Posted Fri, 04/09/2010 – 15:34
Muhammad Farooq Rehmani (2-May-2006)
The WSF provided a unique opportunity to the members of civil society and political groups to participate in discourses, debates, seminars and cultural shows on a variety of themes ranging from economic, social and gender questions to politics and conflict resolution in Karachi from March 25 to 29, 2006. The political issues, which it discussed were Kashmir and Palestine the two most important problems that persistently threaten the existence and progress of a sea of humanity for the last 59 years in South Asia and Middle East.
WSF in collaboration with the J&K coalition of civil society Srinagar, Kashmir Society for Human Rights Lahore and IKV Peace Council Hague the Netherlands, organized separate debates, seminars and film shows on peace process, disappearances, earthquake and relief on 26-27 March in the sports complex Karachi. I was a guest speaker in the Kashmir session on Sunday 26 March. Since I know very well India’s intransigence on the question of the right of self determination for Jammu and Kashmir, therefore I was not astonished to see some people talking callously about the freedom struggle of Kashmiris. We can understand the concern of the present day world vis-à-vis wars and terrorism and a deep urge for peace, but we also see that wars are being waged by big powers in the form of economic sanctions or barbaric military expeditions against smaller/weaker states and terrorism is encouraged, promoted and targeted against innocent people by aggressive governments. Hence political struggle for freedom and right of self determination should never be equated with terrorism. Kashmir and Palestine will suffer more and more if a clear line of demarcation is not drawn between the two, as the slogan of war has given unbridled powers to governments and provided lame excuses to state apparatuses in many countries especially J&K, Middle East and Israel to call a lamb by the name of a wolf and devour him. It is not the individual citizen or the society he lives in responsible for spreading terrorism within or without, it is the system of powerful states that makes Weapons of Mass Destruction (WOMD) and exports to wherever they like to create chaos and devastation. Thus the armory of destruction has gone into the hands of criminal gangs and state sponsored terrorists. It is surprising that many states and their rulers are callous towards this formidable phenomenon in our societies. See how governments are fighting war against “terrorism” but criminal gangs with the same sophisticated weapons have made the life, property and honor of every citizen insecure. So is the case with our banks, ATMS, palatial markets, cars and what not,. Some governments have only strangulated political or freedom movements, and made their own seats of power safe, but not a common citizen whose life and the life of his family shivers day and night with the fear of masked dacoit gangs on highways. To see the WSF Kashmir session in Karachi I as a Kashmiri think that the WSF had to do more to address the right of self determination as expected on the soil of the father of the nation–Quaid-e-Azam, who persistently fought for individual liberty, political freedom and social justice throughout his political life in the subcontinent and laid down the foundation of Pakistan on the basic principles of freedom and just governance. The idea of world social forum has emanated from the brain of a prominent American intellectual Noam Chomsky, who believes that the new rules of the world as laid down by imperialist states are pernicious to humanity because of their violation of fundamental human rights, power concentration and unequal development opportunities. Advocates of WSF would be doing disservice to their glorious cause if they would equate the freedom movement of Jammu & Kashmir with terrorism. We appeal to the WSF to include the right of self determination in their objectives to prevent military onslaught of India on Kashmiris, which could be more formidable in the coming years. It is with this perception that I present my ideas on Kashmir problem below and hope that WSF and its affiliated other forums would not be misled by India’s propaganda of peace in Kashmir.
It is sad that new rules of the world with one goal to eliminate innocent people and that too in the name of peace are being framed in today’s world with undeclared war savagery in different regions. The planners of state terrorism dub every innocent as a terrorist.
In fact, some powerful countries follow their own methods and measuring rods to enforce their selfish agenda. They ignore the genesis of the historical Kashmir issue that was created by Lord Mount Batten in 1947. Otherwise Kashmir’s struggle for the right of self determination was as popular and just as the freedom movement of India. What was the promise made by the fathers of Indian freedom movement with the people of Kashmir? How many times the UN resolutions on Kashmir were passed to hold plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir? Wasn’t the idea of elections as a substitute for plebiscite rejected by the UN Security Council?
Despite all such questions Kashmiris are asked to accept the status quo. They cannot accept old wine in new bottles. They cannot be fooled by any such political gimmick. Of course, India’s state terrorism has played havoc with the lives of our people and still after so many massacres it is suggested that the new edifice of so called peace be built on the same fault line again. Would it make the sense?
Bus or truck service or any thing like that is no substitute to the sacrifices of Kashmiris. No movement of Kashmiris across the LOC under the year old permit system is so easy but has been made complicated for a common citizen who wants to see his relatives on either side of the LOC after over 50 years of separation. Again yet another fact is that India is not allowing post 1990 Kashmiri refugees in Azad Kashmir to go back to their homes in Jammu and Kashmir. The conditions are too humiliating to be accepted
According to the Security Council resolutions and India-Pakistan commitments Kashmir belongs neither to India nor to Pakistan. Hence a legitimate and democratic way to resolve the problem is to ascertain the wishes of the people through a free, fair and an impartial plebiscite. There are numerous historical statements by India, Pakistan, UK, USA, France, China and UN pledging to the world to hold a plebiscite to know the wishes of Kashmiris. This is what the people in Jammu and Kashmir are struggling for.
