Friday, 29 April 2011

Kashmiri protest against Pakistani Kashmir policy

Kashmiri protest against Pakistani Kashmir policy
Dr Shabir Choudhry 29 April 2011

Kashmiri thinking and actions are changing. For past many decades they were brainwashed to protest only against India; now this is fast changing and true sons of Jammu and Kashmir do not shy away to criticise and protest against wrong policies of Pakistan.

On 28 April 2011, different Kashmiri parties protested outside Pakistani High Commission in London against Pakistan’s wrong Kashmir policy and fraudulent occupation of Gilgit Baltistan. Pakistani governments fooled people for too long by claiming that they took control of Gilgit Baltistan as a result of the Karachi Agreement which was allegedly signed by President of Azad Kashmir and Minister of Pakistan Mushtaq Gurmani on 28 April 1949.

Later on President of Azad Kashmir, Sardar Ibrahim Khan, more than once, revealed that he never signed any agreement regarding Gilgit Baltistan. What this means is that Pakistani presence in Gilgit Baltistan is illegal and is based on fraud and lies; hence all subsequent actions are null and void.

People of Pakistani Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan have started a campaign against the Pakistani occupation and their illegal presence in that region. Protest marches and seminars have been held in various parts of the world, including Pakistan, Gilgit Baltistan, England and Pakistani Administered Kashmir.

The London protest was arranged by JKNIA, which was also attended by KNP and UKPNP. However, icing on the cake was participation of some liberal minded and peace loving Pakistanis, who believe people of Jammu and Kashmir have right to live with respect and dignity and decide their future without any fear and intimidation.

Among the Pakistani protestors was Imtiaz Ul Maqsood, President of Friends of Kashmir National Party, who said: ‘As a Pakistani I love my country and Kashmiri people should also have right to love their country. I would like Kashmir to join Pakistan, but that decision must be taken by the people of Jammu and Kashmir; and if they want to live as an independent country I will respect their decision.’

He further said, ‘It is very difficult to find time in London on a working day for a demonstration, yet I am here to express my solidarity with oppressed and forcibly divided people of Jammu and Kashmir. I had to leave many important tasks related to my work, bought my own ticket and came here to give this message to the people of Jammu and Kashmir that we care for you. We will support you even if you don’t want to join Pakistan; and demand government of Pakistan to respect fundamental rights of all Kashmiris living in Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.’

Another Pakistani Ejaz Pracha, Secretary General of Friends of KNP said: I am a peace loving person and want to see peace and stability not only in Jammu and Kashmir but also in Pakistan and entire South Asia. We cannot have peace if we still promote violence and do not resolve all disputes by a process of dialogue.’

He further said, ‘I am from Khyber Pahktoon Khawa province, as a result of violence and extremism I have witnessed death and destruction in my province and in other parts of Pakistan. As a student of history I know disputes could not be resolved by promoting violence and by use of guns’.

He said, ‘When governments commit human rights abuses and oppress innocent people, all civilised citizens must speak out to protest against these actions. I believe when wrongs were done to the people of East Pakistan, if people of West Pakistan had, at that time, spoken out against that then it was possible that East Pakistan might have been still part of Pakistan. I have learnt that people are denied of their fundamental rights in Gilgit Baltistan and in Azad Kashmir, but situation is worse in Balochistan and we all have to speak out against the situation there.’

Noman Khan, a student from Khyber Pahktoon Khawa province said, ‘History we were taught in Pakistani schools told us that Gilgit Baltistan was part of Pakistan; and now after associating myself with Friends of KNP I learnt that these areas are part of State of Jammu and Kashmir. I love my country and people of Kashmir have right to love their country and I support them in their struggle.’

Those protesting outside the Pakistani High Commission on this occasion shouted various slogans. I told Kashmiri people not to shout derogatory slogans as we do not intend to insult the Pakistani nation, and annoy ordinary Pakistanis who have no control over the Kashmir policy of the Pakistani elite.

One Kashmiri nationalist was going to shout a known derogatory slogan: Kashmir ki azadi kay do shaitan – eik India dosra Pakistan, meaning two devils have encroached our independence – one is India other is Pakistan; I immediately stopped him by saying that we need to win minds and hearts of those who occupy us and this kind of language will not help us.

Thankfully, this Kashmiri leader listened and refrained from shouting this slogan; however people shouted other pro Kashmir and pro independence slogans. Someone suggested that we should also shout slogans against India. Another person said, but this protest is against Pakistani policies on Kashmir, especially in Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, so why shout against India; and he looked towards me for support.

I said, India is also occupying our land and people are struggling and suffering there, so if people want to shout slogans against India they have every right to do that. So people started shouting ‘India and Pakistan out of our Kashmir’ and ‘Foreign forces out of Kashmir’.

It was a good show, especially when we consider that it was a working day. I was happy to see some of my old colleagues Mohammed Younis Trayabi, Mohammed Asim, Sadeeq Mirza, Najib Afsar, Mehmood Kashmiri and others. Abbas Butt and Usman Kayani among others ensured that people did not use foul language and there were no other problems.

However, it was sad to note that the Pakistani media in London totally boycott this protest. They are very keen to cover protests taking place outside the Indian High Commission, even when turn out is less than 20. They even provide wide coverage to protests against Pakistan arranged by Pakistani parties, but they have no interest to project grievances of people of Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. No wonder Kashmiri and Pakistani parliamentarians do not want to say anything that could annoy the Pakistani establishment, hence no media coverage.

Cynthia Chandran on behalf of ANI and Nawaz Majid on behalf of Daily Kashmir Express and another non Kashmiri journalist covered the protest and helped us to promote our cause. The Pakistani media, perhaps, does not know that the modern technology has empowered people to send their message across the thousands of people via email, twitter, texts and Face - book debates. Their action of the Pakistani media has not created any goodwill, if anything; it has sent a negative message.

I salute all those who came out to protest against injustice and oppression. They also had other commitments but they thought it was their jihad to speak truth and expose wrongs perpetrated in name of religion and brotherhood. Their action is better than those who are sitting on the fence and fear of losing rewards and protocol from Pakistani establishment.
Writer is Head Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir
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