Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Does this reflect a new trend?

Does this reflect a new trend?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 25 February 2009

It is true the people of Jammu and Kashmir are not happy with the status quo, and they have suffered immensely over the past decades in order to get their fundamental rights, including most cherished and inherent right of self determination. But it is also true that some people have made this militancy in to a business, and have become very rich while the ordinary masses suffered and made sacrifices.

Those who turned the militancy in to a religious war by ‘importing’ guest militants from various Muslim countries did us no favour. They changed the fundamental character of the struggle as it was no longer perceived as an indigenous Kashmiri struggle; and this provided a strong propaganda stick in hands of the Indian government to persuade the international community that it was Pakistani government and its agencies which are inciting, controlling and funding the militancy.

Those who have benefited from this struggle and continue to do so want it to continue. They want misery and suffering of the people to continue because it boosts their influence, power and material gains. Anyone who points out at nefarious plans - hunger for fame, power and money is perceived as an enemy by this mafia which in actual fact is enemy of people of Jammu and Kashmir. This gang or parasite which breeds on blood and destruction is also an enemy of Pakistan as their policies have landed Pakistan in hot water.

This mafia through its control of media and assumed authority to issue edicts on religious matters has assigned task of misleading people. They even control and influence different Forums on the internet, and spread lies and disinformation which help them to continue with what they are doing. This mafia’s foot soldiers on the internet are also elevated to the status of mujahids – holy warriors and rewarded with appropriate perks because they help them to spread lies and defame those who are exposing them.

It is true the people of Jammu and Kashmir are not happy with what Indian government and its forces have done to the people; but it is also true that people don’t want to join Pakistan, as they don’t see bright future there because of what is going on there. Also people know what Pakistani agencies and their agents in form of non Kashmiri militants and politicians have done since 1988.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir have suffered but now they have better understanding of the actors who are involved in shaping their lives and their future. They now know that people with vested interests, be they Indians, Pakistanis or Kashmiris are more interested in feathering their own nests. They also know that taking part in elections is not same as taking part in a plebiscite to determine the future status of Jammu and Kashmir.

It is because of this understanding that they rejected calls of APHC and other leaders who oppose democratic values, rule of law, tolerance and fundamental rights of all citizens of the State, and have taken part in the elections that their elected representatives could help them to resolve their day to day problems. People were bewildered as to why these proxy leaders of Islamabad justified elections on the Pakistani side of Kashmir but opposed them on the India side. It soon became apparent that these leaders were doing this because of material gains; and people of Jammu and Kashmir rightly rejected their calls for a boycott.

Apart from that another important development has taken place on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir. According to a report of Kashmir Observer of 18 February 2009, nearly 14,000 youths took part on the Indian army’s recruitment drive which began in the district of Baramulla.

A debate has started as to why so many people have turned up to join the Indian army, especially if the army is taken as army of occupation. Some people say it is the poverty and unemployment which is forcing people to join the army others have different explanations.

There are many reasons why people join army. Unemployment could be one reason, but surely it is not the only reason. Some join because it is their family tradition, others join as they like the life style, training and discipline they get in that environment. Of course there are many who want to serve their nation, but perhaps this was not the motivational factor for the Kashmiris to join the Indian army, which until recently was loathed as army of occupation.

Many have expressed their resentment and hate against India and the army; and they continue to do so. But then question arises if they hate the army so much why nearly 14,000, from Baramula district alone want to be part of that army. Is it just the poverty and unemployment which is forcing people to join the army; or there are other factors as well?

People of Palestine dislike and hate the Israeli army; and there is more poverty and unemployment there than what there is in Jammu and Kashmir. The question is would people of Palestine join that army which they regard as killer army and army of occupation?

In view of some Kashmir watchers this signals a clear change of approach, especially if it is seen in light of outcome of the recent elections. Kashmiris know they can take part in elections and still continue their struggle for right of self determination and oppose the Indian rule.

Some experts argue that people of Jammu and Kashmir, by and large regard the Indian army as army of occupation, as more than 70,000 people have lost their lives since 1988. According to some experts Border Security Force, Kashmir Task Force and later on Special Operations Group and Rashtriya Rifles are responsible for most of the atrocities.

In 1990, the Indian army in order to reduce its internal commitment established the Rashtriya Rifles, which was raised by former chief of Army staff General B C Joshi for the exclusive role of fighting insurgency in Kashmir. The Indian policy makers thought in the event of a war with Pakistan, the 40,000-strong Rashtriya Rifles would protect the lines of communication and supplies from militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir that the army could fight the Pakistan army unhindered by guerrilla actions.
It would be pertinent to point out that Jammu and Kashmir Police, Kashmir Task Fore and Special Operation Group have also played an important role in fighting militancy. It is ironic that they are recruited from the local people, and are responsible for arresting, torture, custodial deaths and killing of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims. They have helped the Indian government to maintain their control over Jammu and Kashmir. So we have to take this aspect in to consideration when commenting on deaths and tortures of the Kashmiri people.
While analysing the new trend or the recruitment drive, some experts think the Indian army’s Operation Sadbhavana has also played some role in ‘building the confidence’ of the local people. The army experts thought force alone was not enough to put down the insurgency, and they launched Operation Sadbhavana in 1998 to ‘extend a helping hand in rebuilding the socio-economic life of people’. The aim of Operation Sadbhavana was to work with the state administration to improve the ‘quality of life of the people of the state’.
However in my opinion there are other factors which have helped to change the thinking. People have learnt that their leaders have betrayed them and they have become richer, live in big houses, fly first class and don’t appear to be from the masses. These leaders enjoy their lives while the people continue to suffer.
Apart from that the main party - Pakistan which supported the militancy and provided oxygen to it, is faced with serious internal challenges. The militancy has come down considerably over the past years due to various reasons, and one main reason was decline of support from Pakistan. Pakistan has too much on its plate already, and won’t be able to support the militancy, as it did in the past.
In my view these factors have helped to change the public attitude towards militancy and the elections. They can boycott elections and continue for their right of self determination. Some now think that they can join the army, but still continue to demand for right of self determination.
In any case some think if their leaders have a right to enjoy life, fly in helicopters and expensive cars provided to them by their occupiers, then they also have duty to feed their families and live life in some comfort. I know agents of this mafia will once again attack me, so I am providing a web link to the news about the army recruitment.

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:

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Text of Dr Shabir Choudhry’s speech at UKPNP public meeting

Text of Dr Shabir Choudhry’s speech at UKPNP public meeting
20 February 2009

Kashmir dispute and role of Pakistani agencies

Friends and colleagues Aslamo Alaykam

First of all I want to thank leadership of UKPNP Azad Kashmir for inviting me to address your gathering. Also I want to congratulate your leadership for holding a public meeting on such important topic; and again in a place like Azad Kashmir where people feel uncomfortable in speaking truth.

Friends this struggle which has been going on since 1988 was not our struggle, although we have suffered during this, and have lost more than 70 thousand people in a struggle which was articulated by Pakistani agencies and imposed on us to further their national interest. It was presented to us as a Kashmiri struggle and Kashmiri leadership also ‘sold’ it as ‘our own struggle’, just as the Pakistani government is trying to sell America’s war as its own war in FATA, Swat and other parts of Pakistan.

This was never our struggle, and was not started to liberate the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Its aim was to ‘keep India engaged’ and ‘keep India bleeding’, that Indian government cannot start any adventure against Pakistan. Pakistanis policy makers feared that Rajiev Gandhi, Prime Minister of India was contemplating an attack on Pakistan during Brass Track military exercises in mid 1980s.

Perhaps that policy suited the government of Pakistan at that time, but surely it did not suit our struggle for national independence, as it helped to enforce the view that the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral dispute; and that it is engineered and manipulated by the Pakistani agencies to protect their national interest. Furthermore it resulted in pain, suffering, torture, killings, rapes and imprisonment; and tragedy is that the world still views it as a dispute between India and Pakistan which they have to resolve bilaterally.

In other words despite all these sacrifices we have not been able to make it a Kashmiri struggle, and main reason for that is inability of Kashmiri leaders to differentiate between universally recognised right of self determination and a right of accession; their inability to differentiate between a national struggle and a ‘proxy war’. I know many people don’t like the term ‘proxy war’, but look for the meaning of this term in the Oxford English dictionary and then equate that with what they have done in name of our struggle, you will note that it fits in with the definition.

It is perceived as a ‘proxy war’ because Kashmiri leaders once again agreed to offer their shoulders to be used to advance the Pakistani interest at the expense of a Kashmiri interest. Once again they agreed to become subservient to ISI and Pakistani interest.

