I have before me an extract from ” A savage war of peace” by Allister Harry, on the guerrilla warfare of Algeria, quoting one Algerian leader Ben Badis as reposting fierily to some remarks of another leader Farhat Abbas: –
“He and the ulema sages had also examined history, and had indeed discovered a Muslim Algerian nation, which has its culture, its traditions and its characteristics, good or bad, like every other nation of the earth and, next, we state that this Algerian nation is not France, and does not wish to be France”.
The same argument also applies, to Kashmir and the freedom movement of Kashmir. Kashmiris fighting against Indian occupation over years have also shaped their own personality and are proud of their identity. No doubt, geographically Kashmir is not like Algeria, as the state of J&K was in the words of Dixon an “agglomeration of territories brought under one Maharaja’s political sovereignty”. Now, for the last fifty-three years the former princely state is being administered by India in Jammu, Ladakh, and Valley, and by Pakistan in Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. The entire state of J&K is a cluster of races, languages and religions where Muslims live in majority.
An important and inseparable feature of Kashmir movement that should never be ignored by the people at the helm of affairs, is the collectivity of our liberation struggle. The freedom movement is not under a single command. It is in the realm of multi-Jehadi system in which political and religious concepts vary from party to party, and community to community. Our thinking is still immature, and it has to cross a hazardous journey before building a strong and tolerant jehadi culture.
Our movement of freedom is collective, our sufferings are collective and our graveyards are collective in every nook and corner of the occupied state. But, the mantle of collective leadership is still frail and thin.
Our movement faces internal and external pulls and pressures, therefore, any political solution to be worked out, will have to rest on the collective approach of the freedom fighters of Kashmir. It will follow a collective decision. What is the collective way and collective decision? If we get an opportunity to decide our future through plebiscite under the UN auspices, then it would be an ideal popular decision, as was done in the district Sylhet of Bengal in 1947, or in East Timore in 1999. If people, parties and groups, governments and NGOS get engaged with each other on different levels to arrive at a political settlement, that would be a negotiated settlement. But, any negotiated settlement shall have to be preceded by the collective approach of all concerned peoples’ and their representatives.
Given the present situation, Kashmir question is heading towards a negotiated settlement, but any such resolution of the issue must reflect genuine aspirations of the people of Kashmir. Certainly, a collective approach of all the freedom fighting groups (political and askeri) is a prerequisite for it. Collective thinking and co-operative struggle, as against egoistic thinking creates national unity; while as parochial approach is disastrous for unity.
Kashmir is predominantly a land of freedom fighters, and their supporters, their compartmentalization on negative non-issues is harmful to our final goal of freedom. On the other side, there are regional and ethnic groups, many of whom do not subscribe to the views of the freedom fighters. There is also a class of vested interests who will never like to change the status quo in favour of majority and they might exploit regional and ethnic prejudices to meet their selfish ends. Freedom supporting people believe and act like one body for their cherished goal of liberation from Indian occupation. But the political or askary parties and groups neither separately in their parties nor collectively in their political or askary fora believe or speak like one. Their superfluous talk and cynical behavior creates more enemies and even divides friendly circles. In the last 12 years, we have lost many friends and created new enemies. We raise new slogans and coin strange terms for narrow political ends and damage our undisputed national goal of freedom against the Indian military occupation.
If we want to achieve our common national goal, then we must offer a common agenda and draw a joint strategy to frustrate all political and military moves of the enemy; mere slogans and religious and sectarian rhetoric will never forge unity in our ranks, contrarily, it would add to the sufferings of our people and lengthen the period of anarchy, tyranny and subjugation. Having cemented our collective thinking system unanimously, we have to try to gain confidence of those minority elements or sects in our society or in our region, which have doubts and reservations on the question of supporting our movement. Logically, our movement is very strong and morally it is shining, as we are oppressed people and our intention is to gain freedom, live in peace and allow fellow countrymen to live in peace. But today we must behave well to ensure a peaceful and prosperous tomorrow for others.
Having agreed upon a joint strategy and further set at rest doubts among small religious or linguistic groups, we would be in a better position to deal with India, and along with Pakistan, better placed to negotiate a settlement according to the urges and aspirations of the people.
