Thursday, 29 September 2011

Dr Shabir Choudhry addressing a seminar arranged by UKPNP in London

Dr Shabir Choudhry addressing a seminar arranged by UKPNP in London!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Who did Mirwaiz represent in Geneva? Dr Shabir Choudhry

Who did Mirwaiz represent in Geneva?
Dr Shabir Choudhry   22 September 2011

Mirwaiz Omer Farooq, Chairman of one faction of All Parties Hurriyat Conference was in Geneva to address a seminar on Kashmir arranged by pro Pakistan Kashmiris during the UN Human Rights 18th Session. It was not his first visit to this prestigious place and I am sure it won’t be the last; because the powers that be think still his services could be utilised to promote a particular agenda.

I first met Mirwaiz in early 1990s when he visited Britain as a Chairman of united APHC. He was probably in his late teens at that time and was elected the Chairman after his father was shot down and killed in Srinagar. At that time India was accused for this murder, but this year another APHC senior leader Professor Abdul Ghani revealed that he was not killed by India, but was killed by ‘our own people’.

At that time young and smart Mirwaiz looked immature and vulnerable. Now he is physically a grown up man who has been carefully groomed as a Kashmiri leader, perhaps to fulfil a certain task. He is a confident man with good presentation skills; however it is difficult to say if he has matured politically. Seminar moderator, Barrister Majid Tramboo opined the audience that Mirwaiz has also achieved his Doctorate; but some Kashmir watchers question if he understands all aspects of Kashmir dispute.

His speech was not among the best of his speeches. Either he does not know jurisprudence of the Kashmir dispute or he was too afraid to speak out his mind; as he did not want to annoy those who sponsored his trip. Some people think it is not prudent to be on the wrong side of those who ruthlessly call shots in the polity of Jammu and Kashmir; as they have power and know how to eliminate all voices of dissent. However, some others think it is absolutely vital that one must uphold principles, and call spade and spade irrespective of reprisals.

When we say the Kashmir dispute we refer to the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir that existed on 15th August 1947; and in our considered opinion the entire state is disputed. The fact that in some parts there is more trouble than others does not mean that those areas with less visible trouble and dissent are not disputed.

Both groups of APHC, Mirwaiz Omer Farooq and their supporters and mentors claim that they represent people of Jammu and Kashmir. Actions of Mirwaiz and the APHC groups do not support that claim. Reality is that they do not even represent majority of Muslims of the Valley, where the both groups and their leadership is based.

This fact was once more confirmed by the speech of Miwaiz. His entire speech was about the problems of the Valley and his criticism was against only India. The State of Jammu and Kashmir is forcibly divided between India, Pakistan and China; and consists of the Valley, Jammu, Ladakh (Aksai Chin - under China), Gilgit Baltistan (Shaksgam Valley –under China) and Azad Kashmir.

Mirwaiz Omer Farooq did not speak a single word about other areas of the State, or said anything against other countries which occupy the territory of State of Jammu and Kashmir. It is clear that his Kashmir starts from the Valley and ends in the Valley. He didn’t look concerned about areas of the Valley which are under control of Pakistan, as he did not mention them or their problems. What does this prove?

Many people who reside on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control decided to stay away from the event where Miwaiz was to speak, as they had good idea what he would say. Furthermore, they knew there would be no opportunity of asking any question, as organisers despite calling it ‘interactive dialogue’ leave no time for any questions. Because of this, Azad Kashmiri people wanted to use their time more positively. However, Abbas Butt and I decided to attend the seminar, as we wanted to know if he had anything new to say.

In line with their past practise they left no time for any questions; and soon after the seminar I approached Mirwaiz for some chat. I said to him that you claim to represent people of Jammu and Kashmir and yet you only spoke about problems of people the Valley. Why you did not say anything about Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. With a friendly smile he said, “Why don’t you speak about problems of those areas?”

Before I could reply to him I heard some loud voices coming from the seminar hall, among them was a loud voice of my friend and Chairman of Kashmir National Party Abbas Butt. As I looked towards that corner, I saw Abbas Butt surrounded by three Pakistanis and there were some other pro Pakistan Kashmiris standing by. I excused Mirwaiz and rushed to help Abbas Butt. Verbal arguments could have transformed in to a physical exchange if Barrister Majid Tramboo and I were not there to keep them apart.

I learnt that one of the Pakistani who were especially ‘imported’ from Belgium to help and support the seminar and other activities, asked Abbas Butt where he was from. Without any hesitation Abbas Butt said: “I am from Pakistani occupied Kashmir.”

After hearing this, one man with anger and hatred said: “Kashmiri Pakistan ka Khatey hain aur Pakistan kay Khilaf baat kartey hain” – which means – ‘Pakistan feed Kashmiris and they talk against Pakistan.’

Abbas Butt said, “Pakistan does not feed me. I am a qualified Charted Accountant and I earn my own living.” Before he could say anything else all three Pakistanis aggressively surrounded him and started shouting at him. They belonged to Muslim League N, Muslim League Q and Peoples Party. As for politics of Pakistan is concerned they hate each other and openly speak against each other; but here all three of them were united to harass and intimidate a Kashmiri who spoke his mind.

These people were ordinary people with no qualifications. One of them survive on social security given by the government, and others are manual labourers in Belgium. They have no knowledge of politics and human rights, and were brought here to clap after every speech and perhaps harass true Kashmiris. Abbas Butt cannot be easily harassed; when they raised their voice he raised his voice as well because he was not going to let them harass him.

If a Kashmiri from Pakistani Occupied Kashmir cannot say that he is a ghulam or occupied in a place like Geneva, inside the UN building during the Human Rights Session without being intimidated then one can imagine how people of so called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan are oppressed and intimidated.

