The Fate of Kashmir

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by Yasmin Qureshi
I had wanted to go to Kashmir ever since I visited Palestine in 2007. There are many similarities in the nature of the occupation as well as the struggles, both being nearly 63 years old. One difference is that while Israel is seen as an external occupying force in Palestine, the Kashmir issue is considered an ‘internal’ matter or a conflict between Pakistan and India and the voice of Kashmiris is often lost. As a result there are fewer international organizations monitoring the region and little information about the extent and impact of the occupation gets out.

A lay off from my company in August 2009 gave me the perfect opportunity to visit the region, called ‘a paradise on earth’ by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The unanimous message I heard as I traveled and spoke to journalists, taxi drivers, pony riders, waiters, students and teachers was that they want azadi (independence); freedom from the occupation by India.

As a Muslim minority who grew up in India, it took me some years to take a position on the Kashmir issue. My visit to Palestine forced me to analyze why I could show solidarity with Palestinians but remain unsure about Kashmir. I was also falling into the trap many Indian Muslims do – if only Kashmiris would give up their struggle against the Indian government there would be peace for Muslims in the rest of India and the scars of partition would be gone.

The first striking view of the capital city Srinagar from the landing airplane was the breathtaking beauty of the magnificent Himalayas in the backdrop of a long stretch of army tents and buildings along the runway. Six army men stood around the plane guarding with guns. I wanted to take a picture but was advised against it by my neighbor.

The extent of militarization is appalling. There are 700,000 troops and 70,000 police forces for a population of roughly 10 million. The Indian military has been conducting training sessions with Israel on how to curb resistance in Kashmir. Checkpoints and detention centers (which also turn into torture centers) are all over the valley. “There are more soldiers here than in Afghanistan or Iraq,” said Qazi Mir, my taxi driver who often drove journalists to cover news stories. “How do Indians expect us to be part of their country? Do they know what it is like to live surrounded by armed men?” he asked. The combined troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in March 2010 were roughly around 250,000.

A senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer admitted that unless the longstanding grievances of injustice and suppression of civil liberties are addressed in a fair manner there will never be peace. “Things are better now. Our forces have been reduced but we are still very distant from a healing process”, he said as we chatted during iftaar (the breaking of the Ramadan fast) at an old family friend’s place. Tired of the violence, some members of their family had moved to Delhi during the 1990s.

The nature of the struggle has changed over the years. Non-violent protests and isolated incidences of violence had been taking place for some years. A rigged election in 1987 which lead to massive protests was a turning point. Images of the first intifada(uprising) in Palestine the same year were an inspiration. However, the fraud elections lead to a feeling of deceit and frustration that evolved into a violent insurgency throughout the 1990s. Kashmiris felt that democratic and peaceful means of resistance were choked.

With the rise in arrests, torture, killings and rape by Indian soldiers, young men started taking up arms. Pakistan took advantage of the frustrations of the Kashmiris and started arming groups like Lashkar-i-Tayyaba and Harkatul Mujahedeen. The US-lead mujahedeen resistance movement in Afghanistan against the Soviets also had an influence in shaping the 1990s resistance. More than 300,000 Kashmiris, mostly Hindu pundits were displaced.

Jawed Bukhari was part of the armed resistance but gave up arms some years ago. He now works on documenting missing and torture cases. “Some years ago we were worried about whether the next generation will continue our struggle,” he said. “Now we have no worries. We don’t need an armed struggle anymore. The civil society has taken on the resistance through non-violent actions like strikes and protests,” he continued. The last twenty years of oppression, torture and humiliation has given rise to a more mature, sustained and united resistance movement.

Massive protests in July-August 2008 against the state government’s decision to transfer 100 acres of land to the Amaranth Shrine Board are the best example of this new form of uprising. The state said that the land would be used to build toilets and huts for Hindu pilgrims visiting a cave in the mountain ranges in the state. Thousands of acres of land including forests, hills, orchards and schools had already been taken over by the armed forces over the years. Kashmiris perceived this as occupation of their land, similar to tactics of settlement building by Israel in West Bank. Thousands of people, young and old, men and women, came out on the streets all across the valley in cities and villages.

The only company on the road to Gulmarg, a beautiful city I had pleasant memories of from my visit as a young girl in 1984 was a trail of military trucks. Sadly a lot of the prime land there has turned into an army camp. As we drove through the lush green rolling mountains Mir pointed to a hut where the Hindi film, Bobby was shot. I could visualize Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia singing “Hum tum ek kamre mein band hon”. Prior to the late 1980s Indian films often depicted Kashmir as a romantic and exotic place for Indians, masking the lives and tribulations of Kashmiris [1].

“How can we forget what the army did to our women? One day we will be independent, Inshallah. We know that,” said an old pony owner as we rode towards a glacier. When he pointed out to a far off mountain range on the Pakistan border I asked him if he would want to be part of Pakistan. “We just want an independent Kashmir. What has Pakistan done for us,” he said.

I was lucky to be in Srinagar at a time when two important conferences were taking place. The first was by a delegation of women from Delhi to investigate the Shopian case. The other was on ‘Half Widows and Orphans’ to mark the International day of the Disappeared organized by Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). I was stopped at a checkpoint a few meters before the venue for the APDP conference. It reminded me of the checkpoints in West Bank. The policemen let me go after asking where I had come from and why and where I was going. It was an important conference and the police were keeping an eye.

Half widows are women whose husbands have been missing but have not been declared dead. They are neither widow nor can they remarry. In desperate search and hope that one day their husbands will return, these women lead a life of immense stress and hardship. They often don’t qualify for support from NGOs since there is no clause for ‘half widows’.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act gives authorities special powers to search and arrest without a warrant. Anyone qualifies as a suspect. “This is what leads to large scale human rights violations and torture,” explained Parvez Imroze, human rights activist and founder of APDP and Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). His organization also monitors elections.

The act has been in place in the Northeastern states since 1958 and was introduced in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990. State authorities have the right to detain persons without charge or judicial review for as long as two years. During this time family members do not have access to detainees, and detainees do not have access to legal counsel. “There have been only 15 cases of militants abducting civilians and military men in 20 years. In contrast, armed forces are responsible for 10,000 missing persons. Families of missing persons struggle for justice for years. This is a failure of the judicial system,” Imroze continued. His life has often been under threat and is closely monitored by the Indian state. Read more of this post

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The ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ is being observed today across the country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir

LAHORE : The ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ is being observed on Friday (February 5) across the country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir for expressing solidarity with the people of Kashmir waging a struggle for their right of self-determination for the last six decades. The day has dawn with special prayers for the liberation of Kashmir, in all principal mosques throughout the country.

Prayers will also be offered for victims of Kashmir freedom struggle. One-minute silence will be observed throughout the country with sounding of sirens at 10 am and the traffic will be brought to a halt. Newspapers will also publish special editions on the occasion, while TV channels and radio centres will air special programmes, highlighting the freedom struggle of Kashmiris.

On this day, Pakistani nation renew its pledge that it would continue to extend unflinching moral and political support to their Kashmiri brethren in their heroic struggle for their right to self-determination. The day is also an occasion to salute the courage and bravery of the freedom loving people of Kashmir who have remained steadfast and resolute in their quest to attain their inalienable right of self-determination.

Political parties and people hailing from different walks of life will join hands to express complete solidarity and unity with their Kashmiri brethren on February 5, in their just struggle. To mark the day, seminars, public gatherings, rallies and other events have been planned in a bid to highlight the plight of Kashmiris besides expressing solidarity with their Kashmiri brethren.

Speakers through their speeches will press the peace loving nations all over the world to exert pressure on India to stop its aggressive policies and allow the Kashmiris to exercise their right of self-determination. The government has already declared public holiday for February 5 and all the government offices, as well as educational institutions will remain closed. Shops, markets and business centres will also remain closed on this occasion.

There is complete consensus among the ranks and file of political leadership in the country that Kashmir issue is a threat to peace and stability of this region while peaceful and durable solution to the dispute, in accordance with the UN resolutions and aspirations of the people of Kashmir is the only solution.

In Lahore, processions and rallies will be taken out from different areas to express solidarity with Kashmiri brethren and condemn atrocities against innocent people of the held valley. It may be mentioned that Pakistan has always emphasised the necessity of a meaningful and constructive dialogue to resolve the Kashmiri dispute.

Kashmiri leaders were of the view that the Kashmir Solidarity Day has assumed special significance in the changed geo-political environment of the region, where the Kashmir dispute is widely believed as a flash-point, drawing international attention for its resolution, according to the United Nations resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiris. Mohammad Saleem

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The struggle for freedom in Kashmir has undergone a radical change during the last few years

The struggle for freedom in Kashmir has undergone a radical change during the last few years, changing in character from essentially a reliance on the power of the armed resistance to embracing the tactics of non-violence. For freedom fighters to make this transition is a substantive step which is loaded with tremendous possibilities and is capable of unleashing the might of the pent-up anger and hurt caused by the roughshod treatment of Kashmiris into a potent and irresistible movement. The civil society in Kashmir is getting organised to challenge the  abominable way in which the Indian state has treated it and that is no cold comfort for their tormentors. The power of this trend is becoming manifest when the common people are coming together to defy the power of the state to represent themselves.

The efficacy of the trend is evident through formation of organisations like the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and by resilience of activists like Parves Imroz, who have begun to draw attention at forums like the European Parliament for the unending pain that the Kashmiri population has to bear with.

The September Eleven incident has erased the line separating the freedom fighter from a terrorist and this has provided India with a handle to portray the alienation of Kashmiris with the Indian occupation as a foreign sponsored movement employing terror tactics. This has also enabled India to get away with the grave human rights violations it is perpetrating in Kashmir. One has to also take it into account that in the course of armed resistance spread over two decades the Kashmir landscape has been saturated with jackboot and the bayonet; thoroughly bruising and traumatizing the Kashmiri nation. The evolving non-violent mass resistance movement in Kashmir is in step with the global dynamics and reflects their impact on shaping local ground realities.

The Kashmiri armed resistance has been waged by around 1500 freedom fighters, operating in IHK at the peak of insurgency. Yet to neutralise this modest number of freedom fighters the Indians have physically deployed 700,000 troops who occupy every nook and corner of cities and hamlets and crisscross the forests, turning the landscape into a virtual jail. Around 100,000 Kashmiris have lost their lives during 20 years of conflict and 8000-10000 people have simply vanished after arrest by the
security forces. The Indian armed forces employ infamous Special Operations. Momin Iftikhar

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America’s new turn…!

After lots of drumbeating of “war-on-terror” and Al-Qaeda, for 9 years, which is nowadays under heavy criticism, at home and abroad, the US administration is now shifting world’s attention towards “Mumbai attack” and involvement of LeT- Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, declaring it as a Global threat. That’s what the US Defense Secretary; Robert Gates launched and kicked off a ‘new’ campaign in India, apparently against the so-called a ‘terrorist’ organization which, in fact, was a welfare organization, thus creating a plea to blame Pakistan, indirectly and a possible justification to attack Pakistan. Robert Gates also praised India for showing restraint following the terror siege of Mumbai. He further said, “I believe this operation, under the umbrella of Al-Qaida working with all of these groups, is intended to destabilize not just Afghanistan, or not just Pakistan, but potentially the whole region. It’s important to recognize the magnitude of the threat that the entire region faces”.


Following Gates, Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s coordinator for counter terrorism also warned saying, “Pakistan based banned group “Lashkar-e-Tayyaba” (LeT), blamed for Mumbai attack, and could become a threat to the west like Al-Qaida”. Isn’t it surprising that after more than a year, now, the US administration has suddenly realized that LeT could also become a Global threat hence equating LeT with Al-Qaida.


The US administration now turning a mice into a “monster” before the world which means that there is a ‘new’ and fresh planning has been done by USA and India, of course with active back-up support from Britain and Israel.

Why suddenly the US has taken a ‘U’ turn towards Mumbai carnage about which Robert Blake, then US Ambassador in India, FBI, Interpol and MI6 had cleared Pakistan’s involvement in this episode as the world knows that the Mumbai “Drama” was played by RAW, Indian Military Intelligence–IMI and Mossad, as mentioned in an article “Mumbai Carnage”: The final Nail in Mumbai Police’s Coffin” and , “The Police Story stands shattered”, by Amaresh Misra, who wrote in one of his articles, Today, 28th December 2008, is a historic day. It marks the beginning of a process wherein my `theory’ about the Mumbai attack might just turn out to be true. But there is no joy. There is just emptiness, sadness at Karkare’s death and the killing of hundreds of innocents by the Hindutva-Mossad-CIA combine using factions in the ISI and International/Israeli mercenaries”. How is it possible that CIA and FBI do not know the real story and would Not have told it to the Defense Secretary of their country?



Isn’t it amusing that Robert Gates, Defense Secretary of US administration asking for “Guarantee” from Pakistan, against repeat of Mumbai-like attacks on behalf of India, as if Gate is also Defense Minister of India..? But can Gate, or for that matter anyone in India, give a guarantee that RAW and Mossad will NOT repeat the same in any other part of India to put blame on Pakistan…? Because it’s a proven fact that Mumbai carnage was dramatized just to kill Hemant Karkare, the police Inspector who was investigating Malegaon bomb blasts and firing of Samjhota Express.


