“Liberate JKLF First”, 22 May 2000
(This is what I wrote about JKLF in May 2000.)
JKLF claims to be leading a struggle for united and independent Kashmir, and should be conducting its politics impartially that the world sees the JKLF as an organisation which genuinely wants to get freedom from both countries. But some thought that the JKLF needs to ‘liberate’ itself from agencies before it could play any role in the struggle, and author explained this in the article.
During our stay in Geneva at the time of UN Human Rights Commission in April, we met many people, including Kashmiris from both sides of the forcibly divided State. Some of these Kashmiris travelled from America, Canada, Austria and Britain.
My other JKLF colleague, Abbas Butt wanted to take full advantage of this opportunity and pushed me to meet as many people as possible. So in total we had ten meetings during our three-day stay there. These meetings were useful as we had opportunity of exchanging views with people from different social, ethnic and political backgrounds.
During one such meeting, a well-known Kashmiri political activist said:
“Shabir Sahib I know you are very committed to the cause of independence, and despite difficulties you have been consistent in your efforts. And since you have become the President of JKLF, you are endeavouring to assert the JKLF- in other words you are pushing the organisation in right direction.”
He paused for a moment, and smiled at us. I realised he wanted to say something bitter, and praise for my efforts was just to soften the blow. He continued: “You want to liberate Jammu and Kashmir. Indeed it is very noble cause, but my advice to you is to liberate JKLF first.”
I know this person for more than two decades but still I did not expect anything like this from him. “What do you mean by that?” I asked him angrily. Very politely he said there is no need to get upset over my remarks. You want Kashmir to be independent, and you are using JKLF as a vehicle to achieve that independence. My sincere advice is that you must liberate JKLF first before you embark on your mission to liberate Kashmir. Whatever you may think of JKLF and its role in the Kashmiri movement, there is this perception that the JKLF is under siege, and lacks freedom of action.
No matter what problems we as an organisation face; I did not want anyone to criticise our role and activities. I defended our activities and explained that we have a leading role in the Kashmiri freedom struggle. No doubt we have close interaction with different groups and at times we co – ordinate our activities, but we make our own decisions. The people of Kashmir like our ideology and they admire our role.
“I understand all that”, he said. “There is a great appeal to the JKLF ideology, and people, by and large, like JKLF; but still there is this belief that you people are not working independently. Even you have pointed out this in your articles and some speeches”. He further said, don’t take me wrong, I also believe in an independent Kashmir, and you know it. If Kashmir is to emerge as an independent state, then the JKLF has to get its act together and assert itself. And as a person loyal to the cause of independence, it is my duty to inform you of some of the mistakes you people are making.
I said what I had to say to him, but on the way back to our hotel, Abbas Butt said, we may not like to hear or accept what he said, but there is a lot of truth in what he said. We analysed the freedom struggle and agreed that the JKLF has a great role to play in the movement; and we must put our house in order that we can play that role effectively and efficiently.