Posted Sat, 04/10/2010 – 15:14
Point of view of Hurriet Conference and its part played for the struggle
(Muhammad Farooq Rehmani Convener APHC)
It is yet shrouded in mystery and doubts whether the influential and powerful players behind the conflict of Jammu and Kashmir are looking for a durable, popular and just solution of the J&K dispute or they are merely managing crises control in South Asia as was said in a speech by different political thinkers at a New York Conference only a couple of years before.
“Kashmir specialists – who gathered in Washington to discuss the topic: Kashmir: A stalemate forever? – Were less pessimistic than that title implied. But they agreed that any real solution is years away.”
“Some people are going to have to die first,” said one of the specialists, Sumit Ganguly of Hunter College in New York – not violently, he hastened to add but of old age, before hatred and distrust born during the bloody days of India Pakistan partition can be forgotten.”
“So the two sides will need to build a structure of smaller agreements before turning meaningfully to Kashmir, said the specialists, brought together by Brookings and another research institute, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
That, they said, might allow time for the coming-to-age of young, self confident Indians and Pakistanis keener on profiting from cross border commerce than keeping alive old ethnic divisions and national hatreds.
Teresita Schaffer, once the top US diplomat for South Asia, said, as with the thorny and often postponed “final status” talks on Al Quds, the Kashmir question might best be perched on a back burner for the indefinite future while confidence grows, she and others said.
Another specialist Stephen Cohen of Brookings said, “Kashmir may be the last of the issues to be settled. It may be the Wailing Wall, every bit as intractable an issue as the Al Quds edifice also known as the Western Wall. But I am fairly confident the two countries have found ways to mange Kashmir.
Of course President Musharaf’s political steadfastness and flexibility for conflict resolution has won world communities support for Pakistan and brought more pressure on India, but at the same time it has given rise to this question that eventually India may bring pressure on Pakistan to withdraw concrete support to the freedom fighting people of Kashmir and discourage such activities in Pakistan. However it is too early to draw such hopeless conclusion from the current Indo-Pak CBM’s.
While discussing options and looking for a final solution of the Kashmir dispute we should essentially keep in mind historical perspective of Kashmir, Kashmir dispute, the struggle and sacrifices of Kashmiris and pragmatic factors and approaches.
The state of J&K was created by the unification of ethnically, culturally and linguistically separate regional identities of J&K and the frontier divisions of Ladakh and Baltistan.
The nature of Kashmir dispute is unique and has grown such since the year of partition. Although a princely state of the British India till 1947, it was included in the first category of one hundred and forty major States which enjoyed in principle full legislative and jurisdictional powers. Be they major, middling or minor all these princely states varying in constitutional theory were quite separate from British India proper. The princes—the rulers of the states were part of the Indian empire by virtue of having acknowledged the paramouncy of the British crown.
The Kashmiri Muslims had a history of resistance against foreign monarchs dating back to the attack by Mughal King Akbar in 1585 followed by Afghan Kings and Sikh rulers.
The Muslims of J&K formed a predominant majority of the princely state. But they were never happy nor treated well as human beings by the Dogra rulers. They frequently raised their voice against the inhuman and hereditary rule of Dogras in the 19 and 20 centuries.
The Indian movement of independence evoked wide spread response in the state and brought into the vortex of the liberation movement. The civil disobedience movement in 1919 led to severe reaction in Jammu province; the Khilafat movement followed with greater fury, and spread to the entire state, particularly the Kashmir province, where the Muslims joined the Khilafat struggle in large numbers.
In 1931, J&K Muslims fell into a head on collision with the Dogra rule, because of the abuse of power and exploitation, which characterized their hereditary rule. The pan Islamic ideology which swept Punjab in the aftermath of Khilafat movement also found its support in J&K. In the autumn of 1931 thousands of volunteers marched towards Sailkot to enter into the state to help their Muslim brothers’ revolting against the repression of Dogra rulers. Dr. Iqbal then chairman of the Kashmir Committee Lahore directed efforts to organize help and support for the Muslims of J&K.
In 1930s and 1940s the political movement of Kashmir became more pronounced. The ideology of Pakistan and the visit of Quad-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Srinagar as the President of All India Muslim League boosted the political struggle of Kashmiris and kindled their hopes of freedom from centuries subjugation.
After the illegal annexation of Kashmir by India in 1947 Kashmiris faced a new challenge to fight against the new colonialism of the Indian Government. Kashmiris did not recognize Indian occupation of the State of J&K. Their political and armed struggle freed some parts of the state but two-third of the whole area went into the hands of the aggressor, dividing it militarily into two parts. Since then the movement of liberation against the Indian occupation forces has seen many phases and dimensions, but the people of Kashmir have never rested in peace in J&K. In 1980s the freedom movement received fresh impetus from some global and regional developments and further Indian repression and promulgation of repressive laws forced Kashmiris to launch a mass political struggle against occupation and for the right of self-determination developing finally in late 1990s into a popular armed struggle for freedom and right of self determination.
The people of Kashmir believe that the Kashmir dispute is not only an ugly legacy of the British rule in India but also India is the successor of the 19th century despotic rulers in J&K. Like its predecessor India rules Kashmir with military power and harsh laws because of her weaker and narrower base among the people. So the narrower base of the government the greater is the repression of the rulers over the people they desire to rule.
“Any objective analysis of the present Indian policy in the vale of Kashmir will surely lead to the conclusion that there is no achievable objective beyond the maintenance of the far from happy status quo. India, following in the footsteps of its former British rulers, has created for it self its own joint version of Ulster.”(Alastair Lamb) He further says, “Kashmir is a special case, with its own unique history; and it creates no precedents for other special cases such as the Sikhs or Assam or the peoples of the Dravidian South”. Again He says, “There are powerful arguments indeed for a return to basics to the situation as it existed at the time of the Transfer of power in India in 1947, and to the exploration of fresh approaches to the problem of the future of the Jammu and Kashmir.
Some things are cardinal for the people of Kashmir and final settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
1. The right of self determination which will lead to the conflict resolution.
2. Respect of the Human Rights of Kashmiris will lead to peace in the region.
3. Impunity is one of the main contributing factors for the continuing patterns of human rights violations in the occupied Kashmir. India has shown complete disregard for the lives and physical integrity of people in Jammu and Kashmir during the last 15 years. Over 100,000 Kashmiris have been martyred and disappeared by Indian forces through out J&K.
Following the successful “Discourse on Kashmir” held in April 2004 at the European parliament and Kashmir Centre. EU, the European parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy set up an ad hoc delegation on Kashmir, which visited both sides of the cease fire line. The delegation submitted its recommendations (seven in total) in a report to the Committee in July 2004. One of the foremost recommendations of the report is a follows:
.“We believe that there are three parties which have a legitimate interest in finding a solution to the Kashmir problem namely the Indian government , the Pakistan government and the Kashmiri people and their representatives, and therefore that all three should be fully involved.
The other major institutes that urge the involvement of the people of Jammu and Kashmir are:
a) United Nations – through its various Security Council Resolution ; and
b) Organization of Islamic Conference – through its resolution adopted at the OIC Casablanca summit 1994,(followed by other resolutions)
The United States of America and the United Kingdom equally recognize that Kashmir is a disputed area that is being monitored by the international community.
The American declared policy on Kashmir is enunciated by Colin Powell, as US Secretary of State, in terms of Kashmir being on the “international agenda and that Kashmir is “disputed” area”
Likewise, the United Kingdom’s position on Kashmir is elaborated by Jack Straw, UK Foreign Secretary when acknowledging that Britain made “serious mistakes” and described Kashmir as “unfinished business.” Recalling that Kashmir has been the subject of dispute since Independence in 1947,” he said that this “dispute with potent international implications” “has been on the international community’s agenda.”
(Working Paper: EP All Party Group for Kashmir and Kashmir center. EU 2005)
The “Composite Dialogue” between India and Pakistan looks promising. However, engagement of the people of Kashmir is vital.
1. International acknowledgement of the Kashmiris right to self determination and the recognition that the Kashmir freedom movement is an indigenous, genuine and legitimate political struggle.
2. Intensified intra-Kashmir dialogue to enable Kashmiris to forward their own agreed solution of the dispute
3. An immediate end to all violations of human rights, reduction of forces, abolition of the draconian measures of the Indian forces by repealing various legislations.
The world community should acknowledge some basic facts to see a new dawn of peace over the horizons of South Asia.
1. Kashmiris have sacrificed their blood for their freedom over the years. Their great human sacrifices for this noble cause continue unabated. The human blood is not like water which can be found in mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans or springs.
2. Kashmiris are human beings like all other human races in the world belonging to one and the same planet. They are not like anybodies property to be sold for one price or the other. They inherit the same soul, spirit, heart as other people on the planet.
3. J&K remains divided since 1947 against the will of the people.
4. The people of J&K fought a peaceful political struggle for 40 years.
5. All the bilateral agreements on Kashmir yielded nothing during the last 57 years.
The people of J&K have attained political and ideological maturity of par excellence during their unprecedented sacrifices for the right to self-determination. So their environment is nothing but struggle, determination and sacrifices. The global advocates of the regional peace in south Asia must underscore that the United Nations itself promised the people of Kashmir the opportunity to express their wishes regarding their governance and the international status of their country through a free and fear plebiscite. Even absent that recognition of the right to determine their status, the Kashmiri people meet all international law tests for the right to self determination.