However, both these gentlemen, Robert Gates and Benjamin, are suddenly showing much more concern about the activities of LeT but at the same time why Gates and Benjamin have ignored gruesome terrorist activities of RAW and Indian Military Intelligence-IMI, of bombing Malegaon and firing of Samjhota Express wherein 68 Pakistanis were burned alive by Indian active army man Col. Purohit.? Didn’t FBI tell them about Karkare’s planned murder under the cover of Mumbai Drama, better ask Karkare’s wife who knows all about it, I am afraid she may also be killed in a road ‘accident’. Are these two gentlemen, Gate and Benjamin, are so innocent or so ignorant about what RAW has been doing in Pakistan, killing thousands of innocent civilians by bomb blasts in different cities of Pakistan..? And if they do not know the havoc played by Indian army in Swat and other cities of NWFP under the cover of TTP, the Pakistani Taliban…?And didn’t they know that Indian 17 consulate offices in Afghanistan, mostly along the Pakistani border and carrying out terrorist activities in Balochistan from Afghanistan’s soil…?


And why Gates and Benjamin are silent on the extra judicial killings, rape, arson and what not brutalities going on by Indian terrorist army in Kashmir since 1989, where more than 90,000 Kashmiris have been killed so for, including Sikhs because IMI and RAW killed 36 Sikh villagers near Sirinagar on the day of Bill Clinton’s arrival in India, putting blame of “terrorist activity” of LeT whereas FBI investigated and the President’s secretary informed Bill Clinton about the truth while the delegation was still in India. That is why about 200 Kashmiri Sikhs took out procession in front of White House in Nov; 2009, while Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh addressed joint news conference inside the building, asking for holding Plebiscite in Kashmir, in-accordance with UN Resolution of 1948, which is also a long-time demand of Pakistan and also all the Kashmiris, both in Azad Kashmir as well as the Kashmiris of Indian-held Kashmir.


Well, we all know, rather the whole world knows what they are up to..? They attacked and invaded Afghanistan taking the plea of “war-on-terror” and to wipe-off Al-Qaida and catch Osama Bin Laden who could have been caught but ‘Rumsfeld’s decision allowed Osama to escape’, informed by a US Senator, on 30th Nov,2009, in a hard hitting Report points the finger directly at Rumsfeld for turning down request for reinforcement as Bin Laden was trapped in December, 2001, in caves and tunnels in a mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan known as Tora Bora. Because of Bin Laden would have been arrested, in 2001, there was NO justification of carrying on “war-on-terror” and stay of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan any more.


And now the same Robert Gate who was working with Rumsfeld, then as an undersecretary of Defense in US administration, now taking the plea that LeT working jointly with Al-Qaida. In fact, like they invaded Afghanistan in 2001, now they, the US forces’ Command in Afghanistan, also wants to attack on Pakistan from all sides, the eastern borders of Pakistan with India and the LoC between both the Kashmirs, the north-western borders and the western border of Balochistan, jointly, along with India, whereas NATO will take the control of a ‘Watchman” of the whole of Afghanistan to maintain statuesque and not to incite or go for war against Afghan Taliban as long as the US forces are ‘busy’ in Pakistan. Moreover, by the way, why Gates felt need to bring such a heavy and high powered delegation, of 125 members, to India and Pakistan as no such a big delegation has come to visit India & Pakistan in the past except when the Presidents used to visit the countries …? The majority of them will certainly be war experts of different departments, of ground forces, air force and the Navy, simply to discuss modes-opernedi of a joint attack on Pakistan and the requirement by India otherwise what for so many ‘people; accompanying the Defense Secretary.?


As a matter of fact we believe that in view of much more criticism, at home and abroad, on Obama’s policy of continuing Afghan war, he wanted to call off operation “war-on-terror” but upon insistence of CIA and Pentagon, which is fully infested with Zionist Jews, Obama approved the required reinforcement of additional 30,000 US troops and 7,000 troops from NATO. But Obama has also given a time-frame as well to finish the job, of Al-Qaida, that’s what he has been told, and to start withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by the summers of 2011. by Sajid Ansari

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The ‘Crescent North’

According to the latest statistics available, Islam is spreading at a fast pace especially in America, Europe, India and Russia. The Crescent North refers to the rise of Islamic forces from Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, and Central Asia. Islamic conquerors like Tam-erlane, Sultan Bayazid Yild-irim, Khairuddin Barbarossa, Ghauri and Ghaznavi who changed the course of history belonged to this area. The west confused by the rise of militant Islam in the Middle East has initiated a ‘Long War’ by triggering a Shia-Sunni conflict based on the Iraqi model; not realising that recent history has already set in motion the winds of change, with epoch-making consequences, this time coming from the steppes of Asia or the Crescent North.


The Long War was initiated to achieve multiple objectives, with initial foothold in Afghanistan and Iraq. The ultimate aim of the US and west was to create divisions in the Islamic world and get hold of the hydrocarbon hub of Caspian and the Middle East in order to continue exercising dominance over China and the rest of the world. Indiscriminate bombing of Iraq and Afghanistan and the penetration of intelligence and mercenary agencies, like Blackwater, into Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to create chaos in these countries and spread confusion between various Islamic sects was a clever ploy to support this so-called Long War.


Iraq has already become an example for the entire Arab world. Every day bomb blasts in Shia and Sunni communities lead to violence between them. The agenda is to break-up Iraq into three countries – Kurdistan is one of them. This might ca-use anarchy whose impact would be felt in the wider Arab world. Knowing that sectarian violence can even lead to a war-like situation between Shias and Sunnis, the west wants to adopt this strategy to gain time and survive by vainly trying to improve their demo-graphics in the next 50 years. But they seems to have forgotten that all the major invasions of Europe came from the northeast, most of them from Central Asia and Turkey.


Now, the NATO forces have already started a new agenda in occupied countries in which the US army is playing a vital role. They are all focusing on Pakistan to destabilise and break it up. But thanks to Allah, we are still standing as one nation. The US/NATO forces have lost the war in Afghanistan and are leaving behind small crackers in the region. In the past 10 years, things have totally changed. While America and allies have been dividing and demoralising Islam by the media and military power in the Middle East and North Africa, things in the north have started to get in favour of Islam.


Qolşärif mosque - The largest mosque in Russia, Kazan

The future rise of Islam will come from Russia. Paul Goble (a specialist on ethnic minorities in the Russian Federation) has predicted that within the next few decades, Russia will become a Muslim majority state. This situation has alarmed the Russians as well as western leaders; today Russia has about 8,000 mosques while 15 years back there were only 300. According to statistics, by the end of 2015, the number of mosques in Russia will cross the figure of 25,000. Most alarming of all for the Russians and the west is: “By 2015, Muslims will make up a majority of Russia’s conscript army.” Russia’s white population is declining, but the Muslim population is growing at a fast pace. And in 2030 to 2040 its population will, most likely, have a big majority of Muslims.


The Turks also are abandoning the western culture, as their government focuses more on good relations with Muslim countries. The Israel-Gaza conflict has further strained relations between Turkey and the west. The degree of change in the Turkish public opinion during the Gaza conflict, and the scale of criticism of Israel that was manifest in popular demonstrations, may suggest that Turkish-Israeli and Turkish-western relations have been seriously damaged. The Turkish people support Islamic trends and culture. In the past years they have developed their economy at a tremendous rate. Politically, they have become more conscious of their Muslim identity; Turkey was the only Muslim country whose prime minister visited Azad Kashmir in Pakistan.


Afghanistan, another Muslim country, is already at war with the allied forces and the Afghan Taliban have pinned down the US/NATO forces. Today there are more US and NATO casualties in Afghanistan than ever before. Surprisingly these simple people have defeated two big superpowers of the world within a span of three decades. In this backdrop and the well conceived saying, “Afghanistan is the graveyard of superpowers”, America today has started to initiate peace talks with the Taliban.


The flag of Pakistan is meant to represent the country's Islamic heritage with its use of the crescent and star against a dark green background.

Last but not the least comes Pakistan, a country at war, a country facing economic crisis, a country with power shortages, a country full of corruption, and a country having problems in managing its resources. But it is a nuclear power, produces 10 percent of the world’s food, has the most efficient Islamic army, has millions of patriots and has the identity of being the fortress of Islam. Despite the nexus of Indo-US-Israel and 20 to 30 members of NATO to support terrorism in Pakistan; it is still standing.


Today Pakistan is at centre stage of the Crescent North. The rise of Pakistan will be seen when the US and its allies exit Afghanistan. The Taliban will again form government and lay the foundation of real AfPak. Yes, there will be an AfPak; but quite different from the western agenda. The two countries could move towards forming a confederation-like alliance. Hopefully, it will be a regional power of the next decade and may merge into the North Crescent to assume a bigger role.

(See also:  The Inevitable Pakistan-Afghania Union: “A” in Pakistan is for “Afghania”)

The best course for Muslims of the world is to come to the right path of Islam. The west must stop roaming around in the south; if it really wants a challenge, it should visit the north where the crescent revolution is taking shape. by Umar Waqar

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