PAIM and Pakistan
Dr Shabir Choudhry 6 November 2006
That country is unfortunate citizens of which feel shy to speak its national language, and associate themselves with that country. I have noticed that nationals of many countries take pride in associating themselves with their country, and always speak their national language when they meet each other, especially when they are outside their own country.
There was time when people from State of Jammu and Kashmir, known as Kashmiris felt shy to call themselves Kashmiris because of stigma attached to this name. They used to call themselves Pakistanis or Indians; and many of them didn't feel comfortable in telling people which was their home town. For example a person belonging to Mirpur or Kotli cities would proudly say he was from Islamabad or Lahore.
But with changing time and increased sense of consciousness more and more people from Jammu and Kashmir have started calling themselves Kashmiris. There are two possible reasons for this change: Stigma attached with being Kashmiri is not that strong now and Pakistan as a country is fast losing its standing in the polity of nations.
Situation now is so bad that anything which is awful is associated with Pakistan; and as soon as non Pakistanis know you are a Pakistani or even coming from Pakistan their attitude will change for the worse. In view of this many Pakistanis living abroad have started disassociating themselves with Pakistan; and have started telling people that they are from East Africa.
Continent of Asia is huge place with many countries, yet the term Asians in Britain is used for people from South Asia only. But because of bad things associated with Pakistan and Pakistanis many Indians feel that they should be called Indians rather than Asians.
In this background and despite stigma attached to Pakistan there are groups of Pakistanis who take pride in being Pakistanis and are determined to change plight of Pakistanis and change image of their country. One such group is PAIM, Pakistan Awami Inqilabi Movement, which has its Head Office outside of Pakistan and wants to have revolution in Pakistan.
PAIM claims to have a widespread support for their programme and they have dedicated volunteers to promote their cause. PAIM hates corrupt politicians and wants to root out corruption, nepotism and maladministration; and for this purpose they don't mind executing culprits, even if that means thousands of people. In their opinion this action is justified as it will help them to purify the Pakistani polity of corrupt and bad people; and set up a system of government which is based on equality and justice.
Execution of thousands of people might look harsh to many people, but PAIM leaders think it is necessary to send the correct message that ‘PAIM government’ will not tolerate corrupt practices. Sincerity and burning desire to 'serve Pakistan' is one thing but to have a revolution, and again that a non military revolution in a place like Pakistan in not conceivable, especially when they don't have any organisational infrastructure in Pakistan.
It might appear to some people that perhaps PAIM is a ‘fundamentalist’ group and might have some hidden agenda. If they have some hidden agenda it is difficult to say because I have not met anyone from this organisation. Those organisations which foster hidden agendas do not let people know it until the appropriate time. However in my opinion they are not religious; and they espouse liberal views.
Apart from that not everyone seems to be impressed with public relations skills of PAIM. They don't want to use conventional method of dispensing information to their members and people they want to impress; rather they have style of their own and want to continue with it irrespective of its impact on people.
And what annoys me and many other people I have spoken to is arrogance demonstrated at times by some PAIM workers. PAIM address and telephone numbers are not given as PAIM workers consider themselves as a secret organization. So there is hardly any chance for anyone to meet them and exchange views; or even to send them some books or literature. Any criticism on them is perceived as a direct attack on them and the critic is taken as ‘enemy agent’ or person with ‘evil intention’ or someone who is ‘jealous with PAIM popularity’.
However what has impressed me is the loyalty and unshakeable trust PAIM workers have in their leadership. This organization is headed by Mr Agha Syed Hassan and his Deputy is Mr Jamal Takko. PAIM workers believe that their leaders are infallible- perfect human beings who cannot commit any mistake or let any one down.
PAIM leaders could be very good human beings with clean past, but this kind of blind loyalty some times motivate people to adopt undemocratic attitude as they are not accountable to anyone. In other words this feeling that they are above the law could be very dangerous and could lead to dictatorial behaviour. Another important point is that if there is no system of accountability and checks in an organization then that organisation is not best suited to bring democracy and rule of law to the country or society it wishes to serve.
Despite my reservations and criticism I decided to directly speak to the President of PAIM. I am told that he doesn't often speak to people and his personal number is not available to 'ordinary' people. Most of PAIM work is supervised by his Deputy Mr Jamal Takko Sahib and Ms Rani Sarojini Sahiba.
A ‘friend’ in PAIM gave me his number many weeks ago, but I didn’t phone him, however when I received Eid greetings from Agha Syed Hassan I felt obliged to phone him, with the feeling that I was likely to speak to some arrogant and unfriendly person. But to my surprise I found him very receptive, friendly and down to earth person. He looked the kind of person who is cool and very composed.
For past few weeks I was annoyed with some PAIM workers because of their attitude and I stopped my liaison with them. Perhaps Agha Syed Hassan also realised my resentment, and more than once during our conversation he requested me in such a friendly manner that it became difficult for me to say no, and I promised him to review my position. Also I expressed my resentment about certain issues and he was not only attentive but also assured me to address them. He invited me to France that we can have informal meeting to discuss issues which could be of mutual interest.
I had valid reasons for liaising with PAIM. I thought we had something in common despite the fact that we have never met and that I am not a Pakistani national; and that I wanted both India and Pakistan to leave my Kashmir alone. I thought we had the following common goals. We both:
• Wanted a stable and democratic Pakistan;
• Wanted accountable and transparent government
• Promote equality and rule of law;
• Opposed feudalism and undemocratic governments;
• Opposed corruption and maladministration;
• Opposed communalism and extremism;
• And resolve disputes by negotiations.
No matter what people think of me I strongly believe that stable and democratic Pakistan is imperative for peace and stability of South Asia. And when I criticise wrong policies of Pakistan this is not because I am against the state, but I am against those policies which will damage Kashmir and Pakistan, and its standing in the polity of nations. But people with vested interest and agencies take this as a direct attack on them and on their personal interests, and they deliberately project me as ‘anti Pakistan’ even though I have on many times explained what constitutes anti Pakistan.
I support anyone who sincerely plans to bring peace, stability and democracy in Pakistan, as it will lead to peace and stability in South Asia. I know it is not easy to achieve this. Forces which were against Qaaid e Azam’s Pakistan became active soon after emergence of Pakistan. With help of some collaborators they managed a fall of East Pakistan; and they are bent upon to destroy the remaining Pakistan.
Unfortunately once again some collaborators and some members of the Pakistani establishment have changed their loyalty. Loyal Pakistanis have to get their act together before it is too late; and my help and advice is available to all such groups who believe in stable and democratic Pakistan which can live in peace with its neighbours, and which can promote peace and harmony in the region.
Writer is Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at: email@example.com