Sunday, 27 February 2011

India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri struggle.

India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri struggle.
Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a public meeting of UKPNP arranged in Nottingham, England 21 February 2011

Mr Chairman Usman Kayani, Chief Guest Shaukat Kashmiri, KNP Chairman Abbas Butt, friends and colleagues aslamo alayakam.

Some people accuse me and my colleague Ababs Butt for being ‘anti Pakistan’. Their main allegation is that we don’t speak about human rights abuses on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir. That is not true. Time and again, we have spoken against human rights abuses on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir; but our contention was and still is that men in uniform are not the only source of human rights abuses on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir.

Apart from that, we think Indian policy on Kashmir is known to all concerned, what more can you say about that policy, they have put all their cards regarding Kashmir on table. However, Pakistani policy on Kashmir is not fully exposed. They have disguised their Kashmir policy and their real intentions in name of Islam. They have kept their cards related to Kashmir close to their chest; and have been advancing their Kashmir policy under the cover of religion and Muslim brotherhood.

Both countries want to get all of Jammu and Kashmir, or at least, retain what they have. One country is using name of religion to advance its imperialist policy and the other country is using name of democracy and secularism or relying on that provisional accession.

Question before us is to use our meagre resources to expose a policy of that country which is already exposed, and more than 95% of Kashmiri political activists, either on their own or under directions of Pakistani agencies are only focussing to expose that country; or we be loyal to our cause and our people and tell them what they don’t know - tell them designs of the country which is using name of a religion to advance their agenda, rather than tell them what they already know.

Unpopular as it was, but we decided to expose the country which was perceived as a friend, yet its policies were no different to any other country with imperialist designs; a country which was fooling us and damaging our cause in name of religion and jihad. It was very easy for us to be a part of the crowd and go with the tide and be declared as loyal and patriots by those who control and direct the Kashmiri struggle.

However, to us, that was not in the interest of our struggle, it was not in the interest of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir. It was not in the interest of our norms and traditions of tolerance and coexistence. We thought policies that are designed and promoted by secret agencies of Pakistan could not be in the best interest of all people of Jammu and Kashmir and could lead to division of the State on religious lines.

We don’t say India has not committed human rights abuses, but we should also expose those who commit human rights abuses and put that in the account of the Indian army. Our contention is that there are many accounts or many sources of killings, but because of convenience some people like to put everything in the account of the Indian army. We feel sorry for those who have died in name of Kashmiri struggle, and we also feel sorry for their families, but we also need to note the following sources of killings:

1. Indian army;
2. Militant groups fighting each other;
3. Militants killing their opponents and so called informers;
4. People killed in personal revenge or family and tribal disputes;
5. People killed in cross firing mainly because these mujahids engage Indian army and para - military forces in crowded place and cross firing results in killing of innocent people;
6. Cross border firing;
7. And targeted killings of Pakistani secret agencies and their proxies in Jammu and Kashmir.

So we can see there are many sources of killings but for convenience there is only one account – Indian army has killed innocent people. We say where army is responsible for killing of innocent people, do oppose it and condemn it, but when there are other culprits, don’t shy away from exposing them. It is no good to tell people after two decades that Abdul Ghani Lone and Miwaiz were not killed by Indian army, but they were killed by ‘our own people’, just like Professor Abdul Ghani Bhat has done.

Apart from that we thought our struggle should be against the country which occupies us. It is illogical that people of Pakistani Administered Kashmir go to liberate people of the Valley, whereas they are also occupied; and one slave locked up in one room cannot help the other slave locked up in another room.

People sometime accuse me of criticising Amanullah Khan. I don’t dislike Amanullah khan as a person; I dislike his wrong policies; just like I don’t dislike India and Pakistan as countries, but I don’t like their Kashmir policies.

It was Amanullah khan who made a secret pact with ISI a secret agency of Pakistan to launch militancy in the Valley of Kashmir which has proved to be disastrous for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and for struggle of an independent and secular Kashmir because militancy was transformed in to jihad. It was his idea (which was given to him by the ISI) that militancy should only be used against India, and once India is defeated Pakistan will also leave areas under their control. How India will be defeated by a gun borrowed from Pakistan; and how and why Pakistan will vacate areas their illegal control he never elaborated. He told us and others what he was told by middle ranking officers of the ISI.

So it was his secret agreement with Pakistani secret agency which proved to be disastrous, for this crime and other blunders should I blame him or a villager called Nathoo Khan? As a person Amanullah Khan is a decent man, but he is not judged in his personal capacity as a man. He and his followers claim he is leading an independence movement, so he should be judged as a leader and a tactician; and in that capacity he proved to be a disaster for his party and the Kashmiri struggle.

We can criticise both India and Pakistan for their Kashmir policies, but in my opinion, the Kashmiri leaders deserve more criticism for advancing anti Kashmir and anti people policies. It is unfortunate that some leaders of Jammu and Kashmir have been more loyal to India or Pakistan than to their motherland – Jammu and Kashmir. They have deliberately chosen this policy, not because it was in the best interest of Kashmir and people of Jammu and Kashmir, but they chose that policy for the sake of rewards from these countries. They have promoted such policies which caused confusion among people and actively promoted extremism, communalism and hatred.

Chairman, I thank you for your patience.

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

View my blog and web:

Friday, 25 February 2011

My new book is published. Kashmir Dispute: New Dimensions and New Challenges

My new book is published
Kashmir Dispute: New Dimensions and New Challenges

Emerging Threats of Religious Intolerance, Terrorism, Regionalism and Outside Interference

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Extremism, Liberalism and its impact on Pakistan and Pakistani Administered Kashmir,

Extremism, Liberalism and its impact on Pakistan and Pakistani Administered Kashmir, speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a seminar arranged by UKPNP in London
On 14 February 2011.

Chairman, Chief Guest Sardar Shaukat Kashmiri, Abbas Butt, Chairman KNP, Mohammed Sarwar, Chief Editor Weekly Nation, friends and colleagues aslamo alaykam.

Once again United Kashmir People National Party has arranged a seminar on a very important topic; and I am grateful to them for providing me this opportunity to express my views on a topic which is of immense interest to people in our region and elsewhere.

Many people associate religious intolerance, extremism and violence with General Zia Ul Haq and his regime. Thousands of Pakistanis have become victims of extremism and violence since 1977. The extremism and violence increased during the rule of General Musharaf and rule of Peoples Party, and tens of thousands of more Pakistani lost their lives after 9/11.

But I think story of religious intolerance, extremism and violence goes back to 1947. If people of Pakistan became victims of extremism and religious intolerance in 1970s, or after Objectives Resolution of 1949, which changed the course of the Pakistani history, we people of Jammu and Kashmir became victims of this menace in October 1947.

On 22 October 1947, in name of Jihad and in clear violation of Standstill Agreement, which Pakistan had with government of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan managed a tribal invasion of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Thousands of tribesmen from Pakistan, in name of jihad and in name of our ‘freedom’ attacked Kashmir and killed non Muslims, raped Kashmiri women, kidnapped Kashmiri girls, looted and plundered our homeland.

In order to justify this crime some people say they killed and raped Hindu and Sikh women, as committing a crime against Hindus and Sikhs is justified in Islam. However, to me they were Kashmiris and they did not deserve that treatment under any pretext. No religion or civilised community can justify this kind of treatment to its minorities; and those who try to justify this kind of savage behaviour are enemies of Islam and enemies of people of Jammu and Kashmir. I condemn what happened in October 1947; and I condemn that mind set which encourage people to become brutes.

Islam teaches tolerance, peace and respect for women, and respect for believers of other religions. What these fanatics are doing is totally against teachings of Islam. They are doing a disservice to Islam and creating hatred against Muslims and Islam. If activities of these people are not checked then we people living in the West will face enormous problems in future because of the hatred and misunderstandings created by a bunch of extremists. Our Jihad must be to counter them, oppose them and expose them that they cannot do any more harm to our religion and Muslims.

Once again Pakistani agencies made us Kashmiris victims of their sponsored ‘jihad’ in 1989/90. In name of jihad and Islam innocent non Muslims were killed and driven out of their homes; and sad thing is that among the culprits were some members of the JKLF as well. Non Muslims in fear had to leave their homes; and many Muslims were also killed because they opposed their brand of Islam and jihad. Anyone who opposed them or challenged their views were intimidated, silenced or butchered.

Amanullah Khan and ISI persuaded people to start an armed struggle against India, and leave areas of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan alone. Amanullah Khan’s philosophy was if India could be defeated or forced to leave that part of Jammu and Kashmir, then Pakistan will have no choice but to listen to aspirations of the people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

Amanullah Khan did not explain logic behind his strategy or theory. First, how could Kashmiris militarily defeat a big country like India with a gun borrowed from Islamabad; and why Pakistan would leave areas of Kashmir under their illegal occupation, especially when its arch enemy India was ‘defeated’ in Kashmir and the entire Kashmir would come under their direct and indirect control.

This was a trap of secret agencies of Pakistan, and Amanullah Khan, not walked, but jumped in to it. After being expelled from Britain as ‘undesirable person’, he felt vulnerable and saw no future for him, so it was not that difficult for the ISI to woo him. But once trapped, he did not acknowledge that he made a mistake or he was trapped, he loyally continued with that policy. A mindset was established among Kashmiris and Pakistanis that anyone who tried to criticise events in the Valley or questioned the rationale of this erroneous policy was castigated as ‘anti movement’ and ‘anti Pakistan’; and in worst case, an ‘Indian agent’.

With help of secret agencies of Pakistan, groups that promote extremism, communalism and hatred in name of ‘jihad’ have hijacked the Kashmiri agenda of right of self determination and transformed it with their brand of ‘jihad’. And problem with their ‘jihad’ is that there is no end to it. Promoters of ‘jihad’ declare that it has to continue till doomsday. That means there will be no peace and harmony in our region until and unless these forces are defeated who want to promote extremism and hatred.

Jihadi forces and their mentors want to hoist their flag on Red Fort in Delhi; but what is alarming to us is that they don’t want to go to Delhi via international border or via Wahga, but they want to go to Delhi via Srinagar. What that means is they want our territory to be a battleground for their confrontation with India. Of course this strategy will destroy us before they reach Delhi, so it is imperative that we fight our corner to defeat these people who want to destroy peace and harmony of South Asia.

Biased and intolerant political culture was nurtured and anyone who tried to defy this or tried to speak about plight of people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan was declared ‘an Indian agent’ and ‘anti movement’. This policy, by and large, still continues and those people who want to talk of injustice of Pakistan and problems faced by people of Jammu and Kashmir on this side of the LOC are criticised and opposed, even by some so called nationalist Kashmiris.

I am a practising Muslim, but Allah has not given me this right to pick up a gun and force people to pray or adopt a particular style of life. People are born free; and they have every right to practise what they believe; and peacefully oppose what they don’t like. No one has a divine right to terrorise society in name of religion, no one has right to force people to adopt a particular life style and no one has right to kill, intimidate and frighten non Muslims.

It is a known fact that the militant training camps are back in business in Pakistani Administered Kashmir, in Gilgit Baltistan and in some parts of Pakistan. It is also known that a ‘God father’ of Jihadi groups, Lt General ® Hamid Gul secretly visits militant camps in Pakistani Administered Kashmir twice a month. No one should be under any illusions that he goes there to preach peace and tolerance, as he can only preach violence and extremism in name of religion.

We have to ensure that our territory does not become a battleground. We also need to remember that we cannot go to Srinagar to ‘liberate’ them; and they cannot come to Muzaffarabad to liberate us. One slave locked in one room cannot help the other slave locked in another room. It means they have to struggle for their rights according to their conditions on that side of the LOC and we have to fight our corner on this side.

Those who urge us to concentrate on matters of the Valley are only trying to give this message that problem is only related to the Valley; and that peace and harmony prevails in the areas under Pakistan. Call me what you like, and stick any label against my name, but I will continue to emphasis that our struggle is on this side of the Line of Control and against those who control us and intimidate us.

Problems of extremism and intolerance that we Kashmiris face today; and other liberal and democratic minded people of Pakistan face, seeds of that were sown a few decades ago. If we want our next generations to live in peace and harmony, and enjoy fruits of liberal and democratic society then we have to fight their war today. We have no choice but to stand up and fight for our right to hold our views, right to live in peace and harmony and practise what we believe.

Chairman, I thank you for your patience.

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

View my blog and web:

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Killing of sisters in Kashmir blamed on rebels triggers only quiet anger

Killing of sisters in Kashmir blamed on rebels triggers only quiet anger
By Aijaz Hussain (CP) – 1 hour ago

SOPORE, India — Inside her dingy one-room home in this apple-rich town in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, a middle aged mother writhed in grief at the killing of her two teenage daughters, allegedly by rebels fighting Indian rule.
Outside, in the rest of disputed Kashmir, the killings drew only silent anger and quiet condemnation.

While a similar killing blamed on government forces two years ago triggered massive unrest and demands for freedom that enveloped Kashmir, this latest violence has brought a far more muted reaction.
The rebels inspire a mixture of hero worship and fear among many in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir, where militants have fought Hindu majority India since 1989 to gain independence or a merger with neighbouring Pakistan. At least 68,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the uprising and subsequent Indian crackdown.

"They are freedom fighters who sacrifice their lives for our collective honour and dignity. We don't support killings but we support the cause they are fighting for," said Shabir, a Sopore shopkeeper who gave only one name for fear of reprisals.

The two-decade-long armed rebellion has waned but anger against Indian rule still runs deep. Over the past three summers, Kashmir has erupted in huge street protests, leading to the deaths of nearly 180 people, mostly in firing by police and paramilitary soldiers.
Despite the government crackdown, residents have little fear of protesting against government forces.

The 2009 death of two sisters-in-law in the town of Shopian sparked months of street demonstrations. Residents accused troops of rape and murder and government agencies of a coverup. A federal investigation, widely disbelieved here, claimed the women's drowning in the shallow stream a kilometre apart was an accident.

The rebels rarely target women. However, on a cold night in Sopore on Jan. 31, attackers carrying automatic rifles whisked Arifa, 17, and Akhtara, 19, away from their home. Police say the men were rebels, though their mother, Fracha Begum, has said only that they were gunmen.
"I pleaded at their feet to forgive my daughters if they had committed any mistake," she said.

Less than an hour later, police recovered their bodies riddled with bullets about a mile away.
Violence is familiar to the family.
One cousin was shot and killed by Indian forces while hoisting a Pakistani flag on that country's independence day, and another was among at least 50 killed during a siege of the town by the government forces in 1993.

Five women, relatives and neighbours, who could hardly fit in the crammed room that serves as the family's kitchen, dining room and bedroom tried consoling the grieving mother, as she lamented why the gunmen refused to spare even one of the daughters.

Her painful shrieks triggered silent tears from her lone surviving child, 16-year-old Ghulam Jeelani.
"They (his sisters) did not even attend school. What could they have done to warrant this?" he sobbed.
Police were quick to blame the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group for the killings. Before the family even got their bodies home, Omar Abdullah, Indian-controlled Kashmir's top elected official, took to Twitter to condemn the killings.

"They were at least four militants and we have identified three. We're trying to establish the motive behind the killings," said Altaf Ahmad Khan, Sopore's police chief.

Lashkar denied involvement and separatist political groups in Kashmir condemned the killings.

Yet residents seem convinced the rebels killed the sisters for their alleged association with government forces deployed in the town, and militants had warned them at least twice before. Militants have also warned other women against working with the intelligence agencies through handwritten bills with the names of the accused spies pasted throughout town.

"Women are being used to spy on militants. In the last one month alone they (militants) questioned six girls in the area and warned them to stop such activities," said a local resident who has been arrested twice as an alleged militant sympathizer and spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for his safety.

The killings of the sisters is the first such incident in a town known as a bastion of separatist politics and militants. While people are angry about the killings, very few attended the sisters' funeral out of support for the militants and fear of being branded themselves as government supporters.

"When separatist leaders condemned the killings, only then did we visit the family for condolence," said a retired teacher who wished not to be named for fear of reprisal.

Yet five days later, when army soldiers killed a man in the adjacent town of Handwara, thousands took to the streets in protests against Indian rule that subsided only when police registered a murder case against an army unit and Abdullah visited the family to apologize.

PAKISTAN: Government is silent in the wake of call for nuclear jihad by religious extremist

PAKISTAN: Government is silent in the wake of call for nuclear jihad by religious extremist

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has consistently reported in the recent weeks on the issue of the government's refusal to take action on the incitement to murder and civil disobedience by religious extremists. Several high profile cases have been reported on both matters by the AHRC and other international NGOs, however, the government has taken no action to either arrest or halt the messages of hatred and intimidation. Mullahs are openly using the loud speaker systems of their Mosques to broadcast their messages of hatred which is, itself, against the law. However, once again the government has not made any attempt to prevent this.

Taking advantage of the government's appeasement policy towards religious intolerance and the killing of people, the extremists have openly started preaching the use of nuclear weapons against a neighbouring country in the name of Jihad. Now in a recent and shocking incident in Lahore on February 6, 2011, an extremist by the name of Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), spoke in a public rally of 20,000 people calling for Jihad in the form of a nuclear war against India. Saeed is wanted in connection with the bombings in Mumbai and the JuD itself is banned in Pakistan. However, once again the government has turned a blind eye and taken no action to either arrest this man or control the situation. This is, indeed a routine attitude of the government. In an effort to fend off responsibility for the bombings Saeed accused India of masterminding the attacks for political gain.

In his speech to the crowd Saeed said, "I want to give a message to (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh--quit Kashmir or get ready to face a war.......The jihad should continue as long as Kashmir remains under Indian occupation". He went on to say that there would be "no problem if the fighting leads to nuclear war between Pakistan and India".

It is already bad enough that the government takes no action against religious extremists calling for the death of anyone they feel might be against their version of Islam but here we have a situation where a person wanted in connection with terrorism is openly calling for Jihad, a holy war against a sovereign nation and a nuclear war at that!

It is incomprehensible that any sovereign government, elected by the people, and with the mandate and obligation to protect the people, would allow such a public announcement to be made. The government of Asif Ali Zadari must seriously examine its policy of appeasement towards religious extremists. When a government takes no action against the call for Jihad that might result in a nuclear war it must realise that other governments, especially neighbouring governments will be watching the situation closely. In an attempt to avoid further trouble at home, Zadari might just be calling down more trouble on the innocents of a country that is now being intimidated by religious extremists.

By tolerating such threats of the use of nuclear weapons it seems that the government does not fully appreciate the horror of a nuclear attack. They only need examine the pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to experience the devastation and misery caused, a misery that lingers even today 66 years after the bombs were dropped. Nuclear radiation has no respect for borders and the Jihadists may be calling down death and destruction on the people of the entire continent, not only their 'enemies'. What is the point of turning the prize they seek, Kashmir, into a nuclear waste dump?

The most dangerous interpretation of such announcements would be that the nuclear assets of the country are not in safe hands and Muslim extremists have or can have access to these weapons. By failing to reign in the extremists and stop their messages of hate the government is, in fact, colluding with them.

War mongering in the name of religion or any other cause is a crime against humanity and this is especially so when it may result in a nuclear war. The government must immediately take uncompromising action against those militants who are openly calling for the use of nuclear weapons against a neighbouring country. Humanity cannot and will not sit idle and watch two nations destroy, not only themselves, but threaten the entire world with destruction. The government of Pakistan must not only ensure that the country's nuclear weapons are safe from extremists but also assure the rest of the world that this is so.

The AHRC urges the government of Pakistan to take immediate action against the extremists. Cases must be filed against them and they must be arrested, charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Their speeches of hate and their war mongering must be halted forthwith.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Kashmir’s Fruits of Discord

Kashmir’s Fruits of Discord


Published: November 8, 2010

A WEEK before he was elected in 2008, President Obama said that solving the dispute over Kashmir’s struggle for self-determination — which has led to three wars between India and Pakistan since 1947 — would be among his “critical tasks.” His remarks were greeted with consternation in India, and he has said almost nothing about Kashmir since then.

But on Monday, during his visit here, he pleased his hosts immensely by saying the United States would not intervene in Kashmir and announcing his support for India’s seat on the United Nations Security Council. While he spoke eloquently about threats of terrorism, he kept quiet about human rights abuses in Kashmir.
Whether Mr. Obama decides to change his position on Kashmir again depends on several factors: how the war in Afghanistan is going, how much help the United States needs from Pakistan and whether the government of India goes aircraft shopping this winter. (An order for 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, worth $5.8 billion, among other huge business deals in the pipeline, may ensure the president’s silence.) But neither Mr. Obama’s silence nor his intervention is likely to make the people in Kashmir drop the stones in their hands.

I was in Kashmir 10 days ago, in that beautiful valley on the Pakistani border, home to three great civilizations — Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist. It’s a valley of myth and history. Some believe that Jesus died there; others that Moses went there to find the lost tribe. Millions worship at the Hazratbal shrine, where a few days a year a hair of the Prophet Muhammad is displayed to believers.

Now Kashmir, caught between the influence of militant Islam from Pakistan and Afghanistan, America’s interests in the region and Indian nationalism (which is becoming increasingly aggressive and “Hinduized”), is considered a nuclear flash point. It is patrolled by more than half a million soldiers and has become the most highly militarized zone in the world.

The atmosphere on the highway between Kashmir’s capital, Srinagar, and my destination, the little apple town of Shopian in the south, was tense. Groups of soldiers were deployed along the highway, in the orchards, in the fields, on the rooftops and outside shops in the little market squares. Despite months of curfew, the “stone pelters” calling for “azadi” (freedom), inspired by the Palestinian intifada, were out again. Some stretches of the highway were covered with so many of these stones that you needed an S.U.V. to drive over them.

Fortunately the friends I was with knew alternative routes down the back lanes and village roads. The “longcut” gave me the time to listen to their stories of this year’s uprising. The youngest, still a boy, told us that when three of his friends were arrested for throwing stones, the police pulled out their fingernails — every nail, on both hands.

For three years in a row now, Kashmiris have been in the streets, protesting what they see as India’s violent occupation. But the militant uprising against the Indian government that began with the support of Pakistan 20 years ago is in retreat. The Indian Army estimates that there are fewer than 500 militants operating in the Kashmir Valley today. The war has left 70,000 dead and tens of thousands debilitated by torture. Many, many thousands have “disappeared.” More than 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus have fled the valley. Though the number of militants has come down, the number of Indian soldiers deployed remains undiminished.

But India’s military domination ought not to be confused with a political victory. Ordinary people armed with nothing but their fury have risen up against the Indian security forces. A whole generation of young people who have grown up in a grid of checkpoints, bunkers, army camps and interrogation centers, whose childhood was spent witnessing “catch and kill” operations, whose imaginations are imbued with spies, informers, “unidentified gunmen,” intelligence operatives and rigged elections, has lost its patience as well as its fear. With an almost mad courage, Kashmir’s young have faced down armed soldiers and taken back their streets.

Since April, when the army killed three civilians and then passed them off as “terrorists,” masked stone throwers, most of them students, have brought life in Kashmir to a grinding halt. The Indian government has retaliated with bullets, curfew and censorship. Just in the last few months, 111 people have been killed, most of them teenagers; more than 3,000 have been wounded and 1,000 arrested.

But still they come out, the young, and throw stones. They don’t seem to have leaders or belong to a political party. They represent themselves. And suddenly the second-largest standing army in the world doesn’t quite know what to do. The Indian government doesn’t know whom to negotiate with. And many Indians are slowly realizing they have been lied to for decades. The once solid consensus on Kashmir suddenly seems a little fragile.

I WAS in a bit of trouble the morning we drove to Shopian. A few days earlier, at a public meeting in Delhi, I said that Kashmir was disputed territory and, contrary to the Indian government’s claims, it couldn’t be called an “integral” part of India. Outraged politicians and news anchors demanded that I be arrested for sedition. The government, terrified of being seen as “soft,” issued threatening statements, and the situation escalated. Day after day, on prime-time news, I was being called a traitor, a white-collar terrorist and several other names reserved for insubordinate women. But sitting in that car on the road to Shopian, listening to my friends, I could not bring myself to regret what I had said in Delhi.

We were on our way to visit a man called Shakeel Ahmed Ahangar. The previous day he had come all the way to Srinagar, where I had been staying, to press me, with an urgency that was hard to ignore, to visit Shopian.

I first met Shakeel in June 2009, only a few weeks after the bodies of Nilofar, his 22-year-old wife, and Asiya, his 17-year-old sister, were found lying a thousand yards apart in a shallow stream in a high-security zone — a floodlit area between army and state police camps. The first postmortem report confirmed rape and murder. But then the system kicked in. New autopsy reports overturned the initial findings and, after the ugly business of exhuming the bodies, rape was ruled out. It was declared that in both cases the cause of death was drowning. Protests shut Shopian down for 47 days, and the valley was convulsed with anger for months. Eventually it looked as though the Indian government had managed to defuse the crisis. But the anger over the killings has magnified the intensity of this year’s uprising.

Shakeel wanted us to visit him in Shopian because he was being threatened by the police for speaking out, and hoped our visit would demonstrate that people even outside of Kashmir were looking out for him, that he was not alone.

It was apple season in Kashmir and as we approached Shopian we could see families in their orchards, busily packing apples into wooden crates in the slanting afternoon light. I worried that a couple of the little red-cheeked children who looked so much like apples themselves might be crated by mistake. The news of our visit had preceded us, and a small knot of people were waiting on the road.

Shakeel’s house is on the edge of the graveyard where his wife and sister are buried. It was dark by the time we arrived, and there was a power failure. We sat in a semicircle around a lantern and listened to him tell the story we all knew so well. Other people entered the room. Other terrible stories poured out, ones that are not in human rights reports, stories about what happens to women who live in remote villages where there are more soldiers than civilians. Shakeel’s young son tumbled around in the darkness, moving from lap to lap. “Soon he’ll be old enough to understand what happened to his mother,” Shakeel said more than once.

Just when we rose to leave, a messenger arrived to say that Shakeel’s father-in-law — Nilofar’s father — was expecting us at his home. We sent our regrets; it was late and if we stayed longer it would be unsafe for us to drive back.

Minutes after we said goodbye and crammed ourselves into the car, a friend’s phone rang. It was a journalist colleague of his with news for me: “The police are typing up the warrant. She’s going to be arrested tonight.” We drove in silence for a while, past truck after truck being loaded with apples. “It’s unlikely,” my friend said finally. “It’s just psy-ops.”

But then, as we picked up speed on the highway, we were overtaken by a car full of men waving us down. Two men on a motorcycle asked our driver to pull over. I steeled myself for what was coming. A man appeared at the car window. He had slanting emerald eyes and a salt-and-pepper beard that went halfway down his chest. He introduced himself as Abdul Hai, father of the murdered Nilofar.

“How could I let you go without your apples?” he said. The bikers started loading two crates of apples into the back of our car. Then Abdul Hai reached into the pockets of his worn brown cloak, and brought out an egg. He placed it in my palm and folded my fingers over it. And then he placed another in my other hand. The eggs were still warm. “God bless and keep you,” he said, and walked away into the dark. What greater reward could a writer want?

I wasn’t arrested that night. Instead, in what is becoming a common political strategy, officials outsourced their displeasure to the mob. A few days after I returned home, the women’s wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (the right-wing Hindu nationalist opposition) staged a demonstration outside my house, calling for my arrest. Television vans arrived in advance to broadcast the event live. The murderous Bajrang Dal, a militant Hindu group that, in 2002, spearheaded attacks against Muslims in Gujarat in which more than a thousand people were killed, have announced that they are going to “fix” me with all the means at their disposal, including by filing criminal charges against me in different courts across the country.

Indian nationalists and the government seem to believe that they can fortify their idea of a resurgent India with a combination of bullying and Boeing airplanes. But they don’t understand the subversive strength of warm, boiled eggs.

Arundhati Roy is the author of the novel “The God of Small Things” and, most recently, the essay collection “Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers.”

Monday, 14 February 2011

Energising Gilgit Baltistan, Engineer Hussain Ahmad Siddiqui

Energising Gilgit Baltistan, Engineer Hussain Ahmad Siddiqui

ARTICLE (January 20, 2011) : For long neglected, the remote Gilgit-Baltistan region is poised for economic development as the government has launched an ambitious plan to construct a number of small hydropower plants to meet the growing demand of electricity for the agro-based industry, mineral-mining, tourism and trade, on a sustainable basis. To accelerate the pace of hydropower development, the Gilgit-Baltistan Electricity Development Company is being established shortly.

Gilgit-Baltistan, rich in water resources, has tremendous potential for hydropower generation, estimated to be over 40,000 MW on Indus River and its main tributaries. In addition, the hydropower potential of 1,200 MW exists on sub-tributaries, rivers and streams. The region is not connected with the national grid due to its mountainous terrain, non-availability of high-power transmission line system and extreme weather conditions. It has an isolated network for power transmission and distribution. It is now planned to construct a 132-kv regional grid for interconnecting all existing and future power stations, for which a feasibility report has been finalized.

At present, a total of 98 small, mini and minor hydropower stations are in operation in the Gilgit-Baltistan, with cumulative installed capacity of 133 MW. Only about half of the 1.8 million- populace, which is spread on an area of 72,971 square kilometers, has access to the electricity. The region, called globally as "Roof of the World", has one of the lowest, even by Pakistani standards, per capita annual electricity consumption of 300 kWh.

The power supply does not meet the present demand that is in the range of 200 MW to 300 MW, resulting in substantial shortfall and thus load-shedding. It is projected that power demand would increase to 500 MW by the year 2015 and over 860 MW by 2030. There is therefore a need to optimise the exploitation and use of hydropower, which is renewable, clean energy resource and provides least-cost power generation compared to any other energy resource. Power generation cost of the installed power stations in Gilgit-Baltistan works out to be around three Cents per unit.

Pursuant to the declared policy of the government of Pakistan, hydropower stations of less than 50-MW capacity are being established at the regional level. Currently, 29 hydropower stations of total capacity of 40 MW are under construction, whereas another 13 small hydropower schemes are at various stages of implementation. Major projects are 20-MW Hanzal Gilgit River, 20-MW Chowari Shyok, Ghanche, 16-MW Naltar-III and 14-MW Naltar-V. These run-of-the-river type projects entail minimal re-settlement impacts.

In a latest development, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed, in principle, to finance hydropower projects in the region. In the first phase, two projects have been identified to be constructed under ADB financing. A 26-MW power plant will be constructed at Shaghartang, Skardu, whereas the other power station, of 4-MW capacity, will be located at Thak, Chilas. Project feasibility reports, including the technical, financial, social and environmental studies, have been completed. ADB is expected to approve these first-ever hydropower projects in the area within two months.

Pakistan WAPDA has recently commissioned a 16-MW Satpara, Skardu hydropower station. Currently, it is developing two power projects in Skardu, namely 28-MW Basho and 42-MW Harpo. WAPDA is also working on various mega hydropower projects in Gilgit-Baltistan, of cumulative capacity of 18,720 MW. There are another 27 hydropower projects of total capacity of 248 MW under various stages of planning at the GB government level. As many as 136 potential sites have been identified, and technical and economic parameters defined, with the help of national and international consultants. Hydropower projects at these sites, with an estimated potential of total over 500 MW, could be economically developed.

"Gilgit-Baltistan Hydel and Renewable Energy Policy 2007" aims at promoting hydropower development projects of up to 50-MW capacity in public sector as well as under public-private partnership for which various fiscal and financial incentives are offered to the prospective investors. The private sector should optimally avail the immense opportunities available for constructing hydropower stations in the region.

(The writer is retired Chairman of State Engineering Corporation, is currently Vice President of the Institution of Engineers, Pakistan)

Khurshid M. Kasuri: We Were This Close To A Peace Accord

Khurshid M. Kasuri: We Were This Close To A Peace Accord
India and Pakistan narrowly missed resolving their conflict in 2006, but the foundation for enduring peace has been laid, former Pakistani foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri tells Forbes India
by Udit Misra | Feb 14, 2011

Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Chairman of the steering committee of Pakistan Muslim League
Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri
Age: 69
Designation: Chairman of the steering committee of Pakistan Muslim League
Education: Law Tripos from Cambridge, post graduate study in politics at Oxford, called to the Bar from Gray’s Inn, London (a professional association for barristers and judges)
Career: Senior vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League and former foreign minister of Pakistan under the Pervez Musharraf regime (2004-2007)
Hobbies: Reading, swimming

You made the rather startling revelation that India and Pakistan had almost concluded an agreement on Kashmir by the end of 2006. What were the main points of this agreement?
First, there would be gradual de-militarisation in Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC). Nothing would fly without that. The second one was that Kashmir would have a special status. So we had worked out a very complex scheme of self-governance which the Indians insisted must be replicated on the other side of the border too. So we agreed to that [move] which would provide maximum self-governance in many areas [of Kashmir]. Then, for the Kashmiris to feel that they had achieved the bare minimum, the LoC would cease to be of any meaning. Because Kashmir could, for purpose of movement of persons and goods, feel that it was one entity. So it was agreed that there would be no barrier on the movement of people and goods, which means that there would be no visas and passports. They would just travel on the basis of an identity card, because without that we could not have sold the agreement to the people of Pakistan. The conflict was costing South Asia far too much and that is why we wanted a settlement.

There were some areas which were of common interest, like tourism, because Kashmiris live by tourism; or a water sharing arrangement, [a lack of which] can cause massive problems between Pakistan and India in the future. We had discussed how Kashmiris on both sides would be represented, but we were still discussing how the Indian and Pakistanis would be represented in the joint mechanism. It needed a few more months. We had also [decided] that we [would review it in] 10 to 15 years, so that if people found that there are some problems in its implementation, then the agreement could be improved. So no key issues were left unresolved.

So what held it back from being finally concluded?
We felt that if the Indian prime minister were to come to Pakistan towards the end of 2006 and sign the Sir Creek agreement [regarding coastline disputes], then it would provide a change in the atmosphere. [Everyone would] believe that Pakistan India can resolve issues bilaterally, without third party intervention. [This] would be a big thing for Pakistan also because Pakistan has historically demanded third party intervention. The Sir Creek agreement, if it was signed, would have provided a massive boost to the Pakistani and Indian negotiators and the remaining 10-15 percent [of the Kashmir agreement] would have been nothing. But the Indian PM could not come due to elections in five or six states. [The date was then set for March 2007] and I wish we had given him February instead. In March 2007, all hell was let loose; all the furies were out on the road (against President Pervez Musharraf). The lawyers were out in full force with the media supporting them. And so the President asked me if we should call the Indian prime minister and I said ‘No, don’t call him, because if we call him now, with the lawyers and media against us, with parts of civil society against us, we will not be able to sell this deal to the people despite the fact that this was the best agreement, in my opinion, that could ever be done.’

So has the consensus been lost?
I don’t think our work has been lost. The Pakistani decision makers know the maximum that India can live with, and the Indians know the minimum that Pakistan needs. Now, that is no small achievement.

Was there a formal Kashmiri contingent that took part in these negotiations?
No, no. Pakistan wanted formal Kashmiri participation but the Indian government said no. So there was a compromise. So we convinced the government of India to at least allow them to travel to Pakistan. And we allowed our people to travel to Delhi and Srinagar. India allowed people to travel to Pakistan and Muzzafarabad (in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). So this was the best we could achieve. But believe me when I say that most Kashmiris were on board.

In the past decade, India’s economy has grown rapidly. Did that help or impede the peace process?
It has helped the peace process. In fact, the best time in our negotiations was when both the countries were growing. Two years after we heard about the ‘BRIC’, we heard about ‘N-11’, or the Next 11 economies which included countries like Pakistan, Turkey and Argentina. In fact, in one of the years we grew at 8.6 percent, second only to China, even higher than India. We had a lot at stake. We had a lot of [reasons] to have peace.

So I think the fact that there was greater prosperity in South Asia was something that encouraged both, Pakistani and Indian decision makers to adopt the path less travelled.

You have been an observer of Indo-Pak negotiations. Is there some innovative solution, some new element that can help the peace process?
[It will help] if we encourage people-to-people contact; media is a part of that. [We should have] a liberal visa regime. You see, for some strange reason, bureaucracy in both countries think exactly the same way. [Smiles wryly] I don’t know why, or who has trained them, but they react in exactly the same manner. Like when we were discussing Sir Creek, we were told (by our own bureaucracy) that there were huge oil deposits. So I said to the President, how come all the oil deposits can only be found in these very 50 miles. We have 1,500 miles of coastline along the Baluchistan-Sindh coast, but we found nothing there. It seemed everything will be found in this area…gold, gas and oil [laughs]. So these are very entrenched approaches which only politicians can get over. That is their strength. But then, you need politicians who are willing to spend political capital and not always looking to count their votes.

The new element that you asked me is the media; because media is composed of people with differing views. Media encourages debate and I think the one thing which can make a difference is the presence of free media on both sides. The one single reason that I am optimistic is because of the power of the media to break barriers; and bureaucracy won’t do it.

Read more:

