Why we should not join Pakistan and India?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 13 April 2007
Future status of former state of Jammu and Kashmir troubled all loyal and thinking citizens of the State; and while considering its future destiny they thought well - being of all its citizens irrespective of religious and cultural background.
Muslim Conference in 1947 also had some thinking and loyal leaders, who believed that the state should remain one political entity. Chaudhry Hammedullah Khan, Acting President of the Muslim Conference was prominent among them; and in a press conference held in Jammu on 28 May 1947, he said:
“ Accession to India would be unpleasant to Hindus while accession to India will disturb Muslims. Therefore, we have decided not to enter into any controversy either with India or Pakistan. The second thing we have decided is that we should try to acquire independence for state. The third question now before us is what would be the position of the Maharaja? We have never been lacking in showing loyalty and respect for him and it is because of this attachment that we did not support the Quit Kashmir movement although in one way it was a natural movement…The best solution we have found is that the Maharaja should become a constitutional King as it is the position in many countries.”
Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, Page 707, by Justice Yousaf Saraf).
The Working Committee of the Muslim Conference later endorsed these views. Those who helped to reincarnate the Muslim Conference as it suited their politics based on religious disharmony got alarmed, instructed their handymen to counter this move. Idea was to link the Party ideology with that of Muslim League, and try to get the most valuable State in the Princely India, as it had enormous strategic importance and abundant natural resources.
Normal practise in every political party is to plan party convention in advance, different zones and branches request he centre for invitations based on strength of their members, and in accordance with the party programme a convention is held. However some leaders of Muslim Conference on instructions from else where hurriedly called a party ‘convention’ by announcing it in a newspaper on 18th June, where everyone was welcome to attend.
This ‘convention’ was called for 19th June, which Muslim Conference leaders and their mentors in Pakistan call ‘historic convention’ in which about hundred people motivated by religious sentiments decided that the state should join Pakistan.
This decision was wrong and impolitical, as it ignored wishes and aspirations of non - Muslims of the State; and moreover it was not decided through a normal political process which all political parties adopt to take important decisions. It appears that aim of this was to communalise polity of the state by importing religiously motivated politics from the British India and shatter peace and harmony of the State, and possibly pave way for division of the state. It was clear even at that time that any decision about future of the state based on religion will ultimately lead to division of the state.
Sixty years on we Kashmiris are faced with the same dilemma. If future of the state is decided by taking religion in to equation then the state will get divided on religious and ethnic lines. This scenario will suit only those who advocate politics of communalism and hatred, and who have imperialist designs on Kashmir. It is unfortunate that no lessons have been learnt from the past, and still those policies are projected and supported which have caused enormous problems for both Pakistan, people of Jammu and Kashmir and rest of South Asia.
Governments and officials in Pakistan have been making lofty claims about rights and ‘liberation’ of the Kashmiri people since 1947; practise however has been totally different. Liberation of Jammu and Kashmir and interest of people of the State has never been their first priority. However Kashmir dispute has been a trump card in the hands of different Pakistani rulers which they use to advance their own agenda.
If welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir were their priority then surely they would not have done what they have done to Jammu and Kashmir and its people, irrespective of ethnic and religious affiliation. People of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan are directly ruled by Islamabad, and these people, especially people of Gilgit and Baltistan, are denied of basic human rights.
Many Kashmiris when analysing the role of Pakistani rulers go back to 1947 when in October 1947, Pakistani officials engineered a ‘Tribal Invasion’ that resulted in division of the state, destruction, looting, rapes and killing of thousands of innocent Kashmiri people. In other words some people point out that present and past suffering of the people is directly linked to actions of Pakistani rulers, whether they were taken in 1947 or in subsequent years.
A Pakistani friend, who disagrees with my politics and ideology, still thinks that Kashmiris are eager to become part of Pakistan; and for this purpose they are getting killed and are waging a war of ‘liberation’ against India. He asked me not to speak against Pakistan in pretext of lack of human rights and democracy in Pakistani controlled Kashmir. His contention was that Kashmiris should not complain because Pakistani rulers have not even given these rights to people of Pakistan yet.
One wonders if there is any merit in this argument. If people of Pakistan don’t have democratic rights or they have no sense of security in their own country due to military rule, communalism, gun culture and corruption, does it mean that we people of Jammu and Kashmir who are not yet part of Pakistan must also suffer?
I told this friend that thinking people of Jammu and Kashmir always wanted to become independent, even Muslim Conference was in favour of independence, but later on Pakistani officials hijacked the Kashmiri agenda and bought off some Kashmiri leaders. Pakistani friends need to understand that overwhelming majority of the people of Jammu and Kashmir don’t want to join Pakistan, as there is no attraction for them to join a country which does not have a bright future.
I further told him that many Kashmiri leaders like Pakistani money and protocol; and for this purpose they give misleading information to those who sponsor politics of communalism and hatred. Kashmiri leaders know that the state will get divided if its future is decided on communal lines and no thinking and sincere leader would like his motherland to get divided.
It is true, at one time - probably a few decades ago majority of Kashmiri Muslims wanted to join Pakistan; but the situation has changed dramatically as people have seen Pakistan and its policies. They think rulers who cannot respect and honour basic human rights of its people, how could they grant these rights to people of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover plight of people of Giligit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmsir is also clearly in their mind, and they have realised that interest of their future generations is not safe in undemocratic, feudal and communal society.
Furthermore people of Jammu and Kashmir before they decide future of the State will carefully consider the interest of its citizens and future generations. We have to ask ourselves if our interests are safe in a country, which has a track record of toppling elected governments and depriving people of basic human rights; which got its first Prime Minister killed, got its first elected Prime Minister hanged; which got its elected Prime Minister deported; and above all which has a track record of undermining judiciary and democratic system.
Chief Justice in any country is a person who ensures that citizens get justice. He protects rights of citizens and checks encroachment of state and its organs; and in Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Chief Justice is ‘sacked’, humiliated in front of cameras and his entire family is made hostage. What attraction is there for people of Jammu and Kashmir to join a country, rulers of which kill its citizens, kill those who demand rights or justice, promote undemocratic and communal forces, promote feudalism and irony is that they take pride in these actions.
My friend was unhappy with what I said, but he agreed that what I said was factually not wrong. He said we all have to work together to make Pakistan a better place to live. I told him that we have strong reasons for not joining any country, be it India or Pakistan. We have every right to become independent. We have a genuine and natural claim to right of self - determination and independence; and this right cannot be taken away by anyone.
Writer is Chairman Diplomatic Committee of JKLF, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs and author of many books on Kashmir. He could be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org