Insight News
'You don't understand Pakistan's agenda'

14 September 2002

By Shabir Choudhury

'You don't understand Pakistan's agenda', the caller said to me. 'Be under no allusion, Pakistan is not interested in Kashmiri people's independence, you people are being used in a proxy war to bleed India', the caller added and put the phone down.

The caller told me he was calling from Jammu and that he has read some of my articles. In one article, while pointing out contradictions in Pakistan's Kashmir policy, I wrote: 'At the beginning of the struggle Pakistan supported the idea of an independent Kashmir, and when the struggle for independence was at its peak and destination appeared to be around the corner, Pakistan decided to divert that support in favour of religious groups.'

Also I quoted Mr Mohammed Ali Jinnah statement on Kashmir: 'That after the lapse of paramountcy the Indian States would be constitutionally and legally sovereign states and free to adopt for themselves any course they wished. It is open to States to join Hindustan Constituent Assembly or Pakistan Constituent Assembly or to decide to remain independent'.

The caller who introduced himself as a Kashmiri Pundit was referring to the above, he said, 'Pakistan has clear territorial aims in Kashmir; they want to snatch Kashmir at all costs.... Don't be fooled by what Mr Jinnah said before Pakistan was born. He only wanted to fool the Maharaja and the Kashmiris and play for time until he could be in a position to force State's accession to Pakistan.'

I do not agree with this assertion and explained to him that Mr. Jinnah clearly understood the legal and constitutional position of the Princely States, and was very categorical about State of Jammu and Kashmir's right to become independent. I also told him that I had in-depth knowledge of the subject as I had done extensive research for my Mphil degree {and PhD research}, which is on the Partition of India.

That may be legal and constitutional position, he said, but what regard do Pakistani's have for a legal position, a treaty or constitution. He told me that despite having a Standstill Agreement with the Maharaja they masterminded the Tribal Invasion of Kashmir, and tried to take over the State by force. He also gave examples how different Pakistani governments abused their own constitution and disregarded different treaties.

I had no grounds to defend Pakistan's record, but I don't want Pakistan to be humiliated in this debate, so I avoided the discussion by saying that it is not my business what Pakistanis do to their constitution or what form of government they have in their country. As a student of history, I know historical position - Mr. Jinnah supported Kashmir's right to independence in 1947, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Manzoor Qadir supported the idea of an independent Kashmir in late 1950s and this idea also got some support in 1989-90.

'No', He said. 'You people were used in 1989-90 to fight Pakistan's proxy war. As soon as they realised that pro independent movement was getting popular they clipped the wings, and you, JKLF people should know this more than anyone else.'

I agreed with him to the extent that Pakistan has clear agenda on Kashmir and that is to get Kashmir's accession to Pakistan, hence denying the people of Kashmir a right to become independent. Various Pakistani governments have been very clear about this, and openly declared that Kashmir could not be allowed to become an independent state.

I told him that we understand India and Pakistan's agenda in Kashmir- Pakistan wants Kashmir and so does India, and it is India that has caused more misery and oppression to the people of Kashmir. People of Kashmir are denied basic human rights and they are killed and tortured to death, even in custody.

Also I told him that we are fighting for unification and independence of the State, and that we are fighting Pakistan's war in Kashmir; and those Kashmiris who claim this have their loyalty elsewhere. Kashmir is forcibly divided between India and Pakistan, and both countries have their stooges in Kashmir and they issue statements on the instructions give by their paymasters in Islamabad and New Delhi.

'Try to understand' he said. It is Pakistan which has created problems. There was no oppression in Kashmir until Pakistan instigated militancy there and communalised the Kashmiri society. Before militancy was exported to Kashmir by Pakistan, we were all living peacefully.'

I interrupted him and said, it was the Kashmiris who started the militancy, not Pakistan. It is our struggle for independence, and not Pakistan's proxy war. We are fighting because we are not happy with the forced division and the status quo, and not because Pakistan is encouraging us to do so. If Pakistan and India want to fight a war or settle score against each other they will have to find another battleground.

His argument was that Pakistan wanted the Kashmir dispute to perpetuate, and had no intention of resolving it. In his view Pakistan wanted India to keep on bleeding, and Kashmiris were used to achieve this goal. Pakistan will use you Kashmiris to sabotage the political process India has started to resolve the Kashmir problem. He said, 'You people have been used in the past and you will be used again to further Pakistan's agenda by sabotaging the elections in Kashmir; and educated and intelligent people like you should not fall in to Pakistan's trap.'

I told him that irrespective of Pakistan's views or agenda on the elections in Kashmir, we Kashmiris believe elections of any kind are not solution to the Kashmir dispute. Elections could be held, like they are held in Azad Kashmir, for administrative purposes, but these elections could not substitute the right of self determination.

I further said, the Kashmiri struggle is and has been for the right to determine our future without any restrictions imposed on us. And if elections are being held, as has been claimed, to elect peoples 'representatives', then such elections should be held on both sides of the divide, and under some kind of international supervision. We oppose elections not because Pakistan wants us to do that, but because we have very bitter experience of the elections in Kashmir; and we firmly believe that the kind of elections India holds in Kashmir will lead us nowhere.

I am known as a critic of Pakistani governments, because I criticise Pakistan's Kashmir policy, but during this long conversation I found myself not only responding to his points but also defending Pakistan. This is because I have noting against Pakistan, it is Pakistani policies on Kashmir which I dislike and criticise. State of Pakistan is scared to me, as it is to many other Kashmiris; and I believe we need a strong, democratic and prosperous Pakistan for peace and stability of South Asia.

When he realised that he was getting appropriate reply to everything, and that I could not be persuaded to shift my stand on elections or no what India is doing in Kashmir, then he said; 'You don't understand Pakistan's agenda... You people are being used in proxy war to bleed India'.

Towards the end of this conversation the caller was frustrated and angry. I wonder if he was really speaking from Jammu and that he was a Kashmiri Pundit. It is difficult to say with certainty who he was and where he was speaking from. He could be a Kashmiri Pundit, he could be an Indian official trying to persuade me; or he could be a Pakistani official who wanted to find out my real stand on Kashmir, and wanted to trap me to see if I was really 'anti Pakistan' or not.

Whoever he was, what he and other people need to understand is that we Kashmir nationalists, and members of JKLF DO NOT have double standards. We say same thing with some conviction in London, in Islamabad and in new Delhi. Unlike many other Kashmir leaders and political activists, we do not change our statements and ideological stand when we see new audience.

Our message and stand is unambiguous, our struggle is for united and independent Kashmir, and despite all the odds we will continue this struggle. Also we want to make it clear that we don't want to fight anyone's 'proxy war' be it India, Pakistan or any other country. But at the same time we ask both India and Pakistan not to fight over Kashmir and resolve the Kashmir dispute through a process of dialogue, and not to ignore the principal party to the dispute in this process of dialogue.

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