Friday, November 26, 2010

Azadi or Merger with Pakistan by Ashok Sharma

Azadi or Merger with Pakistan by Ashok Sharma

8/10/2010 12:39:27 PM Ashok Sharma

I agree with Mr. Shamshad on the issue of the blueprint of a new independent State of Kashmir. What will be its basis? Will it be secular or, Islamic? Will Jammu and Ladakh be its constituents? If yes, whether Hindus, Sikhs and Budhists will be allowed to follow their religion and identity? What will be its form of Government? Will it be a Parliamentary Democracy/Presidential form of Govt., or, it would be a Caliphate/Emirate like Saudi Arabia?

How will the cause of Islam be better served by carving out a country which does not have enough resources of its own and will remain dependent on Pakistan and China for most of its requirements? Will Pakistan allow it to remain independent for a long time, or, its status will be like the so-called Azad Kashmir? Will it be as Azad as Azad Kashmir or, a little more? How will it integrate with the Azad Kashmir and on what terms? Will Jammu and Ladakh get equal status in unified Azad Kashmir or, they will be given away to India?

Will India be ready to give MFN status in trade and commerce to this new State or, will it be treated as an enemy country? How will they protect their country from a hostile India? Will they depend on Pakistan army and to what extent? In my opinion, the real idea behind the concept of Azadi is nothing but unification with Pakistan as an associate state. Such a state may remain autonomous for some time but will be fully merged with Pakistan within a few years as the history of the sub-continent has shown. Northern Areas like Gilgit, Hunza and Baltistan have been integrated into Pakistan similarly. If the Separatists want to merge with Pakistan, they should clearly say so.

Why do they raise the bogey of Azadi? Why don’t they state clearly that they cannot remain in India where they are a religious minority and want to merge with Islamic Pakistan? In the meantime, have they also planned for their fiscal requirements and developmental funds which will have to come from Pakistan, China or, international donors?

Kashmiris Must Abandon Illusions And Embrace Reality by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan- NewAgeIslam.Com

Kashmiris Must Abandon Illusions And Embrace Reality by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan- NewAgeIslam.Com

Current affairs
23 Jul 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com

By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan


I have been writing about Kashmir for many years now—from the late 1960s onwards. From the very outset, I have been of the firm view that impractical politics have played havoc with Kashmir and that now, through practical and pragmatic politics, we can pave the way for a progressive Kashmir.

The Kashmiri Muslims, on the whole, seem to have become disillusioned with everyone. They are living in an atmosphere of complete mistrust. The aim of this booklet is to assist them in coming out of this environment and to make them more confident. It is indeed possible for the Kashmiris to start a new life. But for this two conditions must be met. Firstly, they must recognize their own culpability for the predicament that they face today. And, secondly, they must abandon the imaginary world that they hanker after and learn to live in the real, practical world. Their incapable leaders have fed them on all sorts of imaginary longings, and these they must abandon. In doing so, they must adopt means that are in accordance with the present conditions and thereby begin to build a new life for themselves.

Admitting the existing realities, the Kashmiri Muslims must recognize—not out of compulsion, but, rather, willingly—that Fate has decreed for them a part of India and that they have no option but to gladly accept this decision. There is nothing at all wrong with this. Indeed, this reality can be a source of great goodness and benefit for them. India is a huge country. It enjoys freedom and democracy. It is home to almost 200 million other Muslims. Most of the bigger Islamic institutions in South Asia are located in India. All across India are scattered the memories of a thousand and more years of Muslim presence, which continue to provide courage and inspiration to the country’s Muslims. But more than all this, India provides all the freedoms and opportunities to Muslims to engage in the task of dawah or inviting others to the path of God’s religion, a task which can win for Muslims everlasting joy and peace in heaven.

Once, several years ago, I visited Karachi for a few days. There, I met a Muslim industrialist. He told me that the Indian Muslims were in a better position than their coreligionists in Pakistan. When I asked him why, he answered, ‘Pakistan is a small country. We have a very small potential market for the products we manufacture. In contrast, India is a vast country. If you produce something there you have a huge market you can sell it to.’

What this Pakistani industrialist told me has become a fact of life. In the twenty-first century, the Muslims of India have emerged as the most progressive Muslim community in the whole of South Asia. If the Muslims of Kashmir were to wholeheartedly lend their support to merger with India, they, too, will find that all sorts of doors to progress will be opened up to them. The opportunities that they would enjoy to progress economically and educationally being a part of India would not be available if they were to choose any other option. Even politically they stand to gain considerably by being part of India. If they were to abandon the politics of confrontation and willingly accept being with India, it is quite possible that, one day, India will have a democratically-elected Kashmiri Muslim Prime Minister. I have absolutely no doubt about this at all.

The Kashmiri Leadership

I have been seriously pondering about the Kashmir issue for decades now. With God’s grace, the views that I held about the subject when I started off remain just the same today. I have never felt the need to change them. I wrote my first article on Kashmir way back in 1968, which was published in the Urdu weekly Al-Jamiat, the official organ of the Jamiat ul-Ulema-e Hind. There, I argued that Shaikh Abdullah, the then leader of the Kashmiris, could have, if he had wanted and if he had adopted a pragmatic policy, decided the fate of the Kashmiris according to what he thought was appropriate. However, owing to his unrealistic dreams, he lost that opportunity and so it was now pointless ranting and raving against a situation that could no longer be changed.

I kept repeating this line in various other articles that I wrote on the Kashmir issue over the years. I believe that many Kashmiris have veered round to my opinion, abandoning the path of militancy and taking to the path of education and progress instead. I constantly receive letters and phone calls from people in Kashmir telling me this.

In many cases, movements are described as popular uprisings, but, in fact, they represent stirrings instigated by just a handful of leaders. A small group of men seeks to instigate the masses through fiery lectures and writings and, in this way, seek to project themselves as their ‘leaders’. True leaders must shoulder an immense responsibility. They must enter the field of activism only if they are suitably prepared and capable for the task Those who do so without the necessary preparation are grave criminals in the eyes of God, irrespective of how popular they may be among the masses.

The time has now come for the Kashmiris to rise above their leaders and to view the entire Kashmir conflict afresh—not in the light of the pronouncements of their leaders, but, rather, in the light of practical realities. Doing so, they must chart the course of their lives anew. There is simply no other way for them to succeed.

Lessons From Nature

When a river is blocked by a boulder, it changes its course and, skirting round the boulder, it proceeds ahead. However, we foolish human beings act differently. We struggle in vain to seek to break the boulder and carry on. Consequently, we fail to move ahead and our journey comes to an abrupt end once and for all. This is precisely what has happened in Kashmir.

The armed uprising in Kashmir against India began in October 1989. Just a month before this, I visited Kashmir, where I addressed a large gathering at Tagore Hall in Srinagar. Besides, on that trip I met with numerous Kashmiris. One day, I went with some Kashmiri Muslims to an open valley just outside Srinagar. The place was arrestingly beautiful. From the towering peaks rivulets tumbled into the valley below. We sat on the banks of a stream. I noticed the way the stream flowed till it arrived at a massive rock. The stream did not bang its head against the rock, seeking to break it and move ahead. Rather, when it met the rock it simply swerved to the left, around the rock, and kept on with its journey uninterrupted. I turned to my companions and said, ‘This is a message from Nature to you. This fact of Nature tells you that if in the journey of life you face a hurdle, you should not seek to hurl yourself against it to carry on ahead. Rather, what you must do is to carefully avoid the hurdle and continue with your journey. This is the secret for success in life. It applies in the same way to communities as it does to individuals. The only way to progress is to ignore the hurdles one comes up against and, instead, to focus on and make use of the available opportunities.’

Personally, I do not regard the military or political presence of India in Kashmir as a hurdle for the Kashmiris. The Indian military is present in Kashmir simply to protect the borders. Till 1989, the Indian Army in Kashmir was only stationed along the borders of Kashmir. Indian soldiers did not then enter Kashmiri villages and localities. But when in October 1989 Kashmiri activists took up weapons against India and launched a militant movement, the Indian Army entered Kashmiri settlements in order to combat the uprising because the militants were present in these settlements. Even if the Kashmiri Muslims had considered the presence of Indian soldiers in Kashmir to be a hurdle or a challenge, the only sensible way out for them was precisely what Nature itself has taught us—that is to say, to ignore the problems and to avail the existing opportunities.

This is not a principle that one should adopt simply out of compulsion. This principle is a universal one. It applies to all individuals and groups. It applies just as much to Muslim-majority countries as it does to countries where Muslims are a minority.

Un-Wise Methods

A basic principle that we need to adhere to in contexts that involve conflict of interests is to willingly accept whatever is available to one in the existing situation. If at the very outset we refuse to do this and, instead, in a bid to get more than what we are being offered, we prolong the conflict, the conflict is bound to become even more complicated. Consequently, we will lose even whatever was available to us at the very outset.

Let me cite an example to clarify this point. In 1917, the British drew up a plan to partition Palestine. It is known in history books as the Balfour Declaration. According to this scheme, a third of the land of Palestine would be given to the Jews, and the rest would remain with the Arabs, including the entire city of Jerusalem. However, the Muslim leaders of that time refused to accept this plan. If the leaders of the Muslims or the Arabs had adopted a pragmatic and realistic approach and accepted whatever was being offered to them at the time, they could have then concentrated all their energies and resources on constructive purposes. As a result, the conditions of the Palestinians could have been much better than that of the Jews. However, owing to the unrealistic approach of the Muslim leaders, the Palestinians lost their all and had to face total destruction.

