Negative slogans, RUSI Kashmir Seminar and new dimensions
Dr Shabir Choudhry 08 February 2011
People of State of Jammu and Kashmir are occupied, oppressed and forcibly divided, and more than one country is in possession of Kashmiri territory; yet struggle seems to be against one country – India. The other two countries namely Pakistan and China are perceived to be as supporters and friends of Kashmir.
The Kashmiri territory under the Chinese possession is uninhabited; and China’s role over Kashmir less visible and largely viewed as not anti people of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite the above fact, hitherto, China is not considered as a party to the Kashmir dispute, though they have bilateral agreements with both India and Pakistan.
There is tons of evidence that Pakistani governments were behind the tribal invasion which forced the maharaja of Kashmir to seek help from India, they were behind the Operation Gibraltar which led to the 1965 war, they were behind the militancy which started in 1988/89 that has caused enormous problems to people of Jammu and Kashmir in form of human rights abuses, death, destruction and forced migration. They have helped to create a culture of fear and intimidation and have actively promoted those forces which advance extremism, violence and hatred.
In view of what Pakistan has done to the Kashmir dispute (of course India’s record on Kashmir is also bad), how they have exploited our resources and how they have ensured that the Kashmir pot keeps on boiling without any resolution, people of Jammu and Kashmir should have known true designs of Pakistan. However, despite all the above and much more, many people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially in Pakistani Administered Kashmir, regard Pakistan as a ‘friend.’ If that is so, question is do we need any enemies? Oh Allah, save us from such friends?
On advice of Pakistani agencies, their training and their gun we started militancy against India; and we have lost more than 70 thousands people, and thousands are unaccounted for and thousands are still in jails. We have learnt that a borrowed gun and violence will not lead to independence, but it will surely result in more deaths and more human rights abuses.
Therefore, we should abandon violence in all parts of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; and start peaceful struggle against both countries. Struggle against only India, peaceful or violent, will reinforce that impression that all this is done on behest of Pakistan; and struggle is not for independence, but in disguise of independence and religion it is struggle to make Kashmir part of Pakistan.
By use of gun we cannot even win independence against one occupier; to think that by use of gun we can win against two occupiers is foolish. We need to change our strategy and reach out to people of those who occupy us. We need to tell them that South Asia needs peace and stability in order to face challenges of the 21st century; but we cannot have peace and stability if the Kashmir dispute is not resolved.
What India is doing in Kashmir is not liked or approved by all Indians. We need to reach out to these people and explain to them that the Kashmir dispute is holding progress of India and Pakistan and destabilising entire south Asia.
But how can we win their minds and hearts when people use this slogan: ‘Indian dogs out’. This slogan is given to youths of Kashmir by those who want the Kashmir pot to keep on boiling; and those who want to promote extremism, communalism and hatred. They want to ensure that gulf of hatred becomes so wide that there is no peace in the region.
People have every right to express their anger against wrongdoings of India in Kashmir, but by using negative and offensive slogans we are not advancing cause of people of Jammu and Kashmir. We are giving this message that we are only targeting one country at the behest of another country; and that we are not civilised enough to use acceptable language to advance our cause.
We need to understand that by spreading hatred we cannot resolve the Kashmir dispute, but we can surely divide the communities even further. Also we need to remember that ordinary citizen of India who lives in a remote village and struggling to earn bread and butter for his family is not a culprit. He is not an oppressor, may be he is also oppressed and seeking for justice.
No community or nation is bad; it is individuals who are bad. There are many good Indians who do not agree with what military is doing Kashmir; and many have spoken out against this. Also there are more than 170 million Muslims in India, and among them could be very pious people and Walies of Allah, and by calling them ‘dogs’ are we doing any favour to our struggle or making them our friends?
In my opinion those who gave us this slogan are not friends of Kashmir, as they want to spread hatred and widen gulf of difference. But all those who use this slogan are not culprits, because some of them do not fully understand implications of this and wrongly think they are doing a service to the cause of Kashmir by using abusive language against India.
RUSI Conference on Kashmir
A famous British Think Tank RUSI (Royal United Services Institute) organised a conference on Kashmir on 25 January 2011, with the title of: Asian Powers in Kashmir.
Prominent leaders, writers, analysts, retired Generals, Ministers, Professors and academics from America, Kashmir, India, Pakistan and Britain were present. Alexander Neil, Head of Asia Security Programme at RUSI was kind enough to extend a complimentary invitation to me. It was very well managed event; and a lot of hard work and resources were utilised to make it successful.
The conference had four sessions and all speakers presented their view point without fear and intimidation. People differed with each other, but no one shouted at anyone or used abusive language. Among the speakers included a retired Major General of India who served in Kashmir for many years. He put forward his view point, but no one shouted at him or called him ‘an Indian dog’ or ‘Indian butcher’.
Main reason for this is because we were all sitting in a civilised gathering. It was expected of us to behave like civilised people and present our views in civilised manner. The Indian General was asked many questions during question - answer session. Those who asked questions were polite and respectful and so was the General in his replies.
Just imagine if someone from the audience had called him ‘an Indian dog’. How would other people listening to this abuse have reacted? And how would the General have felt? Would that have won us Kashmiris any friends or advanced the cause of our independence?
By all means criticise India for their Kashmir policy, condemn human rights abuses, but do all that in a civilised and internationally acceptable manner. Also we need to understand that India is not the only player in Kashmir, there are others as well; and we must not shy away to criticise them for their wrong doings, as one cannot be selective in criticising human rights abuses and wrong doings.
I agree, at times, one could get carried away with emotions, especially when a close relative has become a victim of human rights abuse. We have to learn to control our emotions and energy, and channel it for the betterment of the Kashmir cause. If swearing India or struggle against India alone is the way forward then people can count on my support as well, but I know that will be a step in wrong direction.
With age, education and experience comes maturity in approach; and my request to people is to use their wisdom and not emotions to advance the cause of Kashmir. We need to carefully watch in what direction is the ‘struggle’ going; and is it still our struggle or the agenda has been hijacked by others.
We also need to take note of new developments on the Kashmir dispute. To date there are only three parties to the Kashmir dispute, namely people of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and India. Some quarters are making concerted efforts to make China a party to the Kashmir dispute; and some people view the RUSI conference in that light.
In my view the Kashmir dispute is already very complicated, and it has many dimensions. Unwarranted entry of mighty China in the ring would lead to new problems and new challenges, not only for the people of Jammu and Kashmir but for the entire region, and this move must be opposed.
Writer is Head Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir