Different Perspective on Kashmir 1
Kashmir Dispute is claimed as a ‘flash point’ which could lead two hostile nuclear neighbours to full scale conventional, and possibly ‘non conventional’ armed conflict. It is argued by many that it is because of this ‘grave danger’ the Kashmir dispute has to be resolved.
No doubt the Kashmir dispute is one of the oldest, and it poses a serious threat to peace and stability of South Asia. And we Kashmiris more than anyone else want peace and stability in the region and want the Kashmir dispute to be resolved; but it should not be resolved just because the status quo is a threat to the peace of South Asia. Also that the status quo is in way of a larger interest of certain interested parties.
The Kashmir dispute must be resolved in its own right, as a case of Kashmiri peoples unfettered right of self- determination, a right that has been denied to the people of Kashmir for many decades. It should be taken as an issue of a nation, forcibly divided, oppressed and denied basic humane rights, not of a territorial dispute, and a bone of contention between the two countries.
By taking this approach we do not only think of Kashmiri regions disturbed by the on going armed struggle, but also take the State of Jammu and Kashmir as whole being disputed. We ought to look for a solution of the whole State, not find a solution based on districts and regions, because it would lead to more trouble and chaos in future.
Those people who wish to resolve this dispute must also realise that by attempting to find a solution on regional bases, hence forcing a division of the State, is tantamount to sowing seeds for future trouble and instability. Also they need to understand that this approach of dealing the dispute as a territorial one, would not only be unjust and denial of rights to the people of Kashmir, but it would also not provide much desired security and stability in the region.
It is unfortunate that some of those who are entrusted to resolve the dispute do not have basic understanding of it; and what makes it more difficult is their arrogance and allusion that they know it all. They wrongly assume that they have monopoly in wisdom and refuse to learn, listen to anything that is different to their view, or make any effort to acquaint themselves to the ground reality.
Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiri people, and they are principal party to the dispute, and Dr Nazir Gilani differentiated this by saying that we are a party with ‘title’, unlike India and Pakistan who have ‘claim’ to Kashmir. India and Pakistan are party to the dispute because of their de facto control of parts of the State. Pakistan had claim to state of Junagadh, in fact, this state acceded to Pakistan and Pakistan accepted this accession, but just because Pakistan had no physical control over any part of the state that claim is no longer there.
Similarly present day Bangladesh was yesterdays East Pakistan, an integral part of state of Pakistan, but when West Pakistan lost physical control of its integral part, they abandoned it and no one speaks about it now. So it is the physical control of parts of the state on which Pakistan rests its case on Kashmir; and India rests its case on the provisional accession.
Both countries wanted to get Kashmir and worked out different strategies for this, so both presented the Kashmir case as it suited their ‘national interest’, not what suited the people of Kashmir. Both established their puppet governments in the areas under their respective controls, and also set up their “A” and “B” teams which either propagated Indian point of view or Pakistani point of view.
The Kashmiri voice was simply not present; there were no platforms where the people of Kashmir could present their case. Those Kashmiris who were ‘provided’ with an opportunity to speak on behalf of the Kashmiri people had either Indian or Pakistani baggage with them, and that certainly did not help the matter. This resulted in confusion at every level, and the Kashmir was seen as a territorial dispute between the contestants.
It is because of this confusion and lack of clarity that despite losing more than 50,000 lives, at international level the Kashmir dispute is seen as a ‘matter between India and Pakistan’ which they have to resolve bilaterally. In other words Kashmir dispute is seen through eyes of either Islamabad or New Delhi, and those Kashmiris who try to put forward the Kashmiri perspective are dismissed as being ‘anti movement’.
No matter what Pakistani and Kashmiris leaders say for public consumption, when it comes to discuss solution of Kashmir, at international level term of reference are not UN resolutions but Shimla Pact and Lahore Declaration. This means these so-called specialists occupying seats in ‘Foreigners Office’ have done a serious damage to the cause of Kashmir.
Some people think India is to be blamed for all the ills in Kashmir, therefore, all criticism should be targeted against India; others think ‘source of trouble is Pakistan’, and they only criticise Pakistan. Both these approaches are wrong. We can spend rest of our lives yelling against India on every street corner in every city of the world, and it wouldn’t make iota of difference to the Kashmir dispute, if anything members of the international community could see this approach as ‘Pakistani sponsored’, and that would not only take steam out of this but also create problems for Pakistan.
We need to have a balanced approach, but when someone tries to have this and try to put forward a view that is against the policy of Islamabad, certain quarters in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir swing into action, and make wild allegations. Speaking against the Kashmir policy of Pakistan is not opposing the state of Pakistan, and is certainly not treachery.
As noted above the world knows a Pakistani view on Kashmir and they also know an Indian version, and I have tried to give a different perspective in my book which consists of articles written by me during my struggle for the Kashmiri cause. These articles are on various aspects of the struggle and readers would note that I have not supported either Indian or Pakistani view - point. My attempt was to have a balanced approach, and not to go out of way to criticise or demonise one contestant at the expense of the other; and in doing so I always tried to ensure that I project the Kashmiri point of view, and be pro Kashmir rather than be pro Pakistan or pro India.
In the environment we are living and conducting our activities for the unification and complete independence of entire state of Kashmir, it is a tall order to keep balanced approach and continue with the work because of severe pressures and coercion; and it is because of this readers would note that again and again I had to defend my approach and react to events as I thought appropriate and in the best interest of our ideology.
I must also point out to the readers that I am one of the founders of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, and have held various senior posts, including the posts of General Secretary and President for UK & Europe. I started my political struggle in 1973, when I was only a teenager; and that my struggle is not post 1990 when we saw mushroom growth of Jihadi and other organisation and ‘freedom fighters’.
My friends advise me not to ‘stick out’ my head as it could land me in hot water, but I think I have a duty to pass on the knowledge I have gained after years of research and hard work. I have been told again and again to keep my work and research to myself, in other words sit on the information I have. Whereas Islam says do not hide truth in layers of lies, and that it is crime to conceal knowledge. Prophet Mohammed PBUH said, "He who is asked about something he knows and conceals it, will have a bridle of fire put on him on the Day of Resurrection" (Narrated by Abu Hurairah (r.a.a). Collected by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah and al-Hakim).
I believe Allah Almighty has put me in a privileged position where I had an opportunity to educate myself and gain knowledge on Kashmir, now is it correct way to thank Allah for his kindness to me by concealing truth, telling lies and holding back facts? In my pinion the best way to thank is to ‘educate’ others and disseminate information that people are better informed; and when it comes to taking some decisions they are not in dark.
I don not expect every one to agree with point of view I have expressed in these articles, but I hope they will respect my right to hold an opinion and express it. Some articles are many years old, and represent situation of that period, and readers might not be able to fully understand the situation which prompted me to take up my pen. A writer is a product of society and environment he lives in, and reacts to situation or situations he encounters, and readers do not always have advantage of knowing that background.
Despite this I hope that my articles would give readers a different perspective, it would give them information which they might not have; and which powerful groups with great vested interest don’t like them to have, as it challenges their stand on Kashmir. To me it is Jihad to speak out against oppression and injustice, especially when powerful and influential people are in favour of keeping people ‘ignorant’. It is encouraging to note that I am not alone in this Jihad as more and more people are joining it.
I hope that after reading this book, readers will have better understanding of the Kashmir dispute; and they will support Kashmiri peoples unfettered right of self – determination. I also hope that, as always, I will have some feedback from my readers that I can improve myself.
Dr Shabir Choudhry 12 February 2003
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