Monday, 14 June 2010

Who has compromised in Gilgit Baltistan?

Who has compromised in Gilgit Baltistan?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 14 June 2010

Legally and constitutionally areas of Gilgit Baltistan are part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, but practically Pakistan has annexed these areas. Irony is Pakistan still present itself as a champion of Kashmiri peoples right of self determination and many people are so gullible that not only they accept this, but also urge others to fall in line or else they will be declared anti Pakistan or pro India.

These areas of Gilgit Baltistan have great strategic importance and it was because of this the British leased Gilgit Agency from the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir; and returned it only two weeks before the end of their Raj in India. This area was so important to them that when the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir refused to give them a lease, they in order to twist his arm, managed unrest in Kashmir which included the incident of 13 July 1931.

Pakistan took over these areas after the British, with help of Gilgit Scouts, managed another unrest which resulted in overthrow of the Maharaja’s appointed Governor Brigadier Gansara Singh. In order to get some kind of legality to their rule, the Pakistani government signed a treaty with their puppet rulers in Azad Kashmir. This treaty is known as the Karachi Agreement.

The government of Pakistan issued Gilgit Baltistan Ordinance last year and have made these areas a province of Pakistan without declaring it as such. In 1971 war they lost East Pakistan which was about 57 thousand square miles; and they have recovered some of that loss by annexing Gilgit Baltistan which is about 28 thousand square miles.

Gilgit Baltistan has population of just over two million. They weren’t many who opposed this Ordinance, as they expected it to bring about a system of government better than what they had experienced previously. Apart from that they were promised enormous economic rewards which have not been delivered yet.

One man – Shafqat Inquilabi had commitment to his ideology, and he loved his nation; and didn’t want it to become part of Pakistan. He thought it was humiliating that Gilgit Baltistan is annexed by an Ordinance. He decided to stand up and be counted that at least there was someone who openly opposed it. After discussing the matter with his colleagues, especially leadership of Kashmir National Party, he decided to challenge this Ordinance. In hope of getting justice and that from Pakistani rulers and Pakistani judiciary, he challenged the Ordinance in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

In my last article on the subject titled, Gilgit Baltistan and Shafqat Inquilabi, I wrote some details of what the Pakistani secret agencies did to Shafqat Inquilabi for challenging Pakistani government over the issue of Gilgit Baltistan. This article was carried by dozens of publications and I got many emails on the subject. Some people have expressed support, and a few have suggested that propaganda has been unleashed against Shafqat Inquilabi that he has ‘compromised’ and that was why Kashmiri nationalists were not supporting him.

This allegation is ridiculous. All colonial powers want to prolong their rule in their colony and for that purpose they give rewards to those who are willing to sell their souls for material and political gains. Pakistani rulers are no exception to this rule. They have also established their rule with help of local collaborators which directly support their rule and some act as their ‘B team’; and impose themselves as ‘nationalists’. The role of these fake nationalists is to create divisions and make allegations against those who genuinely oppose the colonial rule.

About four years ago I heard Shafqat Inquilabi had compromised his position, and he was no longer a ‘nationalist’. When Pakistan annexed these areas, many ‘nationalists’ decided to remain quiet, or tried to get some rewards; but Shafqat Inquilabi was prominent among those who strongly opposed this Ordinance. Furthermore it was Shafqat Inquilabi who filed a case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan; and consequently suffered for his daring action; and yet propaganda against him is that he has ‘compromised’.

It doesn’t require rocket science to reach this conclusion that those who are spreading this propaganda are either agents of those whose interest Shafqat Inquilabi has challenged or they have personal disliking of the man or they feel threatened by his political activities, as they feel area for them to manoeuvre is getting marginalised.

Who else has compromised?

Both factions of APHC are Valley centric, their Kashmir or interest does not go beyond boundaries of the Valley, hence silence over what Pakistan does to people of Jammu and Kashmir on the other side of LOC. One could say same is the case with Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah and Sajjad Lone. He has become more pro division since becoming son in law of Amanullah Khan.

