Tuesday, 25 July 2017
Sunday, 23 July 2017
Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a Seminar organised by Jammu Kashmir National Independence Alliance in Bradford on 23 July 2017.
Title: Status of Azad Kashmir Government and its role in achieving reunification and freedom of the entire State of Jammu Kashmir Gilgit Baltistan.
Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues
Institute of Kashmir Affairs arranged a seminar in Luton in 1993 to discuss Role of Azad Kashmir government in the Kashmiri struggle. In the conclusion of my presentation I wrote:
‘We have habit of calling areas under Pakistani control as Azad Kashmir, and areas under India as occupied, but in reality, there is not much difference as far as the legal and administrative structure is concerned. We have looked at the above points and it is very clear that AK is not Azad at all, therefore it has no role to play in the freedom movement, as it cannot function independently’.
It is interesting that after 70 years of forced division we are still discussing the role of so called Azad Kashmir; and how it can achieve unification of the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Perhaps we don’t understand or we don’t want to understand that slaves have no role to play. They have only one role, and that is to serve interests of their masters.
For your information, during early 1990s, when majority of us thought that azadi – independence was just around the corner, Prime Minister of POJK asked Islamabad that he wanted to visit areas of Gilgit Baltistan. They asked him why do you want to visit these areas. He replied that it looks IOK may get azadi and I want to visit Gilgit Baltistan to take these people in to confidence. He was bluntly told: You are Prime Minister of this area; and not of Gilgit Baltistan. You can visit any town of Azad Kashmir as you wish, but don’t bother visiting Gilgit Baltistan.
Please note, a Prime Minister which cannot even visit area of State which is occupied by Pakistan, and which is on this side of the Line of Control, what role can he play for the liberation of the area that is occupied by India.
Another interesting thing is that we want Jammu and Kashmir consisting of more than 84,000 SQ miles, which the Maharaja Gulab Singh created; and his family ruled; but we are not even prepared to speak about the Dogra achievements, or even give respect to the State flag which was a symbol of Jammu and Kashmir State.
Before we analyse the role of so called Azad Kashmir, we must introspect ourselves how sincere we are to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Also, we must sincerely analyse our roles. Why is that Jammu and Kashmir struggle is perceived as a Muslim struggle; and against Hindu India, when there are three occupiers?
If that is not the case, then why is that we have failed to win confidence of non-Muslims of the State? Is there something wrong with our strategy or are we inadvertently advancing agenda of our occupiers?
Those who occupy us they have a strategy in place. They have decided to keep what they have, and protect it, no matter what it takes. Also, they have worked out strategies to keep us divided on religious, tribal and ethnic lines.
However, those who are occupied, and oppressed are deeply divided, confused and clearly lack a coherent and feasible strategy in place to win unification and independence of Jammu and Kashmir. We have many layers of control in so called Azad Kashmir; but we erroneously think we are azad.
The country that violated the Standstill Agreement and launched an armed attack to capture Kashmir that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, rapes and kidnapping of women, established the so-called Azad Kashmir government. This unprovoked attack also resulted in Provisional accession to India, and forced division of Jammu and Kashmir.
This Pakistani appointed government also gave us a flag, which some of us wholeheartedly cherish; and proudly display it. In my opinion, when we display this Azad Kashmir flag, which no other region of Jammu and Kashmir accepts, we are unintentionally justifying the tribal attack and whatever else happened after that.
Mr Chairman, is it not time to revisit wisdom of our hitherto strategy and plan something new? I suggest the following:
· We must not own this Azad Kashmir flag; and display the flag which Maharajah Hari Singh used.
· Strengthen our ties with all regions of the State, and make special efforts to win confidence of non-Muslims of the State. Why is that no one from Dogra and Pundit communities is present here? Did we invite them? Don’t we need to win their confidence?
· Promote the slogan that religion is individual matter of people, but State belongs to all of us.
· While opposing all occupiers, promote this slogan: struggle against the country that occupies you; and stop playing in hands of occupiers by calling each other a traitor.
· The area of Jammu and Kashmir where I live, is occupied by Pakistan. But we are told that we should struggle against India. Those who are occupied by India, they should struggle against that occupation. We will support their peaceful struggle. Gun has only created problems for us. I can condemn human rights abuses taking place in Indian occupied Kashmir, but I cannot go there to liberate them. My struggle and struggle of people of POJK and Gilgit Baltistan is against Pakistani occupation.
Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Chairman South Asia Watch and Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:drshabirchoudhr
Friday, 21 July 2017
The branding of Syed Salahuddin as global terrorist : Symbolic yet significant
Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain
Syed Salahuddin is not a figure unknown outside J&K in the rest of India but as it happens with most leaders of terrorist groups, knowledge about them always remains peripheral. So who exactly is the bearded Rasputin looking and cap wearing character who has just gained further notoriety by being designated a global terrorist by the US? 71 year old Salahuddin, a Jamati to boot (member of the Jamat e Islami Kashmir – JeI), contested the J&K assembly elections of 1987 on the ticket of Muslim United Front and lost due to alleged serious rigging in the Amirakadal constituency, forcing him to become a renegade. He joined the HM in 1989 and later became its supremo. HM became the militant face of the JeI(K) and Salahuddin virtually SAS Geelani’s pointsman. He moved across the LoC in 1990 and later was appointed the Chairman of the United Jihad Council (UJC) in 1994, a Muzaffarabad based conglomerate of initially 13 terrorist organizations focused on attempting to force the Indian security forces to evacuate J&K.
