Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Million March and Kashmir, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Million March and Kashmir, Dr Shabir Choudhry    8 October 2014

For different reasons the State of Jammu and Kashmir is back in news again. It is unfortunate that whenever Kashmir is in news, it only means more trouble for ordinary people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir is in news because of devastating floods, especially in the Valley. Other parts of the State have also badly suffered by the floods. Kashmir is also in news because of speeches made in the UN General Assembly by Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. Apart from that, Kashmir is in news because of attempts of militants to cross over from the Pakistani side of Kashmir to the Indian side that they can continue their jihad against Indian rule.

Kashmir is also in news because of the presence of the Chinese army in Gilgit Baltistan, exploitation of our resources, and simmering revolt against the Pakistani rule in Gilgit Baltistan. Moreover, Kashmir is in news because of armed clashes between India and Pakistan on the Line of Control in which people of Jammu and Kashmir suffer. These clashes have been heavier and more consistent since the ‘cease fire’ of 2003.

Now, Million March to be staged in London to ‘support’ Kashmir is also making news, especially in Britain, and in some sections of the Pakistani media. Right to protest is a fundamental human right; and when this right is used as a weapon to oppose subjugation, oppression, intimidation, abuse of human rights, and to promote equality, justice and right of self determination, to me, it becomes a jihad.

However, before we take any decision to be part of any protest or a campaign, all thinking people should look at the motives of those who are sponsoring the campaign or a protest. One has to look at their past history, their past loyalties and what games they have played in name of human rights, democracy or struggle.

Furthermore, people have to see if the organisers are pro Pakistan- meaning those who want to join Pakistan, pro India- meaning those who want to join India; or pro people, pro peace, pro Jammu and Kashmir and pro independence. History of those who are at the forefront of the Million March tells us that they are pro Pakistan; and under different guises have always protected and promoted the Pakistani interest in Jammu and Kashmir and abroad.

One senior organiser is a former Prime Minister of Pakistani Administered Kashmir; and no one can hold this post without the blessings of Islamabad, especially their secret agency Inter Services Intelligence. The ISI and GCO Murree, together with some other organs of the Pakistani State control what goes on in so called Azad Kashmir and in Gilgit Baltistan. They also decide what should be done with the Kashmir dispute; and what string should be pulled to get the desired results; and anyone who dares to challenge their writ on Kashmir is not forgiven, even if that person is Prime Minister of Pakistan. So this makes it crystal clear who is behind this project; and who will reap the benefits.

In this context, date of the Million March is very important. The date is 26th October; it was on this date in 1947, the last Ruler of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, under pressure acceded with India which was provisionally accepted and people had to take the final decision. In this short article I cannot explain the reasons, but fact is to date, people of Jammu and Kashmir have not had an opportunity to determine their future.

To Pakistan and Pro Pakistan Kashmiris 26 October and 27 October (when Indian forces landed in Kashmir) are Black Days; and they spend huge amounts of money to observe these days. I agree that the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir that existed on 15 August 1947 is disputed; and that the former State must be united and become independent. And to achieve this goal we must struggle peacefully at home and abroad.

However, as a thinking man with a long active association with the Kashmiri struggle, it is my duty to analyse the objectives of the protest, as we don’t want to be fooled again. We cannot understand the real game plan by looking at Million March in isolation. You have to look at other projects that were sponsored by Pakistan and which brought havoc to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, be it Tribal Invasion, Operation Gibraltar or Operation Topac – militancy that started in 1988-9.

It looks that the government of Pakistan has worked out a new strategy to keep the Kashmir pot boiling. On one hand, militancy is getting momentum; especially as it can enter a new phase after US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan because many Jihadis will be free; on the other hand they have activated their ‘peace warriors’ who try to provide human face to their activities. In this context, services of Kashmiri and non Kashmiri activists have been hired.

Debates in various Council chambers, Universities, in the Commons and in other Parliaments indicate that a comprehensive strategy has been worked out; and to give credence to what ‘peace warriors’ say, the LOC is also witnessing clashes in which main sufferers are people of Jammu and Kashmir. Ordinary people and foreign countries pay more attention to what ‘peace warriors’ say when there is a threat of a war between two nuclear rivals.

Over the years the Pakistani establishment felt that they were losing support in Gilgit Baltistan and in Azad Kashmir. A few years ago, one senior member of the establishment acknowledged that if there was a completely impartial plebiscite in Azad Kashmir, where people know there will be no reprisals Pakistan will lose the vote. The Million March is designed in such a way that it will show people of Azad Kashmir are still with Pakistan; and that they hate India. Issue of an independent Jammu and Kashmir will be sidelined as the memorandum and slogans will be ambiguous give this impression that people want to join Pakistan.

For example, they will demand that a right of self determination should be given to people of Kashmir in accordance with the UN Resolutions, but they won’t explain that the UN Resolutions only provide a right of accession to either India or Pakistan, and block our right to become independent.

Furthermore, they won’t tell that both India and Pakistan signed Simla Agreement in 1972, and agreed that they will resolve the Kashmir dispute bilaterally; hence no role for the UN or for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Since the Simla Agreement the Kashmir dispute has not been referred to the UN Security Council or debated there. So in practise both countries have made the Kashmir dispute a bilateral one, and name of the UN and people of Jammu and Kashmir is only mentioned to hoodwink people.

I know nationalist parties are persuaded to take part in the March in name of unity; and some parties don’t want to be seen on the wrong side of the ISI. However, before they take any decision they must understand that if ISI is behind any project, and pro Pakistan Kashmiris are executing that project, then be rest assured that it is not meant to resolve the Kashmir dispute or benefit the common people of Jammu and Kashmir.

In conclusion, supporting the Million March is to support Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. It means supporting what they have done since 22 October 1947. It means supporting their sponsored initiatives, including militancy and annexation of Gilgit Baltistan and their rule in so called Azad Kashmir. Most ISI sponsored programmes are not meant to benefit ordinary people, or resolve anything, they are designed to create confusion, chaos and generate hatred in which they can advance their agenda.

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

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