We voted ‘because of the hate of our own leaders’.
Dr Shabir Choudhry 23 November 2008
Second phase of elections in the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir have finished with astonishing outcomes. If we look at the Pakistani media or views of those who support Pakistan irrespective of what they have done to the Kashmir dispute, then we find that there has been a total boycott of elections and that the Indian army has only one mission and that is to kill innocent people.
But when we look at other media and speak directly to people on ground then totally different picture emerges, which shows that some members of the Pakistani media and their puppets have only one mission: and that is to tell lies and hide facts from people as they have been hiding facts from their own people regarding matters directly related to Pakistan and its security.
According to BBC representative Altaf Hussain, he has ‘not seen such long queues for any voting in the past’. And despite cold weather people have come out in thousands to vote. In his report, filed on 23 November 2008, he showed long lines of people standing outside polling stations.
According to BBC turnout in today’s voting was 65%, however voting in Noshera and in Kalakote was 70% and 73% respectively. Another interesting aspect of this election is the attitude of young people, who have openly defied calls for boycott and used their democratic right to vote. People see this as a protest vote against pro Pakistan leaders who used the Kashmiri struggle to feather their own nests.
In this regard this, a member of Al – Fatah Force wrote from Bandipora:
‘Our leaders Geelani Sahib, Mirwaiz Sahib, Yasin Malik, Javed Mir and others had appealed earlier that people should stay away from these elections but we want to tell them that our people voted not because of the love of pro Indian leaders but because of the hate of our own leaders’.
‘These so called pro movement leaders make huge property on the blood of our martyrs especially on the sacrifices of our common Mujahideen. We will not raise our fingers on other leaders. Let us take the example of our own Ameer Mohammad Farooq Rehmani. This lucky man is from Bandipora but for the past 15 years enjoys a luxurious life in Pakistan. Many mujahideen of our party are married now but we have no money and no future of our children. Rehmani spent more than 12 lakh Rs on the marriage of his son in Pakistan while our brothers are denied even the life saving drugs from his office. We are treated as slaves, how can we stop our brothers and sisters from taking part in the elections’. (Author of this statement could be reached on this email: email@example.com).
Apart form these reports I have personally spoken to many journalists who were monitoring these elections, and who confirmed that people have clearly rejected calls of boycott as ordinary masses have no trust in those who give calls of boycott. One person I spoke to said:
‘It is true we want independence and don’t want to be part of India, but by staying away from polling booths we will only strengthen hands of those who are promoting a Pakistani agenda in Jammu and Kashmir, and are getting rewards for this.’
This amazing turnout has bewildered everyone. After ‘successful communalisation’ of the Kashmiri polity, anti election leaders and their mentors thought they have won the battle, and they were predicting a total boycott and a possible ‘blood bath’ which could have helped them make political gains. Even Indian government officials were worried that the turnout could be low compared to the elections of 2002; and that ‘terrorists would stage bloody incidents’, which could have embarrassed India.
But the voting in six constituencies of Ganderbal, Kangan, Darhal, Kalakote, Rajouri and Nowshera have hugely surpassed the figures of 2002 Assembly elections; and those elections were, by and large, accepted and hailed by all those who believe in democratic values. One has to understand that there was pressure on the voters from both camps – one urging them to stay away from polling stations, and the other encouraging them to exercise their democratic right in favour of their candidates.
To make matters worse for those wishing to vote, weather was extremely cold; and despite that the turn out was better than 2002 elections. Masuad Samoon, Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir gave details of the voting in a press conference held on 23 November 2008, which confirmed that turn out was much better than 2002 elections. For example in Rajouri constituency, the polling was 27.05 percentage in 2002, and it shot up to 67% in the polling held today. Similarly the turnout in Kalakote has surprised everyone which increased from 48.66 percent in 2002 to 73 percent today.
Mufti Sayeed, former Chief Minister was also astonished by the turn out; and called it a ‘trendsetter for the rest of the phases’. He was among those who wanted the elections to be postponed because in his opinion the situation was “unfavourable” for the elections, as he also feared low turn out and bloody incidents.
He further said, “Gun is no solution and we have had a bitter experience of it. America has used it in Iraq and Afghanistan and the outcome is before everyone. We want to resolve problems through democratic process as there are no other way to resolve the Kashmir issue”. He added that in order to resolve the Kashmir dispute, “We all, including India and Pakistan, have to move from stated positions”.
What has angered many people is the hypocritical approach of anti elections lobby – they support elections in areas occupied by Pakistan; but are prepared to go to any lengths to oppose elections in areas occupied by India. They all know that elections are not substitute for referendum and there is the UN Security Council resolution on this matter as well.
In view of many analysts they oppose elections for two reasons: rewards from Pakistani agencies for doing this; and fear that if they took part in fair and impartial elections they will lose their seats, hence fully exposed before everyone. They would like to take part in kind of elections which are held in Pakistani administered Kashmir where outcome is decided in favour of the higher bidder.
At the time of elections in 2002 I had a meeting with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials, and pleaded that the APHC leaders could possibly win the elections. I was told that in their judgement and in light of reports they have, there was no way they could win elections. And that if these leaders had even fifty fifty chance of winning, they would have taken the option of participating in the elections.
They further said if they were so sure about their popularity the best way was to take part in elections, and then speak with authority, as Sein Fin leaders used to do – they used to take part in elections in Northern Ireland and after winning their seats they refuse to come to Westminster.
In other words resentment against India or against certain issues does not mean support for these leaders who after 20 years of blood, killings, rapes, custodial deaths and destruction still don’t know what they want to achieve. They still have no strategy on solution of the Kashmir dispute. Still they are not sure if they want some kind of accession or become independent. Some of them are happy with the status quo; others cannot tell the difference between right of self determination and right of accession, which is available to people of the State under the UN resolutions. It is because of this confusion they keep on demanding on implementation of the UN resolutions.
In view of the confusion these leaders have, and because of their ego centric approach and lack of sincerity, majority of people of Jammu and Kashmir don’t see them fit to lead forcibly divided nation of Jammu and Kashmir.
The present turn out should also be seen as a protest vote against policies of Pakistani governments. Kashmiri youths see Pakistan’s Kashmir policy changing like weather changes in England. Kashmiri youths are annoyed with continued proxy war, proxy politics, forced division and subjugation; and want to make their wishes known.
Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To view other articles see my blog: http://www.drshabirchoudhry.blogspot.com/