Thursday, March 20, 2014

Freezing of Kashmir issue, not an option

Recently a seminar on ‘Human rights in South-Asia’ was held in Geneva. A leader of Democratic Liberation Party (DLP), Mr. Junaid Qureshi, in his speech of which text appeared in Daily Kashmir Images on 19-03-2014 has suggested “freezing of Kashmir issue”. Though everybody is entitled to his own opinion, but the suggestion seems totally out of sync with the ground situation here.

Freezing of Kashmir issue will have dangerous consequences for the peace and stability of not only India and Pakistan but for the entire sub-continent. That is why participants and regional experts in a recent Track II conference organized by Centre for Dialogue and Reconstruction (CDR) and Jinnah Institute (JI) at New Delhi stressed for serious talks for Kashmir resolution at earliest. The joint resolution issued at the conference “called upon both governments (India & Pakistan) to urgently take up discussions on Jammu and Kashmir so that a solution that is acceptable to India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) can be found.”

Any effort to put Kashmir issue on backburner will be tantamount to inviting more bloodshed and would push Kashmir youth to the wall. With authorities here curbing dissent with iron fist and leaving no room for peaceful resistance, it will force youth to think on other options.

In such a situation it is imperative to prioritize Kashmir settlement, as Kashmir holds key to long lasting peace in the region. Without any significant breakthrough on Kashmir dispute there is always a threat that bonhomie created by Indo-Pak trade and people to people contacts will get easily derailed by any single incident in Kashmir.

Furthermore Kashmiris having offered exemplary sacrifices in pursuit of self-determination will never allow this issue to be sidelined. Resistance leadership here even though wants better Indo-Pak relations but they too are aware of the fact that keeping the K-issue in limbo will take situation back to square one.   

Moreover the scheduled withdrawal of US-led NATO troops from Afghanistan will free both India and Pakistan from psychological battle there and will put focus on Kashmir resolution. By keeping Kashmir dispute lingering will only add to uncertain situation here with its spillback effects on the region’s stability and thereby peace and stability of the entire sub-continent.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Kashmir Freedom: Kashmir struggle needs change in approach

Published in Daily Pakistan Observer
There is forced silence prevailing in the valley, which some perceive as peace. But everyone is well aware of the fact that even a small incident can snowball into a major unrest. However current mood in pro-freedom camp caught by inertia and controversies hardly suggests anything challenging for the government, at-least till 2014. The date set for US led NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, which many analysts suggest will be challenging period for Pakistan, but many believe post-withdrawal equation may favour Pakistan and may see increasing Iran-Pakistan cooperation in Afghanistan, unlike the past.

Events in Kashmir have largely been influenced by situation in Pakistan. Today Pakistan has number of issues to worry about and finds it hard to continue its backing to Kashmir struggle the way many Kashmiris and Pakistanis themselves would want it to do. From many years Pakistani establishment has been pushing for some sort of “compromise solution” and by and large has remain content and in a way helped in pushing Kashmir to cold storage. Even some reports say India and Pakistan are involved in some behind the curtain negotiations on Kashmir, which may see some ‘Confidence Building Measures’ about Kashmir but shorn of altering the status-quo, despite it being fraught with dangerous consequences.

In all along these years there has been little or no effort by Kashmir leaders to project the indigenous nature of the struggle. They have remained comfortable by aligning themselves to the interest of governments of India and Pakistan. Though those parties who are in JK Assembly by virtue of fighting elections can’t claim to work for resolution of Kashmir issue as long as they are in the Assembly as UN resolution of 1957 says “…any action that assembly may have taken or might attempt to take to determine the future shape and affiliation of the entire state or any part thereof, or action by the parties concerned in support of any such action by the assembly would not constitute a disposition of the state in accordance with the above principle.”

By and large politicians of all hues and cries in J&K are seen as political employees of governments of India and Pakistan. Unfortunately same holds true for majority of leaders claiming to fight for freedom and rights of Kashmiris. For the past six decades world saw Indian and Pakistani leaders meeting to discuss Kashmir issue keeping their respective national interests in mind, with tone and tenor of Kashmiri leaders hardly suggesting anything relating to Kashmiri interest or different to what India and Pakistan had to say. With Kashmiri leadership lacking independent approach and voice about their own issue world saw it as bilateral problem to be solved by India and Pakistan, that too despite people of Kashmir having suffered immensely and being the prime party to the dispute. 

Though strong and stable Pakistan is must for resolution of Kashmir issue but complete reliance on Pakistan has in a way harmed our cause and in-fact pushed Pakistan towards trouble as it has also suffered due to lingering of Kashmir issue. Pakistan’s maneuvering of ideological dissent in Kashmir compounded the problem. Had India pushed Bangladesh’s (then East Pakistan) Mukti Bahini to urge for accession with West Bengal, the issue would have been still there even now. Despite being a legal part of Pakistan according to partition plan of 1947, India’s military intervention in East Pakistan was seen as support to Bangladesh’s national struggle not an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty. But Pakistan miserably failed to do the same in Kashmir despite being the fact that Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory and instead neutralized half of the population in 90’s by supporting a particular group only and thus undermined Kashmir’s national liberation struggle.

The question of Independent Kashmir is not new and in-fact was there since the inception of Kashmir dispute. Abdul Qayoom Khan, ex-Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir and leader of Muslim Conference, who swears by accession of Kashmir with Pakistan mentions in his book “Muqadma-e-Kashmir” that on June 4, 1947 Lord Mountbatten presented partition plan in a press conference and about the status of princely states he said they are free to choose whether they can opt for independence or merger with India and Pakistan. According to him Nehru was against granting princely states the option of Independence, however Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah supported the move.  Further he mentions that in the convention of Muslim Conference on 19 July 1947, Choudhary Hameedullah Khan presented resolution for opting independence for Kashmir. He says at that time people of Kashmir had only three options merger with India, merger with Pakistan or Independent Kashmir. However later Muslim Conference voted for accession of the state with Pakistan.

And as such “instrument of accession” which India claims was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh which even if believed was signed by him is temporary in nature and needs to be subjected to ratification or rejection by people. Hence that exercise has to be conducted for its ratification or rejection by the people in shape of referendum and that too has to contain option of independence as Kashmir was a princely state in 1947.  

Even UN resolutions on Kashmir do not negate option of Independence as many believe so. UN resolution of 13 August 1948 state “Kashmir is a disputed territory whose future status shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people.” To determine the future status it can have any number of options. It is UN resolution of Jan 5. 1949 which limit choice between India or Pakistan only. In total there are 18 resolutions favoring right to self-determination of Kashmiris. However passing of one resolution doesn’t mean previous one is discarded. These all resolutions are complementary in nature and must be seen in its totality. Right to independence is essential ingredient of right to self-determination and no individual, group or party has right to circumscribe it. By putting restrictions of accession with India or Pakistan only it ceases to be right of self-determination and rather becomes right to accession.

 Furthermore All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) fighting peacefully to achieve the objective of right to self-determination mentions in its very first objective that it will strive: “To make peaceful struggle to secure for the people of the state of J&K the exercise of the right of self-determination in accordance with the UN Charter and the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council. However, the exercise of the right of self-determination shall also include the right to independence as explained in sub-clause (ii).”

So every party belonging to the APHC has legal obligation to explain right to self-determination, they can’t elucidate it before the public as per their own personal wish as they are constitutionally bound to stress on the three options included in this exercise as otherwise would be violation of APHC constitution.

More-ever Kashmiris in many opinion polls conducted so far have overwhelmingly voted for Independence as their preferable choice. Still after rendering innumerable sacrifices by Kashmiris logjam and stalemate continues over Kashmir. It is high time that leadership gives a thought for change in approach and strategy about Kashmir struggle. That will be befitting tribute to all martyrs of Kashmir and only way of achieving long lasting peace in the region.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

US intervention in Libya

As the NATO backed rebels continue their surge towards Libyan capital Tripoli, with reports of Gaddafi’s sons been arrested by rebels, US and UK seemed jubilant and called it “end of road for Gaddafi”. Nevertheless Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi seemed defiant in his audio messages calling upon Libyans to protect the integrity of their nation.

Whether Gaddafi is acceptable to the people of Libya or not should have been left to Libyans to decide but it is ironic that US led NATO is trying to enforce the regime change through instigating polarization and Balkanization of Libyan society. Already NATO air strikes have reduced many places to rubble their and killed hundreds of people. 

Yet under the guise of protecting civilians in Libya US and its allies are working on their covert plan of installing puppet regime as world is made to believe as if their air strikes are “peaceful bombing’ meant only to disperse not to kill. There is no fair coverage of damages caused due to NATO air strikes which few months back killed Gaddafi’s youngest son and three of his grandsons besides many others.

Gaddafi is quite right that if rebels backed by US and its allies take over Tripoli Libya will descend to imperial powers once again. Where ever NATO made military intervention those places have found themselves in the mesh of mess and violence. World is witnessing events in Iraq where US went under the fa├žade of liberating Iraqis from Saddam Hussein and Weapons of Mass destruction and deadly violence in Afghanistan which is again a result of US military intervention.

These places were better-off before the US led NATO intervention than what they are presently finding themselves in. After coming to power in Libya Col. Gaddafi made many economic, political and social reforms mainly in education and health sector and Libya was fast moving towards prosperity in all respects. But owing to its bullying attitude and in pursuit of maintaining its hegemony US continues to muzzle every defiance in its way of unilateralism and overlordship.

Whether Gaddafi remains in power or not, oppressed, victimized and vituperated people of Kashmir will always remember him as hero of proletariat and a great leader who empathized with Kashmir cause at international forums. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Analyzing Sham Lal Sharma’s remarks

Recently Senior Congress leader and Minister for health and horticulture Sham Lal Sharma stirred hornets nest by advocating trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir during a rally where he called for making Jammu a separate state while seeking Azadi (freedom) for the Valley and Union Territory status for Ladakh. On the face of it, without going into depth what he meant by Jammu and other details, it looks a genuine and nice idea which can pave way for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
This idea should be given a serious thought as it is no secret that aspirations from the majority sentiment of complete independence overall in Jammu and Kashmir differ in some pockets and if we talk about getting our aspirations not only acknowledged but respected and acted upon there should be no reason for us not to respect any other sentiment in some areas of J&K which differ from the majority aspiration.

Present boundaries of J&K are not natural but colonial one, as history tells us in 1819 forces of Ranjit Singh defeated Afghans and Kashmir became part of Sikh dominion. In 1820 Ranjit Singh granted principality of Jammu to Ghulab Singh. After the death of Ranjit Singh trouble arose between Sikh and British for the possession of Punjab.

Ghulab Singh stroke a tactic understanding with British and betrayed fellow Sikhs by refusing them additional war materials and by delaying the dispatch of food supplies. After British win in Punjab he was rewarded with a hill territory between Ravi and Indus. By the treaty signed at Lahore on March 9, 1846 he got Jammu, Poonch, Ladakh and Baltistan. A week later on March 16 through treaty of Amritsar British sold Kashmir to Ghulab Singh. He tried to capture Gilgit, Yasin, Chilas, Hunza and Nagar but did not succeed. These areas maintained close relations with their powerful neighbours before they fell under British sway.

Furthermore it is understandable that while devising any solution for the future of Jammu and Kashmir the national interests of Kashmiris have to be kept supreme as they are the primary and main stake holders but the vital national interests of India, Pakistan and even China are to be taken into consideration for long lasting and permanent and durable solution to this dispute. China being a close ally of Pakistan which has trade and other links through northern areas of J&K (Gilgit & Baltistan) will never want that Pakistan should loose grip over these areas and more so these areas have hardly identified themselves with the liberation struggle going on in Kashmir for complete independence and remained busy with their territorial status. And India has vital strategic interests in Leh region of Ladakh and will like to maintain that at any cost and like above this area has never witnessed anything in favour of our struggle.

Kashmir valley, from Jammu region (Doda, Poonch, Rajouri, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Gool gulabgarh, Arnas, Basoli) and Pakistan Administered Kashmir (Azad Kashmir) are those areas where there is direct impact of lingering of Kashmir dispute. They are the real sufferers who have their life, honour, property and every thing at stake and can be referred as War Affected Areas. Those areas other than mentioned are also disputed but relatively peaceful and these areas can wait for hundreds of years for resolution of Kashmir dispute. But war affected ones need attention.

Also those espousing the cause of complete independence and self determination for J&K need not to be romantic about the slogan of “Gilgit to Lakhanpur” without ensuring active participation of all regions and areas of J&K in resistance struggle. People of two and a half district (Kathua, Samba) of Jammu have shown when they supported communal chauvinists and intelligence agencies in enforcing blockade on us with what they are. So one needs to be liberal to grant these areas their own choice what they want and aspire in terms of future of J&K.

Now the people of war affected areas with one idea and thought can have serious engagement with India and Pakistan over their future. It is the duty of pro-freedom leadership to devise and assert a pro-Kashmiri view from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad which will compel both India and Pakistan to act and get due acknowledgment of a genuine rights movement not as projected by vested quarters as extension of others foreign policy but a movement for independence and sovereignty of Kashmir.