Birth of an alliance of parties means a united stand and joint strategy as against separate stand against common enemy. Failure to that results in disaster. In such a case any alliance becomes redundant
Unfortunately All Parties Hurriet conference has not conducted itself or approached in this manner during these 8 years. As a result, the freedom movement is facing new challenges and the very future of Kashmir and Kashmiri generations remains at stake, unless honesty, transparency and unanimity is created and followed in letter and spirit by the leadership.
As for the vested interests they can be wiped out, if a collective and co-operative movement is forged well to deal with them strongly and honestly. Because, exploiters and corrupt elements are contemptible insects, which grow and nourish in the dirt of Corruption and vanity and perish when the sun of honesty rises and its rays spread and shine over the society.
One single factor or phenomenon does not influence the ongoing political and armed struggle for the freedom of Kashmir. Kashmir has very little parallel in the freedom movements of the past century. It was in the thirties of the last century that a popular political struggle for self rule, basic human rights, civil liberties and also rights of Muslims (who were a down trodden majority under a minority rule) was launched against the despotic hereditary Dogra rulers. Muslims had not only religious grievances, but they faced economic slavery on a bigger scale. Despotic Dogra rulers and their agents (both Hindu’s and Muslims) exploited them inhumanly, as Roman Empire in medieval ages treated their subjects. Kashmiri Muslims were forced to live as illiterate, poor, and downtrodden.
In 1947, the whole scenario of the Indian subcontinent changed when two independent and sovereign states–India and Pakistan, were born. The conspiracy between congress leaders, British Governor General and Dogra Maharaja, plunged Kashmir into uncertainty, and its future status became disputed. Kashmiris were helpless, but the UNO promised the right of self-determination to the people of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Before this, and after India’s aerial attack on Kashmir, the congress leaders had pledged to hold a referendum in Kashmir.
Notwithstanding numerous S.C resolutions in favour of a plebiscite in J&K, the U.N plan remains unimplemented till date, as a result the state continues to remain divided and manned by the forces of India and Pakistan.
Over the years Kashmir does not enjoy even that piece of autonomy or suzerainty which the Maharajas of 19th 20th centuries enjoyed under the British crown till 1947. It is sad that the political will in UNO to address the sufferings and demands of Kashmiris to settle the issue according to the wishes of the people, never took a concrete shape, and the fate of Kashmiris despite their historical sacrifices in the face of state terrorism remained hanging between devil and deep sea.
India’s attitude towards the resolution of Kashmir question is partisan, biased, intransigent, and criminally wavering through out the history of the dispute. That is why the international efforts whatsoever failed to make any headway towards its settlement. First, India sought UN judgment on Kashmir in 1947, which the world body pronounced by urging on both India and Pakistan to be ready for plebiscite in the disputed state. They agreed, but finally India backed out of her pledges and assurances. Today, the occupying power does not agree on a tripartite dialogue to find out a peaceful solution of Kashmir problem. Moreover, India is opposing bilateral talks with Pakistan instead, having shed so much blood of Kashmiris calls for mutual talks with the freedom fighters and others with the malicious intention to divide Kashmiris and Pakistanis, both of whom are fighting for a common cause. Common sympathies and common sentiments and even common sacrifices are today a hallmark of Kashmir freedom movement, no matter how diverse their future perceptions may be.
India must acknowledge the multi-dimensional character of Kashmir movement, and Pakistan’s inseparable impact on it. It is really in the interest of everlasting regional peace that Pakistan’s offer for a dialogue with India on Kashmir should be taken seriously. Kashmiris have contested India’s claim over Kashmir throughout history, but Pakistanis and Kashmiris agree upon basic facts and principles of this issue, yet they believe that no two parties can solve this dispute to the satisfaction of a third party. These efforts failed in the past and cannot succeed in future.
India is violating international laws, conventions and agreements in Kashmir. She tries to sideline Pakistan and break the will power of Mujahideen by using brute force against them. But, it is tantamount to live on reveries. Militarism is the legacy of the dark ages. Sword and gun can never conquer Kashmir. Kashmir is a forceful political issue of the modern times when agreements between parties or countries need both national and international confirmation and reflection of the urges and interests of the people involved.
Doubtlessly, as per the UN Charter and the S.C resolutions, the people of Kashmir have the right to decide their political future and determine their future relations vis-é-vis Pakistan and India. But as the state of J&K is surrounded and administered by two nuke rivals for over half a century now, a consensus formula of resolution among all parties has become a pre-requisite to gain a durable peace in south Asia.
Nevertheless, Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris, and the concept of a separate, cultural, social, and geographic identity is deep-rooted in the Kashmiris mind; the people have significant awareness of their unprecedented sacrifices, yet Kashmiris need, a reliable ally and an unqualified world support, as Afghanistan received in bloody war against the former Soviet Russia, to gain freedom from India’s clutches.
The ongoing resistance movement against Indian troops in Kashmir, previous Indo Pak wars, bloody exchange of fire across the Disputed LOC, nuke experiments in south Asia, importance of bilateral pacts and the prevailing economic conditions in India, Pakistan, and Kashmir make it crystal clear that Pakistan can not be sidelined; status quo can not be recognized as final; and the central position of Kashmiris can never be altered by the strength of troops and their Maneuvering.
Despite a sizeable land under Indian occupation, one important realization has dawned over the world, that no imposed or manipulated solution of Kashmir will bring peace to the region. If lessons of colonial military wars, the extra-territorial ambitions of generals and army annexations of ancient or modern times can guide the world, then we can say that Kashmir can not be conquered by the fire power or nuke power. The people with eyes can see that India is reaping what she has been sowing ever since 1947 in Kashmir.
The urge and longing of Kashmiris for freedom and their struggle, against Indian military occupation has withstood against all odds of military coercion, economic exploitation, and political treachery over years, but the political rhetoricism, and tall claims and hollow promises by some will not every time heal wounds of people, who are watching new additions to their graveyards on daily basis and are being disgraced in their own houses. Let us be prepared to challenge the hypocrisy and treachery of exploiters in what so ever shape they may come
We live today in an age of nuke armies when international treaties between different nations or neighbors, sometimes block march of a smaller and subjugated nation toward political freedom and economic independence. Imperialist states grab lands and rights of nations, but pleads sanctity of so called LOC and statuesque vis-é-vis Kashmir. The principle of the right of self-determination, no doubt incorporated in the UN charter is but applied selectively by the world body only to suit the global and regional economic and strategic interests of big powers, and exploiting states of the world.
The people and states who are really sincere in their quest for peace and prosperity of mankind, should never overlook dual faced role of big powers in the conflicts of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, East Timore and Balkan region.
Afghanistan received full western and American support to drive out the red Russian armies from her soil and jihad was legalized and internationalized by the US/Western powers. But after the withdrawal of soviet troops and independence of Afghanistan, no sincere and impartial effort was made to honour the wishes of the vast majority of the people of Afghanistan. Failure to respect genuine Islamic and national traditions and interests of Afghanis, led to fragmentation and fictionalization of the Jehadi parties, plunging the war-torn population into a vortex of famine, hunger and disease. Had the humanitarian angle of Afghan Conflict been fully kept in view, the vast innocent humanity would not have suffered so miserably and so rapidly, the scattered hilly population of Afghanistan certainly would not have come under the influence of sectarian and ethnic extremists. Political, economic and strategic ambitions of big powers besides identity crisis among tribal leaders have led to the suffocation of Afghanistan.
East Timore was fully supported to get independence from Indonesia by way of a UN sponsored plebiscite. During the conflict its western supporters and US raised hue and cry in the name of Christianity and for Christian interests, but in the case of Muslim regions or Muslim problems, religious reference is a taboo and irks west.
In the case of Iraq, UN resolutions are a part of UN faith and never look outdated mainly to punish Iraq but Iraq’s suffering humanity is no concern for US to be sad and sorrowful.
Palestine is bleeding under the Zionist Israel and big peaceful human crowds, crying for their lands and dear and near ones, are shot dead hour after hour in the land of prophets, whom Muslims love, respect and believe but can UN think of punishing Israel like Iraq.
The UN intervened in Palestine and Balkan crisis and it did so in East Timor. Every where the case was of the right of self-determination. If East Timor was a just case of the inalienable rights of people, the cases of the peoples of Palestine and Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo were not different, and the case of Kashmir does not belong to some other planet. In fact the right of self-determination is the core point in every freedom movement.
But, since in the case of Balkan Peninsula, and Palestine the US and the west saw it from a very narrow eye, therefore a sort of week autonomy at the mercy of cross was granted to both the Muslim regions of East Europe and Middle East, making the issue further complicated. With all the rhetoric of western powers, future of independent and quasi-independent states lurks in uncertainty and confusion. The faces of these lands have turned grim and gloomy, due to UN duplicity and prejudices of European governments.
Similar but critical developments for the last several years have been in the offing to reinterpret and rehang Kashmir question. The Lahore declaration, Kargil war, Washington announcement, Hizb cease fire, India’s cease fire, track two diplomacy or secret parleys between U.S citizens, Indian and Pakistani officials and Kashmiris have proved to be incompatible, and paradoxical.
The people do not see a stable future in the ominous political ambitions, and actions of politicians and askary leaders of the present day Kashmir. What is important is understanding of delicate problems of people, who are gripped in anxiety. They are manifold and pose threat to our thinking, our overall social fabric, political awakening, economic progress, education and Islamic character.
Still many leaders of the region, thriving over the sentiments of people and graves of martyrs can not feel the brunt of sufferings and problems of oppressed Kashmiris. Because, a Mafia has grown strong to exploit the present situation to its benefit.
A pragmatic application of the doctrine of the right of self-determination, being so essential for the inhabitants of Kashmir, could never strike the imagination of these politicians, even after a long decade of turmoil and bloodshed in the lucid waters of Kashmir. But, now the South Asian leaders should realize the magnitude of a real threat to humanity in this region.
Kashmir has suffered many times in its history, because selfish rulers, corrupt politicians, foolish leaders and half read religious men have often plunged the picturesque land of sober people into darkness and tyranny. Today, the nation needs courageous and selfless leaders to lead the country. And therefore, the conscious political workers and truly motivated freedom fighters must take great risks to create and build a patriotic, wise and honest leadership of the people of Kashmir.
The secret of a genuine and successful freedom movement lies in the qualitative character of its leadership. A genuine freedom movement should be led and waged by a nation in the name of humanity, dignity and prosperity without having malice for any other country or people or civilization (except oppressors).
Turks in the last declining years of Ottoman rule realized the importance of this grand principle but later their leadership threw off Islamic value system, civilization, and multi-racial character of the country.
Kashmiris should learn from history that a nation suffers when it loses faith in her own self and looks toward others for safety and security.
A nation faces defeat after defeat when its leaders and organizations degrade their political, moral, and organizational standard; fail to guard and support honesty, discard accountability and try to protect petty self interests, at the cost of public and national interests and above all, when they interpret their dreams or interests from the angle of other people. This is the time of misfortune for a nation, when people doubt each other and weaker countries are made scapegoats for geopolitical ambitions and interests of powerful, warring countries of the world. Let us discuss this theory in a wider spectrum to suite a broader purpose.
The present-day world is developing swiftly into a global family, but the clash of interests between some countries while coincidence between others is there. In view of these tendencies and of their claim to build a bright future for mankind, nations should share each other’s concerns and apprehensions, respect beliefs and recognize genuine interests of each other. Failure to do so serves as a prelude to conflicts of longer spans and battles of destructive consequences.
Let us examine the example of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan with special reference to their historical, cultural and religious relations and to their strategic and economic interests.
In the early years of post independence period of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan enjoyed close friendly relations to the extent that Iran trusted Pakistan and hoped that Pakistan besides her own interests, will also look after the interests of Iran in Afghanistan. But, foreign vested interests intrigued to damage the mutual trust of the two close friends making everything topsy-turvy in both Islamabad and Tehran.
