“I am not against people making political choices. It is
ultimately up to the people of Kashmir, who are struggling,
dying and suffering, to decide their political destiny as a
collective unit. They have the right to decide whether they
want to remain an independent state, or join with Pakistan
or India, but spewing unreasonable venom against
somebody is nothing but mere propagation of lies for small
For the longest time now, I have been observing a particular bunch of
people habitually drawing a weird analogy between Pakistan’s parts of
Kashmir and the one under Indian occupation. They push this absurd
analogy by using social media and constantly posting stuff related to it
and during closed-room discussions.
This despite the same old repeated line of thought, packaged and repackaged, never holding up under any type of serious scrutiny. In fact, promoting this constant propaganda is nothing but a distortion of history, aiming to criminalize the role of Pakistan with respect to Kashmir.
Truth is we can’t really draw an analogy between India and Pakistan regarding Kashmir. If we do compare the two, we implicitly accept that Pakistan is committing gross political and human rights violations in Azaad Kashmir, just like India has been doing in their
portion of Kashmir for the past 70 years, and specifically for the last 30 years.
It needs to be understood that any India-Pakistan analogy on Kashmir is politically insignificant. It merely sounds good to Indian ears. It reassures the instruments of the Indian state that while Kashmiris may not like them, they don’t like Pakistan either. This balancing act provides propagandists with an escape route to keep their own vested
interests, lying with the Indian state, intact. By equating the two, they do not embarrass India, neither have they made them angry.
The same bunch of people also talk about pro-freedom politics on public forums. It keeps them relevant in Kashmir. It helps them remain in circulation and stay in the limelight. Even pro-Indiapoliticians like Engineer Rashid, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have reminded India about the dispute from time to time. Sheikh Abdullah did it in the past to cull more favors from New Delhi.
However, while doing so, this bunch of people makes sure that they limit their criticism in a way that it will not hurt India’s interests. Their talk is so measured that it fits into “the ambit of democracy” as defined by India in Kashmir.
By treading this path, they make sure that they can continue to rub shoulders with social, cultural and political circles of India. Hence, their whole effort is focused on getting accommodated within the larger spaces of the state so they can live an easy life while trying to appear populist.
One thing we forget is that if one is “politically balanced” in Kashmir, it means one is actually siding with the status quo. It means you are toeing the statist line. And those who do it are more than willing and hardly forced.
Those who are always comparing India and Pakistan to one another, are only visible behind their key boards or in coffee shop debates. I have never seen even one of them working on the ground to help the oppressed. But when they hammer out their stuff on their keyboards, they are masters at reinterpreting the political sentiments of the oppressed to suit their own ends. For them, talking about Kashmir is just a time pass; an issue which will draw attention to them and fetch them a good job, hopefully in India.
Having said that, it does not mean there are not “genuine” nationalists in Kashmir. The nationalist constituency is large in the region. I have always kept them in high regard for their beliefs, their steadfastness, their idea that political freedom rests on Kashmir being an independent nation, and their relentless struggle for which they are suffering day in and out. Their immense contribution to the freedom struggle since the 1960’s is there for all to see.
Recently, I found these genuine nationalists too were concerned about this coffee sipping bunch. They too seem to be puzzled and shocked over the consistent stream of propaganda unleashed by them to criminalize Pakistan. They told me they were extremely angry since it is ridiculous to compare Azaad Kashmir with Indian controlled
“How can they do it,” a Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader told me. “There is no comparison between the two Kashmirs. Their sole aim seems to be to criminalize Pakistan- which is the only supporter of the Kashmir cause. This line suits the Indian state only. We reject this line. We see it as a grand game being planned behind
There is a difference between criticizing Pakistan and running a constant malicious campaign to put India and Pakistan in the same bracket. Inherently, it is a false analogy and smacks of nothing but dubious politics. There is a striking resemblance in this thinking of the Qureshi’s, Chodhwry’s and a handful of individuals like them. And
who doesn’t know whose master they are working for?
Let us put the Kashmir partition into right perspective. It will help us understand whether the comparison between India and Pakistan is absurd or not:
1. Pakistan had no army in 1947. The small army, headed by General Gracy, a British General, refused the orders of Mr Ali Mohammad Jinnah (founder of Pakistan) when the Indian army entered Kashmir. The General said he can’t go against the Indian army since it was headed by a British commander. He simply refused to comply with orders.
2. The people of Gilgit Baltistan, more specifically the Gilgit wazarat, along with the Gilgit scouts led by a British army commander, rose against the soldiers of the Mahraja led by
Gansara Singh. They defeated them. They waited for weeks for Pakistan to come and take over the affairs of state. Later they themselves merged with Pakistan. Neither the Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan regions were part of Kashmir in the treaty of Amritsar, the official document by virtue of which Kashmir was sold to the Dogra rulers. The Maharaja coerced people there to join them, leading few military campaigns there after the British left the GB region. As such, the people of GB, who were forcibly incorporated into the princely state headed by the Maharaja had every right to decide their political future in 1947.
3. The fight to liberate Azad Kashmir was led by the people of Mirpur and Poonchis, who were mostly ex-British soldiers. They rebelled against the Maharaja before the tribals from Pakistan’s Waziristan region ever entered into Kashmir. After they secured
the region of Poonch and Rajouri, they called the Pakistani army. It took Pakistan eight months to deploy its meagre troops in the region.
4. Pakistan later ceded large parts of the Poonch and Rajouri regions, thinking a plebiscite would be conducted soon but it never happened because of India’s refusal.
5. The Kashmir valley did not erupt in 1947 since it was politically divided. A large portion of the people sided with the National Conference led by Shekih Abdullah while the rest were with the Muslim Conference. The tribals entered after the Poonch rebellion
started. The nascent Pakistani state had helped them, but it was purely done as goodwill gesture to Muslims. The tribals were told that the Maharaja was treating his Muslim subjects badly, and that they were suffering, which later became the cause of their arrival in Kashmir. They wanted to free Kashmir from the rule of a communal despot. The propaganda unleashed by the pro-Indian forces, including the NC, was such that it changed the whole narrative, depicting them all as barbarians. The truth was that
only a handful of the tribals went back alive.
6. Apart from all of this, the Kashmir issue has been kept alive by Pakistan despite Indians wanting to settle the Kashmir question a long time ago. The Indians repeatedly offered Pakistan to keep the portion of Kashmir which they hold, while they would keep the one under their occupation.
Now the question is how did it come to pass that Pakistan had “occupied” the part of Kashmir which lies under its control? The facts can’t be buried under layers of lies.
Pakistan has not deployed more than half a million troops to repress the people, neither have the people in those parts ever risen against the state of Pakistan. The Pakistani state has always talked about the participation of Kashmiris in any talks aimed to solve the Kashmir dispute. India has always rejected it. Pakistanis have always termed Kashmiris as the main stakeholders who must decide their destiny, which the Indian state has refused to recognize. They have strongly advocated a UN sponsored plebiscite, which Indians object to.
How then can Pakistan be equalized with India over Kashmir? And how can Pakistan share an equal burden with India over the suffering of Kashmiris? Or which option has Pakistan not utilized to push India for talks?
In 2005 and while abandoning Pakistan’s long held position on Kashmir, former Pakistani president and military dictator General Parvez Mushrraf went to the extent of saying that Pakistan was ready to demilitarize the region provided India does the same. He said let Kashmir, specifically the Valley, rule itself. India again refused. Pakistan as a state might have committed some lethal mistakes in dealing with Kashmir, but equating them with India is simply not justified. This smacks of dishonesty and dubiousness.
The truth is that Sheikh Abdullah backed the accession with India for his own benefits and played a key role in bringing the Indian army.
Truth is also that Pakistan did not just offer to supply guns to Kashmiris in 1988 when they rose up. In fact, Kashmiris crossed the Line of Control asking for guns since they were stung hard by the Indian state. Why then do we lie? Kashmiris asked for the guns!
Pakistan is the only country which consistency advocates the Kashmir cause. Only Pakistanis raise the issue internationally.
Now I will be told that countries have their own interests in mind when they do such
things. And undoubtedly they do. But for Pakistan Kashmir is now actually more of a baggage because of which they have suffered dearly as a country. Despite this, they do not leave us and have put their own country at stake just for ideological reasons. They have survived without us for 70 years; they can do it for the next 70. The Indus Water Treaty has survived all wars. If it had been all about the water resources generating from Kashmir, they could have struck a better deal with India for securing water rights and abandoned the Kashmir cause in turn.
It does not mean they should not have supported the Kashmir movement at all times. Being a party to the Kashmir dispute and a well wisher of Kashmiris for ideological, cultural, historical and religious reasons, the country has to aid Kashmiris who are fighting their war of survival. They have to highlight the cause and the brutal repression led by the Indian state inside Kashmir. But we must understand and recognise that the Kashmir issue is alive internationally because of Pakistan. Take Pakistan out of the equation and the Kashmir issue, for which people have sacrificed lives and have given up everything, will be nothing but a petty squabble between India and Kashmiris. It has no significance then. It will be shrugged off as mere “alienation.”
The time has come for Kashmiris to build alliances and differentiate between real friends and foes. The Indian freedom fighter Subash Chander Bose sided with the fascists during World War 2. He did it despite knowing the politics of fascism. The Palestinians never speak against India despite it being a close ally of Israel. They do it because India supports a separate Palestinian state. Our acts politically and diplomatically should be much more mature. Imagine if our lone supporter were to stop supporting us? Then what is going to happen? Our voices will not even reach New Delhi.
Those people, who have left no stone unturned to criminalize Pakistan, are the biggest lackeys of the state. The very act of drawing an analogy between India and Pakistan is giving legitimacy to the status quo.
I am not against people making political choices. It is ultimately up to the people of Kashmir, who are struggling, dying and suffering, to decide their political destiny as a collective unit. They have the right to decide whether they want to remain an independent state, or join with Pakistan or India, but spewing unreasonable venom against somebody is nothing but mere propagation of lies for small petty interests.
Let good sense prevail.