prescriptions for democratic dispensation. In this background, one can only wish that the poorer countries of Asia and Africa or elsewhere in the world, generate confidence to resolve their regional problems themselves.
Under the auspices of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, non-official talks have been held in New Delhi in recent past. This is a welcome step. In this non-official conclave were present two former finance ministers, former foreign minister and former chief justice of supreme court of Pakistan. From Indian side former foreign minister, American ambassador in India and many others participated. It should be remembered that the participating former Pakistan foreign minister Sahibzada Ya’qub Ali Khan has been considered close to the Americans and the Pakistan army while her former finance minister, Dr. Mahbubu’l-Huqq is popular among US ruling circles and the World Bank. Three years ago I had written an article under the heading ” Solution of Kashmir problem in the background of Palestine”. My proposal was as this: Both sides of Kashmir should be declared self-governing as in Palestine which would form the basis for its final resolution. The participating former finance minister of Pakistan, Mahbu’l-Huqq had proposed in this non-governmental conclave that self government be accepted for Kashmir like Gaza Strip and Jerico in Palestine. I take pride in my six years of struggle which is the sum total of my thirty years of political journey. I take pride in myself for the reason that I did not become the instrument of destruction for my fellow countrymen, my brothers ,my sisters and my neighbours in Kashmir. I strove to keep the on-going struggle in Kashmir on the track of national liberation movement. Through my writings, public meetings and interaction with people at large, I proposed peaceful solutions for the Kashmir problem. Today, many plolitical figures and parties in India and Pakistan, people who matter in international fora and organisations committed to democratic ideology, are recalling those proposals. However, it is a matter of regret that Sardar Qayyum Khan of Azad Kashmir severely condemned the statement issued by the non-government delegation which had participated in the conclave under Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. He called it playing in the hands of Indian secret agencies asserting that the suggestion of Gaza Strip type self- governance for Kashmir was tantamount to betrayal of the blood of martyrs in Kashmir. It is interesting to remind our readers that in the past, the same Sardar Qayyum Khan expressed to Robin Raphel and Bhim Singh his agreement to the proposal of holding eletions in Kashmir under the supervision of an impartial authority. This had also been stated by him in a press conference. These days Azad Kashmir is seized of election politics. Therefore political stalwarts are making loud claims in this season of elections of liberating Srinagar, Jammu and even Delhi and Amritsar in a matter of days. Undoubtedly they will make thunderous speeches of hoisting the flag in these Indian cities. In this way political blackmail will be kept energised for a few months to come but only at the cost of the blood of Kashmiri youth. In foreign countries their hirelings will take out processions and call rallies and enjoy sumptuous feasts because for last fifty years, Azad Kashmir political horse traders have made the people of Kashmir their hostage by raising the bogey of Kashmir issue. In this manner they have managed to divert the attention of the public from their demand for providing them with basic necessities of life. Therefore, I have a humble message not for political leadership of Azad Kashmir but for her youth. I want to ask them how long will they become victims of self-delusion? How long they will continue to remain hostages to their leaders back home while they toil endlessly to earn their livelihood in distant lands away from their near and dear ones? I have also a word for the leadership of the valley of Kashmir. They should take stock of the dead bodies of their sons, brothers, sisters and mothers dropping around them day in and day out. They should galvanize themselves into action for liberating Kashmir and Kashmiris from the bondage of the gun because now, besides the security forces, we too are actively involved in taking precious and innocent lives so wantonly. They must also consider what economic disaster has befallen Kashmir. In 1995 alone, more than 400 Kashmiri youth were killed in inter-gang rivalries. Those who died were sons, brothers and dear ones of people among us.
As far as the question of smoothing of international opinion is concerned, it is a reality that in foreign countries public opinion does not go in our favour. By resorting to brutalities like kidnapping and beheading foreign tourists and by taking innocent lives through bomb blasts, we have provided an opportunity to the people abroad to label our movement a terrorist movement like those in Egypt and Algeria. The influence of such organisations and single-member parties as bring out demonstrators on the streets of London or any other place or march along with British MPs who have a constituency of Asians, is hardly of any consequence for international opinion on Kashmir. The masses of people do not come out to join these protest rallies which presents a completely different picture from what the US faced in Europe and US in connection with Vietnam war. Not more than five per cent of population of Pakistans and Kashmiris living abroad have been participating in these rallies. It is a different story that London-based newspaper Jung sensationalises Indo-Pak relations and stops not short of capturing Delhi. “This is, in fact, the news bullletine of ISI brought out under the present name”. I have in my possession letters exchanged between themselves by the staff members of Jung, London in which facts about imposition of a ban on freedom of expression have been given in full detail. It shows that every single-member party is on regular pay roll of some organisation or alternatively has been made a hostage to killing and kidnapping of Kashmiri youth only to sustain its political or journalistic existence. Thousands of people dole out lessons of using Kashmiri struggle for facilitating political asylum for the youth of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan. When the applications for seeking asylum against India began to be rejected here in Europe, a large number of applicants changed their stand and pleaded that they were being forcibly recruited by ISI and Pakistan army to join the war against India in Kashmir. In this way, some people have made Kashmir a business and source of income. A few days ago the Jung London published a letter written by one Mahmud Ahmad from Birmingham. He hails from POK. He wrote, “there are a few families in UK who have migrated from Srinagar. But each one of these families has floated an organisation. The people from Indian part of Kashmir have floated four human rights councils. six charity trusts and one or two political organisations. What is to be seen is what differences do they have on the question of human rights so that they cannot make only one organisation. The fact is that these organisations have one President and one or two office bearers and the rest is a blank. Take the case of Dr. Ayub Thukkar. His organisation is given much more projection than any other in the Jung. But till this day we could not find out whether, apart from him, there is or is not any other office bearer of his organisation. And if there are other office bearers, why is their name never mentioned. In the same way Nazir Gilani continues to be the General Secretary of an organisation for the last eight years. There must be a president or a chairman of his organisation. Why is there never any mention of him? What is this secret about and why do Pakistani newspapers give so much of importance and coverage to one-member parties? It is also alleged that some agencies hire intellectuals and capable people in UK and utilise them for specific purpose. After sowing seeds of discord and disunity among Kashmiris, they are blamed that they do not unite.” Mahmud Ahmad has conceded the truth on one side. People of Indian occupied Kashmir have the freedom of forming organisations for demanding their rights and projecting their problems. But the people of Azad Kashmir have been keeping themselves politically alive only by the name of Kashmiris living on the other side of the border. In the name of Kashmiris, Sardar Qayyum Khan and other leaders have amassed billions of rupees. What can one say of the irony that instead of crying over their own slavery, the leaders of Azad Kashmir feign crying over the slavery in Indian Kashmir. Communal and inter-gang killings Last month, foreign armed people kidnapped some innocent people in Barshala, Doda and then murdered them in a barbaric manner. The victims belonged to our state. There are many groups in Kashmir who claim that they are fighting for the freedom and rights of the people of the state. Neither humanism nor any religion permits these savage acts of murder. Those who claim to be the champions of Islam do not know that according to Islamic faith killing an innocent person is tantamount to killing humanism. Bomb blasts made in Anantnag and Lal Chowk in Srinagar have taken the lives of innocent people. Bomb blasts engineered in Delhi have brought havoc with God’s humanity. By hurling a rocket on the mosque in Kahuta, Azad Kahmir, innocent lives have been lost. Such cowardly acts should be condemned strongly. This is prcisely the reason why despite being oppressed, nobody is prepared to listen to the plight of Kashmiris. The Doda massacre perpetrated by foreign militants indicates that there is a calculated plan of converting Kashmir into another Afghanistan. The parties or groups who invite these armed groups to Kashmir, give them shelter and take pride in them, do they not compass the death of innocent people, children, women and aged persons of Kashmir?. By striking fear in the minds of the people, don’t they want to subject them to their ideology and enslave them to their political agenda? A close look at the pages of history will show that religous extremist parties in more than 70 Islamic countries have never been successful in forming a government on the strength of votes. In Pakistan, for example, during the previous elections, religious parties could not bag more than 2 per cent of the total vote cast. Unable to win power through ballot, these religious extremist