Wednesday, 28 May 2008

What constitutes 'Anti Pakistan?'

What constitutes 'Anti Pakistan?'
Dr Shabir Choudhry 25 June 2006

It was perhaps in 1974 when I was first called 'anti Pakistan'. My crime, as always has been, was to criticise Pakistani policies on Kashmir. Kashmir is my homeland, and love of homeland is part of my faith as was said by our beloved Prophet PBUH after migrating from Makkah to Madina.

State of Jammu and Kashmir, its future and welfare of the people is close to my heart. As a loyal son of soil, whether I live there or not, it is my duty to work for its liberation, its better future, its stability and for the welfare of its inhabitants irrespective of their social, cultural or religious affiliations.

In order to fulfill this obligation I will use all my talent, knowledge and contacts to advance this cause; and for this 'crime' if some Pakistanis and some of my fellow citizens, on instructions of agencies or on their own accord call me 'anti Pakistan', then this is price worth paying. It should be a duty of every loyal and sincere citizen of Jammu and Kashmir to advance above goals, but if for what ever reason they cannot accomplish this task, or join this 'jihad' then they should not create problems for those who want to do this.

Since 1974 I have seen many ups and downs. I have educated myself, met many diplomats, politicians and other experts in fields of politics, philosophy and law, but I have never understood meaning of this phrase, 'anti Pakistan', as envisaged by these people. In my honest opinion I have never been 'anti Pakistan', but I have always been pro Kashmir, and by being pro Kashmir my first priority is to protect interest of Kashmir; as it is the first priority of Pakistanis to protect their national interest.

It is, however, unfortunate that national interest of Pakistan is much lower down on the priority list of many Pakistanis; and they should not make Kashmiri nationalists scapegoat for their shortfall. In view of some Pakistanis it is appropriate for them to even work against the state of Pakistan and still claim the title of being a 'loyal Pakistanis'; and if a Kashmiri dares to criticise wrong Kashmir policy of Pakistan they get angry just like Jageerdars (landlords) get angry over daring question of his serfs.

How unfortunate that those who opposed the very idea of Pakistan, opposed tooth and nail its creation, have now assumed a role of 'Qazi' to issue fatwas (edicts) who is loyal Pakistani and who is not. It is widely believed that those who opposed creation of Pakistan are the ones who are bent upon destroying Pakistan. They created instability, projected communalism and regionalism, and introduced gun culture with private armies to kill and intimidate opponents; and tragedy is that they are still considered as 'loyal Pakistanis', just because they have assumed monopoly over wisdom and Islam and have army of volunteers to harass individuals, groups and even undemocratic governments.

It was these people coupled with some other groups who created situation that East Pakistan was dismembered. Pakistan not only lost its eastern wing, but also its reputation and pride was also suffered; and more than ninety thousand prisoners of war were taken by India.

Those responsible for that tragedy are not considered as 'anti Pakistan', but those Kashmiris who are well wishers of Pakistan are called 'anti Pakistan' because they sincerely believe that for the peace, stability and prosperity of not only India and Pakistan but of South Asia lies in both countries leaving Jammu and Kashmir to let it become a bridge of peace.

Those who are responsible for invading their own capital time and again, are not considered as 'anti Pakistan', those who are responsible for gun culture, Ohjari Camp, Kargil fiasco and many other blunders are still regarded as loyal Pakistanis. Those who wrote letters to the American Congress to stop aid and military fighters to Pakistan were not considered as 'anti Pakistan'; in fact they were promoted to rule the country.

Those who high jacked Pakistani planes were not considered anti Pakistan; and those who declared that they will return to Pakistan on Indian tanks were not taken as 'anti Pakistan'. On their return they were promoted and made ministers. Those Pakistanis who hold demonstrations and seminars in different parts of the world to expose Pakistan and its weaknesses are not taken as 'anti Pakistan', but if I criticise a wrong Kashmir policy of Pakistan, I am instantly declared as 'anti Pakistan'. In view of this can anyone tell me what action constitutes 'anti Pakistan'?

I was on a live TV programme last week and viewers asked me about elections in 'Azad Kashmir' (which in practise is a Pakistani colony). They also asked me about issues regarding Mangla dam/Basha Dam, Kashmir Council and Gilgit and Baltistan. All these matters are directly associated with Pakistan, and as a leading writer and 'expert' on the subject, I explained Pakistan's role in all these matters.

While we were still on air we received some calls from viewers who accused me of being 'anti Pakistan'. They could not challenge any information I put forward while explaining Pakistan's role in these matters, but as is the practise, they think criticism by a Kashmiri on Pakistani policy is tantamount to opposing Pakistani state. They also asked me why I didn't criticise India.

Hang on a minute; be sensible before you jump to label anyone with being 'anti Pakistan'. It was Pakistan who built Mangla dam against wishes of the local people, how could I criticise India for that. It is Pakistan who is again uprooting more than one lakh people by upraising Mangla dam. There is clear opposition from the local people who would be uprooted twice just to meet water needs of Pakistan, and how could I criticise India for this?

It is Pakistan which imposed Act 1974 on Azad Kashmir, and which has given all the powers to Pakistan, so much so that all senior officers in Azad Kashmir are Pakistanis directly appointed by Pakistan. It is this Act which demands people to declare their loyalty to Pakistan before fighting elections or before taking any post. It is this Act which DOES not allow people to contest elections if they declare their loyalty to Kashmir. And please, before you issue a fatwa (edict) against me, tell me how I could criticise India for wrong doings of Act 74.

We appreciate Pakistan's water and energy needs and for that we ask them to build dams inside Pakistan; and just because Pakistanis cannot agree to complete a dam inside their territory which is for the welfare and prosperity of Pakistan, it does not mean that they uproot us citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. Be it construction of Basha Dam or upraising of Mangla dam, they both lie in the Kashmiri territory, and construction of these dams is against the will of the local people and against the State Subject Ordinance.

I want to ask these 'muftis' who have nothing else to do apart from causing mischief and sowing seeds of communalism and hatred to tell me how can I accuse India if Pakistan is uprooting people by building dam in Gilgit and Baltistan (Basha Dam). People of Gilgit and Baltistan are deprived of basic human rights there, even some Pakistani journalists call this as the 'last colony on earth', and can these 'muftis' tell me how can I criticise India for lack of human rights or whatever wrong is happening in this part of the world.

India and the Indian statecraft DO NOT consist of angels. They are responsible for human rights violations on that side of the LOC, and there is plenty of evidence about human rights abuse there; but does it mean that we give free hand to bureaucrats of Islamabad to do what ever pleases them. Does it also mean that we put all wrong doings of Pakistan in the basket of India, and tell the world that everything here is rosy? We have made this mistake once, and we are not that stupid to do it again even if that means being labelled as 'anti Pakistan'.

If this narrow-mindedness and bigotry was only coming from those with vested interest and from those whose role in society is to teach hatred and communalism then it would not have hurt me that much, as I know their myopic view and business like mentality. But it is unfortunate to note that this criticism is also coming from those who claim to be champions of human rights, and those who are educated and have lived in Western democracies for some decades.

Throughout my life, despite odds I chose to fight against injustice; and I have suffered because of this principled stand. I strongly believe that it is my right to speak against forced and illegal upraising of Mangla Dam; It is my right to speak against illegal construction of Basha dam; it is my right to speak against wrong policies of Pakistani governments, be they are in Gilgit and Baltistan, Azad Kashmir or to do with the Kashmir dispute in general.

And in exercise of these rights if some people with tunnel vision and undemocratic values choose to call me 'anti Pakistan ', then so be it. I am not ashamed of what I am doing, if anything, I am proud of my struggle for human rights for all and injustice against none. I am proud to be fighting for liberal and democratic values. I am proud to be fighting for unification and complete independence of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Also I am proud to be fighting against those who promote extremism, sectarianism, hatred and violence. Despite these allegations and opposition my struggle for transparency, accountability, tolerance and just society will continue.

Writer is Chairman of Diplomatic Committee of JKLF and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email: drshabirchoudhry@hotmail.com

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