Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Does JKLF need a face – lift?

Does JKLF need a face – lift?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 16 June 2006

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front became a household name in early 1990s. Millions of people of Jammu and Kashmir were attracted to its ideology, and they thought, at last, we have a party and ideology which could help them to get their destination – destination being unification and independence of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir were not so lucky, as the senior leadership of the JKLF could not arise to the occasion. They lacked skills and know how which were desperately needed to take the organisation forward to meet new challenges. Perhaps, apart from some beautiful slogans, they had no plan and strategy for independence of the State; and were not big enough to accept their limitations.

Lack of preparedness and lack of required wisdom and skills resulted in this leadership 'creating' splits and crises to claim look 'I am fighting at so many fronts'; and then keep different nationalist groups busy fighting each other that they don't realise their weakness and some what misplaced loyalty and blurred vision about future. Their objective perhaps was not independence of the State, but to feather their nests by flying the kite of nationalism and independence. Perhaps they have achieved what they wanted; they have got name and fame and a life style which they could even dream of.

I am not jealous that they have cut out a space and fortune for themselves. However I am disgusted because they have bartered away our ideology, our organisation and future of entire Jammu and Kashmir for the sake of some petty benefits and projection.

After making deals with secret agencies they have transformed the JKLF ideology in to such a fluid like state that it fits in to any container imposed by India and Pakistan. And what hurts sincere and dedicated JKLF workers is that after making JKLF ideology so flexible and submissive merchandise these senior leaders still claim to be champions of Kashmiri ‘nationalism’.

Whatever I have said above is not my opinion, rather this view is held by true nationalists in different parts of the State, and beyond the boundaries of Jammu and Kashmir. Some dedicated and true nationalists, after deep frustration, decided to stay at home; others decided to fight back and tried to ‘purify’ the ideology, but they faced uphill struggle, as agencies and media wanted to uphold ‘supremacy’ of their chosen ‘leaders’.

There is a widespread resentment in all JKLF groups and some individuals are in touch with me to share their concerns and to analyse which way the nationalist movement was going. Some members of other nationalist groups and those who after disillusionment decided to call it a day are also liaising with like minded people.

Purpose of all this activity is to see how to ‘safeguard’ the ideology of the JKLF and put the nationalist movement back on the track. Apart from me other JKLF leaders in UK were also contacted by some people with a view of forming a future strategy; and with that in mind JKLF called a Central Committee meeting last Sunday.

Zubair Ul Haq Ansari who was one of the founders of the JKLF, and Secretary General of the organisation before I took over in 1985, analysed the problems faced by the JKLF and the nationalist movement. While addressing the Central Committee he said, ‘the JKLF ideology was compromised in 1987/8 before the start of militancy. The Chairman of JKLF, after his deportation from England, aligned himself with secret agencies of Pakistan to start militancy on the other side. This was a clear violation of the JKLF constitution as our revolutionary party was not supposed to become a tool of a secret agency of one country to start armed struggle against the other. The moment this deal was concluded, JKLF’s independence was compromised, as ability of the organisation to make independent decisions was curtailed.’

He further said, ‘Both Amanullah Khan and Yasin Malik have betrayed away the JKLF ideology after making secret deals with the agencies. It is because of wrong policies of the leadership that the JKLF is in many groups and despite loss of thousands of lives there is no progress on the issue of Kashmir, as the Kashmir dispute is still seen as a bilateral issue which has to be resolved by India and Pakistan.’

In order to strengthen his point that these leaders have abandoned the JKLF ideology, he said, ‘Role of JKLF on the Pakistani side of the LOC was to struggle against abolition of Act 74, the Karachi Pact, and reformation of Azad Kashmir Forces and Revolutionary government of 4th October; and they have miserably failed to speak about these issues. They have also failed to speak about miseries of affected people of Mangla dam and its illegal upraising, proposed construction of Bahsha dam and for rights of the people of Gilgit and Baltistan.’

His contention was that both leaders have tarnished the name and ideology of the JKLF, and in view of many nationalists the JKLF is playing in hands of the agencies. He said with this ‘baggage’ – tarnished name and ideology -and with this leadership Kashmiri nationalists could not make any progress for unification and independence of the State. He said, ‘in view of the prevailing situation we have three choices: 1/ either we call it a day and sit at home, and let them destroy everything; 2/ we stand up and reorganise different factions of JKLF; 3/ work with a new name.’

This powerful speech influenced many minds in the audience. Nazam Bhatti and Abbas Butt, Senior Vice President and President respectively, also supported the views expressed by Zubair Ansari, but they added that ‘it was becoming difficult to continue working with the JKLF name because despite our hard work and sincerity other nationalists look at us with suspicions because of compromises made by these two leaders.’

They strongly recommended that we should work with a new name as the ‘name of JKLF was carrying a big baggage. Ideology was more important than the organisational name. Organisation is just a vehicle to advance our cause, and when that very name becomes an obstacle in advancing the ideology in its true perspective then it is better to change the name.’

Like many other people I have given more than thirty two years of my life in advancing the cause of an independent Kashmir; I have also worked very hard and very sincerely for the JKLF since 1977. JKLF is my ‘bank balance’ and despite its ‘baggage’ and groupings, JKLF and its struggle is part of my life. I hate to abandon this name which is so close to my heart, and for which I have suffered so much, but tide in the Central Committee was not in my favour.

Masoom Ansari also opposed the change of name but the majority view was that we should change the name. However it was unanimously agreed that we should set up our structure in all parts of the state and seriously consider changing name of the organisation.

As I was not mentally ready to accept the change of name I proposed to set up a committee to look in to this. The central Committee agreed with this proposal and three member committee consisting of Zubair Ansari, Abbas Butt and myself was set up to liaise with other like minded people in all parts of the state, and report back within six weeks.

Once again politically I am at a cross road. In the past faced with a cross road I chose to stick to my principle and did not side with those who were powerful but were on a wrong path; and in view of some old friends I made wrong turnings, as politics of commitment does not ‘pay back’. I don’t know what to do and which turning I should take, as the cross road is not sign posted.

Writer is Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs, Spokesman IKA and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at: drshabirchoudhry@hotmail.com

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