Saturday, 18 October 2014
Million March- what is the game plan? Dr Shabir Choudhry
Million March- what is the game plan?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 18 October 2014
A campaign is in full swing to find people who can travel to London for the Million March, which, in view of many analysts, is against the national interest of people of Jammu and Kashmir State, and against their struggle to unite the divided homeland. Those who occupy us first started a proxy war and proxy politics, in which ordinary people of Jammu and Kashmir suffered; and now, in view of some people, proxy protests are being encouraged to score points against each other.
Those who have been at the forefront of either defending a pro India stance or a pro Pakistan stance, for example, Farooq Abdullah on the Indian side, and politicians with similar qualities on the Pakistani side, no matter which new slogan they promote, people will always question their motives.
I had a phone call from Halifax in west Yorkshire, England. One old friend said that after the Friday prayer it was announced that free coaches and free food will be provided for the volunteers who will join the Million March to help the Kashmir cause. He asked me who was paying for the coaches and the food. I said to him why you didn’t ask the man who was recruiting people for a free return trip to London.
He asked me if the Million March will help to promote the Kashmir cause. I said in my opinion it will send a wrong message because the Million March is designed to focus attention on the parts of Jammu and Kashmir occupied by India and remain quiet about the problems and occupation of Pakistan. Members of the world community are not fools. They know if a struggle or a protest is supported by one occupier to expose the other occupier, it is not considered as a genuine struggle. It is an attempt to divert attention from the problems of people living on the Pakistani side, and give it a religious touch, which will further divide the people of Jammu and Kashmir on religious and ethnic lines.
Rumour is that this March is sponsored by those who want the Kashmir pot boiling, as it suits their political and economic interests. Kashmiri struggle has become their business. Blood of Kashmiri people and their suffering is essential for their business enterprise. According to this rumour, one million pounds has been allocated to this project, and this is why it is called a ‘Million March; and not that the organisers will be able to muster one million people. With the team at work, and the resources at their disposal, it is possible that they can get around four thousand people in London. Even if they get three thousand people to protest in London, it will be a successful event.
No matter how many thousands people turn up for the protest, but we know there is something there for the sponsors and the managers; but million dollar question is, what is there for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Is this March designed to project the Kashmir cause, as claimed by the organisers; or is it going to harm it?
When we talk of Kashmir dispute, we mean areas under India, China and areas under Pakistan, namely Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. But the sponsors of this protest and those who are managing it are more interested in areas of Jammu and Kashmir under India. Because they think Azad Kashmir is ‘Azad’, and they want to make Gilgit Baltistan part of Pakistan.
Like in the past, they want to fool the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan. The Million March website only quotes part 3 of the UNCIP Resolution of 13 August 1948, and makes no mention of the part 2, which held Pakistan ‘guilty’ of sending troops and tribesmen to capture Kashmir; and demanded Pakistan to withdraw. The UNCIP Resolution part 2, 1A says:
A. (1) As the presence of troops of Pakistan in the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes a material change in the situation since it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council, the Government of Pakistan agrees to withdraw its troops from that State.
(2) The Government of Pakistan will use its best endeavour to secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistan nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting.
(3) Pending a final solution the territory evacuated by the Pakistan troops will be administered by the local authorities under the surveillance of the Commission.
B. (1) When the Commission shall have notified the Government of India that the tribesmen and Pakistan nationals referred to in Part II A2 hereof have withdrawn, thereby terminating the situation which was represented by the Government of India to the Security Council as having occasioned the presence of Indian forces in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and further, that the Pakistan forces are being withdrawn from the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Government of India agrees to begin to withdraw the bulk of their forces from the State in stages to be agreed upon with the Commission.
As a person who believes in right of expression and democratic values, I acknowledge that it is for the people to decide what they want to do; whether they should stay at home or take a free ride to London to support the March. However, it is responsibility of the thinking people to analyse issues and tell people what is happening, and who is doing what in name of helping the Kashmir cause.
I know instructions are being issued to all who generally act as a ‘B team’ of the Pakistani establishment on the issue of Kashmir that they must support the Million March. Some Kashmiri nationalists opposed the March initially, as they rightly thought it was counterproductive, and not meant to promote the cause of Jammu and Kashmir. However, after dictation from both sides of the LOC, they have reluctantly expressed their support for the Million March; but in order to satisfy their ego they requested a meeting with Barrister Sultan Mahmood, which was honoured to massage ego of these nationalists.
Some other nationalists also don’t want to annoy the people who call shots in this matter, and are looking for excuses to support the cause which is very close to heart of Islamabad. I am sure their presence will be welcomed and they will be given appropriate media coverage to convey the message that Pro Pakistan and nationalist Kashmiris are against Indian occupation only; and that they trust Pakistani efforts on Kashmir.
In view of many thinking people, to support the Million March is to support Pakistani policy on the Kashmir dispute. It means people of Jammu and Kashmir have no complaints against Pakistan; and they are only interested in liberation of Kashmir under India. It also means justifying everything Pakistan has done in name of Jammu and Kashmir since August 1947. It means justifying the violation of the Standstill Agreement, and supporting the Tribal Invasion which led to provisional accession to India; and forced division of Jammu and Kashmir. It means justifying everything they have done in Azad Kashmir and in Gilgit Baltistan. It means justifying actions of Punjab Constabulary in Poonch in 1950s. It also means justifying their sponsored militancy and extremism with disastrous consequences for Jammu and Kashmir and its people.
In this regard, alliance of nationalist parties (Jammu Kashmir National Independence Alliance) has taken positive steps. They have arranged token hunger strikes outside the Indian and Pakistani High Commissions in London on 25 January, followed by a press conference in London to tell the world that the entire Jammu and Kashmir is occupied and disputed; and that we want unification and independence of the State of Jammu and Kashmir that existed on 16 August 1947.
In conclusion, the Million March can attract 4-5 thousand people, but it will not help to promote the Kashmir cause. If anything, the event will send a wrong message and will further divide people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the event will surely make some people rich, and enhance political standing of aspirants of power politics.
Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.