Monday, 6 June 2011

Non Kashmiri political parties are a serious threat to Kashmiri struggle

Non Kashmiri political parties are a serious threat to Kashmiri struggle
Dr Shabir Choudhry 6 June 2011

In Pakistani Administered Kashmir elections are taking place this month. These elections are no different to the elections that place on the others side of the Line of Control under the Indian Administration. Whereas, Pakistani governments, their secret agencies and their proxies oppose, tooth and nail, elections on the Indian side; they put up a good drama of elections in areas of Jammu and Kashmir under their control.

At one time, people of the Indian Administered Kashmir under influence of Pakistan and their proxies in the Valley of Kashmir took the bait and boycotted elections as if they were haram forbidden in Qur’an. They were led to believe that if they took part in elections it will be tantamount to voting for accession of the State with India, even though one UN Security Council Resolution clearly says that no election can substitute election.

Thank Almighty that people have now understood game plan of Pakistan and their proxies who urged people not to take part in the elections, as people now know elections are for administrative purposes and they do not change status of this disputed territory. Furthermore, they understood that if the elections are halal – allowed under the Pakistani Administration then they cannot be haram – forbidden under the Indian Administration.

Once the people understood that agents of Pakistan and Pakistan’s proxy leaders were not sincere with the Kashmiri struggle and that the call to boycott elections was to get more rewards from Islamabad, they totally ignored this call of boycott and participated in the elections in great numbers surprising all the analysts.

Unlike India, Pakistani control over areas of Jammu and Kashmir is more subtle, scientific and stringent. Areas known as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan do not even have those facilities and liberties which their counterparts, despite the militancy, violence and presence of a large army enjoy; yet these people are fooled in to believe that they are azad meaning free.

As a result of this false sense of being free, majority of people think they don’t need to struggle for freedom, rule of law and fundamental laws. They think because we are allowed to go to mosques, open a corner shop and kill cows in Islamic way we are free, even though our resources and government is controlled and exploited y Pakistan and their agents inside the territories under Pakistani control.

Elections are not contested on any principle or ideology. Those who have money, legal or illegal, can buy tickets of the parties and seats in the Upper House known as Kashmir Council. Recently Kashmir Council elections have been completed and some people had to pay three cror rupees (around £250,000) to buy the seat. Each Kashmir Council member gets around four cror rupees per annum; and it is up to them how they spend that – there is no accountability. It is a good business.

To get a party ticket for the Assembly of Pakistani Administered Kashmir from one of the major political parties, each applicant has to submit 135,000 rupees; and each constituency attracts many applications. All the money goes to party heads. In our unfortunate territory PPP and Muslim League N are big parties and both are non local parties – Pakistanis. Who gets ticket for which seat final decision is taken by Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, so where is the much talked democracy.

While talking to me on this subject Masoom Ansari, a leader of Kashmir National Party said: ‘Azad Kashmiri politics is now controlled by Pakistani political parties and this is very dangerous for the Kashmiri struggle and our identity. What interest does PPP, N League, MQM and Jamat e Islami could have to our problems and our struggle for independence? Pakistan already controls all aspects of our social, political and economic life, our resources are looted and we have become powerless and enslaved in our motherland.’

Masoom Ansari further said: ‘These parties are not here to help or support us in any way. They are here to colonise us. People of Azad Kashmir, before supporting them must think what these parties have done to Pakistan. If these political parties can do that to Pakistan - to their own country just imagine what they can do to a territory that is not legally part of Pakistan? We are deprived of that little control we had on our political parties and selection of candidates, now Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and Altaf Hussain will decide who is going to be our member of Assembly.’

Another senior Kashmir leader of Liberation League, Choudhry Mohammed Sadiq said: ‘We have differences with Muslim League, we dislike their policies and style of government, but after all they are a local party with local interest in mind. Pakistani parties should not be allowed to take part in the elections. These are non Kashmiri parties with non Kashmiri agenda. They will advance a Pakistani agenda and that is to make this area a part of Pakistan. People should not vote for candidates of these parties to express their approval.’

I agree with the sentiments expressed by my fellow Kashmiris, but I know people will vote for them; and even if they don’t still PPP and many N League leaders will be declared winners. It is also possible that MQM will win a few seats. In a place like Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan money speaks; and elections are not won on the strength of a principle or an ideology.

In Pakistani Administered Kashmir elections are not won or lost on political or ideological basis. Money, social status, tribal strength and moreover contacts with the Pakistani establishment is the determining factor. Islamabad ensures that only those people win the elections who are easy to handle and who have no strength of character or ideology.

Some Kashmiri nationalist parties have decided to sign the declaration which prohibits them to take part in the elections. These parties have no finance to match pro Pakistan parties. They have no experience in contesting elections; and they have weak organisational structures. They don’t have strong contacts with the Azad Kashmir bureaucracy; and the Pakistani establishment don’t want them to win.

Despite all that they have decided to contest. They know they will lose, but they are determined to fight. They are determined to challenge the proxy rule and proxy politics and might of Islamabad. These leaders say winning is not everything; the elections will provide them an opportunity to meet people and tell them how Islamabad and their agents have exploited them in name of Islam and freedom struggle.

These leaders think those who inserted that clause in Act 1974, under which Azad Kashmir is administered, that demands loyalty to Pakistan before one can even become a candidate was designed to keep the Kashmiri nationalists away from the ‘democratic process’. The nationalist Kashmiri leadership without realising designs of the imperialist minds in Islamabad fell in this trap and boycotted elections since 1974. That policy ensured that nationalist leadership did not interact with ordinary people and give this message to the ordinary people that they had no interest and no role in local matters which were related to every day issues of the people.

Some Kashmiri nationalists individually contested elections in the past, and generally they were castigated for that. It was the Kashmir National Party, which after lengthy debates in the party boldly came out with a policy that we will support the democratic process on both sides of the divide; and will take part in the elections.

Some other parties also followed the KNP foot steps and declared that they would also contest elections. The result of intra - party discussions is an alliance called National Democratic Alliance which has put forward an election manifesto and fielded a number of candidates. This is a turning point in the polity of the Pakistani Administered Kashmir.

These pro independent Kashmir candidates are not in a position to defeat the social and political infrastructure put in place by Pakistan and their agencies to protect and promote their interest; but they will be in a position to dent the credibility of Pakistan and their policy on Kashmir. To me that itself is a commendable act and a step in right direction.
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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