Friday, 3 December 2010

I am a nationalist but not anti Pakistan, Anwaar Ul Haq, Speaker of AJK Assembly

I am a nationalist but not anti Pakistan, Anwaar Ul Haq, Speaker of AJK Assembly
Dr Shabir Choudhry 03 December 2010

Anwaar Ul Haq is a politician from Azad Kashmir, who is educated and articulate. He is from District Bhimber and son of Choudhry Sohabt Ali, former Minister of Azad Kashmir. Anwaar Ul Haq is a young, energetic and knowledgeable politician. He is a relative, and a friend; during my visits to Azad Kashmir I try to meet him and exchange views with him. This was my first meeting with him after he became the Speaker of Azad Kashmir Assembly.

I went to see him in Kashmir House with Adnan Hussain, a relative of mine. For the benefit of my readers this Kashmir House is not in Azad Kashmir; or in any other part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It is situated in very expensive and inside a security zone of Pakistan’s most beautiful and important city – Islamabad.

It is in this Kashmir House where Azad Kashmiri leaders spend most of their time; of course, sometime they go to Muzaffarabad as well. Most matters related to Azad Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir are taken in various power centres in Pakistan; and Kashmir House is not the place where serious decisions are taken.

I know people won’t like this comparison. However, fact remains that government of Jammu and Kashmir on the other side of LOC is called a ‘puppet government’, yet leaders of that government spend most of their time inside the State territory and enjoy considerable more powers than the government on the Pakistani side of the LOC. And despite that fact, the government on this side of the LOC is called Azad - independent, even though they have very limited powers and they spend most of their time in a capitol of a country which is perceived as an occupier by genuine sons of soil.

Anyway, coming back to the meeting with the Speaker of Azad Kashmir Assembly, Choudhry Anwaar Ul Haq warmly received us and offered us tea with some biscuits. Anwaar Ul Haq and President of Azad Kashmir Raja Zulqarnain belong to two different tribes of Bhimber and two different political parties, yet they are friends and political allies.

Despite this friendship and understanding between these two political leaders tribal rivalry, favouritism and tension is at its highest level in the district Bhimber. People claim that members of Rajput tribe are favoured in every walk of life. It is also claimed that the President himself is leading this campaign to appoint Rajputs where ever possible. Apart from Choudhry tribe, this allegation is confirmed by members of other smaller tribes and some from the Raput tribe.

Since the last elections Azad Kashmir has seen four governments, and this also speaks volumes about azadi of this region. Call it luck or his political and manipulation skills that Choudhry Anwaar Ul Haq has held an import post in all of them, with the present post being the highest one.

While talking about the Kashmiri struggle he said, ‘Kashmir dispute must be resolved. Kashmir dispute is not religious, but it is unfinished agenda of the Partition of India.’

He was of the view that independence struggles normally go on for a long time; and the Kashmiri struggle is not that long yet. He said: ‘Kashmir must not be divided. Unity of the State of Jammu and Kashmir must be maintained. The struggle must continue, we have no choice but to continue our struggle’.

After hearing this I said, ‘Your statements shows that deep inside your heart, you are also a nationalist.’

He said, ‘When someone says he is a Kashmiri, he is expressing his nationalism – every Kashmiri is a nationalist. To be a Kashmiri nationalist is not a crime. Of course, I am a nationalist, but I am not anti Pakistan’.

I told him that, ‘I am not anti Pakistan either; and in my opinion no Kashmiri nationalist is anti Pakistan. However, I am anti Kashmir policy of Pakistan. My loyalty is not with Pakistan. My loyalty is with my motherland – my Jammu and Kashmir; and while promoting cause of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir if Pakistan’s interest is damaged it doesn’t worry me, as my first priority is to protect and promote a Kashmiri interest.’

He looked at me appreciatively and said, ‘We need Pakistan’s support in this struggle. We cannot damage Pakistan’s interest. We need stronger and democratic Pakistan.’

He said: ‘The Kashmiri struggle has taken a new turn and has made India defensive. The peaceful struggle has given a new perspective to the Kashmiri struggle. The armed struggle could not do what the peaceful struggle has done. Even it forced Omar Abdullah to say that the accession was for administrative purposes and it was provisional.’

In a question about annexation of Gilgit Baltsitan, Azad Kashmir Assembly Speaker said: ‘It is not possible to bring to complete halt genuine struggle of independence by administrative ordinances. These ordinances cannot change the legal and constitutional status of a territory.’

I asked him, what if Kashmir was divided under some formula and some interim set up was made from Kashmiri leaders abroad, would he accept it as a step to the final solution. He categorically rejected that, and said:

‘There would be no phase two of solution on Kashmir; and from outside one could only get agents, and not leaders. Leaders are those who command public support. From outside we can get what Iraq and Afghanistan got. Any option leading to a division of Kashmir is not acceptable under any circumstances. We should give some credit to the Kashmiri leadership on both sides of the LOC who have also rejected division of Kashmir.’

He said, ‘India and Pakistan cannot decide future of Kashmir; Kashmiri leadership has to be part of the process. People of Jammu and Kashmir must have a final say about their future. We have to see what is in the best interest of the people.’

I gave him details of wrong policies of Pakistani governments which have caused enormous damage to the cause of Kashmir and said these leaders are not sincere with the Kashmir cause. He said, ‘The Pakistan army is very dedicated to the cause of Kashmir. As far as politicians and governments are concerned they are not even sincere to Pakistan and the people of Pakistan, so how can we complain.’

He agreed that APHC was not an elected or representative body. He also acknowledged that there were serious problems with governance and everything seemed looked in chaos in Azad Kashmir.

I asked him that news is his younger brother Dr Inaham Ul Haq was contesting you in the next elections. He smiled, and said, ‘It is his democratic right to contest. If David Milliband and Ed Milliband can contest each other in Britain then why there cannot be elections between two brothers here.’

Then he added with smile, ‘I said four years ago that the last elections in Azad Kashmir have taken place’. I asked him what will happen in place of elections, which are due to take place next year. He said, ‘Only time will tell what will happen, but I repeat that last elections in Azad Kashmir have taken place.’

Writer is Head 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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