Published On: Wed, Dec 16th, 2015

Branded a lie with two adjectives

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani

Common Kashmiri and their leadership who subscribe in the resolution of their fate and others who look at the distributed people and divided Kashmir kindly, were trying to make a sense of India-Pakistan Joint Statement issued in Islamabad on 9 December 2015, that PDP president Mehbooba Mufti added a new disclosure to the list of interests. Her disclosure that PDP sought consent from Hurriyat for forming coalition government with right-wing BJP in Jammu and Kashmir has been branded as a blatant lie by Hurriyat G and a white lie by Hurriyat M.

The disclosure has been refuted as a lie with two adjectives. Mehbooba Mufti is an elected MP and remains under oath. It is a serious claim and its prompt rejection is something that we all shall have to examine carefully. The important question remains, would the claim be true and if so then should we learn to be alarmed and accept that all that is taking place in Kashmir is orchestrated and well mechanised between the various disciplines of politics? Common man and woman are caught in the middle of a fight for freedom of choice, with honour and dignity.

And if one accepts the prompt rejection of the disclosure as a white and a blatant lie, told by Mehbooba Mufti who is under oath, one is encouraged to seek into the mystery and reconcile the motives behind it. Why would PDP president go public against the Kashmiri leadership, which claims to be representing the sentiment of the people? She would have known it well in advance that this disclosure would attract a serious rebuke from the Hurriyat and cause a serious alarm in the State and outside the State. The disclosure and its rejection have laid many necks on the chopping board. The matter is now public and the days ahead would determine the course of politics in the two camps. The jury is out.

India-Pakistan have realised, as expected, that as neighbours and as member nations of the United Nations they have to talk to each other. No one would be averse to the age old method of narrowing down irritants using the instrument of a dialogue. However, the December 2015 dialogue has scaled a new height. It would be called as ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’, as opposed to first two dialogues namely, ‘Composite Dialogue’ and ‘Resumed Dialogue’.

There have been many comments on the resumption of dialogue. The two important that need a reference are the comments from JKLF chairman Yasin Malik and the other from United Jihad Council. Malik has said that Kashmir will never accept status-quo or compromise on dignity and Jihad Council has accused New Delhi of enacting a drama and has made clear that Kashmir is not a bilateral issue.

A careful examination of the joint statement issued by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistani Prime Minister’s foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz does not encourage a Kashmiri. He does not find himself well represented in the narrative except that “Both sides, accordingly, agreed to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and directed the Foreign Secretaries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the Dialogue including Peace and Security, CBMs, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, Counter-Terrorism, Narcotics Control, Humanitarian Issues, People to People exchanges and religious tourism.”

Indian camp may have a reason to celebrate that future dialogue is around terrorism and has attempted to degrade the merits of Kashmir case. The menace of terrorism is a global phenomenon. Its worst example has been the slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia by the Serbs and then the mass killing of Kashmiri youth. Kashmir is not a question of terrorism. It is a legitimate political movement against oppression dating back to 1846. A militant component was added to the political movement in 1990. Government of India has endorsed the legitimacy of this militant component of Kashmiri resistance and has remained party to a cease fire agreed between the militant leadership and Delhi.

Yasin Malik has rightly pointed out that status quo or compromise on Kashmir is no option. Elements in the Indian administration and their proxies in Srinagar that promote this hope are mistaken. Kashmir genie is out of the bottle and it has set its eyes on a better tomorrow. There is no denying the fact that delay and management has remained a central plank of Indian strategy in Kashmir and in dealing with Pakistan.

The Foreign Relations United States archives (Memorandum of Bogra-Dulles Conversation of May 23, 1953, FRUS 1952-1954 IX,p.121 and Memorandum of Ayub Khan – Dulles conversation May 23, 1953, FRUS 1952, IX,p.131) confirm that Nehru was quite content to delay and bide his time on Kashmir because ‘a delay was profitable for Indians and extremely detrimental for the Pakistani’s”. These papers also suggest that Nehru had partition in his mind and would have settled on the status quo, which would have allowed India to keep the Kashmir Valley.

It is encouraging to note that Bogra maintained that any partition amounted to selling the birth right of Kashmiri people. This is exactly what Yasin Malik has stated in December 2015 and merits full support. These Foreign Relations United States documents confirm that there was a progress in Nehru-Bora meeting held in Delhi. They had agreed a State wide plebiscite conducted by a Plebiscite Administrator who would be appointed by April 30, 1954. The US embassy New Delhi telegram 1660 to the State Department, November 7, 1951, FRUS 1951 VI, part 2, p.1903 reveals that Nehru was convinced to win Plebiscite in Kashmir because of Abdullah’s consolidation of power, his popularity and his ability to control the electorate.

Nehru and his aides may have proposed against the sovereign interests of the people of Kashmir, God and history disposed his agenda differently. We are in December 2015 and the two countries have agreed, though in an unconvincing and vague manner to discuss Kashmir, in a ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’. The desk working on Kashmir in Delhi seems to have over done its desire to induct word ‘Bilateral’ in the third process of dialogue. Their counter parts in Islamabad working on Kashmir seem to have grossly missed in holding on to the principality of Kashmir case, as different to the general run of terrorism.

We have no issue with the statement that “The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial.” The process referred in the joint statement is unfair and unjust to the people of Kashmir, who have truckloads of grievances against the armed forces and the Indian administration. Islamabad may have its own reasons to leave Kashmir within the brackets or in close vicinity with the Indian specificity on terrorism; the dialogue process would ultimately have no future. It is likely to anger the people of Kashmir and attract further violation of human rights and loss of life in Kashmir.

Loss of life in Mumbai is unfortunate and condemnable. However, India and Pakistan need to revisit that the fact that a generation has been killed in a military engagement in the Valley and Indian armed forces have a case to answer. Kashmir, Valley in particular is managed through police and other secret agencies. People (Muslims) here have a process of life and they have been denied a quality of life due to them.

Kashmiris would be the last people to oppose India-Pakistan dialogue to improve relations. However, they would be the first people to look the other way if the benefit of this dialogue is tactical for India and Pakistan and not for them. Let us defer the debate whether Hurriyat has been consulted by PDP for the formation of an alliance government with BJP and have a reality check. If Hurriyat has a case that Mehbooba Mufti’s disclosure is a ‘white’ or a ‘blatant’ lie, it should make a formal demand that the present J & K government should be replaced by a government identified in the UN mechanism on Kashmir.  It should have representation from PaK and GB and the Diaspora.

Hurriyat should make moves to challenge India for her violations of the terms of the disputed accession, which is pending adjudication at the United Nations. Hurriyat should not give itself up to a routine repeat and overdone reliance on press statements. New Delhi would be making a serious error of judgment if it hopes to drag its feet on Kashmir and append it to a discussion on terrorism. It has to address the issue in its completeness and as crystallised at the United Nations. The wisdom of Muhammad Ali Bogra Prime Minister of Pakistan, that any partition of Kashmir amounted to selling the birth right of Kashmiri people, should prevail at all times, if India and Pakistan have to turn dialogue into a success.

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