Thursday, 26 June 2008

From LOC to LOC

From LOC to LOC
Dr Shabir Choudhry 26 June 2008

In presence of visiting APHC leaders, Sardar Atiq, Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir said he would like to convert Line of Control to Line of Commerce. In other words change LOC with another LOC. Is that what is their agenda? Are they here to sell division of Kashmir? Have people of Jammu and Kashmir sacrificed so much to get Line of Commerce in place of Line of Control?

It was CFL (Cease Fire Line) until it was replaced with LOC – Line of Control in 1972. Cease Fire Lime implies that fighting has stopped but the dispute over which the fighting began has not been resolved yet, hence a temporary pause in the war. Pakistan agreed to replace CFL with Line of Control after defeat of 1971, and now people only talk of LOC.

Both lines were imposed on the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and some might argue there is no difference between the two. This is not true. When dealing with borders and geography of countries one finds international boundary or Cease Fire Line in vocabulary. International boundary separates one country from the others, and cease fire line, as noted above indicates continuation of war or struggle which has been stopped.

After the war of 1965 both India and Pakistan had to withdraw to their pre war positions. That happened both in Jammu and Kashmir and on the international border, but after the war of 1971 India refused to withdraw from the Kashmiri territory which they invaded during the war, and only vacated the Pakistani territory (in the West Pakistan (East Pakistan became Bangladesh after the war), thus Line of Control came in to being.

Pakistani rulers of the time were facing difficult time, which was largely of their own making. They had lost one wing of the country; they witnessed the biggest surrender in the history with around 92,000 army personnel captured by India and around 5,000 sq miles of the Pakistani territory from the West Pakistan under the Indian occupation, not to mention territory of Jammu and Kashmir taken by India.

Morale of nation was at its lowest ebb and the only thing at Zulfqar Ali Bhutto’s disposal was his intelligence and trump card of Kashmir dispute. He used both in order to get what was in the best interest of Pakistan; but what is in the best interest of Pakistan might not be in the best interest of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Zulifqar Ali Bhutto agreed to change CFL with LOC. Let India keep areas of Jammu and Kashmir they took in the war of 1971. He agreed that from now onwards the Kashmir dispute will be resolved bilaterally and not to be taken to any international forum including the UN. He tacitly agreed that India can keep what they have and Pakistan will settle for what they have, although this was not written down anywhere but it was a verbal agreement between him and Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India.

Shimla Agreement was a turning point in the history of the Kashmiri struggle, and many analysts view it as a stab in the back of the Kashmiri struggle, as it made it a territorial dispute between the two countries with no reference to the UN or will of the Kashmiri people. Political manoeuvring of the mid 1970s clearly indicated that he wanted to honour his commitment to Indira Gandhi, and tried to make Azad Kashmir part of Pakistan. Also he tried to annex areas of Gilgit and Baltistan; and told Sheikh Abdullah to make some kind of arrangements with India, hence India Abdullah Accord of 1975.

Mental approach of Pakistani rulers regarding Kashmiri territory could be seen from utterance of General Zia Ul Haq, who after Indian take over of Siachin Glaicier said: why people are angry over this…not even grass grows there.

In other words territory and its sanctity is only important if grass grows there. He didn’t specify size and quality of the grass in order to attain relevant importance in eyes of the Pakistani rulers. It is different matter that afterwards Pakistan has spent billions on grass less peaks of Siachin Glacier and sacrificed thousands of soldiers; and history of these peaks and Kargil adventure will haunt rulers of Pakistan for a long time to come.

India also knew there was no grass on those peaks, and yet India fiercely fought to recover those peaks from a Pakistani incursion in 1999 and risked a full scale war or possible nuclear war? So what is important - growth of grass or dignity, honour and sanctity of territory? Some may argue that Pakistani rulers are not even concerned about their own territory so why should they be worried about a territory which is not legally their own. They were so generous that they gave part of Gilgit and Baltistan (about 2200 sq miles) to China in 1963, and feel proud that it helped to win friendship of a great neighbour.

I have serious reservations about politics of Jamaat E Islami, but I find criticism of Syed Munawar Hasan, Secetary General of Jammat E Islami, very appropriate when he strongly condemned the idea of Line of Commerce. He termed this as, ‘a calculated move to sabotage the freedom struggle of Kashmiris and reinforce the Indian stance’, which one might say is also a stance of the Pakistani rulers. He further said, ‘The proposal of converting LoC into Line of Commerce at a time when Mir Waez Omar Farooq was in Pakistan, was part of great conspiracy, which could open new vistas of operation for the agents of Indian intelligence RAW against Kashmiris’.

Pro pocket leaders of Jammu and Kashmir need to understand that State of Jammu and Kashmir is one political entity and whatever future status of the state it must remain one. Any attempts to divide it, under whatever formula, will be fiercely opposed by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Apart from that division of the State will also lead to problems for both India and Pakistan.

All those who are poisoning polity of Jammu and Kashmir with extremism, communalism and hatred must understand that wounds of partition of India on communal lines still have not been healed; and this genie, like Frankenstein, monster will also destroy them.

Pakistani Prime Minister, Yousaf Gilani in his meeting with APHC leaders assured them of Pakistan’s political and diplomatic support. Even at the peak of militancy and infiltration in early 1990s when people crossed LOC in dozens fully loaded with arms, Pakistan claimed that it only provided ‘political and diplomatic support’. We hope that this time political and diplomatic support means political and diplomatic support; and furthermore both India and Pakistan respect human rights in their respective parts of the state.

PPP Co Chair Asif Zardai and Prime Minister Gilani assured the visiting team that "The PPP will adhere to the philosophies of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto and is bound to follow them. We can’t deviate from them". If that is what they want to do then it is bad news for people of Jammu and Kashmir. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto treated Jammu and Kashmir as a jageer (estate) of Pakistan, as it was he who negotiated treaty with China in 1963 and gave away 2200 sq miles of Kashmiri territory; also it was he who signed the Shimla Agreement which gave further territory of Kashmir and make it a bilateral dispute.

As for late Benazir Bhutto is concerned during her first tenure as a Prime Minister she took off signs of Kashmir from Islamabad during Indian Prime Minister Rajiev Gandhi’s visit to Pakistan; and that sums up her love for Kashmir and her Kashmir policy. PPP has always been good at giving slogans and using name of Kashmir and playing with sentiments of the people.

We want to tell both governments that Kashmir dispute concerns our national identity and inherent right of self determination; and must not be treated as a territorial dispute. Furthermore we want the Kashmir dispute to be resolved through a process of dialogue in which the principal party to the dispute- people of Jammu and Kashmir must be made part of the process.

Both governments also need to acknowledge this fact that APHC, united or divided, only represents some sections of Muslims of the Valley, hence must not be projected or taken as a representative of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:

To view other articles see my blog:

Monday, 23 June 2008

They are back in Islamabad

They are back in Islamabad
Dr Shabir Choudhry 23 June 2008

Unity is strength, we are told, but that is only half true. If unity is based around some agreed principles and all concerned are honest and dedicated people then surely it is a source of strength and motivation. But if unity is forged on behest of some foreign agency or imposed upon divided leaders with competing and contradictory interests then it is ‘marriage of convenience’ or business enterprise which will ultimately disappoint people.

APHC was united at one time, and many were led to believe that it was representative of the Kashmiri people, reality however was that they represented those who established them and funded them. Sentiments of the Valley Muslims regarding India aside, the APHC did not even represent Muslims of the Valley. It was a brain child of agencies and stalwarts of APHC, despite all odds, ‘bravely’ championed the cause of the parent organisation, even at the cost of interest of the Kashmiri people.

Conflicting interests and contradictory stand resulted in acrimony, allegations and split. Shabir Shah was expelled from APHC for crime of meeting an American diplomat. Yasin Malik also said good bye to the fragile alliance. Divisions or more precisely personal interests and rivalry intensified and resulted in the APHC having two groups, one headed by Syed Ali Gilani and the other by Mir Waiz Omer Farooq.

In Kashmir every leader claims to represent the majority, even when they know that they cannot even muster two dozen people. Similarly both groups of APHC claimed to represent the majority of the people, and were very generous in abusing each other and calling the other faction ‘anti movement.’

