In comes Imran

The first thing Khan can work for is to restore the individuality of Kashmir



2012 has been a year of public rallies for Imran Khan. We have seen the cities of Pakistan full of atmosphere whenever a public rally was held by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The failure of the two main political parties, Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan People’s Party in giving the country an efficient governance, has created a definite political vacuum in Pakistan. Apart from governance the political situation worsened because of NATO intervention in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan. The failure of Pakistan government to address the public anxieties on both the fronts, internal as well as external, has sucked this country into an unparalleled chaos. Though the typical political invective – the failed state – may not be the right way to explain what Pakistan is right now, but the annihilating forces stand unleashed against this country like never before. Though Pakistan, as a state and a system, has displayed her nerve to withstand all these challenges, it needs no less than a political revolution to get Pakistan where it must be.
In the initial days of Pakistan when crisis mounted on her from all sides; Jinnah left it soon, Liyaqat was assassinated, food was short and financial problems loomed large, and Kashmir was like a congenital pain – it moved ahead like a live creature. In the words of Ian Stephens, author of Horned Moon; “For this the credit goes first to the sturdy good sense of her common people.”
It is these common people with sturdy good sense that Imran Khan is addressing in all the corners of Pakistan to build a new political force that can steer Pakistan clear off crises. Today, 15 November, 2012, he will be addressing a public rally in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir at Quid e Azam ground. In the short video message Khan has set the ball rolling; he wants to get Azad Kashmir people rid off the old Pakistani policies that have strangulated them. Khan, according to the press release, will also announce his Kashmir policy. For us , on this side of Line  of Actual Control, it is an interesting thing to follow.
True, that Imran Khan wants people believe that his party will revamp the entire political system if elected to power, but the question of foreign and strategic policies are less akin to abrupt changes. Most likely Khan will be speaking in loose terms that finally leave scope for all kinds of things to be accommodated in a policy. Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that he responds positively to the deep underlying anxieties now accumulated for over decades in Azad Kashmir. The political system and the constitutional arrangement put in place in Azad Kashmir are far from making its people sovereign and independent. The very structure of the Kashmir Council sits as a demon on the political aspirations of a people. Khan would do well by joining the forces that press for drastic constitutional changes in Azad Kashmir. That will be the right way to ‘lay the foundation of a new Azad Kashmir.’
Up ahead is the part of Kashmir that is under the control of India. Pakistan’s stated position on this is embedded in the UN Resolutions. Though Musharraf tried to nudge them out and place another frame of reference, but the opposition within Pakistan and Kashmir, was very strident on this. Then what is Khan left with. Of course he cannot deviate from the stated position, and he in all likelihood cannot support things like Mushraff’s four point formula.  Is this then hitting a dead end!
No, there must be an opening to a new Kashmir policy for a fresh political force in Pakistan. Here are certain things that might help;
Kashmir is not an extension of Pakistan as a Nation-State. This mindset that Kashmir is a territory that actually belongs to a Nation-State called Pakistan is a murderous assault on Kashmir’s individuality. The Nation-State of Pakistan can talk to the Nation-State of India in terms of irredentist claims, but its relationship with Kashmir should not be fashioned in legalistic, strategic and defence terminology. Kashmir is eternally wedded to the underlying idea that gave birth to Pakistan. Pakistan’s political elite and Establishment must rethink their language and demeanor when it comes to talking to Kashmir. The first thing that Imran Khan can work for is to restore the individuality of Kashmir.
Second, Khan must work hard to dispel the impression that Pakistan is more interested in Kashmir’s water resources. The fight for Kashmir must primarily be for Kashmiris. If Pakistan, in its Kashmir discourse, sounds like India,  then it doesn’t make any difference for a Kashmiri to be ruled by India or Pakistan.
Third, Khan’s party should directly invest its energies in Azad Kashmir to make it politically, economically and educationally better off than the Kashmir on Indian side. That actually is the test for the Pakistan’s emerging political force. If an average person in Azad Kashmir is ahead of a common Kashmir on the Indian side in terms of education, economy, ethics and culture, its effects will travel across LoC, no matter how impregnable they make this transitory barrier.
Last, and the most important, Imran Khan can lay the foundation of a new Kashmir policy if he makes it a matter of principle that nothing would be done or promoted stealthily, that undermines the life and property of an ordinary Kashmiri.
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Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 15 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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