What a shame IHK Kashmiris equating Pakistan with India
The protests have led India to one of its most serious internal crises in recent memory. Not just because of their ferocity and persistence, but because they signal the failure of decades of Indian efforts to win the assent of Kashmiris using just about any tool available money, elections and overwhelming use of brute force. A report in the New York Times on 12th August 2010 said, “India today faces a threat which is potentially more dangerous to the world's largest democracy an Intifada-like popular revolt against Indian rule that includes not just angry young men but their sisters, mothers, uncles and grandparents.”
The new developments are also being taken notice of by analysts and strategic writers in India who are of the opinion that the new surge has no backing from across the LoC. I pay my compliments to Sialkot-born veteran and respected Indian journalist and analyst Kuldip Nayar who, in a column published in Pakistan on 20th August 2010, openly stated that there was no Pakistani hand in the present movement in Kashmir and that it had nothing to do with the militants. He termed it as a spontaneous movement which started with the killing of teenager Tufail Ahmad on June 11, 2010.
Amitabh Mattoo, a Professor of Strategic Affairs at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and a Kashmiri Hindu said in an interview, “We need a complete revisit of what our policies in Kashmir have been,” He also said “It is not about money you have spent huge amounts of money. It is not about fair elections. It is about reaching out to a generation of Kashmiris who think India is a huge monster represented by bunkers and security forces.” These comments reflect the ground realities and are believed by the Indian Government as well. If India had a slight suspicion of foreign backing, it would have accused Pakistan and the much-maligned Hafiz Saeed and raised uproar the world over as it did after the Mumbai attacks.
Indeed, Kashmiris' demand for self-determination is louder today than perhaps it had been at any other time in the region's troubled history. It comes in part because diplomatic efforts remain frozen to resolve the dispute created more than 60 years ago with the partition of the Subcontinent. With no apparent avenue to progress, Kashmiris are getting despaired that their struggle is taking place in a vacuum, and they are taking matters into their own hands.
It is, therefore, proved that the new Intifada is home-grown and women and youths in the IHK stare into the eyes of the occupation troops and are confronting the security forces without any fear. It is a known reality that when youth and women come on the streets then history is rewritten. It was also evident from the incident of 15th August when Abdul Ahad Jan, a Kashmiri police official, hurled a shoe at puppet Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at a ceremony in Srinagar to celebrate India's Independence Day, which is routinely observed by Kashmiris as Black Day. This was an indication that even the civil servants too were with the people in their struggle for the realization of their birthright.
Another dimension of the movement is that it is now more independence centric and the old Kashmiri leaders who are on both sides of the LoC and were for independence, today feel encouraged. However, it does not mean that all Kashmiris are disenchanted with Pakistan as even now the senior, respected and popular leaders like Mir Waiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Gilani having influence over a vast majority of people are still raising the slogan of “Kashmir Banay Ga Pakistan” and it is amply reflected in their statements and policies. A proof of their following can be judged from the fact that when they gave a call for shutdown on 15th August, there was a curfew-like situation in the IHK and everything came to a standstill. In no way, these Kashmiri leaders are marginalized but there is a visible trend among the youth for independence for Kashmir and disenchantment with Pakistan.
The cold-shouldering of some youngsters towards Pakistan needs to be analyzed and understood. Let us recall that there was a time when all the Political Parties and other stakeholders in Pakistan used, rather openly, to extend, moral, diplomatic and political support to the struggle of Kashmiris at all international fora. The IHK Kashmiris had a psychological feeling that Pakistan was with them. Now this position seems to have watered down in the recent years. The founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam described Kashmir as the jugular vein of Pakistan and now the water issue has proved that Kashmir is vital for its own survival. Kashmir is rightly considered as the unfinished agenda of independence and its annexation by the then Hindu Maharaja in October 1947 was in sheer violation of the will of the majority Muslim population of the State and principles of partition of the Sub-continent. But now, hardly anyone in Pakistan talks of the occupied Kashmir, particularly the present Government has an altogether different, rather enigmatic, approach to the Kashmir issue. I happened to be at the Presidency on September 9, 2008 when President Asif Ali Zardari took oath and later during his maiden press conference in the company of Afghan President Hamid Karzai declared, “The nation would hear good news about Kashmir this month”. The said categorical statement created a lot of stir, and apprehension as well. I fail to understand even now what prompted the President to make this unusual categorical statement. How come a sudden and dramatic development could take place that he became so sure of a solution within the remaining 21 days of the month. Earlier too, Kashmiris were angered when in March 2008, in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, Zardari denounced the liberation struggle in Kashmir as terrorism, even though nearly one lakh Kashmiris embraced martyrdom for this most legitimate struggle. Angered by Zardari's betrayal, the Muslims of occupied Kashmir burned the effigy of a Pakistani leader for the first time in history because the remarks were seen as an insult to their sacrifices and tantamount to rubbing salt into their wounds.
