Azadi or Social Safety Net

Azadi or Social Safety Net

Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani

If our conscience and sense of civic obligation has not been anaesthetized we need to know the reasons that after 22 years of political, militant and diplomatic struggle of the people of Kashmir (Valley in particular) a handful of refugees numbering 4907 families in AJK have been found on the radar of political interest.

They have been reclaimed from their destitution and included in social safety net of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). These refugee families from Jammu and Kashmir will be entitled to benefit from all the components of BISP i.e. Cash Grants, Waseela-e-Haq, Waseela-e-Rozgar, Waseela-e-Sehat and Waseela-e-Taleem. How much does it matter if federal minister and chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) Farzana Raja, who met a delegation of refugees (exhibits of all time) at the Prime Minister’s House in Muzaffarabad expressed her solidarity with these refugees and declared that Pakistan would stick to its stance regarding the cause of Kashmir at every forum. A demoralized and an empty stomach human soul does not have any interest in ‘Azadi’, ‘solidarity’ and Pakistani or world ‘stance’ regarding the cause of Kashmir.

If Azadi deprives a Kashmiri of his home in the Valley and lands him across the LOC to wait for 22 years to be caught like an unfortunate fish in the safety net of a charitable scheme, what would be the explanation for the death of our generation, death of self-determination, broad spread of Hurriyat and main stream politics and the political, moral and diplomatic support of the government of Pakistan?

Muzaffarabad government has been set up to “provide for the better Government and administration of Azad Jammu and Kashmir until such time as the status of Jammu and Kashmir is determined …in accordance with the freely expressed will of the people of the State through the democratic method of free and fair plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations as envisaged in the UNCIP Resolutions adopted from time to time” (AJK Constitution).

The people of all the three administrative units of Jammu and Kashmir are covered by these UNCIP Resolution and the self-determination is an entitlement for all. Therefore, Hurriyat and main stream political parties have a duty to all the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. Hurriyat and main stream political parties have no dispute on the territories which comprise the State, namely, as they were on 15 August 1947. Unfortunately the elected government in Srinagar has failed in regard to its duty under article 4 of J & K Constitution and so has Hurriyat failed to address its duty to all the citizens of the State.

AJK Government has failed to respect the cause of its formation on 4 October and 24 October 1947. It has also failed to live up to its duties under the Constitution Act 1974 and has expressed no remorse in using the 4907 refugee families (fifth displacement) as mere exhibits for 22 years, without any regard for the basic needs of their life. The fact that AJK Government failed a tiny number of refugees until the close of 2011 and they had to be brought under the cover of BISP, needs to be considered as a failed duty by every conscientious Kashmiri living in any part of Kashmir or around the world. It needs to be pointed out that we have an army of Kashmiri leaders on both sides of LOC who are no better than these refugees in Muzaffarabad. They are equally striving day and night to attract a financial cover of the manner of BISP. Over the years most of our politicians supplanted by Islamabad or Delhi as any other employee in the government have followed a strict agenda of “me, myself and I”. They are prisoners of a deal with the Lucifer.

I have been a five times refugee and have never betrayed my sense of responsibility to any refugee of the world, in particular Kashmiri refugees. In December 1990 JKCHR launched (first of its kind) a medical and humanitarian relief for the Kashmiri refugees living in camps in AJK. Prime Minister of AJK Mumtaz Hussain Rathore, Speaker of the Assembly, Ministers and local administration remained fully involved in our work. The organization prepared a dossier of 282 families (a total of 979 persons) victims of atrocities and submitted to UN in Geneva on 30 April 1991.

To assure the refugees of their honour and dignity JKCHR invited a 4 member delegation of world’s oldest organization International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), comprising of Etienne Jaudel, avocat at the Cour de Paris (international observer of Z A Bhutto trial in Supreme Court), Odile Sidem-Poulain, avocat at the Barreau de Nanterre, Haytham Manna, doctor and anthropologist (CDF-Syria) and Pantanjali M Varadarajan, an Indian national and Lecturer in Law at the University of Oxford. FIDH report titled “Violations of human rights committed by the Indian Security Forces in Jammu and Kashmir” was launched in French and English in the House of Lords in British Parliament.

The effort to sensitize the issue of refugees and defend their rights continued as a serious commitment. The author contributed a paper titled “Four Generations of Victims in Kashmir” at the 8th International Symposium on Victimology, organized by the Australian Society of Victimology in association with the Australian Crime Prevention Council and Victims of Crime Service on “Victimization and Violence: Strategies For Survival”. The Symposium had the support of Australian and South Australian Governments, South Australian Police Force, University of South Australia, Flinders University, University of Adelaide and other agencies in the criminal justice system. JKCHR paper titled “Four Generations of Victims in Kashmir” has been published in the 1993-94 International Debates of Victimology – Volume WSVN.

A third serious effort to keep Kashmiri refugees on the radar of international interest was when JKCHR invited a 5 member delegation of World Society of Victimology to see these refugees in April 1995. The delegation called on the President of Pakistan HE Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari (Late). Therefore Government of AJK or the Government of Pakistan have no excuse that these refugees included towards the end of 2011 in social safety net of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) had not been brought to their attention.

Government of AJK under its duty in the Constitution and under the principle of transparency and accountability has to explain in detail the manner and the fate of the funds that would have flown into AJK and Pakistan as a consequence to The XXII Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (Casablanca 10-12 December 1994) resolution on Kashmir. Item 10 of The OIC Kashmir resolution has obliged all Member States, OIC and Islamic Institutions, such as the Islamic Solidarity Fund and philanthropists “to mobilize funds and contribute generously towards providing humanitarian assistance to the Kashmiri people”. People of Kashmir on either side of LOC need to live with honour and dignity. They need to be adopted by the member nations of the UN and international forums. Recognizing them as a beneficiary under Benazir Income Support Programme is a disgrace.

As long as some or many of our leaders (in J & K and AJK), opinion makers and little Lilliputians employed in various Kashmir Centers remain covered by an equivalent of BISP, the honour and dignity of a Kashmiri refugee and non-refugee would continue to suffer after every 22 years. Eighty percent of their words would be proposed and directed by people who are on the wrong side of the people of Kashmir. It is even more hurtful to note that AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed and Finance Minister Chaudhry Latif Akbar were also present on the occasion when Kashmiri refugees were recognized under BISP by a non-State politician. AJK Prime Minister needs to be educated on the question of ‘protocol’ while dealing with a non-State minister from Islamabad. A Paharahi saying – “Aap jugow nee, gumand jugow kay” explains the situation. It means “if one is not worth for himself, how worthy he could be for the neighbour”. Therefore our refugees are defenceless and would suffer.

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations and can be mailed at dr-nazirgilani@jkchr.com

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