The Role of Freedom Struggle in the Kashmir Dispute
Muhammad Farooq Rehmani
Kashmir is the long-standing dispute of over 13 million inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir who despite their geographical, religious, and linguistic differences are popularly known as Kashmiris. The people of Kashmir are the long—suffering people in South Asia and undoubtedly their struggle for freedom is a long-running popular movement like any other freedom struggle. For Indian and Pakistan it may be a dispute but for Kashmiris it is their right to fight for their freedom and the right of self determination. Kashmir is also a central factor determining political and economical relations between India and Pakistan
This can easily and simply be resolved if India like Pakistan is ready to recognize this birth right of the people of Kashmir. Kashmiris for the last several decades have been gazing longingly at their dream of freedom which has become their catch-word in the last one and a half decade.
The freedom struggle of Kashmir has a unique pivot-ability, spontaneity and centrality in the national and social life of Kashmiris. It is a candle light in a dark night round whose bright flames moths and butterflies burn their beautiful lives. They may burn in millions but the candle light will not extinguish till dawn. To every Kashmiri freedom is beauty and truth and they are always ready to die for their goal of freedom.
It is dimensional and now no more only a political issue. It has deep social bearings because the blood-soaked sacrifices of the people of Kashmir have shattered families, disturbed societies and moved human conscience. A Kashmiri is always proud of his participation and association with his freedom struggle of Kashmir.
The ebb and flow in the freedom struggle has equally influenced the question of the settlement of the future status of J&K.
No doubt, the political agitation in Kashmir began with the civil rights movement in 1920s and 1930s but it became a full-fledged struggle for the achievement of the right of self determination in 1947, when India annexed two-third of the region by her military might. The slogans such as plebiscite and will of the people became very popular in those days of the history. Mahjoor the national poet of Kashmir eulogized this concept lucidly in his verse. Pandit Nehru used the word referendum as a means to grant the right of self determination to the people of Jammu & Kashmir. He at the same time sought intervention of UN Security Council in Kashmir. Internationally the world debated on the dispute and passed numerous UN resolutions between 1940s and 60s. Unfortunately India started dilly-dallying and distracting from her promises of a free and impartial plebiscite and both India and Pakistan made futile bilateral efforts to settle the dispute but till date no bilateral agreement could bring peace and justice to Kashmir. India also signed some bilateral agreements with Kashmiri political leaders, in 1952 and 1975 causing further unrest among the masses which bursted out fully in 1990s like a volcano adding a new dimension in the form of armed resistance for freedom. This was yet another important opportunity to respond to the call of the time but India did not. Had India seen the writing on the wall in 1990, the irreparable human loss in Kashmir would have been stopped.
All the developments which shaped political upsurge in Kashmir and pointed to the vulnerability of this dispute testify that Kashmir is not a territorial conflict. It involves the right to freedom, the right to choose the destiny and right to self determination of some million human beings who live in this region. It is not a constitutional case between two or more provinces of the same country. It is still on the agenda of the United Nations.
In the recent years India has tried to equate it the freedom struggle with terrorism and persuade international community to declare it as a terrorist movement. This has only complicated the road to conflict resolution and the hope on the peace process in Kashmir has dwindled to almost nothing. Thousands of graves spread all over Kashmir belie India’s claims. More over continuity and spontaneity of human sacrifices in this environment of war against terrorism tells a different tale to the world if they listen.
India is still reluctant to include Kashmiris as a third party in her talks with Pakistan. Pakistan’s basic stand of talks is in line with the dialogue concept of Kashmiris.
We can say that the freedom struggle has changed the entire spectrum of Kashmir dispute. The people of Kashmir have discovered bright horizons of success. It is now the Kashmiri who is on the forefront. He is no longer a back bencher. He is a front bencher. He is the king without crown. Hence no two can sign one more bilateral agreement on Kashmir against the wishes of the people of Kashmir.
Dimensional strength of Kashmir struggle has positively affected the dispute of Kashmir. All the three parties of the dispute have to sit together and draw a comprehensive road map for resolution of the conflict to accomplish the urges and aspirations of the people. The role of the struggle is vital in the larger interests of the conflict resolution. The freedom struggle is in a way helping India and Pakistan to intensify their search for a just and durable solution.
Kashmiris have offered unprecedented sacrifices since 1980s and are continuing their freedom struggle courageously today. So it has a linkage with present past and future. It has also brought back a historical and futuristic view-point that there could be no settlement sane Kashmiris. Only the freedom struggle would compel India to agree upon a more flexible, viable and compatible road map based upon the participation of Kashmiris in the dialogue.
There is no place for status co, LOC or soft border as a solution in the eyes of Kashmiris. The freedom struggle aims at greater say of Kashmiris to resolve Kashmir dispute according to the universally acknowledged right—the right of self determination.
The freedom struggle to settle Kashmir dispute has made inroads in America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Kashmiris outside India and Pakistan are playing active diplomatic role to gain support for freedom and peaceful resolution of this imbroglio. NGOs Around the world are paying greater attention to the human rights conditions than in the past. Thus the resistance movement has attracted the bona-fide support of the global community. The freedom movement to bring the goal of a peaceful settlement nearer has become invincible. It has compelled the world to talk about Kashmir and facilitate although indirectly its peaceful solution. Under the given developments the resolution of Kashmir can not be put on the back burner again and gone are the days when one could think of relegating it to the future. Also the issue can not be seen through the tinted glasses of past and present rulers of Kashmir who perpetuated their tyranny on Kashmiris for their selfish ends and wasted 57 years of Jammu and Kashmir.
These are the defining moments of Kashmir history. A Kashmiri wants to define his slogans himself. A blood-soaked history of Kashmir is to be red in almost every home and hearth. So the Kashmir dispute must end with the new dawn and new sun for Kashmir. India’s constitutional and economic packages or cultural shows would mean little to Kashmiris and would not change the character of freedom struggle into dispute resolution as long as India is bent upon militarism in Kashmir. The present freedom struggle is really the only key to the resolution of conflict and it also can ensure the future of Kashmir as a nation.
At the end I would like to recall a thousand times valuable saying of an Algerian freedom fighter Saad Dahalk, who warned France in July 1960 in response to the latters proposal of constitutional autonomy. He said and I quote him, “Our people have not eaten grass and roots in order to obtain a new statute given as a concession.”