Published On: Tue, Mar 8th, 2016

Kashmir – at Grand Regency Mirpur

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

Bulk of the Kashmiri diaspora living in the United Kingdom originates from Paksitan-administered Kashmir, in particular from Mirpur. Mirpuris have scaled enviable heights in economics (business) and politics (local and national) in Britain and PaK. One thing that runs common in every household is the character of their hospitality and would not let a new comer pay a penny towards food and accommodation in UK unless he secured a job. Although the community follows a strict tribal code yet there is hardly any evidence that they ever discriminated against other Kashmiris (or leadership) from the Valley. There has always been a nascent anti-Valley feeling in a section of community in PaK.

Mirpuris are the standard bearers of support to Kashmir cause in the United Kingdom and have sustained the full spread of politics in cash and in person until the phenomenon was corrupted by vested interests. In harder times this community sustained the dissenting politics and strongly advocated the dignity of the people of Kashmir as equal people. One can safely accredit this community as friends of Kashmir in the rainy days at home. Mirpuris that history would not fail to recognize in UK are Abdul Jabbar Butt living in London and Mohammad Siddique Mirza of Birmingham. Both have contributed in money and in time to PF and JKLF all their lives. JKLF leadership would not have survived without the support and intervention of these two and many others in the United Kingdom.

It was Friday 27 November 2015 that after a long and hot pursuit Abdul Jabbar Butt managed to host a meeting at The Library at Willesden Green, in London to examine the current behaviour of Kashmir politics and explore fresh avenues to advance the Kashmir case. He was able to solicit co-operation from distant quarters of the United Kingdom. Fine brains (theoreticians) like Prof. Nazir Nazish heading JKPNP, Tahir Bostan JKPNP, Prof. Liaqat Ali Khan and the author were among the invitees to the indoor discussion. It was agreed that there is need to explore the fresh avenues and take the work forward as experts and as a collective on a non-party basis.

Jabbar Butt sahib was entrusted to discuss the matter further with others in Mirpur during his planned visit after the Willesden Green Library meeting.  Although I remained in contact with Prof. Nazir Nazish in the UK and Tahir Bostan made a couple of calls before he too travelled to Mirpur, there was no contact with Jabbar Butt sahib in Mirpur. In English narrative we do not use ‘sahib’ but Abdul Jabbar Butt as a veteran duly deserves that I override the ‘laws of English literature’ and feel comfortable with this reference.

After my arrival in Pakistan I received a phone call from Butt sahib and he was very kind to update me on his interactions with all shades of opinion in Mirpur. Any reference to Mirpur is incomplete without Chief Justice Retired Abdul Majeed Mallick. His interaction with Justice Mallick meant accessing the jurisprudence of Kashmir case and feeling the pulse of Kashmir politics. It was spirit lifting to know that Jabbar sahib had been delving into the local Bar politics and had his soft corner for some candidates. Therefore, he bid me to wait until the Mirpur Bar elections were over. Finally he broke the news that Advocate Raja Zulfiqar Ahmed was elected as the Bar President and that I have to attend as chief guest a function of Jammu and Kashmir Intellectuals Forum (JKIF) chaired by chief justice retired Abdul Majeed Mallick on 28 February 2016.

It is a privilege to be recognized as an Intellectual in Mirpur and it is even more special when you are meeting at the most impressive hotel The Grand Regency in Mirpur. The intellectuals meet, in all manner of choice and merit, reflected the best wisdom that one could look for. Participants like, chief justice Abdul Majeed Mallick, President JKIF, Azeem Dutt chief of PF, Sabir Ansari JKLF, Shaukat Majeed vice President JKIF, Tahir Bostan JKPNP, Altaf Hamid Rao (AH Nizami) Bureau chief APP, Advocate Raja Zulfiqar Ahmed President Mirpur District Bar, Muneer Hussain Chaudhary Advocate, Sajjad Hussain Shah chief editor daily Rahbar, Chaudhary Mohammad Suleiman ex member AJK Council, Khawaja Rafiq a publisher and others stood as a testimony to the fact that Mirpuris respect a call from their elders and still have faith in their cause. Abdul Jabbar Butt was the host.

I have always remained respectful and a fan of the juridical understanding of Kashmir case of Justice Mallick. He chaired the Intellectuals Moot and opened the debate. It was generally argued that Primacy and Principality is in favour of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and in recognition of their right to self-determination. India and Pakistan have been inducted as parties only because the right of self-determination has to be ascertained through a free and fair vote under the supervision of United Nations.

Every participant addressed the moot and highlighted the need to examine the general conduct of politics and explore avenues favourable to the people of Kashmir. Chief Justice Majeed Mallick gave me a copy of his memorandum dated 25 August 2015 which he had addressed to the Secretary General of UN. I was carrying with me my own copy of this memorandum which Prof. Nazir Nazish had mailed to me in London. It is a valuable document and in particular invites our attention to article 36 (3), the intervention of International Court of Justice (ICJ) in legal matters.

It was flagged that Security Council is already seized of the matter under articles 33, 34, 35, 36-38 of the UN Charter. It was felt that there is need to consider the role of the Secretary General under article 99 and of the General Assembly under article 11 of the UN Charter. The role of ICJ under article 36 (3) was specially flagged for further and future consideration.

It was resolved that a non-party team of experts be constituted to make inputs for taking the matter to ICJ. In response to a suggestion whether political parties need to be involved, it was decided that political parties should be asked to make specific inputs from their party experts. The expert and non-party character of the work should prevail to avoid any controversy and delay involved in regular political interactions.

It has been agreed that an International Secretariat would be established in London and the meeting resolved to authorise Abdul Jabbar Butt to act as the only office holder, namely, Secretary General. He would be the lead person to provide and raise funds for this Secretariat and seek out Kashmiri, British, European and other experts as appropriate, who could assist the work of the Secretariat in finding the full use of UN SC, UN GA, ICJ and of other forums. JKCHR has been requested to support the decision and provide its expertise and guidance as an accredited body which has a Special Consultative Status at the UN.

I am still at a loss whether to consider myself as the chief guest or not. It may be well said if, I continue to regard myself as an advocate of the jurisprudence of Kashmir case as a State Subject living in the United Kingdom, with genuine interests (offices) in PaK and Pakistan. It is generally admitted that I have always remained on the side of the best interests of the people of Kashmir and did not fail to offer my dissent when the Kashmir case needed one desperately.

It was planned that I would stay for the night to have further detailed discussions with various cross sections of the community in Mirpur. I could not keep to this promise because NUML in Islamabad had invited me for a lecture on “Jurisprudence of UN Resolutions and Kashmir Case” on Monday, 29th February 2016. President of Pakistan is the Chancellor of National University of Modern Languages and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) is the Chairman of the BoG, whereas Inspector General of Training and Evaluation (IGT&E), General Headquarters acts as the nominee of the COAS. It was a privilege to speak at NUML.

The only other engagement that I could accommodate in the late afternoon was a visit to chairman Hayat Group of Newspapers, Haji Sufi Alla Ditta Khaksar, an old friend since my work with the Ministry of Information. I went to express my condolences on the sad death of his younger brother. Altaf Hamid Rao (AH Nizami) has filed a report on the JKIF meet. This is to further increment his valuable effort. I wish to thank the host, the chair and the participants for their love and affection. It has been a learning experience.

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