The same thing has happened in the case of Jammu and Kashmir because of the extreme incapability of the leaders of both Kashmir and Pakistan. The fact is that the present Kashmir conflict is largely a result of the foolishness of the Kashmiri leaders themselves, rather than, as they allege, the oppression of others or any sort of anti-Kashmiri conspiracy.

In this regard, the record of the foolishness of Muslim leaders is a long and sordid one. I will allude to just one aspect of this here. In 1947, when India was partitioned, Pakistani leaders adopted a completely stupid stance and staked their claim to two Hindu-majority Indian princely states: Junagadh and Hyderabad. Had the Pakistani leaders adopted a sensible and pragmatic approach and not demanded that Junagadh and Hyderabad, which were far from the Pakistani borders and deep inside Indian territory, should accede to Pakistan, the issue of Kashmir would never have become so serious as it soon did. The question of Kashmir could then have very easily been solved in favour of Pakistan. But the avarice of the Pakistani leaders resulted in Pakistan getting neither Junagadh nor Hyderabad, and, at the same time, they failed to acquire Kashmir as well.

Let me cite some facts to confirm my point. Chaudhry Muhamnmad Ali was the Prime Minister of Pakistan in the period 1955-1957. Prior to this, he had been a senior minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan. In his voluminous book Emergence of Pakistan he relates that shortly after the Partition, the Muslim ruler of the Hindu-majority princely state of Junagadh declared that his state would accede to Pakistan. India refused to accept this decision and sent in its armed forces that took over the state and incorporated it into India. After this, a meeting was held in Delhi, attended by Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, from the Indian side, and Liaqat Ali Khan and Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, from the Pakistani side. Chaudhry Muhammad Ali writes:

‘Sardar Patel, although a bitter enemy of Pakistan, was a greater realist than Nehru. In one of the discussions between the two Prime Ministers, at which Patel and I were also present, Liaqat Ali Khan dwelt on the inconsistency of the Indian stand with regard to Junagadh and Kashmir. If Junagadh, despite its Muslim ruler’s accession to Pakistan, belonged to India because of its Hindu majority, how could Kashmir, with its Muslim majority, be a part of India simply by virtue of its Hindu ruler having signed a conditional instrument of accession to India? If the instrument of accession signed by the Muslim ruler of Junagadh was of no validity, the instrument of accession signed by the Hindu ruler of Kashmir was also invalid. If the will of the people was to prevail in Junagadh, it must prevail in Kashmir as well. India could not claim both Junagadh and Kashmir.

‘When Liaqat made these incontrovertible points, Patel could not contain himself and burst out: “Why do you compare Junagadh with Kashmir? Talk of Hyderabad and Kashmir, and we could reach an agreement.” Patel’s view at this time, and even later, was that India’s efforts to retain Muslim-majority areas against the will of the people were a source not of strength but of weakness to India. He felt that if India and Pakistan agreed to let Kashmir go to Pakistan and Hyderabad to India, the problems of Kashmir and of Hyderabad could be solved peacefully and to the mutual advantage of India and Pakistan.’

If what Chaudhry Muhammad Ali says is true, it is incontrovertible evidence that the conflict over Kashmir is a creation of the Pakistani leaders themselves, and not of India.

Further proof of this is available in another book by an important Pakistani leader, Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan. This book was originally written in Urdu under the title Gumgashta Qaum. Its English title is The Nation That Lost Its Soul. In this book, Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan reveals:

‘When Mountbatten arrived in Lahore when fighting broke out in Kashmir, he addressed an important dinner meeting which was attended by the Pakistani Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan, the Governor of the Punjab, and four Ministers from the Punjab, where he delivered a message from Patel. In his message, Patel suggested that India and Pakistan should abide by the principles that had been agreed upon between the Congress and the Muslim League with regard to the political future of the princely states, according to which the states would accede to India or Pakistan depending on the religion of the majority of their inhabitants as well as their contiguity to either of the two countries. Accordingly, Patel suggested that Pakistan should take Kashmir and renounce its claims to Hyderabad Deccan, which had a Hindu majority and which had no land or sea border with Pakistan. After delivering this message, Mountbatten retired to the Government House to rest.’

Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan further relates:

‘I was in-charge of Pakistan’s operations in Kashmir. I went to see Liaqat Ali Khan, and pointed out that Indian forces had entered Kashmir and that Pakistan could not succeed in driving them out using the tribal raiders to ensure that Kashmir became part of Pakistan. I even said that it seemed unlikely that the Pakistani Army could succeed in doing so. Hence, I insisted, we must not reject Patel’s offer. But Liaqat Ali Khan turned to me and said, “Sardar Sahib! Have I gone mad that I should leave the state of Hyderabad Deccan, which is even larger than the Punjab, in exchange for the mountains and peaks of Kashmir?”

‘I was stunned at Liaqat Ali Khan’s reaction, shocked that our Prime Minister was so ignorant of geography, and at his preferring Hyderabad Deccan over Kashmir. This was nothing but living in a fool’s paradise. To acquire Hyderabad was clearly impossible, and we were rejecting an opportunity that would have given us Kashmir. Yet, Liaqat was totally unaware of the importance of Kashmir for Pakistan. That is why I resigned in protest as in-charge of Kashmir operations.’

If one accepts what Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan says as true, it is clear evidence that the conflict over Kashmir was created entirely by Muslim leaders and no one else. Here I will add that Nature does not permit an individual or a community to exact the price of its own mistakes from others. A person pays the price of his follies himself, and this rule applies to communities as well. Pakistan is no exception to this rule.

Be Realistic

In April 1986, a group of Sikhs got together in Amritsar and declared what they called the independent state of Khalistan. At this time I wrote an article in theHindustan Times, captioned ‘Acceptance of Reality’. This article was about the situation in Punjab and Kashmir. Addressing the people of Punjab and Kashmir, I warned them that ongoing movements for an independent Punjab and an independent Kashmir would never succeed. I said that such movements were tantamount to breaking one’s head against a boulder. Nothing could be gained from such movements, except, of course, some broken heads and worse. I advised the people of both states to be realistic, to accept the status quo and to focus their energies on positive purposes instead.

The Sikhs realized this rather soon enough and the militant movement for Khalistan shortly came to an end. I am sure that, finally, the Kashmiris, too, will adopt this stance, but this might happen only after much suffering and destruction, indeed communal suicide, all in the name of ‘Islamic martyrdom’.

As I write these lines, my mind travels back to the 27th of January, 1992, when two well-educated Kashmiri Muslims came to meet me in Delhi. They were not members of any militant group, but yet they were staunch supporters of the Kashmiri militants. They were not active militants themselves in the practical sense of the term, but at the intellectual level they certainly were.

In the course of our conversation, I told the men that their self-styled ‘Kashmir movement’ was not at all proper or acceptable. I said that it was certainly not an Islamic jihad, and it was obviously not going to lead to the creation of an ‘Islamic system’, unlike what its leaders so loudly claimed. Nor, I added, did separation from India make any practical sense. The ‘movement’ could only spell more destruction for the Kashmiris themselves. The men passionately defended the ‘movement’, and even claimed that shortly the Kashmiris would score a ‘glorious success’. Then, on my request, they penned a few words in my diary. ‘Once we separate from India’, they wrote, ‘our land will become an Islamic Kashmir.’

I told the men that what they had written was nothing but baseless, wishful thinking. They would soon realize, I said, how mistaken and unrealistic they were. Then, I penned the following words in my diary:

‘If Kashmir separates from India, the independent state of Kashmir that would come into being or, if Kashmir joins Pakistan, the Pakistani province of Kashmir that would be formed, would be a destroyed and devastated Kashmir. The choice before Kashmiris is not between Indian Kashmir and Pakistani Kashmir, but, rather, between Indian Kashmir and a destroyed Kashmir.’

More than a decade has passed after this meeting. The developments that have taken place in these ten or more years clearly illustrate how erroneous, baseless and misleading were the claims of these two Kashmiri self-styled mujahids—that reflected nothing but foolish and wishful thinking. On the other hand, whatever I had, with the grace of God, written in my diary on that day and had told the men has come true. The developments over the last decade or so clearly indicate that, in today’s context, Kashmir’s benefit lies not in independence or in joining Pakistan, but, rather in being part of India and in abandoning the path of violence in exchange for peaceful reconstruction and progress.

Kashmiris who think that they are engaged in a jihad call themselves ‘lovers of Islam’. My advice to them is that they should become lovers of reality before considering themselves lovers of Islam, because the edifice of Islam is based on the hard ground of reality. No firm edifice can be built on fanciful or and wishful thinking.

Avoid Political Confrontation

A wise man is one who knows the relative value of things. Judging by this statement, it appears that the Kashmiris lack even a single wise leader who is aware of the dire consequences of the path of militancy for the people of Kashmir themselves. This issue can be understood in the light of a verse in the Quran that explains that when the Prophet Solomon sent a letter in the name of the Queen of Sheba and demanded that she submit, she sought the advice of her courtiers. They said to her that because they had considerable military strength but they left the decision to her. The Queen replied to them, in the words of the Quran, thus:‘Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and make the noblest of its people its meanest—this is what they do’ (27: 34).

