Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Karachi Pact and its implications

The Karachi Pact and its implications Text of presentation made by Dr Shabir Choudhry in a seminar organised by British Kashmiris and monthly ‘Kashmir Insight’ under the title of ‘Erosion of State Subject in Gilgit and Baltistan’. The Karachi Pact and its implicationsDr Shabir Choudhry Email: drshabirchoudhry@googlemail.com Mr Chair and friends Aslamo Alayakam On 27 of last month I was in Geneva to participate in UN Human Rights Commission, where I spoke about illegal and forced upraising of the Mangla Dam. Even before my departure to Geneva I was ‘advised’ or more appropriately cautioned not to speak about areas on this side of the LOC, and only concentrate on human rights violations on the Indian side of the divide? Those who know me also know that I don’t take dictation of any kind from any one. Once in Geneva I said what I thought was right, and for which JKLF Central Committee fully authorised me. Soon after speaking in the UN Human Rights Commission on the issue of the Mangla Dam it was clear that I will have to pay a price for this ‘disobedience’. And within a week of that speech I paid a political price. Today is 27th April and I am here, in Bradford, England, to deliver my speech on a sensitive issue of Karachi Pact and Gilgit and Baltistan. I wonder what price I will have to pay for this, but whatever the price my struggle will continue.
Mr Chair and friends From historical, legal and constitutional point of view the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan are part of State of Jammu and Kashmir. As this point had been proved by different historical documents, including UN Resolutions on Kashmir, court decrees and maps, I don’t need to spend time to prove this point any further. However I would urge people to call this region with its official name which is Gilgit and Baltistan; and not Northern Areas, as this name was given by Pakistani authorities with imperialistic motive behind it. The name ‘Northern Areas of Pakistan’ implies that this region belongs to Pakistan; and increasingly Pakistani authorities are asserting their claim over the territory by saying that the people of the area acceded to Pakistan soon after its ‘liberation’. Of course this is a white lie, and there is no evidence to prove this false claim of Pakistan. The people of State of Jammu and Kashmir are very unfortunate. Despite having written history going back to many centuries and despite being most intelligent with unique sense of tolerance and coexistence, they are forcibly divided, oppressed and deprived of basic human rights. This is a general statement to explain the situation of Kashmiris as a whole, but when we analyse the plight of Kashmiris in different regions, perhaps the people of Gilgit and Baltistan are the most unfortunate and deprived people with no basic human rights, even in 21st Century. And this fact is even acknowledged by a Pakistani Think Tank, Institute of Policy Studies, in its recent report in the following words: ‘People in the Gilgit and Baltistan region of the old princely State of Jammu and Kashmir are still living in doldrums’. We need to look at causes of their miseries and see how we can help to improve quality of their lives. If history of the Kashmir dispute after the Cease Fire of I January 1949, is critically analysed, then one reaches this conclusion, that the present suffering of Kashmiris in general and suffering of people of Gilgit and Baltistan in particular, are directly linked to the agreement which is known as the Karachi Pact. It is claimed that this agreement was signed between the following: 1. Honourable Mushtaque Ahmed Gurmani, Minister without Portfolio, Government of Pakistan.2. Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim Khan, the president of Azad Kashmir.3. Choudhry Ghulam Abbas, Head of All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference. This Agreement was signed between Pakistan and Azad Kashmir Governments in March 1949; but it is interesting to note that Sradar Ibrahim Khan has more than once declared that he didn’t sign this Agreement. During his visit to Britain as a part of Kashmir Committee delegation, which was headed by Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, Sardar Ibrahim Khan said to us, ‘Please do not blame me for this sin; I did not sign it; and I want to clear my name while I am alive.’ Then question is if he has not signed it, then who did? Or his he just denying this to clear his name from evil affects of this Agreement? Anyway the text of the Agreement is as follows: Text of the Agreement A. Matters within the purview of the Government of Pakistan. 1. Defence (as modified under....).2. Foreign policy of Azad Kashmir.3. Negotiations with the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan.4. Publicity in foreign countries and in Pakistan.5. Co - ordination and arrangement of relief and rehabilitation of refugees.6. Co - ordination of publicity in connection with plebiscite.7. All activities within Pakistan regarding Kashmir such as procurement of food, civil supplies running of refugee camps and medical aid.8. All affairs of Gilgit - Ladakh under the control of Political Agent. B. Matters within the purview of Azad Kashmir Government. 1. Policy with regard to administration of AK territory.2. General supervision of administration in AK territory.3. Publicity with regard to the activities of the Azad Kashmir Government and administration.4. Advice to the honourable Minister without Portfolio with regard to negotiations with United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan.5. Development of economic resources of AK territory. C. Matters within the purview of the Muslim Conference. 1. Publicity with regard to plebiscite in the AK territory.2. Field work and publicity in the Indian occupied area of the State.3. Organisation of political activities in the AK territory and the Indian occupied area of the State.4. Preliminary arrangements in connection with the plebiscite. 