November 2001 News

India must accept reality of Kashmir issue: Amanullah Khan

29 November 2001
The Hindu
Luv Puri

Chennai: The Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Mr Amanullah Khan, now living in Pakistan, complains that Indian leaders do not acknowledge his letters or suggestions about Kashmir, not to say of responding to them adding that it is ``not befitting of a nation claiming to be democratic'' Excerpts from his responses to questions by Luv Puri . Question: You were the first person to raise the slogan of independence. Considering the fact that thousands of people in the State have lost their lives, do you think that things have gone the way you envisaged? Mr. Amanullah Khan: It is true that we (JKLF) started the armed freedom struggle, but we never wanted it to get the shape it has of late taken. In the past when we started our movement, India and the international community forced us to resort to armed struggle by turning a deaf ear to our peaceful requests to give to Kashmiris their inherent, internationally-recognised and pledged right of self- determination. I have never believed that the gun and the gun alone can solve the Kashmir issue. The fact that tens of thousands of JK State nationals have lost their lives and that too without any concrete headway towards our national emancipation, is unbearably painful to me. Don't you think that the violence in Kashmir and the consequent fear it generates have been responsible for silencing sane political voices? As a result, political leaders or even the people cannot express themselves freely? Peaceful negotiations for the settlement of issues are generally the best way, but India has not been agreeing to that reality, hence the gun. If India agrees to the very existence of Kashmir issue, i.e., renounces her rhetoric of Kashmir being her integral part and renews her pledge of letting the people of Jammu Kashmir State determine their future, there is no reason why the gun should not disappear. Talks for the sake of talks are meaningless. Living in ''Azad Kashmir'' (Pak.-occupied Kashmir), what do you have to say about the living conditions, political freedom, role of the Pakistan Government in administration there? . In short, how ''azad'' is ''Azad Kashmir''? Azad Kashmir is not azad in the real sense of the word. The people of Azad Kashmir do not enjoy full political or at least ideological freedom. For instance, the nomination papers of the candidates for Azad Kashmir Assembly - who had declared that instead of the State's accession to Pakistan, they were for re- unification and complete independence of the whole of Jammu Kashmir State - were rejected with the result that no pro- independence candidate could contest elections held in July 2001. We (JKLF) had fielded 31 candidates, none was allowed for ideological reason. When we protested, about 300 of our members, including myself, were arrested. Similarly, one has to declare that one stands for the State's accession to Pakistan in order to get Government service in Azad Kashmir. What do you have to say about the militancy in Jammu region, which has been specifically targeted against the minority community? Communalism in any form is condemnable and killings based on communalism are still more condemnable. I strongly condemn the killings. We stand for a secular State and in which all people can practise their religion without any fear. What impact the developments after September 11 will have on Jammu and Kashmir? Nobody can say what shape the Kashmir issue will take once the Afghanistan issue reaches a certain milestone. Both India and Pakistan have their own axes to grind and Kashmiris remain disunited and in disarray. Anyhow, I hope for the best and remain prepared to face the worst. The Kashmir issue has been relegated to oblivion by the incidents of September 11. The international community that may be playing an important role in future on Kashmir must take guidance not from the claimants to the proprietorship of Kashmir but from hard facts about the real nature of the issue. India and Pakistan, the occupants of two parts of Kashmir, as also the international community, which was made a party to the issue by India in December 1947have been trying to misinterpret and misrepresent different aspects of the issue in order to serve their own interests and in doing so they have been taking funny and baseless stands.

 

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