Before illustrating my views and impressions on Kashmir scenario, I will quote some English translated verses of a famous Kashmiri historian/poet-Hassan Shah Khoihami-who wailed on the plight of Kashmiris over a century past.
My boat has strayed in Wular Lake
And I’m facing unruly winds
Without rudder, I can’t steer
Convey my wails to my youth
In the same way I quote renowned English poet Shelly to support my views on the prevailing state of affairs in Kashmir-‘Paradise bleeding’-
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
Today the situation has terribly deteriorated in Kashmir and particularly from 1990s in the home and hearth of every Kashmiri. Unfortunately, despite so unparalleled and daring sacrifices of the inhabitants of Kashmir for their national goal of freedom , the regional environment around them is yet hesitating to acknowledge their right to freely express their political ideas and evolve their own strong political leadership in an unimpaired and uninterrupted manner to accomplish their age old march according to their home made road map towards their goal .The most lamenting aspect of this saga is that kashmiris have yet to articulate their political views in their national interest like Palestinians.
If not every human being but a majority in the politics of south Asia knows a lot how and why the hounds of death wander freely or masked every where in Kashmir forcing innocent people to live in a perpetual bondage of fear and trauma for the last fourteen years. It is sad that Kashmir so old and so vulnerable issue of the UNO, is suddenly overshadowed and overtaken by other developments that the world leaders deem it necessary to put it on the back burner or becomes fall guy.
But the President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf to muster support for his ideas on Kashmir and vital role to be played by Kashmiris ,constituted a Presidential National Kashmir Committee with a vetern politician Sardar Muhammad Abdul Qayyum Khan former Prime Minister AJK as its Chairman. As can be followed from the various statements and talks of the President during the last few years, one can feel the depth of his concern with regard to the sad and painful life of Kashmiris in their own land. But do others have the same concern, is yet to be proved. No doubt, we hear rare voices in the PNKC like Sardar Quyyam Khan, Ajamal Khatak ,Mushahid Husain Syed,Dr Shreen Mazari ,Justice (R)Dr Javaid Iqbal, Miss Naseem Zuhra who strongly believe in the rejuvenation and reformation of Kashmir movement in the light of the decay old plight and humiliation of Kashmiris under Indian Army and vested interests .As for Ajamal Khatak the veteran NAP leader, I heard him at least on two occasions voicing his concern as the member of PNKC. He frantically argues in favour of a swift resolution of Kashmir Issue .He says that we should not be after the charming springs, waters, lands and forests of Kashmir but Kashmir’s suffering humanity must be our first and last concern. He is against the wait and watch policy on this issue fearing much wider ethnic cleansing of Kashmiris by Indian sponsored terrorism. In one of the meetings of Kashmir Committee he said that if war could lead to the freedom of Kashmir he was ready, but if you made a pledge for peace and peaceful ways to resolve this dispute then their must be a meaningful dialogue and result oriented drive to that end. No delaying methods are helpful to us. He does not believe in rhetoric in Kashmir Committee, claiming that the president of Pakistan has constituted this body to find out a way for the resolution of Kashmir. He says the President said to me, “show me a path and I will follow Kashmir dispute till it is solved accordingly”. Other Pakistani intellectuals like Prof Khalid Mehmood of Regional Studies, hold similar views and advocate Kashmiriyat for achieving cherished goal of freedom for Jammu and Kashmir. In fact the bloodshed of Kashmiris over the years has immortalized Kashmir, and their patriotism has moved the hearts of millions in Pakistan.
The State of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit and Bultistan, famous under the name of Kashmir was a Princely State (Besides Mysore) and basically a creation of hill Rajputs of Dogra descent in the first half of 19 century-except poonch the 1935 Edition in the dominions of Dogra Maharaja of Kashmir. Unfortunately no such State of JK exists after the great event of 1947 and even some maps also forget to do justice with the original state which still is disputed under the principles of the UN charter and it’s numerous Kashmir resolutions. Although the tragic saga of this old giant State is now a history of the British Period but the nightmare of our broken and fallen state will continue to haunt leaders and statesmen in South Asia until the sacrifices and aspirations of its people are respected and fully guaranteed in any future judgment.
It is an irony of fate that the blood of thousands of Kashmiris during the last fourteen years did neither awaken conscience of the independent Muslim states in the light of the Islamic solidarity nor that of the UNO on the bases of its manifesto of human rights to take bold and concrete measures for the protection of innocent humanity in Kashmir. Undoubtedly the world rhetoric on human rights questions has made a mockery of these sacred concepts and encouraged the military adventurers in Jammu and Kashmir to the highest degree.
On the other hand the snowball spontaneity of Kashmir valleys upsurge for freedom from Indian occupation today faces tough and odd questions although hate for occupation and aggression and love for freedom has become a permanent feature of Kashmiri character and culture. But every patriot yearns today for our heydays of struggle-being the hallmark of national movement. No Kashmiri can hide the fact that whatever good nature had created and stored for Kashmir in the shape of its moral beauty and political sagacity was every time buried by lusty people and individuals and groups holding power for their narrow personal ends.
The political uprising with its armed course in 1980s and 1990s provided ample time to domestic parties and their leaders to form a solid house of struggle for realizing our ultimate mission of freedom. This intifada signaled UN, West and South Asia as well to seize the opportunity, but they did not rise to the occasion, resulting in fresh obstructions, complicacies and much greater loss of human life and dignity in the recent years. Of course, this was the right time when Kashmiris could build their collective power in conformity with their homegrown freedom movement. But, we followed mirage, became sick of fancies and remained contended with some illusory emotions. Has any leader, group or alliance of Kashmiris boldness to ponder over it and say, where we went wrong and why our boat was caught by gale. Today even after fourteen years of a bloody struggle we have not found lost masts of our ship.
Now for the last few years we notice some other issues and conflicts overturning Kashmir dispute and concerns of Kashmiris vis-é-vis their future, and as such this state of affairs has become detrimental for our political awareness and progress .Despite our long and unprecedented human sacrifices we do not think and reshape our destiny, as brave people. So it is utterly wrong to presume that under the given static conditions our politics will bloom everlasting flowers of peace or finally resolve Kashmir dispute between two arch enemies of south Asia to the satisfaction of Kashmiris.
It is a bitter truth of history that humanity always suffered due to internal conflicts and strifes between different groups, societies and nations. Conflicts or clashes in any form are like poisonous snakes injecting their venom into the mental thinking and body politic of nations and states, resulting in anarchy and annihilation of even big countries. Some great tragedies in human history were caused by sectarianism and state expansionism. South Asia faced a communal holocaust in autumn 1947 in the form of Hindu-Muslim riots and bloodshed. It repeats sporadically in this region. Gujrat’s Muslim carnage is the latest form of a colossal tragedy. October 1984 witnessed Sikh massacre-unforgettable in the history of Hindu-Sikh relations.
East-India Company of British Colonialists gained their foot hold on India owing to the disunity and ignorance of Muslim ruling class and mistrust between Hindus and Muslims. In 1947 Indian Muslims got Pakistan but Muslim Leaders could not maneuver new political division of the subcontinent in their favour. Thus new geographical line drawn to demarcate Muslim majority areas was unjust and unnatural. As a result the water head works went to India and two third of Jammu and Kashmir was annexed by India by January 1949, when the two newly independent Governments of India and Pakistan agreed to a UN sponsored cease-fire and plebiscite.
It was again due to wrong and faulty political and military decisions and ill-maneuvering as well as the communal, feudal and burocratic mindedness of politicians which prevented them to see beyond their personal prejudices marring future of millions in our region. Again, when Kashmir was still fighting for its freedom from Indian forces and thousands of people were in jails eagerly awaiting to see dawn of plebiscite in the region ,something totally different and unnoticed was brewing up in Pakistan. The eastern wing of Pakistan was lost . The much awaited and trumpeted American fleet was never seen by the people of Pakistan till the Indian army marched into Dhaka resulting in Dhaka fall before General Auroora Chief of Indian army. Had the political leaders of East and West Pakistan-Mujib-ul-Rehman and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the military dictators settled their differences peacefully as patriots in the interest of national solidarity, the country would have been saved from disintegration and slaughter of innocent people.