The Quran here refers to a very important fact, and that is that when one confronts a powerful ruler, one must think carefully of the consequences of doing so. If the consequences would prove negative, then confrontation must be avoided. Experience proves that confronting a very powerful ruler is almost always counter-productive. It causes death and destruction on a massive scale, and the worst sufferers of this are innocent people. That is why confronting a powerful ruler must be avoided as far as possible. But if some people ignore this advice or principle and seek to directly confront a powerful ruler, it is pointless for them to later complain about loss of life and property. They ought to know that the destruction that they suffer is a price for their confronting a powerful ruler. Those who adopt the path of militancy to fight existing governments have necessarily to pay such a heavy price. It is simply impossible that a certain group commits a mistake and another group is then compelled to pay for it.

I have come across numerous articles and books by Kashmiris and Pakistanis with such titles as The Wounded Kashmir or The Wounded Valley and so on. These writings talk about the oppression being heaped on the Kashmiris by the Indian Army. Such writings are quickly disseminated across the world. Yet, in practical terms, they have had no positive result at all. All they represent is screaming and berating, and cause no positive impact. I am of the view that the blame for the fact that all this complaining and protest has had no positive result must be placed on the shoulders of the Kashmiris themselves. The Kashmiris can learn a valuable lesson in this regard from the words of the Queen of Sheba as recorded in the Quran, which I referred to above. The Queen adopted a wise policy that avoided the possibility of destruction and oppression. In contrast, due to their foolishness the Kashmiris have actually invited the Indian Army to trample on them and to make them a target of their oppression.

The beginnings of a solution to the vexed conflict over Kashmir is for the Kashmiris themselves to recognize their mistakes and learn a lesson from the example of the Queen of Sheba as described in the Quran. This will greatly assist them in planning afresh the course of their life as a people. There is simply no other possible solution.

What Wisdom Demands

According to a report contained in the Sunan Abi Daud, the Prophet Muhammad is said to have advised Muslims to avoid the path of extremism, warning them that this could lead to their conditions becoming even more dire. The truth of this statement is clearly evident today in every single Muslim country where groups have taken to the path of militancy to attain their objectives. And this has happened in Kashmir, too.

Over the last several decades, a culture of violence and extremism has gripped Kashmir, and, of course, this has had no positive consequence for its people at all. On the contrary, it has caused such terrible destruction that is simply indescribable. The ongoing conflict in Kashmir has played havoc with its economy and educational system. It has led to the death of over a hundred thousand people, with many more being injured and crippled for life. It has had a terrible toll on the moral fabric of Kashmiri society. It has forced a huge number of well-qualified and highly-educated Kashmiris to flee their state. It is obvious that the ‘movement’ that was launched and is being carried on in the name of the Kashmiri people has produced no benefit whatsoever for the common Kashmiris, although it certainly has bolstered the fortunes of their self-styled leaders.

The Quran tells us in clear words, ‘[Y]ou may not grieve over what is lost to you […]’ (57: 23). This verse of the Quran speaks of a rule that God has established and that prevails throughout the world and for all times. According to this rule, every person and every community has to experience some form of loss at some time or the other. No person or community is exempt from this rule, for this is part of the divine creation plan. This is God’s law, and so it is impossible to change it.

At the same time, there is another divine law that lays down that in this world opportunities shall never cease to exist. Whenever one opportunity is lost another one is created or is made available. Hence, wisdom demands that we should forget our lost opportunities and, instead, make use of new ones that are available to us. This is precisely what the Kashmiris should do today.

Exploitative leaders thrive on fanning people’s discontent and sense of being denied. On the other hand, true leaders lead movements that are based on using existing opportunities, and who employ such opportunities to chart a new future for their people.

Peace and Justice

It is impossible for people to live in a constant state of war. But perhaps Kashmiri leaders are simply unaware of this basic fact. They want to continue their useless war endlessly, and now it has assumed even more grotesque forms with the advent of the phenomenon known as ‘suicide bombing’. Little do they know that in the course of the Second World War Japanese soldiers resorted to suicide bombing on an even more massive scale but that this tactic completely failed. Not a single ruler in history, no matter how powerful, has been able to maintain a state of continual war. How then, one must ask, do the powerless people of Kashmir hope to keep up their useless struggle forever? What is bound to happen, sooner or later, is that the Kashmiri militants will one day tire of fighting and will find themselves compelled to give up arms. The right way for the fighting to stop, however, would be for the Kashmiris to decide willingly, on their own rather than out of fatigue or sheer compulsion, to end this destructive war at once.

Once, I met a highly-educated Kashmiri Muslim. I said to him that the thing that Kashmir needs most desperately today is peace. He replied that the Kashmiris indeed do want peace, but, he asked, what sort of peace? True peace, he said, is inseparable from justice. Peace without justice, he argued, suits the oppressors but not the oppressed.

I answered him saying that this was a grave misunderstanding—and that it was one that was shared by all the Muslim ‘leaders’ throughout the world. Peace, I said, means the absence of war. Peace can never be established along with justice. Rather, once peace is established, it can later help create the necessary conditions for promoting or securing justice. And this, I said, was in accordance both with reason and with Islamic teachings.

When the Prophet Muhammad entered into a peace treaty with the pagan Quraish of Mecca at Hudaibiyah he secured only peace, not justice. However, this peace then created an environment that enabled the Prophet to work for securing justice as well. This clearly shows that justice is not, and can never be, an integral component of peace. The two cannot be had simultaneously. Rather, justice can be secured only after peace is established, by using the opportunities that peace provides. It is not a direct and immediate product of peace.

The leaders of the Kashmiri militant movement constantly argue that they want the Kashmir issue to be resolved in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. In other words, they insist that a referendum be held in Kashmir to decide its political future. However, these resolutions have become irrelevant today. The fact remains, however, that one can secure one’s rights only on the basis of one’s own strength, and not through someone else’s assistance. It is simply unrealistic and wishful thinking to expect the United Nations resolutions to be acted upon in today’s context.

This Is Not An Islamic Movement

Kashmiri militants claim that what they are spearheading is actually an Islamic jihad. This is completely erroneous. This movement is by no means a jihad. Those who are engaged in this movement can by no means be called mujahidin.

Just as there are certain rules to be abided by in offering ritual prayer, so, too, must jihad in the path of God (jihad fi sabil allah) follow certain rules that Islam has laid down. It is obvious that the self-styled mujahidin in Kashmir do not abide by these rules. For instance, a jihad needs to have a single amir or leader. It also requires a Muslim territory that can serve as its headquarters. A jihad cannot be fought for land, power, or wealth, but simply to establish God’s word. The ongoing movement in Kashmir meets none of these necessary conditions to qualify as a jihad. It can be called a guerilla war or a proxy war, but certainly not an Islamic jihad. And both guerilla war and proxy war have no legitimacy in Islam. A guerilla war is un-Islamic because in Islam announcing and leading a jihad is the task of an accepted ruler or imam, not of ordinary people. Proxy war is prohibited in Islam because the government that engages in such a war does not openly declare so, while an open declaration of war is a necessary condition for an Islamic jihad.

All these facts, as well as the completely useless war that continues to rage in Kashmir, cry out to the Kashmiri Muslims to put an end to fighting without a moment’s delay. This fighting will not benefit them one bit, either in this world nor in the hereafter, in the life after death. Rather, it will be a cause for their destruction in both worlds. It will lead to their destruction in the hereafter because they are engaged in a war that they wrongly claim to be an Islamic jihad but which is not a jihad at all according to the Islamic rules.

A struggle for political independence is not an Islamic movement, contrary to what its proponents might insist. Rather, it is wholly a communitarian or nationalist movement. There is no harm if such a movement is launched in the name of a nationality, but to label or claim it to be an ‘Islamic movement’ or an ‘Islamic jihad’ is to play with religion, and this can only lead to very heinous consequences.

In this regard, it is instructive to note that no prophets of God launched any movement for the political freedom of their country or people, although most of the prophets lived in contexts in which political leaders do launch movements for national liberation. For instance, at the time of the Prophet Joseph, a pagan foreign family ruled over Egypt. Yet, the Prophet Joseph did not launch a political movement or struggle against them, although after him some political leaders, who were not among his companions, did engage in such efforts.

If the Kashmiri Muslims want to make their movement a truly Islamic one, the first thing they must do is to completely renounce violence. They must also admit that the movement that they have launched has actually been a communitarian or nationalist one, on which they have wrongly stuck an ‘Islamic’ label. Naturally, such a movement cannot win God’s help and favour.

One often hears Kashmiris lament that they are being crushed on two sides—by the Indian Army, on the one hand, and by militants, on the other. They also claim that when their so-called jihad was launched, a good number of pious and well-meaning people were involved in it but that now all sorts of criminals and other bad elements have joined it, thereby giving it a bad name. This, I believe, is wholly incorrect. Guerilla war inevitably degenerates into this sort of thing sooner or later. At first, guerilla war might be led by people who appear good and sincere, but later, inevitably, all sorts of bad elements join it. This is what has happened in the case of Kashmir, too, where bad elements have taken shelter under the garb of so-called Islamic jihad and are using this as a pretext to engage in killings and looting, for which they wrongly seek to provide religious legitimacy.

This is why I believe that the continuing violent movement in Kashmir can serve absolutely no positive purpose at all for the Kashmiri Muslims themselves. They must admit that the launching of their guerilla war was wrong from the very first day itself. To admit their mistake is the first step that they must take, and they must desist from heaping the blame for whatever has happened in Kashmir on others.

Realistic Politics

In life one is often provided with a second chance, and one must know how to make use of it. The leaders of Kashmir had a political dream for their land prior to the Partition—that was, in a sense, their first chance. But they lost this chance with the Partition in 1947. The Kashmiris have a second chance now, which they must fully avail of so that they can build their society anew. The leaders of Kashmir dreamt of an independent country for their people. But this proved to be impossible because of the dramatic developments that took place in 1947 and immediately thereafter. Today, the only realistic possibility for Kashmir is to remain part of India, although with a special status as guaranteed by Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Till now, the Kashmiri leaders have been engaged in what I call ‘the politics of the impossible’. Now, it behooves them to recognize practical realities and engage in ‘the politics of the possible’. The Kashmiris must forget the past and learn to live in the present. They must seek to chart their course of life while recognizing the practical possibilities of the present, rather than living in the past or dreaming of impossible solutions and chimerical schemes.

If Pakistan were to modify its policies on Kashmir by recognizing the existing ground realities, it would not be something novel for it. After all, in 1972 Pakistan initially refused to recognize the existence of a separate Bangladesh, but later it had to face what for it was the harsh reality of this new country and, finally, it was compelled to recognize it.

Global Possibilities

The Kashmiri Muslims have certain advantages which, sadly, they themselves have not fully explored or understood. For instance, if they choose willingly to be part of India, they can enjoy the status of being part of a country that has the distinction of having the world’s largest Muslim population after Indonesia. If the Kashmiri Muslims were aware of the salience of this fact they would regard it as an immense blessing.

Today, the whole world has become a global village. In this context, political structures and changes in them have become of relatively less importance. Our new global conditions have made it possible for anyone living anywhere on the face of the earth to communicate with people across the world without any restrictions. In such a situation, even if people and groups do not form part of the political class or have a state of their own they can gain all the benefits which in earlier times they could have only if they were part of the ruling class or had their own independent state. These global opportunities can be made available to the Kashmiris, too, but only if they act wisely and learn how to use them.

Victory For Both

It often happens that two groups quarrel over a piece of land. A part of the land is grabbed by one group and the rest by the other. One way to end the quarrel is for both groups to fight each other till, at last, both of them are destroyed in the process. The other, and obviously more sensible, way is for both parties to agree that each would keep that part of the land that is currently in its possession, that they would cease fighting, and that they would concentrate, instead, on developing the land that they control. This is called a ‘win-win solution’.

This, to my mind, is the best and most practicable formula to solve the conflict between India and Pakistan over the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan presently control parts of the state. If the two agree to be satisfied with whatever part of the state they presently control and cease fighting, it would be a ‘win-win solution’. They could then turn their attention to, and focus their resources on, developing their own countries, including the parts of Kashmir that they control.

It is true that the portion of Kashmir under Pakistani control is considerably smaller in size than that which is under Indian rule. But the size of a territory is only of relative importance. What is most important is to use one’s available resources in a wise manner, even if the area under one’s control is small. Numerous small countries or territories have flourished and emerged as prosperous commercial and financial hubs across the world—Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Taiwan, for instance.

Man is driven by his psyche. If one’s psyche is negative, driven by negative and destructive emotions and impulses, one’s whole personality turns negative. Conversely, if one is driven by positive urges, one will have a positive personality. This rule applies as much to individuals as it does to groups, communities and countries. The vexed issue of the political status of Jammu and Kashmir has been a continuing source of conflict and contestation between India and Pakistan from 1947 onwards. Both countries feel that the other has snatched its rights. Consequently, both countries are driven by very strongly negative and destructive emotions towards each other. These emotions have proven to be a major hurdle in the progress and prosperity of both countries. It is now time for both India and Pakistan to rid themselves of this poisonous negativity, of seeking to destroy each other, and develop a new mind-set that is based on the principle of ‘I win, and so do you’. If this happens, new doors to progress will open for the peoples of both countries and, of course, for the Kashmiris as well.

From 1947 till the present day, both India and Pakistan have seen each other as deadly enemies. But if the change in psyche that I call for occurs, both will begin to see each other as friends. This will prove to be a major boost in enabling both of them to work for the welfare of their own peoples while also paving the way for joint action for developing the region as a whole. This is the ‘win-win solution’ that we must work towards.

Moving Towards A Solution

The choice that Pakistan faces today is not, as many people argue, simply between democratic and military rule, but, more than that, to remain in the impasse that it finds itself in, thereby wiping itself off from the roadmap of the global community, or to extricate itself from this impasse and move ahead.

In the history of a country’s evolution it sometimes happens that its course of progress comes to a complete stand-still. At such times, it becomes imperative for it to take bold and seemingly unpopular decisions if it wants to move ahead. Naturally, such steps may not be welcomed by many. These moves might go wholly against popular sentiment. This is why such decisions are often taken by strong military dictators rather than democratically-elected politicians who, being chosen by their people, have to pander to their emotions and prejudices and so are generally unable to take any steps that might hurt their sentiments.

Let me cite two instances to make this point. The great military commander Salahuddin Ayubi (d. 1193 C.E.) played a key role in repelling the Crusaders. But how did he acquire the power to do so? Salahuddin was an officer in the army of the ruler of Egypt, Sultan Nuruddin Zangi. When the Sultan died, Salahuddin snatched his throne although the Sultan had sons who should have succeeded him in the normal course of things. Most Muslim historians regard this action as legitimate because although it may seem to have been wrong, it proved to be a wise decision because after coming to power Salahuddin was able to defeat the Crusaders and defend the Muslims. Another instance is that of the French President Charles de Gaulle (d. 1970). He was a top general in the French Army, but later manipulated his way to the post of President. On the face of it, this was an anti-democratic move, but by doing so de Gaulle was able to save France in a manner that a democratically-elected government could not possibly have. He announced the end of French rule in a number of French colonies in Africa and elsewhere, because this was proving to be a burden for France, sullying its image as a democratic country. Obviously, this move, which was widely unpopular in France, was a necessary one for the greater good of the country, but only a bold and strong ruler could do this, unmindful of popular sentiment and opposition.

The current situation in Pakistan is somewhat similar. Pakistan’s undeclared war against India over Kashmir has brought immense loss and destruction to Pakistan itself. Consequently, the entire world views Pakistan as a very dangerous and unstable country. Foreign investors are now extremely reluctant to invest in Pakistan. The proxy war in Kashmir has led to rapidly escalating instability and violence within Pakistan itself, causing grave problems for its own people. Scores of Pakistan’s religious and educational institutions have turned into centres of violence and destruction. Because of all this, Pakistan is witnessing an alarming brain-drain, with most of its highly-qualified and capable people fleeing the country because of the ongoing violence, the lack of developmental opportunities, and the poor state of infrastructure in the country.

The completely unrealistic policies of Pakistan with regard to Kashmir have proven to be a trap-door that are blocking the path to Pakistan’s further development. The only way out for Pakistan is to cease its game-plan in Kashmir and, instead, to focus on the opportunities for positive development and progress that are available to it. Pakistan must now recognize the status quo in Kashmir, and accept the Line of Control in Kashmir as the international border between India and Pakistan, albeit perhaps with some necessary adjustments. This can be a permanent solution to the Kashmir conflict. For this, Pakistan must cease its emotion-driven policies and politics with regard to Kashmir and, instead, adopt a sensible, realistic and pragmatic approach. Once it is able to establish peace with India by settling the Kashmir dispute, it will be able to work towards establishing peace within and work for the progress of its own people.

For the last sixty years Pakistan’s politics have revolved round the Kashmir issue. However, Pakistan’s efforts to annex Kashmir have miserably failed, and, moreover, have only resulted in massive destruction—in Kashmir and within Pakistan itself. Nothing positive has at all come out of these efforts.

For Pakistan to accept the status quo in Kashmir and the Line of Control as a permanent and accepted border between India and Pakistan is, admittedly, difficult. But if Pakistani leaders gather the courage to take this bold step, it is bound to lead to miraculous consequences. It will break down the barriers between India and Pakistan and build a relationship of close friendship between the two countries. The negative mentality of the Pakistani people, built on hatred for India, will give way to a positive approach. Trade links between the two countries will flourish, to the benefit of both. Both countries, that are now what I call ‘distant neighbours’, will also be able to benefit from each other in the fields of education and culture. By ending its enmity with India, Pakistan will be able to progress in the same manner as Japan was able to after it ceased its enmity with the United States in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Any nation that aspires to move ahead is always faced with a given situation, or what can be called a ‘practical status quo’. There are two ways of dealing with this situation. One is to seek to change the status quo, through force if necessary. The other is to accept the status quo as it is and to concentrate efforts in other fields. This second approach is what I call ‘positive status quoism’. This is the only practical and sensible approach, and it is in accordance with reason. What this means is that when an ideal solution or state of affairs is practically impossible, one should agree to accept only what is empirically possible. This is precisely what Islam also teaches us. The Quran speaks of the ‘settlement [that is] best’ and an ‘amicable settlement’ (4: 128), which is to say that the best way to settle a conflict is through mutual agreement. In other words, conflicts are best resolved by avoiding confrontation and by coming to an understanding between the contending parties.

This suggestion to accept the status quo in Kashmir and then build better relations between India and Pakistan is not a new one. The governments of both countries had secretly agreed on this principle sometime in the early 1960s, and the Kashmiri leader Shaikh Abdullah had traveled to Pakistan as a mediator to arrange for this to be publicly announced. However, because of Nehru’s sudden death this agreement could not be formally declared. In 1956, Nehru had publicly offered a settlement of the Kashmir issue over the ceasefire line, which had been converted into the Line of Control. On 23 May 1964, Nehru asked Shaikh Abdullah to meet the Pakistani President Ayub Khan in Rawalpindi in an effort to solve the Kashmir imbroglio. Ayub Khan agreed to a summit with Nehru, which was to be held in June 1964, and this message was conveyed to Nehru. However, just as Nehru’s consent reached Karachi, the world also learnt that Nehru had died in his sleep. And with that was lost a major opportunity to peacefully resolve the Kashmir conflict.

If Pakistan were to accept the status quo in Kashmir and the Line of Control as the international border, it will not have any negative consequences at all for Pakistan and indeed for the Muslims as a whole. In such a situation, Kashmir will still remain a Muslim-majority area. Furthermore, it is an uncontestable fact that the Muslims who stayed on in India are in a much better position than those who live in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Thus, joining India will not only not negatively impact on the conditions of the Kashmiri Muslims, but, in fact, will actually help them in many ways.

It must also be recognized that the policies that Pakistan has been pursuing have proven to be a major cause for giving Islam a bad name. Pakistan has consistently used hatred against India as a means to create an artificial sense of Pakistani unity. While the Pakistanis failed to unite in the name of Islam (which is why the people of the erstwhile East Pakistan were compelled to form their own country of Bangladesh), strenuous efforts were made to bring them together on the basis of hatred for India. This gave critics the excuse to argue that Islam lacks the capacity to unite Muslims. If Pakistan were to amicably resolve the Kashmir issue by accepting the status quo in Kashmir and desists from anti-India policies and rhetoric, it is possible that its people and rulers will develop a positive approach and attitude to life, which will facilitate the emergence of a new era wherein Islam, not anti-Indianism, can become the basis for Pakistani unity. It may well be that this will earn Pakistan God’s blessings.

They Sat Together, They Talked, And Then They Departed

In July 2001, the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf visited Delhi, where he had a five hour-long meeting with the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The major objective of this meeting was to explore the possibilities for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. However, the talks failed, and, two days later, Musharraf returned to Islamabad.

What was the reason for the failure of the talks? The basic reason was that Vajpayee wanted both countries to accept the status quo in Kashmir while improving links between India and Pakistan in other fields, while Musharraf insisted that the Kashmir issue needed to be addressed—in favour of Pakistan—first before relations in other spheres could be strengthened. The Indian Prime Minister did not accept this suggestion, and then, naturally, the talks broke down.

When Musharraf arrived in India he made some statements that suggested that he might be willing to enter into an agreement with India on Kashmir. For instance, in one speech he mentioned that a military solution to the Kashmir problem was not possible. Similarly, he stressed that both India and Pakistan must accept the existing ground realities in Kashmir and that they should adopt a step-by-step approach to solving the dispute. He claimed that he had come to India with an open mind. He mentioned that he was born in Delhi—he went to visit his ancestral house there—and made so bold to suggest that he was an Indian by birth and that is why it was but natural for him to have a soft corner for India. However, he did not exhibit such pragmatism in his talks with Vajpayee. Perhaps this was because he was fearful that if he were to adopt a pragmatic line on Kashmir he would have to face strong opposition on his return from the Pakistani populace, who have been fed on a steady diet of anti-India hatred for decades. But he should have also known that as long as Pakistan fails to enter into a mutually-acceptable agreement with India on Kashmir, Pakistan’s downward economic spiral cannot be halted.

In my opinion, if Musharraf had agreed to accept the status quo in Kashmir it would have meant choosing, from what is the Pakistani perspective, a lesser evil. It would have simply meant recognizing the loss of something that Pakistan had already lost decades ago. But, at the same time, it would have also brought immense benefits to Pakistan in terms of new possibilities for the country to progress and prosper. If the Pakistani Government continues to refuse to accept the Indian position on Kashmir and carries on with its undeclared war against India, it will mean not only that it will fail to capture Kashmir but also continued destruction and even greater loss for Pakistan, which presently spends much of its very limited resources on its armed forces, sparing little for the development of its people.

A Positive Start And Positive Consequences

Islamists in Pakistan and Hindu chauvinists in India appear to be poles apart, as inveterate enemies of each other. However, in practical terms their politics are almost identical. Both claim to be the sole saviours of their respective countries, religions and communities. But the hard fact remains that the scale of destruction that they have wrought in their own countries has not be surpassed by anyone else. Both groups are extremist in their thinking and their politics. But extremism can never work. It always fails. It can bring about no positive results at all.

Islamists have been active in Pakistan right since the country’s birth in 1947. They have apparently succeeded in having some of their demands met. But, actually, these limited ‘victories’ have not done anything positive for their country. One can cite numerous instances to illustrate this point. Take just the case of Kashmir, where Islamist groups have wrongly christened and projected what is a purely communitarian or nationalist movement as an ‘Islamic jihad’. In a communitarian or nationalist struggle what is of paramount importance are the ground realities. This is why such struggles are generally characterized by a certain flexibility and they are open to compromises and adjustments in accordance with existing empirical realities. On the other hand, jihad is all about religious belief. If a movement is seen as a jihad, it loses its ability to be flexible, adjust and accept any compromise at all, because those who are engaged in what they regard as a jihad believe that even if they fail to achieve their aims and lose their lives fighting, their deaths are themselves a sign of their victory, which will, so they believe, earn them direct entry into heaven.

Secular-minded Pakistanis seem, on the whole, willing to accept adjustments with India to resolve the Kashmir conflict. But this is staunchly opposed by Pakistan’s Islamists, who, with their shrill, emotionally-driven rhetoric, have deluded vast numbers of Pakistanis into believing that they should continue fighting over Kashmir so much so that even if they fail to reach and capture Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, they are bound, so they claim, to reach heaven if they keep up the ongoing war in the region. This is why the Islamists are a major hurdle to resolving the Kashmir problem and prevent the Pakistani state from adopting a policy of adjustment, negotiation and adjustment with India on Kashmir. However, the fact remains that, as history very clearly shows, the road to prosperity and success for nations is only through adopting policies of adjustment and compromise.

The Hindu chauvinists in India play the same negative role as the Pakistani Islamists in opposing any policy of adjustment and compromise with Pakistan over Kashmir. Religious fundamentalists—of all hues—are characterized by an acute, and completely unwarranted, sense of self-righteousness. This inevitably leads them to extremism and militancy. They are vociferously opposed to any sort of dialogue with people outside their fold, whom they consider to be enemies. They regard themselves as wholly right, and as solely deserving of privileges, and care nothing at all for the rights of others. Since India’s independence, Hindu fundamentalist forces have grown in strength by leaps and bounds. They continue to block any agreement between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. To cite an instance, at the invitation of the Government of India, the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf visited India in July 2001 to talk to Indian leaders on Kashmir. However, the talks failed, and one of the reasons for this was the inflexible attitude of some Hindu fundamentalist leaders despite the feelers that Musharraf had sent out on his visit that suggested that he was ready to arrive at a negotiated settlement with India on Kashmir.

For the last forty years or so I have been consistently arguing that the only realistic and possible solution of the Kashmir conflict is for India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir to accept the Line of Control as an accepted and permanent international border between India and Pakistan. For Pakistan to accept this would obviously be difficult, but there is no other way out. This is why the issue needs to be handled sensitively and wisely, otherwise steps to arrive at this settlement are bound to fail. One cannot win by seeking to demean one’s opponent. Rather, the way to win over one’s opponent is through offering concessions in a spirit of love and concern.

The Work To Be Done

Several hundred years ago, a number of Sufis arrived in Kashmir and they played an instrumental role in the spread of Islam in the region so much so that the vast majority of the Kashmiri people converted to Islam. Islam became an integral part of Kashmiri culture and identity, but the sort of popular Sufism that developed in the region was based largely on cults centred on the dargahs or tomb complexes of Sufi saints. This was a ritualistic form of religion or what I call ‘dargahi Islam’ or ‘cultural Islam’, which is distinct from the true understanding of Islam that trains its adherents to perceive things in a correct and far-sighted manner. This fostered a distinct lack of proper consciousness, which left the Kashmiris vulnerable to negative politics that had no relation with Islam as it truly is, and that also brought no worldly or secular benefit to them. This ‘dargahi Islam’ or ‘cultural Islam’ did not conduce to the development of true Islamic consciousness that should pervade the all aspects of a believer’s life. This is why the Kashmiris were easily exploited by self-serving leaders in the name of Islam and Muslim communalism, who used these simply as a means to promote their own interests.

This critique applies equally to secular Kashmiri leaders as well as those who speak in the name of Islam. Because of the involvement of Islamist groups in the Kashmir conflict, the scale and intensity of militancy in the region has sharply escalated over the years. Self-styled Islamist ideologues in Kashmir have for decades sought to rally the Kashmiris behind them by claiming that they want to establish in Kashmir what they call the ‘Prophetic system of government’ or nizam-e mustafa. But, in actual fact, they have had nothing to offer but shrill emotionalism and wishful thinking. They, and those who follow them, have been completely swayed by empty sloganeering. The fact of the matter is that whatever they have done and are doing has been of no benefit at all to Islam, and neither has it at all helped the Kashmiris in the secular or worldly sense. Nor will it in the future. This world is a real world, a world of empirical realities. Nothing positive can come from emotionally-driven politics and rhetoric about chimerical schemes.

It has now become incumbent on the Kashmiris to reassess their entire past. Recognising and admitting their past mistakes, they must seek to chart a new course for themselves in order to build a positive and progressive future. This programme for their future should be based on three major pillars: education, economic development, and engaging in a positive mission of dawah, inviting people to the path of God. They must completely abandon the path of armed struggle. They should focus their attention instead on building high-class educational institutions. They must productively use the vast economic and other resources that their state possesses. Sadly, they have paid very little attention to this. At the same time, as Muslims they must also engage in the task of communicating the true understanding of Islam to fellow Muslims and to the non-Muslims who are fellow inhabitants of their state or who visit their state as tourists.

Kashmir: Heaven On Earth

For centuries, Kashmir has been known as ‘heaven on earth’. In the past, Kashmir was ruled by a series of rulers who were not indigenous inhabitants of the land—Pathans, Mughals, Sikhs and Dogras. But throughout this period Kashmir still remained ‘heaven on earth’. And it can still justifiably call itself so if its people now give up the path of violence, accept ground realities, and focus all their attention on education, economic development and the task of dawah.

Mere political independence in itself means nothing at all. Today, there are some sixty Muslim countries in the world, most of which won their political independence after long and bloody struggles, in the course of which their people made immense sacrifices. However, in actual fact, these countries are not really independent in the true sense of the term. Many of them, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, are now in the throes of civil war, where rival groups are fighting each other for power. If the Kashmiris do not realize this and insist on independence, they are likely to meet the same unenviable fate. That is why they should abandon their present political struggle and, instead, concentrate on the work of positive and constructive development.

Some years ago I was invited to a conference that was held in Switzerland. I went there along with a team of my colleagues, who included an 80 year-old Kashmiri lady. Stunned at the beauty of Switzerland, she exclaimed, ‘Our Kashmir was also equally beautiful at one time, but today it lies destroyed.’

Who destroyed Kashmir? It was certainly no government that did so. Rather, the entire blame for it must be placed on the shoulders of those foolish Kashmiri leaders who, with their emotionally-driven rhetoric, completely misled their people and pushed them to the destructive path of militancy. Had they led them on the path of educational and economic advancement instead, Kashmir might today have been a model of progress and prosperity. But these incapable leaders, with their completely unrealistic dreams and empty slogans, have caused such terrible damage to the Kashmiris that it cannot possibly be undone even after a hundred years.

To conclude and to reiterate what I have been repeatedly stressing throughout this booklet, the time has now come for the Kashmiris to completely and permanently abandon the path of militancy, and, instead, to adopt the path of peace and progress. Only then can the dream of Kashmir as ‘heaven on earth’ come true.


Jammu And Kashmir: Revenge of the lambs by Kaveree Bamzai

Jammu And Kashmir: Revenge of the lambs
by Kaveree Bamzai

November 6, 2010

The shoe hurled at separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani last fortnight at a function in Delhi was the most visible sign yet of the anger of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, led by children of those who were forced to flee the Valley after 1989. A group of over 100 Kashmiri Pandits, mostly young professionals, organised under the umbrella of Roots in Kashmir (RIK), now ensure that no protest for "azadi" goes unchallenged.

Kashmiri pandits protest in Delhi
They have spent a night in lock-up for demonstrating at former Union minister Saifuddin Soz's home in Delhi, been dragged away by the police when countering a pro-azadi protest in Delhi, and filed over 200 writs under the RTI Act to check the status of cases against former JKLF militant Bitta Karate, who is accused of killing many Kashmiri Pandits. The aim is clear: to make as much noise as the Kashmiri Muslims in Delhi, and let the sound and fury float through the media. The lambs are turning into lions.
Started in 2006, the RIK has members and causes in common with Panun Kashmir (PK), which was formed in the aftermath of the exodus from the Valley in 1991 to demand a separate homeland. PK now has two major factions, one led by writer Dr Agnishekhar and the other by Dr Ajay Chrungoo. The RIK abides by PK's core objectives but believes in instant, event-based action. It has no office, only a Friday gathering of as many as possible at a coffee shop in Delhi. Its members call themselves strategists, not just street activists, and use modern methods of communication - Facebook, blogs and Twitter.

At the centre is Rashneek Kher, a 37-year-old head of logistics at a fertiliser MNC, who was just 10 when he had to leave Kashmir to live as a refugee in Jammu. Dr Manish Mattoo, director, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Raipur, read an inspiring post by Kher on a Kashmiri e-network four years ago and decided to sign up for the RIK. RIK and PK are closely linked through individuals such as PK's National Youth Coordinator Veer Wangnoo, who was 13 when he had to leave Srinagar in 1990 after being roughed up on the playground by his friends.

The senior Patni Computers executive cannot forget that experience: "My classmates were asking me to recite the kalima; I was kicked for carrying a geometry box with the Indian flag; my Muslim barber was murdered by his son and buried in his courtyard for speaking secularism." It is this memory that young Pandits have carried with them, while establishing themselves and kickstarting their careers. It is something they are now determined to counter.

"It is not one day's fight," says 75-year-old writer Shashi Shekhar Toshkahani. "We have to open fire on several fronts." It could be a seminar at Delhi's Nehru Memorial Museum and Library last year where Yasin Malik spoke. "This man has 28 cases registered against him. He has the blood of our community on his hands. If he has the right to speak, we have the right to protest," says Aditya Raj Kaul, a 21-year-old freelance writer, who was just nine months old when his family had to leave Srinagar. It could also be connecting with the Kanchi Mutt, which has decided to set up an IAS coaching centre for young Pandits to restore their presence in the bureaucracy. Or it could be speaking up forcefully at a seminar in Hyderabad when human rights activist Gautam Navlakha was articulating what they believe was a "one-sided" stand on the Amarnath land dispute.

stand on the Amarnath land dispute. There are also efforts to keep alive the cultural essence of Kashmiri Hindus. There's 18-year-old Radhika Koul, a linguistics student at Yale, who hopes to initiate a standardised teaching system for youngsters to help them speak Kashmiri fluently. The movement has, as the 33-year-old Mattoo points out, "created strong bonds among the activists and other associates, something our community is in dire need of at this hour".

It's evident in a late evening meeting of six Delhi activists, all busy executives, who have gathered at the office of Sushil Pandit, the 47-year-old CEO of an advertising agency, Hive. Sandwiches and samosas are passed around as the group talks of how they don't let slip an opportunity to be heard. Or to make a point which they are doing with a smartly packaged cultural quarterly, Praznath. Or even to simply celebrate the Kashmiri New Year, Navreh, at a recreated Hari Parbat, once the symbol of Kashmir's proud syncretism, in Faridabad.

They don't claim to speak for all the 6.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits outside the Valley (only 3,200 of them are left in Srinagar) but do their best to grab media attention and to connect with other organisations. For this lost generation, the mirror of the one that has grown up in conflict in Kashmir, the idea is to never forget.

Mirwiaz Heckled in Chandigargh [HQ]

Mirwiaz Heckled in Chandigargh [HQ]

During a press assembly held by the Kashmiri Seperatist and Sunni Islamic Extremist, Mirwaiz Patriotic Bharatiyee Youth stood up to him and let him know that we will not take this nonsense anymore.

'Omar should be ready to face public wrath over J-K remarks'

'Omar should be ready to face public wrath over J-K remarks'
November 26, 2010   6:50:20 PM
PTI | Jammu

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah should be prepared to face public wrath throughout India if he did not stop making controversial statements like the separatists over Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP said here today.

"We warn the Chief Minister not to compete with the secessionists in making disputed statement about the status of Jammu and Kashmir or he should be ready to face the wrath of public throughout India," BJP state spokesman Ramesh Arora told reporters here.

The ruling National Conference and Omar are competing not only with the PDP but with the separatists also to become champion of Kashmir-centric approach," he alleged.

Omar had described the yesterday's attack on Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq as a "reaction to their politics and policies", Arora said, adding that the CM had further made it clear that separatist leaders are bound to invite public wrath for speaking against India.

"So, Omar will face wrath from the people of India if he did not take his controversial statement over the accession of J&K with India back," he said.

The BJP has called for 'Jammu Bandh—Chakka Jam' tomorrow for three hours to mark protest against discriminatory policies of the state government, anti-national utterances by the chief minister and its endorsement by Congress-led UPA.

"The recent stand on rehabilitation of surrendered militants is not acceptable to public. Hence, the BJP has decided to express its resentment on Saturday by observing Jammu Chakka Jaam," he said. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

My final thoughts on Arundhati Roy… by Venkatesan Vembu

My final thoughts on Arundhati Roy…
by Venkatesan Vembu

Thursday, October 28, 2010 16:06 IST Email

In my column published in DNA yesterday, I thought I'd said all I wanted to say about the controversy surrounding Arundhati Roy's recent pronouncements on Kashmir. I don't have the luxury of being called upon to write 20,000-word essays to flesh out my thoughts, but in most cases the 570 words I'm given on the Opinions page are more than adequate. But, as it turned out, this time I was called upon to say something more.

Late last evening, the BBC World Service's World Have Your Say producers called to say they'd come across my column, and asked if I would join a panel discussion on this topic, along with Outlook magazine's editor Vinod Mehta and a few others. The broadcast from London was to go live at an ungodly 1 am for me in Hong Kong, but I gamely sat up. And although the format of the moderated discussion didn't always allow for freewheeling interaction, I made the following points:

I'm not calling for Arundhati Roy to be arrested or tried for sedition. I also vehemently oppose the online outpourings of extreme right-wing lynch mobs. Nor do I defend the role of the Indian State in Kashmir.

However, Roy's delineation of the situation in Kashmir is overly simplistic, intellectually dishonest and wholly lacking in nuance or balance; in her reductionist worldview, the Indian State is Downright Evil; poor Kashmiri civilians are tortured without reason. But Kashmir's contemporary history is more complex than that. There are other geopolitical forces - including Pakistan-backed jihadi elements whose larger aim is the disintegration of secular India - that she does not acknowledge. That incomplete narrative amounts to a denial of history on her part. And in a volatile situation of the sort that exists in Kashmir, her selective outlining of history has enormous, dangerous real-life consequences.

Vinod Mehta defended Roy's right to free speech and noted that she was "entirely within her rights to say what she is saying" given India's "vibrant and robust" democracy. And in response to my question, he said that Roy's words reflected the "dominant view in the valley"; it wasn't she who coined the phrase azaadi, which in any case should be interpreted as "freedom from human rights excesses", not as a desire to secede from India.

The format of the discussion - with call-ins from listeners, and moderated by the producers - did not permit more intense interactions among the panelists. Which left me with a couple of points that I would have liked to make but couldn't.

The presence of Indian troops in Kashmir has come in for a lot of criticism, and of course human rights abuses - of which Kashmiri civilians bear the brunt - are never to be condoned. But as this blogger points out, for four decades from 1948, until jihadi violence started in 1988-89, you didn't hear azaadi war cries in Kashmir, nor was the State under "brutal military occupation". (Remember Shammi Kapoor shimmying in Kashmir? Remember seeing any "occupation army" in the background?) To fail to acknowledge that connection is downright disingenuous.

What do Kashmir people want for themselves? The answer would have been different at different points in time. Today, after more than 15 years of jihadi indoctrination and inept handling of the situation by successive Central and State governments, they may want azaadi, but if their jihadi fever were to subside, who knows that they might not reject that notion. Let's not forget: India faced a Khalistan separatist campaign in Punjab in the early 1980s. Today, who in Punjab wants to break free of India? And while we're on the subject, (and without trivialising the anguish of Kashmiri civilians), the characterisation of azaadi as merely "freedom from human rights abuses" and not secession is overly benign.

One last point: some commentators - including phone-in callers during the BBC panel discussion - have resorted to attacking Arundhati Roy personally and attributing motives to her extremely critical public positions on issues that go to the core of India's identity as a nation-state. But that's not where I come from: in fact, as I said on air:

"I'm not so cussed as to say that Ms Roy has it all wrong. She does an important job of holding up a mirror to Indian civil society and forcing us to focus on our failings. That's an important function. In 1998, when she declared herself an 'independent mobile republic', I met her at a public talk and I asked for citizenship in her 'republic'. So she's greatly admired, even by some of us who critique her work."

My criticism of her only springs from the fact that as someone who knows the power of words, and who uses them inventively, there's a case for her to offer a more intellectually honest and balanced historical narrative on Kashmir than she's offered so far.

Failing which, I just might be tempted to secure azaadi from the independent, mobile republic of Arundhati Roy...


By P. Nayak
Nov 4, 2010
VV is trying to salvage her image. Who cares for arundhati except a few pseudo-Congressmen. Vinod Mehta is trying to cash in on this controversy.

Kashmir is an integral part of India and belongs equally to Kashmiri Pandits and not just the so-called hyped separatist leadership and the media jokers.

Before sounding intellectual, media jokers should study the actual history of Bharat and not history written by Marxist and communist historians.
By Sahaya Rani
Nov 4, 2010
I congratulate you for your well defined and humanistic stance on the issue. Ms. Roy should realise that a person of her calibre has freedom at the same time accountability and responsibility towards the nation.
By Ramachandra
Nov 4, 2010
I agree with Venkatesan's point of view. I find Ms. Roy tends to go to an extreme like Indian politicians on their opposition. Balance is missing.
By Gorki
Nov 4, 2010
Very balanced and agree with it. It is hard not to get the impression that Ms. Roy is trying to use her by now half-a-celebrity status to stay in the news and extend her stay in the limelight, but she doesn't have anything substantial to say. However, that by itself is not a crime. People like her are the price India has to pay to be a democracy, but so be it. Let her speak...

By Venkat
Nov 3, 2010
I agree with Vembu. Dishonesty and selfish predilection for publicity in the garb of pseudo intellectuality is Arundhati Roy. She can join the Maoists and like the dacoit queens roam around in a wayward life. She is a blemish on what is Indian. Our freedom and sovereignty are mocked by her words. I see no substance in Vinod Mehta's support. He wants 50% importance by contrarian views. He may try to bring out many facts, but subtly like an Indian coward he is also putting same-side goal for selfish thoughts.

By Srihari
Nov 3, 2010
Hail V Mehta, A Roy, N Ram... these idiots decide how the nation is run and disintegrated. It's in their interest to see that Indians are divided — for their funds are channelised by these Jihadis and religious bigots from the West. Their funds stop no sooner they present the facts. Keep the issue burning and get some more media space you s--- of small things and a--- mehta.
Nov 2, 2010
Madam Arundhati Roy is working for outsiders. She is non-patriotic and must be prosecuted. She has a habit to open her bad mouth against India for cheap publicity. We have many traitors like her e.g. Lalu, R.V. Paswan, Bukhari, A.R. Antulay, Mulayam. They all need to be punished.
By Amit
Nov 2, 2010
The lady supports Maoists, separatists, and anything that is against national sovereignty out of fashion. Misleads the world at large and harms the image of our democracy. She says the govt. does not reach out to a large population, does excesses, people are backward. If she was given her say and India were to have the form of govt. she wishes, can she give a guarantee no corruption, 100% (or even 60%) equality to all in all respects? She should stop kidding! If people are so agitated and willing to pick up the gun, why can't they stand up for elections, or file PILs, or use RTI? Only democracy allows you all this, no alternate format in the past, present or future allows all of that!
By Karanth K V
Nov 2, 2010
Dear Venkateshan,

Your article aptly describes the true wisdom of majority of educated intellectuals across this GREAT COUNTRY. It is only in India where anything could be uttered and media could publish it in the name of freedom of expression. I feel that Indian constitution gives authority for all to express freely and enhance their TRP ratings in the country. Even GOI and home ministry have taken a stand that outburst of Smt Arundhati Roy (Man Booker sponsored writer, I suppose) would be neglected and she would not be tried under existing sedition provisions. Had this happened in Muslim countries or our neighbour China or Myanmar, she would have had to undergo minimum of 10 years jail. I suppose a great writer like her must have lost her balance or she conspired with somebody to tell like that in order to please Muslim radicals in Kashmir. May GOD bless Smt Arundhati Roy wisdom to support affected citizens of J&K in particular & India in general.
By Prashant
Nov 2, 2010
I can't understand why there is such a hue and cry for Mrs Roy. Let her speak what she wants to, why are we even discussing it? Mrs Roy grants all her support to anyone who is against Indian Democracy, she has sympathy towards killers of hundreds of innocent people. Oh yes! she is free, she can do it. Venkatesan Vembu, you are a man to devote a million dollar blog to such a public irritant. Let's not talk about her. Delete all this stuff...
By Prakash
Nov 2, 2010
I believe any idea of a plebiscite should be taken into consideration only after all the affected parties are involved, which should include kashmiri pandits as well. Weren't they a part of the State of Kashmir? The Central & State Govts. might conveniently forget that, Arundhati Roy chooses to forget that, Geelani & his ilk will never agree to that. But they have been an important part of Kashmir, and an important identity factor for it.

Sadly, today the Center and Omar Abdullah would not all have them in the scheme of things for reasons best known to them. There are lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits living across the rest of India as refugees — having had to leave their homes (as part of the State govt. and pakistan-sponsored agenda).

Too bad the Islamic population of Kashmir has failed to understand the game. Pakistan & China would never allow a stable India to flourish and progress, hence they aid the Maoists, Kashmiri separatists, earlier Khalistan terrorists.

Same goes for the US — they can never let India become a major power in this region. How else can we explain them turning a blind eye to whatever wrongdoing Pakistan is accused of?
Then we have people like Arundhati Roy from our own — who would love to be in news everyday — even if it is for the wrong reasons. She opposed the Narmada dam construction in Gujarat; however Modi stuck to his guns and made the dam, and look at what that region has become today. The people of that area have jobs, water, growth all due to industries coming in after the Dam was built. So for her, I feel it is all about staying in the news.

I as an Indian just hope that we manage to keep our country in one piece — we have enough on our hands with the states fracturing every now and then!
By Rajeev Dubey
Nov 2, 2010
Freedom of speech and human rights are close to the heart issues that an author carries along.

However, Arundhati does not seem to be doing that, she rather presents herself as a person out to create an identity that has forced labels of 'greatness'... — not as an author but as a leader. This makes one feel dejected.

Her position on Kashmir is untenable.
By Rohit
Nov 2, 2010
Sellouts like Roy should be exported to Pakistan, where they can be happy seeing how well the Muslims are treated. Overall, India has positive inflows of Muslim migrants and Kashmir and Pakistan has negative flows of Hindu migrants. That tells you the story of the plight of people. Roy's anecdotalism is the most common tool of telling convincing lies. People need to get smarter and start to look at the broader picture.
By gangai
Nov 1, 2010
Arundhati Roy — who was she until she won a booker prize? — a seemingly unknown entity without a cultural identity. I have been following her statements and speeches and writings; I sum up that she is one with a flair for explosive writing.

This evening Chidambaram gave an explanation as to why GOI chose not to prosecute her by stating that GOI was acting in the spirit of the words and not the law of the words. He quoted that the spirit of the particular clause is that unless a person directly entices a population to rise to violence, no action is to be initiated. Was her statement not an encouragement to Jihad and Azadi which goes against the constitution of India? Chidam long ago lost his senses when he decided to rejoin the Congress after deserting it.

Well, no wonder if his government pleads for setting free Kasab as what he and his terrorist group did was not pre-planned killings but was doing justice to the minority community's conditions in the country ruled by Chidam.

As Vembu says, Arundhati should "offer more intellectually honest and balanced historical narrative" on anything that she states and advocates. Her crime is that she read only one side of the coin which has a head and declared it had no nominal value without seeing the other side. This is what happens to anyone who grows up without a cultural identity like AR.

Onlooker Vinod Mehta, he is an opportunist journalist and does not speak truth. He wants his weekly to be sold, no matter what he writes. He said AR was right in what she said because she is an independent person. Would he accept, in the same breath, if one slanders VM and accuses of him molesting his lady staff since whoever does so does it as an independent person?

Today's Kashmir problems originate from the cardinal mistake of having given the region a special status by the first Govt. of JN. Why Kashmiris are allowed to own property anywhere within the Union of India when other Indians are not allowed to buy an inch of land in J&K? Why when the rest of Indians bear the brunt of inflation, Kashmiris continue to get their ration at ridiculously low prices like Rs2 for a kg sugar or Rice or Atta for Re1 per kg?
By sri
Nov 1, 2010
send chavan and adarsh residents there. they will fix kashmir problem. believe me they are great nationalists.
By yatikesh
Nov 1, 2010
Sentimentality is one of our biggest enemies. Rather than sitting down and deciding on a solution amicable to everyone involved we tend to feed our sentiments. Besides, the people entrusted with finding a solution have a kind of symbiotic relationship with the Kashmir issue. They are there in the limelight only because they are 'trying' to find a way out of the Kashmir problem. The day this problem is solved quite a number of people would find their lives changed for the worse.

As far as Ms Arundhati Roy is concerned i never understood why we get so affected by one person's ideas. Where has our common sense and reason gone? Giving attention to her 'radical' ideas is not going to help anyone. Listen to the people of Kashmir. Their words would be much closer to reality.
Nov 1, 2010
Ms Roy intentionally forgets about Kashmiri minorities when empowering 'azaadi'. She claims pandits to be fraud and never thinks about tibetan kashmiris residing in larger chunk of kashmir known as ladakh. She fights for minority against state of india and supports majority in state of kashmir.
By Maddy
Nov 1, 2010
You are absolutely right Mr Vembu. She has the right to express her opinion and so does the government to say that she is totally wrong. Where were the Jihadis before 1988 and hazratbal issue? where were they during Kargil saga? Let us focus on settling the kashmir issue once for all. As for Ms Roy, neglect is the best form of contempt.
By b bali
Nov 1, 2010
Dear Vembu,
i did hear the conversation on bbc, you have a valid point. My request is everything should be fair, so journalists also should be fair in thoughts. one question comes to my mind, why not Mr. Vinod Mehta never ever voiced his opinion on article 370. If Mr. Mehta believes majority of Kashmiris want azadi, on same grounds revoke art. 370 as majority Indians want it. If we are democratic, truly secure, let's have honest open discussion. hope Mr Mehta has his opinion on this.
By Ray
Nov 1, 2010
Any anti-Indian activity should be dealt with stern action without any hesitation. No special status — no Khalistan, no Telengana, period. Please don't forget the slogan — Jai Jawan and Jai Kisan! Jai Lal Bahadurji.
By Enkey
Nov 1, 2010
In a democratic country like India, rich with contradictions, abuse of fundamental rights is not an exception. It is no wonder how she could prove her stand taller than her words.
By Yogesh
Oct 31, 2010
Dear Venkatesan, please accept my compliments on the two successive balanced articles on Kashmir and Arundhati Roy. Intellectual freaks like Arundhati Roy actually make democracy more meaningful. She is an independent citizen and since her views have no official locus standi, why should we be unduly worried by them? Arundhati's views on Kashmir and self-determination are provoked in the present circumstances (the rise of the intifada) and she fails to put the issue in a broader perspective. As you have rightly pointed out, the effective impact of jihadism sponsored by Pakistan and also the purging of Pandits from the valley are factors that she fails to include in her narrative. There was no movement for self-determination or azaadi when Sheikh Abdullah was in command as the Sher-e-Kashmir. In fact it was his considered decision to remain aligned with India. The fundamentalists took over the agenda much later, with solid support from across the border. The people who have managed to hijack the agenda again are the same breed, who remain on the jihadi payrolls. The Kashmir tangle is not as simplistic as Mrs Roy would like to believe. Kashmir is complicated and it will take some complicated diplomacy and statecraft from all the involved parties to resolve it. The four-point agenda enunciated by Mush-Manmohan could be a starting point.
By Surinder Puri
Oct 31, 2010
Democracy imposes a sense of responsibility on its ciitizens to maintain itself. Unless it is observed any democracy can descend into chaos, confusion and eventually barbarism. It is then compelled to use force for its survival. Punjab was a good example. While there are several differences between the Punjab of 1980s and J&K there are several similarities too. Successive weak governments, this one included, have allowed the situation in J&K to slide so much that the Kashmiris of the valley have started to see Azadi at the end of the tunnel. By allowing Geelani and Arundhati Roy to go unpunished the government is likely to unleash a monster. Indian government is creating unnecessary international and Kashmiri pressure against itself as it does not have a firm policy towards Srinagar. This allows Pakistan to maintain unrest in the valley area. America fought its deadliest war, the civil war, to maintain its integrity. That war caused more casualties than nearly all their other wars put together. But it planted peace for the next 200 years to come. Is PM Manmohan Singh listening?
By enrgti
Oct 31, 2010
she is a disgrace to India and Indians; especially Hindus who have given ultimate sacrifices for the freedom of iNDIA (Subhas, Bhagat Singh,...). She should be expelled from India. Some of these so-called intellectuals and artists of Indian heritage (remember Husain the painter?) think they are not Indians; so be it... throw them out of India NOW!
By menaftha
Oct 30, 2010
If you start giving azadi, everyone wants it. even the BLACK CROW Arundhati created her mobile republic so that she alone could live there and meddle in Indian affairs! About azadi to kashmir, before that you have to perform TIME TRAVEL to 500 BC, where Hinduism's greatest stories were written, where Emperor Ashok established Srinagar, where Amarnath caves are formed, where rishis and Buddhist monks used to spread the message of love and oneness. Arundhati is biting the hand which gave her FOOD, FAME and BOOKER. AZADI? NO WAY! The government has to abrogate Art.370 and allow all Indian citizens to buy land, settle in and promote tourism so that the state develops. But before that we have to fix Pakistan which is the ROOT cause of all this PROBLEM. Kashmir is NOT the problem. Jihadis are the problem.
By S. P. Singh
Oct 30, 2010
The way we are giving importance to Ms Roy is unfortunate. Instead of wasting time discussing her comments let us see the real story. What is the per capita expenditure Indian Govt. makes in Kashmir? How many migrants are living beyond Kashmir? Where are Kashmiri Pandits, At present, how are they living? The only solution is change of demographic structure of Kashmir. Let all Indians be allowed to settle in Kashmir and give free access to resources and infrastructure and win the hearts of people. The person who visited Srinagar will find the hospitality of Kashmiris in Dull Lake on shikaras and the way they treat the people. When protection from terrorists is assured, lot of Kashmiris will come out in protest against terrorism and against the views of people like Roy. Please look at the ground reality and the job which the Indian Army is doing in Kashmir, their hardship and commitment and the way they are handling the situation. It is time we resolved to remove terrorism from not only India but from Asia itself, and got ready for hard decisions which our political leaders are unable to take.
Oct 30, 2010
Intellectual poverty and verbal diarrhoea just about sums it up. Why are we discussing Arundhati Roy?

Jammu Kashmir & Laddakh

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