Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Emma Nicholson’s Kashmir report and ‘Pakistan’s image’.

Emma Nicholson’s Kashmir report and ‘Pakistan’s image’.
Dr Shabir Choudhry 21 May 2007

A prominent Azad Kashmiri leader, known for his pro Pakistan policies, has declared that we Kashmiri’s must oppose Baroness Emma Nicholson’s Kashmir report in order to ‘save Pakistan’s image’. Previously we were told that we had to oppose it because it was against the interests of the Kashmiri people, perhaps a goal post has been shifted to maintain the momentum of the anti report lobby.

When we talk of Pakistan’s image a number of images come to mind, and most, if not all, are created by Pakistanis themselves; and some of them are not very pleasant for those who love Pakistan and want to see the country to prosper and advance in the comity of nations.

One such image was created when a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was summoned and practically ‘sacked’ by the President in military uniform, another image was created on 12th May 2007 in Karachi when events of Nazi Germany looked trivial in comparison. One was created when a madrassa and a mosque were bombed in Wana killing 82 innocent people most of them children, and when 7 mosques were demolished in Islamabad; and totally different image was portrayed when a Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) and library was taken – over (in Islamabad) by Islamic fundamentalists who wanted to declare their own Islamic laws which were contrary to the existing laws of Pakistan. Another image was created in October 1999 when Pakistan army once again invaded its Capitol and democratically elected Prime Minister was imprisoned and later deported.

Many images were created before and after this date, and if I start explaining each image the list will become too long; and it will also annoy my Pakistani friends who love to verbally abuse me and give threats just because I criticise Pakistani duplicity on Kashmir. That aside it is not clear which image of Pakistan needs to be saved, enhanced and promoted or some say ‘exported’. The honourable Kashmiri leader and champion of Pakistani interest should clarify this point.

Once it is clear which image of Pakistan should be saved then Pakistan loving Kashmiris will do everything to ‘save’ that ‘image’, even if some Pakistanis try to tarnish it, or try to harm Pakistan in some other way, for example, by not allowing to construct dams inside Pakistan to meet water and energy requirements of Pakistan, we Kashmiris will uproot our families and graves of our love ones and build dams for Pakistan be it in Mirpur, Diamer or somewhere else.

Also if some Pakistanis try to damage Pakistan in some other way we will sacrifice everything to protect Pakistan, we are repeatedly told that Kashmiri people have sacrificed thousands of lives, honour and dignity of our women and lost a generation because we are desperate to become part of Pakistan. Pakistani officials know that in this global village, Kashmiris also know what goes on in Pakistan and what is happening to people in Balochistan and Wazirstan, and to all those who oppose anti democratic policies of Pakistani government, and despite this these officials expect people to believe that Kashmiris want to become part of this society at all costs.

When this is thrusted down our throats they don’t even think for a moment that many Pakistani groups who are already part of the Pakistani federation are eager to leave it, because their identities and rights are not protected in that federation, and situation is getting worse with time. In other words there is no attraction for any sensible person, group, or a nation to become part of a country which is ‘at war’ with each other and future of which, despite boasts of Pakistani officials doesn’t look very bright.

In my opinion Baroness Emma Nicholson has no intention of tarnishing Pakistan’s image. I together with Abbas Butt and Dr Azad Malik had a detailed meeting with Emma Nicholson a few days ago. We know she wants Pakistan to do well and flourish with pluralistic society and democratic institutions, but for that Pakistani leaders have to seriously and sincerely work hard to sort out problems of Pakistan rather than putting them under the carpet.

She said she sincerely wanted to help people of Jammu and Kashmir. She personally visited both sides of the LOC and saw suffering of the people, and this misery and suffering had great impact on her. In a reply to this allegation that her report was pro India, she said, she met officials of both countries, listened to pro India and pro Pakistan Kashmiris, but wrote down what was in the best interest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

There is no need for me to be either pro India and or pro Pakistan, she said. What people should understand is that I wrote that report as a British and European politician who strongly believes in democratic and fundamental rights of people. Through out this process I was neither pro or anti any government, I was pro people and pro peace. The report had to make sense to all members of 27 countries, which are part of the EU, and many of them had limited knowledge on the situation of Kashmir.

She said all her efforts are to ensure that people of Jammu and Kashmir get their basic human rights on both sides of the LOC, and that there is peace and stability not only in the Jammu and Kashmir but also in the entire region. Baroness Emma Nicholson was confident that the report would go through, because it is very balanced and pro people report, the question is with what margin it will be accepted. She would like the report to be accepted by a big margin to ensure that her future plans of helping people could be implemented with full support of different institutions of the EU.

A number of different reports produced by different prominent NGOs, including one by House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, have criticised Pakistan, and instead of acknowledging, at least some of their mistakes and putting their house in order Pakistani brothers have habit of accusing others and calling it a conspiracy. This attitude has to change if Pakistan is to progress and earn positive reputation in the world.

In civilised and developed world all departments, institutions and employees go through a rigorous appraisal to see what has been achieved and what went wrong where targets were not met. In case of failure alternative strategies are planned and resources are made available. Why is it that a system of self - appraisal is not put in practise to see success and failure, instead of accusing others of conspiracies and being ‘anti Pakistan’.

If for example, someone talk or criticise what goes on in Pakistan, immediately the person concerned is labelled as being ‘anti Pakistan’ and a part of some conspiracy. This behaviour is not helping Pakistan to win friends.

As for opposing Emma Nicholson’s report in order to ‘save image of Pakistan’ is concerned I would like to point out that all those who are loyal sons of soil, and those who believe in fundamental rights of people must have first loyalty to their oppressed and forcibly divided nation. They must be loyal to their homeland - Kashmir, and they must be concerned to resolve problems of their homeland in which people are suffering on both sides of the LOC.

If on the other hand some one is more loyal to his neighbour, (Pakistan is our neighbouring country) and wants to oppose a pro Kashmir report just to please rulers of our neighbouring country then that speaks volumes about his misplaced loyalty and commitment. I am sure honourable MEPs, while considering this highly valuable and pro people report, which can have great positive impact on future generations of Kashmir, will take this point on board.

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

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