In a long historical and world over decline of Muslim political and intellectual rule and failure of the policies of Muslim politicians and Governments Kashmir is no exception. The annexure of Jammu and Kashmir by India in October 1947, occurred almost under similar faults and misperceptions by the key players of British India, Kashmiri politicians and rulers of the time. At the time of the partition of India Kashmir problem was created by disregarding religious, political, geographic relations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Besides certainly the Dogra Rajas of Jammu had been holding reigns of the government for hundred years and they had the support of their Hindu subjects in Jammu province. The political opposition to their century old rule was led by two rival Muslim political organizations-National Conference and Muslim Conference. While the National Conference was a political monolith under the leadership of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in at least two provinces-Jammu & Kashmir, The Muslim Conference was influenced by Mirwaiz Mulvi Yousuf Shah in Kashmir Valley and Chudary Ghulam Abbas in Jammu. Despite Muslim Conference leaning towards All Indian Muslim League, the later engaged in the Muslim home land movement of British India was less sensitive about Congress maneuverings in the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. The All India Congress Committee leadership manipulated plans for the future of princely states and watched and led political developments in Jammu Kashmir through the leadership of National Conference. Muslim League thought that Kashmir was a Muslim majority state and therefore it would automatically fall in the lap of Pakistan. The Congress Leaders of India were conscious of organizing grass root political activities in JK as elsewhere while the league leaders of Punjab did not think on these lines in Kashmir. Besides the Congress leaders started implementing their Kashmir plan even before partition. They approached Maharaja and national Conference leaders and airlifted Indian regular army contingents to Kashmir in no time to throw out armed tribal men and bring the state in their fold. On the contrary, history tells us that the first cabinet of Pakistan did not accept a similar suggestion by Quiad-i-Azam-the first Governor General of the country, to dispatch regular army of Pakistan to Kashmir. Pakistan only relied on irregular and ill-equipped tribal men in Kashmir trapping in International legal battle which finally forced Pakistan to accede to a cease-fire and withdrawal of all its regular and irregular forces under the UNCIP resolution of January 5, 1949 passed by the Security Council.
These episodes show that the basic causes of the decline, disintegration of Muslim rule and politics and bloodshed of Muslims are everywhere in history more or less the same, be it the downfall of Khilafate Rahsida, decline of Baghdad, fall of Spain, down fall of Muslim rule in India, end of Khilafate Usmani, occupation of Palestine, Dhaka fall, tragedy of Afghanistan etc.
Kashmir faced tragedy after tragedy because of the lust for power and ignorance among different political and secretarian groups, Hindu Muslim prejudices, and animosity between the JK National Conference and Muslim Conference. Kashmiris would not have suffered so long and so terribly during the last 55 years, had the three important forces of 1940s i.e. ruling Dogra dynasty in Jammu, National Conference and Muslim Conference heeded to the clarion call of the times, reconciled their differences and decided to build a united future after the termination of British paramountcy. If despite the Jewish sponsored farce trial against Jesus Christ in the ancient Roman court 2000 years before and awarding of death sentence to Jesus Christ, Christians and Jews live together in America and Europe and if Arab Muslims and Christians fight unitedly against Israeli occupation of Palestine, why it could not strike minds of Kashmiri Muslims,Pandits , Budhists and Sikhs in 1947 to live a harmonious and cooperative life for the future generations of Kashmir. Had the importance of communal harmony despite their separate religious laws, customs and traditions dawned over the leaders of different political and religious parties and Dogra rulers, the people of the state would not have suffered genocide from time to time and Kashmir had been a paradise in its real sense .Also Kashmir would have been truly a welfare state in the poverty éridden South Asia.
On the eve of the division of India in 1947 it was obligatory on the major political groups of the state and the ruling dynasty to explore ways and means to hammer out a compromise settlement on the future of Kashmir. Neither the British Governor General of India despite his pro-Nehru role nor the key players of Hindu Muslim politics in Delhi would have seen any justification to reject any such formula between the rulers and leaders of Kashmir. But Maharaja Hari Singh was relying upon the Hindu population of Jammu region, National Conference had long been wooed by Nehru and Congress and Muslim Conference was inclined towards Muslim League. All of them were concerned about their interests and had formed a biased opinion against each other ignoring future of millions in the state. In spite of their anti Muslim hereditary rule Maharaja and his feudal supporters claimed that they were the founders and defenders of the state subject laws of the bonafide citizens of the state of Jammu and Kashmir .On the other hand National Conference and Muslim Conference were majority public organizations and they thought their political views on a popular responsible rule and patriotism to be above-board. But the history of their relations was strained and sad-cursing and accusing each other of treachery and dishonesty had become their second nature. The two political parties sang hymns for their leadership but cared least for the collective good and a safer future for the downétrodden people of Kashmir.
