‘Strengthening the enemy hand’ in Kashmir.
Dr Shabir Choudhry 23 October 2003
Kashmiri struggle has experienced many twists and turns, and despite loss of life, huge sacrifices and destruction of property and business, we are no near to our most cherished goal of independence. One reason for this situation is our refusal to accept the ground reality, and our inability to call spade a spade.
The struggle, whatever it might mean in the current situation of Kashmir, has split the Kashmiri society on communal and ethnic lines; and anyone who dares to speak against evils of communalism and hatred, or even tries to show different perspective from the one ‘tutored’ from Islamabad, is conveniently declared ‘ anti movement’ and ‘strengthening the hand of enemy’. Anyone and everyone who disagrees with their viewpoint or speaks of Kashmir’s independence and about rights of all Kashmiris irrespective of social and cultural backgrounds is strongly criticised through their large and effective network.
This situation is best understood by the following example where UK based alliance of pro Pakistan parties, known as Kashmir Rabta Committee (Kashmir Coordination Committee) held a demonstration outside Indian High Commission in London. The following day London based courageous reporter of Urdu daily reported that there were only seventeen people outside the Indian High Commission. This factual reporting exposed and embarrassed the Rabta Committee leadership, because they were accustomed to reading reports of similar demonstrations as having held ‘very strong anti India demonstration’.
The leadership of Rabta Committee held its urgent meeting to consider this ‘grave situation’ created by ‘anti movement reporting’, and wrote a letter of complaint to the editor of the paper. After giving details of their ‘Jihad against India on international level’ they said that this reporting is not helping the Kashmiri struggle and that it is tantamount to ‘strengthening the enemy hand’.
While commenting on the situation, a prominent Kashmiri journalist Ali Kiani wrote: ‘When next day news about their numbers was published, the Rabta Committee President of the time wrote angry letter to the paper and said that this news has strengthened enemy hands. But while making allegations against the paper of ‘strengthening the enemy’, the Rabta Committee President forgot that they held demonstration outside the High Commission of the same enemy, and handed in petition. While they were demonstrating outside or when they handed in the petition did the enemy had its eyes closed? Or they could not count the number of protesters?’
He further said, ‘majority of the Kashmiri leaders in UK have no vision and have no strategy on Kashmir, and they have failed to present new thinking on Kashmir. And those leaders who have this ability, this leadership creates hurdles in their way. This leadership has policy which helps to keep the status quo, and looks towards the (Pakistan) High Commission for directions.’
Ali Kiani must be congratulated for courageously exposing this artificial leadership whose prime objective is to maintain the status quo on Kashmir as it suits their personal interests; and it also suits their mentors who have turned this independence struggle in to a commercial enterprise. These Kashmiri leaders and so - called champions of the Kashmiri struggle don’t want people to know the facts. They want the people to believe everything what they say; and they will say everything that suits the Islamabad establishment and which brings them rewards in the form of bread and butter, and foreign visits.
The fear of being ‘declared as anti movement’ by these pro Pakistani communalist organisations is so strong that even ‘nationalist Kashmiris’ are reluctant to criticise killing of innocent civilians or talk about rights of all Kashmiris including people of Gilgit and Baltistan. In private they will say that it is wrong to throw bombs at bus stops and placing bombs under the fruit stalls and kill innocent people; and especially target minorities on the grounds of religion or ethnic and political affiliation. But these people will not say anything in public because of fear and because they are made to believe that by criticising these events we could be helping and ‘strengthening the enemy hand’.
Similarly they agree that situation on the Pakistani side of the LOC is not satisfactory either, and especially people of Gilgit and Baltistasn are denied of their basic rights, but these leaders are persuaded to remain quiet because by speaking about the plight of these people we could inadvertently be helping the ‘enemy’ (India), by diverting the attention away from the events taking place on the other side of the LOC.
This in practice means that people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan should remain quiet and take with smile every bitter pill which comes their way, and keep on shouting about the plight of the people on the other side of the LOC until Kashmir is ‘liberated’; and what this means is that the ownership of Indian side of Kashmir will pass on from India to Pakistan.
A few weeks ago a unknown ‘friend’ and ‘sympathiser’ honoured me with a lengthy phone call, and told me to stop helping India by writing about non - issues like Mangla Dam and Gilgit and Baltistan. He also authoritatively told me to stop criticising the struggle in Kashmir, and if you feel so strongly about the Kashmir case why don’t you get gun and go there to fight.
I was, of course, furious over this allegation; and said that I have never intentionally written anything to support Indian case on Kashmir; I always write in support of the Kashmiri peoples struggle for united and independent Kashmir, and by doing this if it helps India, Pakistan, America or any other country then it is just coincidence. As far as fighting is concerned, I am fighting the war of liberation by working on the international level, by putting the Kashmir dispute in its true perspective and by speaking for all the sections of the Kashmiri community.
‘This is not fight for liberation’, he said. ‘All you do is sit in London and write things which help India. You don’t know what sacrifices are made to focus attention on the India crimes in Kashmir, and by your writings, you shift attention from there to Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan. This in practise means helping India to get off the hook. If you are so sincere then take a gun and go to the border and fight.’
I told him that war of liberation has many fronts and I am fighting on a very important front, in any case which border would you like me to fight on? His reply was on the Indian border. I asked him do you mean Indian border at Sialkot or Lahore. ‘No, I mean India’s border in Srinagar’, he said. When I said that there is no Indian border in Srinagar, he got embarrassed as it exposed depth of his knowledge on Kashmir, so quite angrily he said, if you are sincere with Kashmir cause go to Srinagar and fight the Indian army.
I responded by saying that those who are occupied by the Indian army they should fight there, but the area where I live is not occupied by India, so would you like us to start fight here against the army which occupies here. ‘No! No’, he said. ‘I didn’t mean that, Pakistan is our friend and brother - the only country which supports our struggle. We should only fight India, you know Indian army is killing innocent Kashmiri people and raping women.’ He got bit emotional over this issue.
I said of course thousands of people have died in Kashmir and women raped - it is tragic to say the least, and we must find ways of stopping all this; but tell me what would Pakistani army do if there were an armed struggle on this side of the LOC? We know what they are doing in Wazirsatan now, we know what they did in Rawlakot in 1953, and we also know what they did in East Pakistan in 1970, where three million people were killed, and majority of them were Muslims and killers were, by and large, also Muslims….
‘It is because of this kind of talk people call you anti Pakistan.’ He interrupted me. ‘You need to be careful what you say and do otherwise you could get in to serious trouble’, he said and slammed the phone.
The problem with most Pakistani and Kashmiri people is that we are not yet prepared to face reality or listen to alternative argument no matter how logical that is; and anything that differs from their view or perceived reality is taken as ‘anti Pakistan’ and ‘anti movement’. If one says that army rules Pakistan and that there is no democracy there, it is taken by some as ‘anti Pakistan statement’ and ‘strengthening enemy hand’, as if the enemy doesn’t know what goes on in Pakistan. Similarly if someone says that innocent people are being killed in Kashmir and that the introduction of ‘guest mujahids’ from other countries in Kashmir has fundamentally changed the character of the Kashmiri struggle, we are told this is ‘anti movement’ statement, especially if it is said by a Kashmiri then nefarious propaganda campaign will begin against him.
The aim of all this is very clear, the Pakistani establishment through its control of media, school curriculum, and all other levers of control and influence wants not only physical control over the people of Kashmir, but wants to even control their minds and thinking. And up to a point they have been successful, especially with the last generation, but they will find it extremely difficult to control Kashmiris of dot com age who have access to other channels of information.
Writer is a Chairman of JKLF Diplomatic Committee, and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir.