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The Declining Power

Yesterday's hero, Mujahid e Awal and most trusted man of Pakistani rulers, has been castigated as a 'traitor', writes Dr Shabir Choudhry.

india Updated: Sep 28, 2005 17:44 IST

Tables have been turned - yesterday's hero, First Mujahid (Mujahid e Awal) and most trusted man of the Pakistani rulers, has been castigated as a 'traitor' just because he decided to speak truth about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. According to news emanating from Pakistan powerful lobby, which thrives on communalism and hatred has strongly criticised Sardar Qayyum Khan, former President and Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir. They have called him a 'traitor' for criticising the role of militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

They claim in this old age Sardar Sahib has been influenced by 'evil' of 'liberalism' and 'enlightened moderation'. Holy prophet (peace be upon him) preached moderation; and it is news to all educated and thinking people that moderation could be called 'evil'; and that caring for minorities and speaking against communalism and hatred could be termed as treason.

I have no love for Sardar Qayyum and his politics, but I respect him as a Kashmiri who is perhaps same age as my beloved father who has always taught me to respect elders. I can still recall, and memory of other Kashmiri nationalists should also be not that bad, that they forget what Sardar Qayyum Khan used to say about Maqbool Butt- traitor, an Indian agent etc.

Also it is still fresh in minds of people what he said in Dadyal, Mirpur about pro independent people- he called them as 'illegitimate' (Jaharriyun Ki Pidaaish hain)'. But all that is in the past. We have to learn to forgive and accommodate all Kashmiris and should not hold their past in the way of unity and just solution of the Kashmir dispute, which is prerequisite to peace and stability in South Asia. It is absolutely important that we put past of our leaders behind us, as many of us intentionally or unintentionally have made mistakes. We need to formulate a policy that could help us win peace, freedom and dignity, which has been absent from the State of Jammu and Kashmir for many years.

Qaaide Azam's Pakistan which was supposed to provide, peace, dignity and freedom from political and economic exploitation failed to achieve its objectives because those who opposed tooth and nail very idea of Pakistan were allowed to take control and influence policies of this new country soon after the death of its founder. This powerful lobby, through its use of religion and mosques, created a situation in which communalism, hatred and chaos flourished; and Qaaide e Azam's dream of liberal and democratic society never materialised.

This policy coupled with other blunders resulted in geographical death of Qaaid e Azam's Pakistan in 1971. What a revenge from Qaaide Azam and his Pakistan by a lobby which was defeated by him in 1947; but alas no lessons were learnt, and this lobby became more powerful and influential with time.

Russian invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent 'Jihad', which in true sense was America's war against the Soviet Russia, proved a major turning point for them, as it opened flood gate of dollars and arms which fell in to their hands and greatly enhanced their influence, status and bargaining position.

If 'Jihad' in Afghanistan was a lottery then 'Jihad in Kashmir was a gold mine for them, and at no cost they were going to let this go. Despite their influence and intimidation sane voices spoke against them, and many notable Pakistanis also joined in this jihad, which we were doing against these forces of communalism and hatred. Air Marshal Asghar Khan, who is hailed as Mr clean and a man with vision and sincerity, is among those Pakistanis who have openly supported Kashmiri peoples right to become independent, and as a result they also turned against him.

Now Sardar Qayyum Sahib has also joined us to criticise militancy, in fact, he has gone a step ahead of us. Whereas we say militants cause killing of innocent people and giving bad name to Islam, and that this violence should stop; he has said that Mujahideen are committing terrorism, and killing innocent people. He further said that they have killed people of all sections of the Kashmiri community, and that there is no room for gun in Kashmir.

I welcome remarks of Sardar Sahib, at last he has called spade a spade. One can excuse Sardar Sahib for taking so long to come out openly like this, as he might not have had access to the information while sitting in Rawalpindi and Muzaffarbad and listening to the Pakistani media only; and as soon as he went across and interacted with his fellow Kashmiri leaders he saw different perspective of the Kashmiri struggle which was not so visible from Rawalpindi, and which is not so pleasant.

Sardar Qayyum Sahib should be congratulated for this daring posture and we hope that once he is back in Rawalpindi, he will not say that he was misquoted, as this is the normal practise in Pakistani/Kashmiri politicians. Pakistani heads of State, Prime Ministers and other national leaders have claimed to have been misquoted even though when the reporters have taped their interviews.

Sardar Qayyum Sahib and others who have either joined this jihad with us to fight forces of communalism and hatred, or are still sitting on the fence need to understand that these people are on the run now. Their power and influence is on decline and we must not provide oxygen and blood of our people to boost their commercial interests, which they disguise under the holy name of jihad. Their commercial interests only flourish when people are dying in name of religion and hatred; and when even places of worship become their legitimate targets.

When IKA leaders spoke out against commercial aspect of the militancy, and that people with vested interest have transformed the Kashmiri struggle in to a lucrative business, we were also attacked and accused of being 'traitors'. Now after some years, leaders like Sardar Qayyum Khan, Professor Ghani Bhat, Umar Farooq, Sajad Lone, Yasin Malik and Amanullah Khan are also seen in the same line.

When we were under fire these leaders did not support us, and left us at the mercy of forces of extremism and hatred, but we will support their right of expression, and will welcome them with open heart in to our camp - a camp which believes in liberal and democratic values and which is pro people and pro peace. It is our responsibility to fight for rights of all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, and encourage tolerance, peace and non - violent approach to conflict resolution.

IKA leaders who have wealth of experience and do not lack in wisdom and goodwill are willing to work with all like - minded people and groups to further the cause of peace and tolerance. I must add here that IKA leaders, like other human beings are not infallible, but have wisdom, courage, and love for their motherland.

Like Sardar Qayyum Khan, Mir Waiz Umar Farooq has also attracted a lot of attention over the past week because of his pro people and pro state approach. He must also be congratulated for speaking in support of United States of Kashmir; and this once again has sent a powerful message that people of Jammu and Kashmir, despite differences of opinion, are unanimous that the state of Jammu and Kashmir must remain one political entity.

I hope that Sardar Qayyum and Mir Waiz Umar Farooq will not, under pressure, abandon their newly discovered love for liberalism and democratic values; and that they will not let people of Jammu and Kashmir down as their services and goodwill are needed for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

(Writer is a Chairman of JKLF Diplomatic Committee, and author of many books and booklets on Kashmir. He is also Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:drshabirchoudhry@hotmail.com)

First Published: Sep 28, 2005 17:44 IST