Published On: Mon, Sep 2nd, 2013

Pugwash Kashmir Conference

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

Pugwash is repeating its interest in Kashmir after 7 years. The organization rounded up its first participants in 2006 at Serena the costliest hotel of Pakistan in Islamabad to discuss Kashmir. Lieutenant General (Retired) Talat Masood co-ordinates its activities in Pakistan. Although a thorough gentleman in all respects except that a retired military man does not keep the nerve to confront the other serving elements in the Government. The list of invitees has to be drawn at the sweet will of those who keep their hand on the handle in the host country. Therefore, people invited to Pugwash Conference do not necessarily in majority qualify as genuine and concerned people. If one knows a particular “person” or “persons” in Islamabad, he could secure an invite for himself and for one’s donkey as well. It is another mafia and if anyone does not get invited, there is no real reason to feel discouraged.

Convenience of Parties

Any work on Kashmir by any institution is welcome. However, the work on Kashmir has to be in regard to the interests of all people. It has to be for resolving the question of self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir based on the principle of “equality” of people. At this point we see that the title of self-determination has been dragged down from its international jurisprudence to the convenience of parties as a bilateral issue and to sweeten the mouths of some of our Kashmir leaders to a tri-lateral call.

Majority of constituents in the Kashmiri leadership do not have the ability to understand the risks involved in abandoning the jurisprudence of UN Resolutions on Kashmir and of being sucked into by institutions like Pugwash and others, into the bilateral and tri-lateral brackets of dialogue, which (like the UN mechanism) do not have any guarantee behind them. The UN Resolutions bind India and Pakistan to a “Pacific Settlement” of Kashmir dispute. At Pugwash conference there is no Kashmiri narrative.  A secretly agreed agenda would be lurking in the dark and the various participants would readily oblige the host. There are some who find it a life time outing and do not have the courage to disagree and lose the prospect of a future invite. The sense of opportunity overtakes all other considerations.

Current Market

Pugwash has found Kashmir in the current market. Kashmir market has many advantages for these institutions and these institutions at times have subterranean interests. They need to enhance the constituency of their influence and the first point of contact has to be elements (establishment) in the host Government. ISI chief General Pasha in his statement before the Abbottabad Commission has admitted how CIA had been using Save the Children NGO in Pakistan to prosecute CIA interests and had asked General Pasha not to interfere with the work of the NGO. Pugwash could not be an exception and the list of its invitees to the 2006 Kashmir Conference establishes the fact.

I was surprised to see a person at the 2006 Conference that I had known for some time who had travelled all the way from France to meet me in London in a Restaurant next to House of Commons in Westminster, in early 1990s to discuss Kashmir. In no time the person routed “himself/herself” through Islamabad and Delhi and turned into a Kashmir expert. At times there are certain gender specifics which work faster in India and Pakistan.

First Kashmir Conference

I was in Islamabad but not invited to the 2006 Conference. I remembered the words of Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan the senior father figure in Kashmir politics during his visit to London to attend the first Kashmir Conference, that “Nazir do you really need an invite for a Kashmir Conference”?  I told him that in UK the hotel security does not allow a person unless he has an invitation. I was not invited to the Conference and it was hosted by Raja Munshi Khan (MLA) from Nottingham, UK. Sardar Sahib reprimanded Munshi Khan and wrote an invite for me himself. He smiled and told me to be there at the Conference earlier than others. I returned the warmth of his smile and expressed my in ability to attend the Conference. He was surprised and enquired about further reason of my refusal to attend. I told him that Dr. Ayyub Thukar was not invited and as a principle I would also stay away. Another invitation was arranged for him and we agreed to attend.

In 2006, I addressed a press conference in Islamabad and accused the Pugwash of acting as a sub-ordinate department in the Government of Pakistan and having failed to keep its dignity as an institution with a duty to fairness. I walked into Serena Hotel and caught the attention of almost every participant except those who had sold their souls to the Lucifer. There were hugs and handshakes. I was the only Kashmiri invited by Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan (Muslim Conference Government) to the reception hosted by Muslim Conference in honour of Omar Abdullah.

JKLF Boycott

It is after 7 years that JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, very rightly has decided to boycott the Pugwash Conference. It is a brave and creditable decision, one of its kind that many of our Kashmir leaders would not take come what may? It may be that on a reflection he has delved deep into the recesses of his heart and he has found a case against Pugwash. The sense of responsibility of every conscientious Kashmiri would yell bravo to Mohammad Yasin Malik on informing them that “Pugwash conference on Jammu Kashmir is acting against the national interests of Kashmiris and only safeguarding the interests of India and Pakistan. This is a painful reality and we cannot witness this anti-Kashmiri attitude as a silent spectator.”

JKLF chairman has informed the people how a resolution moved by him and duly carried at the Conference in 2006 was dishonestly deleted from the text of the press conference scheduled at the end of the Conference.  Explaining the dodgy character of Pugwash, Yasin Malik has further added that “before the press conference he enquired about the text of the press conference. I was informed that the text and matter that was to be delivered to the press was prepared by three persons. I was surprised to see that this text had no mention of any resolutions passed in the conference. All it had was the matters related to cross LoC trade. I protested against this and said that if the organisers delivered the press conference with the same matter, I will have no option but to counter it in another press conference and put the reality before the people. The press conference was skipped but all this matter was leaked to the press in Jammu and Kashmir.”

We should stand behind JKLF chairman for showing character and refusing to be part of these international non Kashmiri proxies that have started to trade in the Kashmir market. It is a serious situation and we need to affirm Malik’s resolve. He has accused Pugwash organisers of “dishonesty” and maintained that it’s only job was to brush aside the national interests of Kashmiris, safeguard the interests of India and Pakistan and gather Kashmiri leadership just to vet the programmes and proposals of India and Pakistan and provide legitimacy to these programmes.”

Kashmiri participants

It is time to see how many Kashmiri participants remain at variance to the interests of the people of Kashmir and rush to be at the Conference. It is equally important that we examine thoroughly the Kashmiri participants and their connections with a “man” or “men” who keep their hand on the handle that turns the fate of these events. If Pugwash has cheek to dodge a leader of the stature and sacrifices of Mohammad Yasin Malik, bluffing and pulling wool over the eyes of others would be no hard work for Pugwash.

It is highly desirable that participants from the Valley take into account the 22 July 2013 No Trust Motion brought against the PaK Prime Minister accusing that he “has caused irreparable harm to Kashmir freedom movement, identity of the state, governance and developmental activities besides violating merit, ruining institutions, unlawfully distributing development funds and inducting favourites, instead of eligible persons in the Public Service Commission.”  It was improper that Nawaz Sharif a non-State Subject stopped the popularly elected members of the Legislative Assembly in Muzaffarabad from prosecuting the No Trust Resolution (Charge Sheet) deposited on 22 July 2013 with the Assembly secretariat against the Prime Minister.

The interference from Islamabad has opened a fresh debate about the “merits of Nawaz Sharif’s interference in the Legislative Process in PaK assembly.” Kashmiri participants should also bear in their mind the details of FBI Affidavit filed in the case titled United States of America versus Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai and Zaheer Ahmad. Proxies in the name of Kashmir end up in the Plea Agreement as in this case. Pugwash could not be different to our Kashmir Centre Washington.

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.  He is on UN register as an expert in Peace Keeping, Humanitarian Operations and Election Monitoring Missions. He could be reached on email

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