Gilgit Baltistan, The emergence of China, Urdu translation

گلگت بلتستان اور چین کا ابھار

سب سے پہلے میں اس سیمینار کا انتظام کرنےپر بیرونس ایما نکلسن اور ان کے سٹاف کا شکر گزار ہوں جنھوں نے مخلص اور فعال طور پر جموں کشمیر کے لوگوں کے مسائل کو اجاگرکرنے کے لئے کام کیااس کے علاوہ میں اپنے ساتھیوں عباس بٹ ، محمد عاصم ، محمد شعیب اور امتیازالمقصود کا بھی مشکور ہوں ہے جو اس وفد کا حصہ تھے جس نے گلگت بلتستان اور پاکستانی زیر انتظام کشمیر کا دورہ کیا . یہ سفر بہت دشوار گزار اور خطرناک تھا
میڈم چیئر
مسئلہ کشمیر کے فریقین اور چین
سابق ریاست جموں کشمیر کی خطے میں بہت اہمیت ہے ، لیکن اگر گلگت بلتستان کے علاقوں پرایک اور ملک کا قبضہ ہوگیا تو اس کی اہمیت کافی حد تک کم ہو جائے گی ۔کچھ لوگ ذاتی مفادات کی وجہ سے تنازعہ کشمیر کو مذہبی تنازعہ کے حوالے سے فروغ دیتے ہیں، اور دعوی کرتے ہیں کہ صرف بھارتی زیر انتظام کشمیر ہی متنازعہ ہے. ہماری رائے یہ ہے کہ ایسا حقائق کو مسخ کرنے کے مترادف ہے ،تنازعہ کشمیر کی نوعیت سیاسی ہے اور جموں کشمیر کی مکمل ریاست جس میں جموں ، وادی ، لداخ ، آزاد کشمیر اور گلگت بلتستان شامل ہیں متنازعہ ہے.
اب تک وہاں تنازعہ کشمیر کے صرف تین فریق ، جموں کشمیر کے عوام ، پاکستان اور بھارت کے نام سے موجود تھے. ماضی قریب میں کچھ حلقوں کی کوشش رہی ہے کہ عوامی جمہوریہ چین کو اس مسئلے کا فریق بنایا جائے. میرے نزدیک یہ خاص طور پر گلگت بلتستان کے علاقوں اور پاکستان کے شمالی حصے کے لئے
انتہائی تباہ کن ثابت ہو سکتا ہے،یہ ایک بہت ہی خطرناک چال ہے جس سے مزید پیچیدگیاں پیدا ہوں گی.
اس کے علاوہ ، مسئلہ کشمیر کے دیگر فریقوں میں جنوبی ایشیا کے ممالک بھی شامل ہیں. چین جنوبی ایشیا میں نہیں ہے ، لیکن گوادر بندرگاہ کے ساحل سےآگے تک کے خطے میں اس کے بڑے اقتصادی ، سیاسی اور اسٹریٹجک مفادات ہیں.
وہ لوگ جو چین کےتنازعہ کشمیر پر فعال کردار کو کاٹنا چاہتے ہیں انھیں سمجھنا چاہیے کہ چین ایک بڑی اقتصادی اور فوجی طاقت ہے ، اور وہ اپنے مفادات کی ہرحالت میں حفاظت اور نگہداشت کرے گا ، اور یہ کہ ہو سکتا ہے یہ ان لوگوںکی خواہشات اور مفادات کے منافی بھی ہو جو اس علاقے میں ایک چینی کردار کو فروغ دینے کے لئے کوشاں ہیں.
چین کا کردار
کچھ تبصرہ نگاروں کا کہنا ہے کہ چین پہلے ہی تنازعہ کشمیرکا ایک کردار ہے ، جیسا کہ اس نے مختلف پلیٹ فارموں پر کشمیریوں کے حقوق کی حمایت کی ہے. اس لحاظ سے بہت سے دیگر ممالک بھی مسئلہ کشمیر میں کردارکے حامل ہیں ، جیسا کہ انہوں نے اقوام متحدہ کی مختلف قراردادوں اور دیگر اقدامات کی حمایت کی جس سے قضیے کے پرامن حل میں مدد مل سکے۔
کشمیر میں جاری صورت حال کے تناظر میں اس طرح کی حمایت دوسرے ممالک کی تشویش میں اضافے کا باعث بنی ہے جس سے اس خطے میں عدم استحکام میں اضافہ ہوسکتا ہے تاہم اس طرح کی حمایت کرنا انھیں تنازعہ کشمیر کا ایک فریق نہیں بناتا ، جس طرح بھارت اور پاکستان ہیں. ہم دوسرے ممالک کی طرف سے تنازعہ کشمیر کو کشمیری عوام کی امنگوں کے مطابق حل کرنے کی خواہشات کا احترام کرتے ہیں مگر ہمیں ہرحال میں دوسروں کو اس تنازعے کا فریق بنانے سے پرہیز کر نا چاہیے اس سے کوئی مفید نتیجہ نہیں نکل سکتا
مسئلہ کشمیر پر چین کا کردار تضادات بھرا رہا ہے، کیونکہ وقت کے ساتھ ساتھ اس کا کردار غیر جانبدار پھر کشمیر کا حمایتی، پاکستان نوازاورپھر دوبارہ غیر جانبداری کی طرف جیسا رہا ہے ، کارگل بحران کے دوران چین غیر جانبدار رہا ہے. لیکن 2008 کے بعد سے جموں کشمیر اور بھارت کی سرحدی معاملات سے متعلق کھل کرفعال ہوگیا ہے.
1962 کی چین بھارت جنگ اکسائے چین کے کشمیری علاقے پر چینی قبضے کا نتیجےبنی. یہ جنگ پاکستان اور چین کو ایک دوسرے کے قریب لائی اور اس دوستی کو مضبوط بنانے کے لئے پاکستان نے 2200 مربع میل پر مشتمل گلگت بلتستان کا علاقہ چین کو دے دیا مگر اس کے باوجود چین نے اس دور میں کوئی فعال کردار نہیں ادا کیا اور نہ ہی اس کا ایسا کوئی منصوبہ تھا جیسا کہ دونوں ممالک کے درمیان معائدے سے ظاہر ہوتا ہے
اس معاہدے کے آرٹیکل 6 میں چین کا اعتراف ہے کہ گلگت بلتستان کی خود مختاری کو پاکستان کے ساتھ نہیں جوڑا جا سکتا . اس معاہدے کےاقتباس میں
'دونوں فریق اس امر پر اتفاق کرتے ہیں کہ پاکستان اور بھارت کے مابین تنازعہ کشمیر کے حل کے بعد عوامی جمہوریہ چین کی حکومت کے ساتھ مذاکرات ہوں گے جیسا کے موجودہ معاہدے کے آرٹیکل دو مضمون میں بیان کیا گیا ہے متعلقہ اتھارٹی کے درمیان تنازعہ کشمیر کے حل ، تاکہ بعد میں رسمی طور پر حد معاہدہ جو کہ موجودہ معاہدہ ہے ، بشرطیکہ کہ پاکستان خودمختار رہے ، اتھارٹی کے موجودہ معاہدے کی رو اور مندرجہ بالا پروٹوکول کی شقوں کو رسمی طور پر حد معاہدہ میں رکھا جائے گا ایسی صورت میں عوامی جمہوریہ چین اور متعلقہ پاکستانی اتھارٹی کے درمیان پر دستخط کئے جائیں گے. '
گلگت بلتستان میں مفادات کی دوڑ
چین نے اپنی پالیسی کو تبدیل کر دیا ہے، کیونکہ چین خطے میں ایک مضبوط اقتصادی اور فوجی طاقت کے طور پر ابھر کر سامنےآرہا ہے ، اور اسے نئی منڈیوں ، توانائی کے نئے وسا ئل و ذرائع تلاش کرنے کے لئے فعال کردار کی ضرورت ہے اس سلسلے کو یقینی بنانے کے لئے کہ اُسے گلگت بلتستان کے معاملات یا پھر پاکستان کے معاملات میں اپنی بات زور دار طریقے سے کرنے کے لئے ہر اس جگہ نہ صرف رسائی ملے بلکہ کنٹرول بھی جیسا کہ انھوں نے گوادر کی بندرگاہ کو بنانے کے لئے کروڑوں کی سرمایہ کاری کی ہوئی ہے
گلگت بلتستان میں چین کی بہت بڑی موجودگی ہے. بظاہر یہ بڑے منصوبوں کی تعمیر میں ملوث ہیں ، لیکن چینی فوج اور اسکے ڈیزائن سے اس علاقے کے کنٹرول کرنے سے بہت سے لوگوں کو پریشان کردیا ہے.نہ صرف وہاں پر چینی بنک کھل رہے ہیں بلکہ وہ چوری چھپے مگر بھرپور انداز میں اربوں روپے کی سرمایہ کاری کے ذریعے بنیادی ڈھانچے کی تعمیر کرکے اس خطے کا کنٹرول ہتھیانا چاہ رہے ہیں
جب ہم نے گزشتہ سال اکتوبر میں اس علاقے کا دورہ کیا تو ہم نے بہت سے چینی لوگ وہاں پر دیکھے جس میں فوج کے لوگ بھی شامل تھے. ماضی میں یہ لوگ صرف ترقیاتی کاموں کے لئے آیا کرتے تھے ، اورکاموں کو مکمل کرنے کے بعد واپس چلے جاتے تھے ، مگر اب وہ یہاں پر ہی مستقل رہتے ہیں رہائش کے لئے پختہ مکانات تعمیر کر لئے ہیں ہمارے دورے کے دوران ہم نے کچھ چینی لوگوں کے ساتھ تصاویر بھی بنوائیں ، اور جس چیز نے ہمیں سب زیادہ حیران کیا وہ چینی زبان میں لکھے سائن بورڈز تھے.
یہ سب کچھ نہ صرف گلگت بلتستان کے لوگوں کے لئے پریشانی کا باعث ہےبلکہ بھارت اور امریکہ کے لئے بھی پریشانی کا سبب بن رہا ہے ، جیسا کہ یہ ممالک اس علاقے میں چین کے اثر و رسوخ اور کنٹرول کو پسند نہیں کریں گے ، خاص طور پر چین کے گوادر کی بندرگاہ تک پہنچنے کی خواہش اور کنٹرول کو. اس بات کا امکان نہیں ہے کہ بھارت اور امریکہ خاموش تماشائی بنے رہیں گے اور چین کو ایسا کرنے کاموقع دیں گے جیسا کہ ظاہر ہے ان کی بھی اس علاقے میں گہری دلچسپی ہے.
