Niloofar Qureshi

‘Disposable’ Kashmiris

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Now it’s absolutely clear that Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s “complete parting away from All Parties Hurriyat Conference Jammu and Kashmir” wasn’t a voluntary decision. And since it was a forced pronouncement arising out of an ugly situation that was choreographed by the separatist conglomerate’s Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) chapter, this development calls for serious reflection, because, all said and done, Geelani sahib had served Islamabad’s interests well and never gave any reason for complaint.

Yes, his inflated ego was responsible for Hurriyat’s split in 2003, but in the 17 years that Geelani sahib led the separatist conglomerate, he didn’t allow any alternate organisation that could challenge the Hurriyat’s (and in turn Pakistan’s) Kashmir narrative to come up. He also ensured that despite the center’s efforts to marginalise the separatist conglomerate, both mainstream political parties and people in Kashmir Valley continued to hold the Hurriyat in great awe.

For a person who has done so much for furthering Pakistan’s Kashmir agenda to be so callously treated and humiliated to the extent that he had no other option but to quit a party that he had nurtured so selflessly, is extremely unfortunate. In case Islamabad was unhappy with Geelani sahib for any reason or if his services were no more required, wouldn’t it have been more civil to give him an honourable exit? Where was the reason to force him out by plotting a ‘soft coup’ through his own subordinates? However, this isn’t either the first or only case of Islamabad’shighhanded behaviour towards the people of Kashmir.

In 1947, Pakistan army tried to take control of J&K by disguising the military action as a ‘tribal invasion’ and it would have surely succeeded had it not been for having a two-day halt to pillage Baramulla. Had Pakistan army not stopped at Baramulla and moved ahead to Srinagar (which is just 50 km away) and taken control of the airport, there was no other way in which the Indian army couldn’t have come into Kashmir. Giving more importance to plundering rather than ‘liberating’ Kashmir revealed the non-serious approach of the Pakistan army and unfortunately, this mindset has become Islamabad’s hallmark ever since.

In 1965, Pakistan army again tried to get hold of Kashmir by once again disguising its soldiers as ‘razakars’ (civilian volunteers). The plan was to infiltrate them across the Line of Control (LoC), incite locals to rebel and with their help attack, destroy defence installations and capture Indian army posts. However, once again the planning was done in the most casual manner and Pakistan’s plan failed because the locals did not rebel as planners of the Pakistan army had expected.

This wasn’t only a military defeat for Pakistan. By using military force to ‘resolve’ the Kashmir issue, Islamabad violated UN resolutions on Kashmir that call for its peaceful resolution and thus lost its moral right to talk about the same. Pakistan is lucky that India preferred to remain in its perpetual state of diplomatic slumber instead of exploiting this situation and declaring that since Pakistan had violated UN resolutions on Kashmir by attacking India, their actions had made UN resolutions null and void!

It may sound odd but the reality is that it’s actually Pakistan that’s given India the definite edge on the Kashmir issue. Though Islamabad keeps harping that J&K is UN designated “disputed territory”, but by ceding Shaksgam Valley (which is very much a part of J&K) to China, it has torn down its own ‘disputed territory’ narrative. If J&K is ‘disputed territory’, then none of the parties to this dispute has any legal claim over it and so, how can Pakistan on its own giveaway a portion of it?

This is the reason why Pakistan’s ‘illegal’ occupation of J&K claim has found no support from the international community. And with UNSC refusing to intervene on the Article 370 abrogation issue despite Islamabad’s explicit request, it’s clear that it the ‘disputed territory’ chant is only to please domestic audiences and the separatist camp in Kashmir. Islamabad’s volte face on taking Article 370 abrogation issue to International Court of Justice further proves that on this issue, it isn’t on very firm ground.

Returning back to Geelani sahib’s case, the more one looks into it, the more one gets convinced that for Islamabad, Kashmiris really don’t matter. They seem to be a ‘disposable’ commodity that can be sacrificed to meet the larger interests of Pakistan and the way innocent Kashmiris are getting killed in militant attacks seems to prove this suspicion. Having lost its Article 370 abrogation ‘battle’, Islamabad is now trying to build up a ‘genocide’ narrative in Kashmir and in order to draw the international community’sattention, civilian deaths are essential and the more there are, the better it is!

Thus, the time has finally come for the people of Kashmir to reassess Islamabad’s commitment in resolving the Kashmir issue. Pakistan swears by UN resolutions on Kashmir and demands their immediate implementation. But if it is really so concerned about Kashmiris, then why doesn’t Islamabad declare willingness to fulfil its obligation of vacating Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) as stipulated in UN resolution 48 so that the referendum for ‘self-determination’ can take place?

About Kashmiris being ‘disposal’, former Pakistan President and ex-army chief had this to say- “We have source (in Kashmir) besides the (Pakistan) army…People in Kashmir are fighting against (India).We just need to incite them.” Would any self-respecting Kashmiri like being considered a “source” that Pakistan can “incite” whenever it likes? Are Kashmiris merely objects of manipulation to suit the interests of Islamabad? Even United Jihad Council chief Syed Salahuddin has himself admitted that “we are fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir” and so, the question- is Pakistan using us as pawns in its fight with India?

If Geelani sahib who worked so relentlessly to eulogise Islamabad and prevent people from calling Pakistan’s Kashmir bluff can become ‘disposable’ for it, what can the ordinary Kashmiri expect? Thus, it’s time that Kashmiris finally got into the driver’s seat and took full control of the situation. Because even after 73 years and all the rhetoric about its “principled stand on Kashmir,” Islamabad still hasn’t been able to formulate a workable plan for resolving the Kashmir issue!

The writer is a Delhi based columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

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