The present hazy and shaky trust between the three countries will not benefit them nor even their ethnic minority groups. But imperialists, especially Indian neo-imperialists will fish in the troubled waters to plan, and promote their regional hegimonistic designs against the crescent world and china. Therefore, the three countries have to come to terms with each other, make inter-ethnic, religious and economic environment harmonious and peaceful. All the three nations must take concrete measures, to stabilize their economies and better the lot of their down trodden peoples, to remove the causes of economic and sectarian tensions and conflicts. They must reciprocate each others steps, to promote good friendly relations and to protect the crescent region from Indian, Russian, Israeli and American covert designs. Only then their economies will strengthen and their common enemies will think a hundred times, before inciting trouble between our people to damage the great world of crescent.
The golden principle of co-existence between diverse races and communities as taught by Islam now enshrined in the UN charter, if followed and practiced truly by Muslim countries all over the world, will usher in an era of peace, progress and glory in the Muslim world.
To achieve this noble objective, Muslim nations have to respect each other’s independence, share mutual concerns and lend support to the just cause of the suffering humanity. The relations between different countries, nationalities, religious or ethnic groups will continue to plague the environment as long as the principles of co-existence, self rule, and right of self determination are trampled down and violated by powerful and rich groups, races, and countries. The same is applicable to Kashmir conflict between India, Pakistan and Kashmir. It is the question of lack of trust and fear between the peoples of south Asia. Had the peoples of Kashmir, Pakistan and India sat together in the beginning of this dispute, wars would not have destroyed them and the last fifty years of their life would not have lost in a miserable and sorrowful manner. Nevertheless, we would continue to urge on all groups to start a three tier or triangular negotiations to hammer out a peaceful and durable solution, which will guarantee safety and security of both Pakistan and India, and will address urges and aspirations of Kashmiris, who have been sacrificing their precious human lives since1940’s.
Kashmiris have become more sensitive about their fundamental but usurped rights. At the same time, they are not averse to genuine rights of their neighbors. No doubt, Kashmir dispute involves great rights of a small nation, which if granted to them under the natural humanitarian, international law or UN charter or according to the partition act of 1947, will not reduce the stature of India to a small country. Infact, the threat of another war in south Asia will wither away and a huge sea of humanity will breathe a sigh of relief and begin wonderful chapter of a peaceful and prosperous life.
Modus operandi to achieve this objective is very simple and natural.
India facing an indomitable mass uprising in Kashmir should simply make a unilateral declaration to grant right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir.
Kashmiris will reciprocate by ensuring peaceful friendly relations with India in return.
The environment will definitely show a pleasant change, and all the three parties; Kashmir, Pakistan, and India could sit together to iron out their differences and agree upon any possible proposal to finalize peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue.
The peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue will lead to communal harmony, territorial integrity, peace, and respect for sovereignty between the warring south Asian countries, and the future of humanity will not be at stake nor will remain at the mercy of imperialism, or morbid communalism. Kashmir is on a thin ice. No body comes forward as an icebreaker. Mutual trust has vanished. But vulgar selfish interests and ambitions are promoted at every level. Lust for wealth has turned us mad and worshipping the goddess of money is our hallmark, notwithstanding the presence of dancing hounds of death before every home and hearth in Kashmir.
No doubt, the people of Kashmir and the freedom fighters who for long played second fiddle to end the long dreadful night of police and military tyranny, but still have the basic right to express their views and shape their political destiny like others.
Hence to get rid of the most horrible and deadly military occupation and repression, I would suggest to the freedom fighters to rejuvenate their struggle.
As crusaders of freedom and patriotism, stand united and protect and promote the national interests of Kashmiris.
Fight honestly and weed out all selfish and cunning elements, spies and miscreants from the rank and file of freedom fighting organizations.
Muster up world support and take national decisions in the interest of the nation.
Demonstrate political will on one basic political objective i.e. the right of self- determination.
Place struggle first and proposals on secondary position and that too over the table of dialogue between the parties of the dispute.
Follow Islam as the beacon light of struggle and as an ethical code against the foreign occupation and rule.
Discard Communalism and sectarianism in all its forms and promote Islamic principles and Kashmiri traditions of communal harmony and tolerance between all the sections of society to accomplish the cause of freedom movement.
Hold the principles of accountability, honesty and sincerity supreme in the freedom struggle.
Mr. Muhammad Farooq Rehmani is the chairman of Jammu & Kashmir People’s League.