Thursday, 10 May 2012

Vision of Azad Kashmiri leaders, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Vision of Azad Kashmiri leaders
Dr Shabir Choudhry    10 May 2012

A leader is a person who leads people to a designated goal or, at least, makes sincere efforts to achieve that goal. A good leader works hard and employs his/her skills and talent; and coordinates with other like minded people and organisations to accomplish his mission.

The above statement is true in general, and is relevant to many countries of the world. However, when we come to South Asia, especially Pakistan and State of Jammu and Kashmir, the above statement is not applicable. Values and standards which are applicable in the rest of the world are not relevant in this part of the world.

Here, we find very few sincere people who could be taken as leaders. Majority of those in public life are the biggest crooks; and they make sincere and deliberate efforts to deceive people and mislead them. In other words, leaders in this part of the world do not lead people, but deliberately mislead them; and sad thing is that those who are misled still follow those who loot them and mislead them.

It is difficult to encompass in one article all those in public life in the State of Jammu and Kashmir; therefore, I will only focus on some aspects of those in public life in a territory known as Azad Kashmir or Free Kashmir. Despite the name Free Kashmir, this territory, for all practical purposed is controlled by Islamabad; and its leaders are there to protect and enhance interests of Pakistan

This territory was a part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir when the British Raj ended in India on 15th August 1947; and the Maharajah of Kashmir became an independent ruler. He concluded a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan and practically provided Pakistani government a foothold in Kashmir.

Despite the Standstill Agreement this territory or any part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was not part of Pakistan. How sad that ‘leaders’ of this territory now known as Azad Kashmir collaborated with rulers of Pakistan and helped them to attack and takeover this region. The collaborators were appointed rulers of this territory, but the attackers known as the Tribal Raiders killed, raped women, kidnap girls and looted at will. This unprovoked attack forced the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir to seek help from India and consequently signed a Provisional Accession with India.

So one can see vision of ‘leaders’ of this region - they collaborated with a neighbouring country to invade their own country that resulted in the forced division of their motherland. They benefited from this attack, as they enjoyed power and prestige; but the people of Jammu and Kashmir are still paying for their actions.

Another action or a crime of these ‘leaders’ will elucidate vision or lack of it. These ‘leaders’, who were appointed to rulers Azad Kashmir by Pakistani establishment, signed very notorious agreement with Pakistan, known as the Karachi Agreement. They signed away to Pakistan vast areas of Gilgit Baltistan (around 28 thousand sq miles). These areas are strategically and economically very important. Pakistan ruled this region with an iron fist and enjoyed all the benefits; and now they have made these areas practically a province of Pakistan.
Furthermore, these ‘leaders’ signed away their own powers and agreed that they will have practically nothing to do with negotiations on Kashmir whether in the UN or with India; or defence of this territory. The Agreement says that the Free Kashmir will have no role in, ‘Defence; Foreign policy of Azad Kashmir; Negotiations with the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan; Publicity in foreign countries and in Pakistan; Co - ordination and arrangement of relief and rehabilitation of refugees; Co - ordination of publicity in connection with plebiscite; All activities within Pakistan regarding Kashmir such as procurement of food and civil supplies running of refugee camps and medical aid.’
This kind of ‘leadership’ one can only find in this unfortunate land known as Azad Kashmir. These ‘leaders’ deliberately work against national interests of their own country; and have bartered away independence and rights of future generations for the sake of political power. These ‘leaders’ have been more loyal to our one neighbour; and in view of many Kashmiri patriots, they have committed treachery against their own people and their own nation; and sad thing is that they are still imposed upon us as ‘Kashmiri leaders’, and despite all their actions and ‘treachery’ people still follow them.
One could say that the situation on the other side of the divide is not that bright either, because the leadership over there, whether it is pro India, pro independence or pro Pakistan is also power hungry, ego centric and work against the national interests of State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Many Kashmiri analysts will agree that most Kashmiri leaders, on both side of the forced division have many things in common – they are corrupt, they are incompetent, they lack vision, they lack unity, they have no programme for independence and unification of their motherland, they are loyal to our neighbours rather than their motherland, they fool people in name of independence and struggle, they exploit their sentiments, they treat the Kashmiri struggle as a business and ensure that the Kashmir pot keeps on boiling and that their close relatives stay away from the trouble spots.

Few days ago some Azad Kashmiri newspapers reported that in a public meeting in which former Chief Justice of High Court of Azad Kashmir and President of Liberation League, Abdul Majid Malik and Sardar Khalid Ibrahim and Yasin Malik were also present, Azad Kashmiri leaders asserted that they will accept any decision All Parties Hurriyet Conference might take with regard to future of Jammu Kashmir.

It is unfortunate to note that ‘leaders’ of Azad Kashmir have not learnt any lessons from the past mistakes; and even in May 2012, they still have no plan for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. They still have no role of Azad Kashmir in their minds; and like to put future of more than four million Azad Kashmiris at the mercy of the leaders of APHC, who are fighting each other and who are also confused and don’t have any plans for the future of State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Many Kashmiri patriots were shocked to see this sweeping statement coming from the Azad Kashmiri leaders; and putting this blind faith in the APHC which do not even represent all sections of the Valley of Kashmir. However, these ‘leaders’ did not clarify to which section of the APHC they were assigning these powers, as this alliance is split in two parts, with each group making allegations against the other.
Even when the APHC was united, out of five regions it did not represent anyone in the four regions, namely in Jammu Province, Ladakh Province, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. It had good support in the Muslim populated Valley of Kashmir; but with time people have become wiser and they know that the APHC, whether united or divided has no plan of its own to unite or liberate forcibly divided Jammu and Kashmir, as they always look for directions from outside of the State boundaries.

What hurts pride and dignity of people of Azad Kashmir is that when Shadow APHC was constituted in Pakistan, they did not trust any leader of Azad Kashmir to carry out duties related to the ‘Kashmiri struggle’ or ‘independence movement’; and each constituent party of the APHC ‘exported’ their trusted man to Islamabad. Despite this humiliation and many more, spineless and compliant leaders of Azad Kashmir take pride in sharing a platform with leaders of the Valley; and give them a free hand to decide their future.

The APHC is now in two groups; one group is led by Syed Ali Gilani and the other by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. If newspapers reports are to be believed then the APHC group headed by Mirwaiz is heading for a split. The news report says: ‘Cracks in the moderate Hurriyat Conference widened today with supporters of rival groups chanting slogans against each other even as chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq issued a gag order on amalgam constituents from airing differences in public. Soon after the Executive Committee meeting of the Hurriyat ended, supporters of the Hurriyat chairman and executive council member Bilal Lone shouted slogans against another executive council member Shabir Ahmad Shah. Shah's supporters retaliated raising slogans against the Mirwaiz and Lone.’

The report further said: ‘Divisions within the moderate Hurriyat erupted on Sunday when another executive council member Abdul Gani Bhat at a rally in north Kashmir said the UN plebiscite resolutions were no longer "practically implementable" in the State.’

Spineless and compliant leaders of Azad Kashmir want to trust these APHC leaders with future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and would agree with whatever they decide. What Azad Kashmiri leaders do if one group of the APHC agree on division of the State? What would they do if one group of the APHC decide to stay with India?

It is time that the Azad Kashmiri leaders mentally grow up and assert their positions; and tell all the concerned that they have a crucial role when it comes to determining the future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. We cannot be treated as second class citizens of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, where some chosen few belonging to the Valley of Kashmir will decide what is good for us living on the Pakistani side of the divide.

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

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