Militancy in Kashmir was not started to liberate Kashmir
For many years we have been criticising militancy in Kashmir that was started by the Pakistani establishment with help of some Kashmiri people. The purpose of this militancy was not to liberate Kashmir but to keep 'India engaged' and keep 'India bleeding'.
India and the world community termed this militancy as terrorism and a 'proxy war', although there were many who called it a 'jihad' and freedom struggle. Uncontrolled militancy very seriously hurt innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir; and despite enormous suffering and sacrifices the militancy failed to achieve the goal of independence as it was controlled and managed by non-Kashmiris.
It is possible that those who started this militancy were sincere, and believed that they were fighting to liberate Kashmir. However, fact remains that people of Jammu and Kashmir have lost a generation, thousands are still languishing in prisons and many are still unaccounted for. Sad thing is that despite death of tens of thousands of people and suffering, we have not made any progress towards independence, if anything; we have inadvertently damaged the principle of right of self determination and divided people of Jammu and Kashmir on communal, regional and tribal lines.
When we exposed the Pakistani agenda on Kashmir and said that the Pakistani establishment used people of Jammu and Kashmir to promote their agenda, and that it was not a war of liberation, a massive campaign started against us, and unfounded and illogical allegations were labelled against us. A few days ago a star of Pakistani journalism, Hamid Mir wrote an article in most popular Urdu Daily 'Jang' and confirmed what we have been saying for many years.
Hamid Mir wrote: 'It is a painful fact for a large section of loyal Pakistanis that in the last ten years Pakistan's political and military leadership tried to resolve the Kashmir dispute according to desire of the foreign powers instead of the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2002, General Musharaf was bent upon to impose a formula on Kashmir, which was tantamount to treachery to the Kashmiri struggle that started in 1931; and for this purpose he divided the Hurriyat Conference. He invited pro India leaders like Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti to Islamabad and made them sit at par with the Hurriyat Conference leadership; and tried to eradicate LOC and resolve the Kashmir dispute... Musharaf did not succeed in his plan. It is regrettable that some senior officials of the present government are trying to fool people of Pakistan and Kashmir by giving a new name to that old plan....'
'Ruling elite of Pakistan must remember that there is a long list of deceptions and betrayals to the Kashmir people since 1947. In October 1947, without informing Qaaid-e-Azam, a Tribal force was sent in to Kashmir that provided an opportunity to India to send troops in Kashmir. The weapons provided to the tribesmen by the GHQ were taken by police and the tribesmen had to fight with much inferior guns. This was the time when India offered Pakistan to abandon its claim over Hyderabad and India would leave Kashmir; but Liaquat Ali (Prime Minister of Pakistan) discourteously rejected that offer... After the rigged elections of 1987 in the occupied Kashmir, people started a movement. Pakistan introduced militancy in this movement; but contained the militancy to certain areas.'
When militants protested against this, they were bluntly told by ISI senior officer, Major General Iftikhar Hussain Shah that we don't want freedom of Kashmir, we only wanted to wound India... From Kargil adventure of 1999 to division of Hurriyat Conference in 2002, there is a long list of betrayal of Pakistan's political and military leadership to the people of Kashmir. A request to this leadership is, please stop now, if you cannot do anything good for the people of Kashmir then, at least stop dividing them and making them fight each other.'
I have narrated similar stories in my various articles written over the past decade. Here, I am producing a quote from an interview I had with a Kashmiri journalist who belongs to Srinagar and was doing a course in journalism in London. This interview was widely published with the title, 'Interview with a Kashmiri journalist' in July 2008.
'Those who sponsored this campaign of terror and gun culture in Kashmir brought in Jihadi warriors from other countries which changed the fundamental character of the struggle. It was no longer a Kashmiri struggle- it became part of the Islamic fundamentalism, which provided a big propaganda stick in hands of India and Europe.'
'It is interesting to note that those who sponsored this campaign of terror or religious fanaticism had cinemas, beauty parlours, tourists etc in their own country but encouraged these extremists to target people who were using these services in Jammu and Kashmir. Aim was to promote religious hatred, intolerance, regionalism and communalism, and widen divisions among Kashmiris. They were successful in this. Freedom or independence of Jammu and Kashmir was never their aim, their hidden agenda was to 'keep India engaged' and 'keep India bleeding', and they were successful in that.'
'A senior government official who I know very well advised me in 1992 that I should do something else and make a career as there was nothing in this struggle of Kashmir. He said that I was talented and educated person and should not squander my time in this, as Kashmir will not get independence because those who planned this struggle never envisaged that. They only wanted to engage India. He said, he told them not to start it in Kashmir as Muslims will become target of Indian wrath, and that it was ok to do it in Punjab, Assam, Nagaland etc, but he was vetoed out.'
'I did not believe him as I thought he was just trying to discourage me; after all he was ISI man, and wanted to deprive the movement of my skills and talent. But by 1995/6, I was convinced that he was correct, and that we Kashmiris were taken for a ride by Pakistani agencies - they used us Kashmiris to keep the wolf away from their door. But it was too late.'
In a reply to another question I said: 'It is unfortunate that world at large don't see the Kashmir separate from India and Pakistan problem. Despite all the sacrifices the people of Jammu and Kashmir have given, it is still perceived as a bilateral dispute, which has to be resolved by the two countries. We are in this fix because: Pakistan made it a territorial dispute, it also suited India, and we Kashmiris failed to promote a Kashmiri cause and appeared to be only proxies of India or Pakistan'.
What Hamid Mir and some other Pakistani writers with clear conscience have narrated about Pakistan's Kashmir policy is a bitter fact. However, some Pakistanis and Kashmiris still want to close their eyes to this ugly fact and are still in a state of denial. These people live in the past or in a fantasy world and cannot be helped, but caring and thinking people need to evaluate this in light of history of India - Pakistan relations and their somewhat agreement on the issues of Kashmir.
I agree with those who say that peace and friendly relations between India and Pakistan should not be kept hostage to the Kashmir dispute; but at the same time people of Jammu and Kashmir should not be denied their inherent right of self determination and kept divided and oppressed. Like other people in the world we also have right to life, peace, liberty and enjoy other fundamental rights enshrined in the UN Charter.
We people of Jammu and Kashmir need to evaluate Kashmir policy in light of the hard facts and determine our role by keeping interest of all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir State in mind; rather than protecting and promoting interests of those who occupy us. If Kashmiri leaders continue to pursue policies of the past then no matter how many people they get killed and how many people are imprisoned they will never achieve goal of independence.
The views expressed in the above article are that of Dr. Shabir Choudhry, a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. He is also Director, Institute of Kashmir Affairs.He can be reached at the following email:firstname.lastname@example.org.