5. Organisation for contesting the plebiscite.6. Political work and publicity among the Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan. 7. Advise the honourable minister without Portfolio with regard to the negotiations with the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan. It must be noted that both Sardar Ibrahim and Choudhry Ghulam Abbas belonged to the Muslim Conference, a party which had close links with Muslim League of Pakistan, and in many quarters it was regarded as a puppet of Muslim League. This was the only Kashmiri political party on this side of the Cease Fire Line at that time, and the Agreement it was persuaded to sign, very seriously limited the role of Azad Kashmir Government in the Kashmiri freedom struggle. Therefore it is no surprise that respective governments of Azad Kashmir have very little or no role in the freedom of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. If we look at the text carefully there is hardly any role for the Government of Azad Kashmir. Its role is strictly limited to administration of Azad Kashmir; and has no say in resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Also through this agreement Azad Kashmir government practically abandoned areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, and left them at the mercy of Pakistani administrators. In other words Pakistan was given free hand to deal with areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, and also given free hand to project and deal with the Kashmir dispute as it suited national interest of Pakistan. With regard to resolution of the Kashmir dispute, the Azad Kashmir government and Azad Kashmiri leaders had advisory role only, and even this was only in theory, and in practice Pakistani governments did what they thought was right, and from time to time briefed them on the progress or lack of it. It is because of this that unfortunate people of Gilgit and Baltistan have no legal status. They are neither a province of Pakistan nor a part of "Azad Kashmir". They are ruled directly from Islamabad through a Northern Areas Council which is headed by Pakistan’s Minister for Kashmir Affairs. An Islamabad-appointed chief executive, (normally a retired Pakistani military officer), is the local administrative head. The Northern Areas Council meets only when Pakistan’s Minister for Kashmir Affair convenes it. People of the area are deprived of their basic human rights. The following data will help to understand the situation there: • There is no university in Gilgit and Baltistan, area more than 28,000 square miles;• No professional colleges; • The government has set up only 12 high schools and two regional colleges with no post graduate facilities;• Literacy rate is very low: adult literacy is 14 per cent for males and 3.5 per cent for women;• Even when local people get their qualifications, they find it extremely difficult to get government jobs; and if after rigorous tests and ‘favours’ they are employed, they are paid 25 per cent less than non-native entrants from Pakistan; • There are no local daily papers;• No local radio stations;• No local television stations;• According to the most recently available data, there is just one doctor for 6,000 people;• Piped water supply is virtually non-existent;• And two thirds of the population has no electricity in an area where winters are extremely harsh. The economy of the area is mainly agriculture, but since much of the land is held by a small minority of very privileged landlords, who are supported by Pakistani backed administration, small farmers suffer and in some cases are forced to sell their land to these land lords. And absence of democratic and civil rights has allowed the feudallords to dominate the society. It is understandable that perpetuation of the feudal system is in the interest of the Pakistani administrators, and they would ensure that their puppets in the society continue to dominate. As a result of all this, the majority of the people live in sheer misery. To add to the misery and suffering of the people, authorities encourage communal violence. According to K2, Gilgit and Baltistan's only weekly paper which was closed down by the authorities carried the following head line: 'Sarzamin-Be-Ain Ki Awaz' (the voice of the constitution-less): ‘One of the biggest obstacles faced by the people of Gilgit-Baltistan has been the systematic campaign of terror and discrimination waged against the region's Shia population. Shia’s who comprised over 75% of the original inhabitants of the land now risk being outnumbered due to the continuous settling of non-locals (mostly Punjabis) in the region, who now make up almost 40% of the territories' population’. Also the Karachi Agreement has done serious damage to fabrics of the Kashmiri society by creating an artificial gulf between people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan, hence alienating them. The idea of Pakistani authorities was to keep people of these two units separate that they lose sense of belonging to a nation; and in this ‘crime’ Azad Kashmiri leadership is also equally responsible. These are some of the ‘rewards’ of the Karachi Agreement on the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan. There is no time to analyse its impact on the area of Azad Kashmir, and on the Kashmir dispute itself. However, perhaps it would be sufficient to say that it is because of this evil agreement that despite loss of more than 50 thousand lives, loss of honour of respectable ladies, imprisonment of thousands of innocent people and destruction of property and economy, in the eyes of the international community, the Kashmir dispute is still a dispute between India and Pakistan which has to be resolved bilaterally. I, therefore, urge this gathering to demand and actively work against abolition of this agreement that people of Gilgit and Baltistan could have some relief; and the Kashmiri leaders could present their own case at the international level. Thank you for your patience. Dr Shabir Choudhry• Chairman Diplomatic Committee JKLU UK & Europe• Spokesman for International Kashmir Alliance• Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs

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