Hashim Qureshi

Stop the disastrous gun game!

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The people inhabiting 8,000 square miles of earth in Kashmir have been living under the shadow, fear and diktat of the gun for last three decades. A hundred thousand of Kashmiris are said to have lost their lives in this gun game and thousands have reportedly disappeared.

The gun brought the sickening gift of orphan-hood to thousands of children. No one has been able to keep a record of the women turned widows owing to the gun. The gun forced lakhs of people including the Pandit community to abandon their homes, properties, relatives, friends and neighbors. It is the gun that has brought disaster to the educational system in Kashmir. The gun has rendered our veiled women unsafe. For thirty years we have been living under the shadow of the gun, we are afraid to speak the truth.

We lament over Kunan Poshpora incident but we do not know how many of such events take place individually and collectively without our knowledge. Our conscience and our inner self repeatedly ask us a question about what did the State and especially Kashmir got out of the gun except destruction and annihilation.

The gun was chosen as the guarantor of freedom by the people of Kashmir. Nevertheless, Countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos Algeria, South America and many other African countries attained their freedom through gun. But a deeper study of their struggle will not show that any of these struggles was fought in the name of religion nor was there a profusion of informers within their struggles. Freedom struggles to which we allude were all disciplined and planned and carried out in a way that all freedom loving countries of the world extended their support to them. But when I try to analyze the struggle in Kashmir, I come to the conclusion that neighbouring country gives our boys training in arms for a period of 8 to 15 days at the most and then they are pushed into Kashmir to fight the highly trained and experienced Indian army soldiers. (Some people castigate me for telling this truth).

Anybody with live conscience or anybody with even a small knowledge of military activities will have no hesitation in saying that the purpose of a 30 year-long use of gun had no purpose for Kashmiris other than that of turning Kashmir into a vast graveyard?

From the very beginning, I raised my voice against the gun. I tried to make the militants, politicians and the people of Kashmir understand that gun was their worst enemy and that it would lead us nowhere. But mounds of hatred and organized propaganda were unleashed against me.

I have passionate love for my motherland, its streams and springs, its meadows and snow clad mountains. I gave up the comforts and beauty of European life because I am obsessed with nationalist sentiments. It was my leader late Maqbool Butt that infused in me the meaning and spirit of nationalism. Sadly for many in Kashmir patriotism or nationalism mean only accession either to India or to Pakistan. That is not how I look at nationalism. In all languages of the world and in all lexicons that exist the meaning of patriotism is that one should love ones land, ones people and ones traditions without linking it up to any religion or ethnicity or class and creed. Protecting ones motherland and working for its development and progress is the meaning of patriotism.

But this meaning has been changed in Kashmir. School and college buildings were torched on the basis of gun power. All symptoms of progress were erased. I struggled against all this. I have written thousands of articles emphasizing on the destruction that gun was bound to bring. The merchants of death and destruction, who made their sons and wards doctors, engineers, business men or politicians launched a propaganda campaign against me. The appalling thing is that these promoters of the destruction of Kashmir’s tried to tarnish me as an agent of either India or Pakistan. I never changed my stance and conviction from the very beginning that the entire state should be united, autonomous and secular.

When a question is put to those who carry gun or those who have left it some time back, as to what has been achieved through the gun  during last thirty years their unanimous reply is that “with the help of the gun we have  been able to project Kashmir issue before the world  community.” This is all senseless and let me use logic in explaining my point.

  1. Had Kashmir issue become urgency for the world community then it would have been taken up by it during last thirty years either at the United Nations or the Security Council?
  2. World community considers it always a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and continues to advise both the states to discuss the issue and resolve it bilaterally, through peaceful talks.
  3. Previous General Secretaries of the UN namely Boutros Ghali, Kofi Anan and Ban ki Moon said that “they cannot take up Kashmir issue unless both India and Pakistan approach them together.”
  4. Those who think that Kashmir issue will be resolved through the clauses of the Security Council resolutions are deceiving themselves and others as well because Shimla Agreement clearly states that “all outstanding issues between the two countries including J&K will be resolved through bilateral dialogue peacefully and without intervention by a third party.” Parliaments of both the countries have ratified the Shimla Agreement and they cannot go to a third party for intervention.
  5. We need to come out of dreams and fantasies because we are on the ground and we have full knowledge of ground realities. We have to answer the question whether a few people carrying weapons and crossing the border to Kashmir will be able to win us freedom through the use of force

Kashmiris are taking part in elections and even foreign observers monitor the fairness of most of these elections. There was only one way for our movement to succeed and that was civil disobedience. It would have maximally reduced the cost we have paid for our movement and besides that the entire world would have extended its support to us. Why we consider the gun as the enemy of Kashmiris is what this article explains at length.

I hope that civil society will initiate a fair and unbiased debate on the issue. Our youth are innocent and naïve and they have to understand that the gun is not going to take them anywhere close to whatever objectives they may have been asked to fight for. The gun is against the culture, life style and future of our youth. It is the enemy if education and progress of Kashmiri youth. This is what I have been emphasizing from the very beginning.

Unfortunately, we have become selective in condemning the killing in Kashmir. When a killing takes place at the hands of security forces, the Hurriyat denounces it but when a Pakistani mortar kills innocent civilians, the same Hurriyat maintains a stoic silence. Five members of one family were killed as a result of firing by Pakistani troops in Rajouri sector and all those killed were Muslims. How long will this double standard continue to tarnish the image of the struggle of Kashmiris?

As a nation we should abandon the gun and resort to civil disobedience which is the right way to protect and secure our future generations.

“Ham Chiragun Ko larhna hai Tariki se Faraz

Gul hone par Subha Kay Asaar ban Jayenge ham.”

–              The writer is chairman, JKDLP


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