Wednesday, 3 October 2012

KNP and elections in Pakistani Administered Kashmir

KNP and elections in Pakistani Administered Kashmir
Dr Shabir Choudhry 23 September 2012

Kashmir National Party strongly believes in democracy; and wants to strengthen political and democratic process and empower people. Pro Pakistan parties fully supported elections in Pakistani Administered Kashmir; and fiercely opposed similar kind of elections in the Indian Administered Kashmir, often resulting in death and destruction. One reason for this opposition was to ensure that chaos in Kashmir continues and there is no normalcy. Also it suited the ‘leadership’, they got rewards for promoting that imported policy and there was no fear of losing elections, if they were to contest.

We thought it was hypocrisy. Elections are held to elect representatives who can help to resolve local issues and not to determine future of the divided Jammu and Kashmir State. How the elections could be justified and appreciated in one part of the divided State and opposed tooth and nail in the other. In view of this, KNP took a daring step and included in its constitution the following clause:

‘Without prejudice to our inherent and most cherished right to independence; and despite restrictions upon those who adhere to this ideology, KNP in order to empower people and promote democratic values and culture of accountability and transparency will support democratic process in the divided State and might take part in the electoral process’.

KNP constitution further said, we will: ‘Encourage, promote and facilitate the process of accountability, and transparency; and provide such literature, information and support which can help to develop and promote a culture of accountability and transparency’.

So in line with our policy, we decided to contest elections. It must be pointed out that before us many Kashmiri nationalists contested elections in Pakistani Administered Kashmir. Maqbool Butt Shaheed, his son Shaukat Maqbool Butt, Azeem Dutt, Nasir Ansari, Liaquat Ayat and many other known Kashmiri nationalist have contested elections in the past.

While taking part in elections we knew we will not win anything, but we wanted to show the local people that we were concerned about their problems. We thought it will give us an opportunity to go out and meet people during the election campaign and get our message across. Apart from us other nationalist parties participated in the elections. We still think it was the correct decision.

Every Kashmiri has a right to contest elections; there is nothing wrong with that. However, those Kashmiris who contest elections from the platform of Kashmiri nationalist parties they could be put in one category- despite contesting elections and signing the objectionable clause they are still respectable Kashmiri nationalists. However, those Kashmiris who have contested elections from the platforms of Pakistani parties they bound to be in a different category; and they can be called anything else but not Kashmiri nationalists.

It must be pointed out that Pakistan has spread network of Pakistani parties in Pakistani Administered Kashmir, just like India has done on the other side. These parties believe Jammu and Kashmir belongs to Pakistan (or India in case of BJP and the Congress); and those Kashmiris who join them and contest elections from their platform agree with their Kashmir policy.

Despite this clear contradiction and betrayal, if these people and their children believe that their parents are Kashmiri nationalists, then perhaps meaning of Kashmiri nationalism has changed over the past months. In my view, if these people who contest elections from the platforms of MQM, PPP, N League, BJP and the Congress are ‘nationalists’ then Sardar Atiq and Omar Abdullah are also ‘nationalists’; at least, Sardar Atiq and Omar Abdullah are leaders of Kashmiri political parties and do not represent non State parties.

Forces of occupation must be very satisfied with their Kashmir policy. They have managed to keep Jammu and Kashmir divided and occupied since 1947. They have manipulated the Kashmiri leadership either in name of religion or democracy and used them against each other. They have been calling shots in both parts of the divided State, promoted their interests and kept us away from the negotiating table. They have subtly changed our history and culture; and many Kashmiris have lost distinction between azadi and ghulami (independence and occupation).

Despite all the obstacles and nefarious campaign against us by forces of occupation and their touts, we will continue our struggle for united and independent Jammu and Kashmir. KNP leaders and members declared that in its struggle the KNP will:

‘cooperate with all like - minded individuals and groups; and in doing so ensure that culture of violence, intimidation, suppression and oppression comes to an end’; and ‘Project the Kashmir Issue as a question of Kashmiri nation’s independence and not right of accession as projected by some interested quarters, at the international level, and to acquire support from international community for our struggle’.

KNP leaders also declared that we will make serious and sincere endeavours to:

‘Reinforce and promote Kashmiri culture and tradition of tolerance and peaceful co existence among all ethnic groups of the State, which was a key feature of Kashmiri history and culture; and oppose forces of communalism, extremism and hatred’.

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

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