The Kashmiri claim to this right is exceptionally strong. The area had a long history of self governance pre-dating the colonial period. Most important to this claim, Kashmiris have a current strong common aspiration for reestablishment of self rule and freedom. Resistance to India has continued unabated during the last 57 years, with major up raisings in 1953, 1964, 1988 and 1990s.
Besides popular resistance to India there is also a forward looking leadership with the clear will and capability to carry on the governance of Kashmir. A number of political parties have been actively upholding the candle of freedom for long at a great risk. Their leaders have spent years in jails and interrogation centers and many leaders are facing displacement or exile due to their political views on Kashmir between 1980s and 1990s. These political parties have formed political alliances such as the MUF and THK in the past. In 1993 the base of their unity was expanded to form the All Parties Hurriet Conference (APHC). The aim of the APHC is to build the Kashmiri people’s belief in a peaceful resolution, by pursuing such a settlement which would uphold their honor, dignity, and sacrifices. APHC is of the firm opinion that Kashmiris are the final arbiters of their ultimate destiny.
1. Under its objectives the APHC is committed to continue its peaceful struggle to achieve the right of self determination in accordance with the UN Charter and the resolutions adopted by the UNSC. However, the exercise of the right to self determination shall also include the right to independence.
2. To make endeavors for an alternative negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute amongst all the three parties to the dispute Viz (a) India, (b) Pakistan, (c) People of the J&K, under the auspices of UN or any other friendly countries, provided that such settlement reflects the will and aspirations of Kashmiris.
3. To project ongoing struggle, in the state before the nations and governments of the world in its proper perspective as being a struggle against occupation and for the right of self determination of its people. APHC constituents reflect the urges and aspirations of the freedom fighters.
Since its formation, the APHC has carried out its mission as promised, sending leaders around Kashmir and around the world to forward peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Its leaders and representatives have regularly attended United Nations, Human Rights sessions, special conference and international seminars on Kashmir. APHC attends OIC summits and foreign ministers conferences and is also allowed each year in the United Nations to attend and deliver speech before the OIC contact group on Kashmir.
APHC Kashmir Centers are working in Washington, London and Brussels. Thus APHC has developed a rapport with the diplomatic and political community in India, Pakistan, Europe and America and has created awareness on Kashmir around the world. APHC has a day to day interaction with every section of the society at the rural and urban levels. No corner of J&K however far remains unvisited and unattended by the leaders and representatives of APHC to address and share miseries of the victims of the State terrorism which is a permanent feature of India’s military, police and civil administration in the occupied land. Such visits to the effected localities are taken by APHC at a great risk of their life and honor. Thus, APHC having become the true voice of Kashmiris is keen and cautious to protect the movement and the honor of the people and see if their choice is reflected in any dialogue and CBM between India and Pakistan.
Therefore, it is the sincere and considered opinion of the APHC that without Kashmir specific, Kashmir centered and oppression eradicated CBM’s Kashmiris would see this process with skeptical eyes and the road towards the final solution of Kashmir dispute would remain always rocky and misty.
APHC firmly believes that the one going war in Jammu and Kashmir is a war between Kashmiris and their occupiers. It is a war to drive the invader and aggressor out and gain freedom according to the international principle of the right to self determination.
Both Pakistan and Kashmir have always shared each others views on the concept of freedom and have contributed to each other to achieve their common goal of peace and freedom in the region. Pakistan’s role in this holy struggle of liberation for the people of Jammu and Kashmir has been exemplary. Therefore, today when Pakistan has joined the composite dialogue to further the cause of peace and Kashmir, it is the Pakistan’s national and historical duty to safeguard the fundamental interests of Kashmiris with the involvement and support of the global community by urging upon India to pay heed to the just political demands of the people of Kashmir, the real stakeholders in this dispute. India should be told in unambiguous terms that the flexibility is two-way traffic and the success of the dialogue rests on the clapping of both hands.
Hence for the success of the peace process,
1. Pakistan should take all possible measures to associate Kashmiri representatives with the dialogue as an important party of the dispute
2. The global community should urge India to demilitarize and de terrorize J&K by repealing all draconian laws in the state and restoring freedom of speech association and movement of Kashmiris particularly resistance leaders in and outside the state.
3. The United Nations should urge India to agree to a cease-fire and immediate end to its human rights abuses and violation of the humanitarian law.
4. The UN Secretary General to send a fact finding mission to Kashmir to access the situation or in the alternative ask the United Nations High commissioner for Human Rights to undertake such a mission.
5. India should be urged to revoke all detention orders to release political detenues from jails and interrogation centers.
These are some of the CBM’s that could lead to a final stage over which the wishes of the people of Kashmir could be ascertained and their political destiny settled in the larger interests of a sea of humanity in South-Asia.