An open letter to Hurriyat leaders

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Assalaamu alaykum

I was wandering through the United Nations Book Shop at Palais des Nations in Geneva, that a book titled “The Arab Awakening – Islam and the New Middle East” authored by Tariq Ramadan attracted my interest. The author is one of the most acclaimed figures in the analysis of Islam and its political dimensions today.

What fascinated me most was the first chapter entitled “Made- to-Order Uprising”?

He does not berate the value of the birth of a new era, as a radical turning point between past and future, role of brave men and women, young and old but has cautioned us to consider that “The uprising that swept the Arab world did not come from nowhere”.

The author points out that as early as in 2003 there had been a talk of democratization in the MENA- Zone (Middle East and North Africa). It had then become President George W Bush’s key argument for intervention in Iraq. One year later, young MENA cyber-dissidents were signing up for training courses in non-violent protest. Institutions funded by the American administration and/or major private firms organised lectures and seminars, and set up networks that would provide training for young leaders who were given instruction in the use of internet and social networks.

There is a suggestion that the protest movements that emerged in 2010 in MENA, may have been designed and manipulated from abroad. However, he is clear about the fact that what could not be controlled, were the breadth of the phenomenon and the extent of the sacrifices the region’s people were prepared to make to assert their thirst for freedom.

The MENA analysis has a close parallel with the uprising and the situation in Kashmir. The people of Middle East have proven that dictators can be overthrown without weapons, by sheer force of number, by non-violent, positive outlook. In fact something irreversible has taken place.

On the contrary the people of Kashmir have suffered the death of a generation. A numerical deficit, has caused the death of self-determination for a long time to come. We have killed the right of self-determination as a realisable dream and the best that could be done at this point is to keep it alive as a principle. Our men, women, young and old have been subjected to unprecedented multiple violence and abuse of human rights never witnessed from 1846-1990 for 144 years.

It is unfortunate that our leadership has been fractured by vested interests, is in the trap of polarization and has remained engaged in a sterile debate at variance with the best interests of the people. The intellectuals who could have helped the politicians in the construction of a Kashmiri narrative, identify key issues, define and prioritise the ways and means for carrying out social and political reform, and to foster the rise of a true civil society, away from paralysing and petty quarrels have been either killed and those surviving have lost faith and confidence.

Our leaders don’t have a reliable understanding of the Kashmir case and therefore have continued to make errors in making a mature judgement. A good number of our leaders have imposed themselves for a leadership role and they don’t feel any need to make a reference (at least through a process of consultation, participation and consensus) to their own people within the territories of the State defined in article 4 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and pointed out in UN Security Council Resolution of 30 March 1951. They don’t even subject themselves to the test of ‘Principality’ set by UN for the Kashmiri leadership.

Kashmiri leadership has failed to agitate the failure in the duty of the Government of J & K and Government of India to ensure that the Security Forces remain within the prescribed discipline of their ‘provisional’ role in Kashmir and to observe the UN Security Council Resolution stipulations on their ‘number’, ‘behaviour’ and ‘location’. It has failed to ensure that Government of Pakistan does not slash or take away the independence of the Republic of Azad Kashmir and does not violate its Trust Obligations assumed in AJK and Gilgit and Baltistan under UNCIP Resolutions and UN Security Council Resolutions.

Our ‘pro freedom’ and ‘main stream’ leaders are involved with India and Pakistan much more than with their own people or the people of India and Pakistan. It was a tragic mistake to turn your backs on the struggle of civil society of Pakistan for the restoration of democracy and restoration of the independence of judiciary in that country. It was unbelievable to see that our leaders would waste no time in reposing their trust in General Musharraf, at a time when the people of Pakistan were fighting to see his back and see him out of office.

It seems that our leaders would not like to go beyond a non-Kashmiri narrative. They seem to be part of a “Made- to-Order Uprising” in Kashmir. 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 AJK in their current struggle to regain their lost political independence and rights.

Political parties in AJK 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 4 October 1947 and re-constituted on 24 October 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 AJK as colonial subjects.

The leaders of all the political parties in AJK 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 AJK nor in Pakistan.

The question arises if the Government of Pakistan has assumed responsibilities in AJK 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.”

It is a crucial time when after 38 years since 1974 the Political parties in AJK are negotiating new Constitutional contract with the Government of Pakistan and they need support and due input from our leaders in the Valley and in Gilgit. It is even more disturbing that Gilgit and Baltistan assembly has been encouraged to pass a resolution demanding the merger of this territory of the State as a province in the federation of Pakistan.

We should not repeat the error of judgement in regard to AJK 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 AJK.

Pakistan (India as well) needs to be reminded that each of the three Kashmir assemblies are elected from only a part of the whole territory of the State and their incompleteness is recognised under article 48 of J & K Constitution, Preamble of AJK Constitution Act 1974 and UN Security Council Resolution of 30 March 1951. Pakistan may not be an ‘opportunist State’, as stated by Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India on 23 October 2001, but we have a cause for concern that the various Governments of Pakistan decided not to raise Kashmir at the UN from November 1965 to August 1996 for about 30 years and 10 months.