Apparently pay masters and other well - wishers tried to unite them but obstinate attitude and big ego frustrated all the efforts. Then all of sudden on eve of their trip to Islamabad both groups got ‘united’, as nothing had happened. Many wonder around what principles they got together, and moreover which group is ‘anti movement’? Both groups claimed that the other group was ‘anti movement’, could you please tell the bewildered nation which group, in reality was ‘anti movement’ and what soda or water (Aaab e Zam Zam or ganga jal they have used to purify the group which was ‘anti movement’. We would like to borrow this tonic that we can use it Azad Kashmir as well.

Is it not strange that a Kashmiri leader who has always ensured that Kashmiris in general and Kashmiri nationalists in particular don’t get united, even they have expressed happiness over this extra ordinary event of ‘holi alliance’. No one cared to ask him what about unification of his own party which is in many groups mainly due to his autocratic and unconstitutional actions which he claimed were in the larger interest of the organisation and movement.

Also is it not strange that those who are in good books of Islamabad were awarded with passports by India that they can visit Islamabad? This happened at the time of their last visit and it happened again. Does it mean that establishments of both countries have tacit agreement to reward good boys of the movement?

One wonders who are these good boys of the movement and what do they do to deserve this special treatment that Indian establishment issue passports in contravention of their laws. Take example of Yasin Malik who was among the first to pick up a gun. I don’t have details what he did with his gun and how many people he killed, but there are 23 criminal cases pending against him. People still don’t know what happened to his gun, but when he was released from a ‘farm house’ where he was kept during his detention he was a changed man who preached non violence. And India had no problem issuing him a passport, despite the provisions of the Passport Act of 1967 prohibiting it.

Because of large concentration of army in Kashmir, and for this India gets a lot of pressure from human rights organisations and the international community. Claim was that this concentration of army was causing problems for people and restricting their right to travel and right to assemble.

Shrewd Indian policy makers decided to tackle this matter sensibly; hence we witnessed the ‘signature campaign’. In this campaign groups of people headed by Yasin Malik travelled from village to village and town to town to get signatures of people. This helped India to prove that, despite a large army and war against ‘terrorism’ in Jammu and Kashmir, right to travel and right to assemble was there for those who did not carry and use guns.

India wanted to convey this to the West and human rights organisations that governments in Paris, London and Washington would also challenge and kill those who carry guns with intention of using them, and if India is doing that, especially when there is militancy going on for the past so many years then what is wrong with that.

After successful completion of ‘Signature Campaign’ Yasin Malik was given a passport and allowed to travel to Pakistan where he had exhibition and presented these signature to the Pakistani government. Yasin Malik got a protocol in Pakistan which he never dreamt of. He had meetings with senior politicians and with those who promote and control these politicians.

Of course apart from Yasin Malik other stalwarts of the APHC headed by Mir Waiz, who were in good books of Islamabad were issued passports by India and allowed to visit Pakistan. All these leaders spent most of their time in Pakistan, a country which illegally occupies parts of Jammu and Kashmir’s territory, and never visited Gilgit and Baltistan which has been left to the mercy of Pakistani bureaucrats since 1947.

This campaign helped to clean India’s image to some extent, but more needed to be done because of human rights abuse perpetrated since 1989. Many still thought that right of expression, right to travel and right to assemble was in jeopardy in Kashmir because of the large army presence, so once again Yasin Malik’s services were required, hence a start of a new campaign – ‘safre azadi’.

Yasin Malik and his entourage travelled to every corner of the Valley with hundreds of people- they travelled at night during the day and with lamps. He addressed hundreds of rallies and meetings where people in thousands were present, and not a single gun was fired by troops; no one stopped him or arrested anyone, and no one was killed.

Once again a clear message was sent to the world that if people wanted to use their right of expression, right to travel and right to assemble there is no problem in Jammu and Kashmir provided people don’t carry guns and resort to violence. India could not have achieved this goal without this ‘safre azadi’. Apart from other rewards once again he was issued a passport and sent across to Pakistan where he again had exhibition to boast his ‘achievement’.

In view of some Kashmiri analysts Pakistani establishment played a key role in dividing APHC- divided leaders are easy prey of agencies. Apart from that they wanted to prove how mean, immature and selfish were Kashmiri leaders that even at this critical juncture of their history they were at each other’s throat and building their own castles with no care for the suffering people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Since the new government has taken power in Pakistan role of secret agencies has reduced considerably. Pakistan is reviewing its policy on Kashmir and has said good bye to the policy of General Musharaf. New policy requires a new strategy; and new strategy has a considerable political input as well. Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir will increase and to support and justify this, political activities will be organised inside and outside Kashmir.

Pakistani government thought these leaders are still useful and best thing is to forge unity among them that they could be used effectively in new scheme of things on the issue of Kashmir. So these ‘leaders’ were told if they wanted to visit Pakistan, and moreover wanted continuation of Islamabad’s support then come here as one team. Yasin Malik has also assured them to join APHC, which he will join soon.

Apart from that elections in Jammu and Kashmir are around the corner, and like in the past, task of Yasin Malik and APHC is to oppose them. Their role is to disrupt elections that people cannot elect their representatives to help people resolve their everyday problems. These leaders know very well that in any fair and free election they cannot win, and this fact was acknowledged by Shabir Shah in a meeting with a Western human rights activist.

Yasin Malik has left Islamabad with new advice, new contract and new tasks. APHC leaders are still here, and will get their briefing and their contracts and tasks. Islamabad has serious economic problems but it is believed that they are still very generous to people of Indian side of Kashmir. These leaders always leave Islamabad happy, satisfied and many times richer. May Allah SWT help us?

Writer is a political activist, analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:

To view other articles see my blog:

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Geneva Conference and self determination

Geneva Conference and self determination
Dr Shabir Choudhry 05 August 2006
I have received a number of emails as a result of my last article, 'If not self determination then what'. Some people have accused me of not telling the whole truth regarding the Geneva Conference on self determination organised by Majid Tramboo. I believe there are many aspects of this conference and no one individual knows the whole truth.
I knew some aspects of this conference and mentioned it in passing as intention was not to discuss the conference but to tell people that Majid Tramboo and some others have been working on this hidden agenda for many years. However other people looked at it from different angle, and had different source of information. Dr Nazir Gilani seems to have more information on the subject, and he has eloquently presented his view point in his article ' Self-determination and last vestiges of good conscience' and has educated us all.
At that time we in JKLF were told by Majid Tramboo that the conference was funded by IHRAAM, some money was paid by participants and some other NGOs also made financial contribution. At no time he told us that the secret agency of one country (or both) was behind this. We believed that he has done some fund raising for this conference which was on self determination and not specifically on Kashmir.
However about two years ago in the cafeteria of UN Commission on Human Rights, in an informal meeting where Abbas Butt, Shaukat Kashmiri and others were also present, this conference and its funding came under discussion. I can vouch that information provided by Dr Nazir Gilani with regard to funding of this conference is same to that revealed to us in that discussion by some one present.
The Conference was 'managed' by Mr McNaghton, an American who apparently worked for Majid Tramboo. Some people claim that he was appointed there as OSD (Officer on Special Duty) otherwise why an educated American travel all the way from America and 'work' for 'Tramboo Partnership' which received more red letters than enquiries about immigration which they claimed to specialise in.
Moreover Mr McNaughton did not have a law degree, and had no knowledge or experience of English law and specially immigration law, so one wonders what exactly was he doing in Tramboo Partnership? It is learnt that it was Mr McNaughton who went to see the 'gentleman' from the other side at late night and exchanged bags.
Abbas Butt and I could be accused of being silent on the subject when he was in JKLF, and only shouted foul when he was expelled on charges of betraying the JKLF and the movement. Fact of the matter is that we always gave him benefit of doubt as in private he always assured us on life of his children that he was loyal to the ideology of united and independent Kashmir; and that he was extracting benefits from the Pakistanis for the sake of JKLF Srinagar which desperately needed help.
Azmat Khan and few others did not trust him and thought that he was using name of JKLF to personal gains; Abbas Butt, Mohammed Younis and I were among those who sincerely believed him. However cat came out of bag when in that conference he asked me to remove the phrase united and independent Kashmir as it would upset Abudullas (code name for ISI people at that time, I heard they have got a new code now) who were present in the conference.
Their official presence and acknowledgment to this effect (it was expected that they will send some politician or political activist on their pay role) was news to me and others. I said to him that as a JKLF President I am guardian of JKLF constitution and ideology and could not change that phrase, as it is foundation of our ideology.
It is also true that Dr Nazir Gilani chaired one session of the conference and replaced Rt. Hon. Gerald Kaufman MP as a Moderator in one workshop . It was in this conference Dr Nazir Gilani coined his famous phrase that India and Pakistan have 'claim' on Jammu and Kashmir and we have a 'title'. The conference was well organised and must have achieved targets set out by those who funded it.
It is amazing that how some people have changed their political colours and ideology, and yet they are projected by some as 'leaders' and 'nationalists'. While we were discussing this matter in London one political analyst said it is wrong to accuse them of changing ideology, as they never had any ideology. They were business men, with skills to sell everything that brought them good profit.

As in any business one cannot sell the same product all the time. According to demand and changed business environment product kept on changing, and they adapted their position and selling skills accordingly. Of course from time to time these business men had to be sent on refresher courses held in various parts of the world, including some courses in Brussels, Washington, Islamabad and New Delhi.

One can disagree with the product they are selling, but cannot challenge their business skills. In early 1990s if they successfully sold militancy and self determination, now they can discard these items and sell peace and self governance. To the bad fortune of Kashmiris and the movement they were projected as 'leaders' of the people of Jammu and Kashmir at that time; and they are still promoted as such.

Right of self determination is basic human right, and it is corner stone of Kashmiri struggle. True many new interpretations are given to this concept; and Pakistan's version is that Kashmiris should only be allowed to choose between India and Pakistan; hence denying them right to become independent.

When Pakistan formulated this policy in 1948, thinking at that time was that Jammu and Kashmir had a Muslim majority and if they were given only two choices Muslim majority will opt for Pakistan. Even at that time this policy was a risky one, as Sheikh Abdullah was a popular leader and under terms of the UN resolutions India could have kept some of her forces in the State; and in view of this scenario referendum could have gone against Pakistan.

Many analysts agree that fearing undesirable outcome in proposed future plebiscite, Pakistani officials refused to vacate areas under its control, which they were supposed to do under the UN resolution of 1948. Pakistani government's desire to get Kashmir might not have changed but Pakistan, its geography, its culture and its attraction as a Muslim State which could provide peace, stability, dignity and prosperity to its citizens certainly has changed.

And in view of Pakistan's present situation, where there is no democracy, no political stability, rise of extremism, no sense of security, military expedition in Balochistan and Wazirstan; and above the way people of Jammu and Kashmir are treated in Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, one wonders how many people would voluntarily like to vote to join Pakistan.

It looks that Musharaf government has, at last, realised that it is not possible to get whole of the State of Jammu and Kashmir ; and after this realisation they have introduced new concepts of self governance and autonomy in hope that Kashmiri people will buy one of them as substitute for self determination. The Government of Pakistan has instructed its international sales people to prepare new wrapping to make the proposals more acceptable to the people. Please, Allah help the Kashmiri people.

Writer is Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at:

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:

Why Kashmiris have to be either pro India or Pro Pakistan?

Why Kashmiris have to be either pro India or Pro Pakistan?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 04 July 2006

Tragedy of Kashmir and its politics has been that we are put in to two camps- India and Pakistan, and which are hostile to each other ever since their inception in 1947. And those of us who don’t want to be put in to these two categories and wish to promote pro Kashmir policies by creating a ‘camp’ of our own are fiercely opposed by both camps.

This opposition comes in many forms and shapes, and perhaps it is not appropriate here to give history of this opposition otherwise I will be accused of being anti one camp straight away.

These two hostile camps and consequent social and political culture which developed by these two have created a class of Kashmiris who proudly declare their loyalty to either one or the other camp. And when we ‘pro Kashmir’ people try to advance policies which could benefit our nation and forcibly divided State of Jammu and Kashmir, we have to first face opposition of these Kashmiris who in practice have ‘mortgaged’ their loyalty to either India or Pakistan.

Like many other pro Kashmir political activists I have also given many years of my life, and have tried very sincerely to promote pro Kashmir policies which could have given us a separate identity from India and Pakistan. As always is the case first opposition comes from those Kashmiris who either have made compromises with India or Pakistan, or who have been manipulated by them that they cannot see a Kashmiri interest in isolation.

Despite all the hard work dedication and sacrifices what I have earned are two labels: ‘Pro India’ label and ‘pro Pakistan’ label- yes pro Pakistan. I am generally labeled as pro India but still there is a body of opinion which thinks that from inside I am a ‘pro Pakistan’; and this includes people from India, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir.

I receive response from my readers, sympathizers and some opponents who love to use bad language and send emails with virus. In return I still say aslamo alaykam and pray for them, some of them repent and apologise and others get infuriated and keep on with their nefarious activities.

I received a letter from Vinod Kumar who accuses me of being pro Pakistan, and has made many other accusations. I could have ignored this letter or could have replied to him in private, but I chose to reproduce his letter that my other Kashmiri and Pakistani brothers also see the strength of feelings among some non Muslim Kashmiris.

Everything he has written is not true but we cannot discard everything as propaganda as there is some truth in what he has said. And if we nationalist Kashmiris want to win minds and hearts of Kashmiri minorities then we have to seriously think of some of the issues raised by Vinod Kumar. Similarly those who are at the helm of affairs in Pakistan, and especially those in charge of the Kashmir policy seriously need to think if their Kashmir policy is winning minds and hearts of the Kashmiri people.

If aim of their Kashmir policy is to create hatred and divide people of Jammu and Kashmir on religious and ethnic lines, which could engulf the entire South Asia, then their policy is achieving the desired results. But in the change geo political environment, international trend, in presence of peace process and the CBMs, continuation of this policy will seriously hurt Pakistan as well.
Dear Dr Sahib Adab
‘Not interested in listening to your story of being anti-Pakistan or pro-Pakistan!! The fact is that most, if not all the Kashmiri leaders are acting at the behest of, on behalf of or on clear instructions from Pakistan and its terrorist arm ISI. You may try to position your self as pro or anti Pakistan, however, your agenda - hidden or open, is still anti-India. And you will do every thing and any thing that could harm my motherland India. You will kill people in the so called "jihad”!! Little do you realise that the greatest damage that is being done in this so called "Jihad" is to the Kashmiris themselves. What have you achieved in these more than 15 years of "Jihadi" bloodshed?? Thousands killed, thousands of families destroyed and thousands of human beings poisoned by the jihadi hatred which makes it impossible for the general populace to be normal and rational human beings!!
Why are Kashmiris so selfish?? You want the world to be at your feet!! Are you children of some superior beings?? You want everything and in return will just radiate hatred!! Yours is a classic example of a society living in the cocoon woven of greed and hatred. Why cut the very hand that feeds you?? Why stab my motherland on the back?? If you are sincere, if your leaders are sincere, then let them renounce the Indian security and come out and face the monster of hatred and terrorism that they have unleashed. These very leaders who decry India, with out the protection of Indian forces, will be killed by the "jihadi" terrorists in a matter of seconds!!
Whom are you trying to impress with these harmless criticisms of Pakistan on such small issues like Dams?? Your silence on the much larger issue of the "Jihadi" gun culture in the valley is unholy and obnoxious!!
You keep telling the world that the stability and prosperity of not only India and Pakistan but of whole South Asia lies in Kashmir. Little do you realise that the message out of Kashmir and of its Kashmiri leaders is nothing more than that of hatred, terrorism and instability. ‘
‘Why is that the alcohol of religious bigotry makes you blind to the fact that the Kashmir does not belong to only the Mullahs and Muslims living in Kashmir. That Hindus and other religious minorities living in J & K, have as much right to J&K as you Muslims have. We do not want any independent country. We are happy to live within India. That we oppose and will oppose tooth and nail any such attempt by people like you to tear us apart from our motherland!! If you want to live in Pakistan - just move out and go and settle in Pakistan. Apply for the citizenship of your dreamland Pakistan!! By the way, just to remind you, Pakistan, even after 35 years of losing BANGLADESH, has still not accepted lakhs of Bihari Pakistanis as its citizens - who like you, keep dreaming of Pakistan!! What makes you think that Pakistan loves you any more than those Biharis?? It is just using you against India. Pakistan needs an external factor - "Kashmir" to unite its people and justify its existence. Without this factor, Pakistan will be a house of cards which will be blown away in years if not months!!’
‘Either love India or leave India; hands off from my motherland. You have already done enough harm to the secular culture of J&K. We do not need you and certainly not any more of you or your writings and so called intellectual thoughts.’
‘No body is treating you as slaves. In fact it is Kashmiris who have treated Jammuites and Ladhakhis as slaves. You were and are, always given freedom to elect your representatives through democratically elected governments. This democratic right is not available to the Muslims in the very holiest of your lands- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or your dream land Pakistan?? The fact is that your own Muslim representatives let you down. They treated you as slaves. And as always, you look for faults somewhere else!!’
With regards, Vinod Kumar
Vinod Sahib I am not pro Pakistan, I am pro Kashmir. I am not pro jihadi or pro gun culture; I am pro peace and strongly support pluralist society. I am not preacher of hatred and communalism; I am advocate of democracy, human rights for all, tolerance and peaceful co existence.

