Sunday, 9 October 2011

Unity of two JKLF groups – Amanullah Khan scores a goal, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Unity of two JKLF groups – Amanullah Khan scores a goal,

Dr Shabir Choudhry 10 October 2011

Yes, it is official; two groups of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front which at time of split in 1996 accused each other for working against the interests of an independent Jammu and Kashmir have tied the ‘golden knot’ and have become one. Congratulations to all who still hope that the JKLF will lead them to independence, as no one can impose any restrictions on dreams.

Many Kashmir watchers, however, believe that the JKLF has seen its peak and is out of step with ground realities, and especially with geo political situation of the world and international obligations and stark realities that face the post 9/11 world. They feel the top JKLF leaders are directionless and are incapable of formulating such policies that can bring back the past glory.

These JKLF leaders, in view of some experts, lack wisdom, perhaps sincerity and team with skills, know - how and dedication to unite all groups of the JKLF; and leading people of Jammu and Kashmir to independence is beyond their capability, as people have diverse views and are perhaps politically more mature than the JKLF leaders.

It is widely believed by true nationalist political parties that the JKLF during its heydays was hand in glove with secret agencies, and was promoting such policies that were formulated by non Kashmiris. These policies were designed to communalise the Kashmiri polity, kill non Muslims and drive them out of the Valley to make it a ‘Muslim struggle’ rather than a Kashmiri struggle.

Furthermore, key element of this strategy was to ‘liberate’ Jammu and Kashmir under the Indian occupation and only pay lip service to plight of the people under Pakistani occupation by containing the ‘struggle’ on the Indian side of the LOC. People have right to question if this is a new game plan to serve those the JKLF groups have served in the past, especially when these groups are infested with people who take pride in working with secret agencies.

In mid 1990s, to Amanullah Khan and his followers Yasin Malik was a ‘RAW agent’ released from prison to sabotage to JKLF struggle. Conversely Yasin Malik and his followers thought Amanullah Khan was an ‘ISI agent’ who damaged the JKLF with his unconstitutional blunders which took place from time to time.

It was during this time, in frustration and anger Amanullah Khan while commenting on the split of the JKLF associated with Yasin Malik, has alleged to have said: “My one arm was seriously affected with cancer and there was no cure for it, so I cut it off to save the JKLF”. Thank Allah, hard work of surgeons in Islamabad has performed a miracle; and they have stitched back this ‘cancer affected arm’ after curing the disease. Let us hope that the ‘arm’ or some other part is not contaminated by the cancer treatment which often happens; and there are no side affects.

Even before the official announcement of 06 October 2011, I had a lengthy chat with a leader of one group of JKLF which is not part of this unity. We worked as a team in the JKLF and developed very serious differences. We opposed each other and worked against each other, but after years of antagonism we sat down to discuss issues related to the JKLF and the Kashmiri struggle. He admired my skills and dedication; and added that in his opinion and opinion of his friends I have only strayed by 5 to 10% and we can still work together. He asked me and Abbas Butt to consider coming back to the JKLF fold.

I thanked him for this offer and politely said that the JKLF is still stuck in 1990s era, but the world and the Kashmiri struggle has moved on; and so have we. Also I had a little chat with Amanullah Khan few days before this announcement. He wanted to know my comments about the unity of the JKLF. I gave him my honest opinion; and also told him about the above conversation. He was not happy with what I said, but honest opinion is not given to make others happy.

Some old members of the JKLF who worked under my leadership in Britain until July 1992, and who admired my work for the JKLF; and felt even at that time that I was wrongly treated by Amanullah Khan, contacted me. They were happy with the unity, and general ‘amnesty’ for all former JKLF people to come back and strengthen the JKLF.

Apart from that many non Kashmiris and non JKLF people have also asked my opinion about this unity. I told them that I was busy with my new book and won’t have time for some days. Some urged me to join the JKLF; others thought it was a non starter and some people have made news of this event which will keep them alive for some time, but it won’t have any impact on the Kashmiri struggle or the Kashmir dispute.

People still question if Amanullah Khan and Yasin Malik were sincere in unity then why they did not invite other JKLF groups? Even in the declaration they only urged Rauf Kashmiri, Chairman of one group of JKLF to abandon his group and join them; but completely ignored the other two groups known as Aftab Group and Bitta Karate or Farooq Dar Group. Does it mean Yasin Malik and Amanullah Khan do not regard them as JKLF Groups? Or is it because this JKLF group headed by Farooq Dar and Javed Mir have made political life difficult for Yasin Malik in the Valley; and Amanullah Khan and his colleagues don’t like Aftab?

Both Yasin Malik and Amanullah Khan know political culture of Jammu and Kashmir that anyone who is expelled or forms a parallel group does not join unity talks or joins alliance unless requested to do so at the beginning of such talks. No body joins when two groups have concluded their talks and make public request to others to join, as that is just for public consumption and is to score political points against their political opponents.

In other words despite his sincerity and dedication, it is very unlikely that Rauf Kashmiri will leave his post of Chairman, and join them as a member, even though they did not consult him and took him in confidence. One leader of JKLF said to me that he is ‘100% sure that Rauf Kashmiri will not join them the way he was ignored by Yasin Malik when he (Rauf Kashmir) was in Indian Prison, and how he was treated by Amanullah Khan after his release’.

It is also very unlikely that former leaders and members of the JKLF will rush to join this new JKLF when they know how these leaders damaged to the JKLF and its ideology by aligning themselves with the secret agencies. One former JKLF colleague said, ‘They are selling old wine in new bottle – old policies with a new wrapping, I am not interested. We know their old policy and old strategy which was formulated in offices of Aab Para (reference to ISI Head Quarters in Islamabad) unknowingly I also promoted that policy, but I don’t want to commit the same mistake again’.

Depending on know how, and political maturity and political allegiance, people will continue to talk about this unity as another ISI ploy or a sincere effort of two leaders to put past behind them and move forward. However, one thing is clear that Amanullah Khan has come out shining in this whole matter. He has played his political inning wisely and created this impression that he was in control of everything in relation to the JKLF and the Kashmiri struggle when in reality he was not.

Now towards the end of his political inning he has hit a big shot. In the past people accused him for committing blunders and dividing the JKLF and the movement; now he can take credit for uniting at least two groups of the JKLF. He has asked forgiveness from those he might have treated wrongly; and has forgiven those who might have done something wrong to him. He always ensured that he had total control over the JKLF either under one title or the other; and that his Central Committee consists of either ‘yes men’ or those who are politically weak or politically immature. Anyone who did not fit the above criteria was expelled with some allegations.

I honestly believe that he committed many blunders, damaged the JKLF and the Kashmiri struggle for independence; and treated me and many others unfairly. He has asked for forgiveness, very nice of him, and I wholeheartedly forgive him for injustice or wrong he did to me. However, should he be not seeking forgiveness from the nation and especially from those who suffered and died as a result of his stubbornness and wrong policies executed to safeguard him and to promote a non JKLF agenda?

In the new set up Yasin Malik will remain Chairman and Amanullah Khan will remain in his exalted position until his death. This position is reserved for him, and no one after him will get this ‘honour’. Yasin Malik will head a team of 19 people until the new elections take place. If this team doesn’t work effectively and members of former rival groups don’t get on well and no elections take place, which is very likely, then Amanullah Khan will not get any blame for this failure. It will be a failure of Yasin Malik who is not known for administrative excellence.

Emphasis of the JKLF strategy has always been to liberate Indian side of Kashmir first, but our struggle is on the Pakistani side of the divide while adhering to unification and independence of the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir. We believe those who are under occupation of India they should struggle against that occupation; and those who are occupied by Pakistan they should struggle against Pakistani occupation instead of ignoring their own plight and fooling themselves to be working for ‘liberation’ of Jammu and Kashmir. They need to understand that it was a strategy of Pakistani secret agencies to make Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir focus of attention to give this message that only those areas were disputed and areas under Pakistan were independent and people were satisfied their position.

Apart from that we believe the struggle should be peaceful, as there is no role for militancy; and that militancy has proved counter productive and has sent a generation to graveyards. Yasin Malik was a militant leader, but after his release from the prison he pursued a non violent struggle; but Amanullah Khan Group of the JKLF before the unity with Yasin Malik Group believed in militancy. It is not clear which policy the new JKLF is going to adopt to ‘liberate’ Indian side of Kashmir. If they go for a militant struggle does that mean they are going to have another pact with the Pakistani agencies for supply of weapons, training, money and ‘political and diplomatic’ support.

In view of all the above, it is difficult to predict accurately what will be the outcome of this unity pact. I still have my doubts if these people, who opposed each other for so long, criticised each other and accused each other for being anti movement and agents of secret agencies will be able to work as a team and effectively promote cause of an independent Jammu and Kashmir. It is possible that after working for some months together they might go different ways again; or a new group might emerge from here. No matter what is the outcome of this unity team, Amanullah Khan has emerged as statesman, and to some extent his past mistakes might be camouflaged by this exercise. Yasin Malik, on the other hand, will be the fall guy, especially if he does not improve his administrative and public relations skills.

In any case, as far as we are concerned we think the top JKLF leaders have betrayed the ideology of united Jammu and Kashmir based on ideals of liberal, democratic and secular ideals by becoming a tool of secret agencies. In view of all the above, the JKLF is not a cup of tea for me and my friends, as we don’t want to fall in the same trap again. We also think baggage the JKLF is carrying because of its past blunders is too heavy to carry.

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:

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