Jammu Kashmir Seeks Attention....Freedom is Our Birth Right....We Want United independent Jammu Kashmir..

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kashmir dispute and role of Pakistani agencies

Text of Dr Shabir Choudhry's speech at UKPNP public meeting
20 February 2009.

Friends and colleagues Aslamo Alaykam!

First of all I want to thank leadership of UKPNP Azad Kashmir for inviting me to address your gathering. Also I want to congratulate your leadership for holding a public meeting on such important topic; and again in a place like Azad Kashmir where people feel uncomfortable in speaking truth.

Friends this struggle which has been going on since 1988 was not our struggle, although we have suffered during this, and have lost more than 70 thousand people in a struggle which was articulated by Pakistani agencies and imposed on us to further their national interest. It was presented to us as a Kashmiri struggle and Kashmiri leadership also 'sold' it as 'our own struggle', just as the Pakistani government is trying to sell America's war as its own war in FATA, Swat and other parts of Pakistan.

This was never our struggle, and was not started to liberate the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Its aim was to 'keep India engaged' and 'keep India bleeding', that Indian government cannot start any adventure against Pakistan. Pakistanis policy makers feared that Rajiev Gandhi, Prime Minister of India was contemplating an attack on Pakistan during Brass Track military exercises in mid 1980s.

Perhaps that policy suited the government of Pakistan at that time, but surely it did not suit our struggle for national independence, as it helped to enforce the view that the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral dispute; and that it is engineered and manipulated by the Pakistani agencies to protect their national interest. Furthermore it resulted in pain, suffering, torture, killings, rapes and imprisonment; and tragedy is that the world still views it as a dispute between India and Pakistan which they have to resolve bilaterally.

In other words despite all these sacrifices we have not been able to make it a Kashmiri struggle, and main reason for that is inability of Kashmiri leaders to differentiate between universally recognised right of self determination and a right of accession; their inability to differentiate between a national struggle and a 'proxy war'. I know many people don't like the term 'proxy war', but look for the meaning of this term in the Oxford English dictionary and then equate that with what they have done in name of our struggle, you will note that it fits in with the definition.

It is perceived as a 'proxy war' because Kashmiri leaders once again agreed to offer their shoulders to be used to advance the Pakistani interest at the expense of a Kashmiri interest. Once again they agreed to become subservient to ISI and Pakistani interest.

Friends and colleagues let me elaborate this point, because we have to ascertain who did what during crucial years of our history. Muslim conference and some other parties take pride in what they do to serve national interest of Pakistan. Their policies surely did not advance a national cause of Jammu and Kashmir, but they did not cause death and destruction either. They don't hide that their goal is not an independent Kashmir; and that they want to become part of Pakistan, and they advance pro Pakistan policies.

In my view culprits and hypocrites are those who claim to be nationalist leaders, and yet advance policies which are similar to that of Muslim Conference. I am referring to the top leaders of JKLF who betrayed the ideology of Maqbool Butt, who betrayed national movement and agreed to become a 'B' team of ISI.

They agreed to work for the ISI and deceived the Kashmiri people in name of independence or azadi. I think ordinary members of the JKLF are sincere and dedicated people and they still think that their leaders are advancing the nationalist cause.

But how could it be a genuine movement for azadi or independence when the top JKLF leaders agreed to forget plight of their own people on this side of the LOC, and agreed to work with a secret agency of one occupier to engage army of the other occupier. It doesn't make sense that a person who himself is in chains, or is enslaved wants to liberate others who are in chains but are still relatively comfortable than him.

While thinking whether this is a national struggle for independence or some thing else; and whether the JKLF leaders have sold out or not you have to take this fact in to consideration that prior to this militancy, which started in July 1988, the situation on the Indian side was much better than what it was in AJK and especially in Gilgit and Baltistan.

People of Gilgit and Baltistan were and still are the most deprived people of the State. They still have no social, political and economic rights. The JKLF leaders, especially Mr Amanullah Khan who comes from that region did not care for the plight of these people, but with help of ISI was very eager to help and 'liberate' those who were enjoying better life style and social and political rights before 1988.

Mr Amanullah Khan and the JKLF showed more interest in talking about problems of those living on the Indian side and least cared for the people living on this side. It was part of their agreement that they will focus their attention only on the matters related to the areas under India. It is because of this the JKLF leaders had no strategy for the liberation of areas under Pakistan. They were persuaded by the ISI handlers that if they talked about the areas under Pakistan it could divert the world attention from there to these areas, and of course ISI and government of Pakistan did not want that.

The JKLF leaders sincerely followed that agreement, some of them got material gains and others were presented as national heroes and much needed publicity. They thought the ISI will honour their commitment, and they will continue to enjoy this treatment, but the ISI changed its policy and strategy. Their aim was to use the JKLF as a tool to achieve their objectives and not to advance cause of united and independent Kashmir.

Without any hesitation they dumped the JKLF, just like people through a tin of coke after drinking it. They thought the JKLF was getting too big for its shoes, and its leaders started thinking of themselves as real heroes. They instigated a split in the JKLF for which Mr Amanullah Khan and others were once again used to declare a 'government' without consulting the Central Committee. He must have thought he doesn't need support of the Central Committee when ISI is fully behind him.

