Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Kashmiri nationalism has not matured yet

Kashmiri nationalism has not matured yet, Dr Shabir Choudhry 15 August 2011 Today is 15 August, and people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially from the Valley and those who promote proPakistanagenda observe this day as a ‘Black Day’. Many towns of the Valley have shown their support for the call to observe this day as a ‘Black Day’. With this shut – down or a strike, people of this region have shown their anger and resentment againstNew Delhi. Some may point out that this shut down only hurt economy of the Valley and has not hurtIndia; but the counter argument is that in struggle for independence people have to make sacrifices, as long as goal is clear and the leadership is sincere with that goal. Let us look at the rationale of having a Black Day on 15 August. It was on this date the British Raj ended andIndiabecame independent -Pakistan achieved its independence on 14 August. People blinded with religious sentiments, propaganda ofPakistanor hatred ofIndiaforget that on this date –15 August 2011, we people of Jammuand Kashmiri also became independent. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, as a President of Muslim League said inNew DelhionJune 17, 1947: “Constitutionally and legally, the Indian States will be independent sovereign states on the termination of Paramountcy and they will be free to decide for themselves to adopt any course they like. It is open to them to join the Hindustan Constituent Assembly, the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, or decide to remain independent. In the last case, they enter into such arrangements or relationship with Hindustan or Pakistanas they may choose.” So legally and constitutionally we became an independent country on15 August 1947; and when we observe this day as a ‘Black Day’ what message are we giving? Are we saying that Kashmir should not have become an independent country and it was a ‘Black Day’; or it is a Black Day because India also got independence on the same day? I must admit that my colleagues and I have also observed this day as a Black Day in the past, mainly because those were senior to us advocated that it was necessary. However, with political maturity, knowledge and research made us realise that it was a strategy of Pakistani agencies that we people of Jammu and Kashmirobserve this day as a Black Day; and for this they generously rewarded people and over the years it has become a lucrative business for some. I asked some people why they observe 15 August as a Black Day. First reply of all is that because India occupies Kashmir(parts of Jammu and Kashmir). Pakistan also occupies parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and has imperial and exploitative policy on Jammu and Kashmir, then shouldn’t there be a ‘Black Day’ on 14th August as well – one Black Day on day of Pakistan’s Independence Day and one on India’s Independence Day? To this they say, well it won’t be appropriate, because Pakistanis a Muslim country; and this is the only country that helps us in our fight against India. What does this say? It means it is a religious struggle in view of these people. Who would benefit if the Kashmiri struggle is presented as a religious struggle? Won’t this divert attention from what Pakistan do in Gilgit Baltistan and so called Azad Kashmir; and won’t this provide justification for the division of Indiaon religious lines and justification for the existence of the remainingPakistan? In reply to my points, one ‘freedom fighter’ expressed his agreement to these arguments but said, “Without Pakistan’s help and weapons, we cannot sustain this struggle against India, so we cannot annoyPakistan”. I said to him: “You people are presented as freedom fighters, mujahideen and patriots because you are getting help and weapons from one occupier – Pakistan- to use that against the other occupier – India; what if one day India supply weapons to people of Gilgit Baltistan and people of so called Azad Kashmir and they start militancy, will they be regarded as freedom fighter, mujahideen and loyal to the movement?” He said, “No”. Then continued to say that he was a freedom fighter; and not a politician like me (Dr Shabir Choudhry), who can articulate different points eloquently and persuade other people. I said to him there is a fundamental problem with our struggle and strategy. As a nation – people of Jammu and Kashmirare divided and confused, despite all the sacrifices and decades of struggle which resulted in suffering and misery we still are not clear what we want; and worrying thing is that we are not prepared to learn from the past mistakes or even revise our strategy. It is because of this misplaced loyalty and erroneous strategy that despite so many sacrifices we are not even perceived as a party to the Kashmir dispute; andIndiaandPakistankeep us away from the negotiation table. Furthermore, it is because of this wrong strategy that the international community, by and large, perceive the Kashmiri parties and alliances either ‘A team of ISI’ or ‘B team’. In ‘A team’ are those parties and alliances which openly adhere their allegiance to Pakistan; and in ‘B team’ are those who claim to struggle for an independent Jammu and Kashmir, but deliberately choose not to struggle against occupation of Pakistan. They want to liberate the Indian side of the Jammu and Kashmirfirst, and have no policy in place to liberate the areas underPakistanand where they live. Some people I have spoken to or have interacted with over this point said: we observe Black Day because India has no respect for human rights, and a country that has no regards to human rights and independence of others have no right to celebrate independence. Good point, but record of Pakistan on the issue of human rights is not that bright either, especially if we take in to consideration what happened in the former East Pakistan– nowBangladesh, and what is happening in Balochistan, FATA, Swat and other parts of Pakistan. Situation in Gilgit Baltistan and so called Azad Kashmir is not satisfactory to put it mildly; and the fact that there is no militancy going on in these areas DOE NOT mean that everything is rosy here. Because Pakistani record on human rights is also bad, should have a ‘Black Day’ on every year on 14 August? How would Pakistani people, Pakistani government, their agencies and pro Pakistan Kashmir is perceive this activity? Believe me I have no problem if people of Jammu and Kashmir and their supporters have Black Day on 15 August against India; but it is also my independence day. Jammu and Kashmirafter lapse of the British paramountcy became an independent country on 15 August. We lost our independence when on22 October 1947; we were attacked by Tribesmen sent by Pakistan because that forced the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir to seek help from India which was only provided after the ‘Provisional accession’. Don’t you think we should be observing a Black Day on 22 October when in clear violation of the Standstill Agreement, officials of the Pakistani government sent in hordes of tribesmen to capture Srinagar that resulted in partition of the State, hence our miseries since that date? Perhaps this is too much to ask from Kashmiris because minds that are accustomed to listening to propaganda, lies, twisted facts and religious hatred for the past 64 years will not be receptive to this suggestion. Furthermore, Kashmiri nationalists will also not tread on this road because of fear of repercussions; and, in any case, my view is that Kashmiri nationalism and Kashmiri nationalists have not matured yet. To qualify to be a true nationalist they have to learn many things and study other nationalist movements and character of those who lead them.

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