Friends and colleagues let me elaborate this point, because we have to ascertain who did what during crucial years of our history. Muslim conference and some other parties take pride in what they do to serve national interest of Pakistan. Their policies surely did not advance a national cause of Jammu and Kashmir, but they did not cause death and destruction either. They don’t hide that their goal is not an independent Kashmir; and that they want to become part of Pakistan, and they advance pro Pakistan policies.

In my view culprits and hypocrites are those who claim to be nationalist leaders, and yet advance policies which are similar to that of Muslim Conference. I am referring to the top leaders of JKLF who betrayed the ideology of Maqbool Butt, who betrayed national movement and agreed to become a ‘B’ team of ISI.

They agreed to work for the ISI and deceived the Kashmiri people in name of independence or azadi. I think ordinary members of the JKLF are sincere and dedicated people and they still think that their leaders are advancing the nationalist cause.

But how could it be a genuine movement for azadi or independence when the top JKLF leaders agreed to forget plight of their own people on this side of the LOC, and agreed to work with a secret agency of one occupier to engage army of the other occupier. It doesn’t make sense that a person who himself is in chains, or is enslaved wants to liberate others who are in chains but are still relatively comfortable than him.

While thinking whether this is a national struggle for independence or some thing else; and whether the JKLF leaders have sold out or not you have to take this fact in to consideration that prior to this militancy, which started in July 1988, the situation on the Indian side was much better than what it was in AJK and especially in Gilgit and Baltistan.

People of Gilgit and Baltistan were and still are the most deprived people of the State. They still have no social, political and economic rights. The JKLF leaders, especially Mr Amanullah Khan who comes from that region did not care for the plight of these people, but with help of ISI was very eager to help and ‘liberate’ those who were enjoying better life style and social and political rights before 1988.

Mr Amanullah Khan and the JKLF showed more interest in talking about problems of those living on the Indian side and least cared for the people living on this side. It was part of their agreement that they will focus their attention only on the matters related to the areas under India. It is because of this the JKLF leaders had no strategy for the liberation of areas under Pakistan. They were persuaded by the ISI handlers that if they talked about the areas under Pakistan it could divert the world attention from there to these areas, and of course ISI and government of Pakistan did not want that.

The JKLF leaders sincerely followed that agreement, some of them got material gains and others were presented as national heroes and much needed publicity. They thought the ISI will honour their commitment, and they will continue to enjoy this treatment, but the ISI changed its policy and strategy. Their aim was to use the JKLF as a tool to achieve their objectives and not to advance cause of united and independent Kashmir.

Without any hesitation they dumped the JKLF, just like people through a tin of coke after drinking it. They thought the JKLF was getting too big for its shoes, and its leaders started thinking of themselves as real heroes. They instigated a split in the JKLF for which Mr Amanullah Khan and others were once again used to declare a ‘government’ without consulting the Central Committee. He must have thought he doesn’t need support of the Central Committee when ISI is fully behind him.

Anyway after splitting the JKLF at this crucial time when unity was needed within the JKLF and among other Kashmiri groups, the ISI ‘talbainsed’ the movement by launching many religious groups; and by making the struggle a religious one. Aim of that was not to promote Islam or to help Muslims, but to deprive it of support of Kashmiri minorities and the international community.

The planners and controllers of the movement wanted to divide the struggle on religious lines. They invited ‘guest militants’ in name of Jihad from various countries and launched them in Kashmir to advance the Pakistani agenda. That changed the fundamental character of the Kashmiri struggle and made it a fundamentalist movement. They wanted to tell the world that the Kashmiri struggle was a part of Islamic fundamentalist movement.

This was a stab in the back by Pakistani agencies. This move resulted in weakening of the movement. They were more interested in ‘bleeding India’ and discrediting India by highlighting human rights abuse there. It must be pointed out that Indian forces committed human rights abuse to crush this militancy and thousands of people lost their lives. They have been subject to torture, humiliation and imprisonment.

However it is understandable that all forces commit human rights abuse when people take guns in their hands to resolve political matters. We know Pakistani forces did same when people of East Pakistan asked for their political rights, and millions of people lost their lives. There were rapes, torture, deaths, destruction and imprisonment. Same thing is happening in FATA, Balochistan and parts of Frontier Province. We have witnessed that Pakistan army has frequently used F16 fighters, tanks, helicopter gunships, and heavy weapons to kill and destroy militants who are Pakistanis and Muslims.

