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 

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