By Muhammad Faysal
“We can meet in Srinagar- you with your Indian passport and Pakistani journalist with his” – Amanullah Khan to an Indian journalist in 1990.
What could one say about Amanullah Khan, an eternal dreamer who found company in another dreamer, Maqbool Bhat. The friendship of these dreamers gave birth to the dream of an Independent, free Jammu Kashmir. A dream that has found its place in the hearts of millions of Kashmiris across the world for generations, a dream that will live on until it is realized.
The idea of an independent Kashmir ruffled the traditional pro-Pakistan and Pro-India quarters inside Pakistan, India and Kashmir. Hence both Maqbool Bhat and Amanullah Khan were branded as ‘agents of India’ by Pakistan and ‘agents of Pakistan’ by India.
Both Maqbool and Amanullah believed in a three-way approach for Kashmiri’s movement for Azadi, Independence. It had to have political, diplomatic and military aspects in it to advance properly. In fact when Yasin Malik called for the controversial unilateral ceasefire in 1993, Amanullah Khan called it ‘surrender’ and refused to recognize the announcement.
In many of his interviews, Amanullah consistently maintained that political struggle may have put the gun behind, but it has to be there.
He also rebutted Yasin Malik’s Gandhian adventure by saying “our ideology has always been closer to that of Subhash Chandra Bose than Mr Gandhi.”
A little known fact of Amanullah Khan is that, in 1990, he pushed for a provisional Jammu Kashmir government to be established in exile. It didn’t work out due to a game that was to ensue a few years later. Post Zia-ul-Haq’s air crash, the support for JKLF’s armed movement reduced increasingly in the new Benazir Bhutto led govt.
The pressure on Amanullah was tremendous to work in cohorts with ISI which he refused outrightly. He mentored the famous HAJY group, his fundraising capabilities ensured that JKLF had a standing position in the armed movement on the ground inside Kashmir.
More than a mentor, and the leader of the armed movement, Khan was a brilliant diplomat, visiting 20 countries to lobby for independent Kashmir. His work as a diplomat can be ascertained by the fact that the JLKF has the largest cadre of any Kashmiri organization across the world.
The mobilization of a dormant ‘Azad’ Kashmiri diaspora in the UK was his greatest work diplomatically. He opened scores of chapters of JKLF across Europe, Middle East and North America.
He was served an Interpol red-corner notice initiated by the Indian state, which gave him a distinction to become the first Kashmiri to be imprisoned by the British and United States for his political activities.
Over the past many years, the Indian state has shown that it is a democracy in absentia when it comes to Kashmir. It didn’t surprise many, when Amanullah Khan’s funeral in absentia in Srinagar was barred by the Indian State.
Amanullah Khan’s legacy of an eternal dreamer, who lived and fought for an Independent Kashmir with fire in his heart, will live on, in his words, “whatever happens, the struggle will go on.”
“this loneliness burrows me/ I am so hollow/so like/the empty graves of Kashmir/pining to womb/its martyrs” – Mohsin bin Mushtaq