Dust of the land embodying embers of Chinar, impossible not to retain the sacred flame.
The most powerful force in the world today is neither communism, nor capitalism, neither the H bomb nor the guided missiles. It is manīs eternal desire to be free and independent. President John F. Kennedy (1957)
Kashmir in historical perspective
Historically Kashmir refers to an area of 86,024 square miles of the north-western region of the Indian sub-continent. It refers to the area that includes the Indian occupied region of Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh, the Pakistani occupied regions are northern areas and Azad Kashmir and Chinese occupied region is referred to as Aksai Chin gifted away by the Government of Pakistan.
Kashmir is famous for its exquisite handicrafts like woollen and silk carpets, felt Numdha rugs, Chain stitch rugs, pin point tapestry, crewel drapery and huge lot of other items....It is a treat for animal lovers and bird watchers to visit Kashmir and apart from the local habitat, animals and birds, you get to watch vareity of migratory birds........
In the 14th century, Islam was the dominant religion in Kashmir and leading the Sufi-Islamic way of life, Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir lived in relative harmony. Rinchen Shah from Tibet attacked and killed the last Hindu King Ram Chand and married his daughter Kuta Rani. Famous Sufi Saint Bulbul Shah (Abdul Rahman) was able to persuade the king of the time Rinchan Shah, later this prince of Kashgar Ladakh took the name of Saddaruddin Shah, through his intellectual power to adopt Islamic way of life and the foundation of Sufiana composite culture was laid when Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists co-existed in the atmosphere of love and brotherhood. Another spiritual Saint, Mir Saeed Ali Hamdani reverently known as Shah Hamdan, through his spititual powers influenced people to heed the call of Islam and due to the nobility in his person, a huge majority accepted Islam. Mir Syed Ali Hamadani came to Kashmir in 1372 and then again in 1379 and 1384 during the reign of Sultan Qutubbuddin. He and his 700 followers (desciples) gave the call of Islam which was accepted by a majority of Hindus and Budhists.
This "heaven on earth" is in flames; its people, history, culture and beauty are being systematically destroyed, the world community, unfortunately is helplessly watching to see the generations wiped out and has done very little so far to help bring an end to the ordeal of Kashmir.
Kashmiris by nature are non-violent, through centuries; they have lived peacefully in spite of the political intrigues and subjugation by outside forces and subjecting the whole population to torture, inhuman treatment and humiliation.
About 13 million people live in Kashmir, of which around 70% are Muslims. The rest include Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and a small minority of Christians. Hindus live mostly in the south and around the city of Jammu. To the east is the Ladakh region, where the majority of the people are Buddhists and of Tibetan origin.
Most of the Kashmiri people work on farms. Others are engaged in small cottage industries making shawls, rugs and carpets. Kashmir is well known for its wool and, in particular, its shawls, carpets and silk products. Much of the farmland is under intense cultivation, producing corn, wheat, rice and saffron amongst other crops. Fruit and nuts are also produced in quantities including pears, apples, walnuts, cherries, apricot and almonds....
Allama Iqbal a visionary, philosopher and poet of the east predicted about the nation awakened to start a new struggle under the chairmanship of Mao Tse Tung, a people infested with widespread drug addiction, laziness, enslaved by imperialist powers, so poverty stricken that a handful grain of rice would be enough to trade their boys and girls to force them into prostitution. The transformation by laying the foundation in the fields of culture, technology and economy did cost, as is believed, huge number of deaths but in the end led the country to become one of the major world powers. Allama's futuristic view of this erstwhile sedated nation is expressed in his couplet:
Chairman Mao is quoted to be neutral as far as Kashmir imbroglio is concerned, at least it could be a factual position before or during the 'hindi chini bhai bhai (brotherly) affair' but after 1962 war won decisively by China, the whole political scenario changed dramatically. India after winning the war in 1971 with Pakistan creating a sovereign nation of Bangladesh disturbed the balance of power in the sub-continent, China befriending Pakistan supported it to become nuclear and succeeded in their plan to keep India busy and entangled with Pakistan leaving no time for India to worry about China. China busy building up their own economy and military might were uninterrupted to gain time to evolve a strategy to deal with the games played by big powers on the international level.
The growing American influence in the area making headway through Iraq, Afghanistan and new convenient relationship with India is worrisome for China and Pakistan. Pakistan’s huge economic and domestic political turmoil gives it no option other than being “with us” rather than “against us”. American plans, understood by some quarters in Pakistan and China, to stay in Afghanistan for unspecified period has multiple objectives:
Apart from the areas occupied by India and Pakistan, China also has its share by occupying Aksai Chin and receiving Trans Korakaram Tract as a gift, a goodwill gesture from Pakistan for the services rendered. The countries involved use Kashmir to score their political points be it Pakistan's struggle to survive or India's meddling in Tibet affairs or China in retaliation claiming Arunachal Pradesh that India claims is hers. A new diplomatic tussle renewed due to issuing of visas on a separate sheet of paper to visitors from Indian occupied Kashmir or Arunachal Pradesh. China is reported saying 'Kashmir is a separate country'.
An amazing similarity of exploitation by occupying powers across the cease-fire line should be an eye-opener having no parallel in history. People of Kashmir, on both sides, believe they have been betrayed, swindled, hoodwinked and humiliated.
To draw a comparison, K H Khursheed was removed from ‘Azad’ Kashmir Presidents House and Abdul Hamid Khan appointed as the President. In spite of the opposition from political parties, Ayub Khan’s will was imposed on the people and after Ayub Khan the Government in Pakistan was taken over by Yahiya Khan. He appointed a very high official of the army Abdul Rahman as the President of Azad Kashmir. Later during Bhutto’s regime Abdul Majid Khan was appointed as the President and General Zia-ul-Haq appointed Major General (retired) Abdul Rahman, the Major General (retired) Hayat Khan and finally Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan as President. In a nutshell Azad Kashmir has never had a government chosen by the people.
In a similar fashion Sheikh Abdullah in Indian occupied Kashmir was removed to be replaced by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad who later became a victim of Kamraj Plan and lost the chair to Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq and the process continued with installed puppets like Mir Qasim, Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Mohammad Shah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mufti Syed and latest entrant is Omar Abdullah.
At different times the political parties of India like Indian National Congress, Janata Party and Janata Dal etc extended their sphere in IOK and in an identical fashion the political parties like Awami League, Republican Party, Azad Pakistan Party, NPP, Peoples Party and Muslim League opened their branches in POK. The similarity of situation again coincides when India gives an impression to people of Kashmir that people of Jammu and Ladakh do not like to live with Kashmir and repeated by Pakistan that Gilgit and Baltistan have never been part of Kashmir.
An earning of foreign exchange to the tune of 20 billion rupees annually does not yield any benefit for POK. IOK contributed a lot to put India on a world tourist map. Indian Tourism Development Corporation world wide would show films and blow up photos of Kashmir to would be tourists and once trapped the traffic would be diverted to central and south India.
Mangla Dam electricity generation of nearly 1000 MW fulfilling the need of Pakistan’s electricity needs of nearly 35%, mostly used out of the country and no compensation has or is being paid, over and above the water used for irrigation purposes or Fish produced in the Mangla Dam is also consumed free of charge. This is reminiscent of Salaal project in Indian occupied Kashmir the contribution that it makes to Government of India. Since 35 years of its commissioning not a single penny has been paid to IOK.
Yahiya Khan Regime’s act of 1970 extended to POK was replaced by the new 1974 Act. A new department by the name of “Kashmir Council” came into force and the Prime Minister of Pakistan as its Chairman. A few departments are there that cannot be interfered with by the Government of POK. The Prime Minister of POK cannot make the decision about distribution of electricity and on the contrary decision lies with “Kashmir Council”. This Council also controls income tax and excise departments. The issue of State Subject certificate to bona fide people is the prerogative of the Council alone.
Sheikh Abdullah, like numerous occasions, on a visit abroad in 1965 met Col Nasser of Egypt, Ben Bella of Algeria, Premier Chow En Lei of China and Shah Faisal of Saudi Arabia and exchanged views about solving the complex problem of Kashmir. It did not go very well with India and on his return his passport impounded and banished to south-Indian city of Kodai Kanal. Likewise authorities in POK have also been dealing with the leaders like Sardar Ibrahim, K H Khursheed, Syed Abdul Wahid Bukhari and the rest in the same fashion putting restriction on their movements or any political activity.
Gilgit-Baltistan has been no different and has been ruled by an ‘Agency System’ aided by draconian laws like F.C.R. Political activity is unheard of in these areas. Now Pakistan’s so called ‘democratic’ government headed by Zardari allowed elections process to choose a government of people but without conferring a ‘Province’ status. However, many believe that the rigged elections allowed Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party eleven seats.
Sheikh Basharat Ahmed of Muslim Conference wrote a book titled “Real Azad Kashmir” during K H Khursheed’s rule; he was confined to his residence for many months. Likewise, a book written by Late Major Raja Abas Khan, “Azad Kashmir needs attention” exposing the Government committing atrocities on people, was banned.
Hijacking of Ganga passenger aircraft in 1971, initially misunderstood by excited Z A Bhutto who welcomed hijackers as heroes, later led to indiscriminate arrests and a manhunt of various organisations like Mahaaz-I-Azadi, Plebiscite Front etc. and a huge number of supporters arrested and put behind bars using draconian laws to put curbs on lawful protests and demonstrations as soon afterwards he and his Government understood the game plan of India, hijacking exercise that later fulfilled India’s objective of creating Bangladesh.
History is witness that religious differences those played havoc in Kashmir be it Shia-Sunni, Sheer-Bakra or Hindu-Muslim animosity always brought destruction. Nearly four hundred years back Mogul Emperor Akbar used his military might at least eight times to subjugate Kashmir but failed and succeeded only when he managed to create a difference between Shia-Sunni and a delegation of one sect offered its allegiance and requested Akbar to give them a government so that they get some peace. This has been repeated many times over by outside forces to divide and rule Kashmir.
Pakistan’s President General Zia-ul-Haq declared Kashmir’s Northern Areas as Pakistan’s territory, a step vehemently opposed by the people of POK and Gilgit-Baltistan but Zia-ul-Haq and the Government turned a deaf ear. During these days it was apprehended that with the passage of time these areas will be accorded status of a province that would make it a province of Shia dominance ringing the alarming bells throughout the State. Then on May 18, 1988 a bloody drama was enacted when forty thousand Afghan warriors equipped with American weapons and armament were allowed to pounce on Gilgit and this army marched towards Dir, Swat and hilly links of Indus. The first village that came under attack was Skwar hardly half a mile distance from Pakistani army cantonment and Pakistani Officers commanding watched this all as spectators. These Afghan warriors committed loot and plunder continuously for five days and destroyed nearly 1200 houses and this all was done with the blessings of Government of Pakistan.
The news of this barbaric act reached Pakistan army barracks having 90% local recruits, controlled by Pathan or Panjabi Officers, created dissent and nearly a rebellion when the top brass of the army tried to persuade the raiders to retreat even paying them huge sums of money as bribe. And this all was done under the very nose and instructions issued by General Zia-ul-Haq.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Pakistan occupied Kashmir), the narrow southern part, 250 miles (400 km) long, with a width varying from 10 to 40 miles (16 to 64 km). Gilgit-Baltistan formerly called Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) is the much larger area to the north of AJK, 72,496 square kilometers (27,991 sq mi), it was directly administered by Pakistan as a de facto dependent territory, i.e., a non-self-governing territory. However, prevailing a better sense, it was officially granted full autonomy on 29 August, 2009.
An area of Kashmir that was once under Pakistani control is the Shaksgam tract, a small region along the northeastern border of the Northern Areas that was provisionally ceded by Pakistan to the People's Republic of China in 1963 and which now forms part of China's Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang.
CREDIBILITY OF "INCREDIBLE INDIA"
International Forum for Justice and Human Rights:
- 5084 people have been arrested
- 500 have been detained under (Public Safety Act)
- 30 schools have been set ablaze in last five months
- 250 to 275 militants operating in the Valley
Pakistan flag flutters in Kashmir on 14 August 2010
Click image to watch the video.