My message on Kashmir is simple
Dr Shabir Choudhry 26 July 2012
My message on Kashmir dispute is simple; but despite this, many people either don’t understand it, or don’t want to understand it. My message is State of Jammu and Kashmir is not part of India or Pakistan. Our country is occupied and forcible divided; and we have to struggle against this occupation and forced division.
Areas under the occupation of Pakistan were further divided by the government of Pakistan. One area of more than 4,000 square miles was called Azad Kashmir; and the other area of more than 28,000 square miles was called Northern Areas. This area was further divided and about 2200 square miles was given to China in 1963 to have friendly relations with that country. In my honest opinion, Pakistan did all that to ensure that we people of Jammu and Kashmir under their control remain divided, oppressed and enslaved.
Despite this fact, some of us feel that the areas under occupation of Pakistan are free and people enjoy good quality of life; and what needs to be done is to fight for the liberation of the area occupied by India.
Pakistani ruling elite has been clever that they, in name of religion and brotherhood, persuaded many people of Jammu and Kashmir that because of religious affinity they should join Pakistan, even though when East Pakistan could not remain part of Pakistan because of this religious affinity. Furthermore, despite religious affinity, the Federal Government of Pakistan did not hesitate to attack Balochistan four times and deprived people of Pakistan of their fundamental social and political rights.
The ruling elite did not even care how they treated the people of Gilgit Baltistan, who were forcibly enslaved and ruled with draconian laws; and shouted about wrong doings on the Indian side of the occupation, and urged the people of Jammu and Kashmir to rise up against India. Those Kashmiris who acted as puppets of the Pakistani elite hailed Pakistan second only to Makkah; and propagated that they should become part of this land of pure where everything was rosy.
Sad thing is that those Kashmiris who were using slogan of Kashmiri nationalism were also wooed to forget about what was going on in areas under Pakistan and practically became soldiers of Pakistan to wage a war against India to liberate Kashmir under India. This policy was propagated by India and the International Community as a ‘proxy war’; and the Kashmiri people suffered because of this wrong policy.
I acknowledge that due to political immaturity, under influence of our leadership and widespread propaganda, I also supported this wrong policy, believing that it was the right policy. However, later on, in mid 1990s we came to know that people of Jammu and Kashmir were, once again, used to protect and promote Pakistani interest; and we clearly expressed our disagreement and opposed this policy. I and my colleagues had to pay a big price for this change of policy; and continue to do so.
Just because we, at one time under influence of our leadership, supported a wrong policy on Kashmir, does it mean that under available new information we have no right to rectify our past mistakes; and tell people what is being done in name of Kashmiri nationalism and Kashmiri liberation? There are many examples in Islamic history where people followed a policy of opposing Islam or opposing an Imam; and after discovering truth they became the biggest supporters of Islam and the Imam. I am referring to Hazrat Umer Bin Khataab who fiercely opposed Islam, but after finding truth of Islam became among the biggest defenders of Islam; and Hazrat Hur who was a commander of the army of Yazeed, and after realising that policy of Yazeed was wrong and Hazrat Imam Hussain was an innocent and was on the right path, sided with the Imam, even though they were heavily outnumbered and would be martyred.
A few days ago, I communicated with a Kashmiri from District Bhimber and who belongs to JKSLF. He supported the JKLF policy on Kashmir, and I opposed it. He appreciated my services for the JKLF and the struggle for an independent Kashmir; and wanted to know why I left the JKLF. I gave him documentary evidence of what happened during that time and proved what blunders the JKLF leadership committed in name of the JKLF and independence. He, like many other people of the JKLF, was not aware of the JKLF history as I know it.
He supported militancy to liberate Kashmir from India. He even supported militants to be trained and sent from the Pakistani side of the Kashmir. However, he acknowledged that both India and Pakistan were occupiers. I asked him what if some people from Jammu come to Bhimber with guns and other weapons to liberate us; or train some local people to fight against the Pakistani occupation. Any armed activity would be brutally crushed by army of Pakistan stationed in Azad Kashmir; as India did on the other side. It would result in human rights abuses, arrests, torture, killings and even rapes, would you support the people of Bhimber to continue to get guns and militants from Jammu to liberate us?
He immediately said he would not support this policy. I asked him why. He said because it would be disastrous for the local people. I said the policy of sending guns and militants to the other side is also disastrous for the people living there; and just because it affects people on the other side and not us, some people continue to support this policy of sending guns and militants.
Luckily he understood the logic of this. I said, no one denies about the human rights abuses that have taken place on the Indian side; but the question is, did this start before we sent the guns and militants or after. Before the militants were sent in 1988, the problems of Jammu and Kashmir occupied by India were of different nature. It was the militant struggle that resulted in human rights abuses of this scale; and provided a reason to men in uniform to get in to our streets, houses and bedrooms.
I discussed this conversation with my friend Abbas Butt and Chairman of KNP. He said what differences this conversation has made. The man will still be part of the party which introduced this policy and caused havoc in Kashmir. He said we people are not ready for independence yet. Some of us are unable to differentiate between independence and slavery. Still some of us don’t know who is our friend and foe. Some of us still don’t know if we want some kind of accession or independence. Some of us still don’t know if our struggle is religious or political.
What Abbas Butt has said makes a lot of sense. Despite all the sacrifices we are nowhere near our goal of independence; if anything, the dispute has been made more complicated and those who occupy us are in much stronger position. On the other hand, we people of Jammu and Kashmir are more divided and have become weaker.
Call me what suits you, but as a writer, thinker and one of the leader of the Kashmiri struggle for united and independent Jammu and Kashmir, my role is to say what is true and not what people want to hear. A leader leads; and is not lead by people. Even some friends have advised me that I should change my policy because many people are not understanding it or accepting it. I don’t believe in changing policy just because people do not understand it. Prophet Nooh preached for many hundred years; and he only managed to convert less than hundred people – vast majority was against him, even though his message was correct and method of dispensing that message was also correct.
People criticised him, but he did not change his message. Just because he did not get many people converted to Islam, can critics say he should have changed his message or his method of conveyance to please people or be popular with them? His job was to pass on the message; and he did that honestly and efficiently. I am not even equal to dust of shoes of the Prophets, but I am trying to follow the footsteps of prophets- speaking truth and passing on the message which I sincerely believe is true. My job is to provide accurate information. I believe in the following:
- The entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed and it is occupied;
- Human rights abuses take place in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir with varying degrees; and I condemn all human rights abuses;
- The Kashmir dispute is not a religious in nature and there is no danger to Islam in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a political struggle; and we must not bring religion in to this, as it makes it more complicated and spreads hatred and intolerance;
- I still believe Jammu and Kashmir must become independent, as accession to India or Pakistan is not in our national interest;
- However, our struggle is on the Pakistani side of the divide; in other words those who are occupied by India should struggle against India and those who are occupied by Pakistan should struggle against the Pakistani occupation.
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.