Thursday, 29 May 2008

Final Round of the Kashmiri Struggle

Final Round of the Kashmiri Struggle
Shabir Choudhry, London

Present borders of the State of Jammu and Kashmir were drawn as a result of the war between India and Pakistan in 1947/8. Since that the State is effectively divided between both countries, and despite wars and the UN resolutions there has not been any progress in resolving the Kashmir dispute. Kashmir is still forcibly divided and people are oppressed and deprived of their basic rights.

Pakistan and India also desire to change the present boundaries of the State because of their national interests- both want Kashmir to be part of their country, but the Kashmiris want to see this change for completely different reasons. Unification of Kashmir is directly related to their survival, their well- being and to preserve their history, culture and identity.

The Kashmiri people have made huge sacrifices for unification and independence of Kashmir; some may claim that all this was done to accede to Pakistan. But let there be no allusions that given a choice people of Kashmir would not like to be part of any country be it India or Pakistan. They may under a situation pretend to favour a particular point of view in order to get the required help and support, but deep inside their hearts is a burning desire to preserve their national identity, culture and historic heritage which would be diluted in case of any merger with another country.

Amir Jamat e Islami Ghulam Ahmed Bhat’s recent statement that Jamat is not fighting for Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan is another evidence to prove the point. And those who are still in any allusion would be shocked to see the outcome of the referendum if and when it takes place.

After waiting for decades to get their right of self-determination, and after exhausting all peaceful means, the people of Kashmir introduced a new form of struggle to draw attention of the world community. They were deeply disappointed that the world community did not help the innocent Kashmiri people in their pursuit for independence. Despite UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir which clearly state that Kashmir is a disputed territory, for many world leaders Kashmir was a close chapter. It appeared that both India and Pakistan also decided to settle for the status quo. It was under this situation the people of Kashmir decided to pick up gun to fight for independence and unification of the State; and tell the world that the Kashmir dispute was still not resolved and that it must be given immediate attention.

The people of Kashmir were, once again, disappointed to note that the world community did not pay the attention their struggle deserved. More than 70 thousand people lost their lives, hundreds of women were raped, thousands were put behind bars without any charges and hundreds became victims of custodial killings. Despite these gross human rights violations not much was done to change the situation in Kashmir, if anything, over the years the government of India managed to influence the world opinion with her scientific propaganda war.

India’s propaganda machinery got fuel by mistakes of our ‘friends’ and ‘sympathisers’. It is largely due to our ' non -Kashmiri Jihadi brothers', and waves of fundamentalist and communal events {no matter who committed them}, that the perception of the Kashmiri struggle appeared to the world as a 'fundamentalist movement', and not Kashmiri peoples struggle for independence.

A genuine Kashmiri struggle was perceived to be taken over by the 'jihadi groups', who had different agenda to those who started the struggle in 1988/9. The government of India was quick to exploit the situation, and some irresponsible statements by some of the 'jihadi groups provided India the required ammunition to attack and tarnish the freedom struggle. The role of various Pakistani governments was also not up to the mark, and combined with other factors the government of India, despite gross human rights violations, managed to win the propaganda war.

As a result of this the world outside still consider Kashmir as a bilateral dispute which had to be resolved by bueauracrates of New Delhi and Islamabad. Governments of India and Pakistan always disagree with each other on every issue but strangely both agree to ensure that the people of Kashmir are not part of any negotiations on Kashmir. In other words even though it is the Kashmiri people who are the principal party to the dispute and they are also the suffering party, but they should not be part of any talks which concerns their future.

This, what one might say, is a system of justice under New World Order. India and Pakistan, whatever system of justice and fair -play they have for their own people, had no intention of providing justice to the people of Kashmir. And now that they have support of ‘champions of human rights and freedom’, India and Pakistan feel that their respective claims over Kashmir have got extra boost; and they can settle the Kashmir issue without giving too much consideration to the wishes of the people.

The Kashmiri leadership and people of Kashmir have to work out a strategy in light of above bitter facts. India and Pakistan have worked out strategies on Kashmir, which to an extent suits their national interests; but unfortunately the Kashmiri leadership has not even begun to formulate a national policy. And while thinking and formulating a national policy, the Kashmiri leadership must keep in mind that what is in the national interest of India and Pakistan may not be in the national interest of State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Through out our struggle and despite enormous problems and sever challenges, we the people of Kashmir have managed to keep our head above water; and now that we are in the final round of our struggle we must be on guards to ensure that nothing goes wrong. We need to ensure that we are not ‘sold off’ to safeguard economic and strategic interests of India and Pakistan; and of course regional, economic and strategic interests of other interested parties.

Whereas we want India and Pakistan to flourish economically and we want peace and stability in the region, but that must not be achieved at price of our freedom; as any peace or stability obtained by making cosmetic changes to the Kashmir dispute and redrawing a new LOC would not be lasting. It may serve immediate interests of India and Pakistan, and interests of other interested parties, but it would not bring much desired peace in South Asia.
Writer is a Kashmiri leader based in UK and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir.

No comments: