My Observations in London
By Muhammad Farooq Rehmani
During my recent visit to London, my views regarding the plight of the oppressed peoples of the world were further substantiated by my observations and eye witness accounts. I met some of my Kashmiri friends, political and human rights activists, social workers, journalists and British officials. British business and politics is in lordly mansions. The officials ”dismiss people with a lordly gesture.” The press is concerned regarding the turmoil and the human rights situation in Kashmir
I had a meeting with the writers of the daily ‘Guardian’ London. Simon Tisdall, the foreign affairs columnist and an eminent analyst writes mostly on the touching issues of the modern world: the role of the developed and ”self interested states” vis-à-vis the suppressed and under-developed nations. The same day after my meeting in the office of the guardian, Mr. SimonTisdall summed up callousness of the lordly states towards suppressed nations, and disillusions and deprivations of the oppressed humanity in his column—focusing on the role of “self-interested nations” in the ”world’s troubled spots’ from ‘Kashmir to Kurdistan.” ”This dangerous new world of self-interested nations from Kashmir to Kurdistan, a non-interventionist stance from the major powers is of no help to the world’s troubled spots,’ he remarked in his article.
”In many if not most of such cases, external conflict-resolution efforts are underpowered, stalled, failing or nonexistent. The appeals of pressure groups, think-tanks and activists increasingly fall on deaf ears. The US and its junior partner, Britain no longer actively seek to spread freedom and democracy across the globe.” As is our own observation and experience regarding trade and travel activities since 2004 across the cease-fire line( LOC )in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Simon Tisdall criticized the ”new world order” arguing that ”today’s blinkered emphasis is on trade, oil and security, not self- determination or human rights. Diplomacy, in its highest form of independent, impartial mediation, is out of fashion.”
I also met with a British officer of South Asia Group Mr. Asif Choudhury in his Foreign and Commonwealth Office and we exchanged our views on the current political turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir. I was accompanied by Prof. Nazir Ahmad Shawl Executive Director of the Justice Foundation/the Kashmir Centre London. We apprized him of the causes of the ongoing popular upheaval against Indian occupation and army’s unbridled powers to quell ferociously the peaceful movement of the right of self determination. We urged on the UK Government to take notice of the duplicity and repression of one of its close common wealth partners and member of the United Nations for misusing UN Peace Keeping Force’s symbols, PKF helmets and uniforms for its Rapid Action Force– camouflaging police- swoop on the demonstrators in Kashmir; targeting teenagers amid funeral prayers, using smoke guns during search operations and yet seeking UN’s permanent membership. The expert on South Asia dwelt upon his country’s policy and understanding of the Kashmir dispute in the whirlpool of the India-Pakistan relations with a cautious response to the uniqueness of the cry in Kashmir. Hence one could infer that an early resolution of Kashmir dispute was still a bilateral subject between India and Pakistan and both Pakistan and the Kashmiri diaspora had still to do a lot of field work for gaining support to the current momentum in Kashmir.
Prof. Shawl arranged a get-together of the Kashmiris affording me an opportunity to interact with the members of the Kashmiri community in South London. It was a productive meeting. Of course one learns a lot by their struggle for life abroad. The Kashmiri community looks disturbed over the happenings in the State of origin. Simultaneously they view critically the role of Azad Kashmir during the last twenty to sixty years, vis-à-vis the freedom movement, and the displaced people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Although there is a small community of Kashmiris from the vale of Kashmir, scattered over England, an overwhelming majority of the people from both parts of the Jammu and Kashmir seem unhappy over the world’s apathy towards the plight of the people and future of the divided state. No doubt the Kashmiris here are politically divided and sub-divided into many political and religious factions of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, they dislike any form of soft-border, joint control or joint management between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, which could compromise the struggle for the right to self-determination. Notwithstanding the active role of a million over Kashmiris in the local/Pakistani politics; Kashmir issue lacks street-focus, so important regarding the practical support of the Mainland Britain, especially when the Government has a tilt towards India on Kashmir. No doubt there are British-born Azad Kashmiri lawmakers like Lord Nazir Ahmad articulating the Kashmiri viewpoint with historical facts, the mind set of the ruling elite looks lordly and shut on this issue. Pakistani diplomacy and diplomatic ties across Europe need to be redefined with every country in the wider interest of human rights ordeal created by India’s fabrications and colonial lies abroad.
British-born Kashmiri-Pakistani politicians especially parliamentarians and other supporters of the rights of the Kashmiris, in the Parliament can use their leverage to help resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with its history and the ground scenario of Jammu and Kashmir. British know that Kashmir was never ever terrorism, it is not so today. It was always a genuine question of the right of self determination with an international seal and stamp of the United Nations organization. The Kashmiris feel that the political repression in Kashmir has crossed a stage when the overseas diplomacy and politics must shun 1960s or 1970s rusted loyalties and make productive contributions, according to the wishes of the people who otherwise look bereft of hope, history and future of Kashmir. Let no group or class rule the roost in the Kashmiri diaspora, but fear God, stand for accountability, and utilize the potential of the community for the success of their national and economic objectives.
The time has come when politicians of the state of origin will face some relevant questions by the Kashmiris of the state of destination. I wonder how they will answer. They only rely on hocus-pocus. The British Kashmiris and Pakistanis fill the coffers of their politicians with cash and kind in the name of Kashmir or earthquake or flood but they get disgusted to see the Kashmiri victims of brutalities, yet pitiably fallen, earthquake sufferers still wandering from pillar to post, and the flood-sufferers crying or dying for water, health- care, employment and shelter. The Kashmiris bring foreign exchange to the country of their origin and hustle and bustle of labor and business to the United Kingdom. They wish their Pakistani, Kashmiri, and British leaders and politicians, to stand above group-prejudices and self interests; abandon rhetoric, shallow claims, corrupt politics, and duplicity in public life. If they do not do; the current wave of awakening will not spare them, they will be discarded by their followers.
Now since the scenario of the world at large and that of Kashmir, Pakistan and the UK in particular is before them, the expatriates feel the enormity of foul practices in the politics and the economy of their land of ancestors. In their eyes, their leaders and politicians have failed morally and politically, they do not deserve a blind moral and political support of the people. The new generation has a measuring rod. Although unheard, they shout and point out problems regarding: new social and economic threats, poor and corrupt economy, unemployment, class education; standard education for rich and poor for poor people, widening gulf between rich and poor, lack of health-care , and Kashmir’s long ordeal etc. They are concerned about the menace of terrorism and west’s allegations of terrorism on the overseas Pakistanis, but they are still more worried that their politicians do not look in the eyes of the war-mongers to rebut the allegations as rubbish.
The common folk of the Kashmiris from different walks of life bear burden of many problems but they contribute a lot to the progress and prosperity of Pakistan and Kashmir. They have immense love for Kashmir, and its freedom struggle; to that end they give financial contributions to their organizations. But it is the duty of every freedom lover to ensure that their donations are not diverted to other channels. Kashmir is an episode of a long ordeal– trail of sufferings, after the dreadful end of the World War II. It touches human conscience and evokes sympathies as do other human issues of the same ethos and nature. There is no reason why it should not impress the world elsewhere and keep Kashmiris restless for their lovely homeland, which could have become Switzerland of Asia, had the last viceroy of India done his job without prejudice and military means. Kashmiris by their long struggle have proved time and again that the role of the UK Government was partial and dubious in 1947—causing cyclone of killings and forcing the people—generation after generation to seek political refuge in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. It also led to arms race, resulting in the nuclear- proliferation of the India-Pakistan region at the cost of the region’s economic and educational development.
The present uncertainty among the Kashmiris in the UK will further intensify, if killings in their land of origin by the Indian army continue with impunity. Hence, their Parliamentary leadership will have to review their role in the mainland politics. Likewise, Pakistani leaders and their Azad Kashmiri camp-followers may have in store tough times ahead. If their present politics on Kashmir, based upon mere rhetoric, and empty talk-shows continues, UK will no longer be picnic for them in lordly mansions. They will have to pay the price for exploiting Kashmir for their personal ends. Sadly, they are neither coming out of their shells nor thinking above the game of self-interest. God sees the truth but waits.
Note: The write is Chairman Jammu and Kashmir People’s Freedom League. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.