ایک بھارتی دفاعی تجزیہ نگار بھارت ورما نے حال ہی میں لکھا ہے' اپنی تباہی کا جو راستہ اسلام آباد نے منتخب کیا ہے اس کا منطقی نتیجہ اس ریاست کو کئی مزید حصوں میں تقسیم کرے گا یا پھر یہ خود مرجھا جائے گی اور یہ قدرت کا عمل ہے جس کا منطقی انجام بہر صورت ہوکر رہے گا دونوں صورتوں میں بلوچستان آزادی حاصل کرلے گا. نئی دہلی کے لئے یہ موقع ایک نئی کھڑکی کھلنے کے مترادف ہے اور ہمیں اس بات کو یقینی بنا نا ہوگا کہ گوادر کی بندرگاہ کو چین کے ہاتھ میں نہ گرائیں اس بات میں امر یکااور بھارت کے سیاسی مقاصد کے درمیان مطابقت ہے. ہماری بلوچستان میں موجودہ ساکھ کو انتہائی احتیاط کی ضرورت ہے '
میں اوپر دئے گئے خیالات سے اتفاق نہیں کرتا تاہم میری تشویش یہ ہے ہمارا خطہ مفادات کی اس لڑائی میں میدان جنگ بن جائے گا جو کہ اس علاقے کے لئے تباہ کن ہوسکتا ہے
تاہم کچھ تجزیہ نگاروں کا خیال ہے ، پاکستان چونکہ ایک لا حکومتی ریاست بنتا جارہاہے اور تیزی سے بعض علاقوں پر اپنی عمل داری کھورہا ہے، اس لئےپاکستان نےایک سنگین خانہ جنگی یا پھر بھارت یا کسی دوسری طاقت کے ساتھ جنگ کی صورت میں اس خلا کو پر کرنے کے لئے چین کو اجازت دے دی ہے۔کچھ تجزیہ نگاروں کو یہ حیرت ہے کہ ایک طرف تو چین بھارت کے ساتھ دوطرفہ تجارتی تعلقات بڑھا رہا ہے ، تودوسری طرف وہ جموں کشمیر اور دیگر سرحدی اور پانی کے تنازعات پر کشیدگی اور دشمنی میں اضافہ بھی کررہا ہے کچھ تحجب نہیں کہ بڑھتی کشیدگی ، دعوی اور جواب دعوی دونوں ممالک کے درمیان اقتصادی شراکت کو خطرے میں ڈال دےگی.
ایک طرف بھارت اور امریکہ کے درمیان سٹریٹجک شراکت داری ہے ، اور دوسری طرف ایک سٹریٹجک شراکت داری کی بنیاد پرچین اور پاکستان کے درمیان ایک مشترکہ ایجنڈا ہے. تاہم ، پاکستان دہشت گردی کے خلاف جنگ میں امریکہ کا اہم اتعادی ہے.
مگر یہ بھی یاد رکھنا چاہیے کہ وہ طاقتیں جو جہاد کو فروغ دے رہی ہیں اور اسے برآمد کررہی ہیں ایک طرف تو امریکہ کی مدد لے رہی ہیں اور کشمیر میں حملے بھی کررہی ہیں جب کہ دوسری طرف وہی طاقتیں ان گروپوں کو تربیت،اسلحہ، اور مدد بھی فراہم کررہی ہیں جو امریکی اہداف پر حملے کررہے ہیں۔اسی طرح ان میں واضح اختلاف ہے چین کے حوالے سے جو سدابہار دوست پرموٹ کررہے ہیں جیسا کہ چین میں مسلح مسلم باغیوں کے حوالے سے
حال ہی میں ایک اہم سروے کیا گیا ہے جس کے حیرت انگیز نتائج سامنے آئے ہیں . تمام سروے میں ایک بات واضع ہے کہ لائن آف کنٹرول کے اس پار بھارتی مقبوضہ جموں کشمیر کے لوگ پاکستان کے ساتھ نہیں ملنا چاہتے. ہم نے آزاد کشمیر اور گلگت بلتستان کے لوگوں کے خیالات معلوم کرنے کے لئے بھی سروے کیا اور یہ 150 افرادپرمشتمل دونوں خطوں سے نمونے کا سروے تھا
آپ اس سروے سے اس علاقے کی صورت حال سے آگاہی حاصل کرسکتے ہیں ہم مقامی لوگوں کے ساتھ ایک ہوٹل میں بیٹھے مختلف معاملات پر بات چیت کررہے تھے ہمارے ایک سوال پر ایک شخص نے پاکستانی حکومت پر شدید برہمی کا اظہار کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ نواز ناجی صاحب کی طرح اس کا پہلا انتخاب ایک آزاد گلگت بلتستان ہوگا۔دوسرا متحدہ جموں کشمیر لیکن اگرصرف دو ہی آپشن بھارت یا پاکستان دئے گئے تو میرا ووٹ بھارت کے لئے ہو گا چونکہ ہم نے گزشتہ تریسٹھ سالوں میں پاکستان کا حقیقی چہرہ دیکھ لیا ہے اور ہم جانتے ہیں کہ پاکستان کے ساتھ رہنا کیسا ہے تو اب ہم یہ بھی دیکھ لیں گے کہ بھارت کے ساتھ رہنا کیسا رہے گایہ ایک دلچسپ اور دلیرانہ بیان تھامیں نے پوچھا کیا تمھیں یقین ہے کہ تم بھارت کے لئے ووٹ دو گے ؟ اگر تمھارے لئے دو انتخاب رکھے گے تو؟ اس کا جواب تھا جی ہاں مگر اس کے فوری بعد اس نے اپنا بیان بدل دیا اور اس نے کہا بھارت ایک ہندو ملک ہے اور پاکستان ایک مسلم ملک اگر ہمیں دو راستے دئے گے تو ہم پاکستان کا انتخاب کریں گے وہ ہمارے بھائی ہیں لیکن ہمارا پہلا انتخاب ایک آزاد گلگت بلتستان ہی ہوگا۔
اس ملاقات کے بعد جب ہم اپنے کمرے کی طرف جا رہے تھے کہ اس آدمی نے میرا ہاتھ پکڑ لیا اور کہنے لگے : 'چوہدری صاحب بیان کی تبدیلی پر میں معذرت خواہ ہوںآپ نے شاید نہیں دیکھامگر میں نے دیکھ لیا تھاکہ آئی ایس آئی کا ایک اہلکار ہوٹل میں آرہا تھا اس لئے مجھے اپنا بیان تبدیل کرنا پڑا. ورنہ میں مصیبت میں پڑ سکتاتھا..ان لوگوں کو مفت میں غصہ دلانے کی کیا ضرورت ہے جس سے میں اور میرا خاندان زیر عتاب آئیں ہمیں پتہ ہے کیا کرنا ہے جب ووٹنگ کا وقت آئے گا' یہ بیان موجودہ صورت حال ۔ڈر ظلم و ستم کی کھلی داستان بیان کرتا ہے اس شخص کے بیان میں تبدیلی اور آئی ایس آئی کے اہلکار کی موجودگی کے باوجود جس کا مجھے علم نہیں تھا کم از کم تین طلبہ نے مجھے بتایا کہ اگر بھارت یا پاکستان کے انتخاب کے معاملے پر ووٹ ہوئے تو ان کا ووٹ بھارت کے لئے ہو گا۔
Q8:کیا آپ اس انتخاب میں حصہ لیں گے جس کا عالمی سطع سے اہتمام کیا گیا ہو اورجس میں آپ بغیر کسی دبائو یا جبرکے بھارت یا پاکستان کے ساتھ شامل ہونے کے لئے ووٹ ڈال سکیں ؟
45% نےکہا ہے کہ وہ پاکستان کے لئے ووٹ دیں گے
30% نے کہا کہ وہ بائیکاٹ کریں گے
15% فی صد نے کہا کہ وہ اسی دن فیصلہ کریں گے۔
10% کہا کہ وہ بھارت کے حق میں ووٹ ڈالیں گے انھوں نے دیکھ لیا ہے کہ پاکستان میں کیا ہوتا ہے۔
Q9.اور اگر تیسرے آپشن کے طور پر ایک متحدہ جموں کشمیر کو شامل کیا جائے تو آپ کس کو ووٹ ڈالیں گے ؟
60% نےکہا کہ وہ آزادی کے تیسراےآپشن کے لئے ووٹ دیں گے
30% نےکہا کہ وہ پاکستان کے لئے ووٹ دیں گے
10% نےکہا کہ وہ بھارت کے لئے ووٹ دیں گے
میں یہ ہرگز دعوی نہیں کرتا کہ یہ سروے ان دونوں علاقوں کے عوام کے حقیقی جذبات کی عکاسی کرتا ہے ، آپ اس کے نتائج کے ساتھ اختلاف کر سکتے ہیں کچھ پاکستانی اور آزاد کشمیر کے حکام نے نجی طور پر اعتراف کیا ہے کہ آزاد کشمیر کے عوام کی اکثریت مکمل طور پر غیر جانبدارانہ رائے شماری کی صورت میں ان کے حق میں ووٹ نہیں ڈالے گی خصوصی طور پر اگر اسے کسی بین الاقوامی نگرانی میں منعقد کیا جائے ۔
آزاد کشمیر اور گلگت بلتستان کے لوگوں کے خیالات جاننے کے لئے سب سے بہترین طریقہ اقوام متحدہ کی طرح قابل بھروسہ بین الاقوامی تنظیم کے تحت ایک غیر جانبدارانہ رائے شماری کا انتظام ہے. اس رائے شماری کے نتائج نہ صرف ان علاقوں کے لوگوں کی خواہشات کا پتہ دیں گے بلکہ ظاہر ہے اس سےپاکستان کی پوزیشن بھی مضبوط ہوگی لیکن کیا وہ اس چیلنج کےلیے تیار ہے؟
جیسا کہ آج 11 فروری ، ایک ایسا دن ہے جب کشمیری عوام اپنے عظیم رہنما مقبول بٹ کی شہادت پر انھیں خراج عقیدت پیش کرتی ہے ،مناسب ہو گا کہ مقبول بٹ کے ایک قول کے ساتھ میں ختم کروں. پاکستان کی ایک خصوصی عدالت میں مقبول بٹ شہید نے اپنے بیانمیں کہا تھا۔
'کوئی بھی شخص مجھےیہ دعوی کرنے سے نہیں روک سکتا کہ پاکستان میں ہر حکمران نےطاقت اقتدار اور نفسانی خواہش کے لئے 25 سال سے مسئلہ کشمیر کا استحصال کیا ہے اور پاکستان کے عوام کو گمراہ کیا ہے کہ وہ کشمیر کی آزادی کی حمایت کرتے ہیں جب اقتدار فوجی آمریت کے ہاتھوں میں آ جاتا ہے تو یہ سازش مزید گہری ہوجاتی ہے خود پاکستان کی تقسیم بھی اس زمرے میں ایک سازش کا منطقی نتیجہ ہے۔
میڈم چیئر ، آپ کے تعاون کا شکریہ.
11 فروری2011 کو برطانوی دارالحمرا میں ڈاکٹر شبیر چوہدری کا مقالا

