Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Colonial designs on Kashmir

Colonial designs on Kashmir

Text of Dr Shabir Choudhry’s speech made in a seminar arranged by UKPNP on 02 August 2010.

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues aslam o alaykam.

It is pleasure to be among friends once again - friends who have a similar agenda to ours, friends who believe in human values, friends who believe in democracy and fundamental human rights for all; friends, who, like us, strongly oppose forces of extremism, oppose forces of communalism and oppose forces of violence and hatred.

It is pleasure to share a platform with those who want to promote interest of people of Jammu and Kashmir; those who want to establish liberal, democratic and secular society in a united and independent Jammu and Kashmir.

You people are lucky that your Chairman has matured approach to politics, and have pro people agenda. He has a clear vision about united and independent Jammu and Kashmir; and because of his hard work and dedication to peace and human rights he was honoured with a prestigious Gandhi Pease Award. For this he faced criticism from certain quarters; but isn’t it the case that people who challenge the status quo and want to bring changes to the society are opposed by those who have vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Your Chairman has interest of his party and his mission close to his heart. He once, in Geneva during a Conference in UN Human Rights Commission, offered me and Abbas Butt to join PNP and take any posts in the party including the post of the Chairman. This shows, self promotion and the post of the Chairman is not that important to him; yet some Kashmiri leaders split their parties when their post of Chairman is under threat. The JKLF leaders, time and again, split their party in order to protect their post and eliminate any opposition to their rule.

Compared to us, you people are young and energetic. You have responsibilities on your shoulders to work hard for the liberation of our motherland, which is occupied by three countries and people of Jammu and Kashmir suffer as a result of this occupation. As long as we have clear conscience and pro people agenda, we should not worry about criticism, which is generally made by agents of those who want to keep us divided and subjugated.

There are those who still urge us to liberate Indian Administered Kashmir and totally ignore what goes on inside the Pakistani side of Kashmir; as that, in their view, diverts attention from the human rights abuses being committed on that side. Let me tell you these people either don’t understand the basic requirements of our struggle, or they are promoting an agenda of Islamabad and agenda of forces of extremism and vested interest.

I have no problem in condemning human rights abuses being committed on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir. No civilised person can justify killing of innocent people and young children. While people of the Valley are suffering and facing bullets and tear gas, people of other regions are ‘silent spectators’.

I wonder why? Do they think just making a speech in support of the people of the Valley is sufficient? Are they led to believe by some quarters that by supporting the struggle over there they will also get independence? Believe me; we will never get independence on the strength of sacrifices of the people of the Valley alone? If people of Jammu and Kashmir want unification and independence then they have to challenge the status quo in every region by the local people.

There are many Kashmiris who still live in illusion that Pak army – army of the pure, love people of Kashmir and they care for their welfare and well being. How innocent are these people? Before they reach any conclusion on this matter, they need to study events of 1970/71 in which the Pak army killed tens of thousands of innocent people of East Pakistan. They also need to study events of 1950s in Poonch (Pakistani Administered Kashmir) in which innocent Kashmiri people were killed and tortured for demanding political rights.

If that is in the distant past, then they need to study events of what Pak army is doing in parts of Pakistan, including in FATA. They also need to study role of Pakistani administration in parts of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan. They need to look how Pakistani rule has exploited us in Pakistani Administered Kashmir and in Gilgit Baltistan; and how they have kept us under developed and deprived us of fundamental human rights.

If you still have some false impression and wishful thinking then do what people of the Valley did – get training, get weapons and challenge the might of the forces of occupation, then see for yourself that the Pak army will not honour you will medals or welcome you with flowers. They will kill and destroy you as they are doing to people of Pakistan in various parts of Pakistan.

If that is a tall order and you don’t want to risk your lives and lives of your family and fellow citizens, then look what happened to people of Mirpur and Rawalakot who peacefully demonstrated against 15/16 hours long load shedding. People were killed; tear gassed and tortured for protesting against load shedding.

Mangla Dam was built on graves of people of Mirpur, and it produces 1000 megawatt electricity with Kashmiri water, and we don’t have access to that. Pakistani Administered Kashmir has potential to produce 15000 megawatt, and at present produces 1500 megawatt, and our requirement is only 313 megawatt; and we don’t even get that.

The Pakistani establishment has obsession to exploit our resources and make Jammu and Kashmir part of Pakistan. In name of ‘liberating Kashmir’ they have a particular agenda which helps them to accumulate power and wealth; and even keep people of Pakistan deprived of basic needs, democracy and fundamental human rights.

Even after 63 years of existence, people living in territory called Pakistan have not become Pakistanis yet. They are more divided than ever before; and with time their divisions are getting deeper. But they are on a mission to make us citizens of Islamic Republic of Pakistan – a country which is at a war with itself and not sure what kind of system they should have; a country which is killing its own people and torn apart by sectarian and religious violence.

Stick any label against my name, call me an Indian agent if that suits you, call me an Israeli agent if that promotes your agenda, call me an American agent if that makes you happy or call me a British agent if that satisfies your ego, but let me make it clear: I was not a Pakistani yesterday, I am not a Pakistani today and Inshallah I won't be a Pakistani tomorrow.

I was born a Kashmiri, I am a Kashmiri and I want to die as a Kashmiri, even if I don’t get independence and right to live with dignity and honour. I hope the struggle which we started and for which we have all suffered will be taken to its logical conclusion by our next generation.

However, we have to ensure that the struggle is passed on in its true perspective. This struggle has to be seen as a Kashmiri struggle – a struggle for unification of Jammu and Kashmir. It must not be seen as a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. It must no be seen as a struggle of one religion against other religions. It must not be seen as a struggle for accession.

I hope youths of Jammu and Kashmir learn from mistakes of the past, identify their enemies; and ensure that our forcibly divided State is united, in which democratic, liberal and tolerant culture is established. End
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

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