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:

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Atleast now you know who fought to maintain dignity of their legal position on land where no grass grows and who suddenly gifted away large sections of YOUR J&K in 1963 to win over friendship of the unfriendly.
In any case this land wanst theirs so they dint lose anything per se. Its win-win situation for narrow minded. Btw, from your comments it seems you are equating Valley to entire J&K.