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:
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