In other words Muslim army was killing Muslims, and still continues to do so without any hesitation or remorse. What Indian forces have done is wrong, but the point I am trying to make is that all armies do this when they face militancy. We should not expect flowers in return when we fire at the Indian army with a gun which was given to us by India’s ‘enemy’ - Pakistan.

Pakistani agencies that actually controlled the militancy and the political struggle, after talbanisation of the struggle, also commercialised it. After some time, for some it became a ‘business’; and this commercial aspect dominated the ‘struggle’ in which some people became ‘rich’ and ‘influential’; and the suffering of the innocent ordinary people continued. These newly ‘rich people’ wanted the suffering of the people to continue as it was making them richer and influential.

In the commercial aspect of the struggle there are people on both sides of the LOC, and in India and Pakistan. Over the years, especially after 9/11, some aspects of this ‘business’ was shifted to other countries; hence we witness various political activities taking place in various cities of important countries. Also we note rise of non Kashmiri, non Pakistani and non Indian experts on Kashmir.

In my view this ‘vested interest’, spread over on both sides of the divide, is the main hurdle in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, as these people are rich, powerful and very influential. They exert their influence in Pakistan, in India, in both parts of Jammu and Kashmir and else where to ensure that the status quo continues, because if the Kashmir dispute is resolved too many people will become ‘unemployed’.

Friends, we know both India and Pakistan have vested interest in Jammu and Kashmir, and they both occupy us, yet focus of Kashmiri struggle is against one country – India. Have you ever thought why is that we take pride in having a ‘black day’ on 26th January against India, but don’t do anything when Pakistan celebrates its national days? India is not the only country to work against our national independence; or depriving us of our fundamental rights.

People justify their actions by saying that Pakistan still supports our right of self determination; and India calls Kashmir its ‘integral part’. That is not true. Pakistan DOES NOT support our right of self determination, but only supports our right of accession which of course is in their national interest.

Furthermore, if Kashmiris oppose India because she calls Kashmir its ‘integral part’ on strength of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir’s ‘provisional accession’ which had to be ratified by the people, then we should also oppose Pakistan because she claims to ‘own’ areas of Gilgit and Baltistan without any accession or any treaty.

Those who started the militancy on that side of LOC with a Pakistani gun, Pakistani training and Pakistani material support are called mujahideen. If for argument sake, some people got gun, training and money from India to start militancy on the Pakistani side of the LOC, tell me what name would people have given to them, especially what name the Pakistani government, Pakistani media and their collaborators have given to them.

Friends and colleagues, I have taken a lot of your time. I hope you will try to understand my message in its right perspective, and continue your struggle for national independence. In one way you are lucky that your leadership, unlike the top leadership of the JKLF, understands the difference between azadi and ghualami, and between accession and right of self determination.

Saradar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri and Mumtaz Khan are my personal friends and colleagues. We belong to different parties, they are leaders of UKPNP and I am a leader of Kashmir National Party, yet we have mutual respect and good understanding on various issues. At times we work together to advance a common agenda. I hope that members of UKPNP and members of KNP will demonstrate that cooperation in Azad Kashmir as well.

Friends and colleagues, we are going through very difficult time. We are facing new problems and new challenges. Deliberately wrong meaning and wrong image has been established for our struggle, which will take some time to put right. We people have to sort out our priorities. Our struggle should be on this side of the LOC, in an area which is familiar to us; where the rulers who occupy us are also familiar to us, and their collaborators who help them to justify and perpetuate this rule are from among us.

I don’t propose militancy here. I don’t advocate abandoning the struggle. I don’t say not to support the struggle on the other side of the LOC. I don’t say not to support people of Gilgit and Baltistan. But I emphasise that we can only support them when we are strong ourselves, when our struggle is established on right footing. Let them continue their struggle according to their situation; and let us reorganise our struggle according to prevailing conditions here.

Long live genuine struggle for unification and independence of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Khuda hafiz and May Allah bless you.

Dr Shabir Choudhry

Dr Shabir Choudhry 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:

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Do you deserve to be independent?

Do you deserve to be independent?
Dr Shabir Choudhry Tuesday, 17 February 2009

He lives in the neighbourhood and works for the Foreign Office, but we never had a chance to discuss matters in this detail before. During my illness he came to visit me and we had a lengthy discussion on current affairs, including Kashmir. After he left I remembered Khalil Gibran’s words who said: “Pity on a nation which is divided into number of groups and each group calls itself the nation”.

He asked me what was the latest on the Kashmir front, and if I saw any light at the end of tunnel. I explained to him what was going on. I also told him that I was no longer part of the JKLF and explained to him why I left the party. ‘So that means another party in Jammu and Kashmir’, he said with a smile which was embarrassing to me.

He asked me to show him a map of Jammu and Kashmir, which I did, and explained to him how Kashmir was divided and which part is ruled by which country. He asked me which area I belonged to and how many parties were in that region, and what they wanted to achieve. I had no problem in pointing out on the map where I came from, but I had problem in telling him exact number of parties operating in Azad Kashmir.

When I told him that in this area - around four thousand square miles - had dozens of parties some wanting independence and others wanting accession to Pakistan, he was shocked. I accepted my ignorance that my knowledge on political parties in all regions of the State was not up to date. Some research afterwards showed that there are two groups of Muslim Conference, two groups of Peoples Party, Liberation League, five groups of JKLF, Peoples Muslim League, UKPNP, JKPNP, JKNAP, KNP, JKPF, JKNLF, three groups of NSF, MQM and branches of nearly all Pakistani political parties. Election Commission of Azad Kashmir has many more parties on their records and I don’t remember their names.

So even people of this small area do not agree what should be the future of this area, he asked me with surprise. I told him that some people living here think they are already independent and others think they are occupied, but most of them are more concerned about the plight of the people living on the other side of the LOC; and not about their own deprivation, lack of liberties and fundamental rights.

He then asked me about parties in the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan. I told him that nearly all political parties of Pakistan have their branches there; and that they have the biggest say in the social, political and economic matters of the region. Apart from that there are local parties which include the following: Balawaristan National Front, Kakakorum National Movement, Gilgit Baltistan United Movement, Blor Research Forum, Blor Labour Party, Progressive Youth Front, Gilgit Baltistan Thinkers Forum.

Like in AJK, people here are also divided. Some want to be part of Pakistan; others want to be independent or part of State of Jammu and Kashmir. This area is most deprived area of the State, but despite that there isn’t an organised movement against the forces who control economic and political life in the area.

After my explanation about the situation in these areas he asked if the people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan were satisfied with the status quo. I told him that this was far from truth. People were not happy but they wanted their struggle to be peaceful. Also there are other factors at work, for example, collaborators who control the local people on behalf of the Islamabad government. The politics is based on tribal, religious and ethnic lines, and local leaders make them believe that they are enjoying better life than people in Pakistan; and furthermore because we have same religion and some cultural affinity we must not campaign against the Islamabad.

Apart from that they are led to believe that life of people on the Indian side is hell, and that we must make every effort to get them independent from clutches of India. Once that goal is achieved then we can decide our future and join Pakistan. They are told that Pakistan is fighting their war against India; and that we must not do anything to divert attention from the Indian side or create any problems for Pakistan.

Because media is controlled by Pakistan and we don’t have independent media or our own sources, so by and large people believe what they are told. He nodded his head as he was trying to understand the situation. ‘But collaborators and opportunists are there in every occupied country – are they not in Iraq and Afghanistan but people of those areas are showing their resentment by fighting back’, he said.

‘But situation with us is different’, I tried to justify our inability to demonstrate our anger and resentment against those who occupy us. ‘Situation is different in every country’, he said politely and changed the topic as he knew I was uncomfortable with this. His next question was about number of parties on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir. Truthfully I didn’t know how many parties were there. I told him that like Pakistan has political parties in Azad Kashmir, India also has all major parties in Jammu and Kashmir. Apart from that there are some local parties and APHC – alliance of about two dozen groups.

So in total there are more than 70 parties in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, he asked me. ‘Don’t you think this is too many? More parties doesn’t mean the Kashmir dispute is important; it shows people have wrong priorities and their ego is too big. Don’t get me wrong, I am speaking to you as a friend and not as a diplomat. I would not use this kind of language if you were sitting in my office. You need to ask yourself if you deserve to be independent. If your answer is yes, then you won’t get that independence with so many parties fighting each other and calling the other traitor or collaborator. To me you people are confused lot – your goals are not clear. You don’t know whether you want independence, accession or status quo. You people are not clear if your struggle is religious or political, whether you want to have liberal and democratic system or government based on Islamic Shariat’.

He paused for a moment to see my reaction and then continued: ‘More than hundred countries have got independence since the Second World War, and you have to look at their history and see how many parties they had when they were fighting for their independence; and if they fought each other and called each other traitor’.

What he said was not wrong - we are divided lot, and as a nation we have been unable to decide our destination; but despite that I was not happy with what I heard and it was visible from my face. He asked me not to take any tension and worry unnecessarily. ‘You need to look after your health, as that is more important at this stage. You can continue your struggle once you are fit, although in my opinion you are just wasting your time and energy’.

What he said was true to large extent and it didn’t help my morale. I decided to find out how many parties there were in various parts of the State. I contacted a constituent party of APHC, the person concerned was unable to tell me how many parties were part of APHC groups. I contacted few journalists in Srinagar and they didn’t know either. I contacted a Professor of Jammu University who teaches political Science to get total number of political parties, but I could only get names of about dozen or so parties.

Anyhow I checked the website of the Election Commission of India and found out that there were 43 parties which fought elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Apart from that there were 26 parties which were part of united APHC; it is believed that the total number of both groups is now more than 26. And if we include parties of Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir then the total number of parties exceeds one hundred.

These parties fall in to three schools of thought: pro India, pro Pakistan or pro Independent. Then within these disciplines there are parties which are religious, secular or democratic. So the question before us is, with this crowd of parties, can we formulate a united strategy to liberate our homeland from India and Pakistan; and establish a liberal and democratic form system in united and independent 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:

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Another 5th February and another holiday

Another 5th February and another holiday
Dr Shabir Choudhry 07 February 2009

I am really grateful to people of Pakistan for having another holiday in name of Kashmir. I am also grateful to government of Pakistan to make that possible. I am sure my children and future generations will not forget this great gesture.

This strike or holiday has cost Pakistan millions of pounds. It is a big loss to Pakistan’s very meagre economy; and it has not helped us a bit. I wish on this day the government had asked people to work a few extra hours and encouraged them to donate half of their earnings to the victims of the struggle who are in thousands. There are thousands of orphans, widows and homeless people; and they would have surely appreciated that practical help more than this empty gesture.

Pakistani media and Pakistani government and their puppet government in Pakistani Administered Kashmir and pro Pakistani Kashmiris have once again told the world that Kashmiris are not independent and that India is ‘ruthlessly killing people of Kashmir’. At least for one day people of Pakistan can forget their own miseries. They can forget that Pakistani tanks, helicopter gunships, and jet fighters are bombing their own villages and towns in Swat, FATA and other parts of the Frontier Province.

This holiday in my name has cost Pakistan in millions. But has that holiday taken in my name helped to change my plight; or has it helped to promote our unfettered right of self determination. Call it strike, holiday or ‘solidarity with people of Kashmir’, in view of many it gave two clear signals: it helped to divert attention from Pakistan’s own problems for at least one day; also once again it gave a clear message to the world community that it is Pakistan which is pulling the strings of the Kashmiri struggle, be it political or militant.

We know India has killed thousands of Kashmiri people, we know still thousands of people are missing or are in prisons; but we also know that despite all the killings, torture and imprisonment India has not used jet fighters, tanks and helicopter gunships to quash the militancy, even when the matters were getting out of control in early 1990s.

We also know that when people use gun to resolve political matters, even in frustration it results in military response, often much stronger which results in human rights abuse and killings of innocent people. Kashmiri struggle is older than the militancy; as long as the struggle was peaceful we made considerable progress in getting our rights, but whenever peaceful struggle was taken over by gun it resulted in misery and suffering.

People of Kashmir were not happy with gradual erosion of their rights and what India did to them. Elections of 1987 were turning point. Their frustration and alienation was at its peak when Jihad in Afghanistan was coming to an end, and thousands of Jihadi warriors were becoming ‘unemployed’; and Pakistani agencies wanted to engage India in Kashmir and also find a new front for these militants.

To make things easier for Pakistani agencies, Amanullah Khan who was Chairman of the JKLF was expelled from the UK in 1987. Of course he was frustrated and felt very vulnerable in Rawalpindi. ISI didn’t have to work too hard to hook him, hence started the militancy in Kashmir. This militancy started in name of independence, but those who trained and controlled it changed its strategy and launched many pro Islam and pro Pakistan groups.

Pakistani planners of this militancy didn’t make this investment to get independence for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and even lose out areas under its control - Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan. So they presented the struggle as pro Islam and pro Pakistan. They claimed, and still do that people of Jammu and Kashmir are eager to join Pakistan, without realising what they have made of Pakistan and what attraction there could be for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan and Pro Pakistan groups spend huge resources to have a strike and a holiday on 5th February, even though there is no historical significance of this day. The main aim of this is to counter the call of 11th February which is to commemorate the martyrdom of Maqbool Butt. Any strike or political activity on this day is a clear support for united and independent Jammu and Kashmir; and planners of strike on 5th February know that it is difficult for the people of Jammu and Kashmir to have two massive demonstrations within a week- one on 5th February and the second on the 11th.

Pakistani government, its media, political parties and pro Pakistan Kashmiris have made an effort to show that sacrifices of people of Jammu and Kashmir are to join Pakistan, even though Pakistan is encountered with enormous problems and has begging bowl in its hand once again; and has sever food, power and gas problems. Moreover there is insurgency going on in Balochistan, and FATA, Swat and parts of the Frontier Province are not under the control of the Islamabad, making the future of Pakistan uncertain.

Do they think people of Jammu and Kashmir are fools that they will tie their future and future of their generations with a country which is fighting to survive as a nation state - country which has nothing positive to offer to them? While taking decision with regard to their future they will also see what Pakistan has given to people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan.

Hassan Nisar, a columnist of famous Urdu daily ‘Jang’ Rawalpindi wrote: ‘Every Channel showed banners stating this good news that Kashmir will become Pakistan. Good, Kashmir will become Pakistan, but there is no harm in considering what Pakistan will become. For the past 61 years we failed to make Pakistan, a country we envisaged; however it will be interesting to see when and what kind of Pakistan will Kashmir join’.

Pakistani government, their parties and pro Pakistan Kashmiris have done what they thought was in the best interest of their ideology. Now it is up to pro independent groups to show that they don’t want to become part of Pakistan; and that their struggle is for united and independent Jammu and Kashmir – a Kashmir which is home to all of its citizens irrespective of religious or ethnic background.

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:

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Another terrorist attack could lead to military confrontation

Another terrorist attack could lead to military confrontation
Dr Shabir Choudhry 02 February 2009

I don’t support a war as it causes death and destruction, and brings suffering and misery, especially to the innocent and poor people. Moreover war does not solve problems, if anything it exacerbate existing problems and bring new problems. Apart from that no one wins in a war. Both warring parties lose in their own way. Even the party which has militarily won loses out in some other way.

So those who criticise me that I want to see a war between India and Pakistan are wrong, but unfortunately I can see clouds of war gathering. A war has to take place to determine future roles of India and Pakistan; unless both agree to accept their respective roles in the region and the world at large.

Both India and Pakistan have their own importance and respective roles to play in the region, in Asia and the world at large. Power and influence of a country is not determined by strong passions and emotional slogans, but it is determined by strength of economy and military might. Geography and foreign policy of a country can certainly enhance that power and influence.

Both India and Pakistan have their own strong points, and if they become friends and work together then they can broaden the area of their influence. No one is suggesting that Pakistan should play a subservient role, but it has to be acknowledged that both India and Pakistan have different standing in the world politics and have different influence and different image. With their friendly cooperation they can make SAARC more effective and assert their influence from that platform, as EU do. When EU countries take a decision then a question of small or big country does not arise, it is a decision of the EU.

Pakistan and India in the past years made some efforts to establish friendly relationship and resolve their disputes; and despite some friendly help and advice from outside they could not make substantial progress. They had a number of CBMs in place, but only one terrorist action was needed to halt that progress, and bring traditional enemies back to state of ‘high alert’.

It is true overwhelming majority of people, both in India and Pakistan don’t want a war, but it is also true that extremists in both countries want hatred and animosity to continue, as it suits their agenda. In order to cause mischief and keep the pot of communalism boiling these fanatics and war mongers promote hatred and confrontation by changing their ‘gender’ and ‘religion’. For example a Muslim fanatic could assume a Hindu name and speak against Muslims to promote anger and the required response; and Hindu fanatics also doing similar deeds to ensure that friendship and cooperation between these communities remains a dream.

