By Dr Shabir Choudhry
21 September 2016
Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a Seminar held at the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 20 September 2016.
Mr Chairman and colleagues Aslam o Alaikum and very good after noon to you all
There is more than one reason why people of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering. Normal practice of Majority of Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir is to accuse India for all the problems we have. Some will say Pakistan is responsible for our problems; and some will say both India and Pakistan are responsible for our miseries.
Have you ever analysed the role of people of Jammu and Kashmir in this conflict? Are they not responsible? Did not some citizens of Jammu and Kashmir become collaborators when Pakistan violated the Standstill Agreement with the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir; and launched the tribal attack to capture Kashmir on October 22 October 1947?
Did they not help Pakistan and the Tribesmen to kill non Muslim citizens of Jammu and Kashmir? In this brutal attack women of Jammu and Kashmir were kidnapped and raped, innocent people were killed and their houses were looted and burnt. Did not some of us agree to become foot soldiers of Pakistan, and set up a puppet government of so called Azad Kashmir?
Should we accept some of the responsibility for tens of thousands of deaths and rapes that took place after 22 October 1947; or only hold Pakistan responsible for all that?
This unprovoked aggression forced the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir to seek help from India, which was provided only after he acceded with India; and the accession was provisionally accepted. The attack resulted in first India and Pakistan war and forced division of our homeland.
Role of Valley of Kashmir
Did not people of the Valley come out to fight the tribesmen and the invading Pakistani soldiers in October 1947? After the Provisional accession, did they not side with government of India? If leaders of so called Azad Kashmir were puppets of Pakistan, were not leaders of Jammu and Kashmir puppets of India? Did they not take oath of allegiance to India?
After the Provisional accession the issue was between government of India and the people of State of Jammu and Kashmir; and Pakistan was not even a party to the dispute. People had three options, either to reject the provisional accession, ratify it or negotiate new terms of the accession.
Pakistan became a party because of its illegal occupation; and because the matter was taken to the UN Security Council; and they had a right to reply to the accusations made by India with regard to the aggression. Both India and Pakistan assumed the role of representatives of people of Jammu and Kashmir; and since that date they talk and negotiate and we suffer on both sides of the divide.
Despite the knowledge that Pakistan has imperial designs on Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan is guilty of aggression and gross human rights violation in Gilgit Baltistan and Pakistani Occupied Kashmir, some people felt it appropriate to take guns, bullets, training and money from Pakistan and use it against India.
Interestingly they called it Azadi movement, meaning freedom movement. So in their view it was appropriate to become proxies of a country that also occupies large parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and sit in the capital of that country, receive all sorts of help; and still claim to be patriots and freedom fighters. Either I am missing something or the meaning of freedom struggle has changed.
Some citizens of Jammu and Kashmir don’t want independence. They don’t want Jammu and Kashmir to exist as a separate nation; and don’t want to own Kashmiri identity and culture because they have voluntarily accepted slavery of Pakistan. It is their choice, bad as it is; and I for one will not force them to change their views. May be they are unable to differentiate between freedom and slavery. May Almighty help them?
If these people are projected as patriots, even though they are not pro Jammu and Kashmir; then how could those loyal sons of the soil be accused of being traitors who want glory for Jammu and Kashmir; those who want independence for Jammu and Kashmir; and those who want to strengthen Jammu and Kashmir culture and promote tolerance, democracy and pluralism?
The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is a political dispute which required a political solution. These freedom fighters of Islamabad or proxies made it a religious struggle, knowing full well that Jammu and Kashmir is a multi religious and multi ethnic State. It is another black page of our history that in name of religion they turned against their fellow citizens and forced them out of the Kashmir Valley. The uprooted people, Kashmiri Pandits lived in Kashmir for centuries, but these religious warriors backed by Islamabad, in name of jihad killed many innocent people, raped women and they had to flee their homes to save their lives.
After dealing with the non Muslims they started fighting each other. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives; no one knows exactly how many people are killed by Indian para military forces, Jammu and Kashmir police, by infighting of militant groups, and by exchange of hostilities along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.
I agree people have suffered and they continue to suffer; but can we hold India responsible for everything what has happened? Did India ask these people to go to Pakistan, get training, bring weapons and use against the Indian army?
Where India and Pakistan are responsible for our miseries, we citizens of Jammu and Kashmir must also share some responsibility. We must learn from our mistakes and try to adopt pro Jammu and Kashmir and pro peace policies.
A Little Comparison
People often ask me to make comparison between India and Pakistan. I made one comparison last September. I want to make a little comparison now.
Many Muslims of the Valley shout pro Pakistan slogans. They say they are Pakistanis – Trei jaan Meri Jaan – Pakistan Pakistan. They burn Indian flags. They visit Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi and eat chicken Tikkas, Kebabs, and Biryani etc. They celebrate Eids with them and openly get their support. No one is killed on the Indian side of the divide for the above activities.
We had a brave son of soil, Arif Shahid, who Chairman of All Parties National Alliance. He did not wave an Indian flag. He did not call himself an Indian or expressed his desire to join India. He did not borrow a gun from India to use it against Pakistan. He never went to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. He did not celebrate Eid or Divali with them. His only crime was to criticise Pakistani designs on Kashmir. His only crime was that he challenged Pakistani jihad industry and demanded that it should be closed down as it was hurting people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Yasin Malik is still alive even though he was among those who brought gun from Pakistan and used it against India. When he surrendered the gun no one tried to kill him. Syed Ali Gilani and many others who call themselves Pakistanis and wave Pakistani flags are still alive, yet Arif Shahid was killed in Rawalpindi three years ago. To date his killers are not arrested.
This short comparison has a big message for thinking people; and especially to those who people who are still impartial.
Pakistanis must think of their priorities. Do they want to spend their resources on manufacturing more bombs and missiles and export of violence and extremism; or they want to spend their resources on education, and to eliminate poverty and improve health facilities. In 1947, Pakistan’s literacy rate was 16% and India was 18%, only difference of 2%. Today, this difference has increased to 22%. India is becoming an economic giant with 359 billion reserves; and Pakistan’s exports are falling; and the country survives on the foreign help. Pakistanis need to think and think carefully, is their anti India narrative which is cornerstone of their national thinking and policy helping Pakistan or harming Pakistan.
My message to people of Jammu and Kashmir is we have lost a generation because of wrong policies; and without gaining an inch of Jammu and Kashmir. We were not pro Jammu and Kashmir, we were pro Pakistan. We were not pro peace, we were pro violence. Let us make a new start. - say good bye to the gun culture, and stop throwing stones and burning buildings.
Those we have lost; will not come back. Let us save those who are still alive. Let us make a new policy to promote an agenda that suits all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir State.
Dr Shabir Choudhry is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.