JKLF struggle – is it for an independent Kashmir
Dr Shabir Choudhry 19 September 2012
After what Azeem Dutt, a nationalist Kashmiri leader and a former President of Jammu Kashmir Plebiscite Front said about Amanullah Khan and Kashmir Liberation Front, a number of people asked me to either confirm what Azeem Dutt has said or as a writer and analyst provide more information about this.
I don’t know exactly what Azeem Dutt said about Amanullah Khan and the JKLF, but what I have read in the newspaper and what is available on social media is in line with what many leaders and political activists have said about Amanullah Khan and the JKLF; and that includes the leaders of JKPF.
Although the JKLF is still in many groups, but I still believe that the JKLF have some very dedicated members who sincerely believe that they are promoting the cause of Kashmiri nationalism. However, their top leadership have some other ideas and they are not promoting what ordinary members of the JKLF think they are promoting. Like many others I also worked extremely hard for the JKLF believing it to be a true nationalist party; but when I realised that the top JKLF leadership was fooling simple members in name of nationalism and Kashmiri independence, I agreed with my colleagues to set up Kashmir National Party.
JKLF and Amanullah Khan are controversial and will always remain controversial. Anyhow, let us first look at what Azeem Dutt said or alleged to have said in a reception held in Mirpur. English translation of what he said is as follows:
‘In order to strengthen Plebiscite Front and to promote ideology of an independent Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the divide, Plebiscite Front’s first President Abdul Khaliq Ansari Advocate sent Amanullah Khan and Sabir Ansari to Britain in 1977. As Plebiscite Front got stronger, conspiracies against it also started – first, name of the Plebiscite Front was changed in Britain to Liberation Front, which was part of the Plebiscite Front Europe Zone.
As JKLF got stronger in Britain, Amanullah Khan back stabbed the Kashmiri Movement by establishing branches of the JKLF in Azad Kashmir; and later on worked as an agent of agencies, and without ideological training used some young men and got Maqbool Butt martyred. Amanullah Khan acknowledged this fact in a public meeting held in Mirpur by saying that if this had not happened; Maqbool Butt would have died as unknown person in prison.
Later on he invited young men from the Indian occupied Kashmir to this side and continued non ideological struggle for 22 years. When his God Fathers refused to help, then so called mujahids and guerrillas started going back. According to one estimate about 15,000 to 20,000 people have gone back and taken oath that they will be loyal to India and will not take part in any struggle in future. Azeem Dutt said if the young men were equipped with ideological training, struggle was based on ideology and it was controlled by us with our own resources then this would not have happened. He said young men should not be disappointed because in struggle sometimes these events take place, and struggles do not end because of these setbacks. However, young men need to research to find out who is pioneer of this struggle and who is a traitor; and who has landed us in this quandary.’ 1
Very senior JKLF leader Asghar Malik, known as Asghar Sethi was discussing issues related to the JKLF and the Kashmiri struggle with Abbas Butt and Asim Mirza. Abbas Butt asked him, ‘If Yasin Malik is not a national leader so do you regard Amanullah Khan as a national leader?’
Asghar Malik laughed and said, ‘He is worse than Yasin Malik. Amanullah Khan has more interest in satisfying his ego than independence of Jammu and Kashmir. Yasin Malik, at least, wants independence of a region where he was born and where he lives. Amanullah Khan has no interest about the region where he was born; and has no desire to even live there or work for rights and interests of that region. He is not even loyal to that region. He has no branches of his JKLF in Astore where he was born or anywhere in Gilgit Baltistan. Genuine nationalists question his loyalty to the ideology of Maqbool Butt and his loyalty to Gilgit Baltistan’.
He further said, ‘Why is it that he likes to have branches and demonstrations in Azad Kashmir but not in Gilgit Baltistan? Is it that he doesn’t regard this region as a part of the State; or he is not allowed to politicise this region because Islamabad and their secret agencies feel uneasy about it?’
Asim Mirza said, ‘Amanullah Khan has declared that his dead body should be buried in Gilgit after his death; and doesn’t that show his love for that region?’
Asghar Malik laughed at this and said, ‘This is another gimmick of Amanullah Khan. It is just for propaganda purposes that his body should be taken to Gilgit after his death. What are they going to do with this body after his death, when in his life time he has neglected them and did not care to live among them or do anything for their betterment?’
