Sumeer Bhat Sahib Adab
Thank you for your email, and I apologise for delay in responding.
You have raised very important questions. However they are not simple questions which could be answered by yes or no type of replies; and if I start answering them in detail, I will end up writing a book.
Anyhow short answers are as follows:
Was Maqbool Bhatt only concerned for so called Azadi?
Answer: Maqbool Butt Sahib was a sincere man who wanted independent and sovereign Jammu and Kashmir. His political philosophy was practical and offered a way out to both governments, but they both had their own designs on Kashmir, hence we find ourselves in this impasse.
However he was human being and every human is subject to mistakes and errors, but I cannot question his sincerity and loyalty to his cause, and I salute him.
How is it possible for Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Shabir Shah, Yasin and others to have unlimited resource financially. And how do they palatial bungalows?
Answer: Here you might be able to help me, as my knowledge of other side of LOC is somewhat limited. A reliable friend told me that special kind of trees were planted there by some people, which grow dollars and rupees. Where about of these trees are not known to everyone; and those who know where these trees are, for obvious reasons, won’t tell others.
If this is true then it solves the riddle. However you can look in to this.
Why doesn’t Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s children join the so- called freedom movement?
Answer: I don’t know the real reason, he might be making his contribution some other way; but you got to understand that we also need doctors and foreign educated young men who could help us to run this state once it gets its independence.
I am sure you wouldn’t like to be operated by a person who is not qualified and experienced. Also I hope that you wouldn’t like our society to be held back and ruled by illiterate people.
Who do you presume to be the genuine party in struggle for freedom?
Answer: There are many parties which are genuine, because of their constitution and (written) ideology, but problem is with their leaders who don’t care about constitution and ideology. Since you did not ask about the leaders so I am at liberty to leave it at that.
Has your group ever been involved in armed struggle? And do you have presence in Indian Kashmir?
Answer: Our group came in to being in 2002, and we have no role in militancy, in fact, we have been speaking against so called Jihad and militancy since mid 1990s. But you must understand that prior to this we were part of JKLF Yasin Group, which abandoned armed struggle in mid 1990s.
Also you need to note that in our group, apart from me, there are other eight founding members of the JKLF.
We don’t have official set up on Indian or Pakistani side of the divide, but we have hundreds of friends and sympathisers who urge us to set up official branches. Hitherto I have personally opposed this, hoping that leaders of other groups will realise that flirtation with ideology and agencies is damaging the cause.
Despite secular overcoat and hat, some are wearing a communal jacket, and that goes against the JKLF ideology; and our fight is to purify the ideology.
If we want we can have branches in Jammu, Valley, Azad Kashmir and in Gilgit and Baltistan where non Muslims will also join us, but in the fast changing politics of Sub Continent we are reviewing our policies and our strategies.
How much following do you have in Pakistan occupied Kashmir?
Answer: No nationalist party has a large following because of the situation there. If we announce a set up there, we are assured that many people from different groups will join us. I have partly answered this in no 5.
Is POK really Azaad?
Answer: I have written so much about it to explain what azadi Azad `Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan has. In nutshell, both of these areas are colonies of Pakistan.
Are you in control of your struggle?
Answer: By this if you mean struggle of our Group, then answer is a big yes, because we make our own decisions as they suit us and our ideology which was articulated in 1977, and our group is the only JKLF groups who adhere to it.
But if by struggle you mean the movement then answer is no; but those who manipulated, manoeuvred and initiated this, they are still in control; and way the things are they will remain in control for years to come because of compromises and subservient attitude of Kashmiri leaders.
What has changed since 9/11 in your struggle for so called Azaadi?
Answer: 9/11 not only changed character our struggle but also the world politics. I think it has clearly helped the point of view we have been promoting.
I still remember when I wrote an article in mid to late 1990s, criticising activities of Jihadi groups, I was declared as ‘anti movement’ ‘anti Islam’, ‘anti Pakistan’ ‘pro India’ and even ‘Hindu’. Many threats were given to me, and even close JKLF colleagues said that I had made a mistake to invite wrath of this powerful lobby.
Some said you step outside UK and you will be sorted out. I have been to Srinagar and many times to Islamabad and Azad`Kashmir since that. Despite opposition from some quarters I managed to survive and was elected unopposed President of JKLF in 1999, remember the split took place in 2002. As a President I continued with the policy of the JKLF, and a strong diehard group always supported me at every juncture.
Good thing is that some of those who were after my blood for writing against activities of Jihadies are now actively doing jihad against Jihadi groups.
The time it has taken me to write these answers I could have easily written two articles on topics which need my urgent attention, so please no more list of questions, I wouldn’t mind one or two questions or clarifications.
Once again thank you.
Dr Shabir Choudhry