By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
On the eve of the 11th International Kashmir Peace Conference, held in Capital Hill, Washington, on July 29-30, 2010, the participants emphasized India and Pakistan to find out a political solution of the Kashmir dispute. The conference was attended by large number of delegates from India, Pakistan, both the sides of Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiri Diaspora from all over the world, United State’s think tanks, Congressmen, diplomats from various countries stationed in Washington D.C., prominent US columnists and opinion makers. The participants felt that to end the “perennial suffering of the people of Jammu and Kashmir expeditious resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute on permanent basis has become urgent and essential.”
The conference was jointly organised by the American Kashmir Council and Association of Humanitarian Lawyer’s Forum. Dr. Ghlum Nabi Fai, the Executive Director of the American Kashmir Council said in his opening remarks that, “United Nations to lead the effort to achieve a fair and lasting settlement of the Kashmir dispute.” The participating US Congressmen expressed their deep anguish over the continued human rights violations in the IHK. They called upon India for ending the “persecution of people in the state and respecting human rights in the state.” The US think tanks and MPs were of the opinion that, “for bringing peace in South Asia, the resolution of Kashmir dispute has become imperative.” Participants of the conference were pinning a lot hopes on President Obama and UNO to play a part towards the resolution of the issues politically. While the proceedings of the conference were underway in Washington, the Indian security forces were busy in killing the innocent Kashmiri masses. The participants condemned the Indian acts and prayed for all those martyred in Kashmir at the hands of the Indian forces.
How Kashmiri feels about the Indian role throughout during the occupied history of the state, can be imagined from a statement of former Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah, who once said, that Indian authorities “Treated me like a chaprasi (peon).” This is despite concluding a formal agreement with India, through Kashmir Accord of November-1974, by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah himself. Many a time he expressed that, he is totally a feeble and a hostage at the hands of the Indian intelligence agencies and the strong Indian bureaucracy. This was the most commonly used phrase of the Sheikh Abdullah, who was jailed many a times for demanding the Kashmiri rights from Indian leaders like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, once a close associate of Sheikh Abdullah. So was the authority of Farooq Abdullah, son of Sheikh Abdullah and father of the incumbent Chief Minister. Thirty-five years later, once his grandson, Omer Abdullah is the Chief Minister of IHK, the situation has rather worsened.
The question arises as to what is the underlying cause for all this happening. A realistic assessment would reveal that,
the successive Kashmiri leadership has preferred their personnel gains to the collective national interests of the people of state. Following the Kashmir Accord-1974, the demand for the freedom from the Indian yoke by the overwhelming Kashmiris has been lacking the assent of the rulers of the state. This holds good from Sheikh Abdullah to Omar Abdullah. Indeed, the freedom is the people’s voice in defiance to their ruler’s wishes. The rulers have their own priorities. Their objectives are being fulfilled by being the loyal to the governments at New Delhi, rather their people.
The next question in the sequential order is; why Kashmiri masses vote for these self-seeking leaders and don’t they have choice of alternative leadership? The history of the state reveals that Indian Government has chosen a few families of the Kashmiris to be its faithful, and they have been the decision makers of the future of the people of this state as per the directives issued from New Delhi from time to time. In this regards, the Indian intelligence agencies and its bureaucracy has followed the golden principle of ‘divide and rule’ for the Kashmiris. This is exactly as the British Government did during its prolonged rule over the Subcontinent. The rule was practically implemented in a way that, once a political party promised acceptance of demands of the Indian Government, was brought into power through manipulation and allowed to rule indefinitely. Nevertheless, once it demanded the Kashmiris right, it was not only deprived of the rule, but its leaders were put behind the bar. Sheikh Abdullah remained imprisoned for years whenever he asked for the right of Kashmiris. Later he learnt that, rather fighting for the collective rights of the Kashmiris, look after his own interest. His son; Farooq Abdullah and grandson Omar Abdullah have been following the same policy.
The famous writer and former Indian ambassador to UK, Mr. Kuldip Nayar, has suggested a strategy for the masses and the ruler of Kashmiri. He suggested that the ruler class of Kashmir, otherwise traditionally loyal to New Delhi should keep bulldozing the Indian governments for the public consumption, but practically be loyal to the Tahat-e-Delhi. He envisioned that this would keep everyone at a state of satisfaction. Mr Kuldip Nayar has quoted the example from the Sheikh Abdullah, who in his opinion had understood the ploy and successfully used it for his rule and later same strategy was adopted by his son and now grandson. As per the Ambassador, Sheikh Abdullah “did not question Kashmir’s accession to India, but placated the Kashmiris by criticising New Delhi for eroding the state’s autonomy. For example, he would say that the Kashmiris would prefer to stay hungry if the atta from India was meant to trample upon their right to stay independent. It may have been a fiction but it worked.”
Mr. Kuldip Nayer is right as this deceptive measure has worked well prior to 1990, but it is no more viable. The people of the state have awakened and cannot be befooled anymore. There have been three elections in the State even after 1990. In these elections the Indian Army and its paramilitary forces not at will forced people to vote. The renewed uprisings started in 2008, has taken a new momentum. The people of Kashmir are agreeing on nothing less than the freedom from India. Starting from Governor Rule to the Governments of various political parties of the state, the Indian Government have used all methods to control the masses, following the 1990 Kashmiri freedom movement. Even its heart and mind winning technique through Operation Sadbahwana (good will) could not meet a success.
Now India must understand that, Kashmiris would be agreeing on not less than the freedom from its illegitimate rule. India should be clear of this aspect, as she has used all methods to control the Kashmiri masses ever since 1947. India has indeed used the military option as the pre-dominant one. There have been over 150 reported deaths of innocent Kashmiris, mostly consisting of young school and college going boys in last two months by Indian Army and paramilitary forces. This is an act of genocide by India. It is being used after she realized that all strategies used by India to control the masses in Kashmir have failed. Indian Army has already killed over 93,000 Kashmiris since the start of uprising in 1990. It is the responsibility of UNO, major power especially U.S , and the international community to put diplomatic pressure on India for ending the genocide of Kashmiri masses.
Dr Raja M Khan did his PhD in International Relations from Karachi University. Now he is an Associate Professor with National Defence University, Islamabad, a prestigious institution of the country where mostly officers from Pakistan Military attend the classes.
His area of focus is South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East and rest of the Muslim World. He is closely following Kashmir, Afghanistan and Iraq. Dr Khan is also a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.