The path you have chosen is a difficult one, Dr Shabir Choudhry tells new members
While speaking to a public meeting after the formation of Kashmir National Party branch in Bedford, England Dr Shabir Choudhry said:
Dear friends and colleagues aslamo alaikam
I know my colleagues Abbas Butt and Zubair Ansari have already warmly welcomed you to the KNP. However, I want to welcome you as well; and also explain to you some of the problems you might encounter. I know you people have made a conscious decision to join the KNP and have taken oath to sincerely advance the political and social agenda of Kashmir National Party.
I appreciate your decision to join the KNP. I understand you people have made the right decision. You have joined the right party – a party that has forward looking approach on Kashmir dispute; and which has formulated policies that are practical and appropriate to deal with the problems of forcibly divided State of Jammu and Kashmir. The KNP leadership believes that Kashmir dispute is not religious in nature and there is no danger to Islam in Jammu and Kashmir. We believe use of force by any party to the dispute will only add to our problems and will not lead to any solution.
It is pleasure to note that the KNP is making progress and more and more people are joining us. This means our message is getting across and people are taking us as a genuine nationalist party that promotes a cause of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir. It also shows that people believe that we sincerely want to establish democratic, plural and secular society in Jammu and Kashmir.
After commending your decision I want to caution you that the path you have chosen is very difficult one. It is uphill struggle all the way. It is full of hard work and sacrifices with no rewards or appreciation; however, you will face plenty of criticism, verbal abuses and unfounded allegations. Those who dislike you or the struggle of the KNP will make every effort to confuse you, demoralise and intimidate you. It will be a test of your nationalism, dedication and courage.
If you give – in and stop what you have taken oath to do, then they have won and you have lost. However, I believe this will not happen because you love your homeland and will continue your struggle despite all the opposition, just like I have done. I started my struggle as a teenager in 1973. At that time demanding an independent Kashmir was a sin; and those who demanded it were accused as ‘Indian agents’. I wrote an article in support of an independent Kashmir in 1973, and I was also labelled with the same tag.
Since that date I have been called a ‘Pakistani agent’, ‘British agent’, ‘American agent’, ‘Israeli agent’, ‘non believer’, anti Islam ‘anti Pakistan’ etc. No one has provided any evidence to prove anything against me, or prove me wrong. Those who made these allegations wanted to intimidate me, alienate me and defame me. Despite these allegations I have continued my struggle for united and independent Jammu and Kashmir. Since that date I have promoted the cause of Jammu and Kashmir sincerely and honestly; and agents of forces of occupation did their job to harass me, demoralise me and intimidate me. By grace of Almighty, they have not won. They are illogical arguments and allegations are exposed to people with common sense.
I am not doing this because I enjoy this abuse, or get any rewards for this. I live comfortably in a liberal and democratic society of England. I have no financial worries and I have no compulsion of any kind to do what I am doing; but I strongly believe that I have a duty to perform. I have an obligation to continue my jihad against forces of extremism, violence and hatred. I want to promote peace, tolerance and fundamental human rights for all sections of the society. I am doing this jihad that our future generations can live in peace; and that they don’t encounter the kind of abuse and problems we have faced.
My colleagues and I feel we owe it to our future generations that we fight those who occupy us and those who divide us in name of religion, ethnicity and caste. We know some of our countrymen cannot fight back because of fear of reprisals. Some others are mentally enslaved by forces of occupation through decades of propaganda; and they are unable to distinguish between independence and occupation. Also there are some who feel it is futile exercise as nothing is going to change. We feel we have to be optimistic and do our bit to promote our struggle for our national identity, our unfettered right of self determination and tell people facts that were hidden by those who occupy us.
The first thing the forces of occupation do is to take away your identity, and distort your history and culture; and through their proxies and agents teach you wrong history and demoralise you and intimidate you. If you resist them and continue with your struggle they and their agents will make allegations against sincere and prominent Kashmiris. I cannot find any sincere and prominent Kashmiri who has not been labelled as agent of someone. It is in a political culture of that region to accuse political opponents of being agents or traitors.
However, sad thing in this regard is that, at one time, Pakistan and their agents used to make baseless allegations against true Kashmiri nationalists. Later on, pro Pakistan Kashmiri parties started doing this; and called all those Kashmiris ‘agents of India’ who did not want to join Pakistan or wanted an independent Jammu and Kashmir. Another stage reached when pro independent Kashmiri parties because of political rivalry and personal issues started accusing each other for being either agent of India or Pakistan. As if that was not bad enough for the struggle of an independent Jammu and Kashmir, now some members of the same party accuse their colleagues as agents of either India or Pakistan. They do this either because of some personal rivalry, personality clash or under influence of propaganda of those who occupy us.
I regard this as a success of secret agencies of India and Pakistan that they have damaged credibility of every Kashmiri leader with some standing; and now they don’t need to do much as Kashmiri political activists are willing to back stab Kashmiri leaders and stick a label against their fellow citizen without any evidence.
You will also be called anti Pakistan and anti Islam and in some cases atheist. Tell them we are not anti Pakistan or anti India. We are only against their Kashmir policy. If they change their Kashmir policy and allow people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine their own future, then we have nothing against them. We can all live in peace and harmony.
Tell these critics that Secularism does not mean Atheism. By Secularism we mean state has no religion; and individuals have right to practise whatever their faith is, and no one has right to impose his or her faith on others. Also Secularism promotes equality for all citizens, rule of law, fairness, freedom and human rights; and all that is prescribed by Islam as well.
Friends and colleagues, I have said all this not to attack anyone or frighten you. My aim is to enlighten you what we do and what challenges we face in this unrewarding struggle; because soon you will also encounter similar problems. It will be a test of your patience, sincerity, dedication and tolerance and I hope you will make us all proud.
Thank you for being so patient. I will be happy to reply to any questions you may have.