Vinod Sahib could you also say the same that you are pro Kashmir and not pro India; and if you have right to be pro India, which I think you have, then we cannot take the same right away from a fellow Kashmiri if he wants to be pro Pakistan. It is his democratic right to hold an opinion and express it as well. He has no right to kill or harass you for holding pro India views and similarly you have to respect his views and not to stick labels or intimidate him.

When you shout pro India slogans then you should be prepared to hear pro Pakistan slogans as well. We can avoid that by being pro Kashmir. Can we all agree to be pro Kashmir and shout pro Kashmir slogans, and say to both India and Pakistan ‘hands off from our motherland?’ If we cannot do this, Vinod Sahib, then I am afraid we have to continue our journey on this bumpy road until common sense prevails; and we realise that future of our Jammu and Kashmir is linked with future of South Asia, and South Asia CANNOT progress if we continue with policy of hate, and continue to fight each other.

Writer is Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at:

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Kashmir has become just another issue.

Kashmir has become just another issue.
Dr Shabir Choudhry 08 June 2008

For a long time Kashmir dispute was a corner stone of Pakistan’s foreign policy, and virtually all policies and strategies related to foreign affairs were enacted with Kashmir dispute in mind. Despite many twists, turns and U turns on Kashmir Pakistani officials claim that they have a ‘principled stand’ on Kashmir. However many experts and people of Kashmir believe that Pakistani ‘principled stand’ in practise means getting Kashmir at all costs.

Later on Kashmir dispute was seen as a time bomb waiting to be exploded, and at one time even senior US officials thought Kashmir dispute was a ‘flash point’, which could have precipitated a war between the nuclear rivals – India and Pakistan.

The world had witnessed horrors of a nuclear use in the past, but not a nuclear war which in view of many experts is not conceivable because it leads to MAD scenario - mutually assured destruction. In other words these weapons are for deterrent and not to be used by warring countries because of their horror and destruction.

But some of these experts don’t appreciate it is South Asia where human life has little or no value, and where every thing is justified to achieve desired objectives in name of ‘national interest’. This is more so in an Islamic Republic of Pakistan where no one knows what will happen next. Every inconceivable blunder is committed here and defended in name of national interest or public interest, these rulers could have sleep - walked the country in to a nuclear clash.

In a state where rulers proudly commit blunders, invade its own capital, rape its constitution, claim that women of his country get raped in order to get visas in the West, kill its own people and even use jet fighters and chemical weapons like white phosphorus against innocent children and women and still get away with these crimes one can expect anything to happen. Rulers of such countries can commit unimagined crimes; they can use any kind of weapons. If they can use illegal chemicals against its citizens including innocent women and children, what stops them to use nuclear weapons against declared ‘national enemy’? Imagine if these weapons were available to them in 1971, would they have kept them in a safe place?

From flash point Kashmir became a ‘core issue’. Rulers of Islamabad loudly declared that they would not negotiate with India until this core issue was resolved. It is believed that their undeclared aim was to keep ‘India bleeding’ and engaged through this process of a ‘proxy war’ in which India appeared as a bad guy in a community of nations. The planners of this strategy thought they have got India ‘hooked’ and should not let it off, even though it was costing Kashmiris immense loss in the form of human life and destruction.

The world community could not be fooled for too long, and pressure was applied to abandon this obstinate attitude and begin dialogue with India. Then Kashmir became from the core issue to one of the major issues confronting the both countries. With this change in status of the Kashmir dispute became a series of negotiations at different level in which both countries vowed to resolve all these ‘major issues’, which included Kashmir dispute in order to establish cordial relationship between them.

While initial steps were being considered, and trust and sincerity to the cause of peace in South Asia and possible solutions of Kashmir dispute were being analysed a commando in General uniform swung in to action. His aim was to jeopardise the peace process by throwing a spanner to halt the process and not any kind of ‘liberation’ as people were led to believe with a massive propaganda.

I was among those Kashmiris who condemned it and called it a conspiracy. The Kargil adventure was planned to derail the peace process and shatter trust and confidence between India and Pakistan. It also brought death, destruction and misery to tens of thousands of innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of LOC.

Apart from the above this commando action, which people were led to believe that Kashmiri mujahideens have carried out, provided sanctity to the Line of Control. For people of Jammu and Kashmir LOC was just another line forcibly imposed on us by those who occupy us; and it replaced the cease – fire - line which was imposed us in 1949. Now with this ‘sanctity’ given to the LOC, impression is established that these are de- facto ‘international’ borders with different name; and that no one must be allowed to play with this ‘sanctity’.

Among hidden aims of the Kargil adventure was to maintain the status quo and strengthen those who believe that the State of Jammu and Kashmir should not be united. Good thing is that now even retired senior army generals are criticising the Kargil fiasco and demand a judicial enquiry or establishment of a commission to investigate this matter to unearth facts.

Ayaz Mir, a famous Pakistani journalist and prolific writer wrote: ‘Kargil did grave damage to the Kashmir cause. It also marked the starting point of the phrase “cross border terrorism”, the stick with which Pakistan was regularly beaten in subsequent years. Musharaf did take everyone for ride over Kargil’.

It took many years of behind the scenes diplomacy, death of thousands of innocent people and destruction of property worth billions to dawn on the commando General that he has to note of fast changing ground realities and make adjustments to his stance and approach. He was told that he cannot have his way all the time. He cannot bulldoze all institutions and every irritant within Pakistan, in Azad Kashmir or in Gilgit and Pakistan. He was told that he cannot do the same with his neighbours, especially powerful and influential neighbour like India.

As subsequent events proved that the commando General and his team had little or no concern about welfare, safety and security of the Pakistani people. And in view of this, welfare and security of people of Jammu and Kashmir, legally not part of Pakistan, was not on their priority list. They made decisions which suited them no matter what damage they caused to the people of Jammu and Kashmir or the Kashmir dispute.

Generals are not known for far sightedness, prudence and flexibility, but this commando General wanted to show that he was different. If he can do Kargil he can also be a champion of peace and promote friendly relations between the two countries. And his eagerness to establish friendly relations with India demonstrated that the man was in hurry and that ‘hero’ of Kargil fiasco had no spine.

When he made a U turn on Afghanistan and abandoned Taliban who were known as ‘our own boys’, I wrote: a time will come when he will abandon Kashmiris as well. We were told that he has made this somersault on Afghanistan in order to ‘save Pakistan’ and get support and concessions on the issue of Kashmir.

Later events proved that he got neither. Pakistan is in total mess and at a verge of civil war and economic collapse due to his policies. On Kashmir there has been some progress in the form of certain CBMs which have helped to reduce tension and reduced suffering and miseries of the people to some extent. But in doing so his approach was wrong and unprofessional. In those days due to lack of proper consultation, advice and knowledge on jurisprudence of Kashmir dispute he came out with a new formula on Kashmir every time he was in front of a TV camera.

All his formulas had one thing in common: They all proposed a division of Jammu and Kashmir. These CBMs and formulas were not called: Confidence Building Measure but Continuous Bending Measures. People of Jammu and Kashmir did not pay these sacrifices for any kind of division or accession. They were rightly concerned although some conspirators and collaborators openly allied themselves with these formulas and with Musharaf, further exposing them that they were puppets who supported what ever policy Islamabad rulers enacted on Kashmir.

