Friday, 30 May 2008

Who is ‘Pro India’ now?

Who is ‘Pro India’ now?
Dr Shabir Choudhry

Over the past months both India and Pakistan have made tremendous progress on the road to friendship, and a number of confidence building measures have been put in place to strengthen the peace process. It looks that one by one, like jigsaw puzzle, pieces are falling in place, and all sides to the dispute are ready and willing to make necessary concessions.

This peace process has been welcomed around the world, and people even are suggesting that both President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpaee should get Nobel Peace Prize. But there are those who think Kashmiris are being sold once again, and this time it is Pakistan - a country in which they placed their trust- has betrayed them. And there are many within Pakistan who want to punish those responsible for this treachery, and derail the peace process.

These elements still believe that Kashmir could be ‘liberated’, whatever that means in the view of ‘liberation’ of Afghanistan and Iraq, by the use of gun. Forces that advocate this policy think no price is too big. A few years before the fall of Taliban government, one such leader was challenged in a public meeting and asked that more than 2 million people have lost their lives in Afghanistan, and for how long this madness will continue. The leader concerned quoted a verse from holy Qur’an and elaborated that with some Hadees (sayings of Prophet Mohammed pbuh), and boasted that ‘Jihad in Afghanistan will continue even if the death toll surpass 3 million.’

I would like all liberal minded and peace loving Pakistanis to look at some of the following points to understand the situation, that they can support the peace process and make appropriate concessions:

It is that kind of mind – set, explained above, we are faced with in Kashmir as well. These forces believe that Kashmir is for Muslims, and they want to make Kashmir an Islamic state. Most of these people are Pakistanis and they want to practise their brand of Islam in Kashmir first, and then export this Islamic revolution back to Pakistan. They ignored un Islamic practices in Pakistan but were determined to punish Kashmiris for failing to observe them.

Anyone who opposed their ideology was declared as ‘pro India’, and in some cases eliminated. It must be noted that politics of terror and intolerance is a new phenomena in the Kashmiri society, whereas Rights Movement and tolerance has a long and dignified history. It is unfortunate that in the recent past those who pursued politics of terror and intolerance were regarded as ‘freedom fighters’ and heroes by the Pakistani officials and media; and those who advocated tolerance, pluralism, democracy and peaceful resolution of the dispute were projected as ‘Pro India’.

Now the same government, leaders and media is talking of tolerance, peaceful resolution of the dispute and economic interest of not only Kashmiris, but also Indians and other nations of South Asia as well. Question is who is ‘Pro India’ now?

The UN resolutions were corner stone of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy even though the situation had changed dramatically, and especially after the Shimla Agreement the UN Resolutions had no bearing on Kashmir as both governments agreed to resolve the dispute bilaterally.

Kashmiri nationalists opposed the UN Resolutions on Kashmir because they limited Kashmiri peoples right to self –determination. Also the situation in Kashmir had changed because a large section of population wanted to opt for independence and the resolutions did not provide that option. Furthermore the control over the Kashmiri territory had changed since the passing of these resolutions, China had occupied a large area known as Aqsai Chin, and Pakistan has gifted a portion of more than 2000 sq miles to China.

Because of this opposition to the UN resolutions Kashmiri nationalists were labelled as ‘Pro India’ and ‘anti Pakistan’; and now that Pakistani government has abandoned UN resolutions and APHC led by Molana Abbas Ansari has also said good bye to these resolutions, the question is who is ‘Pro India’?

It was Kashmiri Rights Movement that turned violent in 1989, and later on it was hijacked by the Jihadi forces, thus ostensibly making the Kashmiri struggle part of ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’. Kashmiri nationalist opposed influx of Jihadis especially non - Kashmiris because they feared that this will change the character of their struggle, and will help India to win support of the international community. They feared that Kashmir was deprived of independence in 1950s because it became a part of ‘Cold War’ politics; and they could be deprived of independence again because of struggle’s linkage to ‘International Islamic Fundamentalism’.

With that in mind Kashmiri nationalists opposed Jihadi culture in Kashmir and requested the relevant authorities to control activities of these Jihadi groups, and especially infiltration of non- Kashmiris from various parts of the world. They were straight away branded as ‘Pro India’, ‘anti Pakistan’ and ‘anti Islam’. At that time Pakistani authorities refused to control activities of these groups and now that the damage to the genuine Kashmiri struggle has been done, they are doing ‘full time Jihad ‘to crush these Jihadi groups. One may ask who is ‘Pro India’ and ‘anti Islam’ now?

A freedom struggle could easily be termed as ‘violence’ and ‘terrorism’ if those with gun in hand don’t show sense of responsibility and start targeting innocent citizens, especially belonging to different schools of political thought and religion. As more and more civilian deaths were taking place and members of minorities targeted, we warned that this policy would help India to win sympathy and international support.

We pointed out that guerrilla war, if what has been going on in Kashmir could be called this, could not be won by throwing bombs at the bus stops and planting bombs under fruit stalls which will only kill and injure Kashmiri civilians. We requested the relevant authorities to control this trend and that the ‘guerrilla war’ should be taken out to the forests and jungles that civilian casualties could be reduced. As is the practise, we were labelled as ‘pro India’ and ‘Anti Movement’. And now the same authorities are saying that we will not allow any territory under their control to be used for ‘terrorism’ thus implying that in the past it was used for this purpose; and furthermore that it is ‘terrorism’ what is going on in Kashmir. One may ask who is ‘pro India’ and ‘anti movement’ now?

My request to all Pakistani officials and especially liberal and peace loving people is to support our right to determine our future without any pressure and intimidation; and our right to independence should not be construed as pro India act. We are pro people and pro peace and believe that we can all live peacefully in South Asia. Too many people have already lost their lives and women dishonoured. Whereas we must remember why these people have sacrificed their lives, we have to think of those who are still alive and who deserve to live in peace and dignity.

Because of the Kashmir dispute and policy of confrontation a huge loss to economic development of the South Asia has been done, and we are lagging behind in the race of economic development. If the Kashmir dispute is resolved peacefully then we can all work together to achieve peace, harmony and economic stability.
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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