Today after 55 years of the creation of our political tragedy, martyrdom of thousands of people in every part of Kashmir and humiliation of women, we stand confused and without a wise and powerful leadership. The leadership still remains cocooned from the realities of the changing world, ignoring collective and nationalistic approach to our political challenges. Had patriotism and nationalism based on the concept of freedom and fraternity been promoted during the previous years of struggle we would have been a different people and could have applied our cherished principle of struggle in a dynamic and pragmatic manner to whatever the conditions. It is sad that after these long and tedious years of armed struggle we are not capable to control ebb and flow of circumstances and sail the ship of our destiny. Instead the tides push us, rolls us, and governs our fate wherever they want and we are simply like broken pieces of a boat in a sea, although the history of twentieth century had recorded our glorious sacrifices with great pride and honour. This kind of tragedy fell upon us despite a thick line of politicians, commanders and clergy introduced during the last fourteen years.
Why this gloomy picture everywhere? It is because we have been swayed by silly political and gross material ambitions and our deeds do not coincide with our words. We claim to speak for our nation, or faith, but actually we have betrayed and are betraying each other, disguising to conceal our real face and hiding facts from the world .Our hearts do not bleed for what happens to our countrymen, nor we care about the future and ultimate good of our people. Thus we have lost control over our today and tomorrow and now after many tedious years of struggle and sacrifices, we are in a barren desert-forlorn state wandering after fortune tellers to predict our fortune..
In this paradise on earth (Kashmir) there is no dearth of politicians, and preachers but we should prefer faith, moral courage and selflessness to the material wants of glory-wealth, and fame. No road map towards the peace and freedom of Kashmir can be discovered unless Kashmiri leaders and politicians truly follow values of honesty, integrity and morality, being vital features in the character of valiant and enlightened human societies. It must be born well in mind that every human being should learn to love his country of birth without hating other countries and must not surrender his/her right to defend, and serve his country.
As per Kashmir it’s “history and social life dates back to ancient times and “possesses uninterrupted written records of it’s history,” as against “the scanty and uncertain data in other parts of the India-Pakistan sub-continent.” (Dr. Stein/WR. Lawrence: Valley of Kashmir)
From every legal and moral view point Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris whose ancestors remain buried from times immemorial in the soil of Kashmir .Therefore the right to self- determination to decide the future of Kashmir is the sole prerogative of Kashmiri people and Kashmiri society. No one has the right to barter away or compromise on the birth right of the people of this land. No patriot can ever think of surrendering the rights of our people or ceding the land to illegal occupants and their forces. But the problem with Kashmiris is that every Tom, Dick, and Harry claims to be the leader or the commander of the people. Kashmiris under oppression cannot ask such people as to who gave them this right to force their will upon the people.
Kashmir in these times of mourning on the one hand and hypocrisy and treachery on the other side needs patriots with true and tested faith in patriotism, speaking, arguing and sacrificing material desires for Kashmir and only Kashmir. A patriot is true and honest to his word but a hypocrite has only crocodile’s tears for oppressed people.
The long travail of Kashmiris must force every true and honest inhabitant of Kashmir to take a retrospective and introspective look around to find out where we went wrong and who mortgaged our national interests for his/their selfish interests. And as forward looking, freedom fighting people we have to see how to proceed further on the path of victory, but not relying on reveries and fancies nor building utopian approach in politics or religion. We have to break our chains of dependence and slavery and free our boat from the present whirlpool.
On facing horror after horror, innocent people ask this question, “What is our sin? How long God will go on punishing us? Why criminals are free to perpetuate their rule of terror and horror on our people so long?”
In fact the trial of human beings ever since the creation of this universe has been of two kinds-one is for prophets and divine men by Allah to reinforce their spiritual powers to lead them in their divine mission for salving and leading humanity to a better life in this world and the next world. But tyranny is a great sin committed by oppressors and despots on their subjects and oppressed people. This is not the way or aim of Allah who is merciful and benevolent. Allah never does inflict pain on humanity except according to his universal and eternal laws against those who commit crimes full of horror on fellow human beings.
But sometimes the period of ordeals for innocent people becomes terribly long and hopes of riddance are shattered. It might be due to the non compliance of divine laws and also rules of the game by the people at the helm of affairs-engaged in the struggle for a cause.