Anyway after splitting the JKLF at this crucial time when unity was needed within the JKLF and among other Kashmiri groups, the ISI 'talbainsed' the movement by launching many religious groups; and by making the struggle a religious one. Aim of that was not to promote Islam or to help Muslims, but to deprive it of support of Kashmiri minorities and the international community.

The planners and controllers of the movement wanted to divide the struggle on religious lines. They invited 'guest militants' in name of Jihad from various countries and launched them in Kashmir to advance the Pakistani agenda. That changed the fundamental character of the Kashmiri struggle and made it a fundamentalist movement. They wanted to tell the world that the Kashmiri struggle was a part of Islamic fundamentalist movement.

This was a stab in the back by Pakistani agencies. This move resulted in weakening of the movement. They were more interested in 'bleeding India' and discrediting India by highlighting human rights abuse there. It must be pointed out that Indian forces committed human rights abuse to crush this militancy and thousands of people lost their lives. They have been subject to torture, humiliation and imprisonment.

However it is understandable that all forces commit human rights abuse when people take guns in their hands to resolve political matters. We know Pakistani forces did same when people of East Pakistan asked for their political rights, and millions of people lost their lives. There were rapes, torture, deaths, destruction and imprisonment. Same thing is happening in FATA, Balochistan and parts of Frontier Province. We have witnessed that Pakistan army has frequently used F16 fighters, tanks, helicopter gunships, and heavy weapons to kill and destroy militants who are Pakistanis and Muslims.

In other words Muslim army was killing Muslims, and still continues to do so without any hesitation or remorse. What Indian forces have done is wrong, but the point I am trying to make is that all armies do this when they face militancy. We should not expect flowers in return when we fire at the Indian army with a gun which was given to us by India's 'enemy' - Pakistan.

Pakistani agencies that actually controlled the militancy and the political struggle, after talbanisation of the struggle, also commercialised it. After some time, for some it became a 'business'; and this commercial aspect dominated the 'struggle' in which some people became 'rich' and 'influential'; and the suffering of the innocent ordinary people continued. These newly 'rich people' wanted the suffering of the people to continue as it was making them richer and influential.

In the commercial aspect of the struggle there are people on both sides of the LOC, and in India and Pakistan. Over the years, especially after 9/11, some aspects of this 'business' was shifted to other countries; hence we witness various political activities taking place in various cities of important countries. Also we note rise of non Kashmiri, non Pakistani and non Indian experts on Kashmir.

In my view this 'vested interest', spread over on both sides of the divide, is the main hurdle in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, as these people are rich, powerful and very influential. They exert their influence in Pakistan, in India, in both parts of Jammu and Kashmir and else where to ensure that the status quo continues, because if the Kashmir dispute is resolved too many people will become 'unemployed'.

Friends, we know both India and Pakistan have vested interest in Jammu and Kashmir, and they both occupy us, yet focus of Kashmiri struggle is against one country – India. Have you ever thought why is that we take pride in having a 'black day' on 26th January against India, but don't do anything when Pakistan celebrates its national days? India is not the only country to work against our national independence; or depriving us of our fundamental rights.

People justify their actions by saying that Pakistan still supports our right of self determination; and India calls Kashmir its 'integral part'. That is not true. Pakistan DOES NOT support our right of self determination, but only supports our right of accession which of course is in their national interest.

Furthermore, if Kashmiris oppose India because she calls Kashmir its 'integral part' on strength of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir's 'provisional accession' which had to be ratified by the people, then we should also oppose Pakistan because she claims to 'own' areas of Gilgit and Baltistan without any accession or any treaty.

Those who started the militancy on that side of LOC with a Pakistani gun, Pakistani training and Pakistani material support are called mujahideen. If for argument sake, some people got gun, training and money from India to start militancy on the Pakistani side of the LOC, tell me what name would people have given to them, especially what name the Pakistani government, Pakistani media and their collaborators have given to them.

Friends and colleagues, I have taken a lot of your time. I hope you will try to understand my message in its right perspective, and continue your struggle for national independence. In one way you are lucky that your leadership, unlike the top leadership of the JKLF, understands the difference between azadi and ghualami, and between accession and right of self determination.

Saradar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri and Mumtaz Khan are my personal friends and colleagues. We belong to different parties, they are leaders of UKPNP and I am a leader of Kashmir National Party, yet we have mutual respect and good understanding on various issues. At times we work together to advance a common agenda. I hope that members of UKPNP and members of KNP will demonstrate that cooperation in Azad Kashmir as well.

Friends and colleagues, we are going through very difficult time. We are facing new problems and new challenges. Deliberately wrong meaning and wrong image has been established for our struggle, which will take some time to put right. We people have to sort out our priorities. Our struggle should be on this side of the LOC, in an area which is familiar to us; where the rulers who occupy us are also familiar to us, and their collaborators who help them to justify and perpetuate this rule are from among us.

I don't propose militancy here. I don't advocate abandoning the struggle. I don't say not to support the struggle on the other side of the LOC. I don't say not to support people of Gilgit and Baltistan. But I emphasise that we can only support them when we are strong ourselves, when our struggle is established on right footing. Let them continue their struggle according to their situation; and let us reorganise our struggle according to prevailing conditions here.

Long live genuine struggle for unification and independence of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Khuda hafiz and May Allah bless you.

Dr Shabir Choudhry

Dr Shabir Choudhry is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email: drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com