After this incident Abbas Butt and I walked back to cafeteria. I said to Mirwaiz: ‘You people have ten times more rights on the Indian side of the divide than what we have. You people shout anti Indian slogans, use foul language against Indian government, Indian leaders and forefathers of Indian nation, even burn Indian flag and  no one says anything to you until people break law or use gun. Whereas we people on the Pakistani side of the divide cannot even call ourselves ghulam or occupied. We cannot even think of shouting anti State of Pakistan slogans or burn a Pakistani flag because we know we will be killed.’

Mirwaiz was listening to this tentatively. I further said: Extent of our azadi or independence could be seen from this incident. I gave him details of what happened to Abbas Butt. I said if we people cannot say that we are ghulam or occupied in a place like Geneva, then you can imagine how difficult it would be to say this in Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.

But before Mirwaiz could reply to anything what I said, his friends who sponsored his visit called him. Perhaps they didn’t want me to influence him or provide him any information that might change his thinking process.

It must be pointed out here that Pakistani man did not say anything against Abbas Butt. He spoke against people of Kashmir. Abbas Butt is conscious of being ghulam or occupied, and he spoke out to defend his right to express his views; and that people of Jammu and Kashmir do not rely on Pakistan. There were some other Kashmiris who decided to remain quiet. Either they don’t have ability to differentiate between independence and occupation or they take pride in their status in order to be in good books of their political masters.

To conclude, if Mirwaiz Omer Farooq wants to be considered as a leader of people of Jammu and Kashmir and be taken seriously by people of the State and other Kashmir watchers then he has to do better than that. He has to speak for rights of all people of Jammu and Kashmir and must not limit himself to the borders of the Valley. He is still young, intelligent and has good presentation skills; but if he doesn’t change his ideological stand and encompass aspirations of all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir he will be considered as a leader promoting a non Kashmiri agenda.

Writer is a leader of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:              
To view my other articles see visit:

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Human Rights of Kashmiri people in the world,Presentation of Dr Shabir Choudhry

Human Rights of Kashmiri people in the world,Presentation of Dr Shabir Choudhry

Presentation of Dr Shabir Choudhry, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs in a seminar arranged by OCAPROCE Internationale during the UN Human Rights 18th Session on 19 September 2011 in Geneva.

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues and aslamo alaykam and good afternoon

I thank Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri for making arrangements for this seminar and inviting me to express my views on this important topic.

Topic of this seminar is - Human Rights of Kashmiri people in the world. I hope when we say ‘Kashmir’ we mean State of Jammu and Kashmir that existed on 15 August 1947; and not the Valley of Kashmir. Similarly when we talk of human rights of Kashmiri people, we mean all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir irrespective of their religion and ethnic background and not Muslims of the Valley.

It is unfortunate that some people are selective even with regard to human rights. When their co religionists are victims of human rights abuses they make loud noises, but when people of other faiths and ethnic back grounds are under attack they like to remain quiet; and at times, they try to justify human rights abuses under one pretext or the other.

Whether we like it or not, human rights abuses take place on both sides of the Line of Control. On the Indian side of the divide, there is a vibrant media, strong civil society, State Human Rights Commission, representatives of Indian human rights organisations and international human rights organisations, not to mention representatives of international media who highlight all forms of human rights abuses.

Unfortunately on the Pakistani side of the divide there is hardly any system in place to promote and protect human rights abuses either committed by state actors, private militias or other groups with power and influence. Because there is no effective system to highlight human rights abuses on the Pakistani side of the divide it is sometimes assumed that all is rosy on this side; and Pakistani government and their agencies use their propaganda machinery to promote that view point. This false impression is created that world attention could be focussed on the events taking place on that side of the divide.

Mr Chairman

Apart from the state agencies there are militant groups which have full support of the secret agencies to harass and intimidate local people. These jihadi groups recruit vulnerable and poor people in name of Jihad, and in some cases pressurise them to help and support them. These jihadi groups have camps in various parts of Pakistani controlled Kashmir, especially in areas near Muzaffarbad and Neelam Valley, which is used as a launching pad to infiltrate militants to the Indian side of Kashmir that they can commit acts of violence.

There are still thousands of people there who crossed the Line of control to seek weapons and training from Pakitan. Now many of these people wish to abandon militancy and go back to resume their normal life with their families. However, these jihadi groups and secret agencies are not happy with this trend and are making strenuous efforts to ensure that no one goes back.

In this regard some Kashmiris clearly expressed their desire to go back and criticised Jihadi groups and All Parties Hurriyet Conference. Among these critics were Jahangeer Butt and Khalid Kashmiri. They exposed corruption and policies of Mutahida (United) Jihad Council and APHC.

Result of this rebellious attitude was that on Saturday 17 September 2011, armed men of Muttahida Jihad Council and Hizb Ul Mujahideen kidnapped them. Afzaal Suleria, President of Kashmir National Party spoke to me on Saturday and told me that national parties of Pakistani Occupied Kashmir have strongly condemned this act of jihadi groups and their pay masters – secret agencies of Pakistan.

To me and many pro Kashmir citizens of Jammu and Kashmir it is a shameful act and clearly human rights abuse. However, for Pakistani agencies and these militant groups this action is justified, and is not abuse of human rights, because in their view these people were harming the ‘liberation struggle’. To these people with tunnel vision and misplaced loyalty, if some one speaks truth and provides facts which are disliked by them or which expose their nefarious activities, that person is ‘anti movement’ and must be punished. They have become judge and jury, no evidence is required and innocent people are punished at their will.

Situation of people in Neelam Valley and Gilgit Baltistan needs special attention. In absence of vibrant media, active civil society and human rights organisations, people of these areas are totally at the mercy of the secret agencies; and in case of the Neelam Valley Jihadi groups as well.

In Gilgit Baltistan there are hundreds of people under detention for using right of expression. They are not using any guns, all they say is that they want to be treated with respect, and deserve to be treated like human beings. A famous political activist, Jaan Baba was arrested for speaking against human rights abuses in Gilgit Baltistan; and still he is under detention.

