This Blog provides an insight on the Kashmir-issue, India and Pakistan. The articles on this Blog can be best described as thought-provoking. The articles thrive to trigger debate about the miseries enslaved Kashmiris are facing and discuss also possible solutions to this long standing conflict. It also aims to convince readers why Independent Kashmir is the best solution for all parties involved.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Introduction of Hashim Qureshi's latest book: 'Kashmir: The Undeniable Truth'.

Unprecedented changes have occurred in the world during past three decades. These are prominently visible in international relations, geo- political strategies and social configuration. Great leaps forward in technological and scientific advancement has abridged distances, shrunk time, and opened marvelous opportunities of economic progress; the quality of life is immensely improved. While developing countries had to re-fashion their socio-economic structures to accommodate and even absorb imperatives of rapid development, technologically advanced countries with strong economic thrust much faster innovative options on them. As a result, developing societies are feeling the pressure of transition to ultra-modernism. In such a prospect many irritants are likely to surface. In particular, there is growing demand for social justice and economic parity.

It is curious that economic progress and economic deprivation, though contradictory in essence, have both contributed to the activation of dormant as well as wakeful social aspirations among underprivileged segments of developing societies. Recognition of identity is an urge and an aspiration.

The most eloquent expression of this phenomenon is to be understood in the Islamic revolution of Iran under theocratic dispensation in 1979. Commentators are still debating why of all the countries Iran should have chosen to go theocratic when she had come so close to the fringe of modernism. We should not forget that Iran’s urge for recognition of her identity was articulated, albeit unsuccessfully, way back in 1950s. Did not that failure suggest that Iranian civil society recognized national identity not necessarily conditional to modernism? It was clear that Iran would look for new and effective options to realize her urge for identity? And the option was seized even if it came belatedly and perhaps erratically in a sense ---- after nearly four decades.

Soviet Union’s incursion of Afghanistan was a foolhardy act of a totalitarian regime undertaken at a very wrong time. As Iranian revolution progressed, Islamic world looked at it with a mixture of anxiety and an air of expectancy. In their thinking Islam was pitted against the greatest power on earth. Evidently, Soviet recklessness in Afghanistan could not have produced consequences other than what it did. It boosted Islamic orthodoxy and it facilitated casual camaraderie between extremist religious forces and powerful western democracy. The Soviet Union had to pay a heavy price; it broke.

The urge for recognition of identity among the Muslim world has become almost contagious. Some commentators try to dig into the history of western colonialism to look for the causes of Muslim resurgence. Today the US and her allies witness with anxiety the harsh consequences of a movement in whose resurgence they had a pivotal role. Those whom they once proudly called mujahedeen are now patently “terrorists” and “Theo-fascists”. People are divided, societies are divided and countries are divided on the basics of this phenomenon and the ways of tackling it.

Muslims and Islam are at the centre of this phenomenon. But notwithstanding Iran’s show of determination, the difference in the resurgence of Islam in Iran on the one hand and in Afghanistan-Pakistan on the other is vital. In Iran, popular Islam rose against theist American imperialism whereas in Afghanistan-Pakistan, political Islamic revival emerged out of opposition to atheist Russian imperialism. As we see, the Muslim world stands divided between supporters and opponents of western imperialism. To put it crudely, one may say that imperialism became an instrument of causing polarization of Islamic communities.

This divide has run into Muslim polity in another form --- revivalists and reformists. Curiously, the divide exists despite the proviso of ijtihad or re-interpretation of Qur’an and tradition. However, the divide is not of recent history; it has been there since the days of Caliphate. Exploiters count on this yawning chasm.

In no other religion do we find a fiercer controversy like “true” and “counterfeit” Muslims. Both aspects are variously interpreted. Essentially, the approach is of attaching purely ecclesiastical connotation in one case and economic, social and cultural parameters of assessment to the other.

How and why did this debate rise in Muslim scholastic circles? A very vital issue of far-reaching consequences was raised by the great Muslim historian-scholar Ibn Khaldun in late 13th century in Baghdad. Known as father of the science of Philosophy of History, he said that Arabs had conquered and Islamized a vast part of Asia where established societies with splendid civilizations existed prior to the advent of Arabs and the faith brought by their Prophet. A day would come, he asserted, when Muslims will have to consider how to adapt Islamic teachings, traditions and ways of life too many healthy and pragmatic socio-cultural trends of the conquered people. Ibn Khaldun was a profound scholar of social history and a visionary, who shuddered at the thought of Muslims, not willing to come out of their cocoon, and bask in the prospective synchronized civilizations that would inevitably take shape in Islamic empires, kingdoms and satrapies.

In all probability, Ibn Khaldun took the cue from Isma’eli thinkers and outstanding philosophers of the 10-11th century A.D. who attached supreme importance to logic as the instrument for arriving at the truth. Foremost among these great Islamic intellectuals was Abu Ali ibn Sina (Avecinna), the philosopher-physician from Turkistan, and the celebrated author of al-Shifa and al-Qanun. His al-Shifa is part of the syllabus of medical studies at Sorbonne University of France today. Ibn Sina debated the truth of even the most sensitive subjects like the prophet-hood, the divine message; the revealed book etc,. which he said could be brought out through inductive and deductive process. This revolutionary idea indirectly challenged the entrenched attitude of blind faith. Ibn Sina initiated the great debate on the subject of belief and reason, which has seized the mind of the Muslims ever since. This takes us a couple of centuries back in Islamic history, and we mean the days of the Abbasid Caliphate. (7/8th century A.D). In the days of Haroon ar-Rashid, a bureau called baitu’l-hikmat (meaning the House of Knowledge) was established in Baghdad. Actually it was a bureau where the works of great Greek masters like Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Galen, Hippocrates and others were translated from Greek into Arabic. Great scholars not only Muslims but of different faiths, too, particularly the Jewish and Zoroastrian, who were polyglots, assembled at the bureau to make their contributions. Mansoor ar-Rashid ordered that remuneration for each great work translated into Arabic would be gold equal to its weight. This priceless fund of knowledge passed on to the Roman Empire, and later on, got disseminated to various European societies. Renaissance of mid - 16th century in Europe was a sequel to this transfer of scientific fund of knowledge. On that basis, ultimately came up the powerful and magnificent structure called modern European or western civilization.

The crux of this unique service of the Muslims to human civilization was to establish fecundity of the faculty of reason and rationality in comparison to blind faith. Ibn Sina tells us that he had access to this great fund of knowledge at the library in Khwarazm, and he rummaged box after box of manuscripts to drink deep from the works of great masters.

In centuries that followed, Muslim scholars of eminence took up the challenging task of interpreting the thoughts of great Greek masters now available to them in their own language. At Alexandria (Iskandariyah) in Egypt, scholars engaged themselves in mighty debates on basic issues touched upon by the masters. It was here that differences of opinion on various issues surfaced among Islamic scholars, theologians and liberals. This phenomenon was not too surprising. Controversy on crucial issues had raged for a long time till Ibn Sina pronounced the historic judgment. He said that there was no controversy over the thoughts of Aristotle and Plato; the problem was with the interpreters who interpreted according to their understanding.

Reverting to the theme of logic versus blind faith, the logjam that gripped Muslim society in early Middle Ages (11 – 14 century A.D.), the rise of dominant satraps in Khurasan (11-12th century A.D.) --- the semi - autonomous but crucially important eastern province of the Caliphate --- and their support to and dependence on feudal structure of society came as a shot in the arm of Islamic orthodoxy. Thinkers following Greek school of thought, or the logicians (istadlaliyun) became the target of the wrath of traditionalists, the upholders of the ideology of blind faith (muttakallimun). Ghazali, the traditionalist, wrote Tahafatu’l-Filasafa in which he strongly underrated those who called logic the mother of all sciences. Thus from 12th century A.D. onwards, feudalism and orthodoxy became complementary to each other establishing inseparability of religion and politics for the inheritors of Caliphate. This marked the beginning of the decline of the age of reason in Islamic societies; belief and tradition arched over the institutions of Islamic state.

Industrial Revolution in Europe towards the second half of the 17th century gradually reduced the power of the church. With that, rational argument that had been almost banished from the Islamic world, found a fertile ground to flourish in European societies with new and fascinating dimensions. Martin Luther’s reformative agenda had opened great vistas that strengthened the position of the age of reason. Alas, neither an industrial revolution of sorts nor a thinker of Martin Luther’s vision was thrown up by the Muslim society for many centuries to come. The fund of science and knowledge, which Muslims so painstakingly brought into limelight, illuminated the houses of others while Muslims relapsed into darkness. With each passing century, the gap between the two grew wider. No wonder, therefore, that 21st century, a high watermark of socio-economic development in Western societies, is seen as potent threat to cynical disregard of creative faculty of the best of God’s creation (ashrafu’l-makhluqat). Man’s absolute surrender to the Supreme came in clash with his innovative and creative potential. Alama Iqbal subtly alluded to this fundamental contradiction:

Main khatakta hun dil-e yazdan main kante ki tarah
Tu faqat Allah hoo Allah hoo Allah hoo

It means that introspective minds within the Islamic fold did recognize the role of human intellect and reason in the process of social evolution. But their circumspection is a baffling question that has been dogging the Muslim community.

However, the proposition has another vital dimension. Quite understandably, in a society steeped in unending controversy over predestined and freewill (jabr wa qadr), acceptance of western view that leaves the future of mankind to the interplay of forces of intellect, is almost outlandish. In their view it is tantamount to questioning the omnipotence of the Supreme Being: it undermines the entire structure on which Islamic concept of relationship between Man and his Creator rests.

For western existentialists reason remains a prescription for ascent to higher levels of temporal life. For them, each passing century proved the veracity of logic being the mother of all sciences. Great scientific discoveries that followed Industrial Revolution of A.D. 1688 in England established the fact that science and technology were the arbiters of the destiny of mankind. While veering to this inference, western societies left the divine and divinity either to benign negligence or to the dreaming Easterners.

But to the Muslims, ultimate power rests with Allah and the ultimate arbiter of destinies is Allah. Therefore in Islamic culture, the source of a victory and an achievement is Allah. Absolute surrender to Allah is one of the basic tenets of Islamic teaching. He is the arbiter (jabber wa qahhar). This then is one of the basic hindrances in Islam’s interaction with the western world and its ideological tributaries.

But the struggle is not necessarily between technology savvy west and tradition dominated Islam. Apart from this dilemma, a major part of the struggle lies within the broad Islamic fold itself. It is the revival of the long drawn struggle between the istadlaliyun and muttakallimun of 12th century in its new avatar of “pure” and “counterfeit” Islam. Taliban and Al-Qaeda is also the product of same thinking. They are spokesperson of orthodox Islam. Thus entire Islamic polity has become a victim of dissensions, strife and differences.

Ordinarily, no external player is either interested in or qualified to settle this domestic dispute of the ummah. Awakening has to come from within. It is important to realize that overt or covert role of an external entity is only for its self-aggrandizement. It is for the Muslim leadership of contemporary times to lead the community out of the labyrinth of conflicting convictions and debilitating contradictions. The question of settling score with the West will recede once internal conflict is set at rest, and a cosmopolitan system of ‘Islam at work with other civilizations is produced. It should be possible to evolve a viable formula of reconciling to the imperatives of contemporary scientific age without eroding pristine principles of faith. It is also equally important to come out of the cocoon of a fossilized mindset, and give new direction, vitality and animation to the process of socialization.

More than twenty million Muslims of Asian and African continents have migrated to the western countries including the US. Millions more are waiting in the wings. These émigrés have adjusted to the western way of life without losing their identity. This means that for Muslims adjustability in non-Muslim environs is neither elusive nor discordant. Therefore the question of discrimination, drilled into the heads of youth in seminaries, has economic or political but not religious trappings. Governments of western countries are prepared to remunerate Muslim families handsomely if they volunteer to return to their countries of origin bag and baggage. But why they do not want to leave, is a very profound question, which Muslim ecclesiastical authorities must answer.

Two non-Semitic regions that came under Islamic sway with Arab invasion, namely Iran and Central Asia, converted fully to the faith of the invaders. But the case of the Indian sub-continent is somewhat different. India of those days was identifiable not necessarily with Hindu religion but surely with sub-continental civilization. The vast land mass of India accommodated many nations and their indigenous cultures but at the same time it supported an over-arching civilization. Muslim conquerors coming from abroad primarily focused on raising an empire and ruling over the subjugated nations. Conversion of local people to the new faith was a by-product of this goal. The concept of providing civilizational base to the empire was conspicuously absent in their philosophy of statehood. It has already been said that the concept of victorious Muslims kingdoms and principalities adapting to indigenous traditions of a conquered region with deep rooted symbols of civilization was raised as early as the 12th century by Ibn Khaldun. Except for Jalalu’d-Din Akbar, no Muslim authority in the sub-continent tried to translate Ibn Khaldun’s remarkable vision into practice. But Akbar, too, failed in his half-hearted attempt because his radical socio-cultural reform was a super structure without a base. Carving a Muslim State in India in 1947 was a practical expression of the ideology of separatism, something unusual to the history of state building in Islam. It was the outcome of chronic ideological conflict dogging the ummah for many centuries: its managers rejoiced at the triumph of orthodoxy. Notably the founder of Jammat-e Islami, Maulana Abu Ala Mowdoodi had opposed the creation of Pakistan keeping in mind the fundamental principle of Islam.

The work in hand is a collection of my essays on contemporary situation in Jammu and Kashmir State, which is contiguous to the newly formed Islamic State of Pakistan. We have a majority of Muslims in the State and their predominance to the tune of 67 % in the region of Jammu and Kashmir. Islam came to Kashmir around 1339 A.D. not through invaders but through missionaries from Iran and Central Asia. They were proselytes, volunteering for a mission of proselytizing in Kashmir.

For nearly two thousand years of her pre-Islamic history, Kashmir was ruled by autocratic and mostly imbecile Hindu kings. Kashmir polity under the Hindu rule, and particularly towards its fag end, was groaning under oppressive Brahmanic nobility that drew strength and influence from feudal chiefs, daring warriors and villainous ministers. For long, Kashmir peasantry was the first to bear the brunt of state oppression. The advent of Islam that promised new ideas of social behavior and new norms of intra-community relationship was, historically and psychologically, bound to have a strong impact on the masses of Kashmiri people.

But some fundamental questions remained. Did the replacement of an authoritarian culture by the culture of fraternized relationship (Ukhawwat) mean much in terms of material reconstruction of Kashmirian society? Did Islamic mission in Kashmir end with the conversion of the non-Muslims to the faith and their temples to mosques? Was Kashmiri Islam to remain perpetually entangled in small and mundane theological controversies and not think of a wholesome policy that would infuse new blood into the social, economic and political veins of the nation?

An entirely new phenomenon of Kashmir history, after the advent of the Muslims, was that ultimate ruling authority passed into the hands of non-indigenous actors. When in commanding position, their treatment of the locals, subordinates and camp followers, repudiated the much touted theory of fraternized relationship. Conspiracies and Machiavellian statecraft galore at the royal court worked canker in Kashmirian society. In a sense the rot that ate into its vitals during the last two centuries of Hindu rule, continued in its full fury even though royalty had changed hands and civilization transition had happened. Something was wrong with Kashmirian psyche.

Physical geography of Kashmir hindered, rather virtually blocked, its brisk interaction with the mainstream Muslim world at this point of time. The rise of ferocious Mongols, warlike Central Asian satraps and adventurous warriors and their bloody exploits disrupted traditional network of trade and trade routes in the Asian region. It choked Kashmir’s trade arteries to the ancient Silk Rout. Kashmir’s economy crumbled.

For this and other reasons indicated above, Muslim polity under the Sultans soon degenerated into a specter of misrule and mismanagement. The rise of powerful kingdoms and principalities beyond the southern borders of Kashmir posed serious threat to national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kashmir kingdom, now steeped in a milieu of social disorder and economic depression.

To make this situation more precarious, sectarianism raised its ugly head in Kashmir Muslim society. In 15th century, Iran, after having left behind its long era of fragmented sovereignty, was inching towards the consolidation of State and centralization of power. A viable social support-structure was desirable and welcome. This marked the beginning of stirring up Shia' sensitivities in Iranian social milieu, which ultimately led to the establishment of official Iranian Shia’ state and the powerful Saffavis in the second half of the 17th century A.D.

Reverberations of rumblings in Iranian society could not be missed in sections of Kashmirian Muslim society that had, by now, got acclimatized to the cult of early missionaries from Iran. Division of society on sectarian basis prompted some fixated elements to seek support from external actors who dominated political scenario at that time. This was the beginning of the most painful phenomenon of Kashmir history --- people and leaders looking beyond physical borders of their native land to get their political differences arbitrated by a third party. Little did they know that in their neighborhood lay strong imperial powers coveting more lands and more resources? Did Kashmiris voluntarily opt for their enslavement? Did they abysmally lose faith in the independence of a nation? Were they condemned to eternal degradation and isolation? This is the core issue that has unfortunately overflowed to our times.

After passing through millennia of darkness, oppression and destitution, after braving tyranny and coercion by repressive Rajas and despotic Sultans, after passing through the rapacity and avarice of feudal lords, petty chieftains, and highland robbers from the times of her known history to the beginning of the 19th century, Kashmir was drawn into the vortex of regional political game plan of two European imperial powers --- Great Britain and Tsarist Russia--- vying for supremacy in Asia. In a bid to check the march of Tsarist legions south of the Hindukush --- the Central Asian watershed between the territories of Tsarist Russia and British India --- the British policy planners decided conversion of the north-western region adjoining Punjab into a separate entity because at that point of time, the non-descript region already happened to be an appendage of the Sikh Kingdom of Lahore. It was placed under a powerful Jammu chieftain, who acquired possession of the valley through a sale deed, and of northern areas of Gilgit, Baltistan, Ladakh and Zanskar through force of arms. Thus came into existence in A.D. 1847 the modern State of Jammu and Kashmir. The issue of the sale of Kashmir has been frequently used to deride the Dogra autocratic rulers. But Kashmir is not an isolated case in world history. The Presidents of the US purchased many states of America, like Texas and California, which now form part of the US mainland. Not too far back, Russia sold Alaska to the US. This is not to exonerate the imperialistic mentality of parties involved in the transaction, but the real problem lies not in the sale of Kashmir but elsewhere. If we banish prejudice, we shall find that the founder of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was Maharja Gulab Singh who founded it in 1846.

It has to be recalled that inviting or prompting external actors to rule over Kashmir just out of some vendetta or emotion or for gaining sectarian supremacy was worse than the sale of the land.

With the emergence of bi-polar power structure on international plane, and division of India into two states ---- one of the two along communal lines --- after World War II, the two major world powers conducted their regional strategies mostly through their proxies. Creation of Pakistan was the triumph of orthodoxy, which the age of science and technology had put under strain. Kashmir significantly figured in the game plan of those whose hands kept moving behind the curtain.

Propaganda blitzkrieg emerged a powerful weapon of cold war era. Victory of the Allies was labeled as victory of democracy and freedom of expression. For self-styled custodians of democracy, it became the rock- hard stick to beat its “enemies” with.

In the communist state of Soviet Union, Great Britain envisioned a much more formidable enemy than in Tsarist Russia. After World War II, economically debilitated Great Britain focused more on post war reconstruction at home. In a vacuum of sorts created by her inability to play the traditional colonial role actively in Asia, the United States of America stepped in. The British had smelt oil in the Gulf in 1905 and then taking into account its importance as a powerful weapon of political arbitration, the world was to witness in years to come the great hegemony of American “democracy”.

Reverting to Kashmir situation, for the first time in her chequered history spanning nearly two thousand years, a mass movement demanding institutionalizing of Kashmiri identity surfaced in the first decade of the 20th century. Indian leaders were influenced by the socialist movement in Russia and parts of Europe. British intelligentsia, with which emerging Indian leaders were in liaison, became the catalyst to the Indian National Congress’ great nationalist struggle udder stalwarts like Gandhi. Congress movement was not only a movement against colonial domination of India. It was also a movement against a social - cultural order that stood in the way of nation building process. Thus participation not separation was the hallmark of the movement. Congress movement could be weakened by striking at the root of this hallmark; that was the game plan of the colonial power when it was convinced that it had to quit the sub-continent sooner or later.

The pioneers of Kashmir freedom movement were those Kashmir’s who went to Lahore and other cities of India for educational pursuits at the beginning of the 20th century. They came into contact with nationalists of all hues irrespective of caste or creed. They compared the backwardness of their State with other parts of India and came to the conclusion that unless people rose in unison to reconstruct their destiny, things would not change. Therefore, in line with the ideology of Indian National Congress, it was desirable to launch a movement for doing away with the autocratic rule in Kashmir. Freedom was indivisible.

Contrary to this, the basis on which Pakistan came into being was the theory of separatism and religious homogeneity, which as it should have been, proved the biggest of myths.

Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s decision to support State’s accession to India in 1947 was not only on the basis of ideological similarity between National Conference and National Congress. There was one very important facet to this solidarity. It was a stupendous effort of harmonizing dogmatism and liberal scientific temper of 20th century through democratic process of nation building. This was of greatest concern to the Muslims in the sub-continent who had opted not to shift to the Islamic State newly carved out on the basis of religion.

Application of this analysis to Kashmir is of singular importance. The land to tiller programme of Naya Kashmir meant a frontal attack on the feudal-orthodox combine that had arisen around the 9th/10th century in the eastern parts of Islamic Caliphate, and determinedly dogged the Muslim ummah through subsequent centuries. It held the ummah a hostage to non-resilient ecclesiastical institutions.

In that sense, Sheikh Abdullah made a historic contribution to pull his people out of a frozen and fossilized mindset. This was a unique attempt of hammering reconciliation between blind faith and reason. He strongly thought that Kashmirian society had the capacity to absorb the process of fusion of faith and reason, which some people in our days were disposed to call, albeit inadvertently as Kashmiriyat. And yet he did not dismiss the possibility of this fusion ultimately culminating in independent identity of Kashmiris for which they had begun their long struggle in the first decade of the 20th century. That was the basis on which he opted for accession to India. They could have decided in favour of an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir instead of accession to India. They faltered because they did not anticipate the fallout of such a decision on the situation in the sub-continent.

It has to be said that before turning to Indian Union in October 1947, the Sheikh tried to have an experiment with the founders of Pakistan if they were agreeable to ensuring Kashmiris the urge for recognition of their identity. Behind this demand of the Sheikh, stood the sordid saga of two thousand years of our slavery, coercion and subjugation. Pakistani authorities spurned his demand not only because they never trusted Kashmir’s but also, and perhaps more probably, because they had no grasp of the history of the peoples and the regions. This also explains the spirit behind inclusion of Article 370 in the Indian Constitution.

What are the objectives of those who sponsored and abetted armed militancy in Kashmir in 1990? They have goaded revivalists into intensifying traditional strife against liberalism. In doing so, they count on emotionalism of the Kashmir’s. It aims at disrupting all conditions and settings that would help Kashmir wriggle out of a frozen mindset: it wants Kashmir’s to acquiesce to the domination of feudal-orthodoxy combine as of yore. In an independent Kashmir, it sees the image of its failure as a theocratic state.

The quest of Kashmiris to revisit their identity will not fade away. We need to plan the future course of our action if we want the movement to succeed. It should be possible to resort to the powerful instrument of ethics of reason, as did Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. But of course we need a couple of Gandhi’s and Mandela’s to pull us out of the quagmire of the cult of violence thrust on us. An independent Kashmir has to be a friend to all and foe to none. It has to be the home of all who are the product of this soil.

In the age of globalization, we shall need to interact with countries and nations to build our own. We cannot afford to let our society get fractured at the instance of this or that element. We must look beyond the lands and climes; we must be part of the comity of nations and member of international community. We have many friends and we must widen their circle.

I have briefly traced some facets of Islamic history. The purpose is to highlight the power of reasoned action and the need for it in transforming society. Logic controls emotion and we have always been the victims of emotions. The time has come to cast a glance on our past, our drawbacks, and try to rectify them.

Islam has tremendous capacity of accommodation and adjustment. Its ethos has also the quality of adaptability. Political Islam has, over the centuries, taken a heavy toll of our progress. The instruments that assist political Islam have to be blunted and replaced by reforms that harmonies tradition with modernity. The example of India in this respect is appreciable because she is trying to harmonize extremist’s elements of many faiths with national imperatives. Some stray events such as in Gujarat, Orissa and Karnatak may induce us to think that India is a non-secular state. But this all is a temporary situation which melts with the passage of time.

The crux of my essays collected in this volume is what is stated in the preceding paragraphs. I am hopeful my voice will be heard by my compatriots. I know they are fed up with directionless leadership. My fear is that in their unabated quest for identity, personality and freedom, they may fall victim to villainous leaders who have been holding us hostages to their self interests. I know as a free and independent nation, we shall have to interact with our neighbors for trade and commerce, for economic and social development, for promotion of democratic and secular norms, for scientific and technological advancement and much more. We shall have to maintain thousands and one bonds with them, all in good faith. We have to live with them as decent neighbors.

Our struggle for independent Jammu and Kashmir leads us to this line of thinking when we talk of independent Kashmir. Keeping in mind the principles of peaceful co-existence with our neighbors and strengthening mutual good political and economic relations, we shall have to show due regard to political and emotional concerns of all minority identities living in Jammu and Kashmir. Religious principles and beliefs of all communities shall have to be shown respect. Greater attention has to be given to less developed regions and their deprivations have to be removed. This would also dilute separatist tendencies within the State. The State is lagging behind in power, industry, transport, education and environmental sectors. For last six decades, the State has become a victim of political disorder, which has resulted in widespread corruption and bribery. If one wants to live the life, one can do so only by bribery. It is only by dint of bribery that one can breathe and it is only the bribe which will take him to the graveyard or to the crematorium.

The unfortunate thing is that whenever people come on the streets to protest against non-availability of electric power or firewood or against unemployment or police excesses, they do not strictly restrict themselves to these problems. Some elements within the protesting crowds stick out their necks and raise slogans such as “What do we want – Pakistan or what do we want – azaadi” thereby inviting official machinery to perpetrate excesses and high-handedness. The real problems, for which people had come out on the streets to make protestation, get submerged in these slogans.

This tendency has only helped government institutions to become indolent and apathetic. Dereliction of duty has become rampant. We find that government departments are engrossed in solving their individual problems instead of addressing the problems of the people. If during the freedom struggle a community is in a position of receiving benefits of education, employment, industry, roads and infrastructure, the surprise is that the community has no realization of these attainments but ideologically and practically it remains engrossed with “azaadi” alone. When it attains freedom, then only will it addresses the task of reconstruction, is the thinking. Do they care to realize that by the time we win freedom, our social system, moral values, ecology, water resources including Wular and Dal all will have perished? While struggling for freedom, we need to carry along our social requirements like environment, education, health services, water resources, forests, mineral wealth, agriculture etc.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the organizations that are raising slogans of accession to Pakistan or of freedom have demanded heavy sacrifices from the people. But unfortunately they did not bring into existence such institutions as would take care of the wards of those who made sacrifices. When people beheld depressing condition of close dependents of freedom fighters they gradually began distancing themselves from the movement. This is despite the fact that even now the masses of people sustain emotions of seeking their rights and their identity.

In the meanwhile the government institutions began seeking revenge from all those people and in all spheres as were linked to this movement in one way or the other. Be it the issue of finding an employment or obtaining a passport or going on Hajj pilgrimage, government’s treatment has been sordid.

I have included ‘Open Letter to India Media’ in this work. In it I have expressed disapproval of their flagrant violation of the journalistic etiquette by suppressing justice and truth and treating Kashmir something like Indian colony. I presented a paper titled Solution of Kashmir – Stimulus Peace in a conference at the European Parliament in December 2008. I had appraised the world of the truth about Kashmir elections of 2008.

In another article under the title ‘Flowers of Homage’ I paid homage to Maqbul Bhat, the Martyr. The purpose is to present the true picture of his struggle and ideas to the people.

In The Hague Peace Conference of 1999, I presented a paper under the title Kashmir: Freezing to De-freeze in which I suggested a viable formula for solving Kashmir issue. Copies of the formula were addressed to the governments of most of the countries of the world including India, Pakistan and many leading international NGOs. I understand that this formula was liked by a host of intellectuals and organizations engaged in debating Kashmir issue. Many political circles and parties spoke about my suggestion of free trade across the line of control, and confidence building measures for India, Pakistan and Kashmir. The PDP took the cue from my formula and made a demand for opening the line of control to carry on trade between two parts of Kashmir.

I am of firm conviction that outstanding issues between India and Pakistan cannot be solved unless the walls of hatred standing between the two for more than six decades in the past are pulled down. It is of much importance that the people of India, Pakistan and Kashmir are allowed freedom of movement and freedom to conduct trade. This is a practical way of removing the deep-seated hatred from the minds of the people.

The reason why I included the article Kashmir: Why Revolt Against India is that many Indian citizens are led astray by incorrect briefing and ask why Kashmiris should separate from India when India is spending billions of rupees for the development of Kashmir. I have tried to provide an answer to this question by debating political, economic and environmental issues and facts about Kashmir.

