Welcome speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry to participants of JKIPA Conference on 26 November 2017.
Friends and colleagues Aslamo alaykam and good afternoon to all of you.
I welcome you all on behalf of Jammu Kashmir International Peoples Alliance. Some people have sarcastically asked, ‘Oh, have you set up another alliance’? Answer is no. This Alliance was formulated after many rounds of talks on 29 October 2014, under Geneva Declaration.The first paragraph of the Geneva Declaration reads:
‘People of State of Jammu and Kashmir have been victims of aggression, extremism and violence. Since 1947, they are forcibly divided and continue to suffer on both sides of the Line of Control. This forced division and suffering must come to an end, as people deserve to enjoy their fundamental human rights’.
Since its inception in October 2014, we have had many conferences on various topics related to Jammu and Kashmir. These conferences were held in major European cities like London, Birmingham, Geneva, Vienna, Brussels and Turin (Italy) etc.
Today’s conference is in line with our policy enshrined in the Geneva Declaration. It is unfortunate that Secretary General of the Alliance Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri could not make it to this conference due to ill health. However, he has extended his regards to you all, and wished us all the best for the conference.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while replying to a question in a Conference in London School of Economics, unambiguously stated and rejected the idea of an “independent Kashmir”. He said an “independent Kashmir is often floated around but has no reality. There is no support for the demand for independent Kashmir”.
In view of this statement, we decided to have this Conference; and topic is as follows:
Is there no support for an independent Jammu and Kashmir?
We all know what the Indian policy is on Jammu and Kashmir dispute; and what wrongs they have done, including violation of human rights, custodial deaths and killings. However, Pakistani policy is still, by and large, shrouded with confusion, because they use name of religion to advance their agenda on Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and many of us still see Pakistan in light of Islamic brotherhood. They regard Pakistan as a friend and well-wisher of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
We would like you to discuss and analyse the following points:
· Role of Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir dispute;
· Do Pakistani government have any right to represent us as an advocate of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
· Is Pakistan correct in saying that there is no support for an independent Jammu and Kashmir.
Friends and colleagues
What Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said in London is nothing new. It is the state policy of Pakistan since October 1947; and Prime Minister Abbasi has only reiterated the policy which has been officially practised by the Pakistani leaders.
He was advancing a pro Pakistan policy. Other rulers of Pakistan did exactly what he has done. So, we don’t need to be angry with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. We don’t have to be pro India or pro Pakistan. We must be pro Jammu and Kashmir, pro people and pro peace.
We need to formulate a policy which can enable us to liberate our motherland from all those who occupy us. The GHQ given policy of liberating Kashmir Valley from India was a non-starter; and it has only caused us misery and suffering.
Unity is must if we, people of citizens of former Princely state of Jammu Kashmir want to make any progress towards achieving our goal of unification and independence. However, it is sad to note that ideological confusion and divisions among us is increasing. We have become more intolerant, more aggressive and more divided; and this suits those who have occupied us.
Some of us still think losing our identity, and adopting national identity of those who occupy us is the best option. Some want to become Indians and others want to become Pakistanis. Some even want to make Jammu and Kashmir an Islamic state; and then become part of Pan Islamic Movement. Of course, a majority, if we include the silent majority, wants their national identity and want Jammu and Kashmir to become an independent country with friendly relations with all neighbours.
Some people of Jammu and Kashmir could be confused, but it is pleasure to note that thinking people of Pakistan think we should opt for independence. Mr Moonis Ahmar, a Pakistani Professor of International Relations writes:
‘The identity of Jammu & Kashmir requires that it should have a separate state managed fairly by the representatives of the five regions of J&K while having peaceful relations with their neighbours, India, Pakistan and China. Although, it will be a landlocked state yet its viability will depend on the leadership of J&K that how successful it is to unite the people and concentrate on the process of human and social development’. 1
The Pakistani Professor further says people of Jammu and Kashmir are the real stakeholders. However, for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute people of Jammu and Kashmir, ‘should, regardless of ethnic, lingual, religious and sectarian contradictions must seek unity among themselves. Unless, Kashmiris are united on both sides of the line of control, the vision for an independent Kashmir would remain unrealistic’. 2
I hope this conference will be able to give a logical and unambiguous message to those who occupy us.
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. Email:drshabirchoudhr
1. Kashmiris are the real stakeholders, Moonis Ahmar, Professor of International Relations at the University of Karachi. Published in Daily Times, November 24th 2017.
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