Friday, 30 May 2008

Political offensive of IKA

Political offensive of IKA
By Dr Shabir Choudhry

International Kashmir Alliance known as IKA will be one year old in April, but despite being newcomer in the turbulent politics of Kashmir, it has made tremendous contribution to the cause of Kashmir by highlighting the Kashmir dispute in its right perspective. It has also emerged as an alliance which seriously and sincerely believes in rights of the people of Kashmir.

IKA leaders have long history of being pro people and pro peace and they have championed the cause of Kashmiris right of self - determination from different platforms and at various international forums. They spoke of unification and independence of the State and rights of the people when it was not fashionable, and there were no financial and political rewards for projecting this ideology.

IKA leaders identified in early 1970s that ‘Kashmir Ka Waris’ are the people of Kashmir, meaning that Kashmir belongs to the people of Kashmir. They spoke against Jihadi forces and their actions in Kashmir when it was politically suicidal to do so, and to raise a voice against them was tantamount to inviting trouble. Despite personal suffering and difficulties the IKA leadership continued with their commitment of putting the people first, and projected politics based on liberal ideas and tolerance.

At a time when it was fashionable to talk of a military solution and defeating India by use of gun, the IKA leaders had courage and vision to say that there could be no military solution to the Kashmir dispute; and that the dispute has to be resolved through a process of dialogue involving all the parties to the dispute.

IKA leaders feel proud that the line of action and the process envisaged by them has been followed by others in South Asia now. And people who supported the Jihadis in Kashmir are waging ‘Jihad’ against those very forces in order to control and curtail their activities because they have even become threat to the Pakistani society and State.

Different IKA leaders from various platforms predicted that activities of these Jihadi forces will not only be counter productive to the Kashmiri struggle but will create problems for the sovereign government of Pakistan as well. Unfortunately at that time we were labelled as being ‘anti movement’, and even ‘anti Islam’; and now the same people have to swallow their words and follow the line of action suggested by IKA leaders.

Had they followed the pro people and pro peace policies and tried to control the Jihadi forces when we pointed out it surely would have saved lives of thousands of innocent people. However it is still not too late to abandon stubborn attitude on Kashmir, and resolve the dispute through a process of dialogue by involving all three parties to the dispute.

IKA is fortunate to have leadership that has vision and commitment to peace and stability in South Asia; and in view of fast changing political environment decided to launch a political offensive to help the peace process and safeguard the interests of common Kashmiris.

In its Executive Board meeting held under the Chairmanship of Dr Nazir Gilani IKA leadership analysed the situation in Kashmir and South Asia, and finalised extensive programme of action. In pursuant with this programme IKA held a press conference in London to give its response to the situation in Kashmir. This press conference was very well attended, and it got good coverage in print and electronic media, especially in Daily Nation, London.

Now that the peace process has begun and India and Pakistan are trying to surpass each other in giving concessions; and meeting between Ansari led faction of the APHC and Deputy Prime Minister of India has taken place, IKA leadership has taken lead and decided to hold a Seminar on Kashmir. Title of this seminar is SAARC Conference and the Kashmir Dispute, and aim of this is to let the expatriate Kashmiri leadership to express their views and form consensus.

The Kashmiri struggle has had setbacks and people have suffered because the Kashmiri leadership was split and had no programme or vision about the future destiny of the nation. APHC is further split because others are pulling the strings, and as a result they CANNOT form a united policy; but it is interesting to note that the faction which met the Indian Deputy Prime Minister has agreed that there must be an end to violence, and that they are willing to include all sections of the Kashmiri community in this process.

IKA leadership feels that expatriate Kashmiri leadership has skills and know how to help and support the peace process; and that it is time to put our differences aside and formulate a policy which protects interests of the Kashmiri people. It must be noted that sovereign governments of India and Pakistan are fully equipped to look after their national interests; and the people of Kashmir are the weakest party in this triangular talks.

Because of this vulnerability it is imperative that we the people of Jammu and Kashmir demonstrate that we are united and we all agree that Kashmir is one political entity, and that there could be no lasting solution if the people of Kashmir are ignored in this dialogue process. We also need to emphasis that the Kashmiri people are matured people who have sense of direction; and who strongly believe in peace and stability in Kashmir and in South Asia.

In order to bring about much desired awareness the IKA leadership has decided to hold a series of Seminars and Conferences in various Western Capitals. There will be Seminars in London, Belgium, Geneva and Canada followed by an International Kashmir Conference in London in April 2004. Also the IKA will send delegations to both sides of the forcibly divided State to coordinate and interact with the Kashmiri leadership in various parts of the State.

IKA wishes to reach out to people of Kashmir on both sides of the divided State, and highlight the challenges faced by the Kashmiri nation and look at ways of meeting these challenges; and in this regard IKA expects support from all peace loving people.
Writer is a Chairman of JKLF Diplomatic Committee, and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir. He is also a Spokesman of IKA.

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