Friday, 30 May 2008

Option for Kashmiris

Option for Kashmiris
Shabir Choudhry

I want to express my compliments to Mr Muhammad Suleman (News dated 11 May 2000), for writing a letter with positive attitude. He has advocated Kashmir's accession to Pakistan, and wants to conduct the Kashmiri struggle on religious lines. Like everyone else he is entitled to hold an opinion and advocate it as well.

He knows politically where I stand and I am aware of his political views. Although I differ with him, but his style of writing has pleased me and has enhanced his respect in my heart.

Unlike some, he has not gone out of way to criticise my points or belittle my ideology. All civilised and good people respect views of opponents, and do not make it a personal fight. He feels Kashmir should be a part of Pakistan and I feel this slogan is not right, as it would perpetuate problems of the Kashmiri people; and could possibly lead to a division of the State on communal lines.

I strongly believe that accession is not a viable option, but I do not call those who hold this view as 'traitors' or 'agents'. Similarly those who believe that the State of Jammu and Kashmir should be united and it should become an independent state- a buffer state between both arch rivals, should not be called 'traitors'. These people also have right to hold this view and advocate it as well, if they decide to do so. No labels should be attached to these people just because they hold this view, and it is against the view which is advocated by the Pakistani governments.

We all have right to hold views, we don't have to agree with each other, but we must learn to respect each other's views. Mr Muhammad Suleman wrote: 'It is a fact a majority of people living in Kashmir want to be a part of Pakistan'. I don't know how he established this fact there has not been any election or referendum to determine this. I disagree with his analyses, and yet accept his right to hold this view and would not take this as animosity.

Mr Muhammad Suleman claims that it is in the interest of Kashmiris to become a part of Pakistan. I wonder what interest a non Muslim of Jammu or non Muslim of Ladakh might have in joining Pakistan? It is still not clear if Muslims of these areas or Muslims of the Valley will have more interest in joining Pakistan, after all what attraction is there for them to join Pakistan? In Air Marshall (Ret) Asghar Khan's words: 'if Pakistan was serious about creating conditions for Kashmiris to join Pakistan she should first put her house in order. It is only when Pakistan has been converted into a country of their dreams that the Kashmiris will be motivated to struggle to join it'.

At present what is available in Pakistan or what happens to ordinary people there a lot of Pakistani people are not happy. Thousands have left the country in the past few years, not because of financial reasons, in fact it was because of their financial muscle that they managed to leave Pakistan and settle abroad.

In a situation like this what attraction is there for the people of Kashmir, especially non-Muslim population of Kashmir to opt for Pakistan. In view of this if we insist on accession of the State to Pakistan then in practice we are paving way for division of Kashmir on religious lines. And I can't see this in the interest of the Kashmiri people or for that matter for peace and harmony of South Asia.

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