Thursday, 29 May 2008

Another break up in the JKLF?

Another break up in the JKLF?
Dr Shabir Choudhry

JKLF is very unfortunate party, yet it is a big name in the Kashmiri politics. Some say it has played a very positive role in the polity of Kashmir, but others disagree with this and hurl all sorts of allegations against the organisation and its leadership.

Only yesterday a Muslim Conference leader said to me that the JKLF was created by secret agencies of Pakistan, and that its leaders have always played in the hands of agencies. I challenged him, especially on his first allegation, because I know for sure that the JKLF was not created by secret agencies, as I was also among those who set up the JKLF in England in 1977. Of course people like Mr Amanullah Khan had greater role in setting up of the JKLF.

Furthermore Kashmiri struggle was not commercialised at that time, although politics on both sides of the divide was commercialised and safely in hands of those who had vested interest in ensuring that the forced division of the State of Jammu and Kashmir continues. It was these people who with help of secret agencies corrupted leaders of parties on both sides of the divide, hence we witness the present chaos in Kashmir and instability in South Asia.

As far as the second allegation is concerned there is some truth in it, and I won’t even try to defend this. However it is difficult to say who was the first person that played in the hands of secret agencies, but many believe that like other Kashmiri parties, the JKLF leaders also have close relationship with agencies of both countries. It must be pointed out here that the JKLF has many groups and they all claim to work for an independent Kashmir; but the reality is there are some who work to satisfy their injured ego, or safeguard personal interest and interest of those who look after their kitchen.

Among all JKLF groups, the groups led by Amanullah Khan and Yasin Malik were considered as the largest and most influential groups. Until he was allowed to visit America and Britain, Yasin Malik was, by and large, considered as undisputed leader of his faction. His trip, to some extent, exposed his qualities and skills as a leader, and to make matters worse, his close ‘colleagues’ and advisors’ ensured that he goes back with a tarnished reputation.

It was in their interest that Yasin Malik is seen as a non - serious person with immature approach to politics, and no sense of real direction. He was projected as indecisive, confused and sick person who could easily be manipulated by his close friends, and what this meant was that the real power was in hands of those who were close to him. No wonder one such ‘advisor’ claimed that the ‘JKLF is in his pocket’.

In order to fly high on the platform of the JKLF, and in attempt to exert more control over him, rumours of financial mismanagement were spread in the JKLF ranks, especially in Srinagar. The result of this campaign was a split in the JKLF ranks in Srinagar, as middle ranking leaders accused Yasin Malik and others of making financial gains, and demanded their share of the booty.

After cutting Yasin Malik to the desired size in Srinagar, and after tarnishing his reputation by making him ‘controversial’ and ‘corrupt’ these ‘advisors’ turned their attention to the JKLF branches abroad which projected Yasin Malik and the JKLF ideology in its true perspective at the international level. If Yasin Malik was to be ‘defeated’ and ‘controlled’, it was imperative that he is deprived of international support, and made controversial before the loyal members of the organisation and the Kashmiri people.

Two ‘advisors’ especially travelled to Islamabad for this purpose, where they had meetings with Pakistani secret agencies, and plan was hatched to take care of JKLF UK & Europe. It was Britain where the JKLF was established, and it is here where the organisation has liberal and democratic institutions and staunch ideological support. Members here are clear that both India and Pakistan are in Kashmir as occupiers and both have their own agendas there with no or little care for the people of Kashmir.

With that in mind the JKLF leadership in UK & Europe project the Kashmir dispute and emphasis that Kashmiris with varying degree suffer on both sides of the divide. They paid special attention to the plight of people of Gilgit and Baltistan, who still have no right to vote even in 21st Century; and uprooting of people of Mirpur in order to provide more electricity to Pakistani industrialists and water for jageerdars (Landlords) of Punjab.

The JKLF Central Committee decided to send a delegation to raise this issue in the UN Human Rights Commission at Geneva. The delegation of two, consisting of Abbas Butt, President of JKLF, and Dr Shabir Choudhry, Chairman Diplomatic Committee went there in March 2003, and effectively highlighted the issue by making speeches in the Commission and by interacting with other NGOs.

Hitherto nearly all Kashmiri organisations and international bodies only paid attention to what goes on in the Indian side of the divide; and before we boarded the plane to Geneva we were also ‘advised’ to speak about the plight of the Kashmiris on the Indian side only. We ignored this advice for three reasons:
1. Our mandate from the Central Committee was different;
2. We don’t take dictation from anyone, and DONOT change our policies under pressure;
3. And more importantly, after our speeches in the UN Commission, we were coming back to Britain and not going back to Kashmir.

If we were to go back to Kashmir then it would have been very difficult for us to ignore this ‘advice’, as we could have been eliminated like many of our countrymen before us who dared to tread an independent line.

Our interventions in Geneva and interaction with NGOs were clearly against the ‘advice’, and this disturbed Kashmir policy makers in Islamabad and phone calls rang in Britain and Srinagar. Soon decision was taken that both of these leaders should be ‘expelled’ without any warning, charge sheet or even a right to defence.

The JKLF organisational structure is such that the Head Office in Srinagar or leader of another zone has no right to expel anyone who is member of JKLF UK & Europe. Similarly we in JKLF UK & Europe have no right to expel a member of another zone; and if any member needs to be disciplined or even expelled this right is vested with the Central Committee in Britain, or with the Central Committee of the respective zone.

Constitution of the organisation is very clear on this and there is no ambiguity in this; but despite that a renegade militant was asked to go to London and expel Abbas Butt and Shabir Choudhry. Not only that we were ‘expelled’ by completely ignoring the constitution and democratic ethos of the organisation, but our photos were also shown on Pakistan TV to defame us.

The JKLF Executive Council reacted sharply and in defence of its constitution and ideology refused to accept this illegal action, which was carried out to please secret agencies. Sincere members of the JKLF are disturbed by this division, and they are trying hard to resolve this by having some kind of compromise that the organisation could stay united.

But Secretary General of the organisation Mr Zubbair Ansari says, ‘Differences are not personal. We have very clear ideological differences. We believe in united and independent Kashmir, and regard Jammu, Ladakh and the Valley to be under the occupation of India, and Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir under the occupation of Pakistan. Yasin Malik and his team DOES NOT allow us to speak about the plight of these people, as they fear repercussions. It has become difficult for us to work with these people who only want to liberate Indian side of Kashmir. Our ideological stand is under attack, and if we try to forge an artificial compromise we might have temporary unity, but with time we will surely lose our ideology as we will be asked to compromise on this as well.’

JKLF is lucky to have very talented and dedicated members, and these sincere people are working hard to get a compromised solution in order to get unity, but what they don’t understand is that in every compromise there is give and take. We are prepared to give up our positions, and pass on the JKLF leadership to those who desperately need it, but we are not prepared to make any compromise on our ideological stand, even if that means we have fewer people with us and we are not in good books of those who call shots in the Kashmiri struggle.
Writer is a Chairman of JKLF Diplomatic Committee, and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir. He is also a Spokesman of IKA.

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