Sunday, 31 May 2015

Separatists are active on the behest of an entity that has occupied part of Kashmir territory, Hashim Qureshi

Separatists are active on the behest of an entity that has occupied part of Kashmir territory, Hashim Qureshi
Hashim Qureshi infamous for his Indian airplane Ganga hijack in 1971, is a forward looking independent separatist fighting politicall-y for the cause for independent Kashmir. He is still being tried for the hijack under the Indian legal system. In this interview with Aditya Rangroo, he discusses how Kashmir has played out in the hands of India and Pakistan and how present separatists have no minds of their own but are mere power hungry stooges. 
Q 1:  What inspires you to strive for an independent Jammu & Kashmir and what is the ideology of your organization Jammu Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party (JKDLP)?
Ans:Our party’s concept of independence of the original State of Jammu and Kashmir is not based either on hatred or on antagonism against India or Pakistan. Sixty-seven years of estrangement between the two, interspersed with three wars and now the raging proxy war, all rooted in Kashmir dispute, has impoverished the people of the sub-continent in general and of the State in particular. In addition, the two countries spend trillions of dollars in stockpiling weapons at the cost of two hundred crore people of the region.

In the past, the two countries have had public and private talks and also concluded through third party interventions but have arrived on no solution. Neither of the two is prepared to scale down respective standpoint.

Independent Kashmir will not only eliminate hatred and animosity between the two neighbouring countries, it will not only eschew arms race, but, more importantly, it will also liberate two hundred crore people from economic and social strangulation.We are strong advocates of secular democracy and equitable progress and development of all the regions, sub-regions and remaining entities of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. We are concerned that any flare up between the two countries will mean disaster for the whole region.

Our party does not recognize UN SC Resolutions on J&K as valid. The reason is that the contracting parties made Kashmir a bilateral issue; it does not take the people of the State on board. Moreover, the resolutions give no third option to the people of the State. It is a deal foisted by the UN on two warring countries.
Q 2: You have been in the separatist movement for more than 4 decades. Do you believe the current “mainstream” separatists are heading toward the desired direction or vision that separatists erstwhile had envisioned?
Ans:Separatist movement began in J&K in 1953 and remained in place till 1974. During this period, it was spearheaded by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. After assuming power for the second time in 1975, he said that he (meaning his party) had wasted 22 years. Evidently, he was craving for political power and concluded Accord with Indira Gandhi, the PM of India on latter’s terms. While out of power, he was boycotting participation in elections but people like Abdul Ghani Lone and Ali Shah Geelani were fighting elections and winning. They were not leading any separatist movement.

In 1987, Congress and NC rigged elections. Now separatists are fighting against India on behest of ISI, which had already drawn the blueprint of Operation Topic. NC and Congress due to rigging in 1987 gave rise to the sidelined politicians in the assembly election in the form of separatists.

In 1985-86, I was the Chairman of JKLF in POK and Pakistan. ISI tried to convince me about armed insurgency in Kashmir. I refused to become the angel of death for the innocent and poor Kashmiri youth in whose hands ISI planned to give arms, and had to run away for my life and seek asylum in Holland

After the death of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1982, there appeared a vacuum of sorts in Kashmir politics. Every minion of a politician in Kashmir began to think he was another Sheikh Abdullah. Separatists in Kashmir are fighting the battle of ISI and not their own. Actually ISI entered Kashmir through the ideology of JKLF but when it found its foot was firm on Kashmir soil, it did not hesitate to liquidate some of the JKLF activists who had honestly believed in ISI supporting them for independent Kashmir.