Neelam Valley is a place where even people of Pakistani Occupied Kashmir are not allowed to go without rigorous checks and constant surveillance. Because Pakistan use this region as a launching pad for militants that they can go across the LOC and commit acts of violence in name of jihad, Pakistani secret agencies and army ensure that tourists and other people who do not reside here are kept away from this area.

Those who train militants, arm them and send them across the LOC in name of jihad; think they are serving cause of Islam, and cause of Kashmir. In actual fact, they are giving a bad name to Islam; they are creating divisions in name of religion and bringing enormous problems for the ordinary people of Jammu and Kashmir living on both sides of the divide.

Presence of non Kashmiri armed militants in the Neelam Valley creates enormous problems for the local people. These militants are not familiar with local culture and way of life and because of gun and power harass and intimidate local people. Their brand of Islam is also new to the local people; and they are building Masjids and employing their own Imams that they spread their own brand of Islam and recruit people for jihad.

Local people have protested against these people; and even women folks who normally do not take part in political activities came out to protest on 10 September 2011; and this shows strength of feelings against the militancy and militants there. According to Press for Peace news release they marched to the local headquarters of Pakistan army and conveyed their demands to the officials and I quote:

‘A large number of women protested against the recent activities of some banned Kashmiri militant groups in Neelum Valley area…Recent movement of militants of outlawed Jihadi organizations in border areas, especially Neelum Valley, is a great danger for the peace in the local area, women protestors told Pakistani army officials. Women urged upon Pakistani army to stop the movement of militants across the Line of Control. They warned that militants would not be allowed to use the local land for their anti- people designs. “Local people cannot afford another war- like situation and we would resist any possible efforts conceived to ruin the peace along the border region”, they added. They said that people of Neelum Valley and other border areas have paid heavy price during the shelling across the LOC before the ceasefire.’ Unquote

Mr Chairman

The above quote, to some extent explains the prevailing situation in that region. While remembering the situation before the 2003 cease fire, these women protestors further said: ‘In this war like situation we have lost our generation. “Our children were abandoned illiterate, we lost our homes hospitals, and other basic infrastructures due to the war, but we were not rehabilitated by the government”.’

Local media is weak and fears reprisals from the jihadi militants and secret agencies who control and run affairs of this region. According to Press for Peace, in the past their ‘activists have been threatened by state and non-state actors for carrying pro- peace campaigns in these areas.’

Mr Chairman I prepared my speech last night, and this morning I learnt that four more former Kashmiri militants are missing. Rasheed Najer and his friends protested against the kidnapping of Jahangeer Butt and Khalid Kashmiri. He was invited for talks by United Jihad Council where he went with three other colleagues; but they have not been seen since. It is believed that they are also taken in custody.

Mr Chairman, I thank you for your patience.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The time is now to turn things around, Zafar Hilaly

The time is now to turn things around

Zafar Hilaly
Thursday, September 15, 2011

The crisis we confront today has no parallel. So comprehensive has been our failure on all fronts that think tanks around the world are now ruminating on a “post-Pakistan” scenario and what our region will look like after what appears to them to be the impending doom of Pakistan.

Such fears may appear exaggerated to many. But let us not forget that Pakistan is not a historical state. It was conjured out of British India when arrogant and insensitive opponents in the Indian Congress spurned sensible compromises offered by Jinnah to keep India united and India’s Muslims free from Hindu-majority domination. Other non-historical states, like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, also floundered because of poor leadership and bankrupt policies, and a similar fate awaits Israel if it does not change its ways.

On the economic front we have made a complete mess. Even in areas where we started off promisingly, like PIA, for example. In corruption we are ahead of most countries.

Our budget priorities have been distorted for many years. While we have devoted the lion’s share to defence, our investments in education, health and social welfare have been among the lowest in the world. At the same time, we have excelled most countries in population growth, which is now taking a heavy toll of our natural resources, imposing a huge burden on the economy and on our urban infrastructure. We have done nothing to rein this in.

Similarly, we have shown ineptitude in handling our foreign relations. We have found comfort or cover in denial about so many things. In the process we stand virtually isolated in the world, even though, at least as yet, we are not a failed state. Even our much vaunted ties with China have lost lustre and our internal failings have become a source of serious concern to Beijing.

Our obsession with India has cost us dearly. True, India is not a benign power, it oozes ill will for Pakistan, but we must not get carried away with the problems we have inherited, nor should we overlook our own failings when dealing with India.

Besides, international politics today is vastly different from two decades ago. India’s concerns vis-a-vis China will continue to grow strongly as these two giants compete for influence. Competing for influence and managing its border issues with China are far more important for India than being fixated on Pakistan.

Of course, there is no magic wand to turn things around overnight. And military rule does not offer a way out. Yet, given our internal security situation and the fact that the military is still intact as an institution, we must not deride it, for all its past blunders. After all, it is only the military that stands between the horde of antediluvian murderers killing and bombing innocents and their goal of seizing large chunks of our land.

However, the military can do better by showing itself to be working to assist the democratic process and by being more dynamic than it has been in the recent past. Likewise, the politicians must realise we are in a grave crisis and that old-style polemics and games of musical chairs for power will not do anymore. Civil-military relations have been in tatters for many years, which both sides must now move closer together to repair.

The military, by virtue of its dominant position, should seek a better relationship with key politicians. And this it can do best by abandoning its domineering approach. Inasmuch as the politicians need the military to tackle the multifaceted crisis we face, the military needs them too – a fact which the military must candidly concede.

On their part, the civilian leaders must know that the military in Pakistan has a role in political decision-making; pretending otherwise is foolish and foolhardy, as experience shows. That said, a strong centre is no remedy. If anything, it has been a big problem for a very long time. The relationship between the centre and the provinces needs more doing than just the transfer of some subjects to the provinces.

