Coup in APHC - bulls eye being hit.
Dr Shabir Choudhry
Although we have seen changes in the Indian stands on Kashmir in the past, but over the years it is becoming clear that they want to hold on to Kashmir what ever the cost in financial and human terms. Also it is becoming clear that on international level they have outmanoeuvred Pakistani diplomats even though they had weaker case, and no defence against human rights abuses in their part of Kashmir.
In view of international changes, India is also showing its resolve to stand firm against what it regards as ‘terrorism’, and vows ‘not to resume dialogue when gun is pointing at its head’. Because of international trend against ‘violence’ and virtually no distinction between ‘terrorism’ and ‘freedom struggle’, India is getting sympathy of international community.
On the other hand Pakistani policy in Kashmir is also becoming clearer. Nationalist Kashmiris and all other knowledgeable Kashmiris knew how sincere Pakistan was with the cause of the Kashmiri people. What Pakistani government did to Taliban, their ‘own boys’ was an eye opener; and many Kashmiris thought it was just a matter of time, and they will be dumped as well.
Despite that there were some Kashmiris who did not want to face or acknowledge the reality, and hoped against hope that Pakistan will not dump them; and will help them to get ‘freedom’ whatever that meant to them. But their hope started to fade when Syed Ali Gilani was portrayed as a ‘bad boy’ when he criticised Pakistani policy in Kashmir, and he was removed from APHC as well.
Harold Wilson, former British Prime Minister, once said, ‘Week is a long time in politics’; and when many weeks passed on and new developments took place in Kashmir, then those who control Kashmir policy in Pakistan got alarmed and thought of reversing their policy regarding Ali Gilani.
By that time Maulana Abbas Ansari had been ‘elected’ as the APHC Chairman. It was clear that this Shia leader had no public following in Kashmir and those who reward this post to one of the ‘seven magnificent’ thought he was a better bet. It is believed that earlier on the job was promised to Yasin Malik, but he could not pass the ‘credibility test’ as it was thought he had feet in two boats.
After election as a Chairman of APHC, a platform which is always considered as a ‘Pakistani baby’, Maulana Abbas Ansari started showing signs of dissent, and forgot that this ‘job’ was given to him by ‘kindness’ of Pakistani establishment; and those who appoint always keep trump card up the sleeve to use it if and when needed.
Maulana Abbas Ansari wished some kind of role for Iran in resolution of the Kashmir dispute, and Pakistani policy makers were unhappy about it as they see Iran being too close to India, and this could harm their interest in Kashmir, whatever that interest is. Also Maulana Sahib wanted to start dialogue with India without Pakistan. In his view a start had to be made, and Pakistan could always join the dialogue process later on.
Pakistani policy makers were furious over this. How could Kashmiris decide for themselves, it has always been Pakistani officials taking decisions in name of Kashmiris, and telling them to carry out this action or follow this line, as in their view this was best for Kashmiris? This statement of Maulana Abbas Ansari was considered as rebellion, something not allowed in ‘army ranks’, and as we are all in a state of war, military discipline had to be followed.
Maulana Abbas Ansari had to be punished for going out of line, a precedent had to be set, and strong and clear warning must go out. As he, and may be some others, had forgotten plight of Lone Sahib, Mir Waiz Farooq, Dr Ghulam Ahmed Wani, Dr Guru, Dr Ashai, Shaban Wakeel and many others, it was important to do the needful.
Syed Ali Gilani was ready to mend fences and carry out the task even though it was clearly against APHC constitution, but who cares for constitution, all you need is a gun in your hand or support of those who have gun and have no fear to use it. In Pakistan people with gun call shots, and constitution revolves around them. Why can’t that happen in Kashmir, after all they want to make Kashmir part of Pakistan, so there is no harm in practising in Kashmir what is already practised in Pakistan.
It is not clear how many brief cases changed hands and how many threats were made, what is clear is that ‘undesirable’ Chairman has been replaced by a coup; and to put icing on the cake a ‘renegade’ militant leader Kukka Parray has been successfully eliminated. This is a very clear message to all, follow the line we have selected for you, or be prepared to pay the price.
Although Pakistani policy makers have hit the ‘bulls eye’, and removed the Chairman who tended to show some ‘independence’ in decision - making, and has also sent a strong message to Kashmiri leaders to behave or else you could be next; but it has also sent another message that there is no U Turn which they cannot make in order to have their way, and it is this message which will have far reaching consequences in Kashmir.
Kashmiri leaders have painfully learnt that if Pakistani authorities could bulldoze their own creations - Taliban and APHC - in order to push what they perceive as their national agenda, then they have to work out a strategy which is in national interest of Kashmiris. Having said that the APHC was not a sacred cow, it was conceived as a platform, which had lost sense of direction and did not represent the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. It failed to represent views of all sections of the Kashmiri community, and also failed to instil confidence in Kashmiri minorities.
Instead of expanding out of Srinagar to other parts of Kashmir, the APHC confined itself only to some mohallas (localities) of Srinagar, and failed to provide leadership which was required to take the nation to its destination of independence. Kashmiri people over the years learnt that the APHC leaders lacked ability, skills and dedication required to accomplish the task; and moreover they committed a crime of making the Kashmiri struggle subservient to Pakistan and ‘guest jihadis’, hence tarnished the struggle by flavouring it with ‘fundamentalism’.
The Kashmiri peoples disappointment and disillusionment grew with time and they started looking for alternative leadership, which did not emerge mainly because all potential candidates were systematically eliminated, and others forced to remain silent under threat of gun. It was at this time some dedicated overseas Kashmiris took a daring decision to float an International Kashmir Alliance to fill in vacuum, and provide proper leadership.
It was unfortunate that at that time on instructions of men in uniform from across the border, APHC issued a ‘fatwa’ against IKA leadership and used Pakistani media to defame IKA and its leadership. Now that the tables have been turned and APHC and its leadership were facing the music and full force of Pakistani media, they are complaining that the Pakistani media is defaming them.
It is ironic that some months ago they called us ‘anti movement’, and now they are accusing each other of being ‘anti movement’ and an ‘Indian agent’. Allah is Great, we were innocent party who were accused of being ‘anti movement’ yet our ‘crime’ was Geneva Declaration which was pro people, pro peace and pro accountability; and those who were not in favour of this, regarded us as a threat and they ganged up against us. Today they are fighting each other, showing their true colour and class, hence demonstrating that they are ordinary people with no vision and programme for the liberation of Kashmir, hence deserve to be dumped by the people of Kashmir as well.
In a situation like this, it is incumbent on the leadership of IKA to play a pro - active and leading role to find a peaceful solution of the Kashmir dispute, and I firmly believe that the International Kashmir Alliance will rise to the occasion and play historic role that people of State of Jammu and Kashmir could live in peace and dignity.
Writer is a Chairman of JKLF Diplomatic Committee, and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir. He is also a Spokesman of IKA.