Sunday, 23 July 2017

Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a Seminar organised by Jammu Kashmir National Independence Alliance

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.

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