Geelani& Co are not fighting a national liberation war; they are fighting Pakistan’s battle in Kashmir. Their politics is event-oriented, meaning that they are looking for an event here or there, particularly related to police, security forces or Indian army, and then instigate the people over these accidents and thus remain in public gaze. They have no comprehensive plan of how to secede from India and join Pakistan or how to build institutions for independent state of Jammu and Kashmir. Incidentally corrupt rulers of J&K give them indirect support.
Q 3: In the past you have thwarted the offers from ISI to support you. At present, it is highly speculated that separatist movement has a strong backing from ISI. How do you see ISI’s influence developing in the separatist agenda?
Ans:  ISI sponsored armed insurgency in Kashmir in 1988. I rejected it because the purpose of the sponsors of armed insurgency was to demolish the secular structure of Kashmir. For ages people of different faiths lived in communal harmony in Kashmir. I am fiercely devoted to my motherland and the people of Kashmir. How could I work against the interests of my compatriots? I left the comfort and tranquillity of life in Europe and came back to my homeland. I have faced many hardships on my return. I had to spend one year in the jail. It is the fifteenth year of my case pending in a court of law in Kashmir. My plea that I cannot be tried again under double jeopardy clause has so far fallen on flat ears. I may tell you that there is a similar case of one Indian citizen Satnam Singh who had hijacked an Indian airplane to Pakistan where he was tried and punished. On his return to India in February 2000, the court of law dismissed a case against him under the clause of double jeopardy and he was set free. I fail to understand why Indian judiciary is applying different yard sticks in my case when it is identical to that of Satnam Singh. I cannot travel abroad without the permission of the court. No fewer than fourteen judges have changed ever since case against me was filed in a court of law here. Is this the freedom of judiciary? I often ask why the judiciary treats the offenders like this? Are Indian authorities indirectly supporting separatism? People say some of the separatists are on the payroll of Indian agencies.
Q 4: It is also believed that separatists do not want an actual stabilisation of Kashmir because it serves their private financial purpose and also the conflict has given them an identity which they might not have in the absence of it. How do you see that?
Ans:Separatists are active on the behest of an entity that has occupied part of Kashmir territory. The two occupying countries are engaged in a proxy war in Kashmir. Both have hired agents in Kashmir. Obviously the hired agents have no qualms of conscience and that is the reason why they are the most corrupt politicians one can imagine. They have no cause and no commitment. It is true that through their clandestine role, they have found their identity. Otherwise they are nondescript persons. Pakistan TV linked to vast network profiles them in larger than life size. How many of them are on the payroll of ISI is anybody’s guess? Therefore why should not Pakistan media give them wide publicity?
Q 5:  How is the separatist movement going to benefit local Kashmiri with regard to developmental aspects?
Ans: Separatists have one-track agenda of 
Contd. on Page 9
forcing J&K State into a state of chaos and turmoil. They are wedded to the agenda of disruption in Kashmir. They are fighting Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir. All of their energy is focused on disruption of peace in Kashmir. Security forces and local rulers, when acting inconsiderately, give them the occasion to pursue their agenda of disruption through calls for hartals and protest rallies. If a policy with human face is pursued, as was done by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, it could make big difference. The separatists would be cut to their size.
Q 6: What is the vision for Jammu region as a part of independent Kashmir?
Ans: We nationalists in both parts of the State believe that Maharaja Gulab Singh is the father of the State extending from Lakhanpur to Damchok in Ladakh. We are for empowering the regions and sub-regions in a manner that they are themselves handling income and expenditure and planning and investment. We even want that power should descend down on local bodies. This is our interpretation of devolution of power in J&K State. I may tell you that in European countries even as important a document as passport is issued by the local body in the area where application is made. This is evidently the basis of secular democracy. In that sense Jammu region and its sub regions will enjoy full measure of autonomy. No region or sub-region will have any complaint of discrimination because the very cause of discrimination will be eliminated. Development of all the regions will be ensured on the basis of secular democracy. This is the conviction of JK Democratic Liberation Party that I am heading.
Q 7: How do you see MasaratAlam’s anti-India slogan and support for Pakistan administration? It clearly seems that separatists choose to ignore the ignominy that “Azad Kashmir” population has been subjected to by the Pak administration.
Ans:Masarat was unknown until 2010. He is released on the basis of Indian law. The Governor of the State had ordered his release. BJP and Indian media gave the incident extraordinary publicity. If Masarat had spent millions of dollars, he would not have got the media hype which he got through the Indian media. When Indian media projected him as an associate of Hafiz Saeed, euphoric youth in Kashmir felt impulsive to join his bandwagon. It is generally believed here that India wants a weaker leadership outside State Jamaat-i-Islami after Ali Shah Geelani’s exit. It is Pakistan that has staged the Masarat show. Why does not Pakistan speak about injustice done to me by the Indians and why only MasaratAlam?
Q 8: How do you see the new leadership of Kashmir BJP-PDP coalition? What is the JKDLP message to these two coalition partners with regard to Kashmir discourse?
Ans: Pakistan did not want coalition government to be formed in the State. They were for the alienation of Jammu. I published an article in those days arguing that if any coalition government other than that of PDP and BJP was formed, it would spell disaster for the State. It would serve as fuel to separatism. If BJP had made coalition with NC or Congress, that would be disastrous. The PDP-BJP coalition is helpful to strengthening of secularism and territorial integrity of the State. But they have the common minimum programme and if it fails to solve the problems of the people, the coalition cannot survive. 
Q9: Considering the growing terrorism and threat from Pakistan and China to the valley, what do you think is the alternative to AFSPA in dismantling the threat?
Ans: We know that China asked Pakistan not to encourage religious violence in her eastern province of Xinjiang. She demanded that Pakistan stop state or non-state actors involved in her Eastern province. However, Pakistan is fully involved in J&K --- not only in Kashmir but in all the three regions. We have regular infiltration in Kashmir.

AFSPA is a psychological issue for the people in the valley. Regrettably there are black sheep in the rank and file of security forces who break the law. We have seen killings in Ganderbal, Hawal, Bijbehara and we have also seen the loss of 127 lives in 2010. No law allows shooting at a stone pelting youth and that too above legs. People hate AFSPA. No country likes to curb terrorism by resorting to inhuman methods. It is a dangerous law. By withdrawing AFSPA and PSA, the government can considerably reduce the propaganda force of Pakistan.
Q 10: How do you see the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits and do you believe they have a say in the preservation of Kashmiriyatin the Valley as well?
Ans: Without Kashmiri Pandits, we the Kashmiri’s are incomplete. They have made glorious contribution in bringing education to the masses of people in Kashmir. My teachers were Kashmiri Pandits. In 1994, I published an article titled ‘The Tragedy of Kashmiri Pandits’. That was the peak of militancy. I rejected the assertion that Kashmiri Pandits left their homes on the behest of the then Governor Mr. Jagmohan. Two years ago, I published another article in Greater Kashmir (12 March 20121) under the title ‘Towards Communal Harmony. Both are on my blog ( It gives a formula for their return and rehabilitation on just, viable and humanitarian basis keeping communal harmony in the front.

However, let me say that Pandits, when back in the valley, cannot be comfortable in isolated townships. There will be many problems like security, socialization, inter-community interaction, and above all restoration of mutual confidence. Separate townships will be a temptation for the militants. Life lived under fear psychosis is no life. Separate township means keeping them in prisons. That is foolishness. Brisk interaction is needed to remove clouds of hatred.
Q 11: What do you think is a permanent solution to resolving Kashmir?
Ans: There would not be Kashmir question if India or Pakistan had captured entire territory of original J&K State in 1947. Responsibility lies with India, Pakistan and the world leadership. This is no unipolar world today. One cannot close eyes to Pakistan playing a role in Kashmir. India will not give and Pakistan cannot take. Thus Kashmir remains a flashpoint in the sub-continent. Let all stakeholders sit round a table and focus on making Kashmir a neutral zone like Switzerland. India, Pakistan and China, the three claimants to the territory must under the aegis of the UN guarantee neutrality of Jammu and Kashmir. This conflict has taken the entire region a hostage to many negative developments including wars, conspiracies and economic disabilities.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Azad Kashmir, is it Azad? Dr Shabir Choudhry

Azad Kashmir, is it Azad?  Dr Shabir Choudhry
LONDON, England            15th December, 2002
Part One
People on this side of the divide, for whatever reason, are not clear in their thoughts and actions. They are not sure whether to call themselves Kashmiris, Azad Kashmiris or Pakistanis. And the unfortunate increasing gulf between different ethnic groups of Kashmir is not helping the matters. People outside the Valley of Kashmir, at times, are not considered as 'real Kashmiris', and this weakness in a sense of belonging is not helping in the 'nation building' process.

This topic is an important one and needs complete analyses and clarity, and it could not be done in this article. Also if we can discuss and analyse Azad Kashmir and its ‘Azadi’ then perhaps it would be easier to clarify this ambiguity.

What Does Azad Mean?

Before we discuss and analyse ‘Azad Government’ and its ‘Azadi’, we need to establish what do we mean by the word ‘Azad’ or ‘Azadi’? Azad could mean something or someone without any restrictions, independent and sovereign; or it could mean liberal. Of course here it is not used in the sense of liberal, but independent and sovereign. The word independent itself has many meanings; it could mean self – governing, autonomous, self-regulating, free or sovereign.

If by Azad we mean sovereign, then this like word independent has many meanings. If we take the generally understood meaning of sovereign - a supreme ruler or monarch - someone with absolute powers, then the question arises as to how many countries are there or how many rulers are there with absolute powers in the world.

We have more than 180 independent countries which are members of the UN, but the question is how many of them are independent and sovereign in the true sense of the word. In one sense, they are all independent, but only a few of them have absolute sovereignty, others are heavily dependent on others and certain restrictions are imposed on their conduct. That means independence is a relative term, all countries are independent but not all have complete sovereignty, most countries have a degree of sovereignty depending on their power, geographical location and friendship with other powers with absolute sovereignty.

Many might question if Pakistan, which controls Azad Kashmir, is a sovereign country. We all know that at times Pakistani rulers are not asked to do something but are told to do it, so where is the sovereignty of Pakistan when the FBI, IMF and the World Bank are calling the shots inside Pakistan, and where was the sovereignty of Yemen when six innocent (every one is presumed innocent until tried and convicted in a court of law) men fell victim to American shelling. There are many more such incidents where sovereignty of countries is invaded by those who think they have the ‘right’ to do so.

In view of that, Azad Kashmir is certainly not Azad; it is not even semi autonomous. The State of Jammu and Kashmir was semi autonomous during the British Raj, and history tells us that no ruler of Kashmir was  ‘sacked and removed’ by the British, although they tried to curtail powers of Kashmiri rulers especially during the reign of Maharaja Partap Singh.

And if we compare the semi autonomous period under the British Raj with the period since 1947, the latter is shameful. I lost the count how many times Pakistani authorities have ‘sacked and removed’ Azad Kashmiri rulers. Not only they were ‘sacked and removed’ but disgraced and imprisoned, and despite that if we want to call ourselves Azad then no one can help us.

Provisional Republican Government for Kashmir Announced

The provisional Government for Kashmir was announced on 4th October 1947. It is important to note that at that time the future status of three Princely States was not decided: Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad and Jungadh. The last two had Muslim rulers with a non-Muslim majority population; and Kashmir had a non-Muslim ruler with a Muslim majority population.

The Muslim ruler of Junagadh declared to accede to Pakistan, even though there was no land link with Pakistan, and the majority of the people were not Muslim. Pakistan accepted this ‘accession’, and in response to this, a provisional Government for Junagadh was announced in Bombay on 1st October, 1947.
Encouraged by this, some Kashmiri activists, namely Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, Bashir Din, Mehmood Ahmed, Mufti Zia- U- Din, and Mohammed Abdullah Qadri, gathered in Lahore to do something for Kashmir. They agreed to set up a similar type of Provisional Government, but no one was prepared to face the consequences. At last Ghulam Nabi Gilkar took the challenge, and as a matter of precaution, he used a fake name Mr Anwar, and sent a statement.

The statement, signed by Mr Anwar, described him as the President of the Provisional Republican Government of Kashmir read like this:
‘With the termination of the Paramountcy of the British Crown, the ruling family of Kashmir have lost whatever rights it claimed under the treaty of Amritsar, under which Kashmir was transferred by the British to Maharaja Gulab Singh, a forefather of the present ruler, for a paltry sum of Rs.50 lakhs, and that the people have set up a Provisional Government with Headquarters at Muzaffarabad’.
If after 1pm on 4th October, Hari Singh (the present Maharaja) or any person acting under his orders or instructions claims to rule over the State, he shall be punished according to the laws of the Provisional Government. Henceforth all the laws, orders and instructions promulgated by the Provisional Government shall be respected and obeyed.’

Over the years, the Pakistani and Azad Kashmir Government officials find it convenient not to mention the Provisional Government of 4th October 1947, and the focus of attention has been the government which was set up on 24th October. It is unfortunate to note that even the historians and academics have increasingly failed to acknowledge the first Provisional Government.

Part  2  Provisional Government Reorganised
It was absolutely clear that those who announced the Provisional Republican Government for Kashmir had an independent Kashmir in mind, and this did not go down well with the authorities in Pakistan. In order to serve what they perceived as their national interest, they decided to ‘kill’ this idea of an independent Kashmir, and install their own men in charge of this Provisional Government. So in the name of ‘reorganisation’ a new set up was put in the place of the Provisional Government, and it was announced on 24th October 1947.

Nowadays, very few people make any reference to the Provisional Government announced on 4th October, and every effort is made to highlight the one announced on 24th. Some even deny the announcement of 4th October, and claim that it was a ‘conspiracy of some Qadianis’. No doubt those who made that announcement on 4th October had some Qadianis among them, but they did that as Kashmiri nationalists rather than ‘Qadianis’. Anyhow this was another reason why authorities in Pakistan felt it necessary to ‘topple’ this Provisional Government. The only good thing in the announcement of 24th October was a reference to the Provisional Government of 4th October, and it reads like this:

‘The Provisional Azad Government, which the people of Jammu and Kashmir had set up a few weeks back with the object of ending intolerable Dogra tyrannies and securing to the people of the State, including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, the right of self – government, has now established its rule over a major portion of the State territory and hopes to liberate the remaining pockets of Dogra rule very soon. In view of these circumstances it has been reconstituted with Mr Ibrahim, Barrister-at-Law, of Poonch as its Provisional head and its headquarters has been moved to Pulandri, in Poonch’

The statement claimed that the Provisional Government is non-communal and ‘will include Muslims as well as non- Muslims in the Provisional Cabinet’. It expressed its desire to have friendly relations with both India and Pakistan, and expected that ‘both the Dominions will sympathise with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their effort to exercise their birthright of political freedom………..’  

Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim-President of New Provisional Government

Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim was appointed the President of new Provisional Government at the age of 30. It is interesting to note that when he went to bed on the night of 23rd October, he didn’t know that he would become a President of the Provisional Government the next day. Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim himself acknowledges that he did not know anything about this until on the night of 23rd October ‘I was awakened almost at the dead of night by Khawaja Abdul Rahim and Nasim Shah Nawaz…..who told him that it had become necessary to announce the formation of a reconstituted Government with himself as President, and that the announcement could not be delayed.’

Those who played a leading role in ‘King making’ were Khawaja Abdul Rahim, Commissioner Rawalpindi Division, Nawab Iftikhar Hussain Mamdot, Chief Minister of Punjab and Nasim Shah Nawaz, who was married to General Akbar Khan. This clearly shows that the decision to ‘reorganise’ was planned and executed by the Pakistani officials. They, of course, would not appoint anyone as President who would disobey them. Full credit goes to them, they selected the right man who has served the Pakistani interest through out his life; even in his old age he is still carrying his duty loyally.  

Ghulam Nabi Gilkar- Head of the first Provisional Government

Two main reasons are given for this ‘reorganisation’ one is that Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, head of the first Provisional Government, was Qadiani, and that he had no permission from the party leaders (Muslim Conference leadership) to set up a Provisional Government. Both arguments are illogical, if Ghulam Nabi Gilkar was Qadiani then so was Sir Zafarull Khan, first Foreign Minister of Pakistan. Why wasn’t he removed from his post, and if he was ‘suitable’ to represent Pakistani interest, why Ghulam Nabi Gilkar could not have remained as Head of the Provisional Government of Kashmir.

As for getting the permission is concerned all the prominent leaders of the Muslim Conference, such as Choudhry Hameedullah Khan, Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim, Mir Waiz Mohammed Yousaf Shah etc, were present in Rawalpindi. If this logic makes the first Provisional Government ‘illegal’ then it also makes the second one ‘illegal’ because the Muslim Conference leadership was not consulted on this occasion as well.

The main reason for toppling Ghulam Nabi Gilkar’s Provisional Government was that it was in hands of those who believed in an independent Kashmir and Pakistani authorities were only interested in getting Kashmir, and not in Azadi of the people. What happened to Ghulam Nabi Gilkar afterwards is not known. After taking this daring step he decided to go back to Srinagar to organise people in support of this government, but he was arrested on the way, and mystery still surrounds his arrest and what happened to him afterwards.

To what extent the Azad Kashmir government is Azad could be seen from the fact that its first President was selected and appointed by some people in Rawalpindi in October 1947, and its present President is also selected and appointed by some people in Rawalpindi. He is also Sardar like the first President, and like him probably didn’t know if he was getting a ‘new job’ in a form of a ‘promotion’, when he was planning his week as a general before becoming the President of Azad Kashmir.

The only difference between the two Presidents is that the present one is selected and appointed in 21st Century, and Azad Kashmir Assembly was told to rubber stamp his appointment as a President, and in October 1947 there was no such assembly. However this debate will continue as people in Azad Kashmir and especially some of their leaders think they are ‘Azad’.

It might be argued that deep inside their hearts, the  majority of people in Azad Kashmir know they are not ‘azad’ by any stretch of imagination, but they would still like to be called ‘azad’ because of two reasons:

1.       It gives them some sense of false pride that they are azad;
2.       But more importantly if they say they are not ‘azad’ then the question would be, what are they doing to change their situation. Despite better facilities Kashmiri people on the other side of the LOC ( Line of Control ) were considered as not ‘azad’ and they felt necessary to rebel against that situation.

People of ‘Azad Kashmir’ feel it is better to declare them, as ‘azad’ then there would be no obligation to ‘rebel’ or do something to change the situation. So in other words one can take this as another kind of escapist attitude, and refusal to call a spade a spade.
It would be interesting to note that in ‘Ghulam Kashmir’ the Chief Minister has the right to travel to all parts of Kashmir on that side of the LOC, and this right is not denied to other leaders. Despite a large concentration of army, some Kashmiri leaders like Shabir Shah have used this right to travel to Ladakh and Jammu to conduct political activities. But on this side of the LOC where apparently ‘azad people live, the President and Prime Minister of ‘Azad Kashmir’ have no right to travel to Gilgit and Baltistan, areas of State of Jammu and Kashmir.

At the height of the Freedom struggle in the mid 1990s, one popular Azad Kashmiri Prime Minister expressed his desire to visit Gilgit and Baltistan. He was told categorically by officials of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs (Pakistan) that he cannot go there; and that he was Prime Minister of ‘Azad Kashmir (area of around four thousand square miles), and Gilgit and Baltistan (area of around 28000 Sq miles) does not fall under his jurisdiction. The ‘poor’ Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir had to accept this ‘order’ and come back to Muzaffarabad.

Not only that these high officials cannot travel to Gilgit and Baltistan, no Kashmir organisation or group is entitled to go there and hold any political activity. Many years ago some activists of National Students Federation from ‘Azad Kashmir’ tried to go to Gilgit and Baltistan to hold political meetings. They were arrested on their arrival, tortured, heads and moustaches shaved, disgraced and ‘dishonoured’ and thrown in remote areas of North West Frontier without any food or means to travel back.

Without any food and money to travel back they really had a hard time getting back home. And above all, the way they were ‘dishonoured’ by their own Muslim brothers put shame to them, and since then no group has attempted to go back there. Who says we are not ‘azad’, those who say we are not ‘azad’ must be enemy ‘agents’.