Syed Salahuddin has been one of the chief recipients of Pakistani largesse and support which has helped him usurp the position of the main rabble rouser and anti-India voice from among those Kashmiris who fled to and live in Pakistan. He had problems with various HM militant commanders from time to time in the last 25 years or so chief among them being Abdul Majeed Dar, who in Sep 2000 had a change of heart and wished to seek peace with India. Initially this was supported by Salahuddin but under Pakistani pressure he went back on his support. Dar was later assassinated in 2003 by unknown assailants but the hand of Salahuddin was known to have been involved. Interestingly Salahuddin as one of the chief surrogates of Pakistan’s ISI he has closely toed its line and received its guidance and extensive funding for terror activities in J&K; now largely restricted to the Valley sector alone. However, in 2008 with the introduction of informal Trans LoC trade different means of laundering money and funding Separatist organizations through the system of under invoicing were adopted. Now with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) actively involved in investigating the financial conduits of support to the Hurriyat and the militant groups these routes seemed destined for short life hereafter.
While the HM’s activities continue all over the Valley it is South and Central Kashmir where it is the dominant militant group. The changing nature of militancy from 2008 onwards had an effect on Salahuddin’s functioning style and level of control. Salahuddin initially took care to isolate the HM from the Pakistani LeT but relented over time. From 2014 his shroud of being a non-radical appeared to lift substantially as part of a strategy. Attempting to link the separatist violence in the Indian state with pan-Islamic jihad in Syria and Iraq, Salahuddin declared that help from al-Qaeda, Taliban or any other like-minded group or country would be welcome. The attempt to give energy to the apparently flagging movement in 2014 through these utterances was due to the feelers he got from 2011 to 2014 of his waning control over HM. A new generation of restive Kashmiri youth was emerging. The Proxy War Generation born in or around 1989 is known to have grown under the shadow of the inevitable Indian hard power that was then needed. It started showing the first signs of its impatience with the manner in which Salahuddin ran the HM. It was the beginning of the deification of Burhan Wani and the introduction of technology into the militancy, the nature of which changed quite dramatically. From 2012 onwards North Kashmir, already suffering from the absence of Pakistani terrorist leaders after the killing of Abdullah Uni, progressively abdicated dominance of the separatist movement to South Kashmir. Burhan Wani’s social media driven violent movement made him the poster boy of the HM threatening Salahuddin’s hold and position. Burhan’s killing on 8 Jul 2016 became the trigger for the severe turbulence in South Kashmir and the emergence of a slew of leaders who tried to inherit his mantel. His successor Sabzar Bhat was recently killed in an encounter.
The recent interesting aspects related to Salahuddin’s position in HM and the nature of emerging threats will assist in ascertaining the extent of effect of the US action. Just recently Salahuddin condemned Zakir Musa and ejected him from the HM after the young militant leader threatened the beheading of the Hurriyat leaders if they did not link the Kashmiri struggle with the struggle for the Caliphate. Salahuddin’s need for the Hurriyat is evident from this action although he may not have minded following Musa’s ideological extremism. It would have gained greater support from the Pakistani establishment and make him quite indispensable. What is however, becoming quite evident is that the unity of the resistance moment in Kashmir is now progressively getting dented. Pakistan’s recent hard push to induct Pakistani terrorists across multiple points on the LoC is demonstrative of the fact it finds its control waning over the new generation Kashmiri terrorists.
Sensing some dilution in Pakistan’s support Salahuddin had in an interview in June 2012 claimed that Pakistan had been backing the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in its fight in Kashmir. He went on threaten that if this was withdrawn he would fight Pakistan internally. In September, 2016, Salahuddin vowed to block any peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict, threatened to train more Kashmiri suicide bombers, and vowed to turn the Kashmir valley into a graveyard for Indian forces. It was this statement which the US State Department pounced upon.
The timing by the US to declare Salahuddin a global terrorist was most apt; a few hours before the meeting between Mr Modi and President Trump. It brought a positive note to the expectations which were getting apprehensive by the moment. In the event the summit actually achieved much more than expected.
Although unconnected, it does look as if the Iranian Supreme Leader’s uncalled for Eid message urging Islamic nations to support the struggle of the Kashmiris against the Indian Army, could have instigated the US action. It is doubtful that any response could be as quick as this but the US action has actually been well thought through. It sends a message to the UN Security Council, especially China, about the designation of another notorious leader, Pakistan JeM’s Masood Azhar, which is hanging fire due to China’s intransigence. The US fully realizes its compulsions in not pressing home on Pakistan the implications of having similarly declared Jamat ud Dawa’s Hafiz Sayeed. A bounty of 10 million USD on his head has made scant difference in Pakistan’s handling of the master terrorist except once in a while incarceration to send messages of cooperation to the international community; post Trump inauguration this is exactly what happened when Sayeed was detained.
There was no compulsion on the part of the US to have acted as such in declaring Salahuddin a global terrorist. It realizes that Pakistan continues to remain strategically significant as far the future of Afghanistan is concerned. However, it also probably perceived that Pakistan’s strategic confidence and cockiness was increasing with the assured backing of China. A balance had to be drawn between pushing Pakistan into the China Russia fold and appeasing it on Afghanistan. A window was also being sought to send India positive signals without going overboard and without having to act much upon a decision. To that extent this action achieved everything. Most of all it set the tone for the Modi Trump Summit in a most appropriate way.
To expect anything further from the declaration and to attempt to force the US to go beyond may be naïve. President Trump has in one stroke further demonstrated his intent to energize the global war on terror and target all those organizations and entities which have the potential to be threats. The HM in its current avatar bears no threat to the US but its emerging potential as a radically oriented violent extremist group which is trying to adopt the model of other international terror groups, demands pre-emptive action. That it targets a US strategic partner is good reason too to declare its leader a global terrorist.
(Adapted from the original article by the author published in Swarajya.com)
The author is former GOC of Srinagar based 15 Corps)
The author is former GOC of Srinagar based 15 Corps)