Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Kashmiri struggle and traitors

Kashmiri struggle and traitors
Dr Shabir Choudhry 03 January 2012

Traitor is someone who knowingly and deliberately involves in actions that are detrimental to interests of his/her nation, a tribe or a community. In other words, a traitor commits acts of treason by betraying. This betrayal or treachery does not have to be for the sake of monetary gains, as people do it for different reasons. Some do it for money; others do it for ideological or religious reasons. Some may do it for political gains and social status; and some may do it to take revenge from some perceived injustice to his/her family or tribe or for being let down.

In contemporary history of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah was the first leader to be called a ‘traitor’, fact, however, is that he was a great leader, and pursued pro Kashmir policies, which were not appreciated by rulers of Pakistan. He was a Kashmiri leader and promoted pro Kashmir policies. He did not want Jammu and Kashmir to become either part of Pakistan or India. He wanted Jammu and Kashmir to become independent, detached from India and Pakistan that they can have separate existence and promote their history and culture.

Rulers of Pakistan did not want Jammu and Kashmir to become independent. Despite Standstill Agreement with Kashmir they blocked food supply to Jammu and Kashmir and on 22 October 1947 managed a naked tribal aggression against Kashmir and killed innocent people, raped women and looted citizens of Kashmir.

The forces of Jammu and Kashmir were unable to defend this aggression; and dream of Sheikh Abdullah and the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir to remain independent was shattered. Fearing capture of Srinagar – summer capital and the main city of the State, the Maharaja fled to Jammu – the winter capital and requested India for help. India also wanted Jammu and Kashmir to become part of India; and this naked aggression provided India with an opportunity to gain accession of the State with India.

The Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir had no choice but to accede to India in order to seek military help and save his state and citizens. This accession was provisional in nature and had to be ratified by the people of Jammu and Kashmir; and to date we had no opportunity to express our view on this matter.

Sheikh Abdullah, on this occasion, decided to side with the Maharajah and people of Jammu and Kashmir; and fought those who came to occupy his motherland. He was, no doubt, pro independent and not pro India, but when he was insulted by Mohammed Ali Jinnah fourth time in October 1947, he had made up his mind that he would not support State’s accession to Pakistan. However, the situation imposed on him and on Kashmir by Pakistan’s unprovoked attack, forced Sheikh Abdullah to support this ‘provisional accession’.

The Pakistani rulers failed to capture Kashmir and held Sheikh Abdullah and India responsible for this; and it was at that time they called Sheikh Abdullah a ‘traitor’; and many people under propaganda of Pakistan viewed him in that light. However, the situation changed when the same Sheikh Abdullah showed signs of rebellion and was paving way for an independent Jammu and Kashmir, he was sent to jail by India; and at that time Pakistani government forgetting what they called him in past, promoted Sheikh Abdullah as a ‘Lion of Kashmir’.

The point to be remembered here is that it was our Muslim brothers and neighbouring Pakistan that attacked us on 22 October 1947 once we became independent after lapse of the British Paramountcy on 15 October 1947; and it was the rulers of Pakistan who gave a title of a ‘traitor’ to a towering Kashmiri leader of Jammu and Kashmir. Furthermore, it was this attack that forcibly divided our country, hence our miseries on both sides of the divided line since 1947.

Since that date our so called ‘advocate’ and ‘liberators’ issued many fatwas (edicts) telling us who is a ‘Kashmiri traitor’ and who is a ‘Kashmir patriot’; and while doing this ‘great service’ to the people of Jammu and Kashmir they applied a simple criteria: a Kashmiri who was loyal to Pakistan was a patriot; and those who earnestly opposed accession to Pakistan were declared ‘anti Pakistan’ and ‘traitors’. This policy has not changed since that date.