Part Three
Azad Kashmir has nearly all the ingredients of a government minus sovereignty. For example, it has offices of President and Prime Minister, 'elected’ Assembly, Kashmir Council, Supreme Court and its own flag. What it doesn’t have is sovereignty over the area on this side of the LOC, and free hand to rule this area. There are many other things which independent countries have and Azad Kashmir doesn’t have them.
Mangla Dam
President Bush is a powerful man yet he cannot walk into Cuba, a tiny troublesome neighbour and build a dam or powerhouse to meet energy requirements of the USA. He cannot even build a dam or powerhouse in any of the American States without a series of negotiations and agreements with that State even though that dam or powerhouse is in the larger interest of the USA.  
Here we have ‘an independent state of Azad Kashmir’ where Mangla dam was built without any consultation or any written agreement with the Azad Kashmir government of the time. The dam was built to meet energy requirements of Pakistan, yet thousands of ‘Azad Kashmiris’ were made homeless, and to rub salt in their wounds, to date no royalties have been paid to the ‘Azad Kashmir government. Apart from that, appropriate arrangements were not made to relocate the suffering people of Mirpur who lost their homes and graves of their forefathers to meet energy requirements of Pakistan.
As if that was not enough, Pakistani authorities after failing to build a dam in Kala Bagh, decided to have another go at the people of Mirpur. New plans were made to upraise the dam and uproot thousands of people again, but our ‘Azad government’ was not even consulted at planning stage. They had to talk to the Azad Kashmiri authorities at the implementing stage, which they did, and that is generally to ensure that there is no trouble and some compensation is paid to the people.
If  the 'elected government of Azad Kashmir' is not consulted on this major issue, then of course there is no question of consulting the people as it is expected of them to give in to this demand, because if they don’t, then they would be considered as ‘anti Pakistan’, and in worst case ‘pro India.’
There would be many to oppose what I have written above and say that this is not true, and that we are ‘azad’, and can do what we want in ‘Azad Kashmir’. Of course we are azad to open our grocery store and fancy goods shop around the corner or clothes shop, go to mosque five times a day as well, and free to go to Islamabad and Lahore but not to Gilgit and Baltistan. If only this is our concept of ‘azadi’ then we are ‘azad’.
I am sure during the time of the British one had right to open a shop in any part of the country and go to the mosque as well. And it was because of this false sense of being ‘azad’ to which Allama Iqbal said:  
Mullah ko jo hai Hind main sajday ki ijazat
Nadan yeh samjta hai ke Hindustan hai azad  

The meaning of that is that the Mullahas have permission to freely pray in India and because of this these ignorants think that India is independent.  
Azad Kashmir and Policies
Those who claim that we are ‘azad’ need to ask themselves if the government of Azad Kashmir can make a policy on the following:  

 1.      Plan its own economic policy and open State Bank of Kashmir where expatriate Kashmiris could send money directly that Azad Kashmir government could make use of this foreign exchange?  

 2.      Take control of resources in its territory, for example, take control of Mangla Dam and take control of Gilgit and Baltistan and development of these areas.  

 3.      Directly make contracts with foreign countries for help and support and for other development projects?  

 4.      Make a policy on nationality, citizenship and naturalisation, migration from or into Azad Jammu & Kashmir, admission into, and immigration and expulsion from AJK including in relation to the regulation of the movements in AJK;  

 5.     Make a policy on Post and Telegraphs, including Telephones, Wireless Broadcasting and other like forms of Communications; Post Office Saving Banks;  

 6.      Make a policy on Aircraft and air navigation; the provision of aerodromes; regulation and organisation of air traffic and aerodromes;

 7.      Make a policy on Railways, Electricity, Curriculum, syllabus, planning, Tourism, Duties of customs, including export duties, State Property in Pakistan, Mineral oil and natural gas.
In short, according to the Interim Constitution of Azad Kashmir Act, 1974,  there are 55 important policy areas where the Azad Kashmir government has no jurisdiction at all; and it is this Act and the Karachi Pact which strongly controls and curtails powers of the Azad Kashmir government.  
The Karachi Pact
The Karachi Pact, gave Pakistan power to control Gilgit and Baltistan and assume all the following responsibilities:
 1.          Defence
 2.          Foreign policy of Azad Kashmir.
 3.          Negotiations with the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan.
 4.          Publicity in foreign countries and in Pakistan.
 5.         Co - ordination and arrangement of relief and rehabilitation of refugees.
 6.         Co - ordination of publicity in connection with plebiscite.
 7.         All activities within Pakistan regarding Kashmir such as procurement of food,  civil supplies running of refugee camps and medical aid.
 8.         All affairs of Gilgit - Ladakh under the control of Political Agent.
It is claimed that Sardar Ibrahim Khan, signed the Karachi Pact, as the President of Azad Kashmir, but the interesting thing is that during his visit to the United Kingdom some years ago, he denied this claim, and categorically stated that he never signed the Karachi Pact. This news was also published in Pakistani and Kashmiri newspapers. If he has not signed this Agreement then who did, and what is the legal position of Pakistan with regard to all the above.
That aside, ACT 1974 does not allow anyone to contest elections of any kind in Azad Kashmir without taking an oath of allegiance to Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. If someone refuses to sign this allegiance, his nomination would be rejected for not filling in accession to Pakistan oath document.
Similarly, no Minister, Prime Minister or President in Azad Kashnir can assume office unless he takes the oath of Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. In other words if you want a job of any kind in Azad Kashmir you have to sign an oath of allegiance. Section 7.2 of the Act 74 clearly says:
"No person or political party in Azad Jammu and Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the state's accession to Pakistan".
Section 21 explains about the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council:
There shall be an Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, and Prime Minister of Pakistan shall be the Chairperson of the Council.  The Chairperson (Pakistani Prime Minister) will appoint five members to the Kashmir Council. Other members are: The President (AJK), the Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir or a person nominated by him; and six members to be elected by the Azad Kashmir Assembly.
Moreover to make sure that Azad Kashmir government does not make any ‘silly’ move, Pakistan has ensured that all high ranking officers like Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary, Inspector General Police etc for Azad Kashmir are sent by the Islamabad government.  
Forces Disbanded by Pakistan
At one time the Azad Jammu and Kashmir government had its own army with its own Chief of Staff. Azad Jammu and Kashmir Forces were disbanded by Pakistan, and now Azad Kashmir governments have no right to have its own army, whereas ‘Azad’ countries take it as their right to have their own army. The story does not end here, section 31.3 states that AJK Council and the Assembly does not have power to make any laws concerning the following:
      The defence and security of Azad Jammu and Kashmir;
     The current coin or the issue of any bills, notes or other paper currency;
     The external affairs of Azad Jammu and Kashmir including foreign trade and foreign aid.
And Section 35 further degrades the Azad Kashmir Constituent Assembly, which says:
Bills passed by the Council shall not require the assent of the President (AJK) and shall, upon its authentication by the Chairperson of the Council, become law and be called an act of the Council. (Please remember that the chairperson of the Council is always the Prime Minister of Pakistan).
Let us look at the oath that rulers of Azad Kashmir take and see what ‘Azadi’ they have. Azad Kashmiri rulers solemnly declare:
"That as a President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir I will remain loyal to the country and to the cause of accession of the State of Jammu & Kashmir to Pakistan".
We have habit of calling areas of Azad Kashmir as ‘azad’, and areas under India as occupied. One can see from the above that Azad Kashmir is not ‘Azad’, but if people for whatever reason want to live in this false sense of being ‘Azad’, then it cannot be helped.

