In the 90s, when Rawalpindi’s sponsored proxy war erupted in Kashmir, the domestic pro-Pakistan lobby on ISI’s payroll had assured locals that ‘azadi’ [freedom] was just “around the corner”. However, even after more than three decades of unprecedented violence and bloodshed that has claimed thousands of lives, and vitiated the peaceful environment of J&K, the promised ‘azadi’ is still elusive, and the reason for this is simple Pakistan Army’s intention of exporting terrorism in J&K had nothing to do with ‘azadi’ at all- au contraire, it was exclusively meant to bleed India through “a thousand cuts”.
However, what’s most shameful is that a group of Kashmiris who came together as All Parties Hurriyat Conference [APHC] and claimed to be the “true representatives” of the people, not only defended, but even openly encouraged the ongoing barbarity that Kashmiri terrorists inflicted on their own brethren. These leaders, who three decades ago were unknown entities, have today acquired considerable power and wealth by toeing the ISI’s line, and for the fear of losing favour with their handlers, apparently don’t suffer any pangs of conscience due to their Faustian deal. To make matters worse, the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir [PoK] chapter of APHC is riddled by glaring instances of misconduct, and lack of ‘commitment’.
In fact, one of the main reasons for senior separatist leader late SAS Geelani quitting APHC was his annoyance with APHC [PoK] for its absolute subservience to ISI. In his resignation letter, Geelani clearly mentioned that leadership of the PoK based APHC was “just a representative forum and has no power to take any decision”. He went on to add that “… for the past some time, there have been complaints against them of using their influence to get close to power corridors, of financial irregularity and internal bickering.” Coming from the most revered separatist leader, these damning observations cannot be dismissed as being motivated, and this is what Kashmir’s intelligentsia and civil society should take a serious note of!
With the ongoing ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir degenerating into targeted killing of unarmed migrant civilians as well as members of minority Sikh and Hindu communities today, any attempt to justify this despicable trend is futile. So, the people of Kashmir need to question those perpetrating these ghastly acts of violence against humanity by asking for example, as to how exactly is the killing of a Sikh lady school principal, a Hindu teacher and migrant workers from Punjab, U.P. and Bihar furthering the objectives of the so called “armed freedom struggle”. They also need to ask as to why is APHC maintaining a stoic silence on such killings. Most importantly, Kashmiris need to realise that such senseless acts are undeniable proof that the aim of the so called ‘armed struggle’ isn’t gaining ‘azadi’ but only furthering Pakistan army’s ‘thousand cuts’ strategy.
For the last three decades, Kashmir has been held hostage to terrorism, which besides taking a heavy toll of human lives has severely retarded development and progress here. While the tourism industry has virtually been crippled by the ongoing violence, the ‘gun culture’ has ushered in negative attributes like arrogance and lack of respect for human lives. The end-result is that while Kashmir’s social fabric has been ruined, age-old cultural values are facing extinction. Kashmiri youth falling prey to vicious propaganda unleashed by fundamentalist groups through misinterpretation of Islamic tenets is a very serious threat, which if not nipped at the bud by the people of Kashmir themselves, will have disastrous consequences.
Here again, the people of Kashmir have to question the inexplicable silence of not only APHC but also Kashmiri terrorist groups. Readers would recall that in 2017, former Hizbul Mujahideen [HM] terrorist Zakir Musa who emerged as head of Al Qaida affiliate named Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind [AGuH] made two very unusual statements. He made it abundantly clear that “I am fighting for freedom for the sake of Islam. My blood will spill for Islam and not for a secular state.” He also said, “I’m warning all those hypocrite Hurriyat leaders. They must not interfere in our Islamic struggle. If they do, we will cut their heads and hang them in Lal Chowk.”
While APHC chose not to respond to this open challenge to its ‘self-determination’ campaign, the HM found it more expedient to distance itself from Musa’s controversial comments by contending that AGuH was “an Indian intelligence operation [to] “divide the Kashmiri nation.” However, HM supremo Syed Salahuddin ended up with egg on his face when Musa was gunned down by Indian security forces. His falsehood to conceal his inability to challenge Musa and utter servility to Rawalpindi were amply exposed when he ended up paying tribute to this so called ‘Indian agent’ by saying, “it is a fact that Zakir Musa sacrificed his life for the glory of Islam and the freedom of Kashmir.”
Strangely, APHC too seems to have accepted Musa’s fundamentalist agenda and senior separatist leader late SAS Geelani craftily overlooked his call for fighting in Kashmir, not for ‘azadi’ but imposition of Sharia by saying, “whosoever strives for implementation of divine law in his land, with his conviction and dedication are the real heroes and nation is indebted to hail their precious sacrifice. The best and only way to pay homage to them is to support the struggle in whatever possible way.” Frequent volte face of APHC and HM on the aim and objective of the so called ‘armed struggle’ bears testimony to their spineless conviction of what they vociferously refer to as the ‘Kashmir cause’.
The original aim of the so called ‘armed struggle’ spearheaded by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front [JKLF] was ‘independence’ and was touted as the collective wish of all Kashmiris. However, with HM wresting control from JKLF, the objective of ‘armed struggle’ abruptly changed from ‘azadi’ to “Kashmir Banega Pakistan” [Kashmir will become part of Pakistan]. What’s most intriguing is that while HM didn’t consider it necessary to seek public opinion before turning the aim of the ‘armed struggle’ on its head, APHC vociferously endorsed this radical change. Now we have both APHC and HM going a step further by accepting and even giving ‘space’ to fundamentalist ideology in Kashmir, which is indeed a sad exposition of the abysmal ethical integrity of the pro-Pakistan camp headed by APHC and United Jihad Council [UJC] terrorist conglomerate headed by HM chief Salahuddin.
The people of Kashmir should understand that those egging them on to pick up the gun are themselves leading safe and content lives on both sides of the Line of Control [LoC]. H.M. chief Salahauddin has himself admitted that “We are fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir,” while Pakistan’s former President and ex-army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf has proudly proclaimed that “[In Kashmir], We have source besides the [Pakistan] Army…People in Kashmir are fighting against (India). We just need to incite them.” With Salahuddin admitting that Kashmiris are acting as Rawalpindi’s proxies and Gen Musharraf referring to them as “a source,” is there need for any further evidence to establish the undeniable fact that for Pakistan army, the people of Kashmir are merely an expendable commodity?