In my last Saturday column, I had begun this series of 'Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)' on Kashmir, in the backdrop of the unprecedented number of discussions on Kashmir, in India and abroad. This is the least we can contribute to the cause of Kashmir i.e. convey the truth to those who raise questions, as precisely & as succinctly as possible. Sometimes we don't know exact answers or at times, we do but we can't put it forth with accuracy and terseness. The questions 1&2, in the first column of this series were about the role of Pakistan & Islam in Kashmir's political struggle. Today, I will talk about two more usual questions/comments Kashmiris face on Hurriyat & who should vacate Kashmir first as per the UNSC.
You Kashmiris are being fooled by Hurriyat leaders. Their own Children study/work in America & Europe and they make you fight on the streets. Why do you become their pawns?
Apart from the commoners in India, this question was recently asked by the BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra in a TV debate. The straight answer to this is that the political aspiration of Kashmiris has not been introduced/taught to them, by Hurriyat Conference. The people of Kashmir strive for their own rights, out of their volition, not because Hurriyat asks them to do so. Hurriyat is a group of some Kashmiris who volunteered to lead this sentiment; this sentiment has not come 'From them'. There is a huge difference between the two. If people were to seek Freedom because Hurriyat has convinced them to do so, then this question would've been valid. Hurriyat's role is only to act as employee of the sentiment of people. And even if they were to agree with Indian policy on Kashmir tomorrow, India will only have them but not the people of Kashmir, who will, then come up with a new Hurriyat. The sentiment is paramount not the Hurriyat. So, even if India convinces us about their selfishness, it would only result in new leaders popping up. It would not lessen the quest of our inalienable rights, which is the actual motive of such questioners. Those who're out there, protesting, stone-throwing or other acts, do so for themselves, not for any leader. It must be noted that Hurriyat was formed on March 9th, 1993, when about 50,000 Kashmiris were already dead in an armed uprising which began in 1989. This is the reason when you find some Kashmiris against Hurriyat, you misconstrue them as Pro-Indians. They are against Hurriyat because as per them, Hurriyat is not anti-India enough (anti-Indian K-policy, to be precise). This is also the reason why Hurriyat's election-boycott call(which some people think doesn't go against the movement) is not heeded at times, while all other calls are followed in letter & spirit. Again you misconceive that as a vote for India, since Hurriyat's call was rejected. It only shows people do not blindly agree to everything they say.
Besides, if one person from a family dedicates his life for people's cause and exposes himself to all the risks, he is not answerable about his children to the families, who have no contribution at all. It is not mandatory on his children to be out there too, for him to be legitimate because it is not his fight which he's seeking support for. His individual contribution is to be appreciated. And their children are adults who make their own decisions. Those who are on the streets today risking their lives may not have listened to their parents too, who wanted them to stay indoors. This explanation was in case we agree to the factuality of the question. I think it is exaggerated. The children of main three Pro-Freedom leaders are for everyone to see. The senior one doesn't have anyone in America or Europe and the other two have one baby girl each, less than the age of 5, who can neither study nor work abroad. So, this question isn't that great, even from the Indian perspective.
Since you Kashmiris keep on harping on UNSC Resolutions, do you know its Pakistan which needs to move out of Kashmir first? Why don't you struggle against Pakistan first, instead of India?
This argument is not only used by the Indians but also by few Kashmiris in Europe working for India interests. I've once explained it at length in one of my GK columns ''For the Sake of argument''. True, Pakistan has to move out first as per the UNSC Resolution, but let India allow its implementation first. As Indian commentators themselves say that these resolutions do not fall under the category of 'Enforceability', it thus requires a formal cooperation of both the countries as to when to start the implementation of these resolutions. These are the international matters. Please think about it – India's official claim, as per its 1994 parliament resolution is that ''the entire state of J&K is its integral part including the Pakistani Kashmir, which remains to be taken''. In this situation, if Pakistan unilaterally backs off, India (even if it doesn't actually want it) will have no option, but to honor its resolution with almost full majority in Parliament and control 'AJK' as well, or else it will go against its own constitution. UN has been offering its good offices time and again. Until India does not agree to whole idea of the conduct of the referendum in J&K, UN can do nothing nor can Pakistan. So, the question of withdrawal of Pakistan comes much later in the 'Implementation phase'. Therefore, the first pre requisite is the joint agreement, followed by a joint request to the UN, by both the countries, to come and implement the 'agreed upon' resolutions, whose opposition, by the way, India has made its law. This is where the bottleneck lies. Once they approach the UN and "implementation phase'' begins, Pakistan has to withdraw first and if it denies to comply with what it has already signed, it will be exposed and Kashmiris will have to start opposing Pakistan instead of India, then. As of now, Kashmiris are dying for the UN intervention, Pakistan is reminding UN about it every now and then, it is only India which sometimes, calls it an internal problem and at times a bilateral one and says UN can't be allowed to intervene. How can you ask someone to act upon the Step-1 of the process, when you oppose the implementation of the same process, tooth & nail? So, anybody who asks this question should actually have Indian PMO say the same- Let Pakistan withdraw first, which would mean India agrees to Kashmir being dispute & will allow UNSC implementation. Till then, this argument is preposterous. I' amazed to see people who call themselves scholars & analysts of international repute asking this question. What hurts even more is when nobody from our side answers it correctly.
Mehboob Makhdoomi is a Harvardian & an MBA from Pennsylvania University (IUP) United States with a Research degree from Cardiff University, United Kingdom.