Published On: Mon, Jul 11th, 2011

Freedom O-Yei

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Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani, Secretary General – JKCHR.

When Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday said longstanding Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan could only be solved through the participation of Kashmiris in talks, hours later on 9th July huge crowd gathered in Juba to witness the independence ceremony of Republic of South Sudan.

People erupted in loud cheers and ululations as the Sudanese flag was lowered for the last time and the new colours of the Republic of South Sudan were hoisted. It followed with the oath of office taken by Salva Kiir as President and he signed a new interim constitution.

Among the revellers was South Sudan’s information minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, who told: “It is already the ninth so we are independent. It is now.” People on the corners of dirt streets waved flags and danced in the lights of car headlights, chanting “SPLM o-yei, South Sudan o-yei, freedom o-yei” The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) led the rebels who fought the north until 2005.

It is time for every Kashmiri, regardless of his or her status at home, in the office, in the profession or in politics to revisit the script of their politics and armed struggle. There have been times (and continue to be) when we seem to be unsure in regard to our existence if we were ever able to attain independence (freedom). It appears that we live in a different world and have a strange kind of political guidance.

The speech made by UN Secretary General at the independence ceremony should be a guide for us to learn to live and lead. While congratulating the people of South Sudan UN Secretary General pledged that the United Nations would help the new nation establish effective institutions of governance. But more important among all was his address that “We have been engaged in the quest for peace in Sudan for many years – through peacekeeping and diplomacy, through humanitarian assistance and development. Together, we welcome the Republic of South Sudan to the community of nations. Together, we affirm our commitment to helping it meet its many responsibilities as a nation.”

One learns from this statement that all along during a struggle for independence in South Sudan there was a concurrent struggle “through peacekeeping and diplomacy, through humanitarian assistance and development”. Our leaders in Kashmir have been lunging to sickening extremes of shout for ‘Azadi’ and have failed to give due regard to other complimentary constituents required in any struggle for independence. There has been no demand from our leaders for ‘peacekeeping’, ‘diplomacy’, ‘humanitarian assistance’ and ‘development’. Although Kashmir also has peacekeeping force but our leaders have never been able to understand the jurisprudence of its presence and how the jurisprudence of UN mechanism on Kashmir could have been used (demanded) in respect of other important constituents namely ‘diplomacy’, ‘humanitarian assistance’ and ‘development’.

It may be that our leaders (political and militant) over the years since 1990 had a continuous taste of travel, support and reward, therefore, did not endeavour to learn from East Timor and South Sudan, that people have to be empowered on different fronts. Lack of progress on any single front is a loss or a failing in aggregate.

Our leaders and a good number of other supplants have been arguing that Kashmir does not have resources and can’t exist on its own. The post-independence scene of South Sudan has solved this puzzle for the people of Kashmir. UN Secretary General admitted that “We gather in celebration, but we are mindful of the enormous challenges ahead – deep poverty, lack of basic infrastructure and institutions of government, political insecurity.”  However he (Ban Ki-moon) pointed out the strengths and said “And yet, at the same time, we must not underestimate South Sudan’s remarkable potential – its resilient and talented people, abundant natural resources, huge areas of arable land, and the great Nile running through it. With these assets, South Sudan could grow into a prosperous, productive nation capable of meeting the needs of its people.”

The people of Kashmir too have been acknowledged as people of legend and history. We too have natural resources, wealth of water, green gold of forests and what not. Unfortunately we could not have the like of The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) which led the rebels who fought the north until 2005.

Our leaders have remained unaccountable yesterday, seem so today and have similar intentions to remain unaccountable tomorrow as well. The main reason for them turning insular has been their subordination to forces outside the state. However, this outside patronage at the cost of Kashmiri people can’t work for long in these times. Even the leaders of independent South Sudan were cautioned by the UN Secretary General in regard to a litmus test that they need to pass. Ban Ki-moon has reminded them that “South Sudan’s success will be measured by how well it serves its citizens. The basic rights of a modern, democratic State must be guaranteed – free expression, full political rights for all, including women and young people, inclusive institutions of government that can provide stability and opportunity. South Sudan is wonderfully diverse. It should find strength in that diversity.”

On the eve of South Sudan’s independence, the Security Council voted unanimously to set up a new United Nations mission to help Africa’s newest nation consolidate peace and lay the foundation for longer-term state-building, conflict prevention and economic development.

The Council’s resolution 1996 (2011) established the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) for an initial period of one year. The peacekeeping mission will consist of up to 7,000 military personnel and up to 900 police personnel as well as a civilian component.

UNMISS will take over from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which was created following the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the north-south civil war and paved the way for the referendum through which the people of South Sudan chose independence.

The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Joseph Deiss, speaking in Juba, stressed the need for the people of Sudan and South Sudan to live in harmony.  Joseph Deiss said General Assembly will proceed swiftly to admit South Sudan to the UN, upon receipt of the recommendation from the Security Council.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has taken the people of South Sudan through to independence and the world community has pledged to fulfil its duties to a new born independent state. Our leadership in Kashmir has found a luxurious outlet to address the people of Kashmir on a Friday or in remembrance of a death. It is bothered about an apparent engagement or disengagement between India and Pakistan, thus making an error in reducing the pre partition Rights Movement of an equal people to a wrangle between India and Pakistan. Our leaders fail to look beyond the ordinary sense of intra State relationship and fail to understand that India and Pakistan, like other sovereign States continue to talk in a manner which is  hardly discernible to the eyes of our leaders that inhabit the streets of Kashmir.

Mirwaiz does not move beyond the point and phrase that “the solution to Kashmir issue will only be found when Kashmiris are included in talks. The inclusion of Kashmiris in any meaningful dialogue process is must.” On the one hand he has addressed the world community and
stated that “The world bodies were keenly looking forward to solve the Kashmir issue. Thousands of Kashmiris have laid their lives for the cause and world bodies are showing keenness in resolving the issue,” and at the same time he turns turtle and makes a meritless appeal to India and Pakistan to include Kashmiris in their dialogue process. In fact his school of politics has been in dialogue with India and Pakistan and they have failed to exact any relief from the two countries.

And if by the inclusion of Kashmiri leadership in the dialogue process between India and Pakistan he means himself and his other colleagues, it could not be regarded as fair demand. More so, the appeal is addressed to only two countries, therefore, lacks universality embedded in the Kashmir case. The demand is no more than seeking to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations and can be mailed at dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com


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