Published On: Thu, Jan 30th, 2014

100 kg’s of heroin and looking beyond the peril

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By Dr Syed Nazir Gilani –

India and Pakistan turn different than normal in love and hate in their engagement when each sets itself to engage the other on the question of Kashmir. The most interesting feature of this love and hate however remains that it does not spill over into their respective sovereign territories and people. It is tested against the people living within the disputed territories of Jammu and Kashmir currently under their respective administrations.


Indian authorities seized over 100 kg’s of heroin concealed in a truck carrying nuts from the Pakistani side. Pakistan halted cross-border trade and bus services across the Line of Control after the seizure on Friday 17 January, 2014. Twenty-one Indian truck drivers are stranded in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and 49 Pakistani drivers and trucks are stranded in Jammu and Kashmir. The two major CBMs, that is, Muzaffarabad-Srinagar Bus Service started in April 2005 and the trade started across the LoC in October 2008 have been put on hold.

It is not surprising to find that Pakistan (Foreign Office spokesperson) on Friday 24 January, 2014 stated that it is keen on resolving the impasse which it described as the “first test”of the arrangement on contacts and movement of goods between the two sides of the region. Tasnim Aslam said “We have a very deep interest in the process, the crossing point, the meeting points between the divided Kashmiri families and subsequently the trade routes.” “They contribute to building an atmosphere where Pakistan and India and of course Kashmiris can move towards settlement of the Kashmir dispute which is part of the composite dialogue. This has been working well. And this is the first test of the arrangements,”Foreign Office spokesperson said.

At the same time Pakistan has made a seemingly genuine effort to discuss Kashmir on its soil in Islamabad. The Institute for Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA) is organising a two-day international work shop titled, “Kashmir – Looking beyond the Peril” at National Defence University (NDU) campus on 27-28 January (Mon-Tue) 2014. The effort may be found a reflex of a routine expression of interest by various elements in the new regime, more in the interests of sensitising the attention of the civilian Government that Kashmir is their exclusive turf than going for an all-out and all inclusive genuine effort to explore many other ways (in addition to UN mechanism) for resolving the question of ‘equality’ and self-determination of a people currently distributed under three administrations and held under five Governments and made to yield to five Constitutions.


The UN mechanism on Kashmir has an international input, in addition to the inputs (though peripheral) of the Kashmiri people. The inputs made at ISSRA organised International Workshop could not be regarded as genuine and inclusive. The participants would not be reflecting the indigenous character of the Case and would not be inclusive. It is a repeat of facilitating the previous likes held on the file of these ‘elements’ and another get together after winding up the outlets at Washington, Brussels and London.


The workshop has surfaced at a time when the trade and travel across LoC have been suspended and drivers and their trucks held under custody on both sides. Hurriyat has fragmented into a third splinter and Kashmiri leadership (all) would not be able to arrange any genuine inputs. The elements in Islamabad would choose a wise man for us from their routine list and he would return hefty to his nest in Srinagar.


The three Hurriyats, though divided and ineffective, JKLF, civil society, main stream, Diaspora and the common man and woman should not hold back from querying the merits and vires of this two-day international workshop which will conclude on 28 January, 2014 at NDU campus in Islamabad. We have been lead into a fair belief of illusions during the last 23 years and after losing territorial sovereignty, facing the death of a generation, losing life on a daily basis, losing property and honour, there is nothing more left to lose. Allowing a participation from Srinagar, without a due consensus and without assuring the merits of this participation, we all accrue a common liability, as people who have been parasitizing on the situation and yielding to sell our souls to the Lucifer. There is no dignity left, on ones return to Srinagar, after one sells his soul to the Lucifer.


It is time that Kashmiri leadership, if not for us, but at least for their own sake turn a page in their claims as leaders and start understanding history (past and present). Our reference should not only be the elements identified in FBI affidavit in the case titled United States of America Versus Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai and Zaheer Ahmad (18 July 2011) but we need to offer ourselves to other unbiased and verifiable references as well. Elements in the Government of Pakistan have an agenda which has shown a blend of personal and national interest. The private and personal interests have wrecked the interests of the people of Kashmir and the people of Pakistan as well.

Prima facie we should not doubt the merits of the two-day international workshop at the NDU in Islamabad but trust has to be verified as well. History stands witness that Kashmir has been used by elements (not the people) in the Government of Pakistan as a bait to entice India (and fool Kashmiri people) and squeeze benefits at the cost of our past, present and future generations. There is no denying the fact that Government of Pakistan defended her Kashmir case at the UN by rendering her three claims against India. She put up a demand for – (i) division of military stores, (ii) division of cash balances and (iii) the question of Indian Interference with the Reserve Bank so as to destroy the monetary and currency fabric of Pakistan.


Pakistan through UN debates on Kashmir succeeded in the first two weeks to force India to release her share of cash balances. Pakistan has not allowed the UN mechanism on Kashmir to take roots in the two administrations at Muzaffarabad and Gilgit under its control. Government of Pakistan did not hesitate to accept the Indian Sovereignty over Kashmir (over looked the associate interests of Kashmiri people) when it entered into the Indus Basin Water Treaty with India. On 4 September, 1960, President Ayub Khan in his broadcast to the nation said, “the terms of the Treaty were the best we could get under the circumstances, many of which, irrespective of merits and legality of the case, are against us”.


Kashmiri leaders and people (people of Pakistan as well) should accept that there is an undertone of apology and a sacrifice made by the military administration of Ayub times. The leading scholar in politics like Herbert Feldman writes in his book “Revolution in Pakistan”, that “what exactly had been sacrificed is difficult to say”. He further adds that, “Unfortunately, in both countries, the Indus waters problem has always been wrapped in an incomprehensible veil of mystery, although essentially it is simply a matter of riparian rights, geography, money and engineering skill.” Ayub Khan may have done a real service to his nation but it has impoverished and disinherited the people of Kashmir.


We have to ensure that elements in the Government of Pakistan do not have the licence to continue on the hazardous source of Kashmir controversy, to retain their private, institutional and national interests. Our leaders have to revisit their political and militant engagement of the last 23 years and reconcile the findings of Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark in their book “The Meadow”, that “India and Pakistan fought each other in the valley by manipulating the lives of others. Everything that happened here involved acts of ventriloquism, with traitors, proxies, and informers deployed by both sides, and civilians becoming the casualties.”


Our leaders have to ponder over their roles in the last 23 years and find whether or not they have played any part in this India-Pakistan fight called “the Game”. Our leaders have been put on the spot by another leading political commentator of the region. Owen Bennett Jones (BBC Correspondent) writes in his book Pakistan-eye of the storm, “If the Kashmiris had been conducting a straightforward fight for independence in the same way as the Chechens or East Timorese, they would have had a greater chance of success. The tragedy of Kashmir is that the voices of its own people have been drowned out by the Islamists, nationalists and ideologues in both Islamabad and Delhi.”


It could be said without an iota of doubt that Kashmiri leadership has refused to graduate any further from what it was on 27 December 1992, when they first met at Mirwaiz Manzil in Srinagar. At one point a leadership that distinguished itself with concern and commitment rushed to stray into different directions and stand witness to a continued fragmentation of their State, death of a generation, death of self-determination, loss of honour and property. They have given themselves up to a petty reference of petty ‘elements’ in the Government of Pakistan and have played a role in their “the Game”.


If the two-day workshop is not all inclusive of all people and all opinions in 2014, it would be looked at with suspicion, as part of “the Game.” Do we still have Kashmiris prepared to sell a non-Kashmiri narrative? If so, it is time to declare them social lepers.


Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.  He could be reached on email dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com


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