Saturday, 31 May 2008

Visit of 9 ‘generals’

Visit of 9 ‘generals’
Dr Shabir Choudhry 10 July 2005

Even if we are complacent with words the fact remains that State of Jammu and Kashmir is forcibly divided and occupied by India and Pakistan, (although some area is under China but under the present situation it does not come in to equation).

Despite clear occupation and subjugation of the State, one region under Pakistan is known as ‘Azad Kashmir’, and this allusion of being ‘azad’ satisfies ego of many people of this region. This false sense of being ‘azad’ motivates them to ‘liberate’ areas under the occupation of India, while forgetting their own plight and plight of their fellow countrymen in Gilgit and Baltistan.

In June 2005, we saw a visit of nine ‘leaders’, rather nine generals who marched in to Pakistani occupied Kashmir, just like Roman generals used to march in to areas they conquered. The way they were greeted by people of Azad Kashmir and occupiers of this area and Gilgit and Baltistan indicated as if these people were coming here after liberation of territory under the occupation of India.

These ‘conquering generals’ always considered themselves as superior citizens of the State, and didn’t find anyone suitable in Azad Kashmir to represent them, so they had to ‘export’ their own favourites to represent them in APHC and in Islamabad.

These nine generals spent less time in Kashmiri territory, Azad Kashmir, and more time in the country which occupied a large part of their homeland and enjoyed receptions and banquets there. They did not dare to visit Gilgit and Baltistan, a region of the State occupied by Pakistan where people are still denied of basic human rights.

These leaders who were greeted here like heroes, did not even speak about Gilgit and Baltistan and about the plight of the people; but thought it appropriate to attack and humiliate their hosts, leaders of Azad Kashmir. This is not to say that leaders of Azad Kashmir are above criticism and that their role is exemplary, but there are some traditions and moral values which we should all respect.

If leaders of Azad Kashmir have adopted selfish attitude and have not fulfilled national aspirations of the Kashmiri people, they are not alone in this, leaders on the other side have done worse and they are more in number.

One can even question credentials of these visiting ‘kings’ who are beamed through Pakistani media as Kashmiri leaders, and ask what they have done to get unity and national emancipation. One has to see if they added to the problems and suffering of the ordinary people, or they have done something to alleviate this misery and suffering.

It is unfortunate that leadership is imposed on the people of Jammu and Kashmir from abroad, and for many decades it has been the Pakistani establishment and media who have chosen leaders for us. Kashmiri leaders on their part have been good in attacking and abusing each other and accusing each other of treachery and working for either RAW or ISI.

When these ‘leaders’ came to Azad Kashmir many thought they will come with a programme for unity or some kind of agenda which will help people of Jammu and Kashmir to get unity and independence. Instead they came armed with criticism and abuse; and wanted to divert attention to trivial issues by personalising matters.

They wanted to ensure that no one asks them about their lack of interest in the area of Gilgit and Baltistan; and lack of interest in other issues which immediately concern people of this area. They ensured that they DONOT say anything which could possibly annoy the Pakistani government and secret agencies, and for that they had to keep peoples attention focussed on other issues.

Despite this abuse and insult, leaders and people of Azad Kashmir showered them with love and respect; and many wonder if they deserved all this. Leaders of Azad Kashmir and especially nationalist leaders rightly question their right and ability to represent all sections of the Kashmiri community.

They all came together which gave the impression that they were all one – members of one team, but it soon became apparent that they were divided lot with individual agendas to suit their personal ambitions. Even the language they were speaking showed that they were individuals with no national programme; but they were all united in one thing and that was to ensure that Pakistani establishment is not upset with anything they say.

They visited Mirpur and biggest problem facing people of Mirpur is the proposed upraising of the Mangla Dam, which will uproot more than hundred thousand people and cause enormous other problems. Pakistan is upraising this dam against declared will of the local people and against their interest. This project will benefit Pakistani landlords and Pakistani industrialists at the expense of local people.

These ‘leaders’ who want to be taken as national leaders, and expect people of Azad Kashmir to rubber stamp their decisions; and yet they did not have courage and sense of responsibility to speak about rights and concerns of these people.

They did not express their desire to visit Gilgit and Baltistan or even to meet leaders of this area because they feared that Pakistani establishment would not like this. And those who tried to shout slogans about Gilgit and Baltistan, Mangla Dam and role of Pakistan were told not to say anything which could annoy Pakistani officials as they have been ‘good hosts.’

This attitude clearly shows that these ‘leaders’ have compromised their views about the Kashmiri struggle, and only want to talk about the Kashmiri territory under the Indian occupation; hence have collaborated with those who want to divide the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

In view of this it is imperative that all those who believe in unification of the state and oppose division as a solution, should come out and tell these ‘leaders’ that they don’t represent us; and that they must not use this struggle as a lucrative business.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir must understand that some of these ‘leaders’ have no constituency and no following, and yet they are projected and imposed upon us as leaders. For what they did there, they were appropriately rewarded and projected by the Pakistani media; and on their return they had this allusion that they were the real ‘leaders’ of Jammu and Kashmir, who (on instructions of Pakistan) will determine future of Kashmir.

Our message to these Pakistan TV leaders is that you do not represent wishes of the ordinary people. You may be representing and projecting the interest of Kashmir’s neighbours but you do not represent wishes of people of Azad Kashmir, Jammu, Gilgit and Baltistan, and Ladakh. You DONOT even represent wishes of majority of the people in the Valley.

Writer is a Chairman of Diplomatic Committee of JKLF and author of many books and booklets. Also he is a Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.

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