This article was written in 1992 and is part of my first English work "Kashmir: The Unveiling of Truth" (Order here).
A close study of Kashmir history reveals that for the last four centuries, this nation has been faced with many internal distresses difficult to bear. Owing to her rich natural resources, this land was also coveted by foreign intruders. The Mughals, the Afghans, the Sikhs and the Dogras, one after another carried incursion into the land subjecting the people to their rapacity. Kashmiris daring these invaders had to suffer the most inhuman punishment like getting skinned alive. The “civilized" British sold the land and its people in return for a few gold coins. While quitting the subcontinent, this imperialist country left behind the legacy of Kashmir problem which has not become the cause of suffering and privation of only the Kashmiris but owing to it hundreds of millions of people in India and Pakistan have become the victims of the ravages of three wars. This is precisely what the British imperialists wanted to do, meaning to keep the two emerging countries in constant acrimony, fighting between them and thus finding market for their arms. After the two get exhausted in fighting, they boss over them and perform the role of a mediator. In doing so, they control the economy of the subcontinent.
Anti-people rulers in both the countries helped the imperialists achieve their objectives by arraying their armies against each other. Thus both the countries lagged behind in the race for development and progress and now seem to be preparing for a fourth encounter. More than a thousand million people of the subcontinent locked a grim struggle for bare necessities pass their days under the looming clouds of life and death and in servitude of oppressive rulers. It is ultimately the poor of India, Pakistan or Kashmir, who are to bear the brunt.
Kashmir is caught between the devil and the deep sea. On the one hand, Indian security forces have unleashed a reign of terror on innocent people and on the other more than 150 armed groups have made their own compatriots hostages to the gun. They do not desist from assassinating one another. Yet from the third side, Pakistani rulers have taken Kashmiris on both sides as hostages to their accession to Pakistan. For this reason, this article bears the title given to it.
Entire Kashmir nation at the moment stands hostage to India, Pakistan and the armed group in the valley. All the three kidnappers want to bring the Kashmiri nation as also their own masses to the brink of a disastrous war. Clichés like freedom, integrity, security and religion are drummed up to drive the dumb millions of the subcontinent. For their mistakes, weaknesses and oppressive machinations, all the three anti-people parties are trying to pass the buck in to those who stand for a peaceful solution of the issue.
Let us now deal with each one of the three parties. First we examine the stand of India. As a nonaligned and the largest democratic country, India is generally shown regard by the comity of nations. (If any Pakistani feels angry on saying so, we can't help it but the facts are facts). Even in Islamic countries, India commands some respect. In the veins of India's economy, there is a thick stream from Middle East countries. But because of Kashmir question, India's image as a nonaligned country and a big democracy could get tarnished. It appears that Indian rulers, bureaucracy and politicians do not want to or cannot learn a lesson from history. They want to suppress people's uprising in Kashmir through imperialist policy of unleashing brute force, oppression and incarceration. The result is that the respect and dignity which India enjoyed owing to her neutrality and democracy has been eroded by the atrocious behaviour of her security forces leading to violation of human rights in Kashmir. Various human rights organizations are issuing reports detailing human rights violations perpetrated by the Indian security forces in Kashmir.
In 1992, Amnesty International issued a 195-page report under the title "India: Torture, Rape & Deaths in Custody." The report covers the instances of violation of human rights by the Indian security forces like torture, custodial deaths and rapes all over India. In regard to Kashmir, the report says as this: " Yesterday I discharged a patient, aged 18-20, who had been in this hospital for three months. Twenty per cent or more of his body had suffered deep burns from a hot iron press; these burns were so serious that I and other doctors had only just succeeded in saving his life. He had also been shot at with a bullet in the armpit. His torturing with the cloth-iron had all been done during interrogation by the regular army at Sopor". This interview had been given in December 1990 in Srinagar hospital by a doctor. Further, on page 21 of the report, we find this: " Mobina Ghani told one reporter: We were crying bitterly. I told them I had not yet seen my husband, but they did not listen. Four to six persons raped me, I think." Under the title 'Death in custody', particulars of 27 persons have been given who died as a result of torture in the custody of security forces. This all is happening in Kashmir where the fighting continues. Even in Delhi, it was reported that 73 persons were killed while in police custody and 61 in Madhya Pradesh. Hence with these stories around, it is unrealistic to agree with the Indian authorities that nothing is happening in Kashmir. The stories of oppression against the Kashmiris by the Indian security forces and for which proofs are available on global level, are labeled as propaganda against the security forces by the authorities. This is not acceptable. In the Al Safa of September 18, one K.L. Koul issued an appeal from a refugee camp in Jammu which was signed by many respectable persons of Pandit community. (It is pertinent to note that these are the very Kashmiri Pandits who are displaced from their homes and land owing to Kashmir issue). The appeal said," We join Shri Koul and strongly condemn the atrocities that are being unleashed on our brothers by the Indian occupation forces."
Not only this, various human rights groups in India itself have protested against the violation of human rights by the Indian security forces. The reports of Justice Tarkunde and of the Civil Liberties Group are a scar on the forehead of Indian democracy. India's identity as a country of non-violence as preached by Gandhi and Nehru is also getting tarnished in the world opinion. Gandhiji had gone on fast unto death in order to stop Hindu-Muslim riots in Calcutta. In regard to Kashmir, he had categorically said,:
"Kashmiris will have to be given their right according to their wishes. If it means shrinking of India in terms of territory, let it be. If her soul is pure and just, India can become the cradle of non-violence. If India cannot keep the Kashmiri people acetified, then her image will be distorted in the eyes of the world community". (Quoted from Atesh-e-Chinar)
Would the Indian intellectuals, peace loving people and followers of Gandhiji, upholders of human rights and lovers of justice and freedom in India, like to ponder over the oppression of Kashmiri people by the Indian security forces keeping in mind what Gandhiji had said? Will they keep in mind the condemnation of these atrocities on international level and realize that the predictions made by Gandhiji is coming out true. Is not India's peace-loving and democratic face getting distorted. India should not also forget the announcement of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in which he had upheld the right of self-determination of Kashmiris and said, "Kashmiri nation is not a herd of sheep who India or Pakistan would like to drive according to their wishes. Kashmiris are intelligent and brave people who have every right to remain free and self-determined " the light of these realities, Indian politicians, sympathizers, intellectuals and rulers need to reconsider their policy on Kashmir and accept the right of Kashmiris to self-determination so that the face of Gandhiji's India is not distorted.
Let us now take into consideration the position of the other party which has made Kashmiris hostages to its aspirations. Basically, the gun had been taken up in Kashmir for acquiring and protecting freedom, self determination and the human and other rights of Kashmiris. But gradually we found that the same gun instead of protecting and guaranteeing the freedom and the rights of people, became the source of their oppression and tyranny. No fewer than 154 organizations sprang up in Kashmir. Instead of becoming united, Kashmiri people got further divided into groups for petty differences. Instead of providing the masses any alternative programme of easing their problems, they were further made to carry the weight of strikes. Having received a few days training instead of intensive guerrilla training, some youthful mujahideen became emotional and fired at security forces while mingling up with crowds. In this way they made the civilian groups as targets of the bullets of security forces. Not only this, the rich library and science laboratory of Islamia College were set on fire apart from torching many other school and college buildings in the valley arguing that security forces camped in them. Indeed the security forces occupied the destroyed premises while schools and colleges which are precious gifts for the nation, were reduced to ashes. It was poverty of strategy and understanding which resulted in exchanging fire with the security forces from the library of Hazratbal shrine with the result that the magnificent library of the shrine was destroyed.
Let us also cast a glance on the social character of the movement. From the ranks of the movement launched to obtain the lofty objectives of freedom, activists began interfering in domestic and personal and mundane matters. They became parties in husband and wife conflicts. Previously what the Congress and National Conference goons used to do was replicated by the gun totting youth. Trees felled in forests were loaded in trucks and brought to towns by timber smugglers declaring that the truckloads are for such and such mujahid or militant organization. In this way forests, which are the property of the people and on which depends the life of future generations, were cleansed of trees. People began to be kidnapped at the point of gun in order to pay huge sums. The conviction of the mujahideen is also worth noting. Those who called themselves mujahids till the day of their arrest, became the veiled informers for the security forces just a day later and rode their vehicles for identifying their comrades in arms.
Towns were brought under severe economic pressures. Hundreds of people suffered for want of basic requirements forcing them to penury and deprivation. Many senior citizens were kidnapped which obviously deprived the movement from being considered for substantial support on international plane. By kidnapping and murdering intellectuals, doctors, professors, vice chancellor and civil servants, the bloody struggle failed to win international support as a national liberation movement. Only some human rights organizations speak about the violation of human rights. Then also ensued inter-gang kidnapping and killing of activists which caused a severe damage to the national liberation movement. Ninety-year old elderly Maulana Masoodi was done to death. Strangely enough, the leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Mr. Gilani offered 'fateha' at the grave of Maulana and condemned his killing. Not only that, the entire property of the disabled son of the Maulana was set on fire. Mir Waiz Maulana Muhammad Farooq also fell to their bullets. Mr. Mohammad Shaban Vakil, the editor of Al Safa was gunned down in his office for speaking and writing the truth. The blood of Mir Mustafa was spilled and a practicing doctor of the minority community, Mr. Koul was called from his house and gunned down along with his wife. Apart from this people were done to death for personal vendetta, family feuds or after labelling them as informers. A girl of the minority community named Rosy was raped and then she, her mother and her father all the three were gunned down. The people of Kashmir came out of their houses in protest on this brutal killing but they were silenced by telling them that the victims were "Indian agents". Thus instead of meting out justice and fighting against tyranny and barbarism, the heinous crime and brutality was sought to be put under cover. But one should appreciate the courage of Kashmiri women who brought out a strong demonstration on the roads in protest of the killing of Rosy and her parents. Oppression is oppression whosoever does it.
Those who swear by justice and Islamic system should remember that during the caliphate of Hazrat Omar, the Governor of Egypt had ordered lashing of an innocent person. The caliph ordered that the victim should strike the lashes on the back of the Governor. In fact once Hazrat Omar had not hesitated to lash his own son who collapsed under the torture and died. But today in Kashmir, the so-called Islamists kidnap one another's people and kill them calling it Islam. Akhtar Rasul and Mohammad Rashid were kidnapped and murdered. Both had obtained Ph.D degree in Arabic. What service was rendered to Islam by kidnaping and then killing the brother of Maulavi Javed?. Malik Maqbool of Operation Balakot was not only brutally killed but his eye was gouged out and his beard was burnt. This brutal act had evoked large scale public resentment. The secretary -general of Tahreek Hurriyat (Freedom Movement), Mr. Azam Inquilabi, resigned from his post saying that unless the assassins of Maulavi Farooq, Muhammad Shaban Vakil and Malik Maqbool were publicly hanged in Lal Chowk, they would continue to remain outside the Tehreek Hurriyat Union. The same Azam Inquilabi, who has dedicated his whole life to national interests, was in tears when he heard about the killing of Malik Maqbool. In this connection we would do well to bring to mind what the Holy Prophet (PBUH) has instructed, " Do not desecrate dead bodies" or " Do not kill like barbarians. The holy Quran also asks people to desist from shedding the blood of the innocent.
But in my Kashmir, armed groups have unleashed the tyranny and brutality of the days of Chengiz, all in the name of freedom of Kashmir. Malik Maqbool was kept in custody for eight days and finally made a target of terrorism. He was killed brutally and in most inhuman manner. Will the Kashmiri nation have the courage to ask the so-called mujahids of freedom whether Kashmir would win freedom by kidnapping one another and then killing them? The movement was initiated suddenly without any concrete planning and far- reaching strategy. Naturally anti-movement events could not be avoided to happen.
I wrote in 1990 that with the help of the gun we have established our bravado but now there was the need for civil disobedience greater than the gun so that we could register international support. One could clearly foresee that disorganized and undisciplined armed groups would succumb to personal and group interests instead of remaining steadfast to the objective of freedom, and in doing so, they would indulge in killing one another. This is precisely what they are doing. Even a more dangerous dimension of the situation is that evidence is being provided to show that Pakistan is involved in the affair. For example celebrating 14 August (the independence day of Pakistan), naming armed groups as Zia Tigers or Qaid-e-Azam Tigers etc Naturally India presents these acts to the world as proof that Pakistan is manoeuvring the movement in Kashmir and that the question is not of the freedom of Kashmiris. We must remember that if the Kashmiri nation continues the struggle in the name of accession and not in the name of freedom and self-determination, it will not meet with any success even if the struggle goes on for a century more.
One fails to understand why religious fanaticism should take precedence over religious tolerance when essentially this is a war for national freedom. What does it mean asking Mr. Narasimha Rao through the newspapers to convert to Islam? What do the Jamaat-I-Islami activists want to achieve by inviting mujahideen from Afghanistan and other countries to join the freedom war in Kashmir? Do they want to drag Pakistan into a war and thus contrive the destruction of both the countries? By involving such elements in the struggle as would create the impression that the struggle is not of Kashmiris but of some other agency, would only bring untold suffering and destruction of Kashmiris. The movement will not be able to find any support on international plane despite making so many sacrifices.
One reason for this debacle is the anti-freedom activities. Is not Jamaat-e-Islami satisfied with the genocide in Afghanistan so that she must now turn its guns on Kashmir.? Let us cast a glance at the record of past three years of the Jamaatis and other pro-Pak parties. It will show that these parties have been fighting less against the Indian forces and more against pro-freedom parties in Kashmir. Patriotic Kashmiris have not only been killed, but their eyes have been gouged out, beards burnt and their bodies blasted by bombs blasts.
In order to rescue the movement from this cauldron of disaster, there is the great need of patriotic and freedom loving nationalists on both sides to galvanize themselves into action. These nationalist forces want to see Kashmir free and sovereign and have also made valuable sacrifices for that purpose. Otherwise Kashmir will be divided in the name of religion becoming a slave either of one or the other. Is it not possible for the nationalist and pro-freedom Kashmiris to abandon their superficial differences and their egos and unite into a single force? These elements should have clear understanding of economic and social problems arising from this disorderly war. For example, our Pandit brothers and sisters, driven out or having come out as a result of fear, are living in camps in a state of utter helplessness. In terms of nationhood, Kashmiri Pandits are our brother and their womenfolk are our sisters and mothers. The Pandits born and brought up in Kashmir are as much the inheritors of Kashmir as those who are fighting her national liberation war.
Apart from this, there are other economic problems in the valley like labour, tourism and dependence on local productions for sustenance of life. There are serious problems of the labour class in Kashmir. The situation has now come close to starvation. The slaves of blind force have never cared to ponder on the problems of these destitute compatriots. Addressing these problems is not necessary only for the reason of enlisting public support for the movement but more so because India would not be able to bend the people. By overlooking these problems, the Indian rulers will weaken the spirit of Kashmiris and disfigure it . Furthermore by taking the people as hostages and denying them the right of expression of freedom, you would yourselves become the enemies of the freedom movement.
I make a humble appeal to you that by the methods you have adopted, freedom will not dawn upon us; we may leave behind some stories of 'bravery', some stories of heart-rending tortures, a saga of helplessness of widows and orphans, and nothing more. Therefore, not only I, but every sensible and conscientious Kashmiris thinks that not the gun but civil disobedience would ensure our freedom. Everybody knows that the gun has made Kashmiris its hostage and unless true mujahideen liberate the people from this hostage syndrome, the masses in Kashmir will not be able to attain freedom either from India or Pakistan. Before making final analysis, I would like to tell Kashmiri people something about the attitude and the policy of Pakistan, the third party which has made them its hostage. I would also like to present some facts about the economic condition of Pakistan which may, in all probability, cause some pain to some blind followers of Pakistan in Kashmir. Facts are as bright as the sun whether we accept them or not. The sun must cast its rays and if we call autumn by its proper name, it does not mean betrayal of the garden.
Common and committed Kashmiris are in a delusion that Pakistani rulers are in favour of the right of self-determination for the Kashmiris. This, in fact, is only propaganda and if we make its practical analysis, we will find that the attitude of Pakistani rulers towards Kashmiris is nothing different from that of the Indians. If in the Indian constitution of the Indian held Kashmir loyalty to accession with India and its inseparability from the Indian Union have been stipulated, In Azad Kashmir taking an oath in accordance with the interim constitution of 1974, particularly number 7 sub-section 2 which stipulates allegiance to state's accession to Pakistan. No person or party in the state is permitted to work against the concept of its accession to Pakistan. In POK, nobody can fight election without signing the oath of states accession to Pakistan. In 1984, some of my friends suggested that I fight election from Murree on a mohajir seat, I declined it owing to the condition of signing the oath as mentioned above. After my refusal, Farooq Shah fought on that seat and won it. Furthermore, the President and Prime Minister of POK are also required to sign the oath document in accordance with pages 47 and 48 of the same interim constitution which stipulates loyalty to state's accession to Pakistan and loyalty to Pakistan. In such a situation, no law anywhere in the world will accept the stand that a country supports the right of self-determination of a people but in the same breath considers its right of self-determination as accession with the same country. This attitude of Pakistani rulers can in no case be considered supportive of our freedom. All that one can say is that Pakistan wants to help us in making us her slave.
Kashmiris should also take into account the treatment of Pakistani rulers with the people of Gilgit and Baltistan in the context of POK. If they fail to realize what has been happening in these areas since 1947, then of course I should be excused in saying that the Kashmiris are not alive in their conscience. In mildest terms you deserve to be called followers of blind faith and in more reasonable terms you would be called an instrument of foreign countries in your own home. Pakistani rulers, first of all detached Gilgit and Baltistan from POK thus creating an ideological gulf between the people of the two regions. Relations of political fraternity between them were weakened. For nearly 25 years ( up to 1975) Pakistan imposed its rule over the area under Federal Crimes Regulation (FCR) by deputing an official of the rank of a secretary or deputy secretary as Resident. In true footprints of the British imperial colonial system, a secretary or deputy secretary level Resident in Northern Areas was combining in himself everything, the court, the law and the government. When the period of autocratic residency came to an end, the people of Gilgit and Baltistan continued to be denied their rights. All that happened was that the nomenclature Resident was replaced by Administrator who became the arbiter of the destiny of the people there. It may be a news to the people world over that nearly 1.5 million population of Gilgit and Baltistan still do not have the right to seek justice in the Supreme court of POK or Pakistan. In other words the doors of justice for the people of these areas are closed after the Sessions Court. Thereafter they are at the mercy of the Administrator.
