People of Kashmir are not fools.
Dr Shabir Choudhry 28 May 2009
Commenting on situation of Pakistan, a prominent Pakistani writer, Masood Hasan wrote, ‘Here is a country that has gone to pieces, all its great slogans and its even greater dreams crushed into dust 60 years after its birth. It can now boast of having the largest amount of failed institutions in the world. It has been reduced to a beggar whom very few are now prepared to give more alms.’ (The News, Wednesday, May 21, 2008).
Apart from that there are other serious problems which make future of Pakistan bleak, and make the Pakistani society insecure where people have deep sense of frustration and anger. All the institutions of the state are malfunctioning, and people are deprived of justice and basic facilities like electricity, water, gas and flour.
One can judge the situation of justice and human rights in Pakistan that honourable Chief Justice was illegally sacked, and together with around sixty of his colleagues were house arrested. During this illegal detention even their wives and children were not allowed to go out for months. All these honourable justices are still seeking justice for themselves before they could provide justice to others.
In Pakistan situation for poor people is so desperate that they are committing suicide because they see no hope and cannot feed themselves. Many mothers are selling their children because they cannot feed them. If given choice overwhelming majority of Pakistanis would move to other countries to give themselves and their families better life.
Yet these Pakistani are led to believe by some Kashmiris, Pakistani establishment and media that people of Jammu and Kashmir are too eager to join Pakistan. They are told that people of Jammu and Kashmir are sacrificing their lives to become part of this society which according to Pakistanis themselves is most corrupt and does not have bright future.
Do people of Pakistan think we Kashmiris are fools? May be we are, and that is why we have for centuries looked beyond boundaries of Kashmir to find rulers and masters for us. Most Kashmiri leaders are eager to become collaborators and play role of President Karzai of Kabul.
Let me tell those who believe that Kashmiri people desperately want to become part of Pakistan that we don’t want to become part of a society which cannot offer us any justice or bright future- a society which cannot preserve our identity, our culture and our future.
Moreover those regions which are legal and constitutional part of Pakistan feel that their rights are encroached. Pakistan can only give us what they have, and what they have even Pakistanis are ashamed of that. In view of this what makes them believe that we Kashmiris want to become part of their country.
It does not mean that we are satisfied with the status quo or we want to be part of India. The Maharaja’s provisional accession had to be ratified by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and we never had an opportunity to ratify it or reject it. As for the ratification of the Constituent Assembly it was rejected by the UN Security Council, as it could not substitute a plebiscite or referendum.
So the State of Jammu and Kashmir is still disputed and forcibly divided; and people are deprived of basic human rights in all parts of the State. People of Jammu and Kashmir on one hand are sandwiched between India and Pakistan; and on the other hand between para military forces and militants.
People are also bewildered with voices of extremism, accession and independence. And to add to their bewilderment and frustration many claim to speak on their behalf. APHC which does not even represent Muslims of Srinagar, yet with help of Pakistani media and Pakistani establishment they claim to be represent all Kashmiris of the State.
Similarly there are some leaders with nationalist hat on claiming to represent Kashmiris. With passage of time many people question their credentials because suspicion is that under their nationalist hat they are either wearing Jinnah cap or Gandhi cap; and despite support of agencies and massive media coverage people are not sure whether to trust them or not.
Then there are pro India leaders known as main stream politicians who claim to represent a majority view; not to mention claims of other APHC and some leaders outside these alliances. Similarly Azad Kashmiri leaders, whether in government or opposition also make claims to represent people of Kashmir.
Apart from the above claims, Pakistani government also claims to represent people of Jammu and Kashmir; and proudly say, ‘What satisfy Islamabad will ultimately satisfy people of Kashmir’. This claim is made on this false assumption that they represent people of Jammu and Kashmir. Fact however is that both India and Pakistan have negotiated on our behalf and made agreements which suited them. Interest of people of Jammu and Kashmir was not their priority as a result these agreements were against the interest of people of Kashmiris and they have rightly rejected those agreements.
Majority of people now believe that both governments have territorial aims in Jammu and Kashmir, and they have formulated policies to suit their national interests and territorial designs. Both in their own way have oppressed people and deprived them of basic human rights in their respective administered areas of Kashmir. Human rights abuses on the Indian side have been well documented and publicised, but little has been said about miseries of the people living either in Azad Kashmir or Gilgit and Baltistan.
A writer from Gilgit and Baltistan notes the situation in the following words:
‘Pakistan also failed to achieve the desired objective on Kashmir because it kept the people of Kashmir as well as Gilgit-Baltistan deprived of their basic rights besides doing nothing for elimination of poverty, public frustration and unemployment in the area’….The worst victims of the over 60 year-long drama have been the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Kashmiris living on either side of the Line of Control have access to some sorts of facilities of life but people of Gilgit-Baltistan have long been exploited and denied their basic social, economic, social and constitutional rights. The region has also been kept away from any sort of political process’. DG Mathal, Weekly Bang-e-sahar Saturday May 24, 2008
People of Jammu and Kashmir are not fools. They know what Pakistan has given to people of Gilgit and Baltistan in the past sixty years. They had an opportunity to treat them with respect and honour, or at least, treat them equally to win minds and hearts of people Jammu and Kashmir living in other regions. Kashmiri people also know what they have given to their own people, including people of former East Pakistan. They know Pakistani rulers have repeatedly declared that have only one choice and that is to join them and forget about independence.
Like people of any other country, people of Jammu and Kashmir also want to live in peace and enjoy fruits of peace and democracy. They want to preserve their national identity and cultural values. They know what is waiting for them in Pakistan should they decide to join this volatile and unstable country. In view of this best way forward for them is to strive for their national emancipation and keep away from any kind of accession.
Writer is a political activist, analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email: email@example.com