I have also included in the book one article by a famous Pakistani journalist namely late Khalid Hasan, a cousin of K.H. Khurshid. Its title is The Truth about Ganga Hijacking. He was a journalist of great integrity and served as media adviser to Z.A. Bhutto when in power.. The purpose of including this article is to open the eyes of those who are given to levelling false accusations against me in the matter of hijacking the India aircraft.

The substance of other articles included in the collection is reflected in their titles. Prior to this, my first book on Kashmir situation, namely Unveiling of the Truth was published in 1996. Collection of book reviews on this work has also been appended to the volume in hand.

All that I have to say is that nearly two thousand five hundred years ago the people of Athens in Greece were instigated against the great philosopher Socrates. Dramatic works were produced to denounce him and the poets composed verses to castigate his thoughts. A jury comprising 501 persons indicted and decreed death punishment to him. His students and followers tried to contrive his escape from the prison by influencing the guards. But Socrates rejected their life saving device, and said that “if he escaped from the jail, even then one day or the other, death would overtake him and he would be no more. But if he took the cup of poison and died, he would live forever.”

How many cups of poison have I taken by uncovering the truth about Kashmir? I want to prepare the coming generations in India, Pakistan and Kashmir for knowing the truth and thus shaping their future in right direction. I am aware that blind emotions, religious fanaticism, political aggrandizement, perfidies of intelligence agencies and the propaganda of sold-out politicians work in tandem to stir up strong opposition to my thinking, ideology and my Endeavour. But I am confident that when a future historian and future generations begin to seek the truth about Kashmir, India and Pakistan, they will find that my thinking and perceptions become the roadmap for their inquiry and I will be remembered like Socrates

Like Maqbul Bhat the Martyr, I, too, have been accused of being a Pakistani and an Indian agent. For last nine years, I am facing prosecution in an Indian court for being an alleged Pakistani agent. Religious fanatics call me a disbeliever because I uphold the ideology of secularism. Indian and Pakistani agents active in Kashmir bring various charges against me because I stand for return of Kashmir to its original status, and work for making Jammu and Kashmir a free secular state in order to strengthen peace in the sub-continent. Because I disclose the truths about Kashmir case, various allegations are made against me. Many journalists and intellectuals who unfortunately fail to demonstrate the courage of speaking the truth ignore my views, perceptions and my struggle. Because of being non-communal, and because of my accepting the people of the State irrespective of their faith, sect and ideology as its citizens, I am branded as an agent of New Delhi. I am derided in Islamabad for my conviction of unifying the State of Jammu and Kashmir and considering Gilgit and Baltistan its integral part. I am ridiculed in concerned circles in Delhi for raising voice against oppression of the people of Kashmir, and against dividing the State into religious segments. For unraveling the truth about Kashmir, I am being scorned every moment. During forty-five years of my political life, like Socrates I have often been made to drink the cup of poison.

The volume in your hand contains such of my articles as deal with themes like these. These were published in the Weekly Chattan of Srinagar. These have now been rendered into English with the specific objective that English knowing segment of society particularly our ruling groups, bureaucracy and the world abroad understand our problems in right perspective. I have made a very sincere attempt to base my comments and observations on ground realities, to identify the problems of the people of State of Jammu and Kashmir. We need to make a diagnosis of the disease and its treatment is a united initiative by all of us.

My writings never mean to denigrate any faction or political group or India or Pakistan. I never intend to hurt anybody’s sentiments. I nurse deep and warm sentiments towards the masses of people of Jammu and Kashmir and towards my motherland (J&K) and this prompts me to identify our problems pragmatically. If in doing so any group or any party feels it has been hurt, I would like to tell them with all politeness that I am only trying to find a solution to our problem and look at Kashmir issue through the pages of history when searching for a solution.

I am sincerely thankful to the editorial staff of the Weekly Chattan, and in particular of its editor, Tahir Mohiud-Din that they always had an encouraging word for me. I am thankful to all those who appreciated my writings which gave me a big support. I am thankful to a dear friend who rendered Urdu texts to English.

I have been writing regularly for last two years. Occasionally, you will find some topographical articles as well. It has to be understood that issues are not always temporary; they remain attached to one or the other group of society. Jammu and Kashmir seldom finds a solution to the problems that crop up from time to time these rather get exacerbated with the passing of each day. I am confident that our readers will read it keeping in mind that the sentiment of seeking the truth has been the catalyst.

My aim is to create consciousness among our nation: I like that the people of Jammu and Kashmir should muster courage to hear the truth and speak the truth. Our people young and old, men and women, boys and girls, all wherever they are at work, in schools, in colleges, in the marketplaces, in buses and in parks, in police stations and bus stops, anywhere, they should breathe and speak with courage, freedom and truth. I want that the mouths of the people in our State should open against fear and trepidation. Their hands should be put to stopping oppression and terror. People should launch a strong and vibrant movement against corruption, destruction of forest trees, nepotism, exploitation and general loot. They should rise to stop destruction of water resources, ignorance and hegemonic oppression. They should not only live with dignity and honour within their country and outside it but should also make their land a true paradise for future generations. Whatever decision the people of this land make, they should make it with full consciousness and with great wisdom. A decision made as a result of helplessness, blackmail, dominance, - greed or hero - worship should never be thrust on oneself or on future generations.

The eternal truth for the realization of which the soul of the people of Jammu and Kashmir has withered is that we cannot bear in any case our separation from our Pandit brothers and sisters. They have to be brought back on the soil of the motherland in any case. It is our moral and religious duty to bring them back. We must bring our generation and our future generations to full growth of our personality and identity.

I care for revitalization of our conscience, truth, honesty and mutual love and respect. Above all, I want that people should develop love for their honest conscience and their motherland. If this is achieved, then we shall be able to liberate ourselves and our land from the clutches of fear, terror, bullets, bomb blasts, prison houses, illegal possessors and the tyrants of the time.

Before concluding this exposition, let me reiterate that Delhi rulers are interfering in every matter of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; be it the selection of the chief minister, transfer of top bureaucrats or any such matter. It is tantamount to humiliating J&K authorities and bureaucrats. Delhi Durbar has almost converted the state into a colony.

Leave aside the privileges accruing from Article 370, our state has not even such powers as are available to other states of the union under its constitution. Senior IAS, IPS officers and bureaucrats are usually drawn from outside the state. I am reminded that the IG Police deputed from Punjab to POK was always opposed by the local people there. We have a host of non-state senior officers here. This policy creates an impression among the local bureaucrats, police officers and civil society that Indian authorities do not trust Kashmiris. History confirms it. Indian rulers did not trust Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah who had endorsed the accession of the state to the Indian Union. He was removed from power with much humiliation in 1953 and put behind bars. Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad, who followed the Sheikh as Prime Minister, cemented State’s accession to India and helped New Delhi tighten its grip on the state. He let lose repression against anybody daring to speak against tyranny and Indian occupation. But he too was sidelined ignominiously through Kamaraj Plan.

If the accession of the state to the Indian Union had remained strictly restricted to three items agreed to by the Maharja, namely defence, foreign affairs and currency, perhaps Kashmir would not have to face the disastrous situation as we find now. India has always discredited those who strongly believe in secularism, non-sectarianism and securing state’s accession to the Indian Union. Stories of betraying these segments are many. The result has been that India is left with no friends in Kashmir. How can one become friends with them when they go back on their commitments and take recourse to deception? Not only that commitments made on international level, too, are disregarded.

This is the reason why some mainstream political parties who have a majority of seats in the legislative assembly are loath to protest to Delhi authorities against curbing or usurping some of their powers. The reason is that their protest will not be heard or responded. And if they insist, they will be shown the door. Hence they remain silent and the powers of the state were gradually getting squeezed day after day. In Kashmir, India has not been looking for friends but for agents and spies. Hence if the State of Jammu and Kashmir is geographically part of Indian Union, this is only because of heavy presence of Indian army and security forces.

Scholars of world history know that no people have ever been kept in permanent subjugation through muscle power. Liberation movements do ultimately succeed and liberate the enslaved nations. We have the example of Algeria under French occupation, Viet Nam under American occupation and Central Asia under Russian occupation. In the light of these historical events how can India or Pakistan militarily maintain their permanent control over the people of the state?

We need to remind Indian intelligentsia that in 1947 the people of Jammu and Kashmir did not opt for accession with Pakistan despite religious commonality. Not only that, they resisted the tribal attack on the state even though unarmed. Indian army was invited because the Maharaja had signed the accession document with the Indian government. In the background of this situation what is the reason that today Kashmiris consider Indian army an occupational and an alien army? I want to know from Indian print and electronic media why is it that it avoids uncovering and highlighting the oppression and suppression unleashed by the local regime in our state. We seldom find them taking up a story of corruption, nepotism or abuse of authority in regard to the state. Why is it that the Indian media links the protest of Kashmiris against an incident of rape and murder of innocent women to separatism? They should understand that by doing so, they lose their credibility with the people in Kashmir.

In this collection I have included one article under the title “Indian democracy, justice and we the Kashmiris”. I have given some insight into my personal life in this article. I just want to tell my readers what treatment was meted out to me in the name of justice. I was tried twice for the same alleged crime. I had to go through fire and brimstone. This is just to cite an example and make the people partners in the “prizes” that have been handed over to me.

I am deeply indebted to Aditi Bhaduri, a versatile journalist of immense vision. She produced an insightful piece on MNWA Trust on the occasion of its Convention which she personally attended in Srinagar. It was published in The Hindu of 22 July 2007. I have great pleasure in including this article in the present volume believing that our readers will understand that there is a lot to be done on social front in Kashmir besides politics. Very few political parties are addressing this need. I place this book in your hands in the hope that the words of Faiz may resound loud:


Bol kih lab azad hain tere
Bol zaban ab tak Teri hai
Bol kih sach zindeh hai ab atak
Bol Jo kuchh kahna hai kah le

Translation:

Speak, your lips are free
Speak it is your tongue
Speak for the truth is still alive
Speak whatever you want to say