With passage of time Jammu and Kashmir became hunting ground for secret agencies of both India and Pakistan where people were oppressed and intimidated for holding pro Kashmir views; and some were labelled as ‘traitors’ by respective governments. Many leaders and political activists of Jammu and Kashmir do not openly express their views because of fear that they will be declared ‘anti Pakistan’ and ‘Indian agent’. It is ironic that those who work against interests of Jammu and Kashmir and promote Pakistani interests are not considered traitors; if anything they proudly promote a Pakistani agenda and call themselves ‘patriots’.

In the past this task of labelling ‘traitor’ or ‘agent’ was assigned to the secret agencies; but now this task, by and large, has been taken over by people of Jammu and Kashmir and especially people of Pakistani Administered Kashmir. Leaders and political activists of the Valley can promote pro Pakistan policy or even division of Jammu and Kashmir, and both of these positions are against genuine interests of Jammu and Kashmir, yet they are considered patriots and no one from the Valley call them ‘traitors’.

But if leaders and political activists of Pakistani Administered Kashmir oppose accession to India, oppose accession to Pakistan and promote united and independent Jammu and Kashmir that caters for all its citizens irrespective of their religious or ethnic background they are labelled as ‘traitors’ by Pakistani secret agencies, and by some people with tunnel vision in Pakistani Administered Kashmir and in the Indian Administered Kashmir.

This labelling of each other as a ‘traitor’ and an ‘agent’ has made the task of dividing and governing us easier for India and Pakistan; and weaken our struggle so much that despite so many sacrifices there is no light at the end of tunnel. New Year has started, and many have wished Happy New Year, but I cannot see any happiness coming our way; if anything, I can see more trouble and misery descending on South Asia.

Seeds of extremism, communalism, hatred and violence sowed to destroy and unstable enemies of Pakistan have torn the Pakistani society apart. Extremism, communalism and violence which was, at one time, exported in holy name of Jihad has made Pakistan a battleground for competing interests and militant groups, each calling the other ‘Kaffir’ and in some cases enemy of Islam and Pakistan.

We Kashmiris protest that Pakistan has stabbed our struggle for independence and have been instrumental in division of our homeland that has brought misery and oppression on both sides of the divide. But what can you expect from Pakistani rulers and establishment? Those who have destroyed Jinnah’s Pakistan; and those who kill, oppress and torture their own people cannot be expected to be nice to us.

In a country where political culture is such that President, Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Army Chief are accused of being ‘traitors’ and ‘agents’ of other countries and working against integrity and sovereignty of the State; and where every leader is perceived as corrupt and working against national interests what can you expect from them? This political culture has filtered down to various parts of divided Jammu and Kashmir; and people of Jammu and Kashmir have made task of secret agencies of India and Pakistan easier because now we call each other ‘traitor’ and ‘agent’ of one country or the other.

This trend of labelling each other with titles of a ‘traitor’ and an ‘agent’ has further divided and weakened the people of Jammu and Kashmir; and people who are divided are easy to control and oppress. If we are to make progress and achieve our most cherished goal of independence then we have to carefully analyse the situation and see what went wrong. We are occupied by more than one country. True, militarily we cannot fight them all, but we must not be promoting agenda of those who occupy us; and say that one is an occupier and the other is not.

We must remember that Jammu and Kashmir is a multi religious and multi ethnic State; and the Kashmir dispute is not religious in nature. Kashmiri people on the Pakistani side of the divide cannot practically and logically fight to liberate the people on the other side of the divide; and they cannot come to liberate us or people of Gilgit Baltistan. Whether we like it or not, the struggle has to be done by the local people where they are occupied; and without fear of being called a ‘traitor’.

We can only be traitors if we are working to divide the State of Jammu and Kashmir, either in name of religion or some ideology. Our prime responsibility is to promote a Kashmiri interest; and if that clashes with the perceived national interest of those who occupy us then that should not be our problem. If we defend a Kashmiri interest and promote united and independent Jammu and Kashmir then we are Kashmiri patriots and not agents of any country; and those who view us like that could well be agents of those who occupy us.
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

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