India backed out of her promises with Kashmiris and resorted to brutal operations in Jammu and Kashmir, but failed to suppress the movement of freedom by fraudulent elections, or militarism and state terrorism, etc. Despite so called elections for legislative bodies, India’s rule over Kashmir was always unpopular. Today our alienation from India is total. Nevertheless unpopular solutions are thrust upon Kashmiris who do not want anything less than to become masters of their fate. Kashmiris would always welcome supporters and sympathizers but not masters to achieve their political goal of freedom.
India says Kashmiris have acceded with India on 26 October 1947. Had the ruler any right to decide the fate of a nation? If India’s claim is true then why she made the promise of plebiscite with Kashmiris? Why India concentrated bulk of its troops in J&K? Why it has been ruling Kashmir by draconian and inhuman laws ever since 1947? It should be noted that Jammu and Kashmir is covered by the Disturbed Areas Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and Public Safety Act etc. The graph of killings had crossed over 90 thousand dead by the end of 2005. India as yet has not stopped horrendous human rights abuses such as fake encounters, extrajudicial killings, molestations and gang rape of women in Jammu and Kashmir. India is not either willing to withdraw its troops from Jammu and Kashmir, despite Pakistan’s readiness to pullout from Azad Kashmir.
The present dialogue between either Pakistan and India or some Kashmiri groups and Delhi is entirely confusing and devoid of any positive direction. Kashmiris describe these talks as “empty vessels make much noise.”
How peace can emerge and how aggrieved and shocked Kashmiri people could believe in such a switch on and switch off condition, when India after so much blood shed of innocents is not ready to fulfill her pledge of a plebiscite, and not willing to stop human rights abuses against innocent citizens in Kashmir. As per our experience and also from frequent statements emanating from Delhi, it is felt that India is adamant to keep Kashmir under the jackboots of its armed forces, in spite of their ugly past and present in Jammu and Kashmir.
India wanted to hoodwink the world opinion by calling a round table conference of quiet opposing Kashmiri groups in New Delhi. Such type of table talks for the sake of talks would not attract genuine forces in Jammu and Kashmir. The leaders of freedom movement in Jammu and Kashmir do not find any change in the Indian policies. On the one hand India does invite freedom parties for talks but on the other hand it is making her approach more and more riddled by inviting at the same time her own loyalist groups for talks who not only support accession with India but at the same time they are responsible for enacting harsh laws of detention on the state. By decorating this type of an opera theater in Delhi, who is fooling whom? It is what one can say water frothing over rocks.
The genuine political leadership of freedom movement is ready for a sincere peaceful dialogue to resolve the long standing issue of Kashmir. But as long as Indian troops in Kashmir rule the roost with a rod of iron and political articulation remains proscribed, it would be misconception to believe that there can be a peaceful way of dialogue ending in final resolution of this dispute.
Every nation and state is proud of its honor, identity and struggle, so is the case with the people of Kashmir. The people of Kashmir will not accept anything less than freedom and the right of self determination, whatever is the situation around them. They will never allow their right to self determination be distorted or compromised by their leadership. If Americans, Europeans or any other nation in east or west however small has the right to decide their future and get freedom and resist oppression and occupation, why not Kashmiris? If East Timor can be given the right to express their wishes under UN why Kashmiris cannot, whose cause is well-defined and supported under a dozen Security Council resolutions? Any selective application of UN decisions and dual standards will never lead to any breakthrough on Kashmir. Humanity is one and people are one on this planet. Our skin may be different but our blood is same and we all belong to the same Adam created by God.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is one and its story is one, so it cannot be divided or subdivided by artificial methods. The people of Kashmir can never be forced to accept the division of Jammu and Kashmir. However, if by a free and impartial plebiscite the majority of the people of Kashmir vote in favor of India or Pakistan or autonomy/independence, no one has the right to challenge their final verdict. Till then the struggle to achieve the right of self-determination will continue without fatigue or compromise.
Kashmir solution cannot be achieved by cosmic or dubious ways. There must be solid steps to create conducive environment for an honest and peaceful dialogue between India, Pakistan and Kashmir. But both India and Pakistan must understand that the Kashmir issue is not the issue of their ego or land, it is basically the question of the inalienable fundamental rights of the inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir who are as good human beings as others in the comity of nations.
As a prerequisite for peace and peaceful dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir, we suggest to India to take the following measures in the occupied region and appeal to all the world organizations especially UNO to support our humanitarian cause.
Repealing all draconian laws
Releasing all political prisoners
Giving freedom of movement, travel, association etc to every Kashmiri across Jammu and Kashmir
Lifting travel restrictions on political leaders of Hurriyat
And stopping all human rights abuses, throughout Jammu and Kashmir.
(The Author is Convener J&K All Parties Hurriyat Conference and Chairman J&K People’s Freedom League. email@example.com) 02-May-2006.