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: drshabirchoudhry@hotmail.com

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