Q1.Could you please brief me about what happened in 1988, which led to first local uprising in Kashmir?
1. Answer by Dr Shabir Choudhry
A. Roots of that uprising could be traced back to many years of mismanagement, maladministration and proxy politics by New Delhi. Turning point was rigged elections of 1987. People finally realised that they cannot have rights or positive changes by ballot. This frustration and anger was visible in the Kashmiri youths. At that time war or ‘Jihad’ in Afghanistan was coming to an end which could have made thousands of people ‘redundant’. These people were not employable in the sense of real employment, as the only skill they had was to use gun in guerrilla warfare and kill and destroy. A skill hardly useful for peace time and development or political stability. The authorities in Islamabad, who managed this ‘jihad’ in Afghanistan, were seriously concerned as these jihadi warriors could have created problems for the Pakistani society, so they had to find some thing for these jihadi warriors to keep them occupied.
B. Also keep in mind that Pakistani government always suspected India, perceived as arch enemy, and was worried that India might attack Pakistan, especially when Rajiev Gandhi was Prime Minister of India, so they wanted to ‘engage India’ and ‘keep India bleeding’ that she cannot consider any military adventure against Pakistan.
C. Apart from that Islamabad wanted to take revenge from India for 1971 defeat; and take revenge from Kashmiris for not ‘helping’ them in war of 1965 and in 1947.
D. But there is another aspect to this. In 1987 Amanullah Khan, Chair of JKLF was expelled from the UK because of alleged anti state activities. He felt very disappointed and frustrated, and envisaged no future for himself, as not many people like to abandon life style of Britain and live in Pakistan. Frustrated and demoralised Amanullah Khan became easy prey of ISI, elite secret agency of Pakistan which masterminded the ‘Jihad’ in Afghanistan. They offered him a deal which was previously rejected by a representative panel of senior leaders of the JKLF, as it was not in favour of the party, the movement and the Kashmiri nation.
E. The JKLF delegation which met senior ISI personnel consisted of five senior leaders of the JKLF, namely late Sardar Rashid Hasrat, Dr Farooq Haider, Hashim Qureshi, Aslam Mirza and Zubair Ansari who was Secretary General at the time of this meeting. Zubair Ansari told this writer that during the course of this meeting he bluntly told the officers that: ‘you are looking for sacrificial lambs (qurbani ke bakray) to target India and advance the interest of Pakistan’. He further said: ‘let me make it clear to you that we will not be part of your proxy war in which people of Jammu and Kashmir will suffer and it will not help our national struggle’.
F. Other members of the delegation, notably Hashim Qureshi was also very forceful in rejecting this deal. But to Amanullah Khan it was an opportunity of life time and he grabbed it with both hands, hence the JKLF provided raw material which was to be used in this ‘proxy war’ to advance Pakistan’s national interest.
G. What you got to remember is at that time there was no JKLF in Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir. Yasin Malik, Javed Mir, Ashfaq Wani, Hamid Sheikh and some others were asked to come to Muzaffarabad for training. The result of this training was the first violent action carried out by the JKLF on 31st July 1988.