Such overtures by the successor and worthy son-in-law of PPP founder Z.A. Bhutto, who was very vocal for the Kashmiris' right to self-determination, raised many eyebrows in Kashmir and Pakistan. I am sure that had BB been alive, she would not have uttered such casual and childish remarks on such a crucial national issue. I, without going into details, think on the whole the incumbent Government has quite deviated from the slogan of Z.A. Bhutto, “We will fight for a thousand years for Kashmir”, and this must have injured the sensitivities of the new generation in the IHK
I may say that a top Pakistani strategist in a meeting with me last week inquired, “Mr Malik, how come the Pakistani media is not reflecting the new Intifada in Kashmir despite the developments having such a big news value?” He referred to 100-hour candle light vigil in front of White House on 22nd August and demonstrations in Britain and European countries against Indian atrocities. He said even MPs in Kuwait on 25th August condemned rights abuses in the IHK but strangely all these were media ignored by Pakistani media. I shared his concern because our media is indeed too much focused on day-to-day issues in Pakistan and the country's vital crucial and strategic interests and regional situations having serious repercussions are sadly being ignored.
Leaving aside media, after the said encounter with the strategist I rang up the young and vibrant newly elected Prime Minister of AJK Sardar Attique Ahmad Khan, drew his attention and shared my views with him on the new anti-India wave in Srinagar and other major towns in the Valley. I consider Azad Kashmir as base camp for the legitimate struggle of Kashmiri people and want its leadership to play its due role effectively. Not only that I, for the first time, visited on August 19 the residence of Barrister Sultan Mahmood, another heavyweight Kashmiri leader having considerable influence in Kashmir, Pakistan and among overseas Kashmiris and exchanged views with him on the new phenomenon in Srinagar. He appeared to be inspired by the new developments.
Readers are well aware that Independent Kashmir is not altogether a new idea. I remember late Dr Mahboobul Haq, in an interview to popular and influential Urdu weekly Hurmat (of which I was Editor-in-Chief) in 1994, mooted the idea for handing over Kashmir to the UN Trusteeship Council. Later, he repeated his idea during an interview to an English daily. At that time, veteran Kashmiri leader Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, who was Prime Minister of AJK, got somewhat inquisitive and telephonically inquired from me about the importance of the timing and motives of such a statement. This telephonic call later resulted in a meeting between Mujahid-e-Awwal and Dr Mehboobul Haq at my residence, and I still remember how vehemently during the meeting Dr Mehboobul Haq, himself a Kashmiri, advocated for an independent Kashmir. I also remember the late financial wizard saying that if Kashmir gets independence, the US will invest about $ 10 billion there and it will become Switzerland in this part of the world. He also posed a question to Sardar Qayyum Khan “What Pakistan has given to the Kashmiris and what the Indians have given to them?” When I posed a question on the occasion whether in such an eventuality the Karakoram Highway, the only road link of Pakistan with all-weather friend China, will be cut off, to which he emphatically stated “YES”.
The JKLF is the main advocate of independent Kashmir. Its committed Chairman, Amanullah Khan, in one of his articles said, "The future independent Kashmir is to be neutral, like Switzerland, having friendly and trade relations with all its neighbours.' According to Amanullah Khan's proposal, 'Independent Kashmir is to consist of five federating units: Kashmir Valley, Jammu Province, Ladakh, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
In any case, if the concept of independent Kashmir with inevitable US presence materializes it will be a rude shock to the Peoples Republic of China as such an eventuality will be against its vital strategic interests. Similarly, such a development will also be detrimental to the interests of Pakistan and if I may say to India as well. Kashmiris should bear in mind that if peace and security and even sovereignty of bigger States like Pakistan, Bangladesh and now even Afghanistan are imperiled because of hegemonic policies of the USA, then what would be the fate of a comparatively smaller State of independent Kashmir?
Anyhow, I am sorry to point out that despite monumental changes taking place in Occupied Kashmir, Pakistani leaders seem to have put the Kashmir issue on the back burner, which may cause irreparable damage to our stand and position on this vital issue that is the question of life and death for Pakistan's economy and geo-strategic interests. Therefore, it is high time that leadership in Pakistan and all other stakeholders should ponder over the fast emerging new ground realities in the Valley and please see to it that the new breed of Kashmiris should not get disenchanted with Pakistan. Our monumental sacrifices and sufferings for the last 62 years for the sake of the Kashmiris should not be now drowned in the Kishanganga or in other Indian dams. History will never forgive those who have scanty respect for the blood of poor innocent Kashmiris spilled over in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir during all these long years.