Decentralisation has the advantage of unburdening the centre, which doesn’t have the capacity or ability to govern a large country in which anti-centre sentiment runs deep. Devolution and loosening up of central control can facilitate stability and free up local energy, but it must not be seen, and is not seen to be, a slippery slope to disintegration.

Our geo-strategic location can be both a boon or a potential disaster, depending on our vision and how we manage our internal situation and our external relations. But if we can get our act together, our role as an economic and infrastructural bridge between South and Central Asia can offer a bright economic future.

But to get to the promised land of economic prosperity we need to work for peace and stability with our neighbours – India and Afghanistan. It is only in those circumstances that we can realise our economic potential.

An ethnically divided Afghanistan will block our path to economic prosperity while old-style confrontation with India will weaken our capacity to tackle internal insurgencies. Pragmatism towards Afghanistan and India is not appeasement anymore; its realism through and through. Nor will pragmatism render the military redundant. We will still need a strong defence as an insurance policy against contingencies, but not an outdated military rivalry which has become less meaningful and affordable.

We will also need a strong military to fight armed extremists and provide the strategic cover to our police and paramilitaries for years to come. It is a pity that while we have one of the largest standing armies in the world, we are not able to exercise our full military might against armed extremists.

Likewise, internal security has now become paramount, which was not the case two decades ago. The major threats we face today are from armed extremists and the reason why the extremists are still strong is because the state apparatus has weakened.

The fact is that extremists thrive in poverty and anarchy and our circumstances today suit them well. Any strategy to stem extremism has to consider ways of reversing our grim economic and social conditions. And that can only happen within the framework of regional economic cooperation, which in turn will require, among other steps, peace and stability in Afghanistan and, I stress again, normalisation of relations with India.

Our strategic policy must therefore abandon the old-world notion of strategic depth for a new world concept of regional cooperation for economic and social progress. Indeed, it is regional cooperation that has been the lynchpin of rapid and sustained economic progress in regions that have done well. And it is economic cooperation which will also help to reduce threat perceptions over time, or at least help us to better manage problems, as we have seen in other regions.

Meanwhile, continued engagement with the US against international terrorism, Al-Qaeda in particular, will be crucial to bringing the endgame in Afghanistan to a positive conclusion. With regard to our dependence on international financial institutions which Washington largely controls, brick-batting and whining and whinging at Washington’s antics serves little purpose. Instead, we should focus more of our angst on collecting taxes to reduce our external dependence.

Anyway, as Washington withdraws from its combat role in Afghanistan and becomes more mired in its domestic woes, its obsession with military victory, which had much to do with the influence of some of its generals, will continue to recede and its embrace will become less suffocating.

Our deepest problem is our direction. We have strayed too long from the vision of our founder. After being bombarded over the past three decades with Saudi Arabia’s brand of Islam, we seem to have unhinged ourselves from the vision of Jinnah. Our salvation, in terms of direction, lies in returning to Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan.

The dangers ahead are too horrendous to contemplate if we continue to work at cross-purposes or allow our emotions or sense of hurt to take over. The time is now to turn things around even if it can only be done slowly. Having suffered so much over so many years, the people deserve to see the light at the end of this tortuously long tunnel.

The writer is a former ambassador.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Who Is Attacking Balochistan? By Hamid Waheed

