A Date with the Political History: Azad Jammu and Kashmir
For decades Islamabad (capital of Pakistan) is bamboozling the people of Azad Jammu Kashmir with the help of its colonial aides and loyalists at Muzaffarabad (capital of Azad Jammu Kashmir) through deceiving slogans and charismatic claims of defending and protecting their cultural, political, economic and social rights including the right to self-determination. These deceiving claims and hollow slogans originate from the basic point of freedom of entire State of Jammu Kashmir to the lofty promises and announcements of development, rights, empowerment, autonomy and prosperity. While Azad Jammu Kashmir government, in practice remained an oppressed entity and exposing its weak political and administrative character as of a parasitic organism (in biological terms). Written and unwritten rules of business imposed single handedly by Islamabad have been a source of sponsoring “whole sellers” and “retailers” at Muzaffarabad in the profit making market of Azad Jammu Kashmir instead of political and administrative experts. These whole sellers and retailers acted cunningly through their “Merchant Associations” instead of political parties to fortify their bonds (ionic in nature not the covalent ones) with Islamabad for the better commercial advertisement and profitable marketing of “Made in Islamabad” commodities. For more than two decades this territory was vandalized by a handful of merchants through unwritten “Code of Conduct” headed by a joint secretary monitoring and safeguarding the commercial interests of “manufacturers of political slogans”. The merchants of Azad Jammu Kashmir, left no stone unturned while refining and mending these products and hiring local market managers to maximize their profit and multiply their capital. After two decades of business both merchants and manufacturers reached an agreement to run the business through written codes in 1970 and 1974.
The written code of conduct replaced joint secretary with chief secretary and inducted a uniformed Inspector general of police (IGP) for policing the goods, services and business along with extra duties of protecting the local merchants (both are Pakistani nationals and non-locals). Business configuration at Muzaffarabad was reshaped and renamed with a prime minister as the new “manager” working in close liaison and entire notation of manufacturer’s “factory outlet” by the name of Kashmir Council at Islamabad. In the beginning, these managers trusted only on a few business associates with the name tag of ministers. But with the passage of time and greed for more profit and lust “factory out lets” at Islamabad allowed them to hire more partners and expand the business to local level even to the far flung remote areas just like the expansion of globalization. In late 80’s and early 90’s a new generation of flag holders emerged in the streets of Muzaffarabad and all over Azad Jammu Kashmir, selling the newly manufactured marketable products to youth and others. Rickshaws of Muzaffarabad vanished somewhere with the arrival of Mitsubishi Pajeros and Parados and a new class of business associates emerged with a blend of cross-tribal and regional flavor of Azad Jammu Kashmir. First decade of 21st century has witnessed the installation of various tribal lords and regional profit making entities to be seated as “managers” in Muzaffarabad. All this was done to make happy and shut up all these merchants for any future planning to close the business elsewhere and claim the entire ownership and proprietorship of Azad Jammu Kashmir by the big boss sitting in Islamabad, focusing and eying through a 3D high definition (3D, HD) revolving high beam “political microscope”.
As big boss came to the assumption that old wine is not a profitable business (even with new labels), he needs to revise the code of conduct. This time his marketing label is “empowerment of people of Azad Jammu Kashmir”. Manzoor Wattoo (Federal Minister of Kashmir Affairs) was appointed as “The Chief Executive Officer” (CEO), definitely a suitable candidate for this project with a successful history and track record of shamelessness. From the very first day of his appointment he postured himself as the “Viceroy” of Azad Jammu Kashmir and very cleverly used the tactics of “East India Company” to hire and fire the managers at Muzaffarabad. He very successfully satisfied the greed of a vast majority of business associates in Azad Jammu Kashmir by playing the famous game of “Musical Chair” and one after another manager gained and lost the chair in last few years. Now, when greed is almost over in the local business associates, game plan is changed as predicted and perceived.
Islamabad based viceroy of Azad Jammu Kashmir (Manzoor Wattoo, Federal Minister of Kashmir Affairs) has already summoned the former and current managers with all their business associates ( anti-people hand-picked leaders of Azad Jammu Kashmir) to blend the proposals for amending the document of slavery (interim constitutional act of Azad Jammu and Kashmir 1974) into an updated form. Some of them are ready to serve the viceroy and made pledges to be loyal with his successors as they remained with him and his predecessors accepting the same old rules of business with some new flavors. However, a few do not want the same salary and vowing for an increased salary with a renewed contract as they feel it a difficult task to fool the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir with the ongoing contract. So in other words these amendments will be just a new label on the same bottle of wine. Maybe it is presented in the shape of a cake topped up with some new flavors and colors, but its whiff, odor and smell will be same obnoxious and stinky. For ages in the known history there have never been a contract between conquerors and subjugators based upon the wish and will of the latter. In other words Islamabad has advertise for the “Potential candidates and buyers” of futuristic dreams to act as “honorable stooges” at Muzaffarabad to sell the new politically marketed commodity “empowerment of people” with the brand name of “Constitutional amendments”. Potential whole sellers and retailers are busy nowadays in hiring the market managers, advertisers and thugs to maximize their scores just to be considered as favorite hawkers in the eyes of “His Majesty Viceroy”.