The war in FATA, Swat and other parts of the Frontier province in Pakistan is getting out of control; and to make matters worse for the Pakistani government, army men were reluctant to continue the war and kill their own Muslim brothers. They were persuaded that people fighting the government in these areas were disguised as Taliban or Muslims, in fact they are agents of India; and many of dead men were not circumcised.

War on terrorism was perceived as the USA’s war against Muslims. The Pakistan government under Musharaf played a double game, and outcome of that policy is a rise of Talibans in Afghanistan, more terrorism within Pakistan and anger of the Americans. The new government of Pakistan appears to be ‘sincere’ in helping the Americans in the war on terrorism; and presenting it as Pakistan’s own war – a war which has to be won for stability and future of Pakistan.

The new government in America has a clear policy on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Obama government will help Pakistan but would like to see tangible results; and if they see that Pakistani government is still playing double then Obama would not play around the bush like the president Bush did. Analysts believe being a practical man he will come down like a ton of bricks, and Pakistan doesn’t have much time left.

One expert on South Asia who also has insight to the American policy in response to my email wrote to me on 29 January 2009:

‘I know Obama but he is still an optimist about Pakistan so he would give a chance to Pakistan but would not ignore, what I have said about Pakistan…. Obama is not stupid. Whenever he realizes that Pakistan has not been out to quash Taliban and has been fighting a 'Nooraa KooshTi' Pakistan is doomed. Obama would give a node to India…..’

I have deleted the last part of his message due to its sensitivity, because fake people and conspiracy theorists will make many stories out of this. Mumbai carnage brought both countries close to a war, but common sense prevailed and Indian government exercised restraint. Whether Pakistan fully cooperates with India on the issue of Mumbai or not India could not use that as an excuse to start a war. Something new has to happen in order to provoke a military response from India.

I am not a script writer of this event or a fortune teller, but what that means is another terrorist attack in India. This terrorist attack could be carried out by Pakistani extremists, Indian extremists, Taliban, Alqaeeda, or any foreign party interested in provoking a war between the two countries. A new group called ‘Hindu Taliban’ is also making news. So there are many potential candidates to commit that act, which could destroy peace and stability of the region.

All this is to be seen in the back drop of unfolding events in Pakistan. As noted earlier the government of Pakistan has practically lost its writ in FATA, Swat, and other parts of the Frontier province. A new strategy is being worked out to establish government writ, but these areas are not Red Mosque and people of these areas know how to fight back.

Apart from that the government is fast losing its popularity because of its failure to fulfil promises made to people, if anything problems are getting from bad to worse. Tension between the Punjab government of Muslim League N and the Peoples Party government at the Centre is growing; and lawyers movement supported by Nawaz Sharif and other opposition leaders is getting a new momentum. They have announced to start a long march on 9th March 2009 to Islamabad and an indefinite sit in (Dahrna) with unforeseen consequences.

The Governor of Punjab, who is best known for creating trouble and speaking dialogues in style of villains of Punjabi films, has expressed his determination to stop this march. It is frightening to even visualise outcome of this contest where the Chief Minister of Punjab wants to make the March successful and the Governor wants to stop it.

Some people think a terrorist activity in India in the first week of March would suit many. No matter who commits it, Indian government will react. It will also give an excuse to the Pakistani government to say to the nation that when our neighbour is threatening us with a war, Muslim League N and Lawyers movement is destabilising Pakistan.

There are other analysts who say that this matter won’t go that far and men with big boots will step in and close the chapter of democracy as we see it now. Whatever the sequence of events, February and March will bring trouble to the region, especially in Pakistan; and it could start a new phase in the history of the region which could change its geography as well.

Whatever happens these issues are not directly related to the cause of Kashmir, as the war of 1971 was not; although Pakistani brothers after the war said, ‘we have sacrificed East Pakistan for Kashmir’. They did not say that they refused to give political rights to the people of that province which resulted in a civil war and subsequent Indian intervention and emergence of Bangladesh.

Whether peace prevails in the region as a result of diplomacy, or geography changes as a result of a war and a civil war, the Kashmir dispute is unlikely to be settled according to our wishes. Unfortunately there is more suffering and testing time ahead of us, so we need to get our act together and abandon this policy of leg - pulling and playing in hands of those who are against our identity and national emancipation.

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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