Published On: Mon, Apr 29th, 2013

“Strong moral, political and diplomatic support”

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

May 11, 2013 elections in Pakistan are round the corner. Election campaign is trailed by suspense and there is an unabated loss of life on a daily basis. Doubters continue to whisper that anything could derail the process. It is in the interests of the people of Pakistan, India and Kashmir that there is a free and fair election and people succeed as an instrument of change.

A democratic Pakistan, with an ability to administer a rule of law for its own citizens, can be persuaded to revisit its proxy interest in the ‘equality’ and ‘self-determination’ of the People of Kashmir. Every vote in this election is going to make a significant difference and there are 1.5 million Kashmiri refugees settled in various parts of Pakistan. These votes are crucial for every political party. Kashmiri refugees are not only going to impact the results in Pakistan but also have the inherent ability to assure that the incoming government, moves beyond the routine statement that Pakistan would continue to provide a “strong moral, political and diplomatic support”, to the people of Kashmir. So far the proxy has killed a generation, killed the right of self-determination and has severely hurt the ‘honour’ and ‘dignity’ of the people in Kashmir.

President Zardari in Muzaffarabad

Over some time President Zardari has been under a judicial scanner asking him to act as President of the federation and refrain from turning Presidency into a Party Secretariat. The announcement of election schedule has further barricaded him to be seen neutral. Under these circumstances his visit to Muzaffarabad on 17 April 2013 to address the joint session of AJK Assembly and Council had been planned to make up for the limitations placed on his political activity in Pakistan. The address may in some way help him to connect with 2 million Kashmiri refugees, 0.5 million living in AJK and 1.5 million settled in Pakistan.

Strong moral, political and diplomatic support

Pakistan as a member nation of United Nations and as a party in the dispute has to discharge two different roles in the Kashmir dispute. Over the years Pakistan seems to have run into difficulties and has wandered away from its ability to define these two roles. It has failed to make out a convincing case whether the “strong moral, political and diplomatic support” is for its sovereign interests or for the principal interests of the people of Kashmir as ‘equal people’ with a title to ‘self-determination’. It has equally failed to maintain the transparency and dignity of this support.

President Zardari’s address has been a routine copy and paste exercise. His reiteration, “We will continue to extend to our Kashmiri brethren, all political, moral and diplomatic support. My coming here and addressing this august gathering is a manifestation of this commitment,” could neither disturb New Delhi nor cause any convincing stir in the hearts of any conscientious Kashmiri.

The five generations of Kashmiri refugees who have seen various other governments come and go in Pakistan and have seen a new experiment conducted in 1990 could not regard these pledges worth the ink in which these are written on a paper. In fact all the three constituents of support have made Kashmiris losers on all the three fronts. Our politics, its morality and our diplomatic missions have turned into a business enterprise and have no relevance to the Rights Movement.

Kashmiris can never be defeated

Zardari said that Kashmiris “are a nation and nation can never be defeated. People round the world take strength from the heroism of Kashmiri people.” It can only apply to Kashmir, if we had not lost our template as a nation. In principle it is admitted that no armies in the world have won a war against any people. Defeat of armies in British India, Afghanistan and Vietnam are the recent examples. Unfortunately Kashmiris have not remained in control of their politics, militancy and diplomacy for the last 22 years. Therefore, their case does not fit the template of ‘nations’ at war. We have lost a generation and others left behind are struggling hard to be accepted by the State under a rehabilitation scheme. These youth stranded in Muzaffarabad seem to have passed their sell by date for the elements in the Government and they are encouraged to leave. The political and moral support of Pakistan or AJK Government does not want to touch them with a barge pole.

Life imprisonment will not deter the freedom fighters

President Zardari has said,for over six decades, the Kashmiris had struggled to achieve their right to self-determination. The force and oppression has been used against them, but their voice could not be silenced. It will never be. Life imprisonment will not deter the freedom fighters.” Like all other rulers, President Zardari could not escape the royal syndrome of ‘memory loss’. He too has been in prison and should have known it better, that if  political prisoners and freedom fighters are consigned to prisons and forgotten, they are likely to be wasted in the process. He too would have been wasted in the prison, if his wife late Benazir Bhutto and other friends had not agitated his case in and outside Pakistan. Leaders like Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma would probably have been wasted behind the prison doors, if their communities and world at large had not discharged a duty to their liberty and release.

President Zardari’s reference to “The hanging of Afzal Guru through abuse of judicial process,” lacked moral merits. There is no evidence that Government of AJK, Government of Pakistan, Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir had expressed any genuine interest, or offered an iota from its “strong moral, political and diplomatic support” to Guru during his trial. It would go very badly in our history that even both factions of Hurriyat remained averse to his legal defence and decided to surge into playing politics after his hanging. If at all Pakistan wants to continue with its “strong moral, political and diplomatic support”, it should be to keep Kashmiris alive, dignified and honourable.

Longest running issues on the UN agenda

It is unfortunate that we seem to have lost moral uprightness in our politics and in our sense of responsibility. There was hardly any observation from any Kashmiri leader or conscientious Kashmiri, on President Zardari’s statement that “Kashmir remains one of the longest running issues on the UN agenda and the international community had yet to restore these rights.”

International community does not involve itself in a matter unless the parties involved energise their sense of responsibility and interest. Pakistan has continued to present itself as the second main party in the dispute. It has never allowed or encouraged a Kashmiri view at the UN. It has continued to use Kashmir for settling its issues with the Government of India. Government of Pakistan succeeded to force India to pay its ‘share of cash balances’ agreed at the time of partition during the second week of the featuring of Kashmir dispute at the UN (January 1948).

In fact it is Pakistan that did not raise Kashmir at the UN Security Council for 31 years from 05 November 1965 to 15 September 1996. On 15 September 1996, matters which had not been considered by the Security Council, in the preceding five years were automatically deleted from the list of matters of which the Council was seized. Under “rule 11 – simplification of the list of matters of which the Security Council is seized”, Kashmir was deleted from the UN SC agenda in September 1996. It has lost its 48 year regularity which it enjoyed from January 1948 to September 1996. It is rehabilitated annually under a reminder provision.

Paid in their blood

It amounts to rubbing salt in the wounds of Kashmiris, to hear that “The Kashmiris have paid in their blood for the failure of the international community.” It is a challenge to the moral strengths and justness of Kashmir politics that we are able to disagree with the Pakistani leadership that international community has not failed as stated. It has been a conscious decision of the various Governments in Pakistan that Kashmir was not agitated before the international community for 31 years. A just case to be resolved in accordance with UN mechanism was derailed and put on the track of a self-serving military method.

Kashmiri politics has never been as fragmented and as suspicious of each other as we find it today. It has never been as dependent and compliant in 144 years from 1846-1990 as it has turned to be in the last 23 years from 1990-2013. If Walter Lawrence were alive today, he would be surprised to find that his definition of a Kashmiri holds good even today after 126 years.

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 dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com


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