Yasin Malik: 1.5m signatures, 141 days on

17 June 2008
The Daily Times
Shahzad Shah Jillani

KARACHI: ‘The people of Kashmir first, then the will of Pakistan & India’ is the voice of the Kashmiris, said Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader and member of the Kashmir struggle movement Yasin Ahmad Malik at an exhibition of 1,000 paintings and a multimedia documentary exhibition, ‘Safar-e-Azadi’. The exhibition was held on Tuesday at the Alliance Française de Karachi and was organized by the Dawn media group. A small ceremony was held to showcase Malik’s struggle, depict his public gatherings, rallies, long march and a million signature drive in the Kashmir territory. A different and unusual touch to this event was the live performance by two instrument players - one on the tabla and the other on the Kashmiri santoor. A 45-minute multimedia documentary ‘Safar-e-Azadi’ was screened, in which Malik was shown leading rallies and speaking at public gatherings in the Kashmiri language, along with other Kashmiri figures both Hindu and Muslims. It showed Malik starting his 141-day journey from Mati Gawran. He took this on to get the Kashmiri people to sign their names to assert their will over that of Pakistan and India for the resolution of their much-delayed independence. It also looked at the long march, the torch-laden rallies of thousands of people and highlighted Malik touring the territories on a truck decorated with JKLF flags and portraits of deceased JKLF leaders. Some footage showed the simplicity of Malik’s character, capturing him staying in tents on the plain, bathing in waterfalls, eating ordinary food made at a local mess and playing cricket with Kashmiri youth at various stopovers. The simplicity of his nature was strongly demonstrated not only in the documentary, but also as it aired; instead of sitting up front, Malik stood behind the last row. The organizers noticed his absence but when he was offered a seat in the front row, Malik opted to stand like an observer rather than the centre of attention. The documentary also featured some extracts of Malik’s speeches, including particularly touching ones “We the Kashmiris have broken our silence to remove the scar of cowardice from our face”; “We want the will of the Kashmiris to be implemented not the charter of demands from Pakistan and India”; “I met the Indian president and made it clear that the 1.5 million signatures of the Kashmiris was a clear mandate that their opinion should be respected and heard”; “The mothers, sisters and daughters of the brave martyred Kashmiris continue the struggle and wish me good luck so that together we can fight for our rights and get Kashmir as we want it”. The documentary also showed footage of Kashmiri women on the streets, protesting against the injustice and discrimination of the Indian police. In other footage, the women were seen singing anthems in memory of their beloved who were killed during the struggle and mothers patting Malik with love and affection, wishing him success. To honor Malik in recognition of his struggle, before screening the documentary, Dawn Chief Editor Hameed Haroon, before a compact audience, said that Malik’s struggle for the rights and freedom of the Kashmiri people was a great effort. “The one voice, the single demand of the Kashmiris, gained momentum through Malik who through his person-to-person contact, gave their struggle new life and a new form,” Haroon said. The ceremony was attended by some media personalities, including Shaheen Salahuddin Qudsiya Khan, Hamida Khuhro, Fahimuzaman, the French Consul General.