The Infinite Sadness Of Amanullah Khan
8 February 2005
The Daily Times
Khaled Ahmed`s TV Review
Islamabad: Amanullah Khan was a shady figure flitting on the margins of the officially organised covert jihad. He did not have locus standi in Azad Kashmir (where JKLF always had mute support) because the Constitution of Azad Kashmir did not allow the 'third option' or Independent Kashmir. His party was therefore outlawed from elections there Leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Amanullah Khan got his organisation to mount the first dissenting campaign against Indian rule in Held Kashmir. He had many things going for him, including support from the non-Muslims there. Back in Pakistan, JKLF could not be supported because it had embraced the 'third option'. That enabled India to get him thrown out of the UK. Now that jihad is no more, his is a sad figure, still standing behind an idea whose time should have come, but did not, as a result of Pakistan's Kashmir policy. GEO (January 12, 2005) Iftikhar Ahmad confronted JKLF chief Amanullah Khan in his Jawabdeh programme. Amanullah said that he had opened his chain of schools in Karachi and not in the Northern Areas because he had been educated in Karachi. He said his source of income were these schools. He said he was once the supporter of Jagjit Chohan and now he was not even a national of Pakistan as his passport had been taken away from him. He said he favoured a secular and united Kashmir because there were 25 percent non-Muslims there. He said he was not against Islam and that secularism was not against religion. He said he was not a terrorist and the accusation that he killed an Indian diplomat was false. He was arrested in London but was then let off, finally to be deported after the UK reached a secret understanding with India in 1986. While it was true that hijacking of Indian planes was done by the JKLF men, he thought that India had 'sacrificed' more for Kashmir than Pakistan if one counted the troops killed there. The troops of Pakistan never took part in the struggle. The Kashmiris who got killed numbered 80,000. He said he had not abandoned the gun but his party rebel Yaseen Malik had abandoned it. Sheikh Abdullah had taken India's help but Amanullah Khan considered Farooq Abdullah a Kashmiri and was friendly to him. Farooq had met Bhutto and Bhutto had told him that for the next ten years Pakistan was too weak to do anything in Kashmir. Therefore he should take from India whatever he could get. He said he planned the plane hijack but he had fallen out with Maqbool Butt on the issue of whether he should go to Held Kashmir. Some people were ousted from JKLF because they were involved in baraderi politics. He said ISI supported him but also undermined him. On January 6, 2004, the Musharraf-Vajpayee statement did not mention the Kashmiris which was wrong. He said autonomy and sovereignty would be successful in Kashmir which could take the route of neutral Switzerland. Kashmir could choose between India and Pakistan depending on who was really friendly. Amanullah Khan was a shady figure flitting on the margins of the officially organised covert jihad. He did not have locus standi in Azad Kashmir (where JKLF always had mute support) because the Constitution of Azad Kashmir did not allow the 'third option' or Independent Kashmir. His party was therefore outlawed from elections there. The most interesting aspect of the Azad Kashmir Constitution relates to the legal governance of Azad Kashmir, a myth expressed in the epithet azad, as opposed to the non-azad part occupied by India across the Line of Control. The Constitution of Azad Kashmir gives it a lot of symbolic 'independence' - for instance, it has a prime minister whereas the Occupied Kashmir only has a chief minister - but if you read Article 21 describing Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, it becomes apparent that the prime minister is as much subordinated to the prime minister of Pakistan as the chief minister of Occupied Kashmir is to the prime minister of India through the president and parliament. The Council is chaired by the prime minister of Pakistan and its secretariat virtually runs Azad Kashmir from Islamabad. In fact secretary Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad may be more powerful than the elected prime minister of Azad Kashmir. Today if Pakistan had not received its comeuppance at the end of its decade of Kashmir policy through 'conflict of low intensity' Amanullah's view would have won global support.