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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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Kashmir Peace Initiatives and Realities

In early seventies, Ping-Pong diplomacy brought the U.S. and China closer and recently cricket diplomacy has brought India and Pakistan closer together. Peace on the two sides of border, which has suffered all these years, has now generated deep and sincere goodwill and excitement among the people of India and Pakistan. Both the governments on either side of the border have started recognizing this ground reality and working step by step towards peace.

Kashmir has been at a boiling point since the birth of Pakistan. Factually the state of Jammu and Kashmir was carved out of the territories of the Sikh kingdom after the Sikhs were defeated in the first Anglo –Sikh war in 1846. The Dogra Rajput chieftain of Jammu Raja Gulab Singh paid the British war indemnity on behalf of Sikhs and in return he was recognized the ruler of new state of Jammu & Kashmir- including Ladakh. The British Government transferred all the mountainous territories with its dependencies situated to the eastward of river Indus and the westward of river Ravi, including Chamba and excluding Lahul to Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu. The Lahore State under the Treaty of Lahore ceded these to it. The treaty between British and Maharaja Gulab Singh took place at Amritsar on 16th March 1846 and is known as the Treaty of Amritsar. At a later stage Maharaja Gulab Singh had one more treaty with Lahore Durbar in 1847. He surrendered hilly areas between the Indus and Jehlem Rivers to Lahore Durbar in exchange of some parts of the plains of Punjab, which he annexed with his state. Earlier, Raja Gulab Singh’s army chief Zoravar Singh had marched towards Tibet after conquering Ladakh and Baltistan. But he was killed on the banks of Mansarovar Lake during Dec. 1841. On Sept.15, 1842 a peace treaty was signed between the government of Raja Gulab Singh (Jammu) and the government of Dalai Lama (Lhasa), thereby making Ladakh a part of Raja Gulab Singh’s empire. This treaty is usually known as ‘Leh Treaty of 1842’. The Hindus in Kashmir had opposed British intervention in 1889, when Maharaja Pratap Singh 3rd Maharaja in the lineage was set aside by the British and the government of the state was taken over by them. Kashmiri Hindus were fearful of the British designs to depose the Dogras and hand over the state to Muslims. By 1891, Colonel Durand, as the head of Dogra and Gorkha troops, had reached the northern point of British rule, Misghar, occupying Hunza and Nagar also. In 1893, Queen Victoria made Pratap Singh Grand Commander of the Star of India. By 1905 Lord Curzon had stabilized relations with Afghanistan and created the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and the British restored Pratap Singh his throne.

During the Indian National Movement, which primarily was an Indian struggle against the British for Independence also, gave rise to the Muslim movement in India for a Muslim homeland. In this connection several Congress and League leaders visited Kashmir. Jinnah spent the summer of 1944 in Kashmir. On May 10, 1944 he was accorded a reception by National Conference. Sheikh Abdullah described him as ‘a beloved leader of the Muslims of India.’ On the same day, in another reception accorded by the Muslim Conference in Srinagar, Jinnah directed Muslims of Kashmir to join Muslim Conference because “Muslims have one platform, one KALMA and one God …I am a Muslim and all my sympathies are for the Muslim cause”.

After the British government approved the partition plan of British India, Lord Mountbatten returned to India on May 31, 1947. In the crucial meeting on June 2, 1947, the Congress and the League approved the plan. .On June 3, 1947 the partition plan was made public. The next day Mounbatten announced that the British would transfer power to India by August 15, 1947. He made another momentous announcement that day. The British Paramountcy would lapse with the transfer of power. Under the Indian Independence Act of 1947, accession of Indian states to India or Pakistan was by the completion and signing of the standard instrument of accession by the ruler and its acceptance by the Governor General which made it final.

Mr. Jinnah, in his statement of July 1947 confirmed the sovereign right of a ruler to accede according to his wishes. On the contrary, during midnight Oct.21-22, 1947 Pakistani - tribal hordes entered the state of J&K and forcibly occupied the strategic Kohala Bridge and the town Muzafarabad. They moved rapidly towards Srinagar with the help of Muslim soldiers of the state army who joined the invaders. The Maharaja of J&K state signed the Instrument of Accession to India on Oct. 26, 1947 and Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General of India sent his acceptance of accession on Oct.27, 1947. The accession of Jammu & Kashmir State imposed an obligation on the dominion of India to defend the state. That same day, airborne Indian troops were sent to Kashmir; which saved Srinagar and turned the tide against the invaders who had killed thousands of Hindus, raped women and destroyed huge amounts of property. Few men of the Indian soldiers of First Sikh who went to action that day returned home.

Mountbatten proposed a UN supervised plebiscite in Kashmir to Nehru instead of all out war with Pakistan. In a meeting between the Governor-Generals of India and Pakistan on Nov.1, 1947 Mohammed Ali Jinnah rejected Louis Mountbatten’s offer of a plebiscite in Kashmir as “redundant and undesirable.” Jinnah claimed that accession of Kashmir to India was based on violence; Mountbatten replied “the accession had indeed been brought about by violence but violence came from tribesman for whom Pakistan not India was responsible.” Jinnah declared that Kashmir was in his pocket. On same day, Gilgit Scouts, a local Muslim militia raised by British for the defense of Gilgit Agency revolted and declared the accession of Gilgit Agency to Pakistan. Major Brown, a British adventurer who commanded the Gilgit Scouts, hoisted the flag of Pakistan over the agency. The Governor of Gilgit, Gansara Singh was put into prison. The state army garrison at Bunji in Askardu, mostly Muslims, followed the Gilgit Scouts, opening the way for the invading forces of Pakistan which reached within a day to take hold of Baltistan. While the Indian armies were fighting back the invasion, the government of India proposed to the UN that they intervene to end the aggression committed by Pakistan against the Jammu and Kashmir state on December 31, 1947. The Security Council, in accepting India’s complaint, did indirectly recognize the accession of the Jammu and Kashmir State to India. Deliberations in the Security Council led to the establishment of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). The UNCIP resolution of August 13, 1948 accepted by both Pakistan and India provided for - I: -- a cease-fire, II-- a truce agreement which directed Pakistan to withdraw all its forces from the territory of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and III-- only thereafter ascertaining of the will of the people of the state in a peaceful manner.

After debates in the UNO, a cease-fire agreement was concluded between India and Pakistan, which came into force on January 1, 1949. The cease-fire divided Kashmir first into two, then into three. Jammu and Kashmir has a land area of 86,000 square miles and India splits it into three-- Pakistan, 39,000 square miles, and 17,000 control now 30,000 square miles by China. The valley of Kashmir, Poonch Town and the adjoining small areas of Kargil, Ladakh and Jammu regions are with India. The whole of Gilgit, a major portion of Baltistan and whole of Mirpur, part of Poonch and Muzaffarabad town are under forcible occupation of Pakistan. Some portion of the border Pakistan gifted to China. The treaty on the delimitation of the frontier between Kashmir and Sinkiang was signed in May 1962. Pakistan ceded territories to China. India protested and continues to claim them. The treaty stated specifically that “on the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, border areas might come under the control of a third state (China).” Apart from these territories of Kashmir granted to China by Pakistan, China remains in effective control of the Aksai-- Chin region. Pakistan directly controls the northern territories of Gilgit and Baltistan.

For Islamabad, Gilgit is of prime importance because the Karakoram Highway, which links Pakistan to China and Central Asia, runs through it. Also, the numerous glaciers in Gilgit make the area the world’s second largest water resource apart from the poles. Pakistan is solely dependent on water that runs from Kashmir, so it is imperative to keep Gilgit and other water resources of Kashmir under control. The Indus waters treaty was signed in 1960. The treaty divided The Indus River Basin with Pakistan; Pakistan has control of the three western rivers – Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab – and India has control of the three eastern rivers – Ravi, Sutlej and Beas. The division provided Pakistan with 56% of the Indus catchment area and India with only 31%. The J&K State is rich in its water resources and has enormous hydropower potential. The Indus at the point it crosses the LOC has a yield of 11 million Aft (measure of water in reservoirs); Chinab 20 .6 million Aft and Jehlum 7 million Aft .The power potential has been estimated at 15000 MW which is equivalent to about 30 million tons of oil! Pakistan also objected to two ambitious projects that would have benefited Kashmir: the “Bhagliar Project” and the “Wular Barrage.” In March 2003, the Prime Minister of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Sikandar Hayat said in a seminar that, “the freedom fighters of Kashmir are in reality fighting for Pakistan’s water security.” Recently, MS Sherry Rehman (Pakistan People’s Party, member of the Foreign Affairs committee in Parliament) wrote in one of India’s leading dailies, “Pakistan’s interest in Kashmir arises not just from concerns about the right of Kashmiri self-determination, but also from hard-core territorial vulnerabilities on the apportionment of its main Indus water system, with India controlling the headworks…No government can survive in Pakistan with a potential water famine arising even partly out of Indian treaty violations .”

