Friday, 30 May 2008

Qaaid e Azam’s Pakistan and Kashmir

Qaaid e Azam’s Pakistan and Kashmir
Shabir Choudhry

Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s hard work and dedication paid off and Pakistan emerged as an independent State on the map of the world on 14th August 1947. Once again 14th August has come and Pakistani people all over the world are preparing to celebrate Pakistan’s birthday; but this celebration is not for Qaaid e Azam’s Pakistan.

Qaaid e Azam’s Pakistan would have been 55 years old if it had survived all the experiments of the Pakistani establishment and politicians. But that was not to happen, Qaaid e Azam’s Pakistan could not survive all these experiments, in fact, no country could have survived all this. People say Pakistan is 55 years old, but some disagree with this and point out that what we have is a ‘New Pakistan’, and ‘New Pakistan’ is only 31years old.

Issue of the age aside, what we got to look at is the situation in Pakistan and ask ourselves if Qaaid e Azam envisaged this kind of Pakistan. And if answer is no then we got to see what went wrong and what has been done to put it right. As noted above Qaaid e Azam’s Pakistan was broken into two in 1971, and instead of accepting responsibility for mistakes which lead to break up of Pakistan, leaders spent time and money to cover it up in such a way that blame could be shifted elsewhere.

Soon after the fall of Dhaka such atmosphere was created in the remaining Pakistan that many said it was good that ‘we got rid of these Bengalis’, as they were ‘holding progress’ of West Pakistan. In other words sense of loss was not visible, and no attempt was made to learn any lessons from this great tragedy.

It is unfortunate to note that Pakistan once again finds itself in quandary where there is serious threat to future and stability of the State. And disturbing thing is that Pakistani leaders continue to make same mistakes which they made in late 1960s and early 70s. At that time Bengalis were seen as ‘undesirable’ and ‘burden’ holding the progress of West Pakistan; now Kashmiris and Kashmir dispute is seen as ‘burden’ holding the progress of Pakistan. Now attempts are being made that Pakistan could get rid off ‘burden’ of Kashmir as well.

Unlike East Pakistan, Kashmir is not legal part of Pakistan, but it is amazing that people of Pakistan especially people of Punjab are very emotional about Kashmir, perhaps they have more emotional attachment with Kashmir than what they had with East Pakistan. Even after losing East Pakistan, Pakistanis insisted that Two Nations Theory is still applicable, and that they should get Kashmir because of that. They have been told time again that the Two Nations Theory was never applicable to the Princely States and that is why Qaaid e Azam declared that if the people of Kashmir want they can become independent or join either India or Pakistan.

This point that the Two Nations Theory was not applicable to Princely States was further supported by Qaaid e Azam declaration that Ruler of Hyderabad could remain independent even though the State had nearly 80 percent non- Muslim population. Had this Theory being applicable to the Princely States, Hyderabad would have gone with India; and Qaaid eAzam as a legal expert and man of principle would not have supported Hyderabad’s right to remain independent.

Apart from these two examples the accession of Junagadh to Pakistan is another evidence that the Two Nations Theory was only applicable to the British India. Junagadh had a Muslim Ruler but its population was more than 80 Percent non- Muslim, and the State had no land link with Pakistan; and despite that Qaaid e Azam accepted its accession to Pakistan making it absolutely clear that the Two Nations Theory was not applicable to the Princely States. Had it been otherwise Qaaid e Azam would not have accepted accession of Junagadh as it would have been against the rules of the Partition of India.

But it is unfortunate that despite these very clearly documented examples some of our Pakistani brothers insist that the Two Nations Theory was applicable to Kashmir, but provide no evidence in support of their claim. Only thing which they produce as evidence is alleged saying of Qaaid e Azam that Kashmir is jugular vein of Pakistan. There is no evidence that Qaaid e Azam ever said that, because this would have been contradiction to his early statements and Qaaid e Azam was not the kind of leader who would say different things to different people at different times. In any case he did not claim Kashmir to be included in the demand for Pakistan and nowhere the Muslim League asked inclusion of Kashmir in Pakistan before 14th August 1947.

If the Muslim League or Qaaid e Azam demanded Kashmir’s inclusion in Pakistan after 14th August 1947, then that is not on the bases of legal strength, but that is what they desired. We can have many desires and demands and not all of them could be met. For example, it is my desire to see all Muslim countries to form a united platform, but I know that would not happen because of different interests and personal egos, but no one can stop me expressing my desire.

Anyhow I want to congratulate Pakistani brothers on 14th August, and hope that they will learn from their past mistakes and make Pakistan stable and prosperous country. But at the same I want to remind them that we Kashmiris are still crying out for freedom, and Pakistan needs to adopt a practical policy which could help us to achieve our independence.

For the past 55 years Pakistan has adhered to a policy which has only helped to maintain a status quo, and any policy which does not help to change the status quo is helping to prolong the misery of the Kashmiri people. Time has come that Pakistan reviews its Kashmir policy and give it a new dimension. Pakistan has demonstrated great love for Kashmir, but now they need to show love for the Kashmiri people as well, and adopt a policy which allows them to become independent.

Pakistan’s insistence that Kashmiris could only choose between India and Pakistan and cannot become independent is helping India to maintain the status quo, and this prolongs the misery and suffering of the people. Pakistani people point out that Kashmir is must for their survival, but they forget that Pakistan lost East Pakistan- a legal and constitutional part, and still has survived; and Pakistan can surely survive without an area which is not even its legal part.

I admire our Pakistani brothers who demonstrate strong emotions for Kashmir, but we need to understand that national policies are not made on sentiments and emotions. I feel we need strong, democratic and prosperous Pakistan to maintain peace and stability in the region. Pakistan can only become strong and prosperous if Pakistani leaders concentrate on resolving their internal differences and build Pakistan. Policy of exporting their brand of Islam and Jihad to other areas and trying to resolve Kashmir on their terms has created more problems for Pakistan.

In my view, for the sake of Pakistan’s own stability and prosperity, and for the sake of welfare of the people of Kashmir and peace and stability in the region, Pakistan needs to abandon this policy; and on the occasion of independence of Pakistan give ‘gift of freedom’ to the people of Kashmir. And this gift could be in the form of declaration that the Kashmiri people could also get freedom and become independent if they choose to do so. This declaration will put many things in order and make India defensive, and hopefully pave the way for the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

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