groups have unleashed violence and terror throughout the world by barbaric acts of hurling bombs, gunning down people, kidnaplping victims and keeping them as hostages. Imagine, for a while, if Hindu extremists in India embark on similar lunacy, how horrendous will be its reprisals? We have had a bitter experience in the past. It were the people of same diseased mind who murdered Muhammad Sultan Bhat, the brother of Professor Abdul Ghani and the blame was brought to the doorsteps of Hizbu’l-Mujahideen. In retaliation, the Jamaat-e-Islami ex-member of Legislative Assembly , Abdul Razzaq was murdered. The blame was laid on Muslim Mujahideen. The point is that the leaders and others who support gun and become hostages to gun culture, ultimately get mowed down by the same gun along with those affilated to them. The bullet shooting forth from the barrel is blind. It does not differentiate between the sinner and the innocent. In this connection the statements of Bilal Lodhi and Babar Badr and others are worth noticing in which they have said that in connection with Kashmir issue, unconditional talks should be held with New Delhi. We know that armed men killed innoocent persons like Professor Mushiru’l-Huq, Abdul Ghani and Khera. One gun totter of the same group once shot at an aged Kashmiri Pandit while he was easing himself. The man shot and killed him just because he wanted to test his repaired gun. When foreign tourists were kidnapped and one of them was brutally murdered by them, the people who had a hand in these brutalities come forward to condemn the act of Al Faran. They feigned to distance themselves from the group. Those who claimed that Al Faran was the creation of India, were belied by the statements which Harakatu’l-Ansar and other organisations gave to local newspaprs in the shape of a press release two weeks earlier. It said,” Hamid Turk and four others who were killed in an encounter with the army were people of Harakatu’l-Ansar. Kashmiris knew that Hamid was an activist of this organisation.” In this way Harakatu’l-Ansar and Al Faran, both have confessed that Al Faran was created to seek the release of top Harakatu’l- Ansar leaders in India. I am reminded of my telephonic talk with a friend in Muzaffarabad. He said that Azahr Masud, Sajjad Afghani and Abu Jindal are very special people of ISI who brought success to the plans of religious organisations and ISI itself according to which foreign militants could entrench themselves in Kashmir. In order to seek their release, their sympathisers and next-of-kin in Pakistan will do everything possible. Kashmir leadership On the shoulders of Kashmir leadership , rests a heavy responsibility. In order to save the future generations of Kashmir, they have to choose the path of truth and realism. If we allow ourselves to become the hostages of circumstances, then we shall be only signing the death warrants of our future generations. Already the security forces have taken a toll of life; we have now begun to indulge in fratricide, destroying the national wealth – forests. Assets of our society like tradition, confidence and trust are trampled under foot. How long shall we attribute mutual killings to ‘Indian agents’ and close our eyes to the realities. A gun is hardly used properly. The time is ripe when Kashmiri leadership should take stock of current situation and exhort the nation to reject the gun. They should take the movement into their hands. The on-going struggle in Kashmir will bring nothing but fragmentation of Kashmir. We shall find nothing but more graveyards, more mourning houses and more of revenge and counter revenge. If Kashmir wins freedom in this shape, as was the case in Afghanistan, it will be a horrible and highly repugnant shape. In one of my previous articles ‘ “How long the Business over Dead Bodies of Kashmiri Youth” I had given some detail about an organisation called Muslim Hand. In this connection Shabbir Shah talked to me on telephone and told me that Muslim Hand members were providing aid to people in Kashmir through him. Despite that, it is a fact that under the cover of a paltry sum for relief work, millions of rupees are being embezzled in the name of Kashmiris. My return Having played a constructive role for the last six years, my friends, colleagues and relatives all over the world advise me that the time has come when I should take part in practical politics and that I should go back to Kashmir. I am also considering seriously whether I should go back to my native land after having spent 26 years of life in exile. This is almost an age. Out of this period, I have spent ten years in Pakistani jails. I have made Mr. Muzaffar Baig as my lawyer. ( Earlier Ramesh Pathak was to do that job. He died last year). Muzaffar Baig happens to be the friend of my leader late Maqbul Bhat. I am told if a person is punished for a crime in any part of the world, he cannot be punished for the same crime again. But anything is possible in India and Pakistan. Who knows my hands may be tied and then an encounter- with- police case framed. Or there could be disappearance after arrest. As such, I shall take any step only after consulting all concerned friends, party workers and legal advisers. In any case, it is clear that I want to go back as an active and energetic person and not a dead man