Test for Kashmiri nationalists
Dr Shabir Choudhry 29 July 2009
Sardar Liaquat Ayat is not only in hot water but he is in jail. He is going through this ordeal not because he has committed any crime but because he has expressed an opinion which is against interest of the ruling elite.
He is a known Kashmiri nationalist, and President of Jammu Kashmir National Awami Party. I have not met him but he came to my attention when I read his interview in Saeed Asad’s book regarding human rights abuse in Neelam Valley. Sardar Liaquat Ayat very bravely and unequivocally exposed acts of human rights abuse committed by Pakistan army. His statement was so good that we produced quotes for the speech which was delivered at Geneva by KNP Chairman, Abbas Butt.
Sardar Liaquat Ayat while referring to Pakistan army, said:
‘Forces of occupation were present everywhere and openly displaying their weapons to harass people. If you want to see unruly army, which has no care for welfare of the people, and which is not controlled by any one then visit the Neelam Valley. This army is stationed in villages and populated areas. There is no concept of sanctity of ‘chader and chaar divari’ - meaning respect for home and dignity of women, because honour and dignity is trampled under big boots of the army. Dignity and honour of no one is safe here. Sexual abuse is common here; and because of fear factor no one dares to complain’.
When I read this statement I knew he will have to pay for his honesty and bravery. He was arrested for holding a public meeting on 19 July, and exposing a political fraud committed on this date in 1947. The ruling party - Muslim Conference, in Pakistani Administered Kashmir claims that their party on this date passed accession to Pakistan resolution. History does not support this contention, but when lies are spoken consistently and over a long period of time some people will believe them.
The facts are that in a press conference held on 28 May 1947, Choudhry Hameedullah, acting President of the Muslim Conference said: ‘Accession to Pakistan will disturb 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 the 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. We, therefore, felt that we should try to find a solution which will maintain the position of the Maharaja Bahdur while at the same time, it should also satisfy the Praja. The best solution that we have found is that the Maharaja should become a constitutional King as is the position in many countries…… The fourth thing that we have decided is that we should a Constituent Assembly of our own to draft our constitution……’
Choudhry Hameedullah had full support of leadership of the party, and it was expressed in the meeting of the Working Committee of the Muslim Conference on 18 July 1947. The working Committee after careful consideration unanimously endorsed the statement made by, the acting President, Choudhry Hameedullah; and ‘ unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon the Maharaja to declare independence and assured him of the Party’s wholehearted support and co operation.’
This was a bombshell to all those who regarded Muslim Conference as their ‘pet’, and regarded Kashmir being in their ‘pocket’. Much publicised Muslim Conference ‘Convention’ was itself a fraud, as no official invitations were given to delegates, which is the normal practise. A small advertisement was placed in newspaper and members were requested to attend the ‘Convention’, which was attended by less than hundred people, and mainly supports of Mirwaiz who were motivated by religious fervour.
On 19 July 1947 a resolution was passed that was contradictory to the one passed by the Working Committee, which normally consists of matured and experienced people. It was also contradictory to the official policy of the party and statement of Choudhry Hameedullah. The resolution said, ‘It is, therefore, necessary that the State must accede to Pakistan’. People wonder what had happened between 18th and 19th July which brought about a complete U – turn.
Sardar Liaquat Hayat was arrested for crime of exposing political fraud committed on 19 July 1947, and imposed on reluctant people of Jammu and Kashmir in order to promote their own interest and also the interest of Islamabad. He condemned the so called ‘accession resolution’, and advanced the cause of democratic, secular, and united independent Jammu and Kashmir.
Pro Pakistan government and Pakistani agencies have shown what they are capable of doing. They have arrested these leaders, which is clear abuse of their human rights and clear violation of UNCIP resolutions on Kashmir, which says: ‘All authorities within the State of Jammu and Kashmir will undertake to ensure in collaboration with the Plebiscite Administrator that:
(a) There is no threat, coercion or intimidation, bribery or other undue influence on the voters in plebiscite;
(b) No restrictions are placed on legitimate political activity throughout the State. All subjects of the State, regardless of creed, caste or party, shall be safe and free in expressing their views and in voting on the question of the accession of the State to India or Pakistan. There shall be freedom of the Press, speech and assembly and freedom of travel in the State, including freedom of lawful entry and exit;
(c) All political prisoners are released;
(d) Minorities in all parts of the State are accorded adequate protection; and
(e) There is no victimisation’.
We people of Jammu and Kashmir are a divided lot. We have failed to shown unity when most needed. NAP is a pro independent party, which like other parties needs a political space, but we have to see it differently. We have to view this as an attack on our liberties, attack on a fellow leader and attack on our fundamental belief of independence. We have to demonstrate our complete solidarity with NAP leaders and take active part in release of these leaders. It should not be taken as a struggle of NAP, but struggle of all those who believe in united and independent Kashmir, and all those who believe in secular, democratic and progressive Kashmir.
In this regard I request all nationalist parties to fully cooperate with NAP leaders and support all their programmes to demonstrate unity; and send a clear message to the authorities that if you want peace and harmony in this region then release these political prisoners immediately and without any conditions. Apart from that I request nationalist parties to organise protests independently as well to show that it is not struggle of NAP only, but struggle of all freedom loving people.
Apart from that NAP and other nationalist parties should contact embassies and Foreign Offices of different countries and explain the plight of people and human rights abuse perpetrated in Pakistani Administered Kashmir. If we Kashmiri nationalists failed to get release of these innocent people then it will be a clear signal to the authorities that these people are divided and cannot rise above their petty differences.
This impression will open a floodgate of human rights abuses in this area, and lead to subjugation of other nationalists. We need to send a clear message to the authorities that we will not allow them to contravene our social, political and economic rights; and any attempt to curb our human rights will be opposed and brought to the attention of the international community.
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:email@example.com
To view other articles see my blog: www.drshabirchoudhry.blogspot.com