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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2611

Fault lies with us Kashmiris

BY Dr Shabir Choudhry

Rulers of Pakistan more than once have put their cards on table. They have told us categorically that Pakistan has no interest in our azadi meaning independence. In name of our azadi and right of self determination Pakistan wanted to make Kashmir part of Pakistan.

Now with every passing day policy makers of Islamabad realize that their dream of getting whole of Jammu and Kashmir with all of its resources will never become a reality. And in the present geo political situation and mounting problems of Pakistan it is becoming extremely difficult to continue with its Kashmir policy which is full of risks for Pakistan, its future and the region.

So once again President Musharaf who also happens to be Army Chief of Pakistan as well, without any ambiguity said: 'he was opposed to independence for Kashmir and said that Pakistan will give up its claims on the state (of Jammu and Kashmir) if India accepts his four-point solution that includes demilitarization and "self-governance with joint supervision mechanism".'

This statement suggests that in the view of Islamabad the Kashmiri struggle had nothing to do with right of self determination, which we say is our inherent and inalienable right, but it had more to do with Pakistan's claim on the State. Of course the claim was to give Kashmir to Pakistan, not that Kashmiris should be given independence or an opportunity to decide their future in accordance with principle of right of self determination.

Although I strongly disagree with his thesis but I am grateful to General Musharaf that he has put his cards on the table that Kashmiri people should know what exactly is the role and position of Kashmiris. And when he says he is prepared to abandon his claim on the rest of Jammu and Kashmir it clearly means a division of the State with India keeping what it has and Pakistan taking the rest by 'legitimizing' its occupation on the remaining parts of the State.

An interesting question however will arise. India claims that the State acceded to the Indian Union in 1947 which was provisional and which has been contested ever since. However the accession, provisional as it was, was for the whole of the State and not for some areas. This accession and its principles gradually eroded away, as New Delhi exerted its agenda of integrating Jammu and Kashmir; and link with India was further bolstered by making Jammu and Kashmir part of the Indian Constitution.

So India claims Kashmir on the basis of that provisional accession. Pakistan although claims Jammu and Kashmir but has no such accession treaty; or even legal right to control or annex areas of Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. And now if division is accepted by both governments what will be the legal position of that accession which had fragile and controversial legal standing anyway? Moreover, what will be the status of Kashmiris living on both sides of the LOC?

It is an interesting situation. Pakistan says to people of Jammu and Kashmir that we don't want to make you part of Pakistan, and that you remain with India. Whether we like it dislike it, this is the stand of the present government of Pakistan. Some Kashmiri leaders, Syed Ali Gilani and some others show their annoyance over this policy of Pakistan and say please make us part of Pakistan.

What does this say about mental status of these people, and their maturity as politicians and leaders? True, these people have been receiving rewards from Islamabad for fighting against Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir and showing to the world that they wanted to be part of Pakistan. This strategy suited both. It suited Pakistan that these people promote their policy; and they were handsomely rewarded for their services. It also suited these people as it brought home bread and butter, and moreover it gave them some status in the society that they were leaders of Kashmir.

This situation is similar to those Jihadi friends who were brought from various corners of the world to fight the Soviet Russia in Afghanistan. Once the Russians had withdrawn the deal was off- no more rain of dollars and no more supply of stinger missiles etc. The party which had control of purse and was a dominant party unilaterally called off the deal. They were allowed to continue to fight among themselves or go home on their own expenses.

Similarly the dominant party in the Kashmiri struggle and the party which controlled the purse have unilaterally called off the deal, as this is more favorable to its present national interests. But some Kashmiri are upset because of this. If this policy is implemented then many people will become unemployed with no chance of getting a suitable employment as their skills and experience learnt over the years will not be appropriate to new situation.

One affected party of this new policy of Pakistan will be United Jehad Council, the conglomerate of militant outfits in Kashmir. UJC expressed its resentment over the statement of General Musharaf, and termed it as an 'unilateral concession'. They further said that "Kashmiris can't compromise on their right to self-determination. Options like joint control can only be acceptable if they are a stepping stone for right to self-determination,"

Nearly all Kashmiri leaders have shown their response to this statement of General Musharaf. As usual we are divided, some have welcomed it and others have expressed their resentment. Some leaders have been categorical in their resentment as was the head of the Mahaz-e-Aazadi, Aazam Inquilabi, who said: "Both countries (India and Pakistan) have decided to cut the throat of Kashmiris. But our stand is that both must vacate Kashmir, and we will stand firm on it till death".

Some other leaders were still not prepared to accept the reality and as if they were in control of the situation. Shabir Ahmad Shah of the Democratic Freedom Party said that the statement could be General Pervez Musharraf's personal view. "However, the real decision has to be taken by the people of the state".

Kashmiri brother, please for God sake wake up, and don't deceive yourself anymore. Pakistan and India will do what suits their national interest. After they have decided what should be done with the State of Jammu and Kashmir they will ask their puppets- some sitting in the Assemblies and some parading outside as leaders and representatives to rubber stamp that decision and they will happily do it and call it as a great success for the Kashmiri struggle.

Some leaders have been used by India and others have been used by Pakistan. Some have demonstrated against India on the advice of Islamabad and others have demonstrated against Pakistan on the advice of New Delhi. Some have pulled a trigger on advice of Islamabad and others have pulled it on advice of New Delhi, and both had devastating consequences for the people of Kashmir.

But Kashmiri leaders have to think of this in light of their conscience that how many times they have been asked to play a role in the talks which are held to decide our future- future of our motherland and our children?

This attitude of Islamabad and New Delhi should make us realise our status and our role. Both wanted to get whole of Jammu and Kashmir, and both had plans which suited their national interests; and both have used Kashmiri leaders right from 1947 to date. Both countries are gainers in this struggle and we Kashmiris are the losers.

But all is not lost yet, provided from now onwards we think as Kashmiris and act as Kashmiris. We take this solemn pledge that we will give priority to national interest of Jammu and Kashmir, as India and Pakistan give precedence to their national interest.

Some people in order to pull the wool over our eyes might say that it is Musharaf's policy and not Pakistan's policy. As long as he is the President it is Pakistan's policy, and we have to treat it as such and must not fall in false sense of belonging. If after all this, we as a nation still do not take a position and live in a fantasy world then fault lies with us and not with those who plan to divide us.

Dr Shabir Choudhry: Writer is Chairman of Diplomatic Committee of JKLF and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.

- Asian Tribune -

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