Sadly speaking forces of tyranny and occupation have been inflicting every sort of injustice and humiliation on the people of Kashmir for the last several hundred years but ironically the horror and terror has created havoc in Kashmir since the dawn of freedom in 1947 on the two major communities of south Asia-Hindus and Muslims.
Today after the fourteen long years of home-grown armed struggle and unprecedented sufferings and sacrifices of the people of Kashmir, every Kashmiri rightly complains that still no country, party, politician not even the UNO or OIC tries to understand the depth of the plight and travail of the inhabitants of this beautiful land locked region, who do not want to continue as pawns in the conflicting politics of South Asia, and big power interests, but want to get rid of this whirlwind to shape their political destiny according to their history and society. No doubt, every country and organization speaks in the name of Kashmir but they approach to the problem according to their own interests, perceptions and sentiments. No one keeps his finger on the pulse of people but he gives vent to his own likes and dislikes in a veiled manner. This approach has damaged very much the Kashmir cause, resulting in confusions about Kashmir across the world. The need of the hour is to speak for Kashmir, address the throb & thrill of Kashmiris and more than anything else see Kashmir problem from the eyes of Kashmiris.
In the course of Kashmir movement some elements put/sought the revival of Muslim thought and culture wrong way around, forgetting that Islam was never a disputed faith among the people. The inhabitants of Kashmir always followed the dictums of Islamic faith, upheld the grand slogan of the unity of Ummah and never forgot to agitate against suppression and repression by alien forces in other parts of the world, such as Palestine, Afghanistan, Bosnia etc. But still-no light at the end of the tunnel. Exploitation of Kashmir and sufferings of Kashmiris by vested interests continues around the world. However the faith and struggle of Kashmiris remains unaltered and Islam in Kashmir can never be put to referendum. At the same time this struggle of freedom can never be called a fight between Muslims and non Muslims, since the proposition has dangerous implications for the freedom of the homeland and is not in conformity with the teachings of Islam and the advent of Islam in Kashmir. Moreover, As Muslims we believe that Allah is all justice and all mercy. The University of Nature finally perfected Islam as the best way of life as proclaimed by Allah in Quran.
Everyone must realize that Kashmiris giving their blood unprecedently for freedom have not gained much leverage to shape their future political destiny in the diversing politics of South Asia Efforts by intellectuals and statesmen world over are needed to pave way for what Kashmiris deserve, what they need most and what is in the best interests of the people’s of South Asia for a prosperous and secure future. Every patriot in the poverty-ridden societies of India and Pakistan must perceive factors and phenomenon responsible for obstructing the role of Kashmiris in the lasting peaceful settlement of Kashmir dispute. Such phenomena have caused inquietude and might add insipidity to the human behavior in Kashmir. Kashmiris feel that insidious developments have berefted them of their rights and reduced their status to political pawns in the World politics. The solution of Kashmir dispute lies in recognizing Kashmiris as the pivot round which stars revolve, not merely chess pieces on the chess board of international politics. If some valuable contribution is to be made to the lasting peace in our region then the world leaders and regional statesmen should look round the ethnic, demographic, social and economic interests of Kashmiris never safe under Indian control.
It is strange and sad that the statesmen of the two powerful continents-America and Europe are against wars in their own countries, seek peace for their peoples around the world. Likewise the South Asian governments also want to avoid bloody wars of the past to raise the economic and social standards of the people living under them. If it is true and best for the people of Europe and Asia and other countries, why not applicable to Kashmir also. During the last 55years and particularly since 1980s of the last century Kashmiris too have seen much, learnt greater and now they can benefit from their experiences by putting greater diplomatic, political and other necessary logical pressure on the international and regional brokers to give them what they deserve, and what they got for their own countries-freedom, peace and prosperity. Our demand is simple, if you want to live a peaceful and secure life, live and let live others. Let Kashmiris be also given opportunity to see the promised dawn of freedom-birth right promised by UNO, India and Pakistan to the people of Kashmir as early as 1947-1948. All the resolutions on Kashmir in the Security Council were sponsored by the big powers. Today the West looks different! Why so? When humanity is always and everywhere same. Be it Jews or Arabs or East Timorians or Kashmiris. Human skin can have different colours, but the blood is same.
Mr. Muhammad Farooq Rehmani is the chairman of Jammu & Kashmir People’s League.