Friday, 28 February 2014

Keeping up with our Blunders, Bakhtiar Qayyum

Keeping up with our Blunders
Bakhtiar Qayyum
Every year on 14 August, we celebrate Independence Day of Pakistan although Pakistan did not earn independence on this date 66 years ago. It was India which got independence from the British Raj; Pakistan was created as a new country on the face of the earth. It is also worth mentioning that our holy forefathers who were engaged in the struggle for a separate homeland did not expect their demand to be accepted so soon. It was probably the avidity of the British to leave India after they suffered heavy losses in the Second World War that prompted the creation of Pakistan. This is evident from the ineptness and incompetence of those who held the reins of authority during the first few years. There was no preparedness to defend or any preparation to run the new country. They had neither prepared a constitution or legal framework for the new-found-land nor trained the manpower to run the country. This non-preparedness and lack of resourcefulness compelled the rulers of this new country to commit blunders, which caused irreparable losses to the country. The human endeavor is to learn from our mistakes and try not to repeat them. Our national dilemma is that as a nation we neither accepted to have committed the blunders nor tried to make corrections. Resultantly, we commit the same mistakes again and again and always expect to get different results. This had been the vicious cycle we had been going round and round for 66 years of our existence.

The first and the foremost blunder was the decision of the first Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan to align with USA and forgo the independent and non-aligned posture of Pakistan. This action alienated us from our neighbors and other countries in the region by creating a suspicion and mistrust in their dealing with Pakistan. Besides we aligned with a new traditional and ideological rival of states located in our region. It was the beginning of cold war between US and Soviet Union and we tried making friends with USA which was located on the other side of the globe, thus arousing enmity with Soviet Union and its allied states, which were our immediate neighbors. We also gave up the non-aligned and independent status of Pakistan by joining US sponsored defense pacts like CETO and CENTO. Thus we were isolated in our region and even failed to get any benefit from the new alliance. Pakistan still licks the wounds of that unhappy experience.

As said earlier Muslim leadership was not prepared to efficiently run the newly born state as they had done no homework for it. The father of the nation constituted a Constituent Assembly after the creation of Pakistan with the sole responsibility to devise a constitution for the newly born state. The Constituent Assembly wasted lot of time in unnecessary details and got stuck up in controversial issues relating to Islamic tenets. The only significant document prepared by it was the Objectives Resolution, which was adopted on March 12, 1949. It proclaimed that the future constitution of Pakistan would not be modeled entirely on a European pattern, but on the ideology of Islam. After remaining functional for seven years and without completing its task the Constituent Assembly was suspended by the Governor General Ghulam Muhammad, on 24 October 1954. This was the second big blunder committed without regrets. The dissolution was challenged by Speaker, Molvi Tameezuddin in Sindh Chief Court, where the dissolution was declared illegal and void. But the Governor General went into appeal to the Federal Court. The Federal Court under the Chief Justice Muhammad Munir gave the famous judgment in favor of Governor General and held the dissolution of the Constitution Assembly valid based on the law of necessity. This decision of the Federal Court, which later became the Supreme Court of Pakistan, validating the illegal dissolution of the Constituent Assembly was another blunder which in the coming years provided precedence for all dissolutions of assemblies and governments by military generals. Soon after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the then Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Bogra through a notification declared the four provinces of Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and NWFP, Federal Administered Tribal Areas and the princely states into one province as one administrative unit. The step was aimed at removing disparity and creating administrative balance between the eastern and western wings of the country (the present Bangladesh was East Pakistan then) but it created more dissent and disharmony among various ethnic and linguistic groups in present Pakistan. This was another big blunder. Although the decision was reversed by General Muhammad Yahya Khan, the Chief Martial Law Administrator on 1July 1970 but it had done the damage and the hatred-mistrust among provinces persist even to this date. The separation of Eastern wing of the country and creation of Bangladesh is also attributed to it as one of the not-too-remote causes.

The second Constituent Assembly created on 28 May 1955 through Governor General’s order managed to give a Constitution (Constitution of Pakistan 1956). It was enforced with effect from 23rd March 1956 and Pakistan became an Islamic Republic but the political instability perpetually ensued. It was partially due to the attitude of Maj Gen Sikander Mirza, who first became Governor General succeeding Ghulam Muhammad and then became President of Pakistan in accordance with the Constitution of 1956. But he could not pull along with the civilian government and changed four Prime Ministers within a span of two years. Although first general elections on the basis of adult franchise were scheduled to be held in early 1959, once again the National and Provincial Assemblies were dissolved, the newly enforced Constitution was abrogated and Martial Law was imposed by the President of Pakistan Maj Gen Sikandar Mirza on 7th October 1958. General Muhammad Ayub Khan, Commander-in-Chief of the Army was appointed the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Ten days later Ayub Khan deposed Sikandar Mirza and himself became President. All political processes in the country were stopped, political institutions prorogued, civilian government removed and military personal deputed on all positions of the government. This was the first successful coup in the history of Pakistan, bringing to power a military regime under Ayub Khan. The political disorder in the country fostered the view within the military and in the public that Pakistani politicians were too weak and corrupt to govern effectively, and that the parliamentary system was flawed. So the first military takeover was generally welcomed by the masses but it has proved to be one of the blunders committed by our ruling elite.

Next on the blunder’s list is the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965. A lot has been said and written about the causes of the war including the military exercises named “Operation Gibraltar” which led to the war in disputed Kashmir region. The details of the 17-days war and its culmination with the Tashkent Declaration have also been commented upon extensively. We will suffice to a neutral assessment of the consequences and the aftermath of the war. About the losses sustained by Pakistan, an independent source, Library of Congress Country Studies conducted by the Federal Research Division of the United States stated that “The war was militarily inconclusive; each side held prisoners and some territory belonging to the other. Losses were relatively heavy—on the Pakistani side, twenty aircraft, 200 tanks, and 3,800 troops. Pakistan's army had been able to withstand Indian pressure, but a continuation of the fighting would only have led to further losses and ultimate defeat for Pakistan.”  TIME magazine reported that India held 1112 square kilometers of Pakistan territory while Pakistan held 403 square kilometers of Indian territory in Kashmir and Rajasthan. Additionally, Pakistan had lost almost half its armor temporarily. Some Pakistani analysis might not agree to the above figures but one thing is very clear; Pakistan failed to achieve any of her objectives from the 1965 war. Encyclopedia Wikipedia in its note on the consequences of 1965 war states that “One of the most far reaching consequences of the war was the wide-scale economic slowdown in Pakistan. The cost of the 1965 war put an end to the impressive period economic growth Pakistan had experienced during early 1960s. Between 1964 and 1966, Pakistan's defence spending rose from 4.82% to 9.86% of GDP, putting tremendous strain on Pakistan's economy. By 1970–71, defence spending comprised a whopping 55.66% of government expenditure. According to veterans of the war, the war had greatly cost Pakistan economically, politically, and militarily. Nuclear theorist Feroze Khan maintained that the 1965 war was a last conventional attempt to snatch Kashmir by military forces, and Pakistan's own position in international community, especially with the United States, began to deteriorate from the point the war started, while on the other hand, the alliance with China was indeed improved.” After the war resentment among people and government of East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh) against West Pakistan (today’s Pakistan) became more intense as they had a feeling that Kashmir was the obsession of West Pakistan and they were spending on the war from the funds meant for East Pakistan. Moreover, during the war it was alleged that East Pakistan was not guarded against the possible attack from India to divide Pakistan’s attention from west to east.  The race for nuclear arsenal also initiated as a consequence of 1965 Indo-Pak war and Pakistan started diverting sizable chunk of its GDP towards a discreet nuclear program.

First general elections in Pakistan were held on 7 December 1970 for 300 seats in the National Assembly; 162 for East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh) and 138 for West Pakistan (today’s Pakistan). The outcome of the elections was 160 seats from the Eastern wing won by Awami League of Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman and 81 seats in West Pakistan won by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Although Awami League got a clear mandate from these elections, they were not offered to form the government. This was another big blunder committed by General Muhammad Yahya Khan who ruled the country as Chief Martial Law Administrator at that time. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was a lofty aspirant to become Prime Minister instigated Yahya Khan not to invite Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman to form the government because he alleged that he would break the country. Bhutto also hurled threats to elected members from West Pakistan not to attend any session of the National Assembly if held in Dhaka (capital of East Pakistan). Resultantly, mass uprising was triggered in East Pakistan followed by the Bangladesh Liberation War and the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, and the ultimate secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh. The Indian troops had entered East Pakistan to support the separatist movement and bring an end to war. The separation of East Pakistan at the end of the Bangladesh Liberation War was one of the biggest events in the history of this country. It shook the very foundation of Pakistan, which was said to be created on the ideology of Islam but Islam could not hold the country together beyond 24 years. There could be many reasons given for the humiliating defeat and surrender of the Pakistan army at the hands of Indian troops in East Pakistan where almost 93000 members of the Pakistan Armed Forces including paramilitary personnel were taken as Prisoners of War by the Indian Army. The whole nation was stunned at the disaster. The Army quietly stepped down in what remained of Pakistan and handed over the rein of power to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Bhutto became the Chief Martial Law Administrator, then the President and finally the Prime Minister. His dreams had come true, no matter at what cost.

Soon after assuming powers, Bhutto set up a high power judicial commission to inquire into and find out "the circumstances in which the Commander, Eastern command, surrendered and the members of the Armed Forces of Pakistan under his command laid down their arms and a cease-fire was ordered along the borders of West Pakistan and India and along the cease-fire line in the State of Jammu and Kashmir." The six member commission was headed by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Hamoodur Rehman. Other members of the Commission included Justice Anwarul Haq, Chief Justice of Sindh High Court and two senor judges of Balochistan High court. A retired Lt Gen was included as a military advisor. After six months deliberations the commission presented an interim report to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, President of Pakistan in July 1972 as the commission could not take into account the interviews and statements of some senior civil and military officers, who were still prisoners of war in India. Twelve copies of the initially report were prepared. It is said that one copy was given to Bhutto and the rest were either destroyed or were stolen. In 1974 the commission restarted proceedings after the return of prisoners of war. The final report or the supplementary report as it was called was submitted on 23 October 1974 to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who had become Prime Minister according to the new constitution of 1973.The report contained detailed analysis how political, administrative, military and moral failings were responsible for the surrender of Pakistani forces in East Pakistan.  Bhutto classified the entire report as he was afraid that if made public, it would further demoralize and humiliate the Pakistan Armed Forces. The Report's findings accuse the Pakistani Army of carrying out killings in the countryside, killing of intellectuals and professionals and burying them in mass graves, killing of Bengali Officers and soldiers on the pretence of quelling their rebellion, killing East Pakistani civilian officers, businessmen and industrialists, raping a large number of East Pakistani women as a deliberate act of revenge, retaliation and torture, and deliberate killing of members of the Hindu minority. It has also been alleged that the report contained a chapter highlighting the aspirations of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to grab powers, which contributed to the separatist stance of Bengalis. Bhutto is said to have changed that portion of the report and got it rewritten. The report was, however, published in the year 2000 after it was leaked in Indian newspapers. The non-publishing of the report in time was another big blunder because it snatched away the opportunity of learning from our follies and failures. We failed miserably to make amends to our mistakes which led to the breaking up of the country.

The nationalization policy of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto during the 70s also proved to be another national blunder. Without any long term planning or assessing the consequences he tried to restore the economic order that was badly shaken by war through acquisition of property and businesses owned and run by private concerns. It was perhaps the hardest test nothing short of  vengeance which Bhutto put this nation go through by taking over banks, schools, factories, vehicle manufacturing and assembly units, cement factories,  electricity gas and oil refining units. Even the exports and imports were taken control of by the government through trading corporation. Perhaps, Bhutto wanted to ensure the distribution of wealth and the prosperity of lay man. However the policy of nationalization had many defects. It caused a great damage to the private sector. Investment in the private sector was almost finished. The managements of those nationalized concerns made personal gains at the cost of the progress and wellbeing of the institutions they worked in. They were taken as personal fiefdoms and government used them to oblige friends and family members of high and mighty. Resultantly, with the passage of time these governments owned enterprises, which were once profit making machines turned into garbage dumps. Today around 200 of such enterprises lose more than Rupees 500 billion a year; that is roughly Rupees 1.5 billion a day, every day of the year; when the treasury is almost empty. Despite the fact that banks, educational institutions and few other manufacturing units had been restored to private sector.

Declaring Ahamdi sect as non-Muslims by Bhutto was probably another blunder in our checkered history of 66 years. It gave rise to sectarianism and boosted the radical Islam. We still reap the fruit of that forced decision. The Ahmadi factor had since been used to avenge personal grievances as well. It is very simple to label someone as Ahmadi to shun all doors of well-being and prosperity for him and invite the wrath of the guardians of faith to make life a living hell for him.

Next on our list of blunders is the execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as result of the verdict by trial court, which in his case was the Lahore High Court and rejection of appeal by the Supreme Court. General Ziaul Haq, who was the man in the saddle at that time, did not adhere to any clemency appeals made by world leaders to spare the life of former Prime Minister. The hanging of Bhutto gave rise to a new political culture in the country – that of dynasties, political martyrs and the ascendancy of violent political rivalry. His sons and daughters overnight ascended to the throne of political leadership without having any notable political achievement to their credit. Besides, the country lost a political personality, which was termed as the leader of the masses, the man who gave the 1973 constitution and a feudal who chanted the slogan of “food, clothes and shelter” for the poor and downtrodden people of the country. The nation still feels the crunch of the events and the trial sheds a cloud on the reputation of our higher judiciary. The Adjudicators who handed down the judgment admitted later on that they were under tremendous pressure to pronounce the death sentence. The court verdict had been termed as “judicial murder” by some of the most prominent jurists.

The invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet Troops in late December 1979 to support the communist government against the Islamist insurgents marked the beginning of a new type of proxy war between old rivals, Soviet Union and the USA. For the proxy war, Americans chose to launch the Islamic Jihadists from Pakistan. Religious seminaries were converted into military training camps and the ill-trained radical enthusiasts were sent into Afghanistan to fight alongside the local Islamic insurgents against the invading Soviet troops. It opened up an all new vistas of the Islamic holy war against the communist infidels. Muslims from the Middle Eastern Islamic states started pouring into Pakistan to participate in Jihad, an Islamic tenet. Thus in Pakistan guns, war, military training, weaponry and a plethora of motivational material to wage holy war became a common street affair. This waging of Jihad from the Pakistani soil against foreign invaders in Afghanistan can be marked another big blunder which had long lasting consequences on the peace and security situation of the country. Today Pakistan faces the greatest internal threat from the radical Islamists called the Taliban, who can be regarded the descendants of Jihadists of the 80s. And their tirade against the Nation is the aftermath of the Jihad, they were trained and indoctrinated for.

General Ziaul Haq exploited the Jihadist saga to prolong his own rule and introduced the process of Islamization in the country. He tried imposition of his own understanding of the Quran and Islam. Ziaul Haq was himself affiliated with the Hanfi sect, which is one of the many schools of thought in Islam, but he undertook to implement the same without taking into account the teachings of other sects. Curriculum was changed, new laws were enacted and strict Islamic code was implemented. In schools as well as offices dress code was altered and all rules to rise up the ladder of ranks and grades were written afresh. Strict adherence to the Islamic rituals was made mandatory for promotions or making advancements. Bank accounts of general public were frozen for compulsory deduction of Zakaat. People were publically flogged for not adhering to strict Islamic tenets. Dance parties in hotels and clubs and the use of liquor was completely banned. All restaurants and eating outlets were forcibly closed during the month of fasting and offering afternoon prayers in offices were declared mandatory. The enforced imposition of one Islamic view in the country was another blunder which infested the Pakistani society with intolerance and use of violent tactics for religious purposes.

Next on our blunders list is the Kargil war of 1999. Apart from the strategic significance of the war from a Pakistani prospective it was an aimless endeavor.  The Pakistani troops in the guise of Kashmiri freedom fighters crossed the line of control (LOC) near Kargil and occupied Indian military posts overlooking Indian National Highway connecting Srinagar to Leh.  The LOC had been demarcated by the UN Mission after the 1948 war to mark the temporary boundary between Indian and Pakistani controlled territories. The objective of the intruding Pakistani troops was to sever the military logistics supply on the Srinagar-Leh Highway. But crossing the LOC, occupying Indian controlled territory and threatening the military supply route amounts to border violation and waging war on India. There should have been no doubt that the Indians will retaliate fearlessly and the International community would not appreciate the move. When Indian troops retaliated, Pakistan military suffered heavy losses and had to retreat. Pakistan had to make request to USA to help stop the war from spreading to other areas. The international community condemned and criticized the Pakistani move. As a consequence of war, the peace efforts initiated between the two countries after Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpai visited Lahore came to a halt, mistrust and suspicion between the two countries reached new heights; hostilities got escalated and military standoff continued for several years.

Regarding the events of recent times, the stand taken by Pakistan after the 9/11 attacks on American targets are still considered controversial. There are conflicting views about the response shown by the Government of General Pervez Musharraf. His facilitating US forces to strike on Al-Qaida including Afghan civilians and militants targets, the Taliban and the Arab nationals fighting Jihad in Afghanistan are still being condemned by political and military circles. The critics claim that the error of judgment has plunged Pakistan into an unending war against the unforeseen enemy. It is also said that the war which was initially being fought in Afghnistan has been acclaimed to be our war and extended to the streets and cities of Pakistan. But the objectives and targets of the said war are still ambiguous and we are with each passing day loosing space.  The war on terror which has been sponsored and financed by ISAF countries is still a long way from being conclusive while the country is being torn apart by the ensuing terrorist activities. This is the third civilian government facing the upshots of the war on terror but we have yet not constituted any commission to inquire the causes, consequences and the authenticity of our response to this war.

On the national front the promulgation of National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) by General Pervez Musharraf through which all criminal and corruption cases against activists of PPP and MQM and against Asif Ali Zardari were withdrawn. It was a blunder of his government. Hundreds of hardened criminals and plunderers of national wealth were pardoned, even those in jails were released and all proceedings and investigations halted. It was not an amnesty, it was setting free the criminals and plunderers to do the same again. All were given a clean chit by the government so that they may launch once again to do more harm. Earning benefit from the NRO, Asif Ali Zarzari got elevated to the highest position in the country and became the President of Pakistan. It was the most humiliating blunder that the man who was so notorious for his corrupt practices, the nation had spent millions to bring him to books and cases of money laundering and corruption were pending against him in Switzerland, Spain and UK was suddenly made the President of the country and accepted by all at that position. He was neither acquitted nor exonerated from any case; they were all withdrawn due to promulgation of NRO. It brought a bad name for the country and for the people.

Furthermore, on March 9, 2007 the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who was believed to be doing a good job was removed from his office by General Pervez Musharraf without following the due process given in the Constitution. The Chief Justice resisted his removal and the matter was taken up by the Supreme Judicial Counsel, where after exhaustive deliberations the matter was decided in favor of the Chief Justice. He was re-instated and all allegations leveled against him in the Presidential Reference were discarded. But he along with 60 other judges was removed again by the general in an extra-constitutional move on 3 November 2007 whereby the Constitution was held in abeyance and a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) issued. A street agitation was started by the lawyers’ community, civil society and the media to revive the pre-3 November Judiciary. The agitation took the shape of a regular movement and continued for more than a year. In the mean time General Pervez Musharraf doffed his uniform, resigned as President of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, PPP formed the government after winning elections, Asif Ali Zardari became President and the government of PML(N) in Punjab was removed. Nawaz Sharif set out from Lahore on a long march onto Islamabad. When the long march was midway, the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and all other judges were restored. However, it has not been determined yet, why the Chief Justice removed and what were gained from the year long lawyers movement.

Last on our count of blunders is the mysterious presence of the most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden in Abbattabad, the garrison city so close to the Federal Capital. The whole world, including our security agencies and Armed Forces were trying to hunt him down since he disappeared from Tora Bora in Afghanistan in 2001. As if the embarrassment of his hiding on our soil was not enough, it was the US who found him not our men. The US Naval Special Warfare Development Group and Central Intelligence Agency operatives ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama killed him in a covert operation at midnight 2 May 2011. There could be two plausible excuses for his being there. Either we or any of our agencies knew nothing about the presence of Osama bin Laden on our soil or someone knew it. Regrettably, if the first is true, we are stupid and dupe and if second is true, we are wicked and untrustworthy. The man had been there for eight years perhaps controlling and running his terror outfits around the world and our agencies knew nothing or were abetting him.

This was a concise premise of our blunders during the 66 years of our existence. Every nation commits mistakes and makes corrections to move forward. We should not be embarrassed of our follies of the past rather we should keep them alive so that we do not commit same mistakes again. The younger generation is desperate and hapless. They often ask why have Pakistan not progressed and prospered as have some countries in the far east, which came into existence much after us and have lesser resources. Our people are very hardworking and talented. They don’t know whether Pakistan should be graded with the industrial countries or with the agricultural countries. Even the deserts have bypassed us. In desperation and frustration a majority are looking to leave for a more prosperous career offshore. Maybe someone somewhere can learn something from our blunders and do not repeat the same.

About the author:
Bakhtiar Qayyum is a retired officer, who served for more than 30 years in a prime Government of Pakistan agency. He possesses a thorough knowledge of political, social, ideological and security related issues of Pakistan. He is currently running a NGO namely “PIFF”, which is trying to lessening the hate factor from amongst the youth. His email is and Fb address @Bakhtiar Qayyum

Nawaz Sharif supported ISI’s covert activities in Kashmir

Nawaz Sharif supported ISI’s covert activities in Kashmir

In 1992, Sharif supported ISI's covert activities in Kashmir, reveals book
PTI Islamabad, October 31, 2013 | UPDATED 14:56 IST

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had asked the ISI in May 1992 to continue its covert operations in Kashmir, despite a stern warning by the US that it could designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, according to a new book by a former Pakistani diplomat.

Instead of changing his course, Sharif supported the spy agency ISI and the Army noting that Pakistan cannot shutdown military operations in India and to counter such a warning from the US he decided to allocate USD 2 million as a first step to reach out to the American media and the Congress.

In fact, Sharif made his then special assistant Hussain Haqqani in-charge of the lobbying efforts in the US, which the latter refused and then agreed to go to Sri Lanka on an ambassadorial posting, the book discloses.
The book 'Magnificent Delusions' by Haqqani, Pakistan's former envoy to the US, is slated to be released next week.

Giving a detailed first person account of the events in May 1992, after a letter in this regard from the then US Secretary of State James Baker was delivered to Sharif, Haqqani writes that the letter was first ignored by Sharif.
In the letter dated May 10, 1992, Baker threatened that unless Pakistan discontinued its support for terrorism in Kashmir, the US might declare it a state sponsor of terrorism.

"We have information indicating that ISI and others intend to continue to provide material support to groups that have engaged terrorism," read the letter dated May 10, according to Haqqani in the book.
"I must take that information very seriously," Baker wrote but discounted Pakistani claims that the support for the Kashmiri militants came from private groups and Islamist parties and not from the government. It appreciated Sharif's earlier promises that 'Pakistan will take distance itself from terrorist activities against India'," the letter said.

According to Baker, US law required applying "an onerous package of sanctions" against "states found to be supporting acts of international terrorism and I have the responsibility of carrying legislation."
The letter was delivered to Sharif by the then US envoy to Pakistan Nicholas Platt who also attached talking points along with. The talking points said that the US is "very confident" of its information.

"Your intelligence - Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate and elements of the Army are supporting Kashmiri and Sikh militants who carry out terrorism," Platt affirmed.

This support, Platt said, comprised "providing weapons, training and assistance in infiltration move all ambiguity. He insisted that "We're talking about covert Government of Pakistan support," the book says.
After Haqqani brought the seriousness of the content of the letter to Sharif, the Prime Minister immediately called for a meeting with his top national security team.

The meeting held a few days later was attended by the then Army Chief Gen Ashif Nawaz; the ISI head Lt Gen Javed Nasir and foreign secretary Shehryar Khan; and the author himself.
Giving an account of?the meeting, Haqqani said Nasir blamed the letter from the US a result of the "Indo-Zionist" lobby in Washington for America's changed attitude towards Pakistan.
Nasir said that "Jihad in Kashmir" was at a critical stage and could not be disrupted, the book says.
"We have been covering our tracks so far and will cover them even better in the future," Nasir said.
"These are empty threats," he added.
A confident Nasir said that the US was not in a position to declare Pakistan a terrorist state because of its strategic importance.
The Saudis and Pakistan were America's only allies in the the region, he averred, so the United States needed Pakistan to deal with the changing situation in Muslim Central Asia after the Soviet Union collapsed.
"All we need to do is to buy more time and improve our diplomatic effort," Nasir emphasised.

"The focus be on Indian atrocities in Kashmir, not on our support for the Kashmiri resistance," the then ISI chief is quoted as saying.
"Sharif agreed with Nasir's assessment, which reflected the consensus of the meeting. Shehryar and I were the only ones who said that Pakistan needed to reconsider its support for Kashmiri militants," Haqqani writes.
Sharif, according to Haqqani, agreed with the assessment of the ISI that as long as Pakistan could be useful to the US, the US would remain favorably disposed toward Pakistan.

In fact, Nasir boasted that he knows how to handle the CIA. "We know how to take care of CIA," he said.
"We know what they need and we give them in bits and pieces to keep them happy."

Haqqani writes that the final word at the meeting came from the army chief.

"Nawaz said that it was not in Pakistan's interest to get into a confrontation with the United States but 'We cannot shut down military operations against India either.'"

The army chief suggested that Pakistan get off the hook with the US by making some changes in its pattern of support for Kashmiri militancy without shutting down the entire clandestine operation ? and that is precisely the policy Pakistan adopted over the next few years," Haqqani writes.

Let's Give Peace a Try Bakhtiar Qayyum

Let's Give Peace a Try
Bakhtiar Qayyum
India and Pakistan have already lived six decades of hate, confrontations, border skirmishes, military escalations and wars. The hostilities have held us from doing good things for our people like eradicating poverty, lessening the miseries of downtrodden and unprivileged, providing shelter, healthcare and education. On the contrary we have made people of the two countries hate each other despite the fact that we share common history, culture, traditions and language. The division has been made on mere religion and a line drawn between the two ignoring the reality that more Muslims live in India than in Pakistan. Some war mongers and vested interest hawks on both sides of the border are keeping the fire burning. But the time has come when we should understand that war does not solve issues. Since the creation of India and Pakistan, the two countries have been involved in four wars and many border skirmishes and military stand-offs but none of the controversial issues could be resolved.

India is a big country. Its population is almost 18 percent of the total world population. About a decade ago, being over-populated was considered to be a big hindrance in the progress of a country but India after China has successfully converted that shortcoming into a sufficiency. The country has made great advancements in the fields of technology, industry, information technology, production, human resources and agriculture. War and hostilities not only hold back the pace of progress, it could even destroy what has been gained and achieved. And India cannot afford to roll back. It’s time to expand the business horizon and devote all efforts to achieving and then maintaining peace and tranquility in the region. Pakistan is also expected to make tangible progress in industrialization and in managing its human resources. So those at the helm of affairs in the two countries should sit together and sought out an everlasting peace plan.

The new world order aims towards a global governance system. As problems relating to human sufferings become graver, the world is getting closer to put in joint efforts in dealing with those problems. The European countries which have fought for hundreds of years have set forth to form one multi-nation. The process has been kicked off with the formation of European Union, where travelling restrictions have been completely removed, a common currency have been adopted and all difference been resolved through dialogue. There is also an anti-war sentiment on the rise in the Western world. Thus the demonstrations against the military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan saw a huge participation by general public in US and European metropolitans. The Indo-Pakistan subcontinent needs to demonstrate in a similar fashion against the war hysteria so that the option of war is further reduced. The controversial issues particularly the Kashmir issue should be seriously taken up to resolve permanently. And India being the bigger brother needs to take the lead in this direction.

The disputes between the two countries, which became the major cause for wars in the past, are not more important than providing food, shelter, healthcare and better living condition for the people of the two countries. As we cannot change our neighbors, the only option is to evolve a peaceful living environment for the coming generations. The non-aggressive environment will help both countries as it will save the resources presently diverted towards war efforts for making more hospitals, schools, providing food, clean drinking water and a healthier environment for the coming generations.

Pakistan is passing through the most difficult time of its existence. The menace of terrorism in the shape of Taliban has marred the country and is blemishing its image with each passing day. There are many causes to this menace; some internal others external, but one artifact is very evident – it was not a totally local breeding – it was sown and harvested in the neighboring Afghanistan and later transplanted in Pakistan. It has inbuilt symptoms of spreading to other lands if not stopped vigorously with combined efforts. So to stop the Taliban exporting their ideology into Indian territory, India should support Pakistani efforts to curb the threat with full might.
On way to peace processes Pakistan has been stressing that the issue of Kashmir should be resolved prior to making any inroad to mutual collaboration in other fields, particularly trading and commercial activities. Whereas Indian authorities were of the view that the two countries should initiate trading and collaboration in all fields of mutual interest and the controversial issues will be resolved with the passage of time. Perhaps the Indian point of view carries weight as too many years have been wasted through adopting the stubborn attitude by both sides. There had come many occasions in the vicious history of confrontation between the two countries when things got very near to solving the core issue (Pakistani authorities regard Kashmir issue as the core issue) but the vested interest on the two sides who do not feel comfortable with peace narratives, duped the efforts at the nick of the time. It’s time that people identify such hurdles and don’t pay heeds to their outcry. Benefits of peace need to be highlighted and all efforts diverted to achieve the same.
Mutual trade between the two countries would benefit both of them as Pakistan is a big market for Indian products and India offers very lucrative market for Pakistani goods. Moreover, when people of the two countries will come closer and have more interaction, the contentious issues will be sorted out through better understanding.

About the author:
Bakhtiar Qayyum is a retired officer, who served for more than 30 years in a prime Government of Pakistan agency. He possesses a thorough knowledge of political, social, ideological and security related issues of Pakistan. He is currently running a NGO namely “PIFF”, which is trying to lessening the hate factor from amongst the youth. His email is and Fb address @Bakhtiar Qayyum

Thursday, 27 February 2014

JKUF supports the proposed alliance

JKUF supports the proposed alliance 
London               27 February 2014    

A Jammu and Kashmir based group which consist of political activists from various social, political and religious backgrounds belonging to Jammu Kashmir Unity Foundation has expressed their desire to be part of the proposed alliance to promote cause of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

In a letter to me, Dr Shabir Choudhry, Ajaat Jamwal, Convenor of Jammu Kashmir Unity Foundation wrote: ‘I fully appreciate your stand for preserving the Unity of Jammu and Kashmir which is the prime objective of Jammu and Kashmir Unity Foundation. I also appreciate that you denounce all forms of extremism, violence and hatred for Jammu Kashmir to remain united; it is critical that the people should shun all communal and exclusivist politics and espouse the cause of equality of all of its citizens’.

While explaining objectives of the JKUF, Ajaat Jamwal further wrote: ‘We believe in an inclusive secular and United Jammu and Kashmir, which will support democratic process in the State; and promote a culture of social harmony. We want to educate people about the dangers of terrorism, fundamentalism and communalism; and counter the distortions about the historical facts regarding Jammu and Kashmir State’.

The JKUF leader further wrote: ‘I agree with many of the professed objectives of your organization except a few. And this creates a space for us to be in touch with each other regularly and also having a process of regular exchange so that we can contribute to the betterment of the people living in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir’.

In reply to Ajaat Jamwal, Dr Shabir Choudhry said, ‘we strongly believe that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is one political entity and all citizens have equal rights; and that the State must not be divided at any cost. Furthermore, we believe that only people of Jammu and Kashmir can decide what should be the future of the State. I agree we have many common points around which we can work to advance the cause of people of Jammu and Kashmir; and fight against those who promote extremism, violence and hatred’.

Dr Shabir Choudhry said, ‘it is encouraging to note that our message is reaching out to our non Muslim brothers who also share same values and wish to have a democratic and secular society’. He further said, ‘soon after the announcement of the proposed alliance some elements got alarmed and started opposing unity among the Kashmir groups and parties; and sad thing is they are doing this in the name of Kashmiri nationalism’.

Issued by Dr Shabir Choudhry
Cell no: 0044 (0)7790 942471

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

No Third Option, Dr Syed Nazir Gilani

No Third Option, Dr Syed Nazir Gilani 
Foreign Office of Pakistan may not have to its credit many success stories in diplomacy at home or abroad but it has gone to dazzling limits to maintain its hold on Kashmir narrative in fooling the people at home and in Kashmir. There are no two opinions that civilians in foreign office have a subordinate role and it is the military and spy-science that has the final say on Kashmir subject. Unfortunately the military approach on Kashmir continues to be colonial and far remote from a reliable understanding of the jurisprudence of Kashmir case.
The foreign office briefing given to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan on Thursday, February 20, at Parliament House, Islamabad merits a serious examination and response from the people in general and the leaders of Kashmir in particular. Those who remain in close proximity with the ‘political, moral and diplomatic’ support of the Government of Pakistan have a higher burden of responsibility.
Third Option
National Assembly Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan headed by Chairman Malik Abrar (PML-N MNA) was briefed by the Additional Secretary Foreign Affairs that UN Resolutions did not leave any scope for a Third Option on Kashmir. It was stated that if there is an “Independent Kashmir” it would suffer the fate like Afghanistan and Nepal.
These columns are not sufficient to query the vires of this statement in its entirety except that the statement has caused a serious offence to article 2 (i) (Chapter II) of Hurriyat Constitution adopted on 31 July, 1993. It exposes the merits of the relationship between the authors of militancy and their proxies on the issue in the Valley. It is a question that needs to be addressed by all the parties signatory to the Hurriyat Constitution and all others who subscribe to the creation of an Independent State of Jammu and Kashmir.
On the basis of this briefing, it may be argued that Pakistan has used the ‘independence’ sentiment on an ad hoc basis, in the manner in which the full regime of proxies had been put into action until 1996. The lack of sincerity in the merits of inclusive jurisprudence and using the independence sentiment for a secondary purpose to bleed India could be regarded as a betrayal and an unfortunate step to fool the people, in particular the youth of Kashmir at home and abroad.

In fact Foreign Office embedded with military wisdom failed to prosecute its narrative of a political, moral and diplomatic support. It has failed in the Valley, in PaK and in Gilgit and Baltistan. The broad spread of its self-serving international diplomacy conducted through two and a half people (2 ½) Kashmiri males and one and a half (1 ½) female could not stand up to one Affidavit filed by the US FBI. All ambassadors drafted into service evaporated in thin air. All that remains are the smouldering’s of a monthly stipend.
Pakistan Foreign Office shall have to overcome the jurisprudence of Indian application made to the UN on the question of Jammu and Kashmir. Indian ultimate interest in her application is crucial. In addition to this Pakistan Foreign Office shall have to overcome the UN Charter Principle of “Self-Determination” on the basis of “Equality of People”. Indian application and the principle of the equality of people make a strong case for an “Independent Kashmir”. Pakistan would land itself in a serious situation, if the people of Jammu and Kashmir decide to join in and support the Indian application of 01 January 1948 made to the UN Security Council. In theory Government of India and the People of Kashmir could take a joint position against the Government of Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir. In that case Pakistan would have no locus standi in the matter.
Afzal Guru’s Case at ICJ
Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ch. Muhammad Barjees Tahir enquired from the foreign office official if Afzal Guru’s case could be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). He was told that foreign office shall have to look at the ICJ mandate, whether an individual case could be taken to ICJ or not.

One needs to appreciate the belated (after death) interest of the minister in Guru’s case. However, one needs to query the substantive merits of this interest. Government of PaK, ministry of Kashmir Affairs and for that matter none of their associates in the Valley or High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi ever made any genuine or a half-hearted effort to ensure that Guru gets a reliable legal defence and that all issues related to his case could be monitored on merit in the interests of the ‘administration of justice’.
Guru’s death is unfortunate and is being debated by saner elements in the Indian civil society much more than it has occupied any interest in PaK or in Pakistan. Interest in Guru’s death has no merit if one can spot a lack of understanding and interest of ministry of Kashmir affairs in the death of a generation and the death of self-determination in Kashmir. Foreign Office of Pakistan has yet to graduate in its interest on Kashmir and has yet to know of a day when it would not have to read from military wisdom on the subject.
Government of Pakistan has never shown maturity and honesty on the merits of the Kashmir case. It has continued to show its limp in this regard. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in his telegram dated 22 November, 1947, had proposed to Prime Minister of Pakistan the intervention of ICJ on Kashmir in the following manner:

“Would you like me to take private soundings from the President of the International Court of Justice to find out whether he is of the opinion that it would be practicable and he would be willing to try to get together a small team of international experts, not connected with India, Pakistan or the United Kingdom, in the event of a joint request being preferred by the Government of India and Pakistan for this to be done”. [Para 4 of the telegram dated 22 November 1947].
Pakistan in its reply of 24 November carved a weak and implausible excuse and discouraged the British Prime Minister on the idea of using the offices of ICJ on the issue of Kashmir. The reply in para 1, “Many thanks for your telegram of November 22nd regarding Kashmir. Your suggestion of having recourse to International Court of Justice appears to be based on an inadequate appreciation of realities of situation in Kashmir…” does not sit well with the cause of the people of Kashmir. Foreign office of Pakistan has never spearheaded the interest and benefit of the people of Kashmir. Therefore, the desire of the minister to take Guru’s case to ICJ is asking Gulliver to change position with a Lilliputian. Our heart goes out to the bereaved family of Afzal Guru. It does not mean that we have to expose ourselves as heartless people on the jurisprudence of the death of a generation in Kashmir. If there is a case for ICJ, it has to be failure of the five governments to protect and respect the right to life in Kashmir.
Kashmiri Properties in Pakistan
There has been a criminal silence and criminal negligence on the part of the people, their leadership, the three governments of Jammu and Kashmir and ministry of Kashmir Affairs in not taking a pro-active interest in the broad spread of properties and other Kashmiri assets situated in various parts of Pakistan. These properties are situated in the four provinces of Pakistan and have a ‘sovereign status’. The Standing Committee received a report on these properties but there was no outside and independent input to verify the contents of the report and schedule of the properties.

It is disappointing to mention that Kashmiri leadership, in particular the one that claims to represent the ‘sentiment’ since 1990 have never asked the Government of Pakistan to produce a schedule of these properties and assets and to account for their incomes since August 1947. It is however, encouraging that the Standing Committee has asked the ministry of Kashmir affairs to produce a full report on any sale of these properties and the incomes received prior to 1986 in seven days.

It should have been the urgent concern of Hurriyat, others, J and K and PaK Governments and a common citizen to ensure that Kashmiri properties and assets in Pakistan are preserved and used for the benefit of the people. A State subject interest should have been looked after by the people of the State. These incomes could have been used to support our unemployed youth, women and young girls hit by poverty. The post 1990 conflict situation makes a strong case for our leaders in Srinagar to negotiate with the Government of Pakistan the payment of these incomes and future status of the properties. There is a ray of hope that a report on Kashmir properties and their abuse would be presented to the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Solidarity Day

National Assembly Standing Committee on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan admitted that expression of solidarity with the people of Kashmir on 5th February every year is no more than a ritual, when people all over Pakistan sit at home to enjoy a holiday and some are hired to be on the streets. It does not impact the benefit of the people and does not have any significance in incrementing the interest of the people of Kashmir.

Pakistan Administered Kashmir PM asking Islamabad at least allow him to choose his ruler (Lent Officers) from Islamabad. Mumtaz Khan

Pakistan Administered Kashmir PM asking Islamabad at least allow him to choose his ruler (Lent Officers) from Islamabad. Mumtaz Khan

The recently held by-elections on District Sudhnooti seat was important in many ways to expose different schools of opinions’ claims, positions, roles, and legal and political status of Pakistan’s administered Kashmir (PAK)as well. The PM of so-called Free Kashmir Choudhry Maujeed surprised everyone when he boasted to send back Chief secretary and IG Police to Islamabad for their alleged involvement in rigging to defeat PPP candidate on the instruction of the minister of Kashmir affairs. He was also critical over the deployment of Pakistani Rangers on polling stations without consulting him and called it unacceptable for his government. His announcement was more than a shock for every citizen of Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK) that’s history is replete with criminal silence, collaboration and compromises of these proxy politicians on the very rights, resources and political ownership of this part. It was further shocking to hear from a person who publicly feels pride in calling himself “majawar” of Larkana to please PPP leadership. Can anyone ask him that what is the difference between Larkana and Raiwind, except the land distance rest their policies about AJK are the same. 

The response of Minister for Kashmir affairs was further shocking that merits attention of sane political Kashmiris to note that with what a sheer contempt he addressed PAK PM, as animal, and his cabinet as a thieves. This The statement of Pakistan’s Minister unfolds the myth about the status of this Free Kashmir, and who actually rules this territory. The Minister for Kashmir Affairs Mr. Berjis Tahir further ridiculed so-called PM by stating that his statement had no legal effect except a paper statement. He further said that that so-called PM had no powers to decide about Pakistani national civil servants who are answerable only to Islamabad not Muzafarabad. His insulting language is informing that how Islamabad treats this territory and its own proxy politicians. The question arises that didn’t Choudhry Maajeed know about the legal, political constraints and limitations Muzafarabad suffers owing to the 1974 Interim Act? And didn’t he know that 1974 Act and Kashmir Council including Pakistani bureaucrats are the gift of his PPP founding leader Bhutto to this Free Kashmir? Can he dare to utter a single word of disagreement about the imposition of 1974 Act, and more appropriately the act of his leader Z.A. Bhutto who eroded what the minimal autonomy this territory had prior to his rule? Certainly, he cannot even think to commit such sin to invite the ire of Larkana and Islamabad. 

His boasting to return Chief Secretary and IG Police was taken in wrong context as media and our short sighted nationalist jump to laud his statement as if special status was granted to this impotent government or region. He simply asked Islamabad at least give choice to choose his coming ruler for Muzafarabad. But instead of considering his request, Kashmir for Kashmir Affairs ridiculed him by saying that region was not qualifying yet to choose lent officers sending from Islamabad to rule this region and this prerogative lies with Islamabad. 

The other lesson to be learnt from this by-election, is the decision of NAP to field a candidate in by-election just couple weeks before the elections and fielding such a person: who was not NAP member, he never resigned from his original party, had no political acumen or political base, zero percent work in that constituency. The people in that Constituency were not even familiar with his name prior to the nomination and results have reflected on public choice when he got only 50 votes. In such scenario, who is the responsible for such debacle, candidate, leadership, ideology, credibility or vision? Perhaps all needs to ponder on these questions beyond party biases to avoid future mistakes. 

Pakistan ready to consider Independent status of Kashmir: PaK President

Pakistan ready to consider Independent status of Kashmir: PaK President
SRINAGAR: Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) President Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan has hinted that Pakistan was ready to talk with India on the option of carving out an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We are ready to consider the option, if India comes to the negotiating table and puts forward the idea of giving Kashmir independent status,” PaK president remarked in what appears to be a major policy shift.

The Pakistani media reports said that the option of an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir had always been a contentious issue amongst the Kashmiris themselves and in India and Pakistan.

The PaK president is quoted as saying that Pakistan was sincere in wanting to resolve the Kashmir issue. “These things (discussing options) are only possible when India comes to the negotiating table and admits that Kashmir is a disputed territory,” he added.  “If India agrees to give Kashmir an independence status, we can also think (along these lines),” PaK President was quoted as saying.

To a question about the possibility of the BJP coming to power in India and its impact on the Kashmir issue, the PaK president said he was more hopeful of a resolution to the issue with the BJP in power. “Congress has never shown any seriousness (to resolve the issue),” he remarked.

He said once NATO forces begin drawing back from Afghanistan, the Kashmir issue will once again become important. He said Afghanistan had overshadowed the Kashmir issue for the past 10 years.

Monday, 10 February 2014

At Pakistan’s Taliban University Jihadists major in Anti - Americanism

“Hand over everything to Taliban, and bring back Islamic Law.” Read more:
At Pakistan’s Taliban University Jihadists major in Anti - Americanism
By Sib Kaifee
Published February 08, 2014
A 90-minute drive northwest of Islamabad is an Islamic seminary that is considered the ivory tower of terrorism, a jihadist factory that has produced prominent Taliban fighters and its leadership for decades.

Unofficially dubbed “University of Jihad,” Dar ul Uloom Haqqania [House of Knowledge and Truthfulness] counts Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the dreaded Haqqani Network, among its alumni. Names of most of more than 8,000 former students who have passed through the seminary are encased in glass-covered wooden frames that hang on the walls inside the main building.

“Hand over everything to Taliban, and bring back Islamic Law.”
- Ammanullah, seminary student from class of 2007
“The Haqqanis got their surname from Haqqania, this madrassa” “Ammanullah,” a proud member of the Class of 2007, told during a recent tour, a rare look inside the seminary along the Grand Trunk Road in Akora Khattak.

The campus is the size of four football fields, encompassing several buildings guarded by one police gunman.  About 3,500 students currently live and study at the compound, which has churned out generations of freedom fighters stretching back to the 1980s Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Closely aligned with the Taliban of Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is at violent odds with the current governments of both nations.

Founded by Maulana Abdul Haq just after Pakistan gained independence in 1947, the seminary propagates Deobandi, a revivalist and anti-imperialist movement of Sunni Islam formed in reaction to the Britain’s colonization of India.

The seminary’s chancellor, Maulana Samiul Haq, 76, and son of the founder is regarded as the “Father of the Taliban” and is widely viewed as a key to any peace deal to be negotiated between the terror groups and the U.S. and Pakistan.
Seminary officials and teachers vehemently deny preaching violence. But Darul Uloom Haqqania’s embrace of fundamental Islam encourages students to oppose the west and crush enemies of Islam.

Anti-American sentiments run high at Haqqania. observed a first-hand account of religious scholars professing their own brand of Islam to Talibs and explaining why jihad is necessary against the occupation forces in Afghanistan. The school’s leaders believe the same western ideals are contaminating their own country.

“It’s no hidden secret from the world what America is doing,” said Haq. He said the Afghani Taliban who fought in the ‘Mujahideen War’ are angry at Pakistan for supporting the west, and justified Taliban attacks in Pakistan which have left several thousand people dead in the country.

“They destroyed Afghanistan and have entered Pakistan - Taliban say standing with America is Kufar [infidelity],” said Haq.

In one classroom, the students wearing skullcaps dressed in traditional shalwar kameez worn in Afghanistan and Pakistan appeared riveted by the words and electrifying tone of their teacher’s lecture.

“Shoulder your gun and march ahead to protect your soil. Those who bomb mosques and religious gatherings are not Taliban but foreign forces,” said a teacher speaking to dozens of rapt student.

The message cannot be reconciled with the Taliban’s own public claims of responsibility for a series of bombings over recent years of religious sites. Yet seminary officials shrug off claims within Pakistan that the school has become a crucible for turning students into radical and violent jihadists.

“They think that Darul Uloom Haqqania is creating problems for them,” said Maulana Yousaf Shah, secretary of the seminary. “As you have seen we only give Islamic teachings over here - we are not giving training of terrorist attacks.”

He claims that U.S., India, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai want Maulana Samiul Haq dead and blames forces aligned with them for a botched car-bombing attempt on his life.
Haq’s importance to achieving peace in the region has been recognized by the U.S.
Shah recounted a conversation U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson had with Haq last July which fruitlessly broached the idea of peace talks with the Taliban.
“What are you offering [to the Taliban]?” Haq told Olson, according to Shah. “Unless you have something concrete, there cannot be talks.”

It’s not just Haq’s influence within the Taliban, but his sway over Pakistan’s politics, which led the Pakistani Taliban to ask him to help negotiate a truce with the country’s government.
A former senator, leader of the religious political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S), and alleged creator of a banned terrorist group, Haq speaks Arabic, Urdu and Pashto, giving him the ability to communicate with several militant factions in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Ammanullah learned his lessons well at the seminary. He now sells polemical religious books there and has a simple solution for the U.S., Pakistan and the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai.
“Hand over everything to Taliban, and bring back Islamic Law,” he advised.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

‘My struggle for an independent Kashmir’, autobiography of Dr. Shabir Choudhry, book review, by Junaid Qureshi

‘My struggle for an independent Kashmir’, autobiography of Dr. Shabir Choudhry, book review, by Junaid Qureshi

In my early twenties while studying Law, I read Karl Marx’s ‘Das Kapital’, although it was not part of my studies and after reading it, I went back to one of my professors saying that I think I failed to understand Marx’s vision. My professor said that it was too early for me to read such a book and that I should first complete my studies and read a lot of other books which will broaden my vision and only then read ‘Das Kapital’ again in my mid-thirties. He said that in order to understand the true spirit of such a book, one has to have a certain maturity based on experiences in practical life and a considerable knowledge of topics like world history, politics, civilizations and economics.

I think the same goes for the autobiography of Dr. Shabir Choudhry. In order to understand the true spirit of the book, one has to have a certain acquaintance with the history of Kashmir, its freedom struggle, its culture, complexities and sensitivities.

‘My struggle for an independent Kashmir’ by Dr. Shabir Choudhry is the story of an eye-witness who closely saw and even experienced the birth, youth and eventually the death of a formidable political force like the JKLF, caused by narcissism of some its most senior leaders.

The book gives an insight into the political life of the author, his struggle with discrimination and stereotypical thinking and tries to explain the merits of his political ideology. It describes how he, due to disdain from some of his close relatives and in order to enhance the Kashmir freedom struggle intellectually, vowed to study and complete his degree. It is intriguing to read the transformation of a somewhat emotional and rebellious boy, who gets into a fight on the first day of school in Britain, into a highly educated political activist and intellectual.

Although the book lacks a strict chronological order, it is not difficult to read. The book contains a lot of chapters and some are overlapping whilst some contain references to the future and past, which can be confusing. I found some chapters unnecessarily too detailed, while some  leave the reader guessing for more.

Dr. Shabir Choudhry is one of the very few Kashmiri political activists, who has courageously introspected his own role and acknowledged his and his party’s errors of judgement which were based on the information available at the time of those actions. The author uses the phrase ‘hindsight is a wonderful thing’ a few times in his book and admits that with all the information available now, his decisions to certain actions would surely have been different.

While introspecting, the author also takes on ‘holy cows’ of Kashmir politics with convincing evidence. He for example describes how he met the then Chairman of JKLF, Amanullah Khan in a vulnerable state, just minutes before his operation due to lung cancer, where he confessed a murder which arguably led to the hanging of Maqbool Bhat. Page 134 of the book states: “…..Amanullah Khan was no different from other people. He was also worried about his health and his life. It is normally at this stage when one is vulnerable. It is at this stage when mistakes of the past come to haunt people. It is at this stage people generally speak honestly. Amanullah Khan also spoke honestly to me. He confessed that he ordered Musarat Iqbal to kill Mhathre, as danger was that the Police could have reached the house where he was kept hostage”.  

The book is full of such revelations, some disturbing and others eye-opening. It narrates how the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Agha Shahi, in a meeting with the author and others bluntly opposed the idea of an Independent Kashmir and said,“…We don’t trust Kashmiris…… We cannot risk Pakistan’s security…”. The author also  describes how an ego-centric, Amanullah Khan sabotaged the unification process of different factions of the JKLF and violated signed agreements. The author analyses the arrest of Amanullah Khan in Belgium in minute detail and proves that it was staged by Amanullah Khan and the Pakistani intelligence agencies in order to sabotage the Round Table Conference on Kashmir and boost Amanullah Khan’s declining fame. The author quotes the Pakistani Ambassador, Rifat Mehdi, who conveyed a message of Amanullah Khan to the author, while he was trying his best to get the JKLF Chairman released from jail. Rifat Mehdi said, “Amanullah Khan thanked you for your efforts and concern. However, he wanted you to relax and not to worry about his arrest, and let him stay in prison; and continue with political and diplomatic work”.

The book throws light on other important issues and details of the Kashmiri freedom struggle for example how the author prevented a group known as ‘Black Panthers’ from kidnapping Dr. Nazir Gilani and cutting of his right hand, true predictions of Hashim Qureshi regarding JKLF and Amanullah Khan, Raja Muzaffar’s visit in the night to the author’s room while carrying a Kalashnikov, the author’s refusal to meet an ISI Colonel, Azmat Khan’s dream of becoming the president of JKLF Britain, Yasin Malik’s opportunism, his ‘training’ by Pakistani and Indian intelligence agencies and his ‘launching’ as a Ghandian leader of Kashmir by Indian intelligence agencies during the Delhi Kashmir conferece, Amanullah Khan’s numerous unconstitutional actions and his obsession with publicity and the Chairmanship of the JKLF, the author’s visits to Pakistan Administered Kashmir and Indian Administered Kashmir and dirty and internal power struggles within the JKLF. As mentioned above, the author backs his perspective up with solid evidences (testimonies of people who are still alive, letters, articles and news items) and does not shy away from accepting his own role and errors.

While reading the book, one cannot refrain from concluding that internal power struggles, opportunism, undemocratic and unconstitutional actions and Amanullah Khan’s lack of leadership qualities and short-sightedness turned the JKLF - which had the potential of becoming the ‘Kashmiri PLO’ - into a plaything of agencies.

Readers will undoubtedly get the feeling that the author focusses too much on the role of the JKLF and should have written more in depth about other parties and events and the larger Kashmir issue and its (geo-) political dimensions. While it is understandable that the author has centred his book around his and JKLF’s role in Kashmir politics, as it is an autobiography and the author has been a senior member of the JKLF for a considerable time of his political life, it would have been ameliorable if the larger Kashmir issue would have been elaborated more thoroughly.

While advocating an unified, secular and democratic independent Jammu & Kashmir, the author also acknowledges that the Kashmiri nation requires introspection and unity among nationalist parties in order to achieve their desired objectives. He calls for a parallel democratic and non-violent struggle across the LoC and strongly opposes concentration of the struggle on only specific areas of Jammu & Kashmir or against only one oppressor.

The book is informative and thought-provoking, although it might leave the reader with a lot of unanswered questions as it describes events only until the year 2000. It is unclear why the author has stopped there and whether he will write a sequel. In my humble opinion, the author must write about the Kashmiri struggle and his role beyond 2000 as the younger generation has lived those years and can more easily relate to recent political history of Kashmir. Besides that, the Kashmir ‘issue’ and the struggle for an Independent Kashmir has evolved considerably since then and has made a transformation from being violent to being somewhat non-violent. Events on the international stage like 9/11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, uprisings in the Arab world and mass usage of internet and social media have also changed the political dimensions on the world stage and shaken contemporary narratives. It would be interesting to see how the author views Kashmir and the struggle of Kashmiris for self-determination in this ‘new’ world.

The book consist of total 632 pages. 466 pages are the author’s autobiography and the rest consist of appendixes which include letters, speeches and news items. It has a few photos of the author’s political activities and the book’s cover is graced by a pair of chained hands which hold up a map of Jammu & Kashmir at the backdrop of a picture of Kashmir’s highest peak, K-2. The quality of the paper is good. The book has been published by the Institute of Kashmir Affairs and can be availed at a price of £ 20,- or PKR 800,-.

‘My struggle for an Independent Kashmir’ is an enthralling story of deceit, power, but above all it is about surviving hardships while still summoning the bravery to live according to one’s ideology and convictions.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the Kashmiri freedom struggle, JKLF and who wants an answer to the question; “Why did the Kashmiris fail to form a formidable force on international level in order to propagate the Kashmiri viewpoint?” I think it should be compulsory literature for the young generation of Kashmir as it describes events truthfully and clears a lot of misconceptions about Kashmir's Freedom Struggle. Very informative and thought-provoking indeed.

Amsterdam, 08 february 2014.