Asghar Malik said, ‘I have worked with Amanullah Khan, and have closely studied him. When I and other colleagues realised that he only loves himself and is loyal to secret agencies of Pakistan, we left him. He has always ensured that no one with political sense or some leadership quality stays in his party to threaten his position. He has expelled many capable and dedicated people under different pretexts; and main reason was to safeguard his interests and satisfy his ego. He has done more damage to the independence movement than anyone else.’ 2
Sardar Abid Khan, a former leader of JKLF and a close associate of Amanullah Khan said
‘….While in the JKLF, I was very close to Amanullah Khan; and I used to accompany Amanullah Khan when he met various officers of the ISI. Amanullah Khan used to go inside to see ISI officers and I (Sardar Abid Khan) used to wait outside. At that time I was very loyal and dedicated follower of Amanullah Khan, as at that time I thought service to Amanullah Khan was service to the struggle of independent Kashmir. Like many others, I believed that Amanullah Khan could not do anything wrong; and all his struggle was for the cause of an independent Kashmir’
He further said, ‘Amanullah Khan was acting on advice of the ISI. The whole struggle, military and political was controlled by them and Amanullah Khan was just their front man, pretending that he was in charge. At that time we were immature and did not understand implications of all this; and those who understood his policies were expelled by him. Amanullah Khan has betrayed the JKLF and its ideology’.
Sardar Abid Khan further said, ‘Would you regard that man loyal to Kashmir and independent Kashmir who starts militancy in Azad Kashmir and in Gilgit Baltistan with help of Indian RAW? If that person could not be loyal then how could a man who starts militancy with help of ISI be loyal, because both countries are occupiers?’ 3
Like Azeem Dutt, many other nationalist leaders and analysts believe that Amanullah Khan ‘conspired to get Maqbool Butt out of way’ and for that reason he ordered killing of the Indian diplomat which resulted in hanging of Maqbool Butt in Tihar Jail, New Delhi. Maqbool Butt’s attorney and former Vice Chairman of JKLF Bashir Ahmed Butt also expressed same view point in an interview on 12 October 2006:
Q. ‘Are you sure of it in terms of legal strength of the case or that you are
just moved by your emotions?
A. This I say as a lawyer. Death penalty can’t be carried out when there is no
original death sentence certificate. Supreme Court had sent the case back to the High Court on this ground and we were sure that Butt Sahib would be saved from capital punishment.
Q. Once more I ask you whether, as a lawyer, you believe that the death sentence was upheld because of Mahatre kidnapping.
A. As a lawyer I assert that the point we had raised in the petition was quite valid and legal and it was impossible to carry out the execution but for Mahatre’s kidnapping combined with political pressure made the Chief Justice uphold the sentence. Every Kashmiri child knows that if kidnapping had not taken place then execution could have been avoided. From 1976 till 1984, a period of eight years, the death sentence had not been implemented.
Q. Does it mean that whoever, whether Hashim Qureshi or Amanullah, killed Mahatre after kidnapping, is the murderer of Maqbool Butt?
A. Yes, it is my conviction that whoever got Mahatre killed is the real
murderer of Butt. I had met Shaheed Butt. He had showed his willingness to file this writ petition and he was suspicious about his people that they might hatch a conspiracy against him. He had said that he was being tried in another case, and until decision come in that, they could not hang him.
Q. Is it in Indian constitution that the death sentence cannot be carried out until decision in second murder case against the same accused is delivered?
A. Legally, yes. The first decision cannot be implemented till the decision in second case is given. It is out of my understanding that how Indian Supreme Court did it. Surely they did it because of Mahatare issue.’ 4
Bruce Riedel was a former senior CIA officer. He is a senior fellow in Foreign Policy and the Saban Centre at the Brookings Institution. He served four American Presidents on Middle East and South Asia. He closely worked with the ISI and Chaired a group which enacted Afpak policy. In his book ‘Deadly Embrace’ he writes:
‘Zia, Akhtar, and the ISI also reached out to other groups in Kashmir, including Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which had been founded in 1977 by Kashmiris living in United Kingdom. The JKLF was much more sympathetic to Kashmiri independence than to union with Pakistan. It was also reluctant at first to accept ISI help, but Akhtar opened talks with its members in 1994, and by 1987 JKLF militants were also present in the ISI training camps.’ 5
Without going in to details of Ravinder Mahatare’s kidnapping and subsequent killing, we know he was killed on specific orders of Amanullah Khan. The above evidence clearly shows how the JKLF leaders cheated people in name of Kashmiri struggle, nationalism and independence. However, the readers can draw their own conclusions in light of this solid evidence provided above.
- Gilgit Baltistan – A New Round of Great Game, Page 63
- Gilgit Baltistan – A New Round of Great Game, Page 21
- Link to full interview of Bashir Ahmed Butt: http://k4kashmir.com/who-got-maqbool-butt-hanged-2/
- Bruce Riedel, Deadly Embrace, The Brookings Institution, 2011, page 26
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:email@example.com