Kashmir and India Bashing
Subject of Politics is largely related to opinions and views of people; hence it is divisive and controversial. Despite that, some people insist that when I write on this topic I should avoid controversial things and forge unity. Is that possible? In my view it is not possible to be in politics and still avoid controversy. It is like claiming that someone had a shower, but his body was still dry.
One can, perhaps, avoid controversy by being hypocrite. Hazrat Ali (Radi Allah Tahla) said, ‘that person is a hypocrite who has no enemies, because he does not speak truth’. This reminds me of a story when America and the World economy was in deep recession in 1930s; and the then American President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced a new economic policy called New Deal.
Of course there were many against this policy; and one economic expert of the opposition came to see him and spoke against his policy. President Roosevelt listened to him carefully and said you are right. After he left another person belonging to his party came and praised his policy and courageous stand to get out of the recession. President Roosevelt smiled at him and said you are right. His wife was listening to both conversations; and when this visitor left she said both visitors had opposing views and you agreed with them both. Is this not hypocrisy? President Roosevelt smiled at his wife and said you are also right.
The present militant struggle supported by Pakistani agencies started in 1988/89. Like any other struggle it had ups and down; situation was so bad at one time that India almost lost control of the Valley of Kashmir. However, blunders committed by those who were controlling the militancy from across the LOC; and those in the field calling the shots, allowed India to gradually turn the tide. Situation became so desperate that those controlling the militancy and who claimed that they worked hard to ‘hook India’ in Kashmir quagmire had to bring jihadi warriors from other countries and they were called ‘guest militants’.
I and my colleagues started our struggle in 1970s. Most people at that time compromised with the status quo over the Kashmir dispute. However, when militancy started some people discovered Kashmir in 1990s, and while ordinary people suffered, for some it was a lucrative business. Those cyber warriors, charged with strong tribal sentiments and misplaced loyalties and who are spending all their time to defame me and my struggle for secular, democratic and independent Jammu and Kashmir were no where to be seen all these years.
However, two months ago, just like seasonal birds, known as ‘fasli bateray in Urdu’ they emerged from some where to target me and malign me without providing any evidence. They were fully charged with tribal loyalty, and some other factors also helped them to mount very blunt, aggressive and illogical attack against me.
Attack of these cyber warriors was so forceful that it unnerved some of my close friends and well wishers, even though the attack was primarily against me. It looked that if they can break down me (Dr Shabir Choudhry), their mission is accomplished; and their ‘Kashmir liberated’. However, those who are pulling strings from behind need to know that one can only cause nuisance with help of seasonal birds and foot soldiers, but cannot win any war.
Anyhow, in view of this fierce and uncivilised attack, my friends and well wishers suggested that even though our struggle is on the Pakistani side of the divide, but still you must not write anything to expose Pakistani policy on Kashmir; and only target India. Many close colleagues advised me not to write on controversial things in future to avoid criticism. When I questioned them does that mean:
No more criticism on what Pakistan does in so called Azad Kashmir, what they do in Gilgit Baltistan and what they do to the Kashmir dispute and the people of Jammu and Kashmir on the other side of the LOC;
No more criticism on Jihadi groups and religious groups who promote religious intolerance and create culture of fear and intimidation in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir;
No more criticism on Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Muslim League (N) and other Pakistani political parties operating in Azad Kashmir and in Gilgit Baltistan to promote a Pakistani interest, exploit our resources and to teach us how to be good slaves of Pakistan;
No more criticism on Muslim Conference and religious parties that promote Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan in name of religion; and some promote religious intolerance.
I said to them, should we abandon our struggle against injustice, extremism and hatred just because that will generate controversy and invite some criticism. If that is your motto then we might as well disband our party, buy a praying mate and beads; and find a mosque closer to our homes and close our eyes to every injustice and unfairness that goes in our society. After listening to what I had to say, most of them had no reply, however one of them said: ‘Sir we are not writers or scholars like you. We didn’t mean that. We were only concerned about you because you were being unfairly attacked from all sides; and some people were using degrading language against you.’
Perhaps these friends were sincere with their advice, as they did not want me to get in hot water because of what I write or say. As ‘India bashing’ is popular and gets praise and good rewards, they, as well - wishers wanted me to be rewarded and get a ‘loyalty certificate’. However, what they need to know is that I do this because I honestly and sincerely believe that it is in the best interest of people of Jammu and Kashmir – they need to be aware of hidden enemies; and I don’t do it for any praise or any rewards.
I appreciate their care and concern for me, but what they didn’t know is that I don’t write under pressure. I don’t write to please people or get a ‘loyalty tag’ from anyone. I don’t need a loyalty certificate, especially from the people whose own loyalty to State of Jammu and Kashmir and the people is highly questionable.
Furthermore, I started a nationalist struggle as a teenager in 1973; and don’t need any lessons on nationalism, especially from those who are promoting ‘nationalism’ prepared and nurtured in GHQ of Pakistan and carefully preached by their secret agencies. How could it be a ‘national struggle’ when that struggle is started against one occupier with active help and support of the other occupier? To rub salt in wounds of true nationalists, who ever oppose this secret treaty between some ‘nationalist leaders’ and secret agencies of Pakistan or expose them are labelled as ‘agents’; and those who follow the script are promoted as ‘patriots’ and ‘nationalist leaders’.
I will be the last person to say that India is not responsible for human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir; and I have said that many times. In fact, I have written two booklets on that topic; but some people want us to repeat those acts in a parrot like fashion, and totally ignore what goes on in Pakistani occupied Kashmir and in Gilgit Baltistan. Apart from that overwhelming majority of Kashmiri political activists, Pakistani agencies, Pakistani media and Pakistani political parties actively highlight Indian human rights abuses. They totally ignore plight of the people of Kashmir living on the Pakistani side of the divide, some one has to expose Pakistani policy on Kashmir as well to show that we are also occupied and that these areas are also disputed.
Now let us do some ‘India bashing’ in light of historical facts. Jammu and Kashmir had a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan. Pakistani government violated that Agreement and stopped essential supplies to Kashmir in second week of October 1947. Shall we condemn India because Pakistan violated this Agreement?
Pakistan once again violated that Agreement and on 22 October managed a military attack on Kashmir which resulted in death and destruction of thousands of innocent people. Thousands of Kashmiri women were kidnapped and sold in various parts of Pakistan. Shall we condemn India for this unprovoked attacked on Jammu and Kashmir carried out by Pakistan?
This unprovoked attack of Pakistan forced the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir to seek help from India, which resulted in a ‘Provisional accession’ with India; and we lost our newly acquired independence. Shall we condemn India because Pakistan attacked Kashmir and we lost our independence?
Some Kashmiri nationalists announced a ‘Provisional government’ of Kashmir on 4th October 1947 to pursue a cause of democratic and independent Jammu and Kashmir. On 24th October 1947, Pakistani government, in name of reorganisation took charge of this government and installed their puppets, who have loyally promoted a Pakistani interest to date. This was Pakistan’s first attempt to block Kashmir’s path to independence, shall we condemn India for this?
When the Kashmir dispute was taken to the UN, it was known as ‘Jammu and Kashmir problem’, obviously meaning a problem related to State of Jammu and Kashmir. It was changed to ‘India and Pakistan problem’ on request of Pakistan, making it a territorial issue between India and Pakistan. Shall we condemn India because Pakistan changed the name and made Kashmir a territorial dispute rather than an issue of right of self determination of a Kashmiri nation?
UNCIP Resolution of 13 August 1948 used the following words: ‘The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people’. As these words implied an independent Kashmir, Pakistan suggested 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;..’
This change was proposed by Pakistan and adopted in the next UNCIP Resolution passed on 5 January 1949; and it blocked the option of an independent Jammu and Kashmir. Shall we condemn India because Pakistan blocked an option of an independent Kashmir?
The UNCIP Resolution of 13 August 1948 stated: ‘As the presence of troops of Pakistan in the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes a material change in the situation since it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council, the Government of Pakistan agrees to withdraw its troops from that State.’ The Resolution asked India to withdraw ‘bulk’ of troops from Kashmir; and because Pakistan feared losing a plebiscite if held under those conditions so they refused to withdraw their troops, hence continuation of the dispute and our miseries. Shall we condemn India because Pakistan refused to withdraw their troops in line with the UNCIP Resolution?
Because of Pakistan’s refusal to withdraw her troops and military alliances with America, Soviet Russia sided with India; and after getting support of a Super Power with a Veto power in the Security Council, India changed its stand on Kashmir and called it an ‘integral part’ of India. Who do we blame for our miseries and for making Kashmir dispute part of the Cold War politics?
In early 1950s, and again in 1963, Pakistan agreed to partition the State of Jammu and Kashmir, provided they got the Valley or a big chunk of the territory from there, clearly showing that both countries were only interested in territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly both countries practically partitioned Jammu and Kashmir in the Simla Agreement of 1972; and the Cease Fire Line was changed to Line of Control. Both countries agreed that future of Jammu and Kashmir will be decided by Pakistan and India, clearly blocking any role for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and for any role for a third party; or even any role for the UN Security Council. Despite that Pakistani governments fool people in name of UN Resolutions. Shall we condemn India because Pakistan has camouflaged its territorial ambitions in name of religion and brotherhood?
My contention is criticise India where India is wrong; but also criticise Pakistan where they have stabbed the Kashmir cause because of their territorial greed. I have never supported India’s claim on Kashmir; I have never condoned human rights abuses in Kashmir; I have never said, I wanted to be part of India; my emphasis is that my struggle is on this side of the LOC and not in Srinagar. Those who are occupied by India they can spend all their time criticising India and struggling against India, it DOES NOT worry me; but why some Kashmiris and especially so called ‘nationalists’ get tummy pain when I speak against the country which occupies me.
Pakistani government and their agencies urge people of Jammu and Kashmir to focus all their energies to expose India; and many Kashmiris influenced by this policy also demand that we should only talk of India’s wrong doings. How much more can you expose India, there are many reports on human rights abuses compiled by some Indian and some international organisations. There is a vibrant local media and international media to high light all wrong doings. Apart from that India has put its cards on table by calling Kashmir its ‘integral’ part; in other words there appears to be no ambiguity on India’s Kashmir policy, wrong as it is. Should we not spend some time and resources to expose Pakistan – a country which is advancing its territorial interests and depriving people of Kashmir’s right to independence by using name religion?
I sincerely believe that my struggle is on the Pakistani side of the divide; and those who are urging us to focus all our attention against India or go to the other side to liberate that side are directly or indirectly playing in hands of Pakistani agencies. Those who are occupied by India have every right to struggle against that occupation; what I request is, please give me the same right that I struggle against the country that occupies me.
I understand in view of powerful vested interest and massive propaganda, to pursue this policy is to invite wrath of powerful groups, but I am not going to abandon this struggle just because of harsh criticism and difficulties. I know there are many who like what I do, but they are not in a position to come out to support me because of serious reprisals; however, I hope there will be some in future to take the torch and continue with the journey.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this writing are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of League of India, its Editorial Board or the business and socio-political interests that they might represent.