Kashmir Solidarity Day ceremony in Islamabad was one of the rare gatherings which was attended by President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, three ex prime ministers of Azad Kashmir, current Prime Minister Sardar Atiq, Speaker AJK assembly, Opposition leader AJK, Many Federal Minster, Maulana Fazal Ur Rehman, and other prominent personalities from all over the country. The only purpose was to show solidarity with Kashmiris. Being a Kashmiri I always feel proud and thankful to our leaders for at least getting together in the name of Kashmir. Pakistani people have a strong spiritual and emotional attachment with Kashmir which they have always expressed when it mattered. But at the same time I always feel sorry for the historians and writers who always show the same old picture to their people and make them fool with the centuries old slogans.
Kashmir was one of the princely states which were under indirect rule of British Empire. At partition it was decided that the people of different states would decide whether to join Pakistan or India. But not in the case of princely states, for which this right was given to the rulers of the states to themselves decide where to go. This was a trap by Britons which latter derived Pakistan of some precious lands. At partition princely state of Kashmir comprised of Indian held Kashmir, some area of Aksai Chen occupied by China during Sino-india war of 1962, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan areas and some area held by China after Sin-Pak border settlement of 1963.
At partition Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh wanted to remain independent but later signed an instrument of accession with India against the wishes of people of Jammu and Kashmir. On Pakistan’s side tribal fighters and local lashkar with support of Pakistan army invaded the Kashmir and liberated a large area of the princely state. War between India and Pakistan broke out and continued till UN sponsored ceasefire dividing the princely state among two halves. As India went to UN to save the state from Pakistan forces, UNO passed a resolution on August 13, 1948 and another on Jan 05, 1949 asking Pakistani forces to withdraw and also make sure the withdrawal of tribesmen from state. Indians were asked to withdrawal after Pakistani withdrawal from the region hence handing over the control of the state to local administration. A plebiscite was promised under UNO after the withdrawal of forces. Pakistan had no trust in UN or India so they never withdrew their forces from Kashmir instead put the regions of Gilgit and Baltistan under political agents and established a semi-independent state with the name Azad Kahsmir under Karachi agreement. These moves totally wiped out any possibility of plebiscite as the first condition of withdrawal was not fulfilled, India found a great opportunity to continue their illegal occupation and never withdrew his forces instead their military presence in Kashmir grew larger and larger. China claimed some area of Hunza and put Pakistan under pressure to sign a treaty on March 02, 1963 and as a result a large area of Skaksgam valley (a part of Jammu and Kashmir) was given to China under border agreement. Pakistan went to war with India in 1965 after unsuccessful operation Gibralter in Kashmir, Pakistan physically won the war but lost at USSR sponsored Tashkent agreement.
In 1972 Bhutto signed Simla agreement to save 90,000 prisoners of war agreeing to draw a line of control between two halves of Kahsmir with slight changes in ceasefire line created in 1948. Bhutto also agreed on resolving the mutual issues bilaterally hence erasing the other possibility of UN or US sponsored resolution. The situation in Indian held Kashmir remained the same until the new phase of freedom fight started in 1989 after entry of local fighters in Kashmir, some believe they had just returned back from Afghanistan after Soviet’s withdrawal.
Who suffers the most? Definitely the Kashmiris, they have been divided between three halves, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Jammu and Kashmir. People in Indian held Kashmir have suffered the most with Indian brutalities. Since 1989 over 80,000 people have been killed by the Indian forces, thousands have been missing. People in Gilgit and Baltistan (1.8 million population) have been treated as the outsiders by the Pakistani establishment, they are nor Pakistanis neither Indians and I guess they do no even consider themselves as a part of state of Jammu and Kashmir. They had been ruled by one man, a political agent until recently when peoples party gave them some political rights and first time in history they went for votes and elected their own chief minister and governor. But still the legal standing of the area is not cleared; it is a part of Pakistan, a semi-independent area like Azad Kashmir or a part of greater Kashmir temporarily taken under control.
Third part I belong to is Azad Kashmir with over 4 million population. I remember the name of all prime ministers and presidents of Pakistan but I never succeeded in remembering the name of its so-called prime ministers as they are so many. In last four years we tried four different prime ministers. A body called Kashmir council controls the affairs of Azad Kashmir, issues funds to Azad Kashmir ministers. We have only one University in Kashmir which can not be called a university given the state of facilities there, no medical college, no engineering college, no industry and hence no jobs. Azad Kashmir which we used to call adha Kashmir in our school life has no sports centre, no stadium (only a new stadium at Mirpur), no healthcare system, no airport (hence no air transport except helicopter and small planes). We have only one form of employment which is government job, and believe me we have so high merit that even prime minister’s written approval is not enough for a post of peon as we have masters applying for the same.
What to do? India forcibly occupied the state of Jammu and Kashmir but she never tried to divide that part of Kashmir instead they believed that it is a part of Indian dominion so they included the Jammu and Kashmir in India through article 370 of Constitution giving it a semi autonomous state. But in our part of Kashmir we have divided it into three parts Azad Kashmir, Northern areas and China-gifted area thus making it almost impossible for any future reunion. Those who play politics of plebiscite and remind us of UN resolutions to resolve the issue should consider these facts. In the prevailing situation it is almost useless to talk about plebiscite instead we should push for an alternative solution if we want to resolve this. Kashmiris on both parts of the LOC have a strong desire to unite with Pakistan given their culture, language and religion and it is a need of the day to show some seriousness on our part instead of making outdated speeches and useless claims.