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‘I Loved Pakistan Until I Visited Pakistani Occupied Kashmir’

By Dr Shabir Choudhry

11 July, 2010

Pakistan had to twist the knife to make it relevant again.

Death of innocent people, especially young children has created a new situation in Kashmir; and gave Spokesman of Pakistan Foreign Office to express his resentment and show that Pakistan was still relevant in the Kashmir dispute; and still hold some cards up the sleeve.

A few weeks before this unrest, an impartial survey confirmed that 98% of the people of Kashmir did not want to join Pakistan. This was a big slap on the face of those who claimed and continue to claim that people of Kashmir were eager to join Pakistan and were giving sacrifices for this purpose. These claims are made despite the current deteriorating economic and security situation of Pakistan in which many Pakistanis don’t want to remain part of the Federation.

This survey was conducted by a prominent British Think Tank - Chatham House, which has its own expertise in matters of South Asia. The survey confirmed what we – nationalist Kashmiris have always claimed that people were not interested in joining Pakistan. We believe that the Kashmir dispute is not religious in nature; and concerns our inherent and unrestricted right of self determination.

Pakistani establishment and their puppets have, hitherto, made themselves relevant in the Kashmir dispute not because of any legal standing, but because of their de-facto control, religious card and Kashmiri collaborators which are available in abundance on both sides of the divide.

Many experts and Kashmir watchers after the survey thought Pakistan was becoming irrelevant in the Kashmir dispute because of this change; and because of Pakistan’s serious internal economic and terrorism related problems. Somehow Pakistan had to ‘strike back’ and make it relevant again; and they have done it in a style.

For this ‘gain if some Kashmiris have lost their lives, its price worth paying’, said one Kashmiri, on condition of anonymity. He said, ‘Pakistani agencies have always outmanoeuvred India over issue of Kashmir. They create a situation with help of their collaborators and Indians not only walk in, but jump in it and get trapped’.

End result in this dirty game is killing of innocent Kashmiris and human rights violations. It serves four purposes.

It further alienate the people of Kashmir and their resentment against India grows;

It gives India the kind of image Pakistani establishment wants to project; and make India defensive on issue of Kashmir;

It makes Pakistan relevant in the Kashmir dispute and helps them to promote them as a ‘good boy’ and well wishers of people of Kashmir;

It keeps people of Pakistani Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan under check, as message is given that Pakistan, despite its all faults is not as bad as India, as India kills and commits human rights violations.

It is true people are killed and human rights are being committed on the Indian side of LOC; and comparatively less human rights violations take on the Pakistani side of LOC, but no one has time or even care to look at reasons.

People on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir, especially Muslims of the Valley have not accepted the Indian rule, and after help from Pakistan have rebelled against India. On the hand people under Pakistani control have accepted their direct and indirect rule; and depending on interpretation and political thinking or lack of it, one might call it Azadi or slavery.

So if people of Pakistani Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan have surrendered unconditionally and have agreed to call their slavery ‘freedom’ and azadi, then why would Pakistan kill these subservient people, who go out of their way to please Islamabad. Some of these Kashmiris proudly claim that they are ‘fighting Pakistan’s war’; and that they are ‘unpaid soldiers of Pakistan’. Soldiers they may be, but surely they are not unpaid.

Perhaps these people are clever, as they know what awaits them if they expressed their resentment and challenged rule of Islamabad, because tragedy of East Pakistan is not that old. Furthermore, they know what is happening to those Pakistanis who have asked for their rights and challenged Islamabad – they face bombardment of jet fighters and helicopter gun ships, their houses are destroyed and they are economically crippled.

After the recent uprising and blood of innocent Kashmiris, Pakistan has perhaps made them relevant again in the Kashmir imbroglio; they might have moral upper hand as well, but they have failed to win minds and hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. True, Muslims of the Valley reject Indian rule, but it must not be construed that they want to join Pakistan.

Showkat Ul Islam from Sopor said: ‘I loved Pakistan before I visited Pakistani Occupied Kashmir.’ He said, ‘Of course we have problems on our side, as there is militancy going on for more than 20 years, but despite that we are far ahead of you in every respect. I have visited POK and in many ways you people are still living in Stone Ages.’

Showkat Ul Islam said, ‘At one time my love for Pakistan was so strong that I punched my friend, Dr Ashfaq Butt of Srinagar when he said something negative about Pakistan’. His friend said to Showkat Ul Islam, ‘You have punched me because you don’t know true face of Pakistan, once you have seen true face you will feel sorry for your action’

Shaowkat Ul Islam said, ‘During my visit to Pakistani Occupied Kashmir I had plenty of opportunities to see what Pakistan is, and how their agencies were using us. Also I witnessed deprivation of people of POK, especially in Neelam Valley. After my experience in POK, I phoned Dr Ashfaq Butt and apologised for my action’.

He said, ‘People who shout India out, do not have love for Pakistan either. We want both India and Pakistan to leave our Kashmir.’ He said, ‘After what Pakistan has done to Gilgit Baltistan we are no longer in any doubts as to designs of Pakistan.’

Pakistani brothers need to understand that our struggle is not for accession of our State with either India or Pakistan. Our struggle is for unification and independence of the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir. Religion has no role in our struggle. We want to promote peace, tolerance and coexistence of all ethnic minorities. We want to promote peace and stability in South Asia and oppose those forces which preach violence, extremism and hatred.

Both India and Pakistan need to understand this simple fact: you cannot win minds and hearts of people by use of force; and you cannot eliminate violence by use of violence because violence breeds more violence. The Kashmir dispute is political in nature and needs political approach; and people of Jammu and Kashmir are the principal party to this dispute and they could not be kept out of the dialogue process.

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.