These political punks and worthless merchants of Azad Jammu Kashmir would provide a platform that could amount to severe vandalism against the fundamental cultural, political, social and economic rights of people of Azad Jammu Kashmir and its status per UNCIP resolutions. Any transgression and delinquency at this juncture will be termed as “Constitutional Vandalism” against the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir in particular and former princely State of Jammu Kashmir in general.
This particular “phase of political history” in Jammu Kashmir is also a litmus test for those patriotic forces and self-acclaimed nationalist parties of Azad Jammu Kashmir to prove their worth that how far and deep they can envision in the ocean of history to correctly put their energies and pave the path for accumulating the masses around their attractive slogans that had been mesmerizing and fascinating the youth of Azad Jammu Kashmir for the last five decades.
The situation on the ground today is that people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir do not have roads for transportation, industries for jobs, educational institutions for higher studies, clean drinking water, health services, common established and joint market for economic and business activities, cultural museums, not a single air-port and others. The lofty repeated slogans of 65 years could not empower Muzaffarabad independent enough to claim its right over only 350 megawatts of electricity, while it is producing more than 1500 megawatts. Then how political wisdom can perceive and predict any futuristic magic from these merchants at Muzaffarabad to lay some new foundations for the empowerment of people of Azad Jammu Kashmir? Due to the misconduct and criminal attitude of Muzaffarabad and Islamabad towards poor masses of Azad Jammu and Kashmir as for now about 1.5 million inhabitants of Azad Jammu and Kashmir have migrated to middle east, Europe, America, Canada, Asia and Pacific regions. The plight of Kashmiri migrants to Middle Eastern countries is even more awful as compared to others (selling the labors and expertise in the hot deserts as migrant workers with no immigration rights). However, during this crafted mechanism a new class of neo-capitalists has emerged in Azad Jammu Kashmir by exploiting the natural resources, multiplying their wealth in the guise of development (in files only), introducing the culture of financial corruption and bribery, severely violating the principles of merit and all other notorious means of wrongdoings. This new class of merchants is promoted as the political cum business heirs to further exploit the poor masses of Azad Jammu Kashmir.
The hullabaloo of “people empowerment” through so-called constitutional amendments in a part of former State of Jammu Kashmir by Islamabad is itself unconstitutional as Azad Jammu Kashmir has never been a part of Pakistan and is internationally recognized as a disputed territory. If, however, viceroy is successful in drafting and crafting an unconstitutional document and hiring the new political agents at Muzaffarabad with new designations and port-folios, then it would be a true form of “Constitutional Vandalism” against the people of Azad Jammu Kashmir noted by the true historians of future provided once again history is not recorded and written by the conquerors and their loyal historians of kingdoms and kings. Has it ever been happened in the known history that a conqueror would give equal rights to slaves? The answer is simply “NO”. Then what kind of hopes and dreams are there for poor masses of Azad Jammu Kashmir from these unconstitutional amendments?
By analyzing the state of affairs and changes in the regional political scenario it is not beyond doubts to predict that all these efforts are being drilled to make Azad Jammu Kashmir a direct colonial hub instead of an indirect one. Presently Islamabad is controlling the administrative, political and economic affairs by installing chief secretary, inspector general police, and revenue secretary with the mighty back-up of GOC Murree. Future political fore-cast can change the corridor by sending a governor representing the feudalist Sindh or urban Punjab with all the blessings of military Junta. In exchange a few pundits from Azad Jammu Kashmir would be accommodated as members of national assembly in Islamabad and non-functionary federal ministers. This political landscape is being prepared for the inaugural ritual of another Chiragh Baig (a cruel monarch in the history of Kashmir, transported on shoulders of Kashmiris from Afghanistan) landing at Muzaffarabad instead of Srinagar. The political question of today is whether people of Azad Jammu Kashmir would afford this kind of treatment by Islamabad with its allies and aides at Muzaffarabad to repeat the awful and merciless “political and administrative nastiness” or they are prepared to initiate a new era of political wisdom and mature decision making for their cultural, political, economic, social and constitutional rights per International conventions and covenants?
Contrary to the above scenario, true mass leadership of Azad Jammu Kashmir should stand for the right to have a “constituent assembly” at Muzaffarabad, a successor of Maharaja Hari Singh government as claimed in the 1947 declaration of the Azad Jammu Kashmir government. This constituent assembly should be comprised of all competing political forces and intellectuals. The primary task of this constituent assembly must be to draft a comprehensive document “Declaration of Independence” to safeguard the rights of people of Azad Jammu Kashmir and then political and strategic dialogues with the regional (neighboring India and Pakistan) and international actors for the reunification of forcibly divided State of Jammu Kashmir. Gradually this pattern can lead to a politically mature environment and decision making process regarding the future status of the State of Jammu Kashmir in regional and global perspectives.
(Writer is a US
based political analyst, human rights, peace activist and a
freelance journalist. His area of expertise is International
Peace and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Writer is a US based political analyst, human rights, peace activist and a freelance journalist. His area of expertise is International Peace and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at email@example.com)