I had an interesting email regarding the issue of compromise, and it surely gives a different perspective on the matter. Without making any changes, I am producing most of this email for benefit of my readers. It reads:

‘I am very much surprised as to why Indian government does not talk about rights of people of Gilgit Baltistan? And why even the elected leadership (Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti) in Kashmir never raise enough concern over Pakistan's pact for GB year 2009?

Does it mean that India has given up its claim on the territory or does not consider GB part of Kashmir? Then why Indian Government Official Map still shows GB as part of 1947 Kashmir political map?

Also its true for GB people as well, they don’t seek any political input from Indian Administered Kashmir or even Indian government. It seems that, unlike what we hear officially from APHC, Indian or Pakistani Government is not what is actually happening on the ground. The only thing which is true on the ground and what is portrayed in news is the huge army presence in civilian areas of Kashmir Valley, which is the cause of death and other human right violations. It is portrayed as if only Valley is having consistent agitations and issues with Army and Indian Government. Rest part of Kashmir like AJK, GB, Ladhak, Jammu all seems to be contended, by and large, with what ever they have got.

It is agreed that all regions of Kashmir political entity don't protest as vehemently as Kashmir-Valley Specific. The reasons may be they are driven by religion or Pakistani agency or foreign money sources, but yes, Kashmir Valley really make a louder and consistent case than any other sub-division of Kashmir State.

What will it take to make a unified voice from all regions of Kashmir State, unanimously that we want liberation? And when will that happen? Can only Kashmir Valley stone throws and agitations and human sacrifices is enough for Kashmir resolution? Aren't the political leaders guilty of misery of common men, whom they have forced in this quagmire of never ending mess?

What is the way forward? I think the way forward is to realise that we have a problem, and then to have a compromise solution. Compromise solution is to give the Kashmir state (the whole) political freedom guaranteed by United Nations, China, India and Pakistan. In return, Free Kashmir will guarantee, equal and fair treatment of all neighbours and will not give leverage to one neighbour at the cost of the other. This will include political and business opportunities as well’.

This long quotation has many important points and readers can draw their own conclusions. But it shows that people know who is doing what in name of Kashmir; and what needs to be done to end the misery of the suffering people.

However it would be pertinent to say that, at least, one political figure from the Valley has expressed his support for Shafqat Inquilabi and the cause he is promoting. That person is Hilal Ahmed War, who has expressed his full solidarity with the people of Gilgit Baltistan and openly said that these areas are part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Hilal Ahmed War says Pakistan has no right to annex these areas.

Role of China in this matter

It would be interesting for the readers to know that China also had great input in Gilgit Baltistan Ordinance. Chinese interest in this strategically important region is well known and they have more than 12,000 army personal carrying out various projects. China has helped Pakistan enormously and all the major projects have been completed with the Chinese help, guidance and money.

China and Pakistan have signed some more major projects related to this region which include construction of Diamer Basha Dam and other dams. Apart from the skilled labour, China has agreed to completely finance the $8.5 billion project, which was previously
put at 6.5 billion. When the World Bank refused to help Pakistan, the Chinese agreed to take full responsibility for the project, but they were not willing to invest this huge amount of money in a territory legal status of which was uncertain.

The work on the project was scheduled to start in 2009, and under pressure from China the Pakistan government produced that Ordinance. They had no time to think or plan it properly; or even discuss it with their puppets in Azad Kashmir or in Gilgit Baltistan.

This adds a new twist to the tragedy. On one hand there is government of Pakistan with all its might and powerful secret agencies, and of course support of local collaborators, not to mention position of China on the subject of the Ordinance; and on other hand is Shafqat Inquilabi who has challenged that Ordinance.

Of course he has no chance of winning. So far he has stood firmly and has not given in to the pressure of the agencies to withdraw that petition from the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Apart from the Almighty the only supporter he has is newly established nationalist and secular party called Kashmir National Party.

We will continue to support Shafqat Inquilabi, even when we know we will get hurt in this fight, and we will not win it either; but at times, winning is not everything, upholding a principle is more important. Instead of becoming collaborators or agents of those who occupy us, we will rather go down fighting.

Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir

To view other articles see my blog:

No comments: