Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Division in name of religion will cause chaos in the region

Division in name of religion will cause chaos in the region
Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry delivered in a public meeting held in Luton, England. 27 December 2012

Mr President, friends and colleagues aslamo alaikam

Thank you for inviting me to express my views on the issue of Kashmir. Let me start by congratulating the new leadership of Kashmir National Party of Luton branch which has been elected today. I hope the new leadership will work hard and discharge their duties with vigour and sincerity. I must add that I am impressed with the branch Secretary General, Abdul Ghaffar Shapal, he spoke with confidence and presented his message in coherent way; and I hope that he and others will help us to promote the cause of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir.

A few weeks ago when the issues of Palestine was discussed in the UN General Assembly and they won the majority vote; one Kashmiri political activist from Srinagar contacted me and asked when will people of Jammu and Kashmir get their independence and a seat in the UN General Assembly. I politely said to him, I don’t want to appear pessimistic or disappoint you, but we will never get that status for the following reasons:
1.      Unlike people of Jammu and Kashmir, people of Palestine, despite help and support from their Muslim neighbours never said they wanted to become part of Syria, Egypt, Jordan or Lebanon. Their message was clear that they were a separate nation, and that they wanted independence. Whereas, people of Jammu and Kashmir still don’t know what they want, as they are deeply divided on religious, ideological, sectarian and regional lines.

2.      People of Palestine had leaders who were, and are sincere to the cause of Palestine; and they were not agents of any of the countries that provided help and support to them. Unlike leaders of Palestine, leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, or those who are presented to us as leaders are ‘agents’ and puppets of either India or Pakistan; and they demonstrate more loyalty and affiliation to India or Pakistan than to their motherland – Jammu and Kashmir.

3.      People of Palestine and their leaders presented their case as a nation – Palestinians- and not as Muslims; even though they had overwhelming Muslim majority and they were surrounded by Muslim states. Whereas, majority of people of Jammu and Kashmir and their ‘leaders’ wanted to be part of Muslim Umma, which is nowhere to be seen at present. They are making this demand, despite the fact that State of Jammu and Kashmir is multi religious, multi ethnic and multi cultural.
Mr Chairman
I said to this friend that unless we resolve these fundamental issues we will remain occupied, divided and oppressed. We have to acknowledge this bitter fact that we have been taught the wrong history for many decades; and forces of occupation deliberately did this to confuse us and deprive us of our history and culture. They have deliberately linked Kashmir dispute with the Two Nations Theory. The reality is that the Two Nations Theory did not apply to Kashmir and other Princely States.

Without giving you a lesson in history, I want to briefly explain legal and constitutional position of Kashmir. The British Raj consisted of two units, namely British India and Princely India. Whereas the British India was directly ruled by the British, the Rulers of Princely States had treaties with the Crown and enjoyed a considerable autonomy. The Two Nations Theory was only applicable to the British India and did not apply to the Princely States. This fact is even acknowledged by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan.

On two different occasions, Mohammed Ali Jinnah asserted that Kashmir had right to remain independent or join India or Pakistan. If the Two Nations Theory was applicable to the Princely States then Kashmir should have automatically become part of Pakistan as it had Muslim majority. Similarly Mohammed Ali Jinnah acknowledged Ruler of Hyderabad’s right to independence, even though that State had around 80% non Muslims; and if rules of the Two Nations Theory were applicable to the Princely States then State automatically should have become part of India.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah practically demonstrated that the Two Nations Theory did not apply to the Princely States when he accepted accession of State of Junagarr to Pakistan. This State also had around 80% non Muslim population, but its Ruler was a Muslim. If the rules of the Two Nations Theory were applicable to the Princely States then Mohammed Ali Jinnah as a constitutional expert would not have accepted accession of Junagarr.

So we can see from the above examples that we have been fooled by the Pakistani establishment and their puppets in Jammu and Kashmir. We are not part of the Two Nations Theory and Kashmir dispute is not religious in nature; and there is no danger to Islam there. Those who are presenting Kashmir as a religious dispute are either innocently or deliberately dividing the State of Jammu and Kashmir on religious lines. Some people are promoting religious hatred in order to justify creation of Pakistan and division of India on religious lines.

We people of south Asia are still paying for the mistakes of 1947; and if a split is engineered in Jammu and Kashmir in name of religion it will cause total chaos in the entire region. The split will first divide people of Jammu and Kashmir as Muslims and non Muslims resulting in loss of life, migration and destruction. In future, there will be splits among Muslims, as there are in Pakistan, on lines of Shia, Sunni, Wahabi, Ismaili, Noor Bakshi etc. This will practically mean dividing people in every region and down to municipal level creating fear and hatred among different religious sects. We thinking people of Jammu and Kashmir need to promote culture of tolerance and co existence; and expose all those who want to promote extremism, communalism, tribalism and regionalism.

Mr Chairman
It is unfortunate to note that even some Kashmiri nationalists are confused. They speak of nationalism, yet their actions indicate that they are promoting interest of one occupier and fighting only the other occupier. Kashmiri nationalists claim both India and Pakistan are occupiers, yet some happily hold demonstration on 15 August as a Black Day because it is India’s Independence Day; but remain quite or wave Pakistani flags or attend ceremonies arranged on 14 August to commemorate Pakistan’s Independence Day. They have same attitude on 23 March and on 26 January; and on 22 October and on 27 October.

Kashmiri people don’t understand that when the British Raj ended on 15 August 1947, with India, State of Jammu and Kashmir also became independent, as our independence was curtailed because of the pact with the British Government and with end of the British Raj that pact also ended. So when we have a Black Day on 15 August, in reality we hold demonstrations against our own independence.

It must be noted that the Ruler of State of Jammu and Kashmir concluded a Standstill Agreement with the Government of Pakistan. India did not refuse a Standstill Agreement, but wanted to discuss some more details. Despite the Standstill Agreement, government of Pakistan, in complete violation of the Agreement, arranged a tribal invasion of Jammu and Kashmir and we were attacked on 22 October 1947. This unprovoked Pakistani aggression forced the Maharajah of Kashmir to seek help from India which was provided after a ‘provisional accession’; and the Indian troops landed in Srinagar on 27 October 1947. So the tribal aggression resulted in loss of our independence and the forced division of our motherland, hence our present miseries.

People talk of Pakistan being our attorney or wakeel. We people of Jammu and Kashmir never appointed Pakistan in that position. In any case, it is a principle adopted by all attorneys in the entire world that they help their clients and try to get best for them. Pakistani actions with regard to Kashmir are not that of an attorney but of an imperialist country. They directly occupy areas of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan and kept them separated to entrench their hold on these areas.

Respective governments of Pakistan fooled people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan. They have deliberately made our right of self determination in to a territorial dispute. In public, they talk of solution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Resolutions. The UNCIP Resolution of 13 August 1948, with the phrase ‘future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people’ provided us with an opportunity to become independent. How sad that it was government of Pakistan which curtailed our right to independence by introducing the following: ‘The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite;’

So one can see Pakistan blocked our right to independence. Theoretically, government of Pakistan was ready to accept Jammu and Kashmir becoming part of India, but was not prepared to accept Kashmir becoming an independent country. It was a strong possibility that the proposed plebiscite could have gone in favour of India, because Jammu and Kashmir had a pro India government and presence of the Indian troops in the State; and Pakistan had to withdraw all her troops and tribesmen from Jammu and Kashmir.

The UN Resolutions, at least gave this right to people of Jammu and Kashmir either to become Pakistanis or Indians; even that right was taken away from them in Simla Agreement. I have written a lengthy article on the damage done by the Simla Agreement signed by India and our so called friend and attorney. Pakistani government fool us about the UN Resolutions, reality is that they have not raised the Kashmir dispute in the UN Security Council for many decades; and reason for that is the Simla Agreement. They have agreed in Simla that both India and Pakistan will decide future of Jammu and Kashmir. What this means is that their bureaucrats will decide what is good for us and our future generations. I and the KNP will reject any solution of this nature where sentiments of the people are not satisfied.

Forces of extremism, violence and hatred accuse me for being anti Pakistan. Let me make it clear that I am not anti Pakistan. I am not even anti India. I have nothing against ordinary people of India or Pakistan. In many ways ordinary people suffer in both countries; and I feel for them as well. I am against Kashmir policy of India and Pakistan; and if they change their Kashmir policy and give people of Jammu and Kashmir their inherent and unfettered right of self - determination then my opposition ends there.

There is already too much hatred and intolerance which is making life difficult for people, and which is dividing communities. We, therefore, need to promote constituency of peace and tolerance. I am sure if people of Jammu and Kashmir are granted their fundamental rights, including right to determine their future, then we can all live in peace and harmony in South Asia. The region of South Asia has great potential and we must use that to promote quality of life, peace and harmony. I hope new members and new leadership of the Luton branch will help us to promote the above ideals.

Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir 

Friday, 21 December 2012

Militancy in Kashmir was not started to liberate Kashmir, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Militancy in Kashmir was not started to liberate Kashmir
Dr Shabir Choudhry          21 December 2012

For many years we have been criticising militancy in Kashmir that was started by the Pakistani establishment with help of some Kashmiri people. The purpose of this militancy was not to liberate Kashmir but to keep ‘India engaged’ and keep ‘India bleeding’. India and the world community termed this militancy as terrorism and a ‘proxy war’, although there were many who called it a ‘jihad’ and freedom struggle. Uncontrolled militancy very seriously hurt innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir; and despite enormous suffering and sacrifices the militancy failed to achieve the goal of independence as it was controlled and managed by non Kashmiris.

It is possible that those who started this militancy were sincere, and believed that they were fighting to liberate Kashmir. However, fact remains that people of Jammu and Kashmir have lost a generation, thousands are still languishing in prisons and many are still unaccounted for. Sad thing is that despite death of tens of thousands of people and suffering, we have not made any progress towards independence, if anything; we have inadvertently damaged the principle of right of self determination and divided people of Jammu and Kashmir on communal, regional and tribal lines.

When we exposed the Pakistani agenda on Kashmir and said that the Pakistani establishment used people of Jammu and Kashmir to promote their agenda, and that it was not a war of liberation, a massive campaign started against us and unfounded and illogical allegations were labelled against us. A few days ago a star of Pakistani journalism, Hamid Mir wrote an article in most popular Urdu Daily Jang and confirmed what we have been saying for many years. Hamid Mir wrote:

‘It is a painful fact for a large section of loyal Pakistanis that in the last ten years Pakistan’s political and military leadership tried to resolve the Kashmir dispute according to desire of the foreign powers instead of the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2002, General Musharaf was bent upon to impose a formula on Kashmir which was tantamount to treachery to the Kashmiri struggle that started in 1931; and for this purpose he divided the Hurriyat Conference. He invited pro India leaders like Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti to Islamabad and made them sit at par with the Hurriyat Conference leadership; and tried to eradicate LOC and resolve the Kashmir dispute.......Pervaiz Musharaf did not succeed in his plan. It is regrettable that some senior officials of the present government are trying to fool people of Pakistan and Kashmir by giving a new name to that old plan....’

‘Ruling elite of Pakistan must remember that there is a long list of deceptions and betrayals to the Kashmir people since 1947. In October 1947, without informing Qaaide Azam a Tribal force was sent in to Kashmir that provided an opportunity to India to send troops in Kashmir. The weapons provided to the tribesmen by the GHQ were taken by police and the tribesmen had to fight with much inferior guns. This was the time when India offered Pakistan to abandon its claim over Hyderabad and India would leave Kashmir; but Liaquat Ali (Prime Minister of Pakistan) discourteously rejected that offer...... After the rigged elections of 1987 in the occupied Kashmir, people started a movement. Pakistan introduced militancy in this movement; but contained the militancy to certain areas. When militants protested against this, they were bluntly told by ISI senior officer, Major General Iftikhar Hussain Shah that we don’t want freedom of Kashmir, we only wanted to wound India....From Kargil adventure of 1999 to division of Hurriyat Conference in 2002, there is a long list of betrayal of Pakistan’s political and military leadership to the people of Kashmir. A request to this leadership is, please stop now, if you cannot do anything good for the people of Kashmir then, at least stop dividing them and making them fight each other.1

I have narrated similar stories in my various articles written over the past decade. Here I am producing a quote from an interview I had with a Kashmir journalist who belongs to Srinagar and was doing a course in journalism in London. This interview was widely published with the following title: Interview with a Kashmiri journalist      July 2008

H.        Those who sponsored this campaign of terror and gun culture in Kashmir brought in Jihadi warriors from other countries which changed the fundamental character of the struggle. It was no longer a Kashmiri struggle- it became part of the Islamic fundamentalism which provided a big propaganda stick in hands of India and Europe.
I.          It is interesting to note that those who sponsored this campaign of terror or      religious fanaticism had cinemas, beauty parlours, tourists etc in their own country but encouraged these extremists to target people who were using these services in Jammu and Kashmir. Aim was to promote religious hatred, intolerance, regionalism and communalism, and widen divisions among Kashmiris. They were successful in this. Freedom or independence of Jammu and Kashmir was never their aim, their hidden agenda was to ‘keep India engaged’ and ‘keep India bleeding’, and they were successful in that.
J.       A senior government official who I know very well advised me in 1992 that I should do something else and make a career as there was nothing in this struggle of Kashmir. He said that I was talented and educated person and should not squander my time in this, as Kashmir will not get independence because those who planned this struggle never envisaged that. They only wanted to engage India. He said, he told them not to start it in Kashmir as Muslims will become target of Indian wrath, and that it was ok to do it in Punjab, Asam, Nagaland etc, but he was vetoed out.

K.     I did not believe him as I thought he was just trying to discourage me; after all he was ISI man, and wanted to deprive the movement of my skills and talent. But by 1995/6, I was convinced that he was correct, and that we Kashmiris were taken for a ride by Pakistani agencies - they used us Kashmiris to keep the wolf away from their door. But it was too late.
In a reply to another question I said: It is unfortunate that world at large don’t see the Kashmir separate from India and Pakistan problem. Despite all the sacrifices the people of Jammu and Kashmir have given, it is still perceived as a bilateral dispute which has to be resolved by the two countries. We are in this fix because: Pakistan made it a territorial dispute, it also suited India, and we Kashmiris failed to promote a Kashmiri cause and appeared to be only proxies of India or Pakistan’.
What Hamid Mir and some other Pakistani writers with clear conscience have narrated about Pakistan’s Kashmir policy is a bitter fact. However, some Pakistanis and Kashmiris still want to close their eyes to this ugly fact and are still in a state of denial. These people live in the past or in a fantasy world and cannot be helped, but caring and thinking people need to evaluate this in light of history of India – Pakistan relations and their somewhat agreement on the issues of Kashmir.

I agree with those who say that peace and friendly relations between India and Pakistan should not be kept hostage to the Kashmir dispute; but at the same time people of Jammu and Kashmir should not be denied their inherent right of self determination and kept divided and oppressed. Like other people in the world we also have right to life, peace, liberty and enjoy other fundamental rights enshrined in the UN Charter.

We people of Jammu and Kashmir need to evaluate Kashmir policy in light of the hard facts and determine our role by keeping interest of all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir State in mind; rather than protecting and promoting interests of those who occupy us. If Kashmiri leaders continue to pursue policies of the past then no matter how many people they get killed and how many people are imprisoned they will never achieve goal of independence.

Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Implementation of Simla Agreement

Implementation of Simla Agreement
Dr Shabir Choudhry     14 December 2012

Some people are programmed to present Pakistan as a saviour and well wisher of people of Jammu and Kashmir; whereas Kashmir watchers and people with know – how know that there is no difference in state policies of both India and Pakistan with regard to Kashmir dispute. Some experts confidently assert that respective governments of Pakistan have done more damage to the Kashmir dispute than India, although India leads Pakistan as far as human rights abuses are concerned.

People of State of Jammu and Kashmir are burning from both ends. They are occupied by more than one country; although for many decades struggle has been against only one occupier. Because of wrong policies and lack of sincere leadership, India and Pakistan have been calling shots on Kashmir, and people of Jammu and Kashmir are not even considered a party to the dispute despite loss of a generation and enormous suffering.

Rulers of Pakistan with help of some of their puppets, presented as ‘leaders’ of Kashmiri people are conspiring to implement the Simla Agreement signed between India and Pakistan in 1972. The Simla Agreement changed fundamental character of the Kashmiri struggle and nature of the Kashmir dispute, and its ultimate objective was to convert LOC as a defacto border between India and Pakistan that no country lose on the issue of Kashmir. Only loser in this are the people of Jammu and Kashmir; and some ‘businessmen’ presented as ‘leaders’ have been assigned the task to sell this deal to the people or keep them calm. The following article looks at the Simla agreement in some detail. I hope people of Jammu and Kashmir will decide if this is in the interest of our people and those who signed the Simla Agreement are our well wishers.

Many in Pakistan hold people of Jammu and Kashmir responsible for their miseries and for the break - up of Pakistan. Reality, however, is that we Kashmiris have suffered and continue to suffer because of wrong and imperialist policies of Pakistan. As far as break up of Pakistan is concerned, we people of Jammu and Kashmir have no role in it. Mr GW Choudhury, a Minister in Ayub Khan and Yayya Khan's governments and who has written many books on Pakistan and Indo Pakistan relations, thinks it had nothing to with the Kashmir dispute. He attributes a lot of blame to undemocratic governments in Pakistan. He said:

'Death of the democratic process and the rise of an authoritarian system under Ayub Khan was the beginning of the end of united Pakistan. Ayub's political system, in which the Bengalis had lost all initiatives in national affairs, was the root cause of the disintegration of the country.'1

The Kashmiri struggle for independence had no role in deprivation of political, democratic and economic rights of people of East Pakistan. The war started in East Pakistan and then its venue shifted to the West Pakistan and Kashmir in order to ease the pressure in East Pakistan.
Pakistan lost this war and both countries concluded the 'Simla Agreement' in 1972. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was seen as a defeated leader with Indira Gandhi holding the trump card.  Anyhow, the 'Simla Agreement' increased the Kashmiri people's sense of disappointment and frustration. 

Pakistan agreed to rename the Cease-Fire Line into "Line of Actual Control," which to many people was another name for an international boundary.  Cease-fire means that the war has not yet finished - only the fighting has ceased; but the "Line of Actual Control," gives a completely different meaning. Prof. Ahmad Hassan Dani commented on the situation as follows:

'In 1971-2, when we lost Bangladesh because we would not accept the verdict of the general election in the then two wings of Pakistan, the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto bargained on Kashmir and got our prisoners of war released by accepting that the cease-fire line could be changed to Line of Control, although this was not approved by the UN.  Again Kashmir was exchanged for the sake of prisoners of war, who, in any case, could not be kept forever, or killed by India, in face of the world opinion.' 2

After the war of 1965, both countries agreed to move their troops back to the positions held before the war - both in Pakistan and the State of Jammu and Kashmir. But in Simla, India agreed to withdraw from the Pakistani territory, but refused to withdraw from areas of the State she occupied in the war. Pakistan agreed to that, and that was why Cease-Fire Line was renamed as Line of Control. Implied meaning of this was a tacit acceptance that the State of Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India; therefore India has right to retain these areas.

Apart from that, Pakistan agreed that the Kashmir problem would be decided through bilateral talks between India and Pakistan.  There was no mention of the UN Resolutions or wishes of the Kashmiri people, what this meant was that both governments could decide the future of Kashmir, without reference to the Kashmiri people. This was a clear negation of the UN Resolutions on Kashmir, and pledges that were made to the Kashmiri people by both governments.

It is not that the UN Resolutions satisfied sentiments of the Kashmiri people; in fact, they limited their right of self- determination by giving them only two choices of either becoming a Pakistani or an Indian. But at least these Resolutions provided them with some choice, and in Simla Agreement even that was taken away from them. In Simla, both governments agreed to resolve: 'their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by other peaceful means mutually agreed by them'.

Meaning of that is clear; both governments have to agree the next course of action when bilateral negotiations fail. For example, if bilateral negotiations on Kashmir fail and Pakistan wish to take the Kashmir issue back to the United Nations Security Council, Pakistan has to get the Indian government's agreement on this. This explains why Pakistan has not approached the UN Security Council all these years despite all the human rights violations in Kashmir and a serious threat to peace. The Simla Agreement talks on Kashmir like this:

…'In Jammu and Kashmir the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognised position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or use of force in violation of this line.'3

Jyotindra Nath 'Mani' Dixit, the former Foreign Secretary of India analyses the Simla Agreement and reveals some important information. In an interview with Sheela Bhatt, he claimed that, “We defeated them for the first and perhaps only time on both, the Eastern and Western fronts. We helped the liberation of Bangladesh and captured large areas of Sind and southern Punjab. They didn't succeed in Kashmir, and we took 93,000 prisoners of war….  We kept on insisting that the military commanders would draw a new line. It would not be called a cease-fire line, but the Line of Control. It would be the first step towards making it an international boundary. Kashmir would not be considered a dispute. We discussed this at a formal meeting too. Bhutto said, "I have no problem. I will do it, but please don't put it in the agreement, formally."……"Look, I am in a weak position. I have just taken over. If you make very harsh demands and if I concede them I may not survive back home. Already, there is a lot of anger and frustration in Pakistan. We don't want an extremist Muslim or military government to come back. So please help me stabilise myself in office." 4

Dixit asserts that Mrs Gandhi insisted that this should be in the Agreement; Bhutto opposed it by saying that it would create difficulties for him in Pakistan. His point of view had some support from some members of the Indian delegation, however, till the last day there was no agreement on the details; and it was apparent that the meeting would be a failure; and this fear of failure unnerved the Indian delegation. ''There was great anxiety. The mood was tense. If the talks failed, it would mean we would have to keep 93.000 POWs and Pakistan territory. The overriding feeling was that it is okay, if he is giving us this assurance on Kashmir, maybe it will lead to a durable peace. On the last night, at the meeting with Mrs Gandhi, Bhutto agreed he would formally declare the Line of Control as an acceptable boundary in four years' time ' 5

Some Pakistani and Kashmiris have this habit of rejecting every point of view that conflicts with their’s by saying that it is a conspiracy of Jews, Hindus or the West; and there are many innocent people who would believe them as well. And when this contradictory view is coming from an Indian, and moreover, a Hindu they would look at it with great suspicion, even though it might be closer to the reality. To me it would be totally wrong to dismiss a view on the grounds that it was expressed by someone who holds different religious views and perhaps different nationality.

I have read many books and analyses on the Simla Agreement, and to me there is a lot of sense in what Dixit has said. Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan who has held posts of Prime Minister and President of Azad Kashmir, and who is a strong supporter of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan, commented on the topic, he said:

‘In the past Bhutto and other Pakistani Prime Ministers and Presidents were persuaded not to extend branches of their political parties into Kashmir because it would have adverse affect on the Kashmir dispute.’ However, 'after Simla Agreement he (Bhutto) became serious on extending the branch of his party in Azad Kashmir, and he also included in its manifesto the provision of making Azad Kashmir a province of Pakistan and finish this issue for ever. I don't know for certain but there could have been some secret understanding tied with the Simla Agreement. There is nothing on record but it seems as if there was a mutual understanding between both the premiers to end this matter.’ 6

One could still argue that Sardar Qayyum Khan might have been influenced by Dixit's views, but problem with this is that Sardar Sahib wrote about nine years before Dixit's views were made public. Dixit is right that Bhutto sincerely tried to implement the unwritten clause of the Simla Agreement. The following main events would show his sincerity in dividing Jammu and Kashmir:

1.      Soon after the Simla Agreement he extended his Peoples Party to Azad Kashmir, and as noted above, aim was to make Azad Kashmir a fifth province of Pakistan. The idea had to be abandoned after fierce opposition from different Kashmiri parties and especially Pakistani parties.

2.      According to Simla Agreement, both governments had to stop negative propaganda against each other, and to implement this Pakistan stopped such programmes and nationalistic songs on radio Azad Kashmir, that could inspire people of Kashmir to start their struggle for independence.

3.      Apart from that, Chief Imam of Badshai Mosque (Lahore, Pakistan) was asked not include name of Kashmir during his prayer at the time of Islamic Conference in 1973. He prayed for all Muslims of the world, especially those who were suffering like Palestinians, but Kashmiris were left out.

4.      In the Islamic Conference all Muslim leaders were invited, even Yasser Arafat was invited even though, at that time, he did not have two square yards of Palestinian land in his possession. But President of Azad Kashmir was not invited even though he was Prime Minister of an area more than four thousand square miles; and technically represented the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

5.      Nowhere in the Islamic Conference or in its declaration, the Kashmir dispute was mentioned, yet every issue that concerned the Muslim Umma (Muslim countries) was discussed. This again showed what commitment Pakistani government had with the issue of Kashmir; they were not prepared to annoy India by breaching a clause of the Simla Agreement.

6.      Pakistani policy towards areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, known as Northern Areas completely changed; and attempts were made to gradually annex them.

7.      A new Constitution 'INTEREM CONSITUTION OF AZAD KASHMIR ACT, 1974' generally known as Act 74, under which the territory of Azad Kashmir is ruled was introduced, according to which Pakistan virtually controls the Azad Kashmir government. In name this area is Azad but it has very limited powers to function independently.

8.      Section 7.2 of the Act 74 clearly says: "No person or political party in Azad Jammu&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".

9.      Under the Act 74 Kashmir Council was set up, and Prime Minister of Pakistan shall be the Chairperson of the Council. Even though the Pakistani Prime Minister is the Chair person of this Council, and virtually there is no member who could oppose him/her on anything, yet this Council and Azad Kashmir government are not allowed to make any laws on more than 55 important matters concerning Kashmir.

10.  One Indian journalist, Dilip Mukerji wrote that Bhutto government is having difficulties in persuading the people about change of policy on Kashmir. And in view of that Indian government is softening its attitude to make it easy for Bhutto so that he could pay lip service to the issue of Kashmir until it is finally resolved.7

Alastair Lamb is considered as one of the experts on India and Pakistan and Kashmir dispute; however, some view him to have a soft corner for Pakistan. While discussing Simla Agreement, he wrote: 'It seemed at the time as if one clear implication was that the cease-fire line (from henceforth often referred to as the Line of Control or Line of Actual Control - LOC or LOAC) in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, as defined in the Simla Agreement, would from now onwards be to all intents and purposes the de facto border between Indian and Pakistani spheres of influence.8

Bhutto, as expected, announced that he made no compromise on Kashmir; and that the people of Kashmir must exercise their right of self -determination. Well, as they say actions speak louder than words; and we all know what actions he took to damage the Kashmir dispute.
Whatever one may say about Pakistan's support and help to the Kashmir dispute, or Pakistan might claim that she has done for the Kashmiri struggle; the fact is that the Kashmir dispute was put on the back burner after the 1965 war.  But after the 1971 War and subsequent Simla Agreement Kashmir dispute was 'safely' put in a freezer. Sincere attempts were made to convert the LOC into an international border, even though there was strong opposition to this.

Ayaz Amir, a famous columnist of most prominent English daily 'Dawn' wrote: 'The second great folly was ours in East Pakistan. Bangladesh was not lost because of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the East Pakistan Rifles, the Mukti Bahini or even the Indian army. It was born out of the stupidity and arrogance of West Pakistan. The third great sub continental folly is being committed by India in Kashmir. India had fifty years to win over the Kashmiris. But it failed even to satisfy Sheikh Abdullah whose sympathies lay with India not Pakistan. From 1972 to 1989 Pakistan just forgot about Kashmir. Firstly, because it had the loss of East Pakistan to come to terms with. Second because Zia was embroiled in Afghanistan. Were not 18 years long enough to woo the Kashmiris and bind them to Mother India? They would have been if Indian policy had been driven by statesmanship rather than by a search for petty and short-term advantages.9

A prominent writer and thinker, Professor Khurshid Ahmed, who ascribes to ideology of Jamat e Islami, and who was a Director of Islamabad based Think Tank, Institute of Policy Studies, asserted that in Simla India successfully changed the international issue (Kashmir) into a bilateral issue. 10 Apart from that Indian leaders claim that Bhutto agreed to make LOC as an international border, although there is nothing there in writing. But one thing is that after Simla Agreement we avoided raising the Kashmir issue in the United Nations. 11

As pointed out above, after the Simla Agreement the Kashmir dispute was put in a freezer, and successive Pakistani governments did not show much enthusiasm in taking up the Kashmir dispute either with India or at any other international forum.

Benazir Bhutto after becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan also followed the footsteps of her predecessors on the issue of Kashmir. She invited Rajiev Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, to visit Islamabad. On his arrival in Islamabad she ensured that the word Kashmir did not appear anywhere because of fear that her ‘honourable guest’ might get upset. She even ensured that signboards of Kashmir House in Islamabad were also removed. Furthermore, that evening weather forecast for Azad Kashmir was not transmitted on radio and television in Pakistan, something which normally is done many times a day.12

That shows the level of Pakistani Prime Minister's commitment to Simla Agreement and to the Kashmir and Kashmiris. Not only that, when in a joint press conference, Rajiev Gandhi in answer to a question said that there was no need of a plebiscite in Kashmir because there had been eight elections there. Benazir Bhutto sat there quietly with a friendly smile on her face. She did not have this courage to say that it was India's point of view and Pakistani point of view was different to this.13

One Kashmiri journalist and writer, late Mir Abdul Aziz, remarked that her smile was sweet, but it did not help the Kashmir cause or the Kashmiri people. 14 People of Pakistan and Kashmir expected much more than this lovely smile in response to Indian Prime Minister's arrogant stance on Kashmir. This smile and silence indicated that she agreed with her guest's point of view on Kashmir.

I hope people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will recognise friends and foes and will oppose division of our homeland, as we believe division of Jammu and Kashmir in any shape or form will only exacerbate the situation and destabilise the entire region. Also I hope that people will recognise those who have transformed our struggle in to a lucrative business; and have perpetuated our suffering miseries.


1.      GW Choudhury, Last Days of United Pakistan, page xii
2.      Divided On Kashmir, The News, London, 16 August 1999
3.      Simla Agreement
4.      The Errors of SIMLA, By J N Dixit The Rediff Special, July 15, 2001
5.      Ibid
6.      The Kashmir Case, Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, page111
7.      Weekly 'Sahafat', Lahore, 23 April 1975.
8.      Kashmir A Disputed Legacy 1846-1990, Alastair Lamb, page 297
9.      'There is no Kashmir solution' by Ayaz Amir, ‘Dawn’ 8 December 2000
10.  Kashmir Dispute and our responsibilities, Prof. Khurshid Ahmed, Daily Jang, London, 9 July 1994.
11.  ibid
12.  ibid
  1. Late Mir Abdul Aziz was an editor of Weekly Insaf, published from Rawalpindi. He made this observation during a meeting with the author in Rawalpindi at his residence.
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

MQM and the coming storm

MQM and the coming storm
Dr Shabir Choudhry      05 December 2012

More than ten years ago a friend from Islamabad told me to join MQM. He said this party will play an important role in Pakistani politics and might help to resolve the Kashmir dispute as help. He said they will benefit from your wisdom, know - how and dedication and you will also get some rewards for the long life struggle for liberation of Jammu and Kashmir.

I declined this offer, because I did not agree with the MQM style of politics, although they have talented people among them and claimed to speak for the poor and less privileged people. The MQM at that time only represented ethnic politics based on interests of those who migrated from India to make Pakistan their new home. Apart from that I did not believe in interfering in internal affairs of Pakistan which was Kashmir’s neighbour and an occupier. I thought if I take part in the Pakistani politics, in a way I am justifying their interference in my country - Jammu and Kashmir

Anyhow, prediction of my friend proved to be correct. Whether the MQM could have benefitted by me joining them is highly debateable; but I could surely have benefitted from their influence and tremendous power which they exerted on politics of Pakistan in the last decade. Ordinary people with little education and insignificant political standing from Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan joined the MQM and became Ministers because of the MQM political muscle.

It won’t be exaggeration to say that the MQM became an important player in the politics of Pakistan and no government, elected or unelected could function smoothly without their support. There was absolutely no chance of running Karachi, financial hub of Pakistan without their good will and active support.

In my opinion, the MQM has seen its peak. In future, people will only talk of their best days, as their decline has already started. I have few friends in the ranks of the MQM and I told them last year that the year 2012 will be very testing for them and that they would face wrath of very powerful forces which would bring a disaster to Karachi. During this interaction I further said that there would be a blood bath in which tens of thousands of innocent people could perish. My friend said that they were also ready as they have no choice but to fight back for their survival.

Although Karachi witnessed unprecedented trouble and bloodshed; however my prediction about disaster descending on Karachi did not prove completely true, as some sane voices averted the disaster. Apart from that the timing of the disaster did not suit some powerful political forces; even though they also agreed that the MQM had to be cut down to a manageable size. I told my friend that powers that be have decided to reduce mandate and power of the MQM and ‘liberate’ Karachi from the ‘MQM clutches’; and that few months in time table did  not matter much.

About three weeks ago I met my friend again and we exchanged views about the situation of Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular. Again I asserted that Karachi will face a disaster, perhaps a bigger disaster then previously envisaged. Like on previous occasions he said we don’t want any trouble and bloodshed on streets of Karachi, but if life is made difficult for us and some forces tried to eliminate us we won’t have any choice but to fight back. Other people living in Karachi have choice to go back to their homes as they came here to work and earn money. Those who came to Karachi to work from Peshawar, Quetta or Multan can go back to their homes. We don’t have another home to go to, as Karachi is our only home. Our forefathers left our homes in 1947 and made Karachi our home.

He said his childhood memories were not so pleasant, as he had witnessed our people being oppressed and denied of fundamental rights. He said we came here to become citizens of new country – Pakistan; but we were not accepted as Pakistanis and equal to those who did not migrate for Pakistan or suffered for the sake of Pakistan. We were called ‘Mohajres’, and taunted as people lower in social status. We have witnessed crackdowns and actions against us and survived; and if another military action is on the way, we will not let them to destroy our homes and shatter unity of our community.

I said I know what happened in 1990s, but it will be different this time. It will be a different kind of fight and MQM will be attacked from many sides. The MQM will be presented as ‘evil and a trouble maker’; and all the forces that matter will unite to destroy power base of the MQM. My friend was confident that they will be able to fight off all the attacks and survive as a political force; and, if anything, the MQM, with help of other oppressed people of Pakistan will make notable progress in other regions.

In my opinion, being confident is good thing; but to be complacent and to under estimate strength of foes is very serious mistake. Machiavelli said: ‘Don’t want fight too much, or the enemy would know your art of war’. The MQM has fought many wars, and by and large, they have been successful in most of them, although they suffered badly in some. But the future war in Karachi will produce different results as it is very meticulously planned and will be more sophisticated. Its prime objective is not to clear Karachi of arms or terrorists but to end the MQM hegemony in Karachi and in politics of Pakistan.

Over the past few months thousands of core terrorists or militants have reached Karachi; and they have taken their positions. The MQM leadership is not oblivious of these developments; but I feel they don’t have many options left. Of course they have hold in certain areas, but those who are aligned against them are better equipped and better trained and benefit from logistic support which the MQM doesn’t have.

Those who are at the helm of affairs are not fools. They knew if the proposed action took place while they were in charge, even though theoretically, it would jeopardise their future political prospects. So they ensured that the pot keeps on boiling but no stringent action should be taken. Political wisdom dictates why not wait for few more months and use shoulders of the interim government to target the MQM. What that means is that the MQM leadership has few more months to put their house in order and work out a strategy.

One view is that onslaught on the MQM will be seen as an attack on the Mohajres and will unite them, as they know only the MQM can safeguard their future and interests. It is, therefore, possible that the MQM can muster sufficient arms and volunteers to fight back and protect their interests. However, the question is for how long a group can fight the state power which will transform the action as a legal and justified one. Moreover, are the MQM loyalists ready to bite the bullet, especially those who have enjoyed protocol and privileges for so many years?

Apart from that, in my view the hold of Altaf Hussain over MQM is not as strong as it was some years ago; and that is mainly due to his deteriorating health condition. Despite appearance of a unified command in the ranks of the MQM, many feel that it is no longer completely united; and in view of this it is also possible that like in the past, powers that be might engineer a split in the MQM, and those who have enjoyed privileges for the past many years could become accomplice. It is human nature that people who hold public posts and remain in that position for some years start thinking that they hold these positions of power because of their own talent and skills and start dreaming for a greater role, especially when the top man is suffering from health problems.

Another thing that makes the fight - back more difficult is the weakening support Altaf Hussain and the MQM once enjoyed from Britain and other countries. This uneasy relationship between the British and Altaf Hussain and the MQM make them more vulnerable, especially when forces against them are united that the MQM must be controlled and ‘tamed’.

Though Altaf Hussain put up a brave face in his last speech expressing his anger and frustration over the boundary changes under the garb of the Supreme Court order; but critics noted signs of anxiety. However, he was correct in saying that why Karachi was singled out; and why not apply the same rule in the rest of Pakistan as well; and that it was responsibility of the Election Commission to make constituencies. In any case, it was not for the Courts to decide mandate of political parties, as ‘The people are free to vote any party they love”. But question is all they free to vote?

I hope my prediction proves wrong; and some sane people avert the disaster. However, if people in power continue to play politics the civil war will ensue and it will be so destructive that people will forget what happened in Beirut and Bosnia; and it may leave permanent marks on the geography and body politics of Pakistan.

Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Those who serve humanity do not die.

Those who serve humanity do not die.
Dr Shabir Choudhry        20 November 2012

While speaking to a public meeting arranged by UKPNP in North London to commemorate life and contribution of famous Kashmiri writer and thinker Abbas Ahmed Azad, Dr Shabir Choudhry said:

Mr Chairman and friends today we are here to observe death of a famous Kashmiri writer and thinker Abbas Ahmed Azad. Yes, Abbas Ahmed Azad has physically died; but if he was really dead we wouldn’t be here tonight in this cold weather to speak about him and hear about him. This means he is still alive – he is in our thoughts and in our minds and is probably among us; and we are here to offer our respect to him.

He is in our minds not because he was very rich or a strong man; but because he was a writer and author of fifteen books. Throughout his life he promoted tolerance, democratic values, coexistence and rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir. He promoted united and independent Jammu and Kashmir. His bank balance was his books, and I hope the future generations will benefit from his wisdom and vision.

Whereas the majority of people live in the past or are unable to properly comprehend current trends in society which shape their lives, writers and philosophers have this ability that they look in to future by analysing the current trends. Many ordinary people are either unable to comprehend their message, or do not want to understand it because of their interests; and some people are too afraid to extend support because of the wrath of those who control the society.

I got my first Urdu romantic novel published at the age of 19; and my second Urdu novel was published two years after that. However, after that I have only written on history, politics and current struggle in Jammu and Kashmir. I have written against extremism, violence and hatred. I have written what forces of occupation do to keep us divided and occupied. I have explained who has done what in name of the Kashmiri struggle; and how they have fooled people of Jammu and Kashmir to advance their personal and economic agenda.

In this jihad to promote rights and interests of the Kashmiri people; and for exposing culprits and agents of forces of occupation I have paid a big price and continue to do so. However, I have no regrets. I did what I thought was right for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, for the peace and stability of South Asia and for our struggle of united and independent Kashmir.

Mr Chairman

Throughout my struggle for united and independent Jammu and Kashmir I have been subject to multiple pressures, some pressure from my colleagues or senior leaders and some from those who did not like what I did to promote an independent Kashmir, and expose black sheep in the struggle.

Time and again ban was imposed on my thinking and writings. I was asked not to write as it created problems for the top leaders (who had mortgaged their struggle and conscience for the sake of political and monetary gains) because their bosses in Islamabad were angry because of what I wrote. In one such situation my friend and colleague Abbas Butt, who succeeded me as the President was asked to take some action against me. Abbas Butt replied action against him for what. He has not done anything against the party, party constitution or the struggle for an independent Jammu and Kashmir.

Despite this bold stand, Abbas Butt had to set up a committee to scrutinise my articles. The committee after analysing my articles concluded that my articles were in line with the party constitution and represented true ideology of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir. After this the top leader ordered that Shabir Choudhry should not write anything for the period of six months; and when he writes he should submit his articles to a committee of three men; and if they were satisfied then they would allow him to publish the articles.

This was a great insult to my wisdom, talent and research on Kashmir; and to rub salt they included a name of a man in a committee who had only seen colleges and universities from a distance, as the man was only educated to class 7 from Pakistani Administered Kashmir. I thought it was better not to write anything on Kashmir, or write another novel instead of submitting my articles to those who lacked wisdom, qualification and intellect. I did not write anything for many months, but when Abdul Ghani Lone was massacred for opposing a dictation of Islamabad, I started writing again by saying that it was criminal negligence to remain quiet now.

Forces of occupation and their agents know a pen of a true nationalist writer is very effective weapon. It is because of this they try to impose restrictions on free thinking and debates and try to gag writers and analysts, as they don’t want people to know their game plan. These directionless people promoted as leaders want the status quo to continue, as this suits their agenda and agenda of their pay masters. When I get personal attacks and abuse on social media, I understand why that was happening. I say to myself, once again I have hit the target and upset those powers that want the status quo to continue. I feel I have upset forces of extremism, violence and hatred; and attracted their wrath.

Mr Chairman

Friends and colleagues, you can call me whatever you like, but I will continue my jihad against those forces that promote extremism, communalism, hatred and violence. I will openly say that we were fooled by the top leaders on behest of the Pakistani establishment to work to liberate the Valley of Kashmir and focus our attention on the Indian side of the divide. It must be understood that the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed; but our struggle is on the Pakistani side of the divide.

My message is very simple: those who are occupied by India they should struggle against that occupation; and those who are occupied by Pakistan they should struggle against the Pakistani occupation. One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that both countries are occupiers and they have their agents at different levels to oppose and malign true Kashmiri nationalists. They want to confuse people and divide people by playing religious and regional cards; and by promoting extremism, violence and hatred.

I acknowledge people of Jammu and Kashmir are subject to human rights abuses on both sides of the divide; and innocent people are killed, tortured and imprisoned. Also I acknowledge that tens of thousands of innocent people have lost their lives in the Valley of Kashmir; however, many insurgency experts and journalists claim that India alone is not responsible for all the killings. Pakistani sponsored militancy, their agents and so called jihadis created that situation, where innocent people became targets of bullets; and in some cases they also killed innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir to settle personal scores and for ideological reasons.

It must be understood that some people are deliberately distorting history and facts; and they do that to advance agenda of those who occupy us.  Tribesmen did not come to liberate us in 1947. They came to occupy us and loot us. They came to Kashmir by violating the Standstill Agreement concluded between Pakistan and the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Once they entered the State territory they killed and looted; they raped women and kidnapped young girls and sold them in the Pakistani cities. Sad thing is that these savage killers are promoted as mujahideen and those traitors who invited them to attack Jammu and Kashmir are promoted as leaders and patriots.

It is unfortunate that majority of Kashmiri nationalists are a confused lot, as they are unable to differentiate between Kashmiri nationalism and ‘Muslim nationalism’. What some of these so called nationalists are promoting is ‘GHQ brand of nationalism’; aim of which was to confuse people of Jammu and Kashmir and advance the Pakistani interest in the region.

If both India and Pakistan are occupiers then why is it that these so called nationalists happily have a Black Day on 15th August, India’s Independence Day; and remain quiet and in some cases wave the Pakistani flags on 14th August, Pakistan’s Independence Day? Why is it that they have a Black Day on 27 October because Indian army landed in Srinagar on that day and remain quiet on 22 October; yet the Tribesmen came uninvited and by violating the treaty obligations and the Indian army came on the invitation of the Ruler and as a result of a treaty?

This struggle, which was engineered by Pakistan to advance their agenda, is a Muslim and regional struggle under the garb of Kashmiri nationalism; and we true sons of Jammu and Kashmir need to understand that, and educate our youths that together we can defeat forces of occupation, extremism and violence.
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir