Thursday, 27 March 2014

Kashmiris need to change their mindset, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Kashmiris need to change their mindset, Dr Shabir Choudhry            
27 March 2014

Even America, Russia and China with huge military power have only one Commander in Chief each; whereas Pakistani sponsored militancy produced 150 Commanders in Chief in the Kashmir Valley in 1990. At the peak of militancy in 1990/91 there were 150 militant groups, each group had a Pakistani gun, Pakistani bullets and Pakistani training to fight the Indians (although some chose to settle personal scores against each other). Many militant groups had no more than ten militants, but they still needed a Commander in Chief, a few weeks of training in Pakistan, some guns, bullets and money; and Pakistani agencies generously provided all that.

This militancy which some Kashmiri people still claim that it was started to liberate Kashmir (although those who masterminded that say their aim was to keep India engaged in Kashmir) has also produced tens of thousands of graves, thousands of widows, thousands of orphans, thousands of disable and dishonoured men, women, and children; not to mention social evils and some millionaires.

It is sad that innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir had to endure all that in name of independence since 1988/9, whereas those who started this had other objectives in mind. Their plan was not to liberate Kashmir but to use people of Kashmir to advance their agenda; and some sections of Jammu and Kashmir became victims of this proxy war.

It is painful to note that we people of Jammu and Kashmir still have not learnt anything from this tragedy and suffering. There are still many who claim it was their struggle, and Pakistan is their well wisher, despite the fact that some Pakistani Generals, writers, analysts and historians have time and again said that the aim of militancy was not to liberate Kashmir.

Most Commanders in Chief of the Kashmiri struggle were uneducated (someone with Matriculation cannot be considered as an educated man) and did not attend any staff college to complete war studies, yet these militants make lofty claims. Let us see what Lt General Shahid Aziz of Pakistan army, a man who had a remarkable career in the Pakistan army has to say about the Kashmiri militancy.

Like other military officers, Lt General Shahid Aziz also studied at very prestigious military institution. While at the National Defence University, Islamabad, in a debate on the topic of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy he criticised the policy and was perceived as a man who has lost his mind. After retiring he wrote a book titled, ‘Ye Khamoshi Kahn Tak’ – meaning - This silence for how long.

‘What kind of policy is this, that in order to get the enemy (Indian) army entangled (in Kashmir) we spill the Kashmiri blood? Is there an end to this jihad? Is this to get some result, or this is to just keep India engaged there?’ 1

These are words of a man who served the Pakistan army for many years, and held very important and sensitive posts during his long and prestigious service. He believed that the Pakistani policy in Kashmir was not to ‘liberate Kashmir’, but to keep India engaged there. Result of this policy was that innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir were suffering.

On the other hand some Kashmiri collaborators still try to fool people by saying that Pakistan is our ‘elder brother’, ‘our advocator’ and ‘well wisher’. They still tell innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir that Pakistani strategy will liberate them; and that Pakistan is the only country which supports their struggle? Question is which struggle? Pakistani strategy, according to Lt General Shahid Aziz and many others is to keep the Indian army engaged in Kashmir; and not to liberate Kashmir.

The price of this selfish and erroneous Pakistani policy is that tens of thousands of Kashmiri people have lost their lives, many women have been raped and still many people are unaccounted for. For how long more are we are going to be sacrificed in name of elder brother and Muslim brotherhood? While commenting on situation of Pakistan, General Shahid Aziz wrote:

‘Sometime I thought for whom we should save this country. What kind of independence is this where only the powerful and rich people were independent; where justice is for sale; where exploitation (of the poor) and corruption has become an art; where concept of independence was only on a paper’. 2

Lt General Shahid Aziz narrates a story which explains the thinking of the Pakistani elite about future of Pakistan:
One officer told him that his son went to a school where children of elite studied. Once Pakistan Air Force jets flew over Islamabad, after hearing thundering of jets, one child said war has started and these were Indian jet fighters. Another child said these were Pakistani jets and war has not started. Teacher asked how could you be so sure because you are in the classroom. The boy confidently said, my father said if war started, we will all leave Pakistan. Because we are still in Pakistan, it means the war has not started. 3

It is clear that the ruling elite of Pakistan do not feel Pakistan has a great future. Different Muslim sects in name of religion are up in arms and are killing each other. Be they be masjids, shrines, churches, temples, hotels, shopping centres, police stations, army camps and offices of security agencies, they are all legitimate targets of these extremists. When bloody civilians die only statements of regret are issued; but when men in uniform are killed Pakistani jet fighters get in action and they also kill people, whether they are culprits or some other people.

Top Pakistani leaders and senior members of the elite have nearly all their investments outside Pakistan because they feel it is not safe to invest in their own country. Most of them have nationalities of other countries; and if situation gets out of hand they can leave the country within hours.

How ironic, that despite this thinking of the Pakistani elite and disappointing economic, political and security situation, some Pakistanis and Kashmiris urge that people of Jammu and Kashmir should join Pakistan. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Pakistan or the Pakistani people. However, interest of Pakistan is not my first priority; my priority is interest of people of Jammu and Kashmir. I honestly believe that Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir must be united and become independent; and that is in the best interest of India, Pakistan, people of Jammu and Kashmir, and for the peace and stability of the region.

I honestly believe joining Pakistan will be a big blunder, as Pakistan has nothing to offer to us. In any case, Pakistan after 67 long years is still fighting for its survival; and still trying to find its identity. Still there is a debate going on in Pakistan, why Pakistan was created; and no one feels safe in Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

How can anyone with common sense and welfare of the Kashmir people in mind even suggest that we should become part of this society? Pakistanis and Indians have every right to protect and promote their national interests; and we people of Jammu and Kashmir must protect Kashmiri interests.

We have to change this mindset that one country is enemy and the other is a big brother and well wisher. We people of Jammu and Kashmir must understand that India and Pakistan are our neighbours and not our masters. Both want to get Jammu and Kashmir; and welfare and independence is not their priority. Once we understand this, then it will be easy to formulate a practical policy that will help us to promote a Kashmiri interest and
1.    ‘Ye Khamoshi Kahn Tak’ – meaning - This silence for how long, page 177
2.    Ibid, page 178
3.    Ibid, page 178
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs

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