Justice Owen Dixon of Australia was an UN-appointed mediator between India and Pakistan over Kashmir from May to September 1950. His proposal was that inhabitants of each region in the pre-1947 state of Jammu and Kashmir would decide their own future by regional plebiscite and then partition accordingly. India and Pakistan rejected it both. The proposal for geographical delimitation and regional plebiscite in the valley was similar in part to one that Karan Singh proposed in 1964 when he was still Sadar-I-Riasat during 1952-64. The same year he became the Governor of J&K. Mr. Gunnar Jarring of Sweden in 1957 said in his report that one cannot hold India to the plebiscite promise after a such a long delay caused mostly by Pakistan’s unwillingness to implement Parts A and B of the UN resolution of August 1948. Even UN Secretary --General Kofi Annan has accepted this position. He has said that the UN resolutions are no longer implementable because the resolution was meant to be applied to the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir including the areas of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and areas given by Pakistan to China. Unless those areas that had originally acceded to India were restored to it, a plebiscite under UN resolutions is unpredictable and unimplementable. The clock cannot be put back, one must look forward only.

The two countries fought several wars over the region during 1947-48, 1965 and 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh, the Kargil misadventure in 1999 and the ongoing low-cost proxy war and high-cost limited war around the Siachen Glacier in North Kashmir. But these wars have not resolved the issue. The 1972 Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan stated with reference to Jammu and Kashmir: “In Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of December 17, 1971 shall be respected by sides without prejudice to the recognized portion of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or the use of force in violation of this line.”

The agreement reached at Simla on July 2, 1972 is in fact a Peace Treaty and a culmination of the UN cease-fire of 1948 and Tashkent declaration of January 10, 1966. Few things have to be understood well, as one cannot protect his future without knowing the past. India is a secular democracy. It has more Muslims than Pakistan…Kashmir is older than Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir has three regions. There is a Hindu-dominated Jammu region, Buddhist-dominated Ladakh, and Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley. The original inhabitants of the land, the Hindus of Jammu, the Buddhists of Ladakh, the Hindus of Kashmir, and minorities like Sikhs, Jains and even Shia Muslims want abrogation of Art. 370 and full integration of the state with the Indian union. They oppose second partition of India on the basis of religion, which they realize will upturn India. It is by and large Sunni Muslim community of the valley, which is supporting terrorism in the state. Muslims are ruling elite in Kashmir. They are responsible for uneven economic development of various regions of Jammu and Kashmir state and the misuse of central aid. It is an irony of fate that Kashmiri Hindus have become refugees in their own country and not heard either by the Central government or by State government; thus their future is dark.

The Jammu and Kashmir state enjoys special status under Art. 370 of the Indian constitution and has its own Constituent Assembly which unanimously adopted a new Jammu and Kashmir Constitution on November 17, 1954. The basic feature of the constitution is, “The state of Jammu and Kashmir, is and shall be an integral part of the union of India [Section 3].”

On February 22, 1994, both Houses of Parliament of India unanimously adopted a historic resolution regarding the state of Jammu and Kashmir, reiterating inter-alia the nation’s resolve to resist “any attempt to separate it from the rest of the country…by all necessary means ’’ and declaring that “India has the will and capacity to firmly counter designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In spite of all these realities about Kashmir, there has been Track II Diplomacy, people to people dialogue, Indo-Pakistan cricket, cinema, and even health tourism. Simultaneously, there have been many peace proposals by different organizations and individuals to have permanent peace in Jammu and Kashmir state. Many people have advocated turning the LOC into an international border with small adjustments here and there for the lasting peace and prosperity of the state. The Dixon plan, Kathwari plan, and the Musharraf plans are similar, asking for a regional plebiscite and then partition accordingly. Kashmiri Pandits historic resolution for Homeland [Margdharshan ,1991], Prof. Balraj Madhok s Trification Plan, Arundhati Ray s Neelam Plan, and so on… There are examples of a “Good Friday” agreement that would entail an India–Pakistan inters –governmental commission, porous borders, and greater autonomy within Jammu and Kashmir. India and Pakistan would have to accept some version of joint responsibility. Another example is the Treaty of St. Germain on Sept. 10, 1919 that gave South Tyrol to Italy, despite German majority. The French province of Alsace-Lorraine was constantly caught in wars between France and Germany and changed its nationality four time. Sweden and Finland settled a tiff over the predominantly Swedish Aaland Islands under the auspices of the League of Nations on June 27, 1921. Finland promised to preserve Swedish language, culture, and local traditions.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said, ‘While the concept of soft borders, territorial unity, or territorial settlement is not possible, the concept of social unity is possible.” The President of National Conference, Omar Abdullah, said, “We believe in soft borders between two parts of Jammu and Kashmir coupled with autonomy”. Soft borders mean full flow of Pakistani nationals to J&K State. The Resettlement Act 1982 allows all those who migrated to Pakistan between 1947 and 1954 to return and claim their rights as Indian citizens. The Act also provides resettlement of all those who choose to return to state .The Act had been adopted by the State Legislature in 1982, but the controversial Act was referred to the then President Giani Zail Singh , who referred it to Supreme Court seeking an opinion about its constitutional validity.

