Published On: Mon, Apr 28th, 2014

In Islamabad

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

I arrived in Islamabad – Pakistan on the morning of Sunday, 20 April, 2014. It was very early morning at 5.40am PST and could see a few friends and family members waiting for me in the VIP lounge. I am here after three years and five months. My last visit to Pakistan was in October 2009. My friends were still unsure as to whether or not I shall be able to keep the date of travel this time.

There is no point to challenge the age old wisdom that “time and tide wait for none”. I experienced that a lot seemed different in JKCHR Pakistan Chapter office and a lot more different in my Law Chambers. Law books have a serious complaint of having been neglected and the dust confirms it. The shine of a traditional and an antique sword presented to me by local Raja’s some years back at a function at Hotel Inter-Continental Rawalpindi looks sublime and has a grievance too. However, Abdul Rahim Bhatti & Co chambers have continued to keep the courtesy to show me as one of the senior lawyers in the practice. After all he too is a refugee from Rajori and our friendship has graduated from the early 1975 when we sat for “Azad Jammu and Kashmir Public Services Examination” in Muzaffarabad and qualified with distinction.

Time and tide may not have waited for me but Haroon Rashid, a senior analyst and journalist at Dunya TV and Daily Dunya, rang me to say that he would like me to have my dinner at his place on the day of my arrival. He worked out that I shall have enough time to rest and be ready for dinner. He was minded to invite some other friends as well. I could not take up the offer and the invitation is still on hold.

Ten Bereavements

Why did I fail to visit Islamabad from October 2009 to April 2014 has continued to irk me. Friends find a milder explanation, while as the foes attribute politics and motives. I have an explanation as well. I have only in-laws and friends in Pakistan administered Kashmir and Pakistan. My family and my history stay back in Jammu and Kashmir (Valley). Time and tide have intervened in my life. From 2009-2014, I had to endure 10 bereavements, four in Pakistan and six in the Valley. My wife and I took turns to respond to these ten deaths on either side of the cease fire line. I undertook to keep visiting the graves in Baramulla and my wife had to share the burden of visiting other graves in Pakistan. I need not an invitation from any Government or institution in Pakistan or PaK to visit these two areas. There is nothing sinister in my delayed visit to Pakistan.

Supreme Court of Pakistan

I have been through a hectic first week. So far I have managed two engagements at the Supreme Court of Pakistan, a meeting with the President IRS-Institute of Regional Studies, Islamabad, been the chief guest at a reception hosted in honour of newly elected body for 2014-2015 of Kashmiri Journalists Forum (based in Islamabad), a meeting with the Director General ISSI The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad and attended a dinner at Islamabad Club, where I bumped into former Prime Minister of PaK Barrister Choudhry Sultan Mahmood.

IRS-Institute of Regional Studies

The meeting with the Ambassador Arif Ayub President Strategic and Security Issues & Afghanistan remained etched in the rich experience of the Ambassador’s work with UN, OIC, SAARC and his ambassadorial services in many countries. He was very honest and candid to accept the slow pace at which Kashmir case was being handled and acknowledged the need to re-organise the work around the question of Kashmir. He was very keen to facilitate a common work programme in a non-traditional manner. Down in time since I first met the ambassador at the Islamic Summit in Casablanca in December 1994, he carried the same distinguished air of nobility, seriousness and a guarded smile. Very bold and exceptionally humble human being. I would never forget his sandwiches, green tea and hanging my coat on the hanger.

KJF Kashmiri Journalists Forum

The reception hosted in honour of newly elected office bearers of KJF Kashmiri Journalists Forum based in Islamabad held at Islamabad Hotel has been a sobering event. My joy had no bounds to see veteran Kashmiri journalist Raja Asghar at the reception. He has always remained based in Islamabad and has served with APP, Reuters and now serves with Dawn. I have known him when I was based at Rawalpindi as Information Officer representing the Government of PaK in 1975. This was my first assignment after passing my PaK Public Services Commission Examination.
President-KJF, Ejaz Abbasi, General Secretary-KJF, Abid Khurshid and Raja Asghar spoke on the occasion. Sardar Ashiq Hussain, Chairman Election Committee conducted the proceeding of the evening in his unique style and softness.

Journalists from the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K, PaK and GB) have very rightly organised themselves under the banner of KJF-Kashmiri Journalists Forum. In fact the Kashmiri identity in the field of journalism was first introduced around 1902 when Sheikh Jan Mohammad Ganai started the publication of weekly “Kashmir Gazette” from Lahore. It was followed by Weekly “Kashmiri Magazine” in 1909 published by Munshi Mohammad Din Fauq and a third Weekly Kashmiri started its publication in 1926. All these publications were committed to highlight the plight of Kashmiri Muslims under a Hindu ruler in Kashmir.

Some newspapers in Islamabad on Saturday 26 April 2014 have misreported my statement made at the KJF reception and have added phrases and words which are extraneous to the statement made at the KJF reception. There is a debate on my statement on the net edition of The Nation Pakistan. A clarification has been added to the debate by me. Kashmir issue rests on the Principle of “Equality of People” and this principle would factor in any accession with India, Pakistan or in establishing an Independent State. JKCHR does not use the words like “IOK” or “POK”. Our documentation keeps the UN position namely Indian Administered Kashmir and Pakistan Administered Kashmir.

ISSI – The Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad

On Friday 25 April 2014, I had a detailed meeting with Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais, Director General of ISSI -The Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. He is a world renowned academic. Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais is a celebrated name at University of California, LUMS, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Wake Forest University, Harvard and many other foundations.
On a cup of Green Tea (Kahwah) we discussed the Habitat, the People and Rights Movement of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It was the first meeting where the four Kashmiris living in Jammu and Kashmir (Srinagar), PaK (Muzaffarabad), Gilgit-Baltistan (Gilgit) and the Diaspora featured in the discussion.

During the meeting it surfaced that Kashmiri narrative lacked in dignity and lacked in ability to articulate their case. Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais argued that unless the Diaspora in particular and others in general send their children to the best Universities, they will continue to remain deficient in the art and merit of articulation. Diaspora has to play a crucial role.

Three fellowships on Kashmir

Director General ISSI offered to assist the cause of Kashmir by sponsoring three fellowships of three months each at a monthly stipend of Rs.125000 to research on various aspects of Kashmir. ISSI has already received an application for a fellowship from New Zealand. Any one from the Diaspora (or any Kashmiri from any part) who considers himself or herself to be able to make a researched contribution on any aspect of Kashmir could write to JKCHR or directly to DG ISSI making a reference to my meeting of 25 April 2014 with DG ISSI Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais. I was accompanied at the meeting by National Coordinator JKCHR Pakistan Chapter.

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