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The Pampered Separatists of Kashmir
|by Proloy Bagchi|
It was way out of the ordinary for the Pakistani High Commissioner to invite leaders of several “separatist” groups of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) to come to Delhi to meet his Prime Minister’s adviser Sartaj Aziz who came to India recently to participate in Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Even more extraordinary was the Indian government’s latitude in allowing them to travel to Delhi to keep their appointments with Aziz. At least one of the separatist leaders – the most vitriolic one – was till recently under house arrest. Obviously, the Government of India went out of the way to lift the restrictions to enable him to travel to Delhi.
The leaders included the who’s who of the separatist groups. They were Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yaseen Malik, the hard-line Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Asiya Andrabi of Dukhtar-e-Millat, the women’s separatist organization of the state. Meeting Aziz separately, the groups asked him for a lasting solution to the Kashmir “dispute” as if by articulating this wish the Pakistan government and its Army would rush into the quagmire to find a “lasting” solution. They seem to be having the misconception that they represent the people of Jammu and Kashmir although they have never contested any of the elections that have taken place in the state.
While there is an elected government in place, these small separatist groups have only been obstructing peace and progress of the state by calling for frequent shut-downs and strikes under the threat of terror and indulging in violence. They are, in fact, fifth columnists who take orders from their masters across the borders. One of them, Yaseen Malik, had even been caught on camera sharing a platform with Hafiz Saeed, the chief of Laskar-e-Toiba, a radical outfit of Pakistan that organizes terror attacks in India in collaboration with the ISI of the Pak Army. And, Asiya Andrabi talks to Sartaj Aziz in Indian capital about her wishful thinking relating to accession of J&K to Pakistan. It is as seditious as sedition can be but the government did not seem to have reacted to the reports for action against her.
It is the softness of the Indian government that allows such meetings, both in India and Pakistan so much so that the Pakistani establishment reckons them as “routine consultations”. There can be nothing “routine” about these meetings and, for all one knows, these are held to foment more trouble within J&K. There is no earthly reason for the leaders of these minor groups to meet the representative of a foreign inimical power for “consultations”. When the Government of India is not in the “talk” mode with Pakistan the “consultations” of the latter with the separatists of J&K on Indian soil seems ludicrous and outrageous.
Only the other day, on a call given by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, October 27 last was observed as a “Black Day” as on that day the Indian troops, allegedly, commenced their “occupation” of Kashmir. This was stated by SA Shamsi of Jamait-e-Islami, which organized a dharna (sit-in) in Islamabad, attended by leaders of Pak Occupied Kashmir. The Kashmiri separatists, whether in India or in Pakistan, have by their statements made the history of post-Accession Kashmir stand on its head.
Everybody knows whatever these cranky separatists wearing blinkers have been broadcasting are absolute falsehoods. Indian Army had no reason to enter Kashmir had Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, not acceded to India in 1947 at the same time asking the latter for assistance to throw out the Pakistani regulars who along with tribal raiders had invaded his State. The Indian government did not send its troops until the Maharaja had also obtained the consent of the most prominent democratic leader of Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. The Maharaja had to do it as otherwise the Government of India wouldn’t extended its help.
Inviting the Indian Army was thus a joint decision of the Maharaja and the most popular leader of Kashmiris. Besides, the Indian Army had gone into Kashmir when it had become Indian Territory. By no stretch of imagination, therefore the Indian Army in Kashmir is an "Occupation Army". It is there to protect its own territory that includes Jammu & Kashmir. In fact, it is Pakistan which has illegally occupied a big chunk of Indian Territory in Kashmir by sheer violent aggression. If there is any "army of occupation" in Kashmir it is the Pakistan Army which is in forcible occupation of what is known as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
Even the objective commentators in Pakistan have expressed grave doubts about Pakistani position on Kashmir. In a recent article, Ayaz Mir, the level-headed and objective journalist, has admitted that three wars, including the one of 1947, waged by Pakistan have met with only failure in meeting their objectives, that is, of wresting the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir from India.
What is more surprising, however, is that Imran Khan, the Teheriq-e- Insaf chief, supported the dharna and the Black Day saluting the Kashmiri people for their sacrifices in rejecting the "Indian occupation". Having been educated in Oxford and having been honoured and feted in India several times during his frequent visits apart from his numerous cricketing trips he should have known the history of Kashmir better. Perhaps compulsions of politics make politicians reach for their oft-used blinkers and Imran now is a diehard politician.
Prof. Waqar Ashraf, one of the participants at the dharna in Islamabad reportedly said, "Freedom is a right wherever one lives and Kashmiris’ right should be given to them. They cannot be forced to live in a country they did not wish to belong to and even the UN Charter is against it.” One can have no quarrel with this line of thinking. Kashmiris, like other citizens of India, have the right to choose the place and the country where they wish to live. They have the absolute freedom to leave and go and live in any country where they find conditions more congenial. None and, surely, neither government of J&K nor the Government of India, would ever stop them from exercising this basic right.
Similar sentiments were felt when a row was kicked up on the non-inclusion of Parvez Rasool, a Kashmiri cricketer, in the playing eleven of the Indian cricket team while on tour in Zimbabwe earlier this year. Very strong comments on this veritable non-issue were reported from Kashmir emanating from the state's knowledgeable chief minister down to some anti-Indian Kashmiris. Some of the latter said they were not happy when Rasool was included in a team that represented India. Some others said that they were certainly not happy when the lad was picked to play for India and that they would not be happy even if he did well for India, especially so while playing against Pakistan.
It is quite clear where such people’s sympathies lay broadcasting as they did their acute antipathy for the country they lived in. They seem to have forgotten the gratitude and happiness of their forebearers when this country went and rescued them from the clutches of the Pakistani marauders in 1947 sacrificing many precious lives. If, however, they have aversion for this country they, too, have the liberty to migrate out to whichever country they find more inviting. None in this country would begrudge their decision to do so. One recalls, similar advice was tendered to people with similar attitudes in their respective countries by the governments of Australia and Netherlands.
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