How Azad is `Azad Kashmir'?

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by Mikesingh, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. Mikesingh

    Mikesingh Regular Member

    Sep 7, 2015
    Likes Received:
    By Sultan Shaheen

    If you want to study the situation in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and cannot go to even the minuscule part of this region designated as `Azad Kashmir', the best place to go to is England. For the Kashmiris living in Britain breathe free air that it not much available in the so-called Azad Kashmir. Even if you so much as apply for a job you have to sign an affidavit saying you believe in the ideology of "Kashmir banega Pakistan" (Kashmir will become Pakistan).

    I happened to be in England on the eve of recent election in `Azad Kashmir'. Meeting `Azad' Kashmiris in Britain proved revealing. The politically active among them have organised themselves on the lines of politics back home. Nearly all political organisations and ideologies are represented. They all appear to be working against India and, except JKLF, pro-Pakistan. Their activities range from the ridiculous to the more sober. I come across some Tehrik-e-Kashmir activists in Birmingham attempting to impose a boycott of Tilda rice supposedly imported from India. They are aware that India is far too big and powerful a country with a vast capacity to take losses to be bothered with such nonsense. But they think this helps them spread hatred against India. On the other hand they are making a serious and somewhat successful attempt at lobbying political parties, media and bureaucracy to convince them of the genuineness of their case against what they call Indian occupation of Kashmir and serious human rights violations.

    But this is a superficial impression. Beneath the surface, most of them are disgusted with Pakistan and many of them find India's handling of its part of Kashmir, despite the obvious difficulties and current hostilities, more commendable. Several people, for instance, mentioned that while India has respected Kashmir's age-old practice of not allowing outsiders to settle down in the valley, Pakistan has allowed over 28,000 Afghan families to settle down and fleece the local populace in the name of Jihad. These Afghans are even more exploitative that the Hindu baniya ever was, they point out.

    The comparisons are endless. Kashmiris in the valley are better educated and better skilled. They have their own university with medical and engineering colleges. Some of us, particularly Mirpuris may be more prosperous, they say, but that is only because we managed to come to England when we were virtually thrown out of Pakistan as we lost our livelihood in the wake of the construction of Mangla Dam.

    The reference to Mangla Dam always brings out either complete silence in pro-Pakistan circles or vociferous protest from those who are not so particular about living with Pakistan. This Dam is said to supply 65% of the electricity needs of Pakistan, but the so-called Azad Kashmir does not get any royalty. Pakistan's Water and Power Development Agency (WAPDA) is estimated to be earning over Rs. 50 crores from the electricity produced at Mangla, thought the total budget of the Azad Kashmir is in the vicinity of Rs. 10 crores.

    The most talked about issue, of course, is that of Northern Areas which has been virtually swallowed by Pakistan Army. It comes in the news periodically only when there are Shia-Sunni clashes in the area of firing by the Army to quell anti-government demonstrations. In a historic judgment when a Kashmiri chief justice of the High Court dared to say a couple of years ago that the area was a part of Kashmir and had been illegally occupied by Pakistan Army, he instantly became a hero.

    This leads any discussion in the direction of almost complete denial of democracy to the so-called Azad Kashmir. While India has at least one or two free and fair elections in the valley, the Pakistani Establishment has dismissed and installed governments of `Azad Kashmir' at will.

    Informed people are aware that Pakistan is ruled by a troika. A Pakistan Prime Minister can only do things with the concurrence of Washington and the Establishment which includes the Army, ISI, Bureaucracy, Business, Feudal and Obscurantist elements.

    The plight of Azad Kashmiris calls for a separate write-up. What we can say here is that economic factors like lack of development of any industry, communication facilities, exploitation of Mangla dam for providing electricity to 65 per cent of Pakistan without any compensation, no local university, no local bank, no new bridges over the river Jhelum and so on do weight heavily on the minds of `Azad' Kashmiris, what they resent most is their virtual slave status in the Constitution, new tensions in the wake of settlement of over 28,000 Afghan families, militant training camps and the inevitable rise of obscurantism.

    They have been told for years now that the accession of Kashmir valley to Pakistan is round the corner. But neither the proud Suddhan tribals, nor the wealthy Mirpuris (most of them have relatives in England) are prepared to accept the inevitable domination of the better educated and numerically stronger `hatos' as they contemptuously refer to the Kashmiris of the valley in case Kashmir is united.
    OneGrimPilgrim, Abhijat and A chauhan like this.
  3. Sylex21

    Sylex21 Regular Member

    Sep 6, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Challo they are idiots but they are our future fellow Indians :biggrin2:
    Mikesingh likes this.

Share This Page