Thursday, 29 May 2008

Another “friendly act” of Pakistan Government.

Another “friendly act” of Pakistan Government.
Shabir Choudhry
Successive Pakistani governments claim that they are the best friends of the Kashmiri people, and that Kashmir belongs to Pakistan. Majority of Pakistani and a large section of the Kashmiri community also believe this. Of course there are many who believe that Pakistan has her own agenda and welfare of the Kashmiri people is not on their agenda; or at least it is not on top of their agenda.

There are many ways of looking at the relationship between the Pakistani governments and the Kashmiri people. It is not possible to analyse everything in this short article, but I would like to point the most recent act of “friendship” carried out by the government of Pakistan.

Before we look at that I would like to re - fresh the memories of the readers about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Pakistan is a signatory. Article 19 of the Declaration reads:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

In other words it is basic human right to hold opinions and ideas, and these opinions and ideas could be passed on to other people. Any government, which tries to stop any person from holding opinions and ideas, or stop him to pass these to other people, is in direct breach of Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It hurts more if this human rights violation is committed by a government which claims to be the best “friend” and “well wisher” of the people.

Maqbool Butt Shaheed, often known as Shaheed E Kashmir, is the father of the Kashmiri independence struggle; and if Kashmir becomes independent he won’t be any less popular than Jinnah and Nehru. Every Kashmiri, irrespective of political ideologies, respect Maqbool Butt, because he has become a symbol of the Kashmiri nation.

Not long ago a book named Shaur – E -Farda was published in Azad Kashmir, Pakistani controlled Kashmir. This book was compiled by Mohammed Saeed Asad, and consists of letters written by Maqbool Butt between 1960 and 1983. The Pakistan authorities have banned this book. The reason given for the ban is that in the book “an attempt is being made to promote nationalist feelings amongst Kashmiris of AK”

This order was made on 21 August 1998 by Section Officer Fazal Hussain, and the order no is 2/10/98- Security.IIX. It is very clear from the notice that any literature which promotes nationalist feelings amongst Kashmiris is a sin in the eyes of the Pakistan Government. This ban will also apply to theose Kashmiris who want to speak about the rights of the Kashmiri people including the most important and fundamental right of self- determination. This explains the love and care the Pakistani bureaucrats have for the Kashmiri people and for their struggle for freedom. It is true Pakistani officials pay a lot of lip service to the cause of Kashmir and go from country to country to claim that they are the champions of the Kashmir cause. But at home, in the Pakistani occupied Kashmir and Azad Kashmir, they are not even prepared to let letters published of the most loved Kashmiri leader. What hypocrisy?

The Government of Pakistan by banning this book has breached Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This action must be condemned by all those who believe in the right of free speech and individuals right to hold opinions and promote those opinions without any interference.

By doing the Government of Pakistan has given very clear message to Kashmiris – and that message is stop thinking yourself as Kashmiris or else you will be punished. It is also clear that the authorities had little care for the sentiments of the Kashmmiri people. Can the Kashmiri people still say that the Government of Pakistan is our friend and that they can represent us whenever there is a dialogue on Kashmir.
Shabir Choudhry, London

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