Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Baggage of JKLF is too heavy

Baggage of JKLF is too heavy
Dr Shabir Choudhry 08 May 2008

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front is a sacred name for some, as they sacrificed their lives and everything else they valued in name of JKLF. They did that to promote the name of JKLF believing that they were doing this for a good cause and for the betterment of their divided and oppressed nation.

But there are many who disagree with this. They believe that the JKLF has brought them trouble, destruction and misery, and is root cause of problems of the people of Jammu and Kashmir since 1988.

I am among those who, despite the baggage JKLF is carrying, proudly claimed to be member of this party, and furthermore claimed to be among those who helped to form this party in Britain in 1977. Like thousands of others I have also suffered for this party and have done everything possible to promote true ideology of the JKLF.

Despite our sincere efforts to reunite the party and sacrifices, fact however remains that the JKLF is divided in to different factions; and allegation is – and which is widely believed and true to large extent that top leaders of some groups have compromised JKLF ideology and are advancing agenda of secret agencies of our occupiers.

These JKLF leaders are accused of tuning and maligning their ideology to suit national interest of Pakistan, and have practically signed away their independence to advance cause of united and independent Kashmir. Their strategy was not to unite and liberate divided State of Jammu and Kashmir but to advance such policies which suited Pakistani agencies, aim of which was not independence of Jammu and Kashmir but to ‘Keep India bleeding’ and ‘Keep India engaged’.

That policy worked as planned – India not only bled but has been ‘engaged’ since 1989, but in return we Kashmiris have also bled and got trampled and oppressed. For this policy people of Jammu and Kashmir had to pay through their noses, but this ‘struggle’ has made new millionaires in Jammu and Kashmir.

In this ‘struggle’ which started in name of independence and spearheaded by JKLF with money and guns provided to them by Pakistani agencies resulted in fiasco. It tore apart fabrics of the Kashmiri society and started an era of intimidation, oppression and gun culture. People of Jammu and Kashmir were targeted by all sides: they faced wrath of Indian army and security services, they were trained and victimised by Pakistani secret agencies and worse of all they were killed and intimidated by militants as well.

In this struggle we have lost a generation. Thousands of people are still unaccounted for. Thousands of people are still languishing in jails. It is regrettable that we lost so many sons of soil. It is also regrettable that instead of bringing hope and new dreams to people of Jammu and Kashmir, APHC leadership and leadership of JKLF have brought disappointment, misery and destruction. And tragedy is that we are not any closer to independence.

My colleagues and I realised in 1991/2 that things were not in control of JKLF Chairman, Amanullah Khan, and that he was only pretending to be in charge. We challenged him and asked him to reveal who was calling shots in name of Kashmiri struggle; and who was communalising our struggle. JKLF claimed to work for a liberal and democratic society but its Chairman believed in kind of democracy promoted by General Musharaf of Pakistan. Like Musharaf he was a dictator to the core and did not allow free discussion or accountability and result was many splits in the JKLF. Like General Musharaf, in frustration Amanullah Khan also took extra – constitutional act and dissolved most effective and powerful JKLF Zone in Britain, hence our separate way from then onwards.

We continued our struggle to correct ills of JKLF and bring accountability and transparency within the JKLF ranks. We wanted the party to reflect true ideology of JKLF, and represent all people of Jammu and Kashmir and not only Muslims of the State or some of its districts. While this struggle was going on we saw release of Yasin Malik from Indian prison and hoped that he would be better than Amanullah Khan.

We are all entitled to have dreams and hopes; it is the ‘job’ of these leaders to ensure that these dreams DONOT become reality. If Amanullah Khan was and is like General Musharaf of JKLF then surely Yasin Malik is like General Yayya Khan. Both believed in their own brand of democracy and human rights, both dislike accountability and democracy within the party, in fact, both don’t like party to flourish or expand. Both want to liberate the Valley or at least disrupt normal life there, especially around election time with the help of Pakistani agencies; and both want to be Chairman for life and strongly oppose dissent.

Yasin Malik went in prison as a militant with a gun in his hand and came out as a polished leader preaching peace and non violence, as if he was not in a prison but on some academic course dealing with violence and media management. We hoped that the party will benefit from his experience and will help to bring some positive changes to the JKLF and will help to resolve the Kashmir dispute according to the expressed wishes of the people.

We tried and tried hard, but we were not completely successful in our endeavours to unite different groups of the JKLF and make it vibrant and democratic force. However our efforts helped to educate people and they started asking questions from these two for life ‘chairmans’. My colleagues, especially Abbas Butt and Zubair Ansari strongly advocated formation of a new party, as in their opinion it was waste of time trying to correct ills of JKLF. In their view it was impossible task when Yasin Malik and Amanullah Khan have emerged as big figures of the JKLF groups and when their sole aim is to maintain the status quo.

I was not in favour of abandoning the JKLF, as I had emotional ties with the party. Like many others I have also given my youth and enormous time to promote cause of the party, its aims and objectives are in my blood - it is a product of our struggle. If I had given same amount of time, effort and dedication and used my talent to promote cause of another party then I could have been in Parliament long time ago, but that was not my objective.

In our JKLF we respected dissent and views of all colleagues. Even though majority agreed with the idea of a new party, no decision was taken in its favour because I disagreed and my colleagues respected that. Our commitment to each other was that we will remain together and work together.

We had close contacts with senior leaders of both Yasin Malik and Amanullah Khan groups of JKLF. Like us they were also worried about the situation in the party, and what was being done in name of JKLF, but they didn’t have control over it and they lacked courage and political will to challenge them.

Last year some of them assured us that if we form another party they will side with us, but they cannot support us if we continue with the name of JKLF. I was still fighting my corner against formation of a new party. My view was that JKLF is not private party or estate of Amanullah Khan or Yasin Malik, and by us abandoning the party we are giving them a free hand.

But all this changed last month when I met some Kashmiris from the Valley. They spoke against practices of the JKLF cadres in name of the struggle, especially what they did in early years of the struggle to Muslims and non Muslims alike. If army commit human rights abuse they do it under the cover of ‘imposing government writ’. They kill, intimidate, torture and imprison people; and in some cases rape women but if same is practised by the so called ‘freedom fighters’ then what is the difference between them?

This is a separate topic which needs special attention and cannot be dealt here. I was told that many Muslims and especially non Muslims hated the JKLF, as it is viewed as a ‘mercenary organisation’ advancing agenda of secret agencies. This Kashmiri Muslim from the Valley said, ‘the baggage of JKLF is too heavy for you to carry and make any notable progress.’

I am, at last, persuaded that it is time to say good bye to the JKLF which abandoned its ideology, which communalised Kashmiri politics and which advanced non Kashmiri agenda. Baggage and stigma of JKLF is of course too heavy to carry. If some JKLF members still think they can make positive contribution to the cause of unification and independence of the State when leaders like Amanullah Khan and Yasin Malik are heading these JKLF groups then good luck to them; however if they feel time has come to say good bye to it and make a new start then they are welcome.

Writer is a Kashmiri political activist and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email: drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com

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