All Parties Kashmir Conference
Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani
When things go wrong and the turf underneath the feet of establishment in Pakistan is sticky or soaked the final fall back is Kashmir. It (Kashmir) starts appearing on the radar of their interest and their foot soldiers starts activity on all traditionally known and unknown routes. Kashmir invites the common man and woman and in a number of ways acts as a force that holds them together.
There is turmoil in political and military disciplines in Pakistan. It is for the first time that the elected (some) representatives have decided to walk the red line on a number of issues and foreign policy is one of them. There is a debate as to whether foreign policy should be debated as a national interest by the civil representatives elected by the free will and vote of the people of Pakistan or should be endured as a continued exclusive of a few military Generals in the GHQ.
Those who oppose the present civilian government in Pakistan, have a case to look upon the present military establishment and in particular the army chief and ISI chiefs with suspicion. One of the main concerns has been the fact that the present army chief has played a lead role as a go between when the PPP leadership was engaged in finalising a deal, nationally known as NRO (National Reconciliation Order) between Benazir and President Musharraf. Benazir has been assassinated and Musharraf betrayed and thrown out of Pakistan.
An altogether new regime in civil and military has come face to face in Pakistan. It has to interdepend to hold together. An exceptional 3 year extension granted to Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Genera Pasha is looked upon less favourably by critics and analysts. Many events like attack on GHQ, American action in Abbottabad and the terrorist attack on naval base in Karachi have angered every Pakistani in Pakistan and outside. Question are raised in regard to spending a huge national budget on defence and paying less or no attention to health and education. People don’t believe in hypes and myths any more. Army generals and the members of military establishment are regarded as vulnerable humans and made of the same clay that has continued to err since the days of Adam.
A number of distractions have been tried to lure the common man and woman away from the failures of the military establishment. Unfortunately every effort has ended up in incrementing the principal error and people’s disquiet. Under these difficult circumstances Maulana Fazal-ur-Rahman President Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and chairman Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir has come up in aid of the establishment. A bit disenchanted with the civilian government he has floated an idea to hold an APC (All Parties Conference) on Kashmir on 28 July 2011. It is a known fact that angels do not venture on the Kashmir turf unless there is an interest and nod from the military establishment. Kashmir has been an exclusive of the ‘Deep State’. They are groomed in colonial manner and have little respect for Constitutional discipline.
The APC on Kashmir is being held at a time when on Wednesday 13 July 2011 the Security Council recommended a full membership for South Sudan at the UN and the General Assembly accepted the recommendation and South Sudan became a new sovereign member nation of the United Nations on Thursday 14 July 2011. It would be 54th UN member state in Africa. As a routine political parties in Pakistan and more so the Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir have remained a slave to handle the interest of establishment on Kashmir. Pakistani political parties have been hypnotised for a ‘yes boss’ role and they have played very little or no role in overseeing their roles under UNCIP resolutions in AJK. The elections in AJK all along have continued to be fixed and political appointments of Prime Minister, President and other have remained an exclusive privilege of military establishment.
It is very recent that some political leaders in Pakistan, particularly Mian Nawaz Sharif has broken away from the stereotype on Kashmir and has started questioning the merits of Kashmir policy. The courage and the concern of these leaders to question the military establishment on Kashmir in particular and many other issues in general has caused a serious unease in the senior military leadership. Kashmir embeds power, prestige and huge funds.
Any coming together in Pakistan or in India on Kashmir should be welcomed by the people of Kashmir. Unfortunately to welcome a routine or be lured to welcome the testing of the roller skates by the military establishment to improve their own image and interest deserves a proper examination before one offers oneself for a ‘hypnotised’ role. Maulana Fazal-ur-Rahman is a senior and astute politician. However, the interest in Kashmir has to be more than a routine interest and more than a renewal of a glove and the hand relationship with the military establishment.
There are a number of questions that any Kashmiri or an independent analyst in Pakistan would like to ask the chairman Parliamentary Kashmir Committee. As a start one needs to know whether Maulana and the members of Kashmir Committee still remain guided by article 257 of the Constitution of Pakistan in regard to the future of Kashmir and if they still continue to accept their duty (assumed under Act 1974) in AJK under UNCIP Resolutions. It has to be made clear as to whether the Committee continues to honour the right of the people of Kashmir living under three administrations to self-determination as equal people. If so, what is their response to a constitutional restraint authored by Pakistani establishment in the AJK Constitution which disenfranchises a vast population in the elections and serves to discriminate against them for any favour or entitlement in AJK or Pakistan.
It has never occurred to any Parliamentary Kashmir Committee that the upper house in AJK assembly (AJK Council) is chaired by a non-State Subject the Prime Minister of Pakistan and reminds us of Maharaja of Kashmir, in exercising his privilege to appoint five members on the Council from amongst Federal Ministers and members of Parliament. The other 6 members are elected by the AJK assembly from amongst State Subjects in accordance with the system of the proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. Prime Minister of Pakistan as chairman AJK Council has a lion’s share in the legislature of AJK and yet remains unaccountable before any forum in AJK.
Military establishment and a section within it which oversees the hell and heaven in Kashmir would be engaged in hectic extra to ensure that people who attend the APC don’t break away from the routine and falter on the script. Otherwise, Maulana and his Committee stand to answer their unexplainable silence over the continued civil and peaceful agitation in the Valley in 2010. There have to be questions in regard to the political and militant script of Kashmir struggle which in effect caused the death of a generation and in turn killed the right of self-determination at least for some time. It raises a question of liability and reparation for the death and destruction in Kashmir. Someone somewhere in India, Pakistan and Kashmir has accrued a criminal liability for the death of a Kashmiri, who had to be kept alive to vote at the time of a ‘Referendum’ under UN supervision.
Would there be any knowledgeable and courageous participant who could ask the APC why is that if the South Sudanese people remained engaged in the quest for independence “through peacekeeping and diplomacy, through humanitarian assistance and development”, the people of Kashmir who also have peacekeeping force but our leaders have never been able to understand the jurisprudence of its presence and how the jurisprudence of UN mechanism on Kashmir could have been used (demanded) in respect of other important constituents namely ‘diplomacy’, ‘humanitarian assistance’ and ‘development’.”
If Parliamentary Kashmir Committee has a duty to the Constitution of Pakistan, to the people of Kashmir and Pakistan as a member nation of the UN, why has it continued to fail in the discharge of this aggregate trust? Would APC encourage a debate in equity and fairness or serve to grease the rusty tracks of the establishment. July the 28th is round the corner. Maulana and his Kashmir Committee would be out in the open. Let us wait and see.
Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations and can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org