To Chief Minister of Punjab
Dr Shabir Choudhry 24 January 2010
Dear Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab aslamo alaykam
It was pleasure to meet you in a meeting arranged by Lord Nazir Ahmed in House of Lords in London. Your speech to Kashmiri leaders assembled here was no different to speech of any other Pakistani leader and did not impress me or inspire me.
Policy of Pakistani leaders on Kashmir is no different than policy of India, as both countries want to make my homeland part of their countries; and they have been fighting over it since 1947.
Both countries want to get Kashmir not because they have welfare of people in their minds, but because they have territorial designs on the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
In order to accomplish their territorial designs, both countries have divided the state by force and made lives of people miserable on both sides of the forcibly divided LOC. Innocent people suffer on both sides of the divide to varying degrees because they don’t want to be part of either country.
Sir, I appreciate your concern about human rights abuse on the Indian side of Kashmir; but please tell me who is responsible for human rights abuse and denial of fundamental human rights on this side of LOC? Who has denied people of Gilgit Baltistan of their basic rights since 1947?
In a room where there were more than fifty people present, you would not remember me, but if I tell you what questions I asked you after your speech it will surely refresh your memory.
Sir, it was me who asked you, “If we put question of human rights abuse on one side, then tell me what is difference between India’s Kashmir policy and that of Pakistan, as both countries want to get Kashmir and have no care for the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. What the Zardari government has done in Gilgit Baltistan has further exposed the Pakistani policy on Kashmir; but question is why your party - Muslim League N had to be part of that sin?”
Your facial expressions were not good when you heard that, and Lord Nazir Ahmed also didn’t look happy; but before he could stop me I quickly added that: “Those Kashmiris who say people of Mirpur have given sacrifices for Pakistan by allowing construction of Mangla Dam are wrong. Let me make it clear that this construction and subsequent upraising was against our will; and was forced upon us. It could be called injustice, oppression, exploitation, but not sacrifice. If Pakistan wants water and energy then best thing is to construct dams inside Pakistan.”
Of course some other people also asked some harsh questions, among them were questions of Arshad Malik and Mobeen Qadari; and you didn’t look happy. Perhaps you were not expecting this kind of ‘reception’. May be you were expecting to hear Shabaz Sharif Zindabad and Muslim League zindabad. May be we have disappointed you; but don’t you think we are also disappointed by your policies and policies of other Pakistani leaders.
However, I agree with you that General Musharaf has done enormous damage to the Kashmir dispute; but he was a Pakistani General and a Pakistani President. To us Kashmiris, Pakistani rulers whether in uniform or in a sherwani and a suit have same Kashmir policy. They all want to occupy us and enslave us, deprive us of fundamental human rights; and exploit our economic resources.
I also agree with you that Pakistan needs economic stability in order to influence the Kashmir dispute. But Sir, economic stability is also important for people of Jammu and Kashmir; then why Pakistan is exploiting us and using our natural resources?
Chief Minister Sahib, you are lucky man. You were born with a golden spoon in mouth. You are extremely rich and powerful. You, your brother Nawaz Sharif and your party are very popular in Pakistan; but your Kashmir policy is not. All of Pakistani leaders and generals are obsessed with getting Kashmir, occupy Kashmir and exploit resources of Kashmir.
This policy of getting Kashmir at all costs, be it in form of Tribal Invasion, Operation Gibraltar or Kargil fiasco have backfired and landed Pakistan in quandary. But no one seems to be concerned about evaluating that totally flawed and out of date policy.
Sir, don’t you think it is time to review Pakistan’s Kashmir policy? If you want to make Pakistan prosperous and stable then you need to learn from past mistakes. You also need to seriously and sincerely evaluate Pakistan’s Kashmir policy; and formulate a new policy in view of new geopolitical situation.
And before you do that, please keep in mind that Kashmir dispute is not an issue of water. It is not a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan. It is not a jugular vein of Pakistan. It is not an issue of accession with India or Pakistan. It is not part of Two Nations Theory, and Mohammed Ali Jinnah more than once demonstrated that through his statement and practise.
Sir, Kashmir dispute concerns fundamental right of self determination of people of Jammu and Kashmir, a right which is our birth right, a right which no one could take away from us - even rulers of Pakistan could not take that right away from us.
And finally, please don’t confuse right of self determination with right of accession which was given to us in the UN resolution of 5 January 1949. In Pakistan may be right of accession is called right of self determination, but world at large have different meaning of right of self determination – this right could not be limited or made conditional.
The above observations are made by a true Kashmiri nationalist who does not seek any favours from you or anyone else; and if this letter somehow makes its way to you please don’t get angry. Please remember that the above views are shared by all true Kashmiris and you need to take them in to consideration when formulating the Kashmir policy.
Finally we people of Jammu and Kashmir have no desire to be part of either India or Pakistan; and those Kashmiris who tell you that they are eager to join Pakistan are not sincere with you. They don’t want to join Pakistan but they don’t want to say that because they don’t want to deprive themselves of rewards and privileges which Pakistan agencies provide them.
Dr Shabir Choudhry
Head of Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets; also Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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