Ultimately both India and Pakistan will have to come clean on Kashmir dispute, the best way is one which guarantees and respects Kashmiris national aspirations. One such instance can be that war affected areas can be made temporary independent for 5,7,10 or say 15 years, a period during which sentiments of both Indians and Pakistanis will cool down and a referendum can be held in a viable environment about Kashmir as whether to continue independence, join India or Pakistan or have any other way out. Areas other than war affected ones can decide the whether to join future prospect of Kashmir or chalk their own course. Neither their should be forced marriages nor forced divorces. Only that solution will be acceptable, workable, viable and amicable which will reflect people’s aspirations and none-else.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

And thus spake Farooq

Published in Daily Rising Kashmir

Whatever National Conference President said in Indian Parliament was an exercise of rubbing salt on the wounds of Kashmiris

Waseem Shah

This refers to the debate in Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) about the “unrest in Kashmir” in which many Indian MP’s including National Conference President and Union Minister for new and renewable energy resources Farooq Abdullah also participated.

As expected it looked more an exercise of rubbing salt on the wounds of Kashmiris rather than any meaningful debate and discourse. But the way Farooq Abdullah tried to prove himself more loyal any other member sitting there in parliament.

There was no word of condemnation or sympathy for those people, which included kids and women as well, killed by CRPF and Police and other excesses perpetuated by them during this “unrest” by Farooq Abdullah. Instead he blamed media in Kashmir for “wrong reporting” and adding fire to fuel, it is ironic that a person claiming to represent Kashmiris speaking  such  language. Media in Kashmir is doing objective and fair reporting of events in most trying and testing times for which they should be lauded. From gagging, stopping circulation of newspapers and banning local channels, beating and threatening journalists and stopping them from doing their professional duties is what they get from the champions of democracy. Kashmiri journalists have given their lives for maintaining the sacredness of this noble work.

His utterance that complete independence of Kashmir is not viable and would make Kashmir another Afghanistan shows his meek mentality. Independence of Kashmir is not only viable but the only solution to this dispute and Kashmiris are determined to get it. Kashmiris are peace loving people who have full faith in democratic principles and Kashmir was independent nation before 1585 AD and has recorded rich history which is more than 5000 years old, by saying after independence its situation will be like Afghanistan is sheer distortion of facts and jaundiced vision. Kashmir has been bestowed with so much of resources that not only Kashmir will prosper after independence but will be in position to give aid to poor countries in need of it. However, the people who run their politics by selling the interests and honour of their nations to enjoy perks and privileges of power can’t realize and accept this fact.

There is no point in arguing about the rhetoric that whole Kashmir including Pakistan administrated Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan is an integral part of India, once out of power he will himself confront it, as everybody knows that it is an internationally recognized disputed territory whose fate is yet to be decided by its people. Every one knows that Farooq Abdullah is a person who blows hot and cold in same breath but at a time when entire Kashmiri nation is aghast over the killing of innocent people his comments shows his total disregard and disrespect to the sentiments of Kashmiris.
Regarding BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi’s remarks that autonomy is not viable and hence shouldn’t be given to Kashmiris is as Kashmiris are with begging bowl before Indian government to receive autonomy. No body here in Kashmir is anyway interested in autonomy in which even the Prime Minister can be herded to jail by a police constable on the instructions of Delhi.  Kashmiris are fighting for complete independence with an aim to live honourably among the comity of nations with full membership of UNO, OIC, SAARC and other honourable world bodies.

Amidst all this only sane voice which showed some respect for the sentiments of people of Kashmir was of Barrister Assaduddin Owaisi, Leader of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and MP from Hyderabad, he voiced concern over the killings in valley at the hands of troops and offered condolences and paid tributes to the people killed. He cited many examples and lambasted government over the human rights violation in Kashmir and the severe difficulties people are facing due to curfews and other restrictions. He spoke in favour of releasing prisoners, revoking Public Safety Act and withdrawing troops from civilian areas but it was quite painful to see Farooq Abdullah confronting him over this. It was Farooq Abdullah’s duty to present these views expressed by Owaisi before parliament but he chose otherwise.

“Mainstream” politicians in Kashmir have been swayed by power which made them so blind that they are not able to see the sufferings of people of Kashmir. Such people won’t be even owned by India at the end and once they outlive their utility they will be shown the gate. It is time for mainstream politicians to shun their respective political ideology and join the freedom struggle with full sincerity. That is the only way people will forgive them for their follies they committed with the Kashmiri nation time and time again.