18 October 2009, London
A unique conference known as Black Day Conference was arranged by Kashmir National Party in Watford, England, which wanted to examine the role of Tribal Invasion. The Tribal Invasion was unprovoked aggression against people and State of Kashmir which started on 22 October 1947 and violated Kashmiri sovereignty.
In the past years people of Kashmir held Black Day demonstrations against India to coincide with the arrival of Indian army in Srinagar. It was for the first time that a conference was held on 22 October to coincide with the attack of the tribesmen on State of Jammu and Kashmir which forced the Ruler of the State to seek help from India and subsequently accede with India, although that accession was provisional and had to be ratified by the people.
The Black Day Conference was first of its kind and attracted a lot of interest by the concerned parties. Thirteen political parties from the UK representing various political viewpoints participated in the conference and declared that the tribal invasion was designed to force the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir to join Pakistan. Apart from Kashmiris a number of Pakistanis were also present in the conference to express their support for the cause of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Black Day Conference started with opening remarks of the KNP Chairman Abbas Butt who welcomed all the participants and explained order of the day and rules regarding this crucial debate. He said, ‘Our struggle is not against Pakistan or Pakistani people; it is not against India or Indian people. Our struggle is against injustice and wrong policies of Pakistan and India. If India and Pakistan change their Kashmir policies and people of Jammu and Kashmir get their right of self determination then we can all live in peace and harmony and work for peace and stability of the region’.
Abbas Butt said, ‘We have produced a booklet especially for this conference which explains with historic evidence that the State of Jammu and Kashmir was independent after the end of the British Raj; and that tribal invasion was supported by Pakistani authorities in clear violation of the Standstill Agreement concluded between the Maharaja government and government of Pakistan’.
Dr Shabir Choudhry, Spokesman of Kashmir National Party in his key note speech said, ‘The tribal invasion was planned and supported by government of Pakistan, and aim was to punish the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir who refused to accede to Pakistan or India. This tragic event changed the course of our history and our destination. It undermined our sovereignty and deprived us of our independence. It divided our beloved motherland and divided families and the nation. It killed innocent Kashmiri men and women. It plundered and looted Kashmiri resources. It is the main cause of our present miseries and troubles’.
Dr Shabir Choudhry further said, ‘If there was no tribal invasion then there might have been no Kashmir dispute as we see it today. It was possible that both countries in absence of this dispute could have resolved other issues and could have developed friendly and cordial relations; and that could have led to peace and stability in the region’.
He said, ‘The genie of extremism and hatred released in name of jihad in October 1947 to advance political agenda, continue to spread extremism and hatred. Unfortunately that policy of promoting extremism to advance political agenda continued until very recently, and forces of extremism and hatred have become power in their own right. They have already affected lives of millions of people. Like any other living being, it wants to live and flourish; and has become out of control. Like Frankenstein monster it has turned against its creator, hence we see cries in Pakistan about terrorism, jihad and establishing writ of government, all claiming to be on the right path’.
Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman of UKPNP in his key note speech praised the KNP leadership for taking this daring step of having a Black Day Conference. ‘It is something new. It makes people think what happened in October 1947. Which were the forces that caused so many problems to us? We need to reorganise our struggle, and must not follow the old line which was given by those who had interest in territory of Kashmir’.
He said, ‘Strategy in the Kashmiri struggle was wrong and that is why we have not made any progress in the last sixty two years. We must not be afraid of criticism and exploring our history which has been distorted by those who occupy us. We must get our facts right and in this regard Dr Shabir Choudhry and KNP has done a considerable work and that must be appreciated by the Kashmiris’.
PNP Chairman said, ‘Kashmiri struggle is a political struggle. It is not fight against any religion or any community. We have common problems and we have common enemy and that is illiteracy, poverty, and extremism’.
PNP Chair added, ‘Why is it that people of so called Azad Kashmir at the age of fifteen have to say good - bye to their homeland and become a migrant? It is because we were invaded. We are occupied and our State is forcibly divided. Our resources are being exploited by those who occupy us. If we were masters of our own resources then we could have been very well off’.
Mahmood Kashmiri, President of NLF said, ‘We are grateful to KNP leadership for providing us with this opportunity that we can all sit down in this round table conference and debate who did what to us in 1947. It is important to get our facts right that we can plan our future strategy’.
Mahmood Kashmiri said, ‘Those who criticise and say that we should not look at the past mistakes are wrong. It is absolutely crucial that we analyse past mistakes of the Kashmiri leadership, and blunders of our so called friends that we know who has been sincere with the cause of people of Jammu and Kashmir’.
NLF President added, ‘It is only appropriate that we struggle on this side of the LOC; and other Kashmiris struggle in other parts according to their situation and according to their strategy’.
‘It was a wrong policy that we must liberate Srinagar first and then liberate this side of Kashmir’ Mahmood Kashmiri said. ‘It was wrong at that time and it is wrong now. We have problems on this side of the LOC and we have to struggle on this side according to our situation. What sense does it make to have a protest against a Commissioner of Mirpur when injustice is being done by the Commissioner of Muzaffarabad.’
Ali Adalat, representative of KIN said, ‘We people of Jammu and Kashmir have got our priorities wrong. We are confused with our identity. We don’t know if we are Pakistanis or Kashmiris. I can understand there could be pressure on people in Pakistani Administered Kashmir to speak out, but what holds them back in UK. Why they are afraid of getting themselves recognised as Kashmiris that we also benefit as an ethnic minority group’.
Ali Adalat said, ‘True both India and Pakistan have exploited us economically and otherwise. We also have been victim of communalism and extremism. But why we are not taking a lead and ensure that we get our rights recognised in Britain. We ensure that we are not excluded from decision making process, as we were excluded in the past be it in 1947, UN Resolutions, Tashkant Agreement, Shimla Agreement any many other subsequent agreements’.
He said, ‘We have to learn from past mistakes. I agree that the Tribal Invasion was a blunder. If the aim was to help Muslims then why attack an area where there was 95% Muslims. Why not attack and help Muslims of Jammu where they were in minority and where they were being killed. They attacked Srinagar which is more than 135 miles, but did not go to Jammu from Sialkot which is less than 20 miles’.
NSF leaders Asif Masood, fully appreciated the efforts of the KNP leaders and expressed their full support to cause of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir. Asif Masood said, ‘Those who tell us to liberate Srinagar first are wrong and are trying to divert our attention and our resources’.
He said, ‘We have always opposed politics in name of religion. We opposed militancy in name of Jihad even when many organisations praised it and took pride in being part of that’. He said, ‘We need to have unity among ourselves and correct strategy to liberate the State. Our struggle is on this side of the LOC and not on the other side’.
Surrinder Kaul, President of Kashmir Peace Committee, highly appreciated the Black Day Conference. He said, ‘It is important to set historical record right. As a child I witnessed this tribal invasion and have personal memories of this tragic event. These people did not come to Kashmir to liberate us or help anyone’. He said, ‘We people of the divided Jammu and Kashmir must interact with each other that we have better understanding of each other. It is important to have conferences like this, but I wish if we can have a conference like this in Srinagar and other places of the State’.
Surriya Makhdoom, representing World Sindhi Congress said, ‘The People Sind voted for Pakistan. It was the Sind Assembly which passed a resolution in support of Pakistan. But after becoming a part of Pakistan we are still not enjoying our full democratic rights. We are still struggling for our educational, linguistic and cultural rights’.
She fully supported Kashmiri struggle for right of self determination, and urged that we should all work together for peace and fundamental rights of the people in the region.
NAP leader, Asghar Malik, said, ‘We have always supported the cause of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir and will continue to do so’. He appreciated the hard work done by the KNP leadership and assured the audience ‘that his party will support the cause of unity and work for united and independent Jammu and Kashmir’.
He said, ‘We are not against Pakistan but it is our birth right to struggle for our fundamental rights and independence of our motherland’. He said, ‘It is only appropriate that we struggle on this side of the LOC, but coordinate with other parties struggling in other areas’.
Mujtaba Ali Shah, Secretary Information of the United Kashmir People's National Party (UKPNP) expressed ‘his serious concern on rise of religious intolerance in areas of Pakistani Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Beltistan’. He said, ‘Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and other jihadi groups have entrenched their positions in Azad Kashmir and the puppet government of Azad Kashmir has instructed the local administration to accommodate the Pakistani and other jihadis by all means possible, including in madrassahs and sate run schools’.
He said, ‘He was a witness to the murder of a young Shia student in Muzaffarabad at the hands of LeT terrorists after the martyred student protested against the activities of LeT soon after the 2005 earthquake’.
Nawaz Majid Kashmiri, Secretary General of KNP Britain Zone said, ‘The Tribal invasion communalised the Kashmiri politics in which people of the State suffered immensely. It was this unprovoked attack which forced the Maharaja to join India’.
He said, ‘Our struggle is not for any accession or against any religion. Our struggle is for a secular and independent Jammu and Kashmir where all ethnic minorities of the State can live in peace and harmony.’
Jameel Latif, President of UKPNP Britain in his short speech assured the audience that his party ‘Will not shy away from speaking the truth and speak for the rights of our people’. He said, ‘We were the first party to hold a demonstration outside the Pakistani High Commission to protest against the new package for Gilgit and Baltistan and against annexation of this area to Pakistan’.
Ayub Rathor, representing JKLF group of Farooq Papa expressed his full support for the conference and assured the audience that his party will support unity among the Kashmiri parties. He said, ‘If we remain divided and don’t set out our priorities then it will be very difficult to get independence.’
Moohammed Nazam Bhatti, President of KNP Britain Zone thanked all those who made such brilliant arrangements for this conference and said, ‘We always have taken a lead in promoting the cause of people and independent Jammu and Kashmir’. He said, ‘I was only fifteen years old when I became one of the younger members of the JKLF when it was formed in 1977. Like my other colleagues I have worked all my life to advancethe cause of a secular and independent Kashmir’.
Arshad Khan of Muslim Conference, differed with the other speakers and said, ‘The Tribesmen came to help people of Kashmir. It is possible that there were some bad people as well who committed some crimes. My party policy is that we should become part of Pakistan, but I respect views expressed by other speakers. We need to understand each other and tolerate criticism.’
Usman Kayani, Secretary General of UKPNP Britain said, ‘If people of Pakistan can hold demonstrations against injustice in Pakistan and no one questions their loyalty and no one calls them traitor, then why should we be afraid of holding demonstrations against those who do injustice to us’. He said, ‘Our first loyalty is with our motherland and not with our neighbours, no matter how good is our neighbour.’
Mumtaz Rathor of JKLF Farooq Papa group and other speakers also expressed their views and assured the audience to work for the cause of Kashmir.
The following resolutions were passed by the Conference:
Resolutions passed by the Black Day Conference arranged by Kashmir National Party in Watford (England) on 18 October 2009
Participants of this conference unanimously:
Declare that the Tribal Invasion supported and directed by Pakistani authorities was aggression against the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It desecrated sovereignty of the State which was independent at that time of this unprovoked aggression;
Agree that the tribal attack was a clear violation of the Standstill Agreement signed by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Government of Pakistan;
Recognise that this aggression carried out in name of jihad was designed to force the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir to accede to Pakistan. It resulted in death and suffering of innocent Kashmiris; and changed the course of our history as the Maharaja was forced to seek help from India and accede to India against his will;
Note that the accession was provisional in nature and had to be ratified by the people of the State, however they never had chance to express their opinion on this matter;
Welcome the resumption of dialogue as that is the only way forward to resolve the Kashmir dispute; but emphasise that people of the State must have a final say on the future of the State;
Express their determination to promote the cause of peace, democracy and equality for all citizens of the State; and oppose forces of extremism and hatred;
Acknowledge that terrorism has added to problems of the people of the State and it should be opposed in all its manifestations;
Affirm their determination to oppose all those forces who want to divide the State of Jammu and Kashmir, as the State is one political entity and must remain so;
Resolve to continue their struggle for unification and independence of the State;
Strongly believe that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is multi religious and multi cultural; and this aspect of our society and culture must be recognised and promoted.
Urge the British government and governments of other countries to recognise people of Jammu and Kashmir as Kashmiris and not reclassify and redefine them as Pakistanis or Indians.
Demand that people of Jammu and Kashmir who were uprooted because of the troubles in the State must be settled back in their homes with dignity, honour and safety.
Emphasis that right of movement within the State is our fundamental right; and CBMs are designed to prevent free movement of the Kashmiri people. We demand that restrictions in the CBMs must be lifted that people of the State could easily interact with their fellow citizens.
Support democratic, economic, educational, cultural and linguistic rights of the Sindhi people.