Challenges, Options And Role Of Kashmiri Diaspora
By Dr Shabir Choudhry
03 May, 2010
Text of speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a seminar arranged by United Kashmir Peoples National Party in London on 25 April 2010.
Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues aslamo alaykam
Some previous speakers have said Pakistan is an advocate or wakeel of people of Jammu and Kashmir; and that Pakistan has suffered because of the support rendered to the people of Kashmir. They further said Pakistan has done many favours to people of Kashmir; and have kept the Kashmir dispute alive.
That is one way of looking at things, but there is, of course, an alternative view. I want to present that alternative view that people could understand facts about Pakistan’s support for Kashmir; and ‘favour’ Pakistan has done to people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Advocate or wakeel is always appointed or dismissed by a client. People of Jammu and Kashmir did not appoint Pakistan as their advocate, wakeel or representative. Pakistan is self appointed advocate and we have no faith in Pakistan’s sincerity or skills to promote our cause or protect our interests.
Furthermore, when the Kashmir dispute was taken to the UN Security Council by India it was registered there as the Kashmir Problem. It clearly indicated that the issue related to a separate territory other than India or Pakistan; and to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. First ‘favour’ the government of Pakistan did to the people of Jammu and Kashmir was to change that to India and Pakistan problem.
What this showed was that the problem was related to India and Pakistan and not to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It also showed that Jammu and Kashmir was not a separate territory and people of that territory did not have separate identity and separate existence. It further showed that the dispute was a territorial one; and was not related to nation, its identity and future aspirations.
Let me now explain the second ‘favour’ the government of Pakistan did to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The UNCIP Resolution of 13 August 1948 stated that ‘the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people and to that end, upon acceptance of the Truce Agreement both Governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured.’
The phrase ‘future status’ could mean an accession to Pakistan, an accession to India or an independent Jammu and Kashmir; and when this was confirmed by the UN, it was the government of Pakistan which requested the UN Security Council to change this phrase and replace it with the following: ‘The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite.’
So it was Pakistan and not India, which limited Kashmiri peoples right of self determination to right of accession.
This self appointed advocate or wakeel thinks we people of Jammu and Kashmir do not deserve to be an independent nation. They think we do not deserve to use right of self determination. They think we do not deserve to benefit from fruits of independence and democracy. It was because of this thinking they did us another ‘favour’, and limited our right of self determination to right of accession. However they have ‘kindly’ allowed us - people of Jammu and Kashmir to choose our masters in the form of either acceding to India or Pakistan.
We, people of Jammu and Kashmir, are urged to join Pakistan – a country which has no system of accountability, no transparency, no democracy, no political stability, no rule of law, no concept of civil liberties, no economic stability, no electricity, no gas, no place for merit or honesty and which is at war with itself. A country which is in chaos, where terrorists are calling shots, where communal rivalry and violence is promoted, where government has no control in some parts of the country; and where some parts want to break away from the federation and future looks bleak.
People say there is no comparison between two sides of Kashmir because India has more than half million troops there. I agree there is no comparison. It is true there are more than half million troops. It is also true human rights abuse take place there, but despite 21 years of militancy, destruction and instability that area is far ahead of Pakistani Administered Kashmir.
They have what we cannot even dream of on this side of the LOC. They have medical colleges, technical colleges, engineering colleges, free education, high literacy rate, freedom of speech, freedom of travel, freedom to protest etc. They have human rights abuses but they have a system of recording those abuses and highlighting them.
Don’t be under any illusion, human rights abuse also takes place on this side of the LOC, but we have no system of recording that; in fact, no one dares to speak against that because of the repercussions. Leaders on that side of the LOC shout against India and yet they travel to all parts of Jammu and Kashmir, visit Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi and eat chicken tikkas.
Whereas on this side of the LOC, Azad Kashmiri Prime Minister and President cannot even travel to Gilgit Baltistan, and area part of the State. Azad Kashmiri leaders and political activists cannot even think of going to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. They are not even allowed to have peaceful demonstrations and prime examples are the demonstrations of Mirpur and Rawalakot, where people demonstrated against electric load shedding and problems associated with that.
More electricity is produced in Mirpur and other parts of Azad Kashmir than our requirement, and that electricity is used in Pakistan and we don’t get enough to meet our needs. People of Mirpur and Rawalakot were demanding electricity and an end to more than 14 hours a day load shedding. They were peaceful and they had no guns, and yet they were mercilessly beaten up and guns were used against them injuring scores of innocent people.
Just imagine if these people were trained by India, guns were provided by them and these guns were used against Pakistani army in Azad Kashmir, then you would know what human rights abuse is. Everyone knows it was Pakistan who trained militants, gave them guns, and asked them to use them against the Indian army. India reacted and committed human rights abuses, and now they have more than half million army there. No one can defend that. But ask yourself if they had half million army there before the start of the militancy. Answer is no. So those who started militancy, trained men, sent guns and bombs provided a reason for India to station this large army there.
Many more examples could be given to explain the situation regarding two parts of Kashmir, but due to time I cannot go in to details. But I have to tell you some more facts, bitter as they are. Those leaders and parties who preach you to liberate the Valley of Kashmir or Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir first are not sincere with the cause of Kashmir.
In disguise these people are promoting someone else’s agenda. Their aim is not to liberate Kashmir, but to promote interests of those who want to keep India engaged in Jammu and Kashmir. They want to give this impression that problem is only on the Indian side of the divide, and on the Pakistani side of the divide everything is rosy. That is not true. This part is also occupied, but people are hoodwinked in name of religion and brotherhood. We should learn how Pakistan has practically annexed our motherland - area of Gilgit Baltistan.
On this side of the LOC, we are occupied by Pakistan. Our resources are exploited by them. Our struggle is on this side of the divide. My struggle starts from Bhimber. It starts from Mirpur and Kotli and other parts of Pakistani Administered Kashmir. People of the Indian side of Kashmir are struggling for independence on that side of the divide and they are making big sacrifices. I feel their suffering. I admire their spirit and sacrifices. I fully support that struggle; and want to help and advance the cause of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir.
My words might appear harsh, and some might call this ‘anti Pakistan’. I am not anti Pakistan; in fact no Kashmiri is anti Pakistan. Examples I have given regarding Pakistani role are historical facts. I am not here to promote a Pakistani interest. My mission is to promote a Kashmiri interest and explain to people who have done what against us to harm us, and to enslave us. In discharging this duty if another country’s strategic or other interest are damaged it DOES NOT worry me. It DOES NOT worry me if people dislike or oppose me for promoting a Kashmiri interest.
In conclusion, we people are faced with challenges of extremism, violence and hatred. We are challenged by anti democratic anti liberal forces. We people of Jammu and Kashmir do not have many choices. We have only two choices: accept this intimidation and occupation and become collaborators, or stand up and oppose them. Come what may, we have decided to stand up and fight them back. END
Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee 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: www.drshabirchoudhry.blogspot.com