Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in All Parties Kashmir Conference arranged by Kashmir National Party in Luton, England.
Seventy years is a long time; and it is not possible to take account of the entire period. However, I will endeavour to point out some salient points.
- In 1947, the State of Jammu and Kashmir was one political entity. Like any other nation, people of Jammu and Kashmir also had disagreements on social, economic and political issues; but they did not have animosity and hatred against each other. They all regarded themselves as citizens of Jammu and Kashmir; and they all had a sense of belonging to a nation and a State.
- After 70 years, our State is divided in four different parts; and three nuclear powers control various parts of the Jammu and Kashmir State. Sadly, our sense of belonging to a nation or Jammu and Kashmir has weakened. Today people like to be called Pakistanis, Indians, Gilgitis, Baltis, Ladakhis etc.
- It is also disturbing to note that today we are more divided than we were in 1947. Our level of tolerance is very thin; and people openly express hatred and animosity against each other. They don’t want to live as a nation within the recognised borders of the State; and Lakhs of inhabitants have been forced to leave their homes where they lived for centuries.
- In 1947, the main political party, National Conference openly demanded an independent Jammu and Kashmir. Top leadership of the second political party, Muslim Conference also supported an independent Jammu and Kashmir. One has to see statement of Acting President of Muslim Conference Chaudhry Hameedullah Khan issued in July 1947; and which was reiterated by the Muslim Conference Working Committee on 18 July 1947. The Muslim Conference Working Committee passed a resolution in support of the Maharaja and an independent Jammu and Kashmir. Of course, extremists in the party, on behest of Muslim League, changed this in unconventional meeting next day.
- If Pakistan is attacked by Iran; and Shia community of Pakistan decide to support Iran in this war. What will Pakistan government, Pakistani security agencies and people call these people who supported a neighbour because of religious affinity? Of course, these people would be castigated as traitors and collaborators because they betrayed their own country.
- Why this rule changes when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir. There were Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir who were employed by the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir government. They took oath of allegiance to be loyal to him and his descendants, protect his State and interests. They were paid salaries, uniform, training, guns and other benefits. There were other Muslims who were also subjects of the Rulers of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Pakistan, a country established in name of Islam, had a Standstill Agreement with Jammu and Kashmir State. Pakistan violated that agreement and attacked Jammu and Kashmir with intention of capturing it. They persuaded some Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir to betray their oath and the Maharaja, and join those who entered the State territory in name of ‘jihad’. Brief of the raiders was that everything that was removable was theirs, that meant they were at liberty to loot, plunder, kidnap women and rape them; and they ‘generously’ did that.
- People of so called Azad Kashmir were convinced and urged that they should regard those who betrayed the Maharaja, as heroes and leaders. Why those who betray Pakistan are traitors and those who betrayed the Maharaja are heroes?
- By respecting these collaborators as heroes and leaders, are we not also responsible for promoting agenda of GHQ of Pakistan? It is bitter fact that many of us with hat of nationalism are actually promoting agenda of Muslim nationalism, which was enunciated by those who planned and managed the attack on Jammu and Kashmir.
- Our motherland is occupied by three different countries; but our struggle is against one country. Doesn’t this indicate to all thinking people; and the international community that we are advancing the agenda of those who in name of jihad attacked us in October 1947? The ‘jihad’ they started in 1947, still continues in different shape and form; and people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to suffer.
- Afghanistan’s government has no writ over half of the country. Syrian government does not even have control over its capital, yet world over Bashar Al Asad and Abdul Ghani are recognised as Presidents of these countries. We are fooled by GHQ and their followers that a letter written by a man using a fake name, while he was in a Pakistani city of Rawalpindi was so powerful that it dismissed the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. This letter also dissolved the government of the Maharaja; and innocent people of Azad Kashmir are still fooled with these fake stories.
- No one questions, what authority he had to dismiss the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir? What happened to that government he established on papers? In the statement, which was published in some Pakistani papers, the man using fake name appointed himself President of Jammu and Kashmir State. What happened to this so-called President? Under what authority he appointed himself ‘President’ of Jammu and Kashmir? We believe in these fake stories, and then complain that the international community does not support the Jammu and Kashmir struggle?
- Despite the Standstill Agreement and despite Islamic assertion that Muslims must honour agreements and promises, Pakistan violated the Agreement and attacked Jammu and Kashmir on 22 October 1947 with intention of capturing Kashmir. The attackers were at liberty to loot, plunder, kidnap women and rape them. Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir, especially Muslims of so called Azad Kashmir were led to believe that these invaders were overwhelmed with sentiments of jihad and came to ‘liberate’ Muslims of Kashmir.
- It is sad that we are very badly trapped by the policy makers of Pakistan in this unnecessary debate and confusion about the so – called government of 4th October, and the tribal attack and its objectives. Muslims of Azad Kashmir zealously discuss these issues and attack each other; at times, calling each other agent of India or Pakistan.
- While we people of Jammu and Kashmir are busy in this contest of calling each other agent, traitor, Kaffir, atheist, Wahabi and Mushrik etc, our occupiers are busy strengthening their holds on various parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
- In conclusion, Mr Chairman, I sadly say that we are more divided today than we were in 1947. We have built high walls of extremism, regionalism and hatred. We are moving in different directions; and sadly, some still claim and make lofty claims about our achievements when we are not even regarded as a party to the dispute because the future of Jammu and Kashmir is to be decided by India and Pakistan.
Writer is a political analyst, and author of many books and booklets. Also, he is Chairman South Asia Watch, London and Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.