‘Is Pakistan Sincere on Kashmir?’

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday 17 November 2012 at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi asked the former Pakistani military ruler Gen Parvez Musharraf whether, “Pakistan had the ‘Niyat’ (sincere intention), to resolve the Kashmir issue”.

The question and its answer may have been registered only with news-paper reading public in Jammu and Kashmir or the ones who have an access to radio and television. There are a vast majority of people in all the three administrations of Jammu and Kashmir, in India and in Pakistan who would not have access to the question put by Omar Abdullah and its reply from Parvez Musharraf.

Although there are many problems with the understanding of the chief minister of UN resolutions, yet it would be unfair if we do not admit that he deserves a commendation for asking this question. It should have been his constitutional duty to have asked this question way back. Article 4 and 48 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and UN Resolution 91 (1951) of 30 March 1951 provide the necessary authority to raise this question.

Omar Abdullah has set an agenda for Hurriyat (M) to take up with the officials of Pakistan during their proposed visit to Pakistan. If this question had remained at the core of Hurriyat politics since 1990 or in the thinking of establishment in Pakistan, we would not have become responsible for acting irresponsibly and causing the death of a generation in Kashmir. In fact Hurriyat (M) should ask itself and from the establishment in Pakistan, whether they endorse the common arithmetic that the death of a generation in Kashmir in fact means the death of self-determination (Plebiscite) for at least a long time to come.

It is clear that if Pakistani establishment failed to value the scope of number in Kashmir and remained unconcerned at the loss of life, it could be rightly said that it has been and continues to remain insincere in the Rights Movement of the people of Kashmir. To answer this question more precisely one could quote a line from Shakespeare’s King Lear – “As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods, They kill us for their sport.” We seem to have killed a generation of our youth for a ‘sport’, which have found is too exacting to continue. Pakistani establishment did not act alone in Kashmir.

We (including Hurriyat) join Omar Abdullah in raising this question and would wish to have an answer. OmarAbdullah has misdirected himself, as we all do in failing to differentiate between the State and the State machinery. More so Parvez Musharraf is not Pakistan. He represents an institution which failed to socialise into military professionalism and respect for democracy and democratic institutions. The establishment has angered every member of civil society in Pakistan. Armed forces as citizens are entitled to exercise a vote and interest themselves, to that extent, in the country’s affairs. Unfortunately military interest in politics has remained peculiar and highly irregular and by no means representative of military ideas and military thinking.

Therefore answer to Omar Abdullah’s question does not lie with Parvez Musharraf. It has been answered by late Professor Keith Callard in 1957. In his political study of Pakistan he has concluded that “if representative government collapses, it will be because its legs are not strong enough to sustain its own body…Pakistan, by its Constitution, is publicly committed to the operation of democratic institutions. It is too early to say whether those institutions are likely to mature”.

It is not the ‘Niyat’ of Pakistan as a State but the ‘Niyat’ of establishment which stands to answer many questions. It has to answer the people of three States of Kharan, Mekran and Lasbela who acceded to Pakistan in March 1948 at a ‘darbar’ held in Sibi in the presence of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and when the four States were brought together into a Baluchistan States Union of which Khan of Kalat became the Khan-i-Azam. Instruments of Accession were executed and accepted. It was just 10 years and 6 months after the accession that in September 1958 Khan lowered the Pakistan flag and raised his personal standard and offered armed defiance. A recourse to armed action was made and after a brief military action the Khan surrendered and was hurried away to confinement elsewhere. What forced the ruler to challenge the obviously superior strength of the Pakistan Government needs to be answered.

Establishment in Pakistan has continued with the guilt of reneging on the Stand Still Agreement made with the Government of Kashmir in August 1947. It repeated its habit of bringing its ‘Niyat’ into a disrepute by reneging on the two declarations of 4 October and 24 October 1947 made by the Provisional Government of the Republic of Kashmir at Muzaffarabad. Intrigue, pressure and coercion were applied to seek compliance from the Kashmiri Government set up at Muzaffarabad. The most serious breach of agreement remains in respect of Karachi Agreement of April 1949. Establishment in Pakistan inked a written agreement with the Government and politicians of AJK and manipulated them into taking over the administrative control of Gilgit and Baltistan. Establishment in Pakistan has never looked back to honour the agreement or the decision of the AJK High Court to surrender the areas into the administrative controls of the AJK Government.

‘Niyat’ of establishment had a role in treating the people of East Pakistan on the basis of their ethnicity less favourably than the people of West Pakistan. It was not later than 24 years after independence that the people of East Pakistan put up an armed defiance and decided to separate into a sovereign Bangladesh. Kashmir, Baluchistan and East Pakistan are three major challenges where the establishment has abysmally failed the litmus test of good ‘Niyat’.

The answer of Parvez Musharraf “Let me assure (all) that it is a misconception that it is Pakistan's military which does not want a solution of the Kashmir dispute. Let me tell you with full sincerity and honesty, Pakistan army wants a solution of Kashmir. We want a solution of Siachen. We want a solution of Kashmir,” may have been received well by the audience and the host but it does not convince a conscientious and responsible Kashmiri.

Establishment in Pakistan has remained instrumental in encouraging the people of Kashmir (Muslims in the Valley) to do away with their symbols in politics, architecture and literature. Today we do not have a symbol in politics to follow and our leading figures, who played a lead role at certain junctures of history, have been savaged by us.  We have been lumbered with a supplanted list of politicians by the establishment. The Sun, Earth and the Moon in Kashmir have to revolve round them. The print and electronic media in Pakistan and their extensions in the Valley have been doing the establishment’s bidding.

It is not only our glorious past that has been savaged, we have not even spared our present and our future from this harm. Regardless of the fact whether UN Resolutions are practicable or not, establishment has a serious case to answer in regard to its support to the political and militant resistance of the last 22 years. Parvez Musharraf has admitted in his book that establishment supported militancy and people had got fed up with it any further. Establishment has now admitted that militancy in Kashmir has been defeated through an uninterrupted democratic process and elections. Our youth was recruited to take on the highly professional army of India and we have lost a generation. Some were killed as renegades and others are left to apply to their earlier ‘enemy’ to let them return as converts to a peaceful living. Many others have been lining up since 2007 to join Police, BSF, CRPF and other branches of security forces.

Militancy may or may not have been defeated but it had no place in the UN mechanism on Kashmir. UN mechanism is pro people and has full regard for all life in Kashmir. Omar Abdullah should have nothing to fear from UN Resolutions because the Kashmir Government at Srinagar has been recognized to administer the process. Pakistan as a sovereign State has been listed as a party to answer the Indian complaint made at the UN. Establishment does not have a role in the Rights Movement. On the contrary it may have wronged the people of Kashmir and incurred a criminal liability. It is being indicted for its wrongs in Pakistan and may well have to answer a case in Kashmir as well. Parvez Musharraf has fallen out of the favour of the people of Pakistan and we the people of Kashmir should learn to look beyond the uniformed establishment and respect the change taking place in Pakistan.

We should join the common man and woman in Pakistan, who want the military to socialize into military professionalism and respect for democratic institution. Kashmiris should learn to ask themselves – “Are they sincere to themselves and to their children and grandchildren?”

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.  He could be reached on email [email protected]

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