Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Pakistan shows real face to Kashmiri nationalists

Pakistan shows real face to Kashmiri nationalists
Dr Shabir Choudhry 14 June 2006

Pakistan claims to be a well – wisher of the Kashmiri people and have assumed a role of an ‘advocate’. A lawyer or an advocate is appointed by a client to get justice. In case of Kashmir dispute our self appointed advocate is bent upon depriving its ‘client’ of everything.

This so called ‘advocate’ has already encroached more than 28 thousand square miles of ‘clients’ territory in the form of Gilgit and Baltistan; and has full control over the remaining area on this side of the LOC to exploit its resources. Despite this ‘greed’ and ‘colonial attitude’ this advocate continues to claim that ‘I am your friend, your well wisher and I know what is best for you’.

That is bad as it is, and what adds to the tragedy is that some people of Jammu and Kashmir still think that their ‘advocate’ is doing well, and should be given another chance to represent them. Our ‘advocate’ through effective control of all levers of power and social, political and economic system has, to a large extent, changed thinking of many leaders and other people who live there.

It is through this effective control and manipulation that they have developed this false sense of being ‘azad’ (independent) among many people of Pakistani Administered Kashmir. Because of this ‘brainwashing’ they see what Islamabad wants them to see, and react accordingly to safeguard the interest of Islamabad.

They are encouraged to work for ‘liberation’ and welfare of the people living on the Indian side of the LOC, while completely forgetting their own plight and injustice. People of Gilgit and Baltistan are the ones who lack basic human rights and seriously lack other facilities, yet people are encouraged and in some cases ‘forced’ to ignore their plight.

And logic given out, and in some cases accepted as well, is that by talking of problems of these people we may shift focus from ‘occupied Kashmir’ to Gilgit and Baltistan. In my opinion the best way to keep attention away from these areas is to treat people of these areas as human beings and give them their basic human rights.

At this stage it is important to clarify that I am not speaking against the state of Pakistan, and nor I have anything against people of Pakistan. Focus of my complaint is the ruling elite and not people of Pakistan, who, in many cases are themselves at their mercy and victim of injustice, maltreatment and bad governance.

Whatever problems people of Pakistan have from their rulers they are problems between the rulers and the ruled, who are part of the same country and same nation. When Pakistani governments treat wrongly the people of Gilgit and Baltistan and Pakistani Administered Kashmir, it is taken completely in different light, as these areas are not legally part of Pakistan.

Many political analysts and constitutional experts regard Gilgit and Baltistan as a ‘colony’ of Pakistan; and position of so called ‘Azad Kashmir’ is not much different either. When Pakistani governments talk of rights of Kashmiri people and right of self - determination for the people in ‘held Kashmir’, many non Pakistanis laugh at them because Pakistan is not ready to give basic human rights to Kashmiris living under its control.

One can see the situation from the following example. Pakistan imposed Act 1974 on Azad Kashmir, and Section 7.2 of this Act demands that politicians of Azad Kashmir have to declare that they will be loyal to Pakistan, and everyone who applies to get a job has also to sign on the dotted line. They don’t have to declare their loyalty to Kashmir or people of Azad Kashmir, and those who refuse to sign this ‘sacred paper’ their applications are thrown out.

What this means is that all those who want to be loyal to their motherland, and don’t want to give preference to their neighbour over their motherland, are not eligible to contest elections or to hold any public office.

Pakistani officials wrongly assume that they are making people of this area loyal to Pakistan by thrusting ideology of Pakistan through their throats. What they don’t understand is that there is a great deal of resentment against this move of Pakistan; and one day this simmering resentment will erupt and Pakistani authorities will realise that they have lost trust and goodwill of the Kashmiri people.

This is not to suggest that the Pakistani elites will learn anything from their mistakes. They didn’t even learn anything from the fall of East Pakistan, and shifted the blame to others. They have been consistent with one thing since the creation of Pakistan and that is not to accept mistakes; if there are ‘no mistakes’ then of course there is no question of learning anything from them.

Section 21 of the Act 74 talks about Kashmir Council, and Chairman of this Council is always a Prime Minister of Pakistan, and when the Prime Minister is deported then this role is taken over by ‘Chief Executive’. It is important to note composition of this Council which is as follows:

Azad Kashmir Assembly consists of people who are loyal to Pakistan (those who want to be loyal to Kashmir are not allowed to contest elections), and the Assembly of ‘loyals’ elects six members for the Kashmir Council. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, apart from being Chairman, has a right to select five Pakistanis for council seats. Prime Minister and President of Azad Kashmir are also members of this Council.

So the Kashmir Council, which is supposed to be an Upper House and supposed to run affairs of the government, including ‘liberation’ of the ‘held Kashmir’, has a Pakistani Prime Minister as a Chairman together with five other Pakistanis undemocratically selected by a Pakistani Prime Minister. The remaining members of the Council are also 100% pro Pakistani ‘stooges’.

In order to ensure that Pakistani control here is more than 100%, all senior officials in Azad Kashmir are Pakistanis appointed by Islamabad, for example, Inspector General of Police, Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary etc. On top of this there is the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs that guarantees smooth running of this little ‘colony’.

No wonder everything goes according to Islamabad’s plans in this part of the world, and as soon as they see some signs of resentment, a carefully planned system is activated to deal with it. For example, if some one speaks or writes against this injustice, he will be soon declared as ‘anti Pakistan’, an ‘Indian agent’, ‘atheist’ etc. Not only government official agencies, NGOs and pro Pakistan parties will speak against this person, some people with a ‘nationalist hat’ will also join this ‘jihad’.

One can see from the above what azadi or independence this area enjoys. President Karazai of Afghanistan generally regarded as a ‘poodle’ of America, has more power than President and Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir put together. In this ‘independent land’ a drama of elections is going to be staged on 11th July. Many pro independent leaders who believe that they are ill treated, and that this stipulation which demands them to be loyal to Pakistan is unfair and unjust, decided to contest elections. Some of them crossed that clause and others didn’t but without any ‘discrimination’ papers of all such leaders were rejected.

And yet Pakistani governments have nerve to speak on behalf of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and demand rights for the people of Jammu and Kashmir living on the Indian side of the LOC. Many people ask, morally what right Pakistan has to act on our behalf or to speak about rights of the people when they are not willing to give same rights to people living under its control.

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:

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