On the economic front, the situation is that there is no industry or factory. Means of production are nonexistent. On the educational front , a university or medical college or engineering college is a dream. If any bright student wants to continue his further education, he is relegated to quota system which sends him to some far off nook of Pakistan to receive higher education, thousands of miles away from his native place. Then he gets cut off from his cultural environs of Gilgit and Baltistan invariably forgetting his path of return to his native place. In short Pakistani rulers have adopted the same policy and norms of treatment towards the people of Gilgit and Baltistan as had been adopted by the British towards their colonies including India. Pakistani rulers took the people of these areas as slaves inherited with transfer of power. The truth is that in 1947 the people of Gilgit and Baltistan staged an uprising against the rule of the Maharaja without assistance from anybody. They had liberated the entire area. But unfortunately they themselves invited the Pakistani rulers to send their representative to Gilgit and Baltistan with the result that the people in these areas are reaping the fruit of this Himalayan blunder to this day.
Let us have a look at Azad Kashmir. The Ministry of Kashmir Affairs has been created only to bring political jugglers to loggerheads thereby subjugating them to the will of the secretary of that ministry. Even an ordinary functionary of this ministry makes the ministers and advisers of Azad Kashmir to dance to his tune. The type of 'fraternity', 'Islamic brotherhood' and ' sympathy ' shown and demonstrated by the Pakistani rulers with Azad Kashmir is fully reflected in the statements of the Azad Kashmir politicians themselves.
(It has to be noted that no freedom -loving Kashmiri calls that part as Azad Kashmir but as Pakistan occupied Kashmir or POK). Here are a few examples of the statements of AK ministers.
The Dawn of Karachi, in its issue of August 21, 1991, published a statement of a former Prime Minister of AK in which he had demanded the royalty on Mangla Dam from Pakistan government. The amount computed at nearly 40 thousand million rupees. An interesting facet of this statement was the revelation that the government of Pakistan had not till date given its share to AK from central revenue tax fund though according to the Pakistani constitution each province of Pakistan and the territories of the federation are to receive from this fund their share according to the respective population proportion. This share of AK comes to nearly 32 thousand million rupees. The former AK Prime Minister also said that the property of AK in Pakistan's possession valued at tens of millions of rupees. AK has not been paid the rent on this property till date. Again on August 23, Mumtaz Rathore, the then Prime Minister of AK demand in a press conference that Gilgit and Baltistan be merged into AK and Pakistan should withdraw her troops from that area. The Dawn of Karachi reported that Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan demanded in a public meeting that the ministry of Kashmir Affairs be dissolved because, as he put it, the ministry was working against the interests of Kashmiri people. The Jung of London reported in its issue of August 11, 1991 " that Sardar Qayyum Khan said in Lahore that there was neither any literature on Kashmir available in Pakistani embassies abroad nor was the embassy staff interested in making available any concrete information on this issue".
Thus such demands are being occasionally made by AK politicians. Recently as a result of persistent demand made by the people in NWFP, the province was paid an amount of four thousand million rupees as royalty on Tarbela dam. If the people of AK speak of payment of royalty to them on Mangla Dam, they are branded as traitors. Furthermore, after signing the Shimla Agreement, the regular army of AK was disbanded and amalgamated with Pakistan army. The personnel were then forced to sign the accession to Pakistan documents certainly against their free will. Having done that, the rulers in Pakistan did not provide a single medical or engineering college or a technical institute to the forty lakh people of Gilgit and Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. Radio and Television station are far off things. Even the namesake university is no better than an intermediate college. About industries in AK, there is not even a single industrial unit which could be called as employment generating unit.