There is strong feeling in Jammu that the implementation of the Act could bring more than 200,000 Pakistanis including descendants of those who were born in Pakistan and many those trained under the Taliban .It is unfortunate, Hindu and Sikh refugees who have been living in Jammu for more than 55 years have not been settled so far.

Of late, the Srinagar–Muzaffarabad bus service will bring the two people living on either side of LOC closer; they in turn will access each other’s democratic freedoms, self–governance, land reforms and development of respective regions .It is unfortunate that people living on other side of LOC have not tasted much of these realities. Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman, United Kashmir People s National Party, and Secretary General, International Kashmir Alliance, while quoting the July 2004 report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said, “fundamental rights such as freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association are often fringed. There is limited tolerance of divergent views. There are seven or eight political parties in Azad Kashmir but the State’s constitution and election laws debar those who do not subscribe to the so-called accession of Azad Kashmir to Pakistan, from participating in election. Handpicked nominees of the military regime in Islamabad are thrust upon the people as the head of the government ,disregarding people’s wishes.” Comparatively, Indian side of Kashmir is much better off politically and economically. The only fear is that once people realize this fact, the terrorists will become panicky. Secondly, the bus service is primarily aimed at uniting divided families on the either side of LOC. There is hardly any valley-based, Kashmiri speaking divided family. So the cross-border bon – homie may become cross-border terrorism. At that point of time, it is the duty of the J&K police to check and curb terrorism in the state in the same manner as the Punjab police was the major factor in the cessation of terrorism and secessionism in Punjab rather than army. The army is trained to win wars; special efforts by J&K police and CRPF will be able to defeat terrorism.

The Pakistan government invited Hurriyat leadership to visit POK and other parts of Pakistan, most of who readily accepted. However, Pakistan has denied the visit of 10 leading politicians of the J&K State including Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference president, Omar Abdullah and others. All these leaders are from various mainstream political parties and elected representatives of the people of state. It is unfortunate, that at the insistence of Pakistan, Hurriyat, an amalgam of Pro-Pakistani groups which is sponsored, aided and patronized by Jihadis as well as by Pakistan’s government is given undue preference. Hurriyat leaders have never ventured to fight any of the elections but have become a powerful weapon in Pakistan’s armory. Former Pakistan Prime Minster Choudhary Shujat Hussian publicly said Hurriyat leaders alone were not the representatives of the Kashmiri people. Pok prime minister Sikandar Hayat Khan, responding to queries in the state assembly on June 24, 2oo5,said All Parties Hurriiyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Molvi Umer Farooq came from a specific area and there was no one from Jammu and Ladakh divisions. “We cannot blindly leave our fate in the hands of others. How can we accept any decision on Kashmir by those who do not have unity and unanimity among themselves and lack representation of all regions?” One truth came to light while Hurriyat leaders were in Pakistan .At a function in Islamabad on June 13, 2005 Yasin Malik , Chief of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front had said, “I would say that in the initial days of the Kashmir movement , the guy who had a front role was he ( Sheikh Rashid Ahmed ,Pakistan’s information minister ) . Nobody knows that when we were brought on this soil, about 3500 boys were accommodated at his farmhouse.”

Successive central and state governments have sidelined pro -Indian and patriotic Kashmiri Hindus. They have no role in the on-going peace process or in any dialogue; they are at the receiving end fighting a grim battle for their SURVIVAL within and without Kashmir. All patriotic forces of the state have to consolidate themselves and play vital role in on-going peace process.

The bus journey from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad is merely the start of a long and much awaited Peace journey.

Kashmiri Writers Chaman Lal Gadoo
  

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