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 21 April 1948.
Our leaders have no control over the broad spread of work being carried out through a group of Kashmiris or otherwise on the issue of Kashmir. It has turned into a commercial enterprise in the Valley, in Muzaffarabad , in Islamabad and at various international platforms. The non-knowledge about this work resulted that various political parties in Kashmir misdirected themselves on the unfortunate arrest and sentencing of Dr. Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai. As a Kashmiri he need not negotiate a “Plea Agreement” with the United States Attorney. He should have defended the FBI Affidavit before the Grand Jury and we could have used the opportunity to sensitise the Kashmir case before the American public in particular and rest of the world in general. It was a golden opportunity in our favour to reach out to rest of the world. Kashmiri leaders need not occupy the local newspaper columns. Barriers in their travel to USA to testify before the Grand Jury would have been the responsibility of the US Court.

Lack of knowledge of the contents of the FBI affidavit and the non-understanding of the loss embedded in the terms of the Plea Agreement, have not been properly understood by our leaders while making their observations. We would never be able to find out as to who were the three people named as Confidential Witness 1 (CW1), Confidential Witness 2 (CW2) and ‘John’ named in the affidavit who had offered themselves as witnesses against Dr. Fai in the case. In particular we would never know the identity of the person named as ‘John’ in the affidavit who has been described as an officer of a Kashmiri organization who had threatened Dr. Fai that unless matters were resolved with Nazir Ahmad Shawl he would surrender himself in the Indian High Commission and ‘expose everything and everybody’.

Para 7 of the FBI affidavit reads “The Kashmiri American Council (KAC) is a non-governmental organization located at 1111 16th Street, Suite 40, in Washington D.C. The KAC was founded in 1990 and also goes by the name “Kashmir Centre”. It is one of the three “Kashmir Centres” that this investigation revealed are run by elements of the Government of Pakistan, the others are the Justice Foundation/Kashmir Centre located in London, England, run by Nazir Ahmad Shawl and the Kashmir Centre – European Union, located in Brussels, Belgium, and run by Abdul Majeed Tramboo”. Pare 6 of the affidavit explains that elements of the Government of Pakistan meant ISI.

Under these circumstances facing a trial before the Grand Jury would have been in the best interests of Kashmir case and a befitting tribute to the resolve of the martyred generation in Kashmir. Dr. Fai and his sponsors failed the litmus test. The merits of the work and contents of the FBI affidavit were so awkward that Government of Pakistan as a party to the dispute, Parliamentary Kashmir Committee or the Government of AJK did not come forward to own the work of Dr. Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai.

There is no denying the fact that Dr. Fai is a State Subject and his rights need to be defended. However, it would be unfair not to point out that he misdirected himself and preferred to be counted by the sponsors and not by his own people.

The continued dialogue in 131 paras of the FBI Affidavit and terms of Plea Agreement spreading over 18 headings do not help the interests of Kashmir case. The picture that emerges in aggregate and in para 30 of the FBI affidavit, is that Dr. Fai acted more as an ‘escort’ and very little as an ambassador of Kashmir case. Para 30 reads, “Among the documents found in the searches was a November 23, 1995 letter from Fai to Abdullah in which Fai submitted his expenses for reimbursement. The expenses totalled $42,981.45 and appear to have been incurred by Fai in connection with his escort of a visitor to the United States and putting on a programme at the United Nations”. The yearly budget of $500,000 to $700,000 had very little relevance to the jurisprudence of the case and/or the situations like Kunan Poshpora etc.

Our politics has failed to develop a Kashmir narrative and militancy has come to a grinding halt. The diplomatic work has been turned into a commercial interest and there is no proper use of the public monies being spent in the name of the people of Kashmir. J & K has its serious problems. AJK and Gilgit and Baltistan are in the news on account of their respective grievances on the loss of political independence and rights.

It is high time that valley leadership, in particular the one that claims to be ‘genuine’ and ‘pro-freedom’, moves forward to make an unambiguous statement in regard to a ‘Kashmiri narrative’ and how best it aims to serve the interests of the three Kashmiris living at Srinagar, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit. It has to reassure the common man and woman that it was not part of any “Made- to-Order Uprising” in Kashmir.

Our leaders have to assure us that that they knew nothing about a finding made by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scot-Clark in their book “The Meadow” published in June 2012. The book at page 357 the reads, “India and Pakistan fought each other in the Valley by manipulating the lives of others. Everything that happened here involved acts of ventriloquism, with traitors, proxies and informers deployed by both sides, and civilians becoming the casualties”. The book further reads, “Pakistan called it the Game. Pakistan tried something, India blocked it and turned it around, or the other way around, and there were so many angles to it, that really when you were playing it you forgot yourself completely, until it seemed like the most beautiful thing in the world”.

The loss of life and the unprecedented violation of human rights and the suffering never witnessed from 1846-1990 make the authors of the ‘Uprising in Kashmir” criminally liable. It should have been left to the collective will of the member nations of the UN to take all measures (including use of force) to enforce the UN mechanism in Kashmir. All necessary measure to agitate the universality of the principle of ‘equality’ and ‘self-determination’ at the UN should have been taken without the lapse of a second or a minute. The universality of the Kashmir case was harmed and ignored on purpose.

Our leadership remains responsible for a double murder – the murder of a generation and the murder of right of self-determination. Indian Security Forces in particular have accrued a criminal liability for failing in their duty to protect ‘life’, ‘honour’ and ‘property’ and the State of Pakistan in general remains liable for failing to protect ‘life’ as a basis of right of self-determination in Kashmir. We sincerely trust that our leaders have played no part in a “Made- to-Order Uprising” in Kashmir and that Pakistan has not been an ‘opportunist’ State.

Kindly rest assured of my best regards and highest considerations.

Yours Sincerely

Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani

Secretary General-JKCHR, Geneva

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