Friday, 29 May 2015

87 pct in Kashmir Valley want independence - poll

87 pct in Kashmir Valley want independence - poll
Aug 13 Nearly 90 percent of people living in Indian Kashmir's summer capital want their troubled and divided state to become an independent country, according to a poll in an Indian newspaper on Monday.

India and Pakistan have fought and argued over the Himalayan region ever since partition in 1947, but 87 percent of people questioned in Srinagar have no allegiance to either side.
Only 3 percent of the mainly Muslim inhabitants of the city think Kashmir should become part of Pakistan, and 7 percent prefer Indian rule, the poll said.

But down in Jammu, the state's mainly Hindu winter capital in the plains to the south, 95 percent think Kashmir should be part of India.
Both countries claim the region in full, and both have ruled out independence as an option. India controls around 45 percent of the former princely state, Pakistan around a third and China the rest, a largely uninhabited slice of high-altitude desert.

Delhi's Centre for the Study of Developing Societies interviewed 226 people in Srinagar and 255 in Jammu for the poll, published in Monday's Indian Express.

People in 10 Indian and 10 Pakistani cities were also interviewed.
Indians were keener to keep control of the region than Pakistanis -- 67 percent of urban Indians think it should be ruled from New Delhi, against 48 percent of Pakistanis who wanted Islamabad to take full control, according to the poll.

Another 47 percent of Pakistanis said they supported independence for Kashmir.

The fate of Kashmir -- known for both its natural beauty and for its bloody recent past -- has been uncertain ever since its Hindu ruler hesitated in choosing whether to join the region to India or the newly formed Pakistan in 1947.
Officials say more than 42,000 people have been killed since militants started a violent separatist revolt in 1989. Human rights groups put the toll at about 60,000 dead or missing.
However, roughly seven out of 10 Kashmiris think the situation has improved since 2002.

The overwhelming majority of Srinagar's residents think the security forces have too much power. The army is often accused of killing innocent people and other rights abuses, operating under a special law that largely protects soldiers from prosecution.

Around 84 percent of people in Srinagar want to see the return of Kashmiri Pandits, a Hindu community, large numbers of whom fled the region after being targeted by Islamist militants. Many live in refugee camps elsewhere in India.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

China Pakistan axis Beginning of a new cold, by Zulifiqar Shah

China Pakistan axis Beginning of a new cold, by Zulifiqar Shah
China and Pakistan recently have signed over one hundred agreements worth 64 billion USD in the field of infrastructure developments. These projects are mainly connected with the development and operations of the new and old seaports in Sindh and Balochistan as well as initiatives that connect China with coastal strip of these provinces, and also with Afghanistan bordering Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa (KP), India bordering Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and landlocked Pakistani Punjab.
There are some geo-strategic and economic interest perspectives of these projects:

1. China want an easy and uninterrupted outreach near Africa, Europe, Middle East and Iran through Arabian Sea and Afghanistan through low altitude tracks of KP in Pakistan.

2. China also want to give a permanent strategic checkmate to India at its western borders, although it has attempted similar on India's eastern and to certain extent deep southern borders. 

3. China will have an edge over the USA, the UK, Russian, India and France interests on the axis of Middle East - Central Asia. 

4. China would also remain a permanent check over India's economic and deep future's military coordination with Afghanistan and Iran through Port Abass in Iran.

4. Russia would be left with no other option than to depend on China alone concerning its Central and South Asian interests.

5.  Pakistan would regain its bygone strategic and economic importance after assuming these projects.

6. Pakistan is seeing these projects as the last life-line for the existence of country since three and half of the federating province out of four (Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa, and ethnic Siraki southern half of Punjab) and at least people of the two administered units Gilgit-Baltistan and Afghan bordering FATA have expressed their will to secede from Pakistan out of four administrative units (the remaining administrative units are Islamabad's Capital Territory and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). 

7. Strategically high important and economic back bone provinces of Pakistan, Sindh and Balochistan, see these projects against the sovereignty as these would not permanently skew options for the freedom for these provinces from the monopoly of ethnic Punjabi Muslims, but also convert the indigenous majority of ethnic Sindhi and Baloch into permanent minorities in there historical motherlands. Pakistani establishment has also announced gigantic housing schemes in Sindh through the projects of Zulfiqarabad, Bahriya (Navy) Town, Malir Housing projects and others that are meant to transfer 20 million ethnic Punjabis to Sindh and at least 10 millions to Balochistan through Guwadar Port.

These new developments are potential not only to extremely change the Asiatic and global balance of power, but also is potential to turn the world into bi-polar power matrix and thus giving birth to a new cold war.

These developments would also challenge the interests and strategic niche of the European Union, USA, Canada, India, Australia, Japan, Israel, some middle eastern nations, Iran and India. 

What can be the possible way-outs to address these developments?

1. The possible affected nations outside and inside Pakistan join together against these developments, and people of Sindh and Balochistan are strengthened in their movements for the right to self determination and freedom.

2. USA, Russia and European Unions need an immediate coordination to minimise rifts caused by the Crimean situation
3. A consensus between and among USA, UK, China, Russia, France, Germany and India over these projects in a bid that the interests of almost all parties stand unchallenged as well as the interests of Sindh and Balochistan are also well addressed.

These new developments are completely unavoidable by and for the world powers and the concerned groups. Simultaneously, the concerns and sovereignty interests of Sindh and Balochistan can also not be avoided. Therefore, a new thinking and a set of new initiatives at large are required.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Isis claims it could buy its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan within 12 months

Isis claims it could buy its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan within 12 months
Isis has used the latest issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq to suggest the group is expanding so rapidly it could buy its first nuclear weapon within a year.

The hyperbolic article, which the group attributes to the British hostage John Cantlie, claims Isis has transcended its roots as “the most explosive Islamic ‘group’ in the modern world” to evolve into “the most explosive Islamic movement the modern world has ever seen” in less than twelve months.

Photojournalist Cantlie is regularly used in the terror group’s propaganda and has appeared in a number of videos, including a YouTube series called "Lend Me Your Ears". He has been held a hostage by Isis for more than two years.

The piece, entitled "The Perfect Storm", describes militant Islamist groups such as Boko Haram, which recently pledged allegiance to Isis, uniting across the Middle East, Africa and Asia to create one global movement.

The article claims this alignment of groups has happened at the sane time as Isis militants have seized “tanks, rocket launchers, missile systems, anti-aircraft systems,” from the US and Iran before turning to the subject of more extreme weapons the group is not in possession of - such as nuclear weapons.

“Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table,” the article continues. “The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilāyah in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region."

It admits that such a scenario is “far-fetched” but warns: “It’s the sum of all fears for Western intelligence agencies and it’s infinitely more possible today than it was just one year ago.
"And if not a nuke, what about a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive? That’s easy enough to make."

An attack launched by Isis against America would ridicule "the attacks of the past".
"They’ll [Isis] be looking to do something big, something that would make any past operation look like a squirrel shoot, and the more groups that pledge allegiance the more possible it becomes to pull off something truly epic.

“Remember, all of this has happened in less than a year. How more dangerous will be the lines of communication and supply a year on from today?”

The capacity of Isis to acquire such a device is certainly beyond the group at the moment.
But Isis is indeed a well funded group having secured a number of oilfields in Syria and Iraq. The group also sells artefacts looted from historic areas seized during its insurgency, sometimes for six figure sums, as well as imposing taxes on civilians trapped in its self-declared caliphate and other methods of extortion.

The finances of the group have been estimated by some to be in the $2billion area, though it is impossible to verify how much money it actually has access to.

The threats come against a mixed backdrop of successes and losses in both countries; the group has been driven out of Tikrit in Iraq but has overrun Ramaldi and the Syrian ancient city of Palmyra.
A recent call to arms from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also appeared to suggest it may be overstretched in some areas, with his speech urging supporters from across the world to travel to its territories in the Middle East.

In September last year, the Home Secretary, Theresa May,warned that the militant group could become the world's first "truly terrorist state".

“We will see the risk, often prophesied but thank God not yet fulfilled, that with the capability of a state behind them, the terrorists will acquire chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons to attack us," she said.

Who’s Part of the Islamic State Depends Whom You Ask. BY LARA JAKES

A U.S.-led coalition is grappling over how to fight the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed allies in Libya and beyond without taking its eyes off Iraq and Syria.

A violent extremist group in Libya has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and kills in the name of the Islamic State, but U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is torn on whether it is, in fact, part of the Islamic State.

Declaring a brutal branch of the Libyan militant group Ansar al-Sharia to be an official offshoot of the Islamic State could potentially compel reluctant nations to use military force against extremists in Libya, further weakening the already faltering fight against the network. Washington is sharply divided, with U.S. officials describing a debate over the extremists’ growth in Libya as recent intelligence shows Islamic State leaders and fighters heading there from strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
Allies in Europe and the Mideast are similarly conflicted. As the Islamic State’s reach continues to spread, some countries now feel more threatened by the outcropping of extremists across Asia and in North Africa than by those based in Iraq and Syria.
But confronting what the Islamic State calls its “distant provinces” could come at a high cost: Diverting limited funds and focus to Libya likely would pull from the fight in Iraq and Syria, where extremist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is steadily seizing territory in his quest to establish an extremist Sunni caliphate. In the past few days alone, the group has captured Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, and the strategically important Syrian city of Palmyra.
In a clear illustration of Washington’s divide, one senior U.S. official said, “There is no question that there are ISIL fighters present in Libya” — including some taking orders directly from Baghdadi.
In a clear illustration of Washington’s divide, one senior U.S. official said, “There is no question that there are ISIL fighters present in Libya” — including some taking orders directly from Baghdadi. The official said it’s impossible to know how many, since some simply label themselves as Islamic State for propaganda gain. Some estimates conclude that as many as 5,000 fighters in Libya identify themselves with the Islamic State.

By contrast, a U.S. intelligence official downplayed the Islamic State’s scope. The group’s influence “has undoubtedly grown in Libya,” the official said. But “despite some defections to ISIL, Ansar al-Sharia has to date largely maintained its identity as a distinct extremist group,” he said.
Three U.S. officials and all of the foreign diplomats interviewed for this report spoke to Foreign Policy on condition of anonymity to discuss the debate more frankly. ISIL stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Islamic State’s former name.
Baghdadi’s caliphate, by almost every measure, is growing. Recent intelligence indicates that the Islamic State’s headquarters in Iraq and Syria have sent funds to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, fighters to Tunisia, and advice to Boko Haram militants in Nigeria. A Mideast diplomat, who refused to be identified by his nationality, said the group is now operating in as many as 16 countries, including Algeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
In Libya, meanwhile, militants claiming allegiance to the Islamic State continue to rampage through the country, and on Thursday its Barqah division reported launching a suicide attack against security forces near the village of Harawa, not far from the coastal city of Sirte. A day earlier, extremists claiming to be part of the Islamic State’s Tripoli division said they had seized military bases near Sirte and published photos showing off vehicles, weapons, and ammunition they claimed to have captured after heavy clashes with local militias, according to SITE Intelligence, which monitors online jihadi messaging.
For the White House, though, such pictures may not be enough to convince senior administration officials that the militants in Libya are directly linked to Baghdadi. The administration has clear political reasons for avoiding a formal, public pronouncement that the Islamic State has spread to Libya: That would further embolden critics who believe Obama was too slow to confront the militants in Iraq and Syria and hasn’t devoted enough military resources to the fight there.
“Within the Obama administration, the stronger party is focused on Iraq,” the Mideast diplomat said in a recent interview. 

 “They are so occupied with Syria and Iraq, they are not focused on ISIL affiliates in Libya.”
It’s also true, however, that defeating the Islamic State in its own backyard would deliver a crippling, if not fatal, blow to the entire network. “To get at ISIL, you have to strike at the caliphate,” a senior U.S. official said.
The question of how to deal with the Islamic State as it spreads across Asia and Africa will be front and center at a June 2 meeting in Paris of diplomats who are part of the global coalition to defeat the extremists. Their debate over the “distant provinces” of the militant network is just the latest hurdle confronting the 60-nation alliance, which is beset by political rivalries and has little to show for its efforts since its creation last summer.

In Libya’s case, the spiritual leader of Ansar al-Sharia, Abu Abdullah al-Libi, pledged bayat, or allegiance, to the Islamic State this past March. Once bayat is pledged, the group is officially considered part of the Islamic State, said Robert Ford, a leading Arabist and former U.S. ambassador to Syria and Algeria.

Ansar al-Sharia is widely believed to be the largest of Libya’s jihadi groups, however, and U.S. officials said not all of its militants followed the pledge.
Washington is also under pressure from countries like Egypt and Italy, where leaders are worriedly watching what they describe as the unmistakable rise of the Islamic State in Libya.
Islamic State fighters beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya this past February, and the group has threatened to attack Italy and potentially even the Vatican, as thousands of North African migrants flee from Libya for safety across the Mediterranean Sea. The Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily are located just a few hundred miles from Libya’s shores.

“Regarding in Libya, Italy is asking that we should use all possible instruments and tools that are being developed in the coalition” to counter the Islamic State, an Italian diplomat said in an interview this week.
“Wherever ISIL is trying to arise, we are asking our partners to enlarge the scope.”
“Wherever ISIL is trying to arise, we are asking our partners to enlarge the scope.”
Specifically, the diplomat said, Rome wants the 60-nation coalition to start focusing on how to limit foreign fighters and funding from moving between Libya and other Islamic State havens, including Iraq and Syria.
However, the Italian diplomat cited likely insurmountable divisions within the coalition over using military force against Islamic State fighters in Libya, where the 2011 NATO assault that ousted dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi unleashed continuing violence and political chaos.
Even in 2011, the Obama administration had little appetite for getting deeply involved in Libya, and now it is far more reluctant to do so without the help of any reliable government there. The United Nations is trying to broker a political agreement among Libya’s interim government and competing parties to create a lasting, democratic rule before the mid-June start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, but almost certainly will fail to meet that deadline. Libya’s legislature expires in October, and the United Nations is feverishly working to schedule national elections before then.
The Italian diplomat insisted that there is a “growing consensus” within the coalition to identify Ansar al-Sharia militants as an Islamic State front in Libya — which, in turn, could force a military response. But other European diplomats are taking a far more cautious approach, arguing for focusing the coalition’s efforts solely on fighting the militants in Iraq and Syria.
“If we start to have a Libya that is totally taken over by militants who are actually not just saying, but are having active and proven connections to Daesh in Syria and Iraq, we might have to extend its definition,” said one Washington-based European diplomat, who refused to be identified by his nationality.
Daesh is the acronym of the Islamic State’s full name in Arabic.
Congress this year sidelined an Obama administration proposal to use military force against the Islamic State, fearing that its open-ended scope could send U.S. troops across the globe to fight any militant organization that flies the extremist group’s signature black flag. But lawmakers are also deeply divided over the limits of the president’s authority to order military strikes, and House Speaker John Boehner this week said the White House should “start over” with a new plan in the wake of Ramadi’s fall.

Those fears get to the heart of the concerns over formally recognizing Ansar al-Sharia as an Islamic State affiliate. To prevent just any extremist group from declaring itself a branch of the Islamic State — and winning the jihadi prestige that this label brings — the 60-nation coalition is trying to develop a set of criteria that must be met before a group is seen as a broad, legitimate threat. A similar set of criteria — including a command structure between core leaders and affiliates, and posing a direct threat to the United States and Western interests — was adopted by the U.S. government for al Qaeda as it metastasized during the last decade.
One U.S. official this week predicted that guidelines for identifying Islamic State offshoots will be introduced at the June 2 meeting, though the coalition is not expected to specifically name any affiliates.
Ford, the former U.S. ambassador, cast doubt on Baghdadi’s ability to control the Islamic State’s distant provinces in places like Libya or other locations where militants have pledged bayat. He noted “varying degrees of integration of groups outside Syria and Iraq into the Islamic State,” but said the oath of allegiance should be considered a deciding factor as to whether they are an official affiliate.
“Once they’ve done that, to me, then you have to put them on a list,” Ford said.
As recently as February, at least 33 extremist groups had linked themselves to the Islamic State, and that number all but certainly has grown in the months since, the Mideast diplomat said. Over the six-month period from August 2014 to February 2015, he said, coalition forces killed an estimated 7,000 Islamic State fighters. But in that same period, the Islamic State recruited 8,000 more.
“So whatever we are doing, it is not effective, compared to the root causes of terrorism,” said the Mideast diplomat. He said some countries want to directly confront Ansar al-Sharia: “The fighters in western Libya have adopted the same methodology as ISIL, and we should fight them all,” he said.
Meanwhile, “the U.S. position is, let’s do this one at a time,” he said, predicting that there will be little, if any, substantive progress made at the meeting in Paris.
“This is going to lead to nowhere within the coalition,” he said. “We should do something before it is too late.