The failure to take India to task for a decisive solution of the Kashmir issue has resulted in a third option of Azaadi, a homegrown demand for freedom from both India and Pakistan.
By Rouf Dar
Pakistan is an enigmatic chapter in the history of the subcontinent. It took birth as a country the Muslim community of British India. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the kind of Islamic state that Muslims of the time and their leaders had fought for, despite staunch opposition from many other Muslim leaders, has remained a mirage and alluded its religiously orthodox population who migrated in droves from other parts of the subcontinent to turn the idea of Pakistan into a success. A huge price in the form of violence that accompanied its formation was paid unapologetically. Even Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who was never an Islamist but a firm secularist, had termed Pakistan a “childish dream” once upon a time. And the only time Jinnah cried was while witnessing the large-scale violence that came with the bloody Partition he had willingly accepted.
The Kashmir-Pakistan connection is as old as the state of Pakistan itself. Among the 562 princely states, the decision of Jammu and Kashmir to join either of the newly formed dominions was seized by the then Maharaja in a hegemonic display of authoritarian power. The Muslim dominated state was handed over to India in a dubious manner in which its leaders lured Kashmiri leadership using false pretexts of security, fake promises of a plebiscite and genocide of Muslims of Jammu by the Dogra forces in order to alter the demographics of the state. As Muslims celebrated a proposed merger with Pakistan by hoisting green flags, as recorded by Justice Yusuf Saraf, accession with India was a bitter pill to swallow. Since then, Pakistan has taken Kashmir to be its jugular vein, and as unfinished business of Partition.
The religious, cultural, geographical and anti-hegemony sentiments that Kashmir shares with Pakistan are testimony to a rigid bond the two peoples hold between them. Ever since the inclusion of Pakistan in world cricket, Kashmiris have been cheering for Pakistan cricket team every damn match. And if India plays, support for the opponent pours out no matter who it happens to be. Kashmir always celebrates Eid festivals with Pakistan, or as it was said recently, Kashmir’s crescent is always spotted across the border. This is a relationship that does not need certificates or documents of ratification. It’s built over a period of time and shall exist even if Kashmir is free at last. This semblance with Pakistan, which transmits itself in multiple forms, is more of a political activity than a proof of the wish to join Pakistan. It exists primarily to irk India than accede to Pakistan. Slogans like Jeeve Jeeve Pakistan also fall in the same category.
Marred by internal conflicts, Pakistan has yet to reach its zenith as a developing nation. Few dictatorial regimes, political assassinations, terrorism in the garb of religious fundamentalism and the separation of Bangladesh from it have pushed the country downwards. As a consequence, it’s protruding interventions in the Afghanistan war and Kashmir conflict have remained toothless and lacked the spine to enforce an acceptable solution upon its opponents. The failure to take India to task for a decisive solution of the Kashmir issue has resulted in the third option of Azaadi, a homegrown demand for freedom from both India and Pakistan.
Behind the curtains, Pakistan might be operating training camps and preparing manpower to fight an asymmetric war in Kashmir. Its lands might be a safe haven for Kashmiri guerrillas. Organisations like Jamaat-u-Dawa, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba may carry their business well in Pakistan. The heads of these outfits may enjoy immunity from world legal propositions while in the country. But the reality is whether the ruling parties are ready to take responsibility, call a spade a spade and ultimately take some concrete action in resolving the Kashmir issue. Entrusting the job to others, arming civilians to fight India is helping India to play the crony card of terrorism which defames Pakistan at the international level. It is being tagged as an exporter of terrorism when the reality is that aiding a valley that is simmering with anger against Indian rule is by no standards a definition of terrorism. Pakistan should use proxies less and its government more.
The impotence of Pakistan on Kashmir is also manifested in Islamabad’s policy towards armed outfits in the valley. Maqbool Bhatt was disallowed to fight in the famous, failed Operation Gibraltar to free Kashmir. As early as 1980s when he founded Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) to wage an armed struggle against Indian rule, Pakistan hesitatingly supported the cause. It picked and chose factions for their help. The aid became selective and was determined by the stance an outfit claimed to possess. Hizbul Mujahideen and the likes found a helping hand in Pakistani state for their Kashmir Banega Pakistan ideology. But JKLF found itself in a solitary, battle as it fought for complete independence for Kashmir. Thus, Pakistan stopped helping JKLF because of this ideology.
As early as 1973, Maqbool Bhatt dispatched a letter to Azra Mir, daughter of Ghulam Muhammad Mir, the then President of National Liberation Front, clearing her apprehensions about Pakistan’s policy over Kashmir. Writing in the letter, Maqbool clarified that the people of Pakistan have immense sympathy for Kashmiris and wholeheartedly supported Kashmirs’ demand for freedom. However, the ruling class of Pakistan had played politics of interest over Kashmir and by tagging people like us (Maqbool Bhatt) as agents, they had actually helped India. In the letter, Maqbool termed Pakistan’s attitude towards Kashmir as “mere lip service” which should not be trusted. The letter pretty much sums up how the state of Pakistan has been viewing Kashmir.
Barring the love and sympathy Pakistan and its people shower upon us, on a practically political note, it has failed to push for a final solution to the lingering issue of Kashmir. Many a time its leaders have come up with formulae of their own to resolve the dispute, as if Kashmir was a laboratory. Pakistan celebrates 23rd February every year as “Kashmir Day” and observes it as a holiday, a day off from work. There are symbolic rallies, statements and hollow resolutions whose implementation is confined to paper only. That is all Pakistan seems to manage to do. It harbours a kind of pitiful feeling for us. Again, on July 19th, as the valley continued to be under siege, Pakistan celebrated a “Black Day” with rallies taken out by Hafiz Saeed and others. A blunder, as Aisha Siddique termed it on BBC Urdu, for the ruling elite had failed to take centrestage for the umpteenth time.
Pakistan’s hand is much needed in the war for freedom, be it in terms of support to the armed rebel groups or spread of awareness at international forums. The reluctance of China to get involved in Kashmir issue further puts the onus on Pakistan to play its role that it ought to. On diplomatic front, the premiers of Pakistan need to play it well if they are genuinely concerned about the oppressed lot of Kashmiris. Therefore, in simplistic terms, we need Pakistan to do something radical for our political rights, for our real freedom. It has to avoid dragging the issue any longer by merely passing resolutions, issuing statements and forming Kashmir Committees. Enough of speaking up and condemnation. The time is ripe to act.