انگریزی سے ترجمہ ۔واحد کاشر

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Rise of Religious Fundamentalism in Pakistan, by Hamza Alavi

The Rise of Religious Fundamentalism in Pakistan, by Hamza Alavi
Religious fundamentalism has become a powerful and dangerous force in Pakistan, due mainly to the opportunism of successive political leadership that has pandered to it. Militant sectarian religious groups and parties, led by half-educated and bigoted mullahs, many of them armed to the teeth, are holding our civil society and the state to ransom. They threaten the very fabric of Pakistan society.
Threats of disruption from religious parties have escalated in recent decades. They have steadily grown in strength since the time of General Zia. They now claim that they are the true custodians of Pakistan and that it was they, the mullahs, who had fought successfully for Pakistan, to establish a theocratic state for Muslims. Facts contradict such claims. With the exception of Ghulam Ahmad Parvez’s pro-Pakistan Tulu-i-Islam, group, all religious groups and parties, including the Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Hind, the Majli-i-Ahrar and the Jamaat-i-Islami, had all bitterly opposed the Pakistan Movement and abused its leadership which was secular.
The Muslim League, the Party that led the Pakistan movement, was a party of modern educated Muslim professionals and government job seekers (whom, for the sake of brevity, we may call the ‘salariat’). It had little to do with the outlook of bigoted mullahs. It was free of any millenarian ideological pretences about creating an Islamic state. It was a movement of Muslims rather than a movement of Islam. Behind it was a new class of English educated Muslim professionals and government job seekers that came into being in the 19th century. It got organised politically by the turn of the century, seeking a better deal for themselves vis-à-vis Hindus who were advancing relatively more rapidly in these fields.
When the Muslim League was founded in 1906 at a meeting convened by Nawab Salimullah at Dhaka, the new party was immediately hi-jacked by the Aligarh group led by Nawab Viqar ul-Mulk. Aligarh was at the vanguard of the new Northern Indian Muslim salariat class, the sons of the Muslim Ashraf, who were deeply conscious of the loss of their privileges with the advent of British rule and the relatively more rapid rise of Hindu educated classes. The main base of the Muslim salariat was in UP and Bihar for, at that time, its was relatively weaker in the Muslim majority provinces.
The Muslim League was focused entirely on its secular demands of western educated Muslim professionals and the salariat. Attempts to place the issue of Islamic ideology on the agenda of the Muslim League were both rare and invariably unsuccessful. Arguably, the earliest of such attempts was one by Shibli Numani to Islamise the Aligarh syllabus. Shibli was explicitly committed to theocratic values and wanted to shift the emphasis of the Aligarh syllabus away from English and modern sciences, towards Islamic learning and the Arabic language. The response of the Muslim salariat class to that attempt is exemplified by the remarks of Sir Raza Ali, who was a close collaborator of Sir Syed’s immediate successors, Muhsin ul-Mulk and Viqar ul-Mulk. With them, Raza Ali was at the centre of the Aligarh establishment. In an article in the daily Statesman opposing Shibli’s move, he remarked that the idea of reviving Arabic knowledge was, of course, beguiling for Muslims. But he warned that they should not ignore the demands of our times, for the most urgent need of Indian Muslims was to be offered education that would be beneficial in the affairs of this world; education that would help their coming generations to earn their livelihood. Sir Raza Ali spelt out the principal concern of the educated Muslim middle class at the time. Their concern was not about a hypothetical return to original Islam and the creation of an ‘Islamic State’, ruled over by mullahs, that Shibli had dreamt about. Shibli had to leave Aligarh, for it was not the place where his theocratic ideas could flourish.
Among the rare attempts to bring the issue of ‘Islamic Ideology’ on to the agenda of the Muslim League was one that was planned for the Delhi Session of the AIML in April 1943. One Abdul Hameed Kazi (backed by ‘Maulana’ Abdul Sattar Niazi) canvassed support for a resolution, which he intended to table. That would commit the Muslim League to an Islamic ideology and the creation of an Islamic state. But pressure from everyone around him forced Kazi to abandon the idea. The resolution was not even moved. The Pakistan movement remained firmly committed to its secular concerns.
In his keynote speech before the inaugural meeting of Pakistan’s new Constituent Assembly, on 11th August 1947, Mr. Jinnah spelt out the Pakistan Ideology, namely the secular and tolerant vision of the new state. That speech was not a sudden aberration, as some Islamic ideologists, and General Zia’s hacks, were later to allege. It was consistent with what Mr. Jinnah had been saying for decades. The Muslim League had always been committed to a secular society.
Following Mr. Jinnah, his political successor, Liaquat Ali Khan, too reiterated the Muslim League’s secular values. When Liaquat moved the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly in March 1949 he declared that ‘As I have just said, the people are the real recipients of power. This naturally eliminates any danger of the establishment of a theocracy.’ Despite that clear statement by the mover of the Objectives Resolution, later religious ideologues, notably General Zia and his hacks, have claimed that the Objectives Resolution was a charter for the imposition of the ‘Sharia’ (as they would interpret it) although the word Sharia does not occur anywhere in that Resolution. Their argument is based on some conventional generalities in the Resolution, which said that ‘Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives, in the individual and collective spheres, in accord with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunna’. That, did not amount to a charter for the creation of a theocratic, ‘Islamic’ State.
Liaquat’s position on the Muslim League’s traditional secularism was, however, soon to be reversed. Not so very long after the Objectives Resolution was passed, Liaquat began to change his tune for his political base was threatened by of splits in the Muslim League in the Punjab, which was the power-base of Pakistan’s ruling elite. That was due to factional conflict between Daulatana and Mamdot who left the Muslim League to form a rival Party. Liaquat was now in a panic. He decided to exploit Islamic rhetoric, to hold together his crumbling Party. He began to speak of ‘Islam in Danger’. He also began to equate loyalty to the Muslim League with loyalty to the state. Those who opposed him or his party were denounced as traitors.
There was, however, a second and a much more important reason why Liaquat decided to abandon his secular stance. Powerful regional movements had arisen in East Bengal, Sindh, Baluchistan and the NWFP, whose people felt that they were not being given their due in a Punjabi dominated Pakistan. They demanded regional autonomy and fairer shares of resources. The Centre, which was seen as ‘Punjabi’, was in fact dominated by a cohesive bureaucracy, under Chaudhri Muhammad Ali as Secretary General to the Government. It was the centralised bureaucracy that ruled Pakistan whilst politicians, including Liaquat, went through the motions.
Arguably, it was the challenge to the centre from regional movements which was the more important factor in precipitating Liaquat’s ideological volte-face. Abandoning Mr. Jinnah’s (and his own) firm stand against pandering to the mullahs, Liaquat sought to negate regional demands by issuing calls for ‘unity’ in the name of Pakistan and Islam. We were all Pakistanis and Muslims, it was now argued, and therefore we could not be Bengalis or Sindhis or Baluch.
The bureaucracy, rather than Liaquat, was in effective control, and it was not prepared to make any significant concessions to the mullahs. The mullahs could be given a visible public role, but without any real share in power. For that purpose a Board of Talimaat-i-Islamia, was set up. It provided a few jobs for some senior mullahs, the Ulama. But the Board was to be no more than a façade for the new found religious rhetoric of politicians. It was not to have any real powers. Its function was purely advisory and that too only on matters that were referred to it. When the Board did make some suggestions they were unceremoniously ignored. Nevertheless, the Ulama seemed to be content with the arrangement. They remained quiescent for nearly two decades. Recalcitrant Mullahs, such as Maulana Maududi, found themselves in jail. The mullahs were under control.
That basically peaceful scene was disturbed only temporarily in 1953, when Islamic militants launched Anti-Ahmadi riots in the Punjab an d Martial Law was proclaimed. Although religious zealots of the Majlis-i-Ahrar and the Jamaat-i-Islami led the riots, they were in fact being used by cynical political forces, led by Punjab Chief Minister Mumtaz Daulatana. That was done in the context of US attempts to destabilise the Nazimuddin Government at the centre and to counter the Bengal group of MPs in the matter of the proposed Pakistan-US military Alliance which they opposed. That is a long and complicated story.
A decade and a half later, religious rhetoric was indulged in by the illegitimate regime of General Yahya Khan, but without conceding any formal role to the mullahs. General Sher Ali, redefined ‘Pakistan Ideology’ as ‘Islamic Ideology’. The Yahya government’s primary concern was to de-legitimise the increasingly powerful Bengali nationalism. Yahya’s Bengali adviser, Prof. G. W. Choudhury, had persuaded him and his coterie of Generals, that East Bengali nationalism was limited to only a handful of intellectuals, who were in the pay of the Indians and that the vast majority of Bengalis had no sympathy with them. That tragically false picture could account for the ferocity and reckless manner in which Yahya tried to suppress the Bengali people in 1971. Would they have embarked on that policy if Yahya had even the slightest inkling of the depth of Bengali feelings ?
The mullahs were quiescent, however, until they were stirred into action by the foolish populist rhetoric of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who misguidedly decided to exploit religious ideology. Thereby Bhutto sowed the seeds of his own destruction, for the re-activated mullahs became the vanguard of the campaign against him. That set the scene for Gen. Zia’s coup d’etat.
It was under General Zia that narrow and bigoted religiosity became state policy. The General sought the political support of the mullahs for his illegal regime, for he had no other political base. He also sought financial support from the Reagan regime in the US. Both of these objectives, he thought, could be secured through an Islamic Jihad which he proclaimed against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. The CIA joined took over the task of organising armed religious groups in Afghanistan, in cooperation with Pakistani agencies. When the Russians left Afghanistan, however, the CIA was withdrawn precipitately from the scene, leaving it to Pakistan to deal with the mess that they had created. Foolish Pakistani policies since then, especially under Benazir Bhutto and her successor Nawaz Sharif, got Pakistan even more heavily involved with these once US sponsored ‘terrorist groups’. The present government has done little to turn away from these policies to extricate Pakistan from the mess that was inherited from Zia’s Afghan policy.
When he seized power illegally, Zia badly needed some source of legitimacy for his regime. Being politically bankrupt, he decided to exploit the credulity of Pakistani Muslims by invoking Allah. He claimed to have experienced ilham (a divine revelation) in which, he declared, he was enjoined by the Almighty himself to Islamise Pakistan and to transform it into a fortress of Islam. New ‘Islamic Laws’ were promulgated that were crude and cruel distortions of Islamic teachings, such as his Hudud Ordinance which, for example, had the effect of punishing a rape victim (for fornication) while the perpetrator of the rape went scot-free because of impossible conditions of proof now needed to prove his guilt!
Zia also bequeathed to his successors undemocratic Shariat Courts, that are answerable to no one. They issue binding decisions on the state and on the people, in the name of the Sharia. That role, in the name of Islam, is rejected by the philosophy of Sir Syed Ahmad who pointed out that Islam did not decree the office of a Pope with powers to issue binding decrees in the name of the faith. Islam, he said, is a religion of the individual conscience. No person or institution has the right to issue binding fatawa, laying down what Islam is and what it is not. Indeed, no other Muslim country has the equivalent of our Shariat Courts. They were set up by Zia’s illegitimate regime and should be dissolved.
The Shariat Courts are manned by persons who hold rigid religious views. Their most damaging decision so far is an order that requires the abolition of interest, ‘in all its forms’, by 30th June, 2001. This threatens to bring Pakistan’s already very shaky economy to a complete halt. No enemy of Pakistan could have devised a more potent weapon to destroy the country. In arriving at their decision the judges of the Shariat Bench of the Supreme Court set aside the advice of a very large number of scholars who came before it as witnesses, who resisted this interpretation of the Sharia. Instead, the Court appears to have been misled by bogus claims of ‘Islamic Banking’. They seem to be ignorant of how a modern economy functions and do not seem to have understood at all the obvious implications of their decision in a modern day capitalist economy such as that of Pakistan. They appear to be ignorant of the difference between interest in a modern capitalist economy (sood) and usury (riba) in pre-capitalist economies to which Quranic strictures apply. What the Shariat Courts have produced is a time bomb which, if allowed to go off, threatens to blow up Pakistan’s economy.
The present Government seems to be paralysed in the face of the die hard religious lobby which seems to be triumphant about this. It has poor advisers. As soon as the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court announced it decision, the minister of Finance, who is an ex-banker declared, without pausing to think, that the Court’s decision would be implemented in full. But, after months of deliberations by several high powered committees, the Government still has no idea whatever of what is to be done. It speaks with two voices. At a recent meeting, the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs declared that the Government has drafted all required laws and regulations, which are ready to be promulgated and that the Government is ready to implement the Shariat Court’s decision in full, and without qualifications. But at the same meeting, the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (the country’s central Bank) declared that they do not as yet know how the Shariat Court decision can be implemented. He said that the Government needs more time to work out viable solutions and that it has asked for an extension of time.
The Government does not seem to understand the gravity of this issue. They should know that they cannot allow the economy to collapse. But they also appear to be too intimidated by religious fundamentalists to overturn the Shariat Court’s decree. Meanwhile, the top nine religious parties in the country have declared that they will launch a mass anti-Riba movement, on the lines of the movement that brought down Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, if the Government fails to abolish interest by the date laid down by the Shariat Bench of the Supreme Court, namely the end of June, 2001. They have declared, ominously, that the time has come for a decisive war between Islamic and secular forces in the country !
A major factor in the present situation is a development since the time of Zia. That is the proliferation of deeni madaris, religious schools, that have spread throughout Pakistan. They receive generous foreign funding, not least from Middle Eastern states like Saudi Arabia. The deeni madaris have little difficulty in recruiting pupils (taliban), who are turned into fanatics, ready to die for what they are taught to believe are sacred causes. A factor that has greatly helped their recruitment is the creation of a huge number of unemployed families, people without a livelihood and without hope, as a consequence of farm mechanisation, especially in the Punjab. Every tractor displaces at least a dozen families of sharecroppers. Hundreds of thousands of them are now without a source of livelihood. In that context, the appearance of the well financed deeni madaris, who take over their children, give them free ‘tuition’, accommodation and food, cannot appear to be anything other than a great blessing. The enthusiastic young taliban, are taught to recite the Quran. They are also indoctrinated, their minds filled with distorted and intolerant ideas about what Islam is and what it prescribes. The taliban are thus turned into fanatics. Most of the ‘deeni’ madaris also give them military training for jihad initially ostensibly against the Soviets and now for the liberation of Kashmir. But already Pakistan itself is experiencing the inevitable heavy fall out from this. The armed groups, many of them with battle-hardened taliban, are in the vanguard of sectarian killings throughout Pakistan, which are on the increase; killings of members of rival sects, Sunnis against the Shi’a, Deobandi Sunnis against Barelvi Sunnis and so on. They have also begun to issue threats against the state itself and the society in Pakistan.
Instead of a viable policy designed to disarm and liquidate such groups, successive regimes in Pakistan have pandered to them. The current military government, unlike the military regime of General Zia, has not indulged much in religious rhetoric, except for the occasional utterances of its Federal Minister for Religious Affairs. Indeed, the Government’s liberal interior minister, General Moinuddin Haider, has given calls, from time to time, about doing something to bring the so-called deeni madaris under some sort of control, reforming their syllabi to introduce some useful, career related, educational input into their activities. For that he has become the bête noir of the religious parties, who have warned the government, firmly, against meddling in their affairs.
The government, for its part, seems to be intimidated by the militant Islamic groups. In December last, for example, one Maulana Muhammad Akram, leader of the Tanzimul Ikhwan, threatened to march on Islamabad with ‘hundreds of thousands’ of his followers, to force the Government to promulgate the Sharia. The Government’s response was to placate him. It despatched the Punjab Home Secretary and the Inspector General of Police to parley with Akram. That was apparently not enough, for it then sent Dr. Mahmood Ghazi, the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, as reinforcement. After long drawn out talks, Maulana Akram ‘graciously agreed’ to defer his plan to storm the capital. It has been suggested by the media that Maulana Akram has ‘a lot of influence among middle-ranking officers of the army’. If that is so, that must surely be extremely worrying. Could it be that which explains the Government’s apparent paralysis in the face of serious threats from fanatical religious groups? It must know that a do nothing policy will not solve anything. Left to itself, the situation can only get worse.
Theories of the state, democratic or otherwise, are premised on the state’s monopoly of legitimate force. But here we have a situation where the state’s monopoly of force is undermined by the numerous armed religious groups (who often work in concert) that have agendas of their own. The Government must realise that the more they try to accommodate religious zealots, the stronger and the more intransigent they become. What the situation demands is a firm and well thought out policy to disarm such groups and bring them under control. It is surprising that Pakistan’s professional military does not yet seem to have realised the very serious threat that this situation poses to itself as well as to the State and society as a whole. In the meantime, until something is done, Pakistan will continue to stagger towards an uncertain future, with contradictory state policies.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Gilgit Baltistan, The Emergence of China Speech by Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri,

Gilgit Baltistan, The Emergence of China Speech by Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman, United Kashmir People’s National Party
Madam Chairperson, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, and respected audiences.
I’m grateful to you for inviting me at the occasion of this auspicious seminar on Gilgit Baltistan in the House of Lords today.
Madam Chair, You have contributed in the number of peace initiatives during your term as member of the European Parliament at Brussels and at London in the past. Your personal efforts have also made European Parliament to take a very clear position on this part of the former princely state of Kashmir.
Most of us are well aware that nevertheless you have received enormous pressure from different quarters, and even Pakistani Ambassador stationed at Brussels have written you a letter requesting delink Gilgit Baltistan from the European Parliament resolution and debate, and followed by Chinese embassy letter that China has no link with Kashmir conflict. Whereas china has also occupied one part of the former princely state and taken another strategically important part of the former state as gift from Pakistan in 1963.
The political forces of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, are thankful to the European Parliament that she has endorsed the integrity of the entire state and also rejected any idea of division of Kashmir on any line whether religious, lingual or ethnical.
After UN resolutions the European Parliament resolution has provided a way forward for the local actors and peace brokers to help resolve socio-economic and socio-political problems of the People of the state, particularly under the administration of Islamabad.
Today, the topic is Gilgit Baltistan and emergence of china; the topic itself sensitized the gravity of the situation.
The Chinese government has changed its role in the regional conflicts in the perspective of Pakistan and India relationship. It is irony that china has gradually accelerated its influence in Pakistani state institutions and further to the areas like so called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. Madam Chair, Gilgit-Baltistan is an economically under-developed and socially fractured society. The impact of Chinese military presence is highly disproportionate on the area.
Madam Chairperson,
It has been unveiled that China has always supported undemocratic forces in Pakistan and soon after a civilian Government was came into being at Islamabad after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the government of china has signed a memorandum of understanding with Jamaat e Islami known anti-democracy group in Pakistan. It has showed Chinese tendency and foreign policy. And also its future designs in the region.
I feel that instead of playing a role of honest broker China is more interested to colonize the natural resources of the area by using her proxies in the state institutions.
Madam Chairperson,
Today the war between different forces is to control the natural resources of the former state. In the perspective of the UN resolutions Pakistan has no locus standi and these areas are part of the former state of Kashmir. Since 1949, the area was taken by Islamabad; the people are subjugated and marginalized. The basic social sector infrastructure is very poor and except Karakorum High way which provides access china to the Pakistani Market the people are kept backward.
The greatest number of the population is below the poverty line, the local culture has been overwhelmed and undermined by Punjabi culture, by settling none locals in the area the demographic changes are also one of the greatest concern of the local people and civil society in the region.
In last 62, years under Islamabad’s direct rule only one university was established and some colleges for the entire population. Only Agha Khan Foundation and some other international NGOs are working in the health and education sector. The women education ratio is regrettably very low and it needs special focus.
Madam Chairperson,
Pakistan has completely surrendered before Beijing. And the Chinese are advancing their geo strategic agenda through Islamabad. The contracts of Mega projects like building dams in the area are taken by Chinese companies in Gilgit Baltistan and also in Pakistani Administered Kashmir.
And to safeguard those projects the Chinese army is also stationed there which has created greater concern and resentment within the political parties, human rights activists and civil society of the entire region.
Madam Chairperson,
Our emphasis on the occasion is that until final settlement of the Kashmir conflict, the people of the region should socially, economically and politically be empowered. Their legitimate human rights and constitutional rights be protected. We appeal to the world community that the people of both regions must not left at the mercy of Islamabad and world community should discharge its responsibilities regarding these areas.
We also request that world community should ask Pakistan to comply with the UN and European Parliament resolution and especial attention be given to the development and economical well-being of the people of its administered regions. I thank you,
Tel: 0041764510300

Friday, 11 February 2011

Gilgit Baltistan, The Emergence of China, Presentation of Dr Shabir Choudhry in House of Lords on 11 Feb 2011

Gilgit Baltistan, The Emergence of China, Presentation of Dr Shabir Choudhry in House of Lords on 11 Feb 2011

Madam Chair, Baroness Emma Nicholson, friends and colleagues aslamo alaykam and good afternoon.

