Mansoor Ijaz as I saw him, Dr Shabir Choudhry
Mansoor Ijaz is a central figure in the Memogate controversy which engulfed politics ofPakistanand very nearly resulted in toppling of the Pakistani government. Subsequently, it resulted in bringing Yasin Malik and Kashmiri politics in it as well. Yasin Malik absolutely had no role in this matter, and common sense dictated that he should have kept quiet after refuting Mansoor Ijaz’s claim that Yasin Malik met RAW Deputy Chief.
However, he jumped in the ring and joined the fray, as it was wish of his ‘hosts’, who call shots in the Kashmiri politics from various platforms. In any case, it was clear the opportunity would also provide huge publicity to Yasin Malik who desperately needed it to boost his declining fame.
Yasin Malik’s close contacts withPakistan’s ISI were known to all; and many of his colleagues felt proud of this fact. Yasin Malik also appreciated their protocol, rewards and ‘hospitality’; however, some Kashmir watchers knew of his close contacts with the RAW as well.
Yasin Malik calls Ijaz Malik a liar because he exposed Yasin Malik and told the world that Yasin Malik was in close contact with the RAW, and had a meeting in his presence with the RAW Deputy Chief in November 2000. The following piece I wrote in 2000, soon after the Kashmir Conference held in New Delhiin which, apart from Mansoor Ijaz and Yasin Malik and other Kashmiri leaders I was also present. This piece was part of my booklet on the visit of New Delhi,Srinagar,Islamabad and Mirpur, but I had to stop its publication on a personal request of Yasin Malik in 2001. I have not made any changes to the original text written nearly 12 years ago; and producing it for the benefit of people who have some interest in this matter
Dr Shabir Choudhry 28 March 2012
Mansoor Ijaz who made headlines because of his behind the scene diplomacy to resolve theKashmir dispute, was a special guest in the Kashmir Conference. Before the evening meal he was called in to address the Conference. He enlightened the audience about his role, and what he said to the Pakistani Chief Executive, General Pervaiz Musharaf and Indian Prime Minister, Vajapayee to start peace process and resolve theKashmir dispute. He also explained problems faced by both leaders.
Salient points of his speech are as follows:
Economic power is a powerful tool of politics and trouble inKashmiris badly hurting both countries economically;
No businessman is prepared to invest in a place where there is danger to his wealth, and may be to his life as well;
Kashmirhas to be resolved through a process of dialogue, and the Kashmiri people must be part of this process;
Indiahas changed to some extent, but needs to do more to the resolve all outstanding disputes between the two countries;
IfIndiadoes not resolve these issues, then the danger is that this ‘violence’ may spill over to other countries; and wrong kind of Islam might spread;
This will in turn give rise to Islamic extremism and will empower the Jihadi groups who are threat to liberal and democratic structures;
Kashmiri struggle, over the years has become a big business and money is pouring in from various sides. Huge amount of money is coming from the Arabs, and the ‘petro dollars are prolonging the conflict. Those who are benefiting from this struggle do not want it to end;
If we want to avoid anotherAfghanistanat our doorsteps then we all have to work together to resolve theKashmirdispute.
Mr Yasin Malik was asked to respond to the points raised by Mansoor Ijaz’s speech. Yasin Malik went up to the podium and dealt with them in appropriate manner. Most people thought Yasin Malik dealt with this in a matured manner, but some one had to spoil everything, and a gentleman from the audience started screaming and verbally abusing Mansoor Ijaz. His uncivilised behaviour brought shame and embarrassment to other Kashmiris as all the day we were praising the Kashmiri culture of tolerance and friendship. This showed that we could only tolerate something we agree with, and refuse to listen to other people who may have opposing or different views. This unwarranted nuisance brought the meeting to early end.
During this uproar, artificially created by this Kashmiri gentleman, many people were trying to control the situation, and Mansoor Ijaz saw me as one of the peacemaker as well. I was also doing my bit to calm down the situation, and at one time this angry man had heated conversation with me. When I said to him, we are also Kashmiris, and we don’t agree with everything he has said; but we should not take right of expression away from him, and we need to show more tolerance and maturity.
He retaliated by saying that you may be a Kashmiri but you live inLondon, and we have to face the consequences here. At that time Dr Nazir Gilani who was listening to the conversation, intervened in my support and said the fact that Shabir Choudhry lives inLondon, does this make him any less Kashmiri than you are? He is just as a good Kashmiri as anyone else, and has his own importance and contribution to the Kashmiri struggle.
During the luxurious evening meal I had an opportunity to discuss matters with Mansoor Ijaz, and my role as a peacemaker helped me to establish a friendly contact with him. We agreed to keep in touch with each other, and we exchanged visiting cards. We both agreed that people of Kashmirneed outside help and support to get out of this tragic impasse. And thatIndiaandPakistanhave entrenched positions and both need help to create conducive environment and a ladder to gradually climb down from their stated positions. He had a longer and detailed discussion with Yasin Malik, and agreed on a future strategy. END