Kashmiri Karzai in London
Dr Shabir Choudhry 8 October 2003
Retired Major General Anwar Khan, known as President of Azad Kashmir, is in London. A few days before him Hamad Karzai of Afghanistan was also in London, who was paraded in front of ‘Labour delegates’ in Bournemouth on the occasion of Labour Party’s Annual Conference.
In the Labour Annual Conference Hamad Karzai said things which pleased his hosts and the audience; and during his visit to Britain, Kashmiri Karzai, Sardar Anwar Khan will also say things which will please his audience here and in Islamabad where recorded tapes will be sent.
My comments will surely annoy Azad Kashmiri and Pakistani officials, and will also upset those who have habit of flattering government officials of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. People call Hamad Karzai a puppet of America because he looks after the American interest in Afghanistan. Mufti Sayeed is called puppet of India because he looks after the Indian interest in Jammu and Kashmir even though he was elected to this position.
Major General Anwar Khan looks after interest of Pakistan in an area known as Azad Kashmir, and we call him a President of Azad Kashmir. Both presidents, Hamad Karzai and Major General Anwar Khan, have many things in common. Some of the similarities are as follows:
Both were hardly known before their appointment;
Both were selected for the job because of their loyalty to their political masters;
Both are serving their political masters sincerely;
Both are members of major tribes in their respective countries; and
Both are strongly opposed by ‘nationalist groups’ in their homeland.
One could find more similarities, but this is sufficient to prove that both are puppets, one is puppet of America and the other is puppet of Pakistan. One needs the American troops and security and the other needs Pakistani troops and security.
In showing servitude to their political masters the Kashmiri Karzai beats the Afghani Karzai, as the latter is trying to establish an Afghan army, whereas the former has forgotten that there was at one time an Azad Kashmir Army, and he would not dare talk about it never mind its restoration.
Also Afghani Karzai still believes in the integrity of Afghanistan, and wants to be president of all of the country; whereas the Kashmiri Karzai is happy with what he has got- honorary post of president of Azad Kashmir, area of around 4,000 square miles, and would not dare to utter a word about other part of Kashmir under direct control of Pakistan and which is known as Gilgit and Baltistan, area more than 28,000 square miles.
He is very keen to talk about the area which is under the Indian control, and he has right and duty to talk about that area and about the welfare of the people living there; but he has same right and duty about the area on this side of the divide.
If he considers himself different to Karzai of Afghanistan then he has to prove that by speaking about rights of all Kashmiris irrespective of their ethnic and religious background. When rights of the Kashmiri people are encroached on the Indian side he should speak out, but he should also speak out when rights of the Kashmiri people are encroached in Gilgit and Baltistan and in Azad Kashmir.
He should condemn human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, and should also condemn Pakistani WAPDA’s effort to displace more than hundred thousand people of Azad Kashmir from Mirpur by upraising the Mangla Dam. Also he should condemn uprooting of tens of thousands Kashmiri people from Diamir in Gilgit and Baltistan by the proposed construction of Bhasha Dam. He should tell Pakistani government to build Kala Bagh Dam to meet their electric and water needs and don’t uproot the already oppressed and deprived people of Kashmir.
If India doesn’t listen to him with regard to human rights issue and plebiscite, then at least he should speak to his ‘friendly and brotherly government’ in Islamabad, and tell them that people of Gilgit and Baltistan need their basic human rights; and ask them to abrogate all discriminatory and oppressive laws in Azad Kashmir and in Gilgit and Baltistan.
If he has guts to speak in support of his fellow citizens then we will salute him, and regard him as a President of Kashmiris, not only president of Azad Kashmir. For taking this bold step he will see Islamabad government in its true colours, and he might lose his job, but history will remember him as a Kashmiri President who spoke in support of all the Kashmiris, and who believed in the integrity of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
And if he fails to do this then he will only be remembered as another president of Azad Kashmir, and perhaps more appropriately, Hamad Karzai of Azad Kashmir.
Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir. He is also a Spokesman of International Kashmir Alliance.