In the preceding years Musharaf Government has worked hard to make Kashmir dispute just another issue which will be resolved in future, but which should be put on a back burner until such time that people are prepared to accept its division. In the meantime they have diverted attention of people to issues of judges, justice, roti (bread) electricity, gas, water etc that they can forget about Kashmir and run after them. During this time they will concentrate on strengthening bilateral issues like trade, commerce, and exchange of cultural visits etc.

Their true policy and designs on Kashmir were summed up like this by Former Attorney General of Pakistan and former Senator Iqbal Haider, in an article titled, ‘In search of a solution for Kashmir’. He wrote: ‘Pakistan has rightly shown flexibility by not insisting upon the rhetorical demand for implementation of these (UN) resolutions’. Also he rejected the option of an independent Kashmir and stated, ‘A viable solution could perhaps be to accept the Line of Control with some minor adjustments, as the international border’.

Writer is a political activist, analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:

To view other articles see my blog:

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Karachi Pact and Gilgit and Baltistan

Karachi Pact and Gilgit and Baltistan
Dr Shabir Choudhry 28 April 2006

Fifty seven years ago an agreement with the name of Karachi Pact was signed which established Pakistani hegemony over the vast areas of Gilgit and Baltistan. It is claimed that this pact which paved way for Pakistani imperialism in these areas was signed between rulers of Pakistan and leaders of Muslim Conference.

Facts, however, do not support this contention. According to this claim the document was signed by Nawab Mushtaq Gurmani, a Pakistani Minister without Portfolio, and President of ‘Azad Kashmir’ Sardar Ibrahim Khan and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, who were leaders of Muslim Conference which was widely seen as mouth piece of Pakistan.

This political party, ever since its revival in 1940, has very sincerely looked after the interest of Muslim League and Pakistan. History of this party and history of Jammu and Kashmir clearly tells us that when it is confronted with a choice between looking after the interest of the Kashmiri people and the interest of Pakistan, it has always taken a decision in favor of the later.

Even before India was partitioned, to become sovereign states of Pakistan and India, they started struggle to get Jammu and Kashmir; and in view of some, started a ‘fight’ to defeat each other. That fight despite fall of Dhaka and despite wars and truces, still continues. And, that in view of some analysts is the root cause of tension between Pakistan and India, and Jammu and Kashmir dispute is a manifestation of that ‘struggle’ or that ‘fight’.

The result of that fight was a cease- fire- line which came in to being on 1st January 1949 and de-facto division of the State between the both countries. It must be noted that areas of Gilgit and Baltistan were only returned to the Maharaja government two weeks before the partition of India, and the Maharaja government was not able to fully establish its decree because of the somewhat mysterious role of the Gilgit Scouts.

Everyone acknowledge the great strategic importance of these areas and that is why they were leased by the British from the Maharaja government. In principle they were returned to the Maharaja, and Brigadier Gansara Singh was sent as a Governor to take control of these areas, but he was unable to assert his authority because of the influence of the Gilgit Scouts and presence of the British officers who advised him to be cautious as situation was uncertain.

Brigadier Gansara was there as a Governor of the Maharaja government, which showed that these areas were part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistani view is that once these areas were ‘liberated’ they acceded to Pakistan, but do not offer any evidence in support of this. And moreover respective governments of Pakistan agree at the international level that these areas are part of Jammu and Kashmir (for example in UN resolutions).

If as Pakistan now claims that accession took place soon after the ‘liberation’ of these areas, then technically they had become a part of Pakistan; then question arises why make them part of the Kashmir dispute and plebiscite which could have gone against Pakistan. The fact is that no accession took place. One may ask who signed on behalf of the people of Gilgit and Baltistan, and who signed on behalf of Pakistan and where is the document- instrument of accession?

All facts of this tragic story could not be presented in one article, however it is important to say that those ‘powers’ who were behind the partition of India were also behind the crises in Gilgit and Balatistan. And story in summary is as follows.

The British Raj in India ended on 15th August 1947, and Brigadier Gansara Singh reached Gilgit to take control of these areas on 1st of August. The power at that time was with the British and Gilgit Scouts who were established and controlled by them. Brigadier Gansara Singh was accepted as a Governor but was not allowed to assert his control; rather he was advised to be cautious and wait until situation is stable.

So between 15th August 1947 and until the ‘liberation’ (in 1st week of November) a status quo was maintained, and one wonders why? Brigadier Gansara Singh with two companies of the Maharaja army stayed there until that time, and did not make any attempt to takeover or assert his authority even after the end of the British Raj.

In other words during all this period there were two centers of power: Brigadier Gansara Singh and the Gilgit Scouts who, even at that time were commanded by the British. It is they who advised him to wait until situation is stable.

The fact, however, is that their concern was not the ‘stability’, but future of these areas. They wanted to see which way the Maharaja goes- was he going to opt for India, Pakistan or was he going to become independent. As future of these areas were crucial to the British and the American interest, because of the Soviet Union and Communist China being neighbours, they wanted to ensure that these areas don’t get in to ‘wrong hands’.

They managed to keep the ‘status quo’ in these areas by cautioning the legally appointed governor to wait and not to assert his authority; and once they realised that the Maharaja because of tribal invasion had no choice but to acceded with India, they made a move and Gilgit Scouts came in to action. Gilgit Scouts was the British creation, and they had complete control over them. As noted above, even at that time Scouts were commanded by the British Officers, and there was no question of them ‘rebelling’ against orders of their commanders and seize control of the administration by arresting the Governor.

One wonders why this ‘liberation’ was manoeuvred. Maharaja, forced by circumstances, ‘acceded’ to India on 26th October 1947 and Indian forces landed at the Srinagar airport the next morning. The accession was provisional, but it was for whole of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; and as Gilgit and Baltistan was also part of the State, hence it should have gone under control of India.

Those who were calling shots at that time in South Asia looked at the developments anxiously. They had to see how their interests could be best safeguarded. If these areas go under the control of ‘socialist’ Nehru, who had clear left tendencies, would he allow them to use these areas against Soviet Union and China?

Answer was no. A democratic and visionary leader like Nehru would not have allowed this interference; but it was possible in ‘Islamic, feudal and undemocratic’ Pakistan, which they knew Pakistan would become, as they had their ‘own men’ in corridors of power.

They could not afford to remain as spectators, so after a few days of observation they realised that India had stabilised its position in the capital, Srinagar, and was repulsing the raiders back where they came from. They wanted to have access to these areas to keep ‘an eye’ on the activities of communist menace, and for that wanted to ensure that these areas were in ‘safe hands’.

The mission was accomplished without much problem. The Maharaja’s army in Gilgit and Baltistan consisted of two armed companies-one was Muslim and the other Sikh. Apart from the Gilgit Scouts this Muslim company also changed side and took active part in the ‘liberation’. And after this ‘liberation’ these areas were handed over to Pakistan; and to date they are in ‘safe hands’- under direct occupation of Pakistan, where people of the area do not enjoy basic human rights.

To strengthen Pakistani hold over these areas, and make them more ‘safe’ Muslim Conference leaders were used, hence the Karachi Pact came in to being in April 1949. This Pact, in view of many nationalist Kashmiris, is like Treaty of Amritsar- a black document which has legalized subjugation and oppression of the innocent people.

Pakistani governments make two contradictory claims about these areas:
A/ These areas acceded to Pakistan soon after the ‘liberation’. If that is true then why it was part of the UN resolutions which were passed after this ‘liberation’?

B/ Pakistan took over control of these areas as a result of the Karachi Pact, again this was ‘signed’ after the ‘liberation’.

Both of these claims contradict each other. But there is another twist in the story. Sardar Ibrahim Khan, on more than one occasion claimed that he did not sign this document, if that is true, and we have no reason to doubt his statement, especially made towards the end of his political and natural life. So the question is who signed it if he didn’t?

There is another very important question. Even if he did sign it, one may question what right did he have to sign it? He was appointed a ‘President’ of Azad Kashmir by Pakistani authorities, not by people; and areas of Gilgit and Baltistan were separated from this administrative set up.

Muslim Conference in its entire history, even when Jammu and Kashmir was united, never had any branch or any member in these areas. They had no following of any kind in these areas, and then question is how on earth they can sign away rights and future of people spread over in more than 28 thousand sq miles? How can you give or ‘gift’ something which you don’t own? How can you delegate a right or power which you don’t have?

Answer is simple. A conspiracy was hatched by those who wanted to ensure that these areas stay in ‘safe hands’; and it is because of this policy that despite all the upheavals and turns and twists they are still occupied, oppressed, and to large extent, ignored by the world because they are in ‘safe hands’, and it serves their purpose.

Writer is a Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at:

Accountability is must in public life

Accountability is must in public life
Dr Shabir Choudhry 16 April 2006

"Hold yourselves accountable before you are held accountable", said Umar Ibnul Khattab, more than fourteen hundred years ago. There will never be another Umar. He was, by any one’s standard, a great administrator, a great ruler and a great God fearing Muslim.

He set up great examples in administration and accountability. Because he was honest and God fearing person himself he established a system which was fair and simple; and even encouraged those to challenge rulers to get their rights who were poor and disadvantaged people in the society. They did not fear any intimidation or reprisals and that is why they even dared to question the Caliph himself in public.

Muslim rulers of that time were honest and they set up a system which was fair. There was no corruption or nepotism of any kind in Muslim societies of that time; and now Muslim societies are perceived to be the most corrupt and dishonest in the world.

All kinds of dishonesty, fraud and malpractices are associated with Muslims; and we cannot escape the responsibility by saying that it is propaganda of Jews, Hindus and other non- Muslims. It is not a good practice to always shift the blame and accuse other for our blunders. We have to accept that there are serious faults in the systems we have set up, these systems are not democratic in nature; and do not encourage transparency and accountability.

In fact these systems are deliberately designed to perpetuate the rule of elite, which generally breeds more corruption, nepotism, unaccountability and make people and nations hostage to the interest of foreign powers. And to support that out of date, anti people, and anti democratic system, a political culture is established that those who demand changes or criticise rulers are perceived as ‘agents’ of foreign powers.

Unfortunately we have closed doors to accountability and transparency and discourage discussion and analysis. Criticism on leaders is perceived as crime and treachery. Most Muslim societies have no political parties, and those which have some political parties are encouraged to build them around the cult of a leader rather than any principle or ideology. These political parties clearly lack democracy and tolerance; and leaders will not allow any independent or different thinking within the party, as is the practice in the political parties in Pluralistic Societies.

Pakistan became independent in 1947- ‘liberated’ as some people like to say. In reality it has never been independent or liberated, and some other countries which were liberated after Pakistan are far ahead of Pakistan. Has anyone wondered why? It is no good blaming outside conspiracies or foreign hand - all conspiracies had roots in Pakistan.

Pakistanis have a reputation of being emotional people, and that reputation has been systematically strengthened by inciting religious sentiments; and by using good offices of religious leaders. And on each such occasion Pakistan’s image suffered seriously and in some cases it cost Pakistan enormous amount in money as well.

I might end up upsetting some Pakistani friends when I say this. Some of Pakistan’s problems are directly related to its founder and the Party which he presided. That party was controlled and dominated by feudal landlord and aristocrats who provided funds for the political events. Of course aristocrats don’t encourage liberal and democratic values, if anything; they hold back the progress in order to enjoy power and influence.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah himself was a liberal minded person, but I am not sure if he encouraged democracy and liberal thinking within the Muslim League. Unlike Muslim League the Indian National Congress had well established democratic system, of course they also had rich people with them who supported them financially but they were not strong enough to hold back the progress of the party.

The result is before us. A party which had well established democratic system passed that system on and established a democratic system in India. The other party did not have such a system or even desire to pass on anything like this.

The party which believed in democracy and plural society abolished landed aristocracy and rule of Rajas and Nawabs, as their powers and influence was deemed to be obstacle as it had potential to hold back the progress of democratic and liberal society.

The other party, especially after the death of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, under strong influence of landed aristocracy, strengthened their own position and held back progress towards democracy and pro people policies. Pakistan and even its neighbours still suffer for that policy. There is no democracy, no transparency and no accountability, and landed aristocracy and military elite have joined hands to rule the country and the society.

India could be criticised for other things, and I have to do that as well otherwise I will be accused of being ‘pro India’ for praising a good thing of an ‘enemy’; but India stands with pride in the comity of nations as the biggest democracy in the world. They have set up a system that encourages Multi National Companies to invest in India; and it motivates other countries to issue visas to Indian professionals.

A system of government or corruption what Pakistan had, it ‘honestly’ and ‘sincerely’ transferred that in Azad Kashmir, area under its indirect control; and we can say that a system of government in Azad Kashmir is not much different to that of Pakistan. India on other hand has been less than ‘honest’ in this, they have developed a democratic and somewhat transparent system inside India proper, and despite claims to Jammu and Kashmir encouraged a system of politics which is known as ‘proxy politics’ and full of corruption.

Tolerance is a major ingredient in a system of democratic government, and we people of Jammu and Kashmir have rich history and culture of tolerance. We must endeavour to reunite the State of Jammu and Kashmir and set up a system which suits our requirements, and which encourages transparency and accountability.

If we fail to reunite our homeland and set up a system of accountability and transparency then I fear we might not have our name among those nations who are there to stay and prosper. In my opinion it is still not too late, we Kashmiris can still resolve our differences that are encouraged and exaggerated by those who occupy us; and the best way forward is to acknowledge our past shortfalls, and make a new start with sincerity.

It will surely help us if we hold ourselves accountable before our conscience, and encourage a system of check and balance in political parties. And inside parties we must strengthen a democratic system rather than individuals, because individuals, no matter how talented and sincere could make wrong decisions- which could prove disastrous for the parties and movement.

Writer is a Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at:

Preface to If not self - determination than what?

If not self - determination than what?

A lot has happened to the Kashmir dispute and the Kashmiris in the past few years. Deadly earthquake has devastated lives of millions of Kashmiris on both sides of the LOC, adding to miseries and suffering of the people. How unfortunate that despite tens of millions of local and international help victims of the earthquake are still suffering out there in the camps in this harsh winter.

Apart from this the Kashmiri struggle and our inherent right of self -determination has witnessed some twists and turns. Pakistani government, which has been telling people of Jammu and Kashmir that they have only one interest, and that is to ensure that people of Jammu and Kashmir get their right of self- determination, has finally made a u turn. It is not the first u - turn made by Pakistan and surely it won’t be the last, as those at the helm of affairs have understood that each u – turn brings rewards.

True Kashmiri nationalists, however, always thought that Pakistani governments are not sincere with this claim and that they had more interest in territorial gains and resources of the State. And it is because of this policy that they ensured that the people of Kashmir only get a limited right to choose between India and Pakistan and not complete independence. Readers might remember that this right was limited on the request of Pakistan in the second UNCIP Resolution of 5 January 1949.

Because of total control over media and docile and subservient attitude of many Kashmiri leaders ordinary people of Jammu and Kashmir are not fully aware of true intentions of the Pakistani governments. Pakistan had tremendous influence on minds and hearts of Kashmiris, and despite anti independence policies of Islamabad they continued to think that Pakistan was sincere with their cause.

They always thought of some excuse to exonerate Pakistan of its responsibilities and blunders. General Musharaf has introduced a concept of self - rule and joint management - categorically stating that Kashmiris couldn’t become independent. Furthermore that Kashmiris have to accept division of the State, hence accepting Indian hegemony on that side of the LOC.

Even after this clarification pro pocket Kashmiris who have always acted as stooges of Islamabad have tried to defend Pakistan’s this policy. And to add insult to pride of true nationalist Kashmiris or to insult the concept of right of self determination some so called ‘nationalist’ leaders have also joined the band wagon in hope of getting rewards in their old age.

Until yesterday, Kashmir was issue of right of self- determination, unfinished agenda of partition of India, core issue, jugular vein, and must part of Pakistan and its survival. Now political somersault by Islamabad means all that is history. Pakistani policy makers had to come out of ‘fantasy world’ and deal with politics of real world.

Although some sections of the establishment still don’t want to leave that comfortable and self-pleasing world, close associates of General Musharaf soon realised that geopolitical realities have changed which require new strategy. Now State of Jammu and Kashmir, according to him is just not a core issue and just one of issues that needed to be resolved on principle of give and take. Kashmiris have no right to become independent, as Kashmir dispute, according to new thinking, is not issue of right of self - determination. If it is not issue of right of self - determination than what is it; and why it took so long to reach this conclusion?

Pakistani governments have in the past paid lip service to their version of self - determination but in practise, formulated such policies that treated the Kashmir dispute as a territorial one. And in line with this thinking they have at last openly suggested to divide the former princely state between them (Pakistani governments have many times in the past agreed to division of the state, but the proposed division could not take place due to disagreement on the area).

Pakistani government knew what they wanted to do, and for a change they planned it in advance and instructed their stooges to start preparing ground for self - rule. By the money and resources provided by Pakistan a conference was arranged in Washington in which for the first time the concept of self determination was opposed and it was not even part of the resolutions. It was in the same conference that some Kashmiri stooges of Islamabad said that concept of self determination is ‘out dated’ and that we have to look for new and’ forward looking’ concept of self rule.

Although I strongly disagree with General Musharaf’s prescription for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, I, however, thank him for being honest and candid with his views. He has put his cards on the table and has clearly signalled that he wants to decide on behalf of the Kashmiri people and will keep them out of the peace process.

It is possible that once both India and Pakistan have agreed what they want to do with Kashmir, they will take on board some pro Pakistan and pro India leaders from both sides of the divide. They might ask likes of Sardar Qayyum, Sardar Sikander Ayat, Barrister Sultan Mahmood, Mufti Sayeed, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah for their comments. They might even ask some pseudo nationalist leaders to join this to give it a representative character; and then ask both assemblies to rubber stamp the decision.

So friends, colleagues and freedom loving people of Jammu and Kashmir, ball is in our court. India and Pakistan have very clearly spelled out their policies and intentions. They want to deprive us of unification and independence. They don’t regard us as a nation, and believe that we don’t deserve to be independent; we don’t deserve to enjoy fruits of freedom and dignity. The best they can offer us is a self- rule, and hegemonic dominance and reliance by India and Pakistan.

Then the question is have we been fighting for a self- rule, division of the State or independence? India declared its Kashmir policy a long time ago, and despite that was willing to settle for a division. Pakistan on the other hand had no clear policy on Kashmir, as they claimed to support the right of self – determination of Kashmiri people, but pursued such policies which clearly showed that Pakistan is interested in territory and resources of the State.

If they had to settle for a division then why cause so much destruction and misery. Because of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy not only we Kashmiris have suffered but people of Pakistan and South Asia have also suffered. If division was what they wanted then why not accept it when it was offered in 1950s? Why not accept it during Bhutto - Swaran Singh talks in 1963? Why not accept it after misadventure of 1965? Why not accept it after defeat of 1971? Why not accept it after Siachin was taken over and it was declared unimportant barren land? Why not accept it when India was desperate for a solution in early 1990s, and Indian Prime Minister said ‘sky was the limit’? Why not accept it when Indian Prime Minister Vajapaee Sahib travelled to Lahore? Why there had to be Kargil and killing and destruction of so many innocent people? Instead of accepting either 100 slaps or eat 100 onions, why do we have to adopt a policy where we end up taking both?

Pakistan’s Kashmir policy is exposed but despite that majority of people of Jammu and Kashmir have soft corner for Pakistan, and that perhaps is because of religious affiliation and massive propaganda that Pakistan is a ‘friend’ and ‘big brother’ of the Kashmiris. Of course wrong policies of New Delhi have also played an important role in this; and majority of Kashmiris see India as a ‘villain’ in Kashmir.

What if this division had taken place before the present ‘uprising’ of 1989, and subsequent human rights violations committed by Indian Para military forces had not taken place? How then people of Jammu and Kashmir might have viewed India and Pakistan? To ordinary Kashmiris who are not brainwashed by propaganda, would have perceived both countries as ‘land grabbers’ who had imperialist designs in Jammu and Kashmir.

Whether it is fault of India, Pakistan or the Kashmiri leaders the fact is that people of Jammu and Kashmir have paid very heavy price since 1947. Tens of thousands of innocent lives have been lost, millions uprooted from their homes, billions of pounds worth property destroyed and thousands of women dishonoured; and still there is no light at the end of the tunnel. People of Jammu and Kashmir are still forcibly divided; and the Kashmir dispute is managed, manipulated and negotiated by India and Pakistan with Kashmiri leaders still far away from the negotiating table as they were in 1947.

Despite all the above, there is one ‘positive outcome’ for Pakistani policy makers, and that is that Kashmiris still perceive India as a ‘villain’, and Pakistan as a ‘friend’ and ‘big brother’. Now that ‘friend’ and ‘big brother’ has spelled out its Kashmir policy in unambiguous manner, we freedom - loving people of Jammu and Kashmir need to formulate our policy, which must be pro Kashmir and not pro neighbours.

Dr Shabir Choudhry
I5 January 2007

Monday, 2 June 2008

JKLF hunger strike in London

JKLF hunger strike in London

London 24th May, 2000On the day when JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik and senior colleagues from APHC went on hunger strike in Srinagar in protest of the extra judicial killings of Kashmiris by the Indian forces, leaders of JKLF UK also sat on a hunger strike at the Indian High Commission in London in solidarity.

Hunger strikers include from London Shabir Choudhry JKLF President with senior colleagues Majid Thramboo and Mohammed Najib(London), Asim Mirza, Abass Butt(Watford), Liaquat Choudhry and Ishaq Mughal(Luton). Most of whome intend to make the sitting last till 6 pm Thursday.

The hunger strikers outside the Indian High Commission in London can be contacted on telephone 07941295327.JKLF activists in Srinagar, Azad Kashmir, USA, Europe and UK today expressed solidarity with there leader Yasin Malik and expressed the hope that his timely action would highlight the plight of the Kashmiri prisoners in Indian Jails and the relatives of the victims of the Indian atrocities across the state of Jammu-Kashmir.

The Indian High Commission in London has remained open in view of the hunger strikers demands and heavy police is present at the scene. JKLF hunger strikers intend to break there fast at 6pm. More Kashmiris are expected to join them in the morning.Meanwhile members of JKLF in Azad Kashmir and the J&K Youth Alliance held a picket at the Indian mission in Islamabad and presented a protest petition.EndSagir AhmedPublicity Secretary ---JKLF-UK-EUROPEP. O. BOX 55BRADFORD, BD3 8YFUnited Kingdom

APHC is not a representative of Kashmiris, asserts JKLF

APHC is not a representative of Kashmiris, asserts JKLF

London: Leaders and senior members of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) for the UK and Europe seemed full of the praise which the US Department had showered on J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. A four-member delegation led by the JKLF President Abbas Butt had recently gone to Washington and met US State Department officials.

While briefing the media about the outcome of the visit, Butt said: "They are pleased with the role of Mufti Mohammad Syed in providing the healing touch." The Chairman of Diplomatic Committee of the JKLF's UK and Europe unit, Dr Shabir Choudhry added:

"The US has no 'road map' for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The dispute has to be resolved by the concerned parties. However, as a friend America is prepared to play its supportive and advisory role." They also averred that the US agreed with them that the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) was not a representative of the Kashmir people and it lacked the "vision" and "a programme" to tackle the situation.

They said they had two-rounds of discussions with the representatives of the State Department, first at the State Department headquarters and later at a hotel. Butt and Choudhry said the consensus was that use of the military was not an option at all for resolving the Kashmir issue. "The dispute has to be resolved through a process of dialogue." The leaders maintained their old line that while trying to find a solution, views of the Kashmiri people must be ascertained, at least before reaching a final settlement of the dispute.

"Violence and extremism has to be opposed as it is not the way forward," the State Department officials told the JKLF delegation. Crucially, the JKLF was invited to send a delegation to Washington in between the official visits of the Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Butt stressed that the Kashmir dispute could not be be resolved just by holding bilateral talks as it was not a territorial dispute.

"People of Kashmir are the principal party to this long standing dispute, and they should have the final say on the future status of the State. In any case, history of bilateralism between the two proves that they have not been able to make progress, and it is also because of this that the people of Kashmir must be involved in the peace process," Butt pointed out that J&K is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic political unit, and must remain as such. People should have the right to live and practice their beliefs without any fear or intimidation. "Any attempt to change this character of the State could result in more problems and violence in Kashmir and spill over to India and Pakistan."

On the issue of representation, Choudhry said: "We acknowledge practical difficulties in ascertaining the views of the Kashmiri people, and even to decide who will represent them.” But it is clear that the APHC is not a representative of the Kashmir people. They have miserably failed to win trust of minorities, or expand into Jammu, Ladakh, (Pakistan-Occupied) Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan and even failed to win minds and hearts of the people of Valley."

The JKLF leaders said there should be a bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar and between Mirpur and Jammu. They also suggested free travel facilities to Kashmiris from Jammu to places in PoK, Gilgit and Baltistan, of course both ways.,00430005.htm

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Written submission made to Henry Stimson Centre

Written submission made to Henry Stimson Centre

Written submission made to Henry Stimson Centre by delegation of JKLF UK & Europe in a meeting held on 17th June 2003 in Washington DC.

Delegation members:

1. Mr Abbas Butt, President of JKLF UK & Europe
2. Mr Zubair Ul Haq Ansari, Secretary General JKLF
3. Councillor Masoom Ansari, Treasurer
4. Dr Shabir Choudhry, Chairman Diplomatic Committee

It is pleasure to note that the Stimson Centre has taken keen interest in affairs of South Asia, and have played a proactive role in finding acceptable solution of the Kashmir dispute.

We feel that American Think Tanks like Henry Stimson Centre could take a lead role in encouraging and helping the parties to over come difficulties. Whereas we appreciate their role, we want to emphasis these basic facts which should be taken in to consideration:

· The entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory, and a higher degree of violence and human rights violations in one region does not make it more disputed than other regions;
· Violence and use of force will not lead to any permanent resolution of the dispute;
· Religious fanaticism, extremism and communalism must be opposed as they only exacerbate the situation; and no solution could be found when there is culture of fear and armed personnel are dominating the civil society of Kashmir.
· Emphasis must be on a process of dialogue to find a permanent solution, and continuation of this process;
· It must be clear that no solution could be imposed on the people of Kashmir; therefore any solution must be according to aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

We appreciate the role of the USA and the American Think Tanks like Stimson Centre, who fully support a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute that there can be peace and stability in South Asia, but at the same time we urge that America has to play some kind of role, be it behind the scenes, as overt mediation is not acceptable to India and Pakistan.

We believe the American role (be it that of a facilitator) and influence is imperative to ensure that the both India and Pakistan:

· Create environment conducive to start a process of dialogue;
· Continue the process of dialogue and do not give up as a result of some kind of serious incident which could be managed by those who don’t want peace in the region;
· Involve the people of Jammu and Kashmir in to either tripartite or triangular process of dialogue;
· Work out a mechanism based on justice and fair play to ‘elect’ a Kashmiri leadership who could help in the resolution of the dispute.

We further emphasis that whereas both India and Pakistan have every right to resolve their bilateral issues, Kashmir dispute must not be resolved bilaterally as it is not a territorial dispute. People of Kashmir are the principal party to this long standing dispute, and they should have the final say on the future status of the State. In any case, history of bilateralism between the two proves that they have note been able to make progress; and it is also because of this that the people of Kashmir must be involved in the peace process.

State is multi religious and multi ethnic political unit

The State of Jammu and Kashmir is multi religious and multi ethnic political unit, and must remain as such where people have right to live and practice their beliefs without any fear intimidation. Any attempt to change this character of the State could result in more problems and violence not only in Kashmir but it could spill over to India and Pakistan. So it is imperative that the State remains as a one political unit otherwise the genie of communalism will take over the events and bring more hatred and destruction in the entire region.

Issue over representation

We acknowledge practical difficulties in ascertaining the views of the Kashmiri people, and even to decide who will represent them; but it is clear that the APHC is not a representative of the Kashmiri people. They have miserably failed:
· To win trust of minorities;
· Expand in to Jammu;
· Expand in to Ladakh
· Expand in to Azad Kashmir
· Expand in to Gilgit and Baltistan and
· Even failed to win minds and hearts of the people of Valley

They had a free hand in playing a lead role in matters of the State for past 8/9 years, and to prove that they have vision and a programme for the future status of the State; and that they are well wishers of all citizens of the State, and have ability to represent people of all shades and opinion.

The history of past decade shows that they had no programme and no vision, and they were happier in promoting their personal agendas and implementing the agenda of those who were comfortably sitting outside the borders of the State. As a result we saw rise of communalism and hatred during these years which brought more destruction and very severely damaged the fabrics of Kashmiri society which took pride in its culture and practice of tolerance.

Also they have failed to talk about interest of all Kashmiri regions, especially about rights of the people of Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. This proves that either they had no care for them and perhaps did not regard them as Kashmiri regions; or they decided to remain quiet because of fear that the supply of ‘goods’ will stop from across the border.

The fact that they ‘exported’ leaders from the Valley to take posts in the so called APHC Azad Kashmir Chapter proves that it is a Valley based organisation; and its prime aim is to protect interest of the Valley. If it was a representative of all Kashmiris, and wanted to demonstrate that then they could have asked some Kashmiri leaders in Azad Kashmir to take these positions. And if they wanted to reflect non communal character of the organisation they could have sent a non Muslim Kashmiri leader/s to Azad Kashmir to take one or more posts.

In view of this the APHC DOESNOT passes the test of representation, and must not be allowed to play with sentiments of the people. While selecting/electing the representatives of the Kashmiri people, at best, they should be allowed to accompany other leaders of the Valley who also have claim over representation in the valley.

Another point which needs to be taken in to consideration on this topic is that those Kashmiris who have already have decided that their future is either with India or Pakistan DONOT need any representation on the negotiating table, because their views could be represented by respective delegations of India and Pakistan.

Apart from APHC there are other Kashmiri alliances who claim to be well wishers of the Kashmiri people, and they speak of rights of all Kashmiri regions; and above all they are non communal in character.

Use of violence

We strongly believe that violence generates more violence and this could exacerbate the situation rather than resolving it. Therefore no party to the dispute should attempt to impose a decision by use of force; or use force to achieve political gains.

We also believe that the Kashmir dispute is a political problem and not a religious one as some leaders try to project. Furthermore, although India and Pakistan are parties to the dispute because of their de-facto control of the Kashmiri territory, however the Kashmir dispute basically concerns the people of Kashmir who have to determine their future status; and because of this there is no role for non Kashmiris to be there in any form or shape.

Intra Kashmir dialogue and understanding between regions

The State of Jammu Kashmir which consists of the Valley, Jammu, Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, had a proud history of tolerance and coexistence. Unfortunately fabrics of this old and rich culture of tolerance and brotherhood has been seriously damaged by forced division and segregation; and continued violence, at times targeting ethnic groups and religious sects, has resulted in misunderstandings and some kind of hatred among the Kashmiri regions and ethnic groups.

In the view of the above it is suggested that appropriate steps should be taken to rehabilitate those who have been uprooted by the trouble in the State, and opportunities are provided that people of different regions and various ethnic groups meet each other and build bridges of understanding. We therefore suggest:

· If a bus can travel from Pakistan to India, between two hostile countries, why can’t there be a bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar and between Mirpur and Jammu;
· Similarly why not people of each region be allowed to travel to other regions that people could develop ties of friendship and understanding, for example, people and leaders of Azad Kashmir visit Gilgit and Baltistan and vice versa, and people and leaders of Gilgit and Baltistan doing same in Ladakh;
· Why can’t parliamentarians of Azad Kashmir visit Srinagar and vice versa;
· If India and Pakistan, despite animosity with each other can develop trade links, then why not people of Kashmir be allowed to trade with each other.
· This process could eventually lead us to Intra Kashmir dialogue where people of Kashmir could sit down and formulate a policy about the future status of the State.

We all understand that the Kashmir dispute is not a simple one and it could not be resolved in one step, and there have to be a number of small steps leading to the final solution. It is therefore imperative that the both India and Pakistan, of course the militants and the Kashmiri people take appropriate steps to create conducive atmosphere in which a dialogue can take place. End