To My Fellow Kashmiris…
My Dear Fellow Kashmiris,
The summer of discontent is once again haunting the Valley; not for the first time though. The loss of so many young lives, injuries to many others makes me wonder why Kashmiris should invite this misery on themselves, year after year. There must, after all, be an objective to this madness that has consumed so many lives during the last nearly 70 years in general and past 27 years in particular. Some of you want Azadi, while some others want to join Pakistan, even while there are those sizable numbers (though silent) who think they are better off with India.
Let me be brutally frank; you will not get Azadi and integration with Pakistan is out of question; both are not politically expedient for India, and militarily, you or Pakistan are not strong enough to achieve that, even if China were to side openly with Pakistan.
Actually, neither Azadi nor merger with Pakistan is in your best interests. Let us assume that you are given Azadi and are an independent country. What exactly will happen, thereafter? Being land-locked, and having burnt your boats with India, you will like to have best of relations with Pakistan and China for your sheer survival. However, friendship with Pakistan will mean Hapat Yaaraz (friendship with a bear) and friendship with China, a far more powerful neighbour, will not come without paying a huge price.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, they will take all your waters of Jhelum and Sindh (Indus) and turn the beautiful Valley into a cash cow for its own use. After all, one of the prime reasons for claiming Kashmir as the ‘unfinished agenda of partition’ is their thirst for Kashmir’s water to keep their lands in Punjab and Sindh irrigated; lands owned by senior retired Army Generals, feudal lords and Vadheras, who dominate Pakistan’s Army, politics and bureaucracy. This food bowl will turn fallow without this water.
Pakistan Army will tighten its embrace with China (this suits them strategically, with Indian threat looming just across the Pir Panjal). Consequently, Chinese communist apparatchiks will plonk themselves in Srinagar and other tourist resorts, where these days you and your families go unhindered for picnics. Today, you like China because it is enemy of your enemy, India. But once inside your home you will hate them far more than you hate Indians; after all, haven’t Chinese banned rozas during Ramadhan in Xinjiang?
The Radical Islamists of Pakistan represented by Salafi/ Wahabi network in Kashmir, built during the past over two decades with Saudi money, will get further strengthened and will push their own agenda in Kashmir even further. All the Dargahs, Ziarats and Mazars of your revered saints will be put out of bounds for you and in due course, destroyed. After all, those who bombed the mosque in Saudi Arabia, where your beloved Prophet used to pray, won’t have much respect for Noor ud Din Noorani (Nunda Rishi) or Makhdoom Sahab or Bulbul Shah or Shah Hamadan.
Those of you who have been brought up on the staple diet of ‘Hate India’ menu all your lives, are convinced that Pakistan loves you immensely. Of course they will love you; but only as long as you can deliver Kashmir to them. Once their aim is achieved, they will throw you away like used….! After all, didn’t they use Suhrawardy, the Bengali strongman of Muslim League, who delivered East Pakistan to them in 1947? What did they do with his Bengalis later?
Have you forgotten the insult Jinnah heaped on your iconic leader, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in a public meeting at Jama Masjid in 1944, when Jinnah called Sheikh Sahib and his National Conference workers as ‘malcontents’ and a ‘ band of goondas’. Later, when the Maharaja was dithering on acceding to any of the dominions, India or Pakistan, Sheikh Abdullah, eating his pride for the sake of you all Kashmiris, sent two of his trusted colleagues, Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad to Lahore in October 1947, to Pakistan to meet Jinnah to strike a deal with him, but Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan refused even to meet them.
A young Kashmiri militant once told me that when he crossed the LoC into PoK in the earliest phase of the insurgency in 1988-89, on arrival, his group was taken to a Pakistani Army Captain at the dead of night. The Captain, having been woken up from sleep, welcomed the newly arrived recruits with choicest abuses in Punjabi, saying, “You Kashmiri bastards have ruined our peace.” That is the love and respect Pakistanis have for you.
In 1971, when Pakistan Army was trying to restore order in East Pakistan by using brutal force, a segment of the local population, known as Biharis, supported them whole heartedly, earning the wrath of the local Bengali majority. After Bangladesh was created, Pakistan agreed to shift these Biharis to Pakistan. However, till today, they are rotting in huge slums of Dhaka and some other cities, as Pakistan never fulfilled its part of the promise made to them.
Take the case of undivided India, whose huge segment of Muslim population residing in Bihar, United Provinces (present day Uttar Pradesh) and other areas, formed the back bone of Muslim League’s stir for the creation of Pakistan. When Pakistan ultimately became a reality and these people shifted to the new State, they were denied any shelter in Punjab and were shunted to Sindh, where they eventually came to be called Mohajjirs; an identity they carry to the present day. That is what loyalty to Pakistan can be for those who gave up everything for it (Pakistan).
On the other hand, just see the Azadi that you and your co-religionists enjoy in India. In this country even a poison-spewing Dr Zakir Naik can continue to preach violence and hatred for decades without any one touching him. He can openly ridicule the religious faith of 80 per cent of the population and yet enjoy unbridled freedom. Here, the Naib Imam of Jama Masjid can openly say, “Yes, I am an ISI agent, let me see if anyone can touch me”, and no one does. Here, on Shab-e-Baraat, the young Muslim boys on motor cycles can hold the whole Central vista of the national Capital to ransom and yet no one complains. Here, you can have a Muslim as Chief Minister of huge Hindu- majority states like Bihar, Maharashtra, Assam and Rajasthan. In J&K, you cannot even think of having a non-Muslim from either Ladakh or Jammu region becoming a Chief Minister, even though non-Muslim population of the State is nearly 37 per cent. Here you have a candidate by the name of Imran Tahir, (who fought the last general election as candidate of the Congress party) saying on record, “I will cut Narendra Modi to pieces.” Narendra Modi becomes the PM of India after the elections and yet Imran Tahir continues to enjoy freedom as before.
One could sympathise with your cause, if Azadi or merger with Pakistan could improve your conditions. But even here, you don’t gain anything; in fact you lose your prosperity. Compare the level of development in your State with that of PoK and the stark imbalance in your own favour will be clear. As far as your political empowerment vis-a-vis those living in PoK is concerned, the facts are there for all to see. Till very lately, PoK did not even have its own elected Assembly. Even now most decisions are taken in Islamabad and thrust down the throats of the people there. About Gilgit-Baltistan, the less said the better. It is ruled directly from Pakistan’s capital and has been torn away from the State of Jammu and Kashmir, of which it formed a part at the time of independence. In the meantime, in 1963, Pakistan handed over 5480 Sq Km of territory in Shaksgam area of Karakoram region to China, making Pakistan’s intentions look very dubious. In fact, with139, 44.92 Sq Km area under it, India barely controls roughly 46 per cent of its geographical area. Rest is illegally occupied by Pakistan and China (total area 263737sq Km). In Baluchistan, the conditions are even worse.
Pakistan misleads you by repeating ad nausem that U.N. Resolution of 1948 has asked India to conduct a plebiscite in the State of Jammu and Kashmir to enable the Kashmiris to decide their own fate. This is only half truth; the whole truth is that according to the most important of the four resolutions passed by the UN on Aug 13, 1948, Pakistan was supposed to withdraw its forces from areas of the State which it occupied by force in the 1947- 48 war, along with the tribesmen it had mobilised for this war, before any plebiscite could be carried out. That condition was never fulfilled by Pakistan. However, numerous elections have been held in the State to elect its own Government. Some of these elections may not have been fair (something that happened across the country and not in J&K alone), but the ones held in 2002, 2008 and 2014 have been free and fair. These elections recorded massive voter turnout.
My dear fellow Kashmiris, Pakistan had a remote possibility of snatching Kashmir from India in 1965, in a conventional war when India was caught unprepared. But it bungled that opportunity. In the proxy war that it launched in Kashmir in 1989, it again had an outside chance as India was politically very weak and the level of Indian forces in Kashmir was terribly low. Pakistan lost that opportunity too. Now, Pakistan is banking on bleeding India through thousand cuts and hoping that India will weaken to such an extent that it will disintegrate. Please take your call; is this logical thinking on the part of Pakistan? Isn’t Pakistan itself imploding, with sectarian clashes taking a heavy toll of lives month after month? Besides, with both sides possessing nuclear weapons, conventional war between the two neighbours is now a no-show. Under these circumstances, how will you get Azadi or how will Pakistan get Kashmir? Just think.
I understand that AK 47 has become an inseparable part of Kashmiri culture now, as sword was of medieval Islam. If you can’t get rid of the gun, the gun will get you, no matter whether Geelani writes to U.N Secretary General or anyone else. Please do not forget that most of the world sees the situation in Kashmir as part of Islamic terror that whole world is reeling under. If they needed any evidence, it is available in the form of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, now living in exile throughout the world; an ancient community of Kashmir whom you threw out from their ancestral home in Kashmir as part of your ethnic cleansing campaign launched against them in 1989-90.
Col (Dr) Tej K Tikoo
(The writer is a retired Army Officer.
The views expressed are personal )