Kashmiri leaders failed to register their support with the civil society in Pakistan in their struggle for the restoration of democracy and the independence of judiciary
At the time of writing this column I am at the United Nations in Geneva attending the 21st regular session of Human Rights Council. It is a city with myriad temptations and one has to choose the kind of indulgence that suits his taste. The whole world has converged here at the Palais des Nations and the people of from the State of Jammu and Kashmir could be seen in different pockets, some decidedly averse to each other for scripted reasons of loyalty.
A great majority of these new entrepreneurs have graduated in my hands or in my close proximity over the last 22 years.
I am reminded of my experience and interaction with Kashmiri delegates of all manners since early 1990. It included the delegates of united Hurriyat and lead personalities from both sides of LoC, facilitated by us with great sense of love, respect and a sense of commitment.
Over the years their participation from Valley has been deleted from the script and a shadow regime turns up from PaK/Pakistan doing things according to their understanding, role and compulsions. Most of them have no stakes in the suffering Valley and a visit to UN in Geneva is no more than a handy employment for them. A handy favour to many individuals who would come from Srinagar to represent Hurriyat has been withdrawn and they are an extinct species today.
Under these circumstances one wishes to find a person like Diogenes of Sinope, a Greek philosopher who became notorious for his philosophical stunts such as carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. Kashmir, indeed, needs more than many “Honest Men and Women”.
I don’t fall in the category of Diogenes of Sinope and today we don’t have any reason to carry a lantern when all information about good and bad is available on the touch of our laptop keyboard. Times have changed, all information is easily available and easily verifiable. During the last two months a serious political battle is going on in PaK to wrest back from the administration of Pakistan their political rights. It seems that the campaign is a re-run of the early struggle of 1950 when people started marching on the streets of Muzaffarabad for their basic democratic rights and were either banished to the heights of Leepa Valley or deported back from PaK to J&K. The lead deportee from Muzaffarabad remains the late Khawaja Sona Ullah Bhat, Editor daily Aftab.
The first most important question that grips ones imagination is whether the people of Jammu and Kashmir (Srinagar/Jammu) and Gilgit and Baltistan (Gilgit) should have any interest in the current rights struggle of the people of PaK (Muzaffarabad) or not. And what has happened to the declaration of the provisional Government of Azad Kashmir which was constituted on October 24, 1947, stating that, “The Provisional Government which is assuming the administration of the State is most emphatically not a communal Government. It will include Muslims as well as non-Muslims in the provisional Cabinet which will serve the people, the temporary purpose of restoring law and order in the State and enable the people to elect by their free vote a popular legislature and a popular Government”.
Infact people living under these three administrations have a duty to assist each other in any and in all manner as state Subjects. A clue to this unity and need to help each other is provided in article 4 of the Jammu and Kashmir constitution. UN Security Council Resolution of March 30, 1951 also points to the fact that any assembly elected from these areas in particular the Jammu and Kashmir assembly based at Srinagar would be elected from only a part of the whole territory and would embed a lack of full representation. Therefore, each assembly has to keep an eye that the rights of the people living in a particular territory or collectively in all the three territories are not usurped or violated.
The leaders of all the political parties in PaK have been campaigning that their political rights have been slashed and taken away by the non-State Subjects (Pakistan nationals) and that these non-State subjects are accountable neither in PaK nor in Pakistan.
The question arises if the Government of Pakistan has assumed responsibilities in PaK under its duties stipulated in UNCIP Resolution, then why does it avoid or has failed to discharge its trust obligation to, “provide full freedom to all subjects of the State, regardless of creed, caste, or party, to express their views and to vote on the question of the accession of the State, and that therefore they should co-operate in the maintenance of peace and order.”
On the one hand Government of Pakistan admits that “future status of the Jammu and Kashmir is to be determined in accordance with the freely expressed will of the people of the State through the democratic method of free and fair plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations as envisaged in the UNCIP Resolutions adopted from time to time”, and on the other this claim does not reconcile with the administrative set up envisioned for these territories in Part II A (3) of 13 August 1948 UNCIP Resolution. Accordingly, “pending a final solution the territory evacuated by Pakistan troops will be administered by the local authorities under the surveillance of the Commission”. Government of Pakistan has not only acted against the spirit of the UNCIP Resolutions in the areas currently under its control, but has equally failed to seek a political set up at Srinagar as provided in Para 6 of the UN Security Council Resolution of April 21, 1948.
Political parties in PaK do have a just cause to demand full political rights for the people but they have remained guilty of giving up without any resistance the status of the Republic of Azad Kashmir formed on October 4, 1947 and re-constituted on October 24, 1947.The present AJK Constitution is a compulsory direction from the Government of Pakistan. Such a colonial attitude and binding prescription is unrecognizable under UNCIP Resolutions.
Article 4.4.7 in AJK Constitution does not allow a common citizen the full freedom of expression or association as endorsed by UN General Assembly for freedom of choice in an election. Non State Subjects (Pakistani nationals) have retained exclusive legislative and executive control in the area. Article 19 (2), 21, 31 (3) and article 56 of the AJK Constitution seal its fate in favour of the establishment in Pakistan and pronounce the people living in PaK as colonial subjects.
People and politicians living in the territories administered by Pakistan are State Subjects and there are people from the valley identified in article 48 of J&K Constitution and UN Resolutions who live in these territories. It should be an immediate interest and concern of the Kashmiri leadership living in the Valley (J&K) and Gilgit (Gilgit and Baltistan) to join hands with the people and politicians in PaK in their current struggle to regain their lost political independence and rights.
Kashmiri leaders have surfaced as selfish and anti-people. They failed to register their support with the civil society in Pakistan in their struggle for the restoration of democracy and the independence of judiciary. Our leaders accredited General Musharraf, at a time, when his rule was rigorously opposed by the people and his exit from power rejoiced in Pakistan.
We should not repeat the error of judgement in PaK this time. People and politicians are engaged in regaining their political rights. We need to support and guide them in their struggle. There is no sin in reminding Pakistan, that it would not be able to help the people of Kashmir to attain right of self-determination, if Pakistan on its part is caught denying the common political rights to the people under its control in PaK.
Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. He could be reached on email email@example.com