Who Is Attacking Balochistan? By Hamid Waheed

By Hamid Waheed

Covert operations under media support have emerged as one of most powerful tool to psychologically defeat a community and force it to follow desired line of order. The hostile media controlled by the global and regional powers focus on molding ideas, building perceptions, and convincing under educated people of poor third world countries. Pakistan in general, the province of Balochistan in particular presently face this hostile media onslaught on lines of Kurd Model. The main theme projected says that security apparatus is the main coercive tool being used against the natives to deprive them of their livelihood.
They blame Pakistani media for not reporting on the brutal realities of Balochistan in any meaningful manner. Despite the fact that the province is of great strategic interest to the world, its people suffer from persistent, systemic and widespread human rights abuse by state authorities .The Human Rights Watch gives verdict by saying “indisputable” evidence points to the hand of the FC, the ISI and its sister agency, Military Intelligence are behind the killings and kidnapping. However they fail to convince the general public on issues like the killings of eleven people by unidentified armed men at a Frontier Works Organization (FWO) camp in Palari area of Balochistan’s Gwadar district, targeting “settlers” and government officials and killing at least 16 Punjabi speaking individuals in the Bolan area last August. The responsibility of all such incidents though has been publically accepted by insurgent groups like BLA or BRA. They also have no logic to explain army’s contributions specially under General Kiyani in Balochistan for a common Balochi.
The covert hands support insurgency in Balochistan, through safe havens provided to the militants in different countries to destabilize Pakistan. It is not a secret now that of Government of Balochistan in exile (GOB Exile) established by militants in April 2005 has it’s headquarter in Jerusalem as is evident from the website anyone can go and have a look. Very interestingly Balochistan Legal fund (BLF) has address originating from Washington DC. The ban on jihadi organizations and their assets freezing is common international phenomena but such support originating from Washington?
I am reminded of a document How India’s intelligence establishment see the Balochistan situation written by Kanchan Lakashman which says “While the US is broadly committed to the general ‘stabilization’ of Pakistan, it does have a vested interest in delaying projects that would establish a dominant Chinese strategic presence in the region, particularly the Port of Gawadar. Thus military analyst predicts some US interest will be persistent, through low grade, violence in the province and this is where Indo –US interest converge.” According to Wiki leaks, also Americans are interested to increase their influence in Gawadar and other part of the Balochistan. A regional think tank says, damaging China-Pakistan joint venture of development of Gawadar port is one of the main US interest in Balochistan.
A report published in The Gulf Times says, “Investigations into the case of Raymond Davis, have revealed that the US spy agency, CIA is indulged in heavy recruitment of local agents in Pakistan’s south-western province Balochistan to locate members of the so-called Quetta-based Taliban Shura.” The probe also indicates around 300 more CIA contractors were present in various parts of the country, apparently to keep an eye on Taliban and ALQ leaders that the American suspects too have taken refuge in various cities and towns across the country. According to a source “It has also been revealed that the CIA is indulged in heavy recruitment of local people as agents in Balochistan to locate members of the Quetta Shura, a term used by the Americans for Mullah Omar-led Taliban commanders.
The New York Times moves to support Quetta Shura perception by providing space to Carlotta and publishes a report saying Taliban commander Haji Khalil of Marja was killed in Quetta and gives credibility to Quetta Shura. Whereas ISAF Joint Command Evening Operational Update, published onFeb. 11, 2011confirms his death in action in Musa Qualah district, Helmand province, on Feb. 9. . Carlotta writes quoting The Associated Press of Pakistan(APP) that Manzoor Ahmed, the former Taliban sports minister, was shot four times by unidentified assailants on the way to his office in the border town of Chaman on March 3.However, no such report of 3rd March on APP was found about Mullah Manzoor Ahmed. This news was available on The Baloch Hal News whose website is already banned by Pakistan Telecom Authority because of its anti Pakistan editorial policy. This further substantiates the linkage between covert hands the local handlers and the media.
America is not the only interested player in Balochistan. The activities of Mir Suleiman, Khan of Kalat operating from U.K, holding anti Pakistan rallies and maligning Pakistan for forcible annexation of Balochistan has its own dimensions? Presence and involvement of Indian Consulates in Afghanistan bordering Balochistan along illegal arms supply route, arrest of Gazin Marri in Dubai in March 2006 for channeling funds to BLA from Dubai, and arrest and release of Harbayar Marri in UK and facilities of Indian visa to insurgents leaves many unanswered question. Moreover, the pictures obtained from Raymond show sensitive areas of Pak India border which have more relevance for India rather than America adds new dimension to joint covert operations. This may be that foreign hand at which our political and military leaders often hint but never speak.
The most surprising move has this time come from India, its first initiative for cricket diplomacy to improve regional relationship. Such initiative must be taken as a positive step but future must be predicted in light of history. India has always had hegemonic approach towards its neighbours and its goodwill gestures have mostly concluded with economic or militarily strangulating projects for the neighbours. May it be the construction of a barrage at Farakka, near the border with Bangladesh or Wullhar Barrage over River Jhelum to dry up the water resources for its neighbours.
For the downstream riparian country, freshwater availability depends on the share of water diverted by upstream India, and as a result Bangladesh has experienced a 50% decrease of dry season mean flow amounts since the commissioning of the barrage in 1975. Such drastic reductions have caused a series of problems including drop in agro and fish productivity, saltwater intrusion and ecological imbalance. Pakistan is locked in other territorial disputes with India such as the Siachen Glacier, Sir Creek and construction of dams including Baglihar Dam built over the River Chenab in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly China, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka all have host of problems leading to mistrust in relationship. The cricket diplomacy has this time coupled with a news that India is all set to build 558 roads at a cost of Rs 500 billion along the border with two hostile neighbours — China and Pakistan — in a bid to effectively counter the former, which is working at a high speed to execute world-class infrastructure projects along the Indo-China and Indo-Pakistan border region.
Decision has also been taken to build an all weather road along the 1,417 km long Indo-Myanmar border region besides construction of at least 50 helipads to ensure quick reaction from the air force and the infantry, in case of any eventuality. India has redrafted its military doctrine on building border infrastructure as a force multiplier in a real war situation. This needs attention in back drop of Indian Army Chief’s statement of taking on both Pakistan and China simultaneously through its cold start doctrine.
The above may have been yet another conspiracy theory for the so called liberals calling shots for Aman Ki Asha (quest for peace) but may be such reminders from history brings the required caution, however caution should never undermine the emotions as emotionalism speaks of a living nation. More important for us is the realization of dangers we are currently facing. The answer lies in understanding, developing and cementing our house from within to guard against implosions and work out a sutto voce notion at national level which should commensurate with the present global and regional challenges being faced by Pakistan.
It’s not the Pakistan Security Agencies or the Military that’s attacking Balochistan but a clear hand of CIA-RAW in clandestine operations is visible even to a blind eye. With such covert operations being aided and abetted by CIA, the US should not expect that Pakistan would help her to destroy us under any circumstance. Raymond Davis arrest has lifted the lid off the box where all plans for Pakistan’s destruction were kept. What appears that there are three parallel governments running within the US. State Office, Pentagon and CIA; where does Whitehouse stand is anyone’s guess.

Who broke Pakistan? – by Hamid Mir

Who broke Pakistan? – by Hamid Mir

The grandson of late Bengali leader Abul Hashim wrote me a letter about my last article on Lahore Resolution published in this newspaper on March 23. Abul Hashim was the Secretary General of Muslim League in United Bengal before the partition of India. I wrote in my article that Abul Hashim and Hussain Shaheed Suharwardi tried to stop the division of Bengal with the help of a Hindu leader Sarat Chandra Bose in 1947 but they were failed and the division of Bengal was a violation of Lahore Resolution. I also wrote that Pakistan was created through a political struggle but after the death of Muhammad Ali Jinnah some military dictators destroyed the democratic institutions in the newly born state and that was why the majority of Bengalis turned against Pakistan.

Mr Ibrahim Khan, grandson of Abul Hashim in a mail sent to me from Dhaka endorsed my position and wrote that “the utter failure of the Pakistani rulers in terms of political knowledge, patriotism and respect for democracy shattered the hopes and aspirations of the new-born nation. Only the Lahore Resolution could have made the Pakistan a state where the Muslims as well as the non-Muslims would enjoy the freedom of their individual national culture and religious practice.”

I have received lot of other mails not only from Bangladesh but also from different cities of Pakistan. It was a great surprise that most of the Bangladeshis and Pakistanis now agree that Lahore Resolution was not implemented properly, pro-American military dictators mistreated Bengalis and that was the reason for the division of Pakistan. Only one reader declared me a traitor and I was mentally prepared for that allegation. Many readers want some more information about the efforts for the creation of a United Bengal by some Muslim Leaguers who had support from Jinnah. Some students asked me who was actually responsible for the breakup of Pakistan? They asked me this question because there is no answer in their textbooks.

It is a historical fact that Bengali leaders of Muslim League and some Hindu elders of Congress tried their level best to stop the division of Bengal between March 1947 and June 1947. Congress President Acharia Kripalani was demanding the division of Bengal. It’s a historical fact that Bengali leaders of Muslim League and Congress formed a six-member committee to stop the division of their province. This committee included Suharwardi, Abul Hashim and Khawaja Nazimuddin from Muslim League and Sarat Chandra Bose, Kiran Shankar Roy and Satya Ranjan Bakshi from Congress. This committee contacted both Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi and started their efforts after getting the blessing from both of them on May 12, 1947. This six-member committee reached an agreement for the creation of a united Bengal state within one week.

Sarat Chandra Bose informed Gandhi about this agreement by a letter written to him on May 23, 1947, but surprisingly Gandhi changed his position. He responded back to Bose in a letter on June 8, 1947, that Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel are opposing your scheme. In retaliation Sarat Chandra Bose tried to win the support of other Congress leaders by saying that only Brahmins were supporting the division of Bengal not low caste Hindus. He reminded the mistreatment given to his late elder brother Subhash Chandra Bose by Brahmin leaders of Congress, who was thrown out of the Congress. Abul Hashim successfully won the support of Communist Party for United Bengal. Jinnah continued also his support for the United Bengal because he also wanted to stop the division of Punjab. Ultimately all these efforts to stop the division of Bengal failed because Lord Mountbatten was on Nehru’s side.

Division of Bengal was a big blow to the Bengalis. They were 56 percent of Pakistan even after the division of Bengal. They would have been more than 65 percent of Pakistan in case of a United Bengal. Developed and industrial cities like Calcutta became part of India and most of the areas in eastern part of Bengal were poor and under-developed. It was easy for military dictators like General Ayub Khan to exploit both East and West Pakistan by using military power. Media was very weak at that time and common man in the West Pakistan was not aware about the feelings of East Pakistan. If anybody today wants to know the historical truth about the disintegration of Pakistan he must read the book of a retired chief justice of Pakistan, Muhammad Munir From Jinnah to Zia. Justice Munir was the law minister of Ayub Khan.

He wrote on page 92 of his bookL “When I joined Ayub’s cabinet in 1962 I found that no constructive work was being done by the Assembly. Everyday was spent in listening the long speeches of Bengali members about exploitation and about the step-motherly attitude of West Pakistan. Ayub used to listen to these speeches and was bored. I spoke to Ayub and suggested that there could be no fusion or common goal between the two provinces and asked him whether it would not be better that instead of putting up with nonsense, we must ask East Pakistan to take their affairs in their own hands. He suggested to me that I should talk about it to some influential Bengali leader. One day I spoke to a Bengali minister from East Pakistan, Ramizuddin. He asked me whether I was suggesting secession. I said yes or something like it as confederation or more autonomy. He said we are the majority province and it is for the minority province to secede because we are Pakistan.”

This book was published in 1979 in Pakistan but General Zia-ul-Haq banned the book. I still have a copy of this banned book. This book is evidence that a military dictator actually tried to break Pakistan in 1962 through his law minister but Bengalis refused to break Pakistan. Bengalis were forced to take up arms against Pakistan when another military dictator General Yahya Khan tried to silence their voice by tanks and guns in 1971. Military dictators, their crony judges like Justice Munir and some corrupt politicians of West Pakistan broke Pakistan, not Bengalis. We must learn lesson from history. March 26 is the independence day of Bangladesh. Military takeovers were always bad for Pakistan as well as for Bangladesh. May Allah save these two nations from the military dictators forever in the future.

The writer works for Geo TV. Email:

Thursday, March 26, 2009 (The News)

Azad Kashmir or Pakistani occupied Kashmir

Azad Kashmir or Pakistani occupied Kashmir
Dr Shabir Choudhry 3 September 2011

The former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir is forcibly divided between India and Pakistan; and people suffer on both sides of the divide with varying degrees. Whereas every aspect of suffering is highlighted in the Indian side of the divide, very little is said about what goes on in the Pakistani side. This article explains some of the situation in a territory known as Azad Kashmir.

Pakistan has two territories of State of Jammu and Kashmir under its control, namely Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. Although Azad Kashmir has its own President, Prime Minister, its own flag, but the territory is not azad or independent by any stretch of imagination. Human Rights Watch (and some other international NGOs) described Azad Kashmir as anything but "Azad"; and it is because of this fact the territory is also known as Pakistani occupied Kashmir.

Lal Hussain, a prominent writer and political analyst of Pakistan, in his article, ‘Agony of Azad Kashmir’ writes:

‘So-called Azad Kashmir has a President and Prime Minister. However, the powers of these two offices are less than those of the Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad, itself one of the weakest ministries in Pakistan's federal government.’
Ruling elite and other people of Azad Kashmir have been mentally enslaved through Pakistani propaganda, in name of Islam, brotherhood and through educational system prevailing in this territory for past 63 years. Educational syllabus of so called Azad Kashmir is prepared and approved by bureaucrats of Islamabad. The prime purpose of this is not to educate people; rather it is designed to make people good and obedient slaves of Pakistan.

In the past demand was that Azad Kashmiri leaders and other employees and aspirant express their allegiance to Pakistan, as prescribed by Act 74 prepared and imposed by Islamabad, which stated:

"No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of the state's accession to Pakistan".
(Part 2 of section 7 of the Act 74 - Interim constitution, which remains interim after 37 years).

Mental slavery

However, demands from Azad Kashmiri leaders have changed with time, and now the rulers of Pakistan and other key players demand personal allegiance; and even allegiance to their dead ones. One can measure depth of this mental slavery by a statement of recently appointed Prime of Minister of Azad Kashmir Chaudhry Abdul Majid, who after becoming a Prime Minister went to graves of Bhutto family in Larkana, Sind, proudly said: ‘I am not a Prime Minister but Majawer of Gari Khuda Baksh’.

Majawer is a man, who is a follower of a saint and like a slave or unpaid servant, looks after shrine after saint’s death. There are no saints in Bhutto family; however, they are all buried in a grave yard in Gari Khuda Baksh. What Prime Minister of so called Azad Kashmir means, he is a slave or unpaid - caretaker of graves of Bhutto family buried in Gari Khuda Baksh. A man or Prime Minister with that level of mental slavery could be called anything but not azad or a free man.

Azadi of azad Kashmiri rulers or Prime ministers could be understood from the following incident. Mumtaz Rathore was an elected Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir. He was a stalwart of Peoples Party Azad Kashmir, and when Benazir Bhutto government fell in Islamabad, he faced problems with the new government. He had certain disagreements with Islamabad, bureaucrats of Islamabad or those control Kashmir policy do not tolerate this kind of behaviour. Few policemen were sent from Islamabad who arrested Mumtaz Rathore, and brought him to Islamabad and imprisoned in 1991. There was hardly any protest against unfair this dismissal from politicians of Azad Kashmir; however, Benazir Bhutto protested over this and said:

“Pakistan had arrested the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, rigged the state election, and alienated the Kashmiris to such an extent that they want an independent Kashmir.”
(Vernon Hewitt, ‘Reclaiming the Past - The search for political and cultural unity in contemporary Jammu and Kashmir’, page 120)

Lal Hussain, a prominent writer and political analyst of Pakistan, comments on the attitude and relationship between the ruling elite of Islamabad and Azad Kashmiri in following words:

‘The Pakistani ruling elite has superficial and hypocritical policies for the appeasement of the Kashmiris. Yet their attitude towards them is not much different from the attitude they had towards the Bengalis when West and East Pakistan were one country. The irony is that most Kashmiri leaders have sold out and blindly follow the dictates of Islamabad. The vast majority of Kashmiris, who belong to the oppressed classes, are the ones who suffer.’

Other controls

Despite this mental slavery and so many restrictions, as to who can contest elections, control through Kashmir Council, Ministry of Kashmir Affairs, General Commanding Officer Murree and Pakistani secret agencies, Islamabad does not trust these leaders of Azad Kashmir. They have appointed four Pakistani senior officials to control all matters of their colony – Azad Kashmir. These people are also called ‘Lent Officers’, who go there not as public servants but as viceroys or overlords. These Pakistani officers are

1. Chief Secretary, who heads the entire administration;
2. Finance Secretary, who manages budgetary matters;
3. Inspector General Police, who control issues related to law and order;
4. Accountant General, who keeps a watchful eye on all kinds of expenditures.

These four officers are stationed in Islamabad and summon anyone they need to their office; and no office holder can defy them in Azad Kashmir. These overlords, from time to time, do visit their colony and get ‘royal treatment’.

Role of the Azad Kashmir government is limited by Act 74, Article 19 section 2 which reads, ‘The executive authority of the government [of AJK] shall be so exercised as: (a) not to impede or prejudice the responsibilities of the Government of Pakistan; (b) to secure compliance with the laws made by the [AJK] Council.’

As if that was not enough, so called Azad Kashmir and its citizens are further controlled by Kashmir Council, which is effectively a supreme body of this colony; and its Chairman is Prime Minister of Pakistan who appoints five other senior Pakistanis as members of this body. All major decisions, including who will get promotions and what projects should be initiated, are taken in meetings of the Kashmir Council; and elected Assembly of Azad Kashmir has no right to challenge any of the decisions.

In practise, it is the Pakistani Prime Minister who exercises the executive power of the Kashmir Council with help of his Pakistani members and officials present in the meetings; and Azad Kashmiri members which include President and Prime Minister are merely puppets nodding heads. Their prime interest is to make financial gains as membership to the Kashmir Council is literally purchased by Azad Kashmiri members, paying as much as 2 Cror rupees.

And despite these restrictions and bondage, some people of this territory feel they are ‘Azad’ – meaning free. These people live in fantasy world and DONOT understand meaning of azadi – independence. They do not want to come out of this illusion and face real world, because mentally they are slaves and are unable to distinguish between azadi – independence and ghulami- slavery.

In the past, at least, local political parties were allowed to select their candidates for Assembly seats; now even that right is taken away from them, and who will be our Assembly Member is decided by ‘masters’ in Islamabad. These ‘masters’ are in the form of Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, and other heads of Pakistani parties which dominate the politics of this unfortunate territory.
Lal Hussain, after studying the situation of so called Azad Kashmir said:
‘The army and other state agencies want to control this part of Kashmir with an iron grip behind the fa├žade of democracy. Apart from the traditional Kashmiri leaders, they propped up Islamic fundamentalism not only as an auxiliary force in its conflict with the Indian army, but more importantly as force to crush left-wing forces and groups that refused to toe the official line. They try to buy every emerging leader.’

He further writes:
‘This “Azadi” has only brought them deprivation, misery, poverty, and disease. It has forced them to migrate from the beauty of their homeland into the drudgery of far away lands. They have learnt the real meaning of “Azadi”. Without food, shelter, clothing, health services, education, water, electricity, and other basic needs, freedom is a mirage, a utopia, and a deception.’
Water resources and Freedom of expression
Freedom of expression is strictly controlled by various agencies of Pakistan. Those who defy their instructions have to face different kinds of social, political and economic problems. However, those writers and political activists who promote Pakistan’s Kashmir policy are generously rewarded and are presented as loyal Kashmiris and leaders of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Muhammad Saeed Asad is the author of numerous books on Kashmiri. Three of his books were banned by Pakistan, and one book was on upraising of the Mangla Dam which explained exploitation of Kashmir’s water resources by Pakistan. While talking to Human Rights Watch, he said:
‘I was suspended from my government job for writing on the Mangla Dam issue. The ISI called me upon publication of the book. It was a major in the ISI. He verified that I had compiled the book and had not been forced into writing it. The book represented the views of Kashmiris on Mangla and indicates that Pakistan was exploiting Kashmir for its own gains. Two weeks after publication, I had a three-hour-long meeting with Pakistan Military Intelligence. They told me that this was a sensitive matter and I should not have written about it. The public does not know why you have brought this into the public domain, the officer said. I replied that people had a right to know what Mangla Dam was and who derived advantages from it. It was my national duty, as a Kashmiri, to bring this out. This is precisely your crime,’ the officer said. The meeting had majors from GHQ Rawalpindi and officers from Military Intelligence. You should avoid writing such books. We are placing you under surveillance one said. They keep giving me trouble by stopping pay raises, suspending me from the job periodically and posting me from district to district in order to make life difficult. But, I am determined to keep on writing and to keep on working.’
Pakistan heavily relies on water of the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers which all flow through the State of Jammu and Kashmir before reaching Pakistan; and many experts believe that Pakistan is more interested in water of Jammu and Kashmir then the welfare of the people of this territory. Pakistan's former Foreign Minister Zafarullah Khan once said:
“If Kashmir should accede to India, Pakistan might as well, from both the economic and strategic points of view, become a feudatory of India or cease to exist as an independent sovereign state.”
(Michael Brecher, ‘The Struggle for Kashmir’, page 48)
Apart from books, print and electronic media is also under strict control of Pakistani agencies; and no journalist is allowed to expose Pakistan’s Kashmir policy or Pakistan’s exploitation of Azad Kashmiri resources. Anyone who dares to cross the red line drawn by secret agencies of Pakistan is immediately warned and punished.
Water and other resources of Azad Kashmir are exploited by Pakistan without impunity; and Azad Kashmiri governments are not even in a position to complain or criticise. Mangla Dam was built inside the Azad Kashmir territory against the will of the local people; and tragedy is that despite our suffering and uprooting we do not benefit from its electricity or its water. We have no control over it at all; and we were not paid any royalty.
Total electric requirement of Azad Kashmir is around 335 megawatt; and Mangla Dam alone produces more than 1000 megawatt. Azad Kashmir has potential to produce more than 18,000 megawatt; at present total electric production of Azad Kashmir is around 1500 megawatt. How sad, despite this local production of electricity, we are not given 335 megawatt, and the people of my country suffer in dark. Their business and economy is hit by lack of power; and their agriculture is deprived of much needed water because they cannot use water stored in the Mangla Lake.
Tragedy is that the Azad Kashmir government cannot start any project without the approval of Kashmir Council which is controlled by Prime Minister of Pakistan and other Pakistani officials. For example, Pakistani government does not allow Azad Kashmir to use electricity produced by Mangla Dam or by any other power projects in Azad Kashmir, but Azad Kashmir CANNOT start a power project to meet its electricity requirements. The Act 74 lists fifty-two subjects—virtually everything of any importance—that are under the jurisdiction of the Azad Kashmir Council, which has been described as the “supra power” by the Azad Kashmir High Court. Its decisions are final and not subject to judicial review.
By using name of Islam and Two Nations Theory India and Muslims of the Sub Continent were divided, not to serve Islam but to protect and promote political, economic and strategic interests of Western Imperialists. Lal Hussain while commenting on Two Nations Theory said:

‘The two-nation theory requires constant rivalry and hatred against the Indian adversary. It is Kashmir that provides the material for this conflict.’
He further said:
‘If the Indian army has the biggest concentration of military forces in Indian-Held Kashmir, then it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Azad Kashmir is a garrison and cantonment for the Pakistan army. There is hardly any aspect of life in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir where there is no interference of the army, whether overt or covert. Ministers and politicians in Azad Kashmir are often seen lining up outside the offices of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Muzaffarabad. For almost three decades the two most important areas of Pakistan's foreign policy, Afghanistan and Kashmir, have been run by the intelligence agencies.’

To conclude, ‘it is suffice to say that the people of Kashmir should not expect the government of Azad Kashmir to play any positive role in the freedom struggle, because it is not free to act independently. The name of the government may be Azad (free) but it is not free by any stretch of imagination, and its role is to look after the interests of Pakistan, and in doing so its rulers are by and large given a free hand to accumulate wealth and enjoy themselves. They are allowed to do everything else as long as they DONOT concentrate on the freedom struggle. Whatever lip service is being paid by politicians of Azad Kashmir, it is on individual basis, and it is largely to satisfy the masses, rather than to support the freedom movement.’
Shabir Choudhry
Dr Shabir Choudhry

‘How Government of Pakistan and their officials treat people of so called Azad Kashmir could be seen from the events of the recent elections or a shameful drama managed and controlled by officials of Pakistan. Who is going to be a candidate of the two biggest Pakistani parties operating in Azad Kashmir is decided by President Asif Zardari of Pakistan and Nawaz Sharif the former Prime Minister of Pakistan.’ Abbas Butt

Abbas Butt
Chairman Kashmir National Party