But of course, in order to evade payment of taxes, a few Pakistani entrepreneurs have established a factory for assembling motor parts of Vespa scooter. There are a few units producing plastic bags. In AK, there was the scope of establishing sheep and cattle rearing farms which could supply milk products and mutton not only to Pakistan but also to the Middle East countries. This is being deliberately neglected to stay put economic enslavement of the people of AK. People of AK are generally seen taking up menial jobs like Chowkidars, Hotel bearers, Dish-washers etc. in Pakistani cities. Many of them are also forced to abandon their native place and proceed to foreign countries in search of a livelihood. Through the sweat of their brow, they earn some money and the foreign remittances come to Pakistan where Pakistani rulers swindle them thus killing two birds with one stone. The hardships borne by these self-exiled Kashmiris are innumerable. They are often overtaken by frustration and are unable to think about the freedom of their motherland. And if a small section among these émigrés does think about Kashmir, it is only about the freedom of the Indian part and the prevailing oppression there as propagated by Pakistani media. If some 'recalcitrant' fellow refuses to fall in this trap, he is sure to be branded as Indian agent, enemy of Islam and a communist.
In the name of freedom Indian occupied Kashmir, the people of AK, Gilgit and Baltistan have been subjugated to worst type of economic and political slavery. The unfortunate people, bereft of medicate and economic comforts have been made to indulge in infighting only to catapult this or that person to political leadership of AK and all this in the name of freedom for Indian part of Kashmir. Who is there that would not appreciate the art mastered by these 'venerable' politicians of AK?
Sometime in July 1983, I was arrested and brought to Rawalpindi. A ban on my entering AK was imposed and I was set free. I hid myself in a truck carrying cement bags and travelling by night arrived in Rawlakot. Addressing a public gathering I said, " You people of Kashmir, you are spread out in Europe and the Middle East. You remit crores of dollars in foreign exchange which is more valuable than the very blood in the economic veins of Pakistan. But you are not given an industry in AK which could provide employment and means of subsistence for your future generations. You must not forget that when your earning in a foreign country comes to an end or when remittances are stopped, then you will have to sell your property, refrigerators. TVs and other household goods in the bazaars of Rawalpindi and you will have to borrow money to pay for the carriage. Think of your future generations who will have nothing to sell and they want and necessity will force them to become highway robbers and looters". At the moment, a majority of people from AK is to be found in Europe, the Middle East and the US. They are passing through a difficult phase; they are rendering hard labour and saving each penny and are remitting billions of dollars by way of foreign exchange to Pakistani governments annually. But till date no such scheme of employment has been conceived and implemented which could provide assured means of subsistence to the future generations and save them from moving from pillar to post. Even today when a Kashmiri in the Middle East loses his job or gives it up, he cannot find an employment here despite the fact that he is very hard working and talented. He subsists on a chunk of money he has saved from his earnings abroad and then gradually begins to dispose off his wife's ornaments, household goods etc. Then he begins paying regular visits to some recruiting agency. This practice has been continuing for last the 25 years and now even the second generation of émigrés is also faced with the same situation.
There does not exist any women's hospital for the medical treatment of our sisters and mothers. In the town there is a small number of lady doctors who can be counted on finger tips. But in rural and mountainous areas, where people, young, old, children and women are afflicted with various diseases, have no medicate and left to their fate, the candle of their lives gets extinguished while their near and dear ones watch them in a helpless situation. Many of my friends living abroad occasionally pay a visit to their families. Generally during these visits, they have been seen accompanying their elderly parents or sisters and brothers to Rawalpindi to provide them medical treatment. Half the period of their holidays is spent on this exercise and soon they are forced to part company with their dear ones and carry back the sad reflections and pain of their suffering again to work and earn and send foreign exchange for the comfort of Pakistani rulers. Those who talk about the accession of the entire state to Pakistan despite distinctly perceiving how they remain enchained in economic fetters, in truth want to support further political and economic strangulation of my countrymen. And they want to legalize all this so that loot and plunder of Kashmiris becomes more rampant. Now you must consider whether such people would be called the sympathizers and well-wishers of Kashmiris?
Sometimes we hear some murmur about religious links with Pakistan being raised by those who have taken the Kashmiris as their hostage—the third party. Let us remember that Hekmatyar, Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Masud too are Musalmans and so are the people of Afghanistan. All of them have fought against Najib and Russia for twelve years. But today the mujahideen, surcharged with the sentiment of 'jehad' are mercilessly killing Afghan children, women and old people. Hekmatyar rained rockets on Kabul killing innocent Afghans and destroying thousands of houses. All this should be an eye-opener for Kashmiris. If the seeds of hatred on the basis of religion are sown in Kashmir, then Islam will, undoubtedly be used for superficial political ends only. This will not cause only permanent destruction of Kashmir dragging it into the vortex of communal strife, but it will also bring defamation to Islam throughout the world. When different groups of Muslims will be fighting among themselves and a non-Muslim will appeal to them to spare the hospitals so that the patients could be provided medical aid, then in such a situation no service will be done to the cause of Islam. (It will be recalled that when the Muslim commanders in Afghanistan were raining rockets on one another owing to their differences, the representative of Red Cross Mr. John Micheal Mono, appealed to them not to attack the hospitals).
Again we see that Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iran are also Muslim countries. But in the Gulf War, first the Iraqis began destroying Kuwaitis and thereafter Kuwaitis and Saudis inviting the assistance of the US and other big powers in the west started the massacre of Iraqis. An Islamic state even gave a billion dollars dole to the super powers in order to perpetuate genocide in Iraq. Iran and Iraq also waged a bloody war for a decade which took a toll of about 1.2 million Musulmans.
For God's sake do not bring defamation to a holy and humane religion of Islam which teaches goodwill for the entire humanity by using it for group interests and power politics and blind interests. Do not complicate the work and life of those who are rendering dispassionate service in the propagation of Islam. Do not make things difficult for the Muslims living in western countries. Owing to submission to group interests and sectarian proclivities leading to killing co-religionists, the Muslims all over the world are branded as terrorists and their religion as violent. This is a travesty of the truth. Islam is based on principles of humanism, tolerance and mutual respect. The holy Quran says that" shedding innocent blood is shedding the blood of entire humanity ". The holy Prophet (PBUH) had, in a battle, spread out his sheet for a prisoner woman. He forbade making women, children and elderly people as prisoners of war. But contrary to these teachings, a puritanical person like Malik Maqbool was kidnaped, tortured and finally butchered. His beard was burnt. Is this all permitted by the holy Quran or habit? Should not the Kashmiri nation put this question to those who claim to be the upholders of Islam?
The truth is that this is a dirty game of politicians, the game of one-upmanship and the politics of power. Generally common people are justice loving, honest and peace-loving. Political groups are not able to register support of the common man if they disclose the true nature of their intentions and schemes. As such, they take recourse sometimes to religion and sometimes to the rhetoric of economic development and sometimes in the name of nationalism fomenting antagonistic feelings in them and incite them to violence.
The most unfortunate part is that a common man becomes a victim because of his simplicity and honesty. He has golden dreams of the future and therefore falls a prey to group politics. The result is that such people do not only go astray from the right path but virtually take the path of murder, loot, oppression and atrocities. Naturally they have to pay the price of their dreams. This has been happening with the poor and ordinary people generation after generation. Who can say how long this exploitation may continue unless the poor and oppressed people become aware of their rights, their value and their consciousness which would enable them to call the exploiters to account. Then only can they identify them in whatever disguise they might appear.
Therefore nothing can be achieved by making Kashmir issue a religious issue and then dragging the entire subcontinent into the destructive flames of a war. By declaring jehad and by inviting the Afghans into Kashmir, all that the Kashmiris and the people of the entire subcontinent will face would be the destruction of war. They will sink further deep into economic backwardness. In this connection, it would be only relevant to reproduce from the August 1 diary of the elderly Pakistani journalist, Habibu'r-Rahman. He writes that" Pakistan has entered the worst phase of her economic crisis. She is virtually standing on the threshold of bankruptcy. Asian Development Bank has disclosed that Pakistan owes nearly 50 billion dollars by way of foreign debt, surely a whopping figure. In the previous year, Pakistan suffered nearly 230 thousand million dollars as trade deficit. Service charges on debts amounts to 150 thousand million dollars annually. The analyst writes that if this trend is not arrested , then it may be difficult to meet our defence requirements; there would be no foreign reserves to meet the expenditures on account of purchase of new weapons and spare parts for the existing weapons". Mr. Habibu'-Rahman has also spoken about the religious frenzy raging supreme in Pakistan and has warned that like Iraq, Pakistan has come to the brink of disaster. Here we reproduce some interesting observations of this journalist.
"Our foolhardiness and lack of prudence have reached the limit that for last six months we have been repeatedly speaking about atomic weapons of Kazakhstan trying to make the people believe that in a situation of need, we could make use of these. As such, Pakistanis had to fear none. This is a massive self-delusion and misleading the simple folks of Pakistan through a conspiracy. In the past, nobody came to our help when we were faced with predicament and if there befalls any new misfortune, nobody will have the need to come to our rescue. There appears no logic in presuming that others would offer themselves to replace us. It is imperative that we adopt an attitude of self-comprehension and understanding if we want to ward off any calamity looming large on our head. There is hardly any sense of gloating over the victory in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has not won; she is destroyed, her economy is torn into shreds. The defence minister is asking for donations to pay the salary of his soldiers. Scarcity of food grains has created conditions of famine. If external aid does not reach Afghanistan, then the lives of thirty lakh Afghans would be threatened with starvation. According to a UN report, there are no funds available to defuse millions of land mines in Afghanistan. Even if the requisite funds are made available, it would take more than ten years to defuse these mines. All roads in that country are damaged and most of the bridges are broken. Despite this grave picture of all round destruction, civil war continues to be waged with all the fury. And look at us. We are bragging of bringing gas via Afghanistan or running trains to Central Asia via Afghanistan. This is all like building castles in the air. One purpose of these bragging could be to divert the attention of simple folks from economic issues like rising prices. This is also a device of not allowing the people to take up core issues ".
