Kashmiri Leaders In Pakistan: Now and Then
How and in what manner tectonic plates of sub-continental politics have shifted
DR GULL WANI
Moderate Kashmiri leaders are on a weeklong visit to Pakistan to have a dialogue with a cross section of political opinion. The purpose of the visit would be to bring Kashmir to the forefront and stress on Islamabad to bring Kashmir back on its agenda. The leaders claim that time has come to take the ownership of the issue and contribute to the ongoing dialogue process. The visit came under a lot of criticism from many sections of political opinion inside Kashmir. The other fact is that Pakistan’s internal political and security situation is not in good condition and many Pakistanis describe their country as the sick man of South Asia. It is indeed trapped in paranoid delusions. In India resolution of Kashmir issue is not a matter of urgency and more than that there is absence of Nehru, Rajaji, and Jayprakash Narayan (JP) on the political landscape of the country. It is in this context that one can peruse the visit of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and that of Hurriyat leaders to Pakistan so as to see how and in what manner tectonic plates of sub-continental politics have shifted.
There are four explanations offered by moderate leaders for their visit. One, to check how US pullout in 2014 from Afghanistan impacts Kashmir. Second, Kashmir is becoming only a bilateral matter and we want to factor in it as a party. Third, the leadership in Kashmir must deliver on alternatives. Finally, Hurriyat leaders want to make this visit not an event but a process and hence one visit to Pakistan is not going to solve the problem. What Hurriyat leaders will do and achieve in the short course of time in Pakistan is not important. It is also not so essential at this time to have a formatted and structured discussion on Kashmir related issues till wider consensus is reached at least in Kashmir. What I would ideally suggest for them is to dialogue with those who are part of deep state and deep society in Pakistan. In this context Hurriyat leaders have a point that just one visit is not going to help and more such visits are needed which is crucial for enhancing the trust surplus so essential for resolutions of problems. Without fear or favour may I take the liberty of suggesting the separatist leadership to do some genuine self-introspection on their own leadership qualities? Be that it may, the visit of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah to Pakistan in 1964 was miles ahead not only symbolically and quality of leadership but more fortunately the configuration of political forces and equations in the extended region.
Abdullah proceeded to Pakistan and nearly 5,00,000 people greeted him in Pakistan. On May 24 Abdullah touched down in Rawalpidi to a reception which surpassed in intensity and depth that was given to Chou-en-Lie in February of that year. Even today it is not widely known to people that the Sheikh wanted to travel to Pakistan by walking across the line of control (then ceasefire line). Nehru had gone along with the idea. According to Inder Malhotra who accompanied Abdullah to Pakistan going along the Line of Control entailed risks. After all the dividing line on both sides was heavily defended. What if some Pakistani soldier shot at the intruders from the Indian side? Mridula Sarabhai, a staunch supporter of Abdullah was the first to raise the alarm. Like today even at that time there was opposition to the Abdullah’s visit within and without. Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad was resultant to release Abdullah but the Holy Relic agitation put everything upside down. At all India level while Rajaji and Minoo Masani and others supported Nehru’s line on Kashmir, K M Munshi, Balraj Madhok and even Atal Behari Vajpaee opposed Abdullah’s visit to Pakistan. Vajpaee demanded that Prime Minister tell Abdullah that Jammu and Kashmir had already been integrated with the Indian union and that there was no scope for discussion on this matter. Dahyabhai Patel (son of Sardar Patel) said that only solution to the Kashmir problem was to settle in the valley the Hindu refugees from East Pakistan. The communists were also suspicious of Abdullah’s intentions. They thought that he was in danger of falling in the imperialist trap designed to detach Kashmir from India.
There were certainly some compelling reasons for a larger political engagement and active participation of political actors. The Anglo-American mediation on Kashmir was waning and there was a sense that mutual India/Pakistan settlement will be more rewarding. There were three factors that pushed the process. One, Y D Gundevia (Common Wealth Secretary) revealed in his book, Outside the Archives that Nehru was under advice not to leave both China and Kashmir to his successors but to solve at least one in his life time. Second, China war of 1962 had shaken India, and much more Nehru. Third, Nehru’s long time friend Abdullah’s imprisonment was weighing heavy on Nehru’s mind. Fourth, Pakistan economy and its growth trajectory had emerged a model during Ayub Khan’s time and many countries around the world were emulating it. Last, but not the least, Abdullah was indeed towering and widely acceptable to all. He had for some time seen some dent in his popularity but history is witness that Abdullah never lost his credibility. In India Jayaprakash Narayan understood it and did persuade Nehru that Kashmir has cost us a great deal materially and spiritually. JP wrote to Nehru that “Sheikh Sahib cannot be expected to be anything except himself – he just cannot keep quit. This is a common failing of us Indians. He advised Nehru that leaders are not doing justice to the people. It is the job of the leaders to lead but most of them are timid and weak to speak the truth, to advocate unpopular policies and if the need arose to face the wrath of the people. For my part, I have faith in our people –they are sound and intelligent. If they are given all the facts they can take the right decisions. May I say here, without appearing to flatter you that your recent bold decisions have shown that you are attempting to give the people courageous leadership.”
The other important issues related to Pakistan visit will be taken up hopefully next Sunday.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 23 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST
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