First of all I want to thank Baroness Emma Nicholson and her staff for sincerely and actively working to promote the cause of people of Jammu and Kashmir; and for making arrangements for this seminar.

Also I want to thank my colleagues Abbas Butt, Mohammed Asim, Mohammed Shoaib and Imitiaz Ul Maqsood who, as a part of the delegation visited Gilgit and Pakistani Administered Kashmir. The journey was extremely difficult and hazardous.

Madam Chair

Parties to the Kashmir dispute and China

Former State of Jammu and Kashmir has great strategic importance; but if areas of Gilgit Baltistan are annexed by another country then that will significantly reduce its strategic importance.

Some people with vested interest promote Kashmir dispute as a religious dispute, and claim that only Indian Administered Kashmir is disputed. In our view that is distortion of facts, as Kashmir dispute is political in nature; and the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir which includes Jammu, Valley, Ladakh, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan is disputed.

Hitherto there were only three parties to the Kashmir dispute, namely people of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and India. Over the recent past some quarters are working hard to make Republic of China a party to the dispute. To me this is a very dangerous move which will complicate the dispute further; and could prove to be disastrous for the region, especially for areas of Gilgit Baltistan and northern parts of Pakistan.

Apart from that, parties to the Kashmir dispute are countries of South Asia. China is not in South Asia, but has great economic, political and strategic interests in the region going beyond the coast of Gawadar Sea Port.

Those who want to cut out an active role for China in the Kashmir dispute need to understand that China is a great economic and military power, and they will protect and safeguard their own interest; and that could well be against desires and interests of those who are promoting a Chinese role in this region.

Role of China

Some commentators point out that China already has a role in the Kashmir dispute, as they have supported rights of the Kashmiris on different platforms. In that sense many other countries also have a role in the Kashmir dispute, as they have supported different UN Resolutions and other initiatives to peacefully resolve the Kashmir dispute.

This kind of support expresses concern of other countries about the on going trouble in Kashmir, and instability it can have for the region; however, this kind of support DOES NOT make them a party to the Kashmir dispute, as India and Pakistan are. We can appreciate desire of other countries to facilitate the dialogue process to resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with will of the people; but we must refrain from making other countries a party to the Kashmir dispute, as it will be counter productive.

China’s role on Kashmir has been inconsistent, as it vacillated with time from being neutral to pro Kashmir, pro Pakistan and back to neutrality; even during the Kargil crises, by and large China remained neutral. But since 2008, China has been more assertive and pro active in matters related to Jammu and Kashmir and on borders of India with China.

Sino India war of 1962 resulted in Chinese occupation of Kashmiri territory of Aksai Chin. This war brought Pakistan and China closer to each other; and to strengthen that friendship, Pakistan gave away around 2200 sq miles of Jammu and Kashmir territory from Gilgit Baltistan to China. But despite that, China at that time, had no plans to play an active or assertive role in this region, as is evident from the agreement between the both countries.

In article 6 of this agreement China acknowledged that the sovereignty of Gilgit Baltistan did not rest with Pakistan. The agreement reads and I quote:

‘The two parties have agreed that after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, the sovereign authority concerned will reopen negotiations with the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the boundary as described in Article Two of the present agreement, so as to sign a formal boundary treaty to replace the present agreement, provided that in the event of the sovereign authority being Pakistan, the provisions of the present agreement and of the aforesaid protocol shall be maintained in the formal boundary treaty to be signed between the People’s Republic of China and Pakistan.’ Unquote

Competing interests in Gilgit Baltistan

The above policy of China has changed, because China has emerged as a formidable economic and military power; and needs to find new markets, new sources of energy and new assertive role. In that context China wants to ensure that they have a greater say in matters of Gilgit Baltistan; and even in matters of Pakistan. They want to ensure that they not only have access but control of the route to Gawadar where they have invested billions of dollars.

There is a big Chinese presence in Gilgit Baltistan. Apparently they are involved in construction of many mega projects, but presence of Chinese army and their designs to take control of this region is worrying to many. Not only they are opening Chinese banks there and building infrastructure by investing billions of dollars, they are secretly and assertively taking control of the region.

When we visited the region in October last year, we saw many Chinese there which included army men. In the past they used to come for development work, and lived in temporary shelters; and went back after completing their tasks, but now they are here to stay and have built concrete accommodations. During our visit, we managed to take some photos with Chinese; and what also surprised us were sign boards in Chinese.

All this is worrying to people of Gilgit Baltisatn. It is also worrying to India and America, as they would not like Chinese influence and control in this region; especially Chinese desire to reach and control port of Gawadar. It is not likely that India and America would remain silent spectators and give China a free hand, as they also have keen interest in the region.

One Indian defence analyst, Bharat Verma recently said, and I quote:
‘The self-destructive path that Islamabad chose will either splinter the state into many parts or it will wither away - a case of natural progression to its logical conclusion. In either case Baluchistan will achieve independence. For New Delhi this opens a window of opportunity to ensure that the Gwadar port does not fall into the hands of the Chinese. In this, there is synergy between the political objectives of the Americans and the Indians. Our existing goodwill in Baluchistan requires intelligent leveraging.’ Unquote
I don’t subscribe to the views expressed above, however, what my worry is that our region could be a battleground for competing interests; and that could prove disastrous.

However, some analysts believe, as Pakistan is becoming ungovernable and is fast losing its writ over certain areas, they have allowed China to fill in vacuum if Pakistan is faced with a serious civil war or a war with India or some other power.

What surprises some analysts is that on one hand there is growing bilateral trade ties between India and China; and on the other hand increased tension and rivalry over areas of Jammu and Kashmir and other border and water disputes. One wonders if this increased tension and claims and counter claims will jeopardize growing trades and understanding between the both countries.

On one hand there is a strategic partnership between India and America, and on the other hand there is a strategic partnership and a common agenda of China and Pakistan. However, Pakistan is also an important partner of America in war against terrorism.

But it must be noted that those forces which promote and export Jihad, on one hand they seek American help and support in Kashmir; and on the other hand they train, arm and help those groups that seek to attack American targets. Similarly there are clear contradictions in relations to China, which was promoted as ‘all weather’ friend, but at the same time they trained and armed Muslim rebels in China.


In the recent past some important surveys have been conducted with some astonishing results. All surveys had one finding in common that the people of Jammu and Kashmir on the Indian side of the LOC did not want to join Pakistan. We wanted to ascertain views of the people in Azad Kashmir and in Gilgit Baltistan. It was a sample survey of 150 people from both regions.

You can understand the situation prevailing there by this example. We were sitting in a hotel with a group of local people and we were discussing various issues. In reply to one question one man very forcefully expressed his resentment against Pakistani rule. He said, ‘Like Nawaz Naji Sahib, his first option is an independent Gilgit Baltistan, second option is united and independent Jammu and Kashmir; but if we had only two options, he will vote for India and not Pakistan. We have seen true face of Pakistan in the last 63 years, we know what the Pakistani rule is like; it will be good idea to see what Indian rule is like’.

That was an interesting and courageous statement. I asked him are sure you would vote for India, if there were only two options. He said, ‘Yes’, and then immediately changed his tone and statement. He said: ‘India is a Hindu country. Pakistan with all its faults is a Muslim country. They are our brothers; and if we have only two options we will vote for Pakistan. But our first option is an independent Gilgit Baltistan.’

After the meeting when we were walking towards our room that man got hold of my hand and said: ‘Choudhry Sahib sorry for that change of tone and change of statement. You could not see, but I saw ISI man coming to the restaurant. I had to change my statement; otherwise I could have been in trouble. There is no need to annoy them unnecessarily and get myself and my family in to trouble. We know what to do when it comes to the voting time.’

That statement spoke volumes about the situation here and sense of fear and oppression. Despite this man’s change of statement and despite presence of the ISI man, who was not visible to me, at least, three students said they will vote for India if there were only two options available to them.
Q8.Who would you vote for, if there was an internationally arranged referendum with no threat of intimidation or coercion, and you were given only two options either to join India or Pakistan?

A. 45% said they will vote for Pakistan
B. 30% said they will boycott it
C. 15% said they will decide on the day
D. 10% said they will vote for India as they have seen what Pakistan is like
Q9. And if a Third Option of an independent Jammu and Kashmir is also included then who would you vote?
A. 60% said they will vote for the Third option of independence
B. 30% said they will vote for Pakistan
C. 10% said they will vote for India


There could be people who might disagree with outcome of our survey; and I don’t claim that this reflects the true aspirations of the people of these two regions. Some Pakistani and Azad Kashmiri officials acknowledged privately that majority of people of Azad Kashmir will not vote for them in totally impartial plebiscite, especially if held under some international supervision.

The best way to ascertain views of people of Azad Kashmir and people of Gilgit Baltistan is to arrange an impartial plebiscite under reputable international organisation, like the UN. Outcome of that plebiscite will not only show what people of these regions want, it will also strengthen Pakistani position. Are they willing to take this challenge?

As today is 11 February, a day when Kashmiri pay tribute to Martyrdom of great Kashmiri leader MAQBOOL BUTT, it is only appropriate that I end with a quote of Maqbool Butt. In a Statement before a special court in Pakistan Maqbool Butt said, and I quote:

‘No one can stop men from claiming that every ruling power in Pakistan has exploited the Kashmir issue for last 25 years for its lust for power and abused this issue to mislead the people of Pakistan who have and still do support the freedom of Kashmir. When power came into the hands of military dictatorship this conspiracy has become even more dreadful. Division of Pakistan is only a logical result of this conspiracy.’

Madam Chair, I thank you for your patience.

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
View my blog and web: