Saturday, 26 November 2011

Lord Nazir Ahmed and issue of Kashmiri nationality, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Lord Nazir Ahmed and issue of Kashmiri nationality

Dr Shabir Choudhry 26 November 2011

Lord Nazir Ahmed knows how to stay in news. There are other Kashmiri and Pakistani Members of the British Parliament, but very rarely they make headlines. Lord Nazir Ahmed, on the other hand is always in news, especially in Kashmiri and Pakistani media.

This time he is in news because of his help to a PPP ‘rebel’ Dr Zulfiqar Mirza; and Azad Kashmiri Cabinets resolution that strongly criticised his conduct, and threatened him to revoke his Kashmiri nationality.

Lord Nazir Ahmed and I belong to same region and have had friendly relations, but we don’t see eye to eye on many issues. I don’t like his politics; and he hates my political ideology and activities I conduct to promote pro peace and pro Kashmir policies. Despite our different views and different political paths we are both Kashmiris and we have one vote each. Whether it is vote in local elections in Pakistani Administered Kashmir or vote in future plebiscite to decide future status of Jammu and Kashmir, my vote will be just as good as his vote.

Both Lord Nazir Ahmed and I hold dual nationality – we are British and citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. Whereas the British citizenship can be revoked in certain cases by the British Sovereign, or by the British government on behalf of the sovereign; but the Kashmiri citizenship cannot be revoked by any government, be it Jammu and Kashmir government or Azad Kashmir government.

The Azad Kashmiri Cabinet passed a resolution stating that: ‘Lord Nazir Ahmed is “a despicable person” and the government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has the right to take legal action against him, the AJK cabinet declared in a unanimous resolution when it met in Muzaffarabad late on Thursday.’

Critics say Lord Nazir Ahmed is a Member of the British House of Lords, but it looks that Pakistani politics is closer to his heart; and he spends more time with Pakistani leaders and issues related to Pakistan than the British politics. He is a good speaker and courageously speaks on different issues; and do not hesitate to raise controversial issues. Lord Nazir Ahmed has helped former Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza in his ‘crusade’ against MQM and its Chief Altaf Hussain who lives in London and controls politics of Pakistan and Karachi from here.

This policy of Lord Nazir Ahmed is not only loathed by the MQM leaders and stalwarts; but also fiercely opposed by the Pakistani government, as they fear that activities of Dr Zulfiqar Mirza could annoy the MQM to the extent that they could once again walk out of the coalition making the unstable PPP government more vulnerable. President Asif Ali Zardari is more powerful than the Prime Minister of Pakistan even though it is a Parliamentary form of government, and Yousaf Raza Gilani is the Chief Executive, but he has no control or influence over a Member of the British Parliament, especially when he has become a ‘rebel’.

But Asif Ali Zardari had a few cards up his sleeve, and he thought he can try to discipline Lord Nazir Ahmed through his puppets in Azad Kashmir. The puppet Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir also belongs to the same area as Lord Nazir Ahmed; and also belongs to the same tribe and they know each other well. It was expected that both leaders will work closely to promote issues related to common good; but unfortunately under pressure from Zardari government Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir opened fire on Lord Nazir Ahmed, hoping to intimidate him by passing a resolution against him and by calling him a quomi mujram – national criminal, as if he has committed a serious crime or committed treachery.

The puppet Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir and its Cabinet, apart from threatening Lord Nazir Ahmed to revoke his Kashmiri nationality has also declared to confiscate his property in Azad Kashmir. The Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir knows his role is to safeguard interests of Pakistan; but perhaps he forgets that he is controlled by four Pakistani lent officers appointed by Pakistan and he is not even in a position to make any major appointments or promote certain officers in Azad Kashmir.

He should read Act 74 again and see for himself that Azad Kashmir government has no control over 55 important subjects, and that includes laws concerning: Nationality, citizenship and naturalisation, migration from or into Azad Jammu and Kashmir, admission into, and immigration and expulsion from AJK including in relation there to the regulation of the movements in AJK;

Furthermore, Kashmiri citizenship was not granted to Lord Nazir Ahmed by any puppet government. He is a Kashmiri by birth, and no one can take that away from him. Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir did us a great service by defining the State Subject laws. State Subject Definition Notification dated the 20th April, 1927, states:

‘That all emigrants from the Jammu and Kashmir State to foreign territories shall be considered State Subjects and also the descendants of these emigrants born abroad for two generations. Provided that, these nationals of the Jammu and Kashmir State shall not be entitled to claim the internal rights granted to subjects of this State by the laws, unless they fulfil the conditions laid down by those laws and rules for the specific purposes mentioned therein.’

This State Subject Notification was issued by the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir; and the State of Jammu and Kashmir was one political entity at that time. According to this Notification all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir State (people of present Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, Ladakh, Kashmir and Jammu) are lawful citizens of Kashmir; and because the former State is forcibly divided, no one part of the former State can revoke that Notification, or change legal status of citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, especially when they are not independent themselves and are subject to control and rule of neighbours of Jammu and Kashmir.

Lord Nazir Ahmed has very rightly said that no one can revoke his Kashmiri nationality; and that no one can stop him going to his motherland. Furthermore, no one can legally take over his property. I know Lord Nazir Ahmed is a fighter; and I am sure he will fight back and defeat these puppets of Zardari government who want to deprive him of his Kashmiri identity, and may be his property.

If these puppets can illegally revoke Kashmiri nationality of Lord Nazir Ahmed and deprive him of his property, then it will open a flood gate and corrupt officials will do same to millions of other citizens of Jammu and Kashmir living in Britain, Europe and America and confiscate their properties by revoking their Kashmiri nationality or blackmail them by giving them a threat of revoking their Kashmiri nationality.

We can all find reasons to oppose Lord Nazir Ahmed; but in this fight we must support him because it is not only his fight it is our fight, as any changes to the State Subject Notification of 1927 will have far reaching consequences for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I suggest that Lord Nazir Ahmed should pack his bags and travel to Azad Kashmir to challenge these puppets on their home ground; and I am willing to travel with him and support him. Of course I will pay for my own expenses.

Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir