Saturday, 31 May 2008

Who paid for this?

Who paid for this?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 28 October 2004

Over the past twelve months a lot has happened in South Asia and clearly some progress has been made in understanding and resolving the Kashmir dispute. International Kashmir Alliance which is pro people and peace alliance visualised this progress last year and after careful preparation felt to forge unity and better understanding among different ethnic Kashmiri groups; and for this purpose announced first International Kashmir Conference in London to promote intra Kashmir dialogue.

Apart from inviting notable Indian and Pakistani politicians IKA invited Kashmiri leaders from all regions of the State of Jammu and Kashmir who represented all shades of political opinion.

Those who opposed unity among different Kashmiri groups and didn’t want the Kashmiris to organise themselves to have a say in the future of Kashmir unleashed strong propaganda against the IKA leadership and this conference, alleging that it was funded by India.

A Kashmiri friend who also read this news item, which was displayed on front page of every newspaper, commented that hitherto Indians have always ensured that the Kashmir dispute is not mentioned in any international arena; and if they have started ‘funding’ such conferences then they must be out of their minds.

Kashmiris and Pakistani masses have amazing attitude, they can take money from American, British, Russian, Iranian, Pakistani and other agencies, look after their interests and feel proud about it. Those who have commercialised this struggle and take money for it, like to keep attention focused else where, so they make silly allegations against their political foes that so and so has received money from India. Innocent people forget every other type of money taken by these merchants and go berzerke on mere allegation and don’t even ask for any evidence.

With announcement of first Intra Kashmir Conference, it appears as if IKA opened a flood gate of Kashmir conferences and now hardly a week goes by when there is not a meeting of some Kashmiris which is called ‘International Kashmir Conference’.

In some of these so called ‘International Kashmir Conferences’ people from one region of Kashmir representing views of Islamabad get together to declare that they are representatives of Kashmiris, knowing full well that they have no one to represent people of the following communities or schools of thought:
Shias from Gilgit and Baltistan
Sunnis from Gilgit and Baltistan
Ismailis from Gilgit and Baltistan
Pro independent parties from Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan
Dogras from Jammu
Hindus from Jammu
Muslims from Jammu
Pandits from Jammu or the Valley
Pro independent groups from the Valley
Pro India groups from the Valley
Muslims from Ladakh
Budhists from Ladakh and
Sikhs and Bakarwals

A group of Kashmiri people who have many hats on their heads have concluded some ‘Kashmir Conferences’ in important capitals; and one such ‘conference’ has just ended a few days ago in London. In these conferences they spend generously and have opened large offices in posh areas of important capitals. These people are personally known to Kashmiri political activists, and a few years ago some of them had difficulty in paying their own fuel bills and were taken to court for non payment; and now they spend lavishly and travel first class.

We know these people have not sold any hotel to meet expenses of these conferences; nor have they sold any factory or orchard for this purpose; and Kashmiris have right to ask where this ‘Mann o Salva’ is coming from and what they have sold to get it.

Purpose of these ‘conferences’ is not to build consensus among different Kashmiri groups that they can collectively raise voice against any kind of forced division of the State; rather their agenda is to ensure that the gulf among Kashmiris is widened and they project a Kashmir policy which suits Islamabad.

Even though the whole State of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed and occupied, yet these people only ask India to quit Kashmir, and remain quiet about areas under Pakistan. They will never speak about any wrong doing on the Pakistani side of the divide, as if people here are enjoying heavenly peace and tranquillity; nor will they speak of any wrong doing by militants as if they were army of angels sent from heaven to accomplish a mission of love, peace and fraternity.

This policy of some Kashmiris provide a legitimate reason to India to claim that the whole movement is a Pakistani sponsored, and that people from outside have created chaos and disturbance in Kashmir. Also this policy makes Kashmiri claim of state human rights violations less credible to our Western friends when we try to exonerate militants of any wrong doings and present them as little angels.

We all know that human rights have been committed and innocent people have lost their lives and have suffered immensely, but it will be wrong to accuse India for everything. Apart from the Indian state craft other players have been in action as well, and we in IKA have this courage to blame India for its role, blame Pakistan where Pakistan is to be blamed and also blame militants and Jihadis, especially who are non Kashmiris and who are on a mission to ‘purify Kashmir from non Muslims’.

All those Kashmir who want to see their homeland united and who want to live in peace and harmony need to stand up and be counted. Those who have made the Kashmiri struggle as their business would like the State to remain divided and this chaos to continue because this is good for their business, but this is not good for ordinary people of Kashmir, Pakistan and India.

We need to ensure that these people are identified and countered at every level until such time that they realise that they are causing mischief and harm to the interests of ordinary Kashmiri people. Also we need to ensure that this peace process continues as this could lead to a resolution of the Kashmir dispute, and can bring peace, stability and prosperity to South Asia.

In order to get best for the people of Kashmir we Kashmiris, especially the leaders, have to think as Kashmiris and protect interests of all sections of the Kashmiri community. India and Pakistan are nation states with large infrastructures to protect their national interests, and DO NOT rely on puppets to look after their national interests.

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. Email:

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