Sunday, 13 September 2015

Pakistan’s Kashmir policy and options of Kashmiri nationalists, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Pakistan’s Kashmir policy and options of Kashmiri nationalists
Dr Shabir Choudhry    13 September 2015

For decades Pakistani governments have successfully fooled people of Jammu and Kashmir in believing that Pakistan is their big brother, well wisher and an advocate. Although a lot of people now understand the game plan of Pakistani establishment, but still there are many who are infatuated by ‘love of Pakistan’; and religious compassion.

Bitter facts
India is responsible for human rights abuses in Kashmir and rightly criticised. However, is it not fact that Pakistan violated the Standstill Agreement and attacked Jammu and Kashmir territory on 22 October 1947 with intention of occupying it? This Pakistani led unprovoked aggression resulted in deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Kashmiris, and rapes of Kashmiri women; and subsequent forced division of Jammu and Kashmir State?

Is it not fact that Pakistan changed Kashmiri people’s right of self determination into right of accession to India or Pakistan? Is it not true that Pakistan refused to withdraw her troops as demanded by the UN Resolution of 13 August 1948; and ensured that the status quo continues, hence perpetuation of our suffering. They were clever to propagate that India has refused to implement the UN Resolutions, and fooled many people for very long time.

Also is it not fact that Pakistan signed Simla Agreement with India and deprived people of Jammu and Kashmir any role in determining the future status of Kashmir; but cleverly continue to fool people by saying that Kashmir Resolutions should be implemented.

Is it not a fact that Pakistan is treating Pakistan Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan as their colonies? They have puppets in both respective parts who protect rights of Islamabad, and in return they are rewarded and projected as leaders; just like the British rewarded their puppets during the British Raj.

Patriotism and sedition
A Pakistani writer Farrukh Khan Pitafi defined patriotism in the following words: ‘In my humble view, patriotism is nothing but love. Love for your homeland, love for your country. Just like I have a sense of ownership for my house, which leads me to ensure its safety and betterment. I feel the same loyalty towards my country’. 1

It is debatable how many Pakistanis are loyal Pakistanis and work for the betterment of Pakistan. However, if Pakistanis have a right to love their country and work for its betterment; the same right should be available to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. If we love our forcibly divided country call Jammu and Kashmir, is that a crime?

For loving and caring for our country, and working for its betterment, why people of so called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan have to face sedition charges and wrath of Pakistani agencies, especially when we are not part of Pakistan. In Gilgit Baltistan more than 100 people are facing sedition charges, and people are deprived of their fundamental rights.

Over the past months and years the Pakistani establishment decided to crush Kashmiri nationalists by using various tactics. Because of these tactics, some nationalists compromised their political positions too easily and they accepted the rewards. Some others gave - in to threats and became collaborators.

Arif Shahid was eliminated and his killers are not arrested yet. Many analysts believe it was a test case for Kashmiri nationalists. Killers wanted to see response and resilience of the Kashmiri nationalists. Those who thought Kashmiri nationalists will use this brutal killing to start a campaign, or at least, unite on one platform to fight back the forces of occupation was deeply disappointed.

Kashmir National Party and UKPNP individually and in cooperation with each other highlighted the plight of Kashmiri people and brutal killing of Arif Shahid in POK and at the international level including at the UN Human Rights Sessions in Geneva. Some other parties also expressed their anger and tried to motivate people, but without much success. The Party Arif Shahid belonged to could not even survive as a political unit never mind mustering any political support for the cause of the deceased leader.

The Pakistani establishment soon realised that claims and rhetoric apart, the Kashmiri nationalists are not in a position to challenge their designs on Kashmir. So in line with their considered policy they started intimidating Kashmiri nationalists who were only spearheading a peaceful struggle for their independence. The establishment started harassing true nationalists. Also they started banning books which exposed their designs. They didn’t want people to know true history of Jammu and Kashmir, and what Pakistani officials had done to Kashmir dispute, and how they deprived people of their fundamental rights. All this is clearly against Pakistani constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 19 (2), which states:

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.’

Apart from that, Pakistani officials are clearly violating rights given to people of so called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan under the UN Resolutions; but anyone who remind Pakistan of its obligations under the UNCIP Resolution a bitter campaign of McCarthyism is initiated against that person to make him defensive and to alienate him from others. This unreasonable and unjustified policy will harm Pakistan in the long run.

Pakistani army DOES NOT consist of angels that they are above criticism, especially when people of Jammu and Kashmir perceive them as forces of occupation. Apart from that, their deeds in East Pakistan, Balochistan, various parts of KPK, FATA, and Gilgit Baltistan etc are still fresh in minds of the people.

In view of this, what wrong did JKLF activist Chaudhry Abdul Razaq did when he criticised Pakistan army and questioned their role in POK? We people of Jammu and Kashmir have every right to question and criticise roles of Indian, Pakistani and Chinese armies stationed in various parts of Jammu Kashmir State. Why Chaudhry Abdul Razaq has been charged for ‘insulting’ Pakistan army? Since when Pakistan army has become a holy cow that one cannot criticise its role in an area occupied by Pakistan?

Under what law Talat Mahmood Ansari is arrested, and the poor guy is not even given a bail? Anti Terrorism laws - what terrorism he has committed? He was employed by Kashar Publishers and his crime is to compose a book that was disliked by the Pakistani establishment. And under what law Rafiq Khawaja’s shops were sealed, and books and various other items taken away?

Kashmiri nationalists under Pakistan need to analyse the situation; and formulate a strategy to deal with oppression of Pakistan. People of the Valley have challenged the Indian might the other side of the divide.

We have two options: either to give - in to the oppression of Pakistan; or to stand up and be counted. There is not third option available to them.

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