Some weeks ago, an educated lady was participating in a friendly talk on independent Kashmir. Referring to my articles, she put a question to me," Do you want that we should forget Kashmir whose songs we have been singing in our childhood? By way of reply I asked her if she meant that in return of the songs she had sung for Kashmir, we should hand over Kashmir to her. She tried to change the wavelength. She said that once she had approached me in connection with her research on Pakistani nationals in Holland. In reply I said that I was not a Pakistani but a Kashmiri. I asked her if she wanted to speak in the context of myself being a Kashmiri, I would have no hesitation to respond. In short all that I brought home to her was that I was proud of being a Kashmiri and I make my identity known to all without any fear and hesitation.
What I mean to say is that this kind of thinking persists in Pakistan that we sang songs for you, hence you shift Kashmir to us or that letter 'K' is to be found in the name of our country and that Quaid-e-Azam had called Kashmir the lifeline of Pakistan, therefore we in Kashmir should accede to Pakistan even if Pakistan is not going to find support on international level for Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. Even if the Pakistani nation is itself destroyed the pro-Pakistani Kashmiris will go on raising the slogan of accession to Pakistan. Evidently this type of thinking will bring the whole subcontinent to the brink of annihilation.
Therefore all the three parties, India, Pakistan and the armed groups in Kashmir shall have to make some introspection. It is of utmost necessity that a common front of all progressive elements, peace-lovers, poor masses, intellectuals, students, sincere politicians of the South Asian region should be formed who would fight against the warmongers and pressurize both India and Pakistan to withdraw their forces from Kashmir. They should be goaded into banishing war from the subcontinent. Indian citizens shall have to make strenuous effort to bring a halt to the violation of human rights in Kashmir and the oppression of the Kashmiris at the hands of the security forces shall have to be resisted. Bunkers made by security forces in the streets and lanes of Kashmir shall have to be removed. If bunkers are not there, armed groups would not attack those sites. All political prisoners shall have to be set free. The political process inside Kashmir, too, shall have to be liberated so that the masses get an opportunity of expressing themselves.
The people of Pakistan, too, shall have to stand up to religious fanaticism. They must protest against raising of the cries of jehad and against the decision of dispatching thirty thousand Afghan mujahideen into Kashmir so that Kashmir issue does not end up in a disastrous war between the two countries.
Solution of Kashmir through division has to be discouraged. Instead an assembly comprising peoples' representatives from all the regions (Jammu, Ladakh, Gilgit, Baltistan, valley and Azad Kashmir) should be empowered to take a decision about the future of the state. The issue has risen out of the division of the state, and the control by various countries of the parts of its territory. Owing to the existence of regional cultures, religions and local specificities, the entire question has become very complicated. Such complicated questions are not solved through wars and through acts of destruction but through patience and mutual understanding. On both the sides, resistance to the nefarious designs of warmongers and religious fanatics should be launched.
To the armed groups inside Kashmir, my humble submission to them would be to make some patient introspection. They should evaluate and analyze their past struggle. Those leaders who are today talking about civil disobedience, I most help them recollect that way back in 1990, I had advised the activists to launch a civil disobedience movement. The question that will be asked is what did you gain after shedding the blood of thousands of people during these three years?
However, instead of continue killings, kidnapping, and spoiling and arraying against one another, recourse should be taken to launching a peoples' movement and expression of opinion for one's rights. Kashmiris involved in accession movements should wriggle themselves out of these and stop singing to the tunes of other people. They must think for their own people and for the betterment and in the interests of their own country. By celebrating August 14 under certain impulse of emotion and allowing thirty precious lives to be destroyed may give a momentary emotional satisfaction but this is certainly going to leave behind negative impact on the freedom movement. On international level, this type of event reinforces India's argument that this movement is being carried out at the behest of Pakistan. Have we ever tried to put this simple question to ourselves? Is not celebrating the independence day of others as one's own Independence Day a kind of mental slavery?