whose body is to be sent back from Europe. I feel I must join my people to provide them some comfort in their hour of suffering. To me politics is prayer. While living in Europe, I never distanced myself from the problems facing my compatriots. First, I played my role in changing the destiny of the Kashmiri nation through Liberation Front. When that organization distanced from its basic idealogy and objectives and fell in the lap of agencies, then we launched Democratic Liberation Party. We floated a welfare organisation, the social wing of Democratic Liberation Party, named MNWA. For the last three years we have been trying to provide , though on a limited scale, some relief to deserving people in Kashmir. We serve God’s humanity irrespective of religion, sect, class, colour etc. To the people of India Kashmir Banay Ga Khudmukhtarndhiji had withdrawn ‘Quit India’ movement because the element of violence had crept into it. People had resorted to loot and arson, and attacks were made on police and ruling forces. The British imperialism had reacted and tried to suppress them by using the state power. Gandhiji did not want the people to die. Thus though that movement was on the path of success yet it had to be recalled. Evidently Gandhiji knew the value of human life and humanism. But today the heirs of Gandhiji who rule the roost and the security forces who swear by the security of India are making not the armed militants but innocent civilians the targets of their bullets. They arrest people and then make them disappear. Zaheeru’d-Din has written a book on the subject entitled ‘Did they Vanish in Thin Air’. Disappearance of a child or a grown up person is indeed a tragedy. The closest relatives of the victim do not know what happened to him. During the bloody revolution In Chile and Argentina, some people disappeared in the custody of military junta. Even today a movement goes on there to identify the perpetrators of the crime. The UN and Human Rights organizations have considered custodial disappearances as a major crime and violation of human rights. Custodial disappearance is a life long pain and punishment for the relativs of the victim. Zaheeru’d-Din has mentioned in full detail the case of custodial disappearance of nearly 70 persons. The details include name, address, circumstances in which arrested, family’s efforts for search, copies of writ petitions in High Court etc. Among them are a sixteen year old boy named Wahid Ahmad Ahangar of Sopor and 8 year old Javed Ahmad Dar. The 8-year old boy is reported to have thrown a stone on the vehicle of security forces. Those who have adopted the policy of arresting people in Kashmir and then making them disappear can never be called loyal to India. Such acts abuse Gandhiji’s philosophy of non-violence and the democratic tradition of India. India gets a bad name on international level besides infesting Kashmiri mind with more hatred against India. Undoubtedly these are anti-India antics. I, therefore, make a fervent appeal to the rulers of India and to those from whose office power flows. that instead of rejecting the contents of Zaheeru’d- Din’s book and the details of disappearances outright, they should institute a proper enquiry into the alleged cases and when the truth is established, give proper and legal punishment to the culprits. Justice has to be done to the families of the victims. The families of the victims should be given fullest possible detail of what happened to their wards. This will be victory for public justice. History tells us that only those nations and countries survive and move along the path of progress that provide justice to their people. The height of humanism is to provide justice to the people and especially to the oppressed. Kashmir is not only a political issue, it is also a human issue. Sons and daughters of Kashmir have been separated from their near and dear ones for the last 48 years. People have been made refugees in their own country and outside. Properties have been destroyed. Kashmiri youth are languishing in jails; Pandits and Muslims have been sent into forced exile, graveyards are extending day after day, people are overtaken by an impulse of revenge. For all these reasons, Kashmir issue has to be treated as a human problem. As Gandhiji said and did, politics has to be elevated to the level of worship. Post script: These days there is much talk in political circles about partitioning of Kashmir. People comment on it according to their own interests. Pakistan pursues its Operation Topac agenda of grabbing Kashmir by hook or by crook. Sometime some Pakistani circles refer to American plan of dividing Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Kashmir together with the valley of Kashmir. Dr. Farooq Abdullah talks about partition along the actual line of control so that he may continue in the seat of power. In the event of the division of Kashmir, the people of Kashmir will, on regional and community basis, get nothing whatsoever except that our motherland and our birth place will be fragmented into pieces as does a canine do with its prey. Even then peace will not dawn upon the sub-continent. Therefore people in Kashmir, on either side of the cease fire line, will have to struggle and rise against any proposal that leads to the division of Kashmir.