No taxation without representation


No taxation without representation

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
(Editorial)
No taxation withoutrepresentation TAX is a money fixed by the state and citizens, which the latter pay to the government for spending on the betterment of the people and ensuring their social, economic, cultural and other well-being and improving their life standards.Governments all over the world formulate their budgets based on the volume of money received under the head of taxes. But this happens only in free countries where the citizens have a say in the policy making process and the rulers do what the people want them to do.Under international laws, an occupying government cannot levy tax on the people under its control. It is known to all that Gilgit-Baltistan is not part of any country and under the UN resolutions is a disputed region. Under the International laws, the control of Pakistan on Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be justified. There is no taxation law in the world under which a country can levy taxes on people living out of its territorial jurisdiction. This is only possible when the people are brought under the ambit of the constitution of that country.For the last over six decades, Pakistan has been considering it its legal right to receive taxes from the people of Gilgit-Balatistan without giving them representation in its constitutional setup. This is illegal and unconstitutional. Besides, taxes are also received sometimes under the name of Sost dry port tax from the local traders and sometimes at the pretext of Dasu development. Sometimes in the name of sale tax a huge amount of money is transferred to Islamabad and sometimes using the pretext of transfer of land the locals are looted.In 2006, the Special Communication Service launched a mobile telephone service in Gilgit-Baltistan. Later, all national and international cellular companies operating in Pakistan moved to the region. Before the government allowed these companies to come to the region, legal experts and nationalist parties of Gilgit-Baltistan tried to draw the attention of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly towards the issue but unfortunately as this so-called house of representatives has been a silent spectator to all illegal taxes in the region, the demand fell on deaf ears this time too.We believe that no authority in the country has the right to levy tax on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Such type of taxes can only be termed Bhata. As in the streets of Punjab small thugs extort money from shopkeepers, Pakistani rulers think that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan do not know anything. Such attitudes of the rulers have always created crises for Pakistan.Pakistan had a few years ago tried to set up the department of tax in the region but the move was aborted after the local traders went on a shutterdown strike in the whole area. However, the rulers have imposed many taxes on the people since then in a gradual way without the realization of the people.The people of the region, especially the nationalist forces, should raise voice against the illegal taxation system in the region. This is not a problem of an individual or a political party but there is a question of exploitation of over two million people. The legislative assembly should take up the matter and ask Pakistan that under which law it is imposing taxes on the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.The nationalist forces of the region should also take up the matter with the international organizations including the UN otherwise today if there are taxes being received at Sost and Kohistan, there is also a possibility that the locals would one day be compelled to pay taxes at every corner of the region.Earlier, the Pakistan rulers filled their pockets by issuing leases of our resources to outsiders and foreign companies and now are receiving dollars in connivance with foreign cell companies. It seems that soon people of the region would be taxed even on drinking water of the area. The rulers of Pakistan will be well placed if they follow international rules while dealing with the people of Gilgit-Baltistan lest the country becomes a laughing stock in the world.

Call to expose officials

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008

By Our Correspondent
Ghizer: A list of government officials having links with sectarian organizations should be prepared starting from Ghizer district to take action against them, demanded the public of the district. The social and public circles of the district have appealed to the Chief Secretary and inspector general of police to make a list of those in the government who are charged with fueling sectarian sentiments so that action could be taken against them. They said sectarianism was at its peak in the district and every governmental institution was being infected with this menace. According to them, sectarian discrimination is gaining roots in the government schools of the district while recruitment on the grounds of sectarian discrimination has also become a routine.They criticized the higher officials for their role in fuelling sectarian sentiments and termed a conspiracy against the peace of the region. They said higher officials are filling the governmental posts on sectarian grounds as a result of which merit is violated while officials coming from outside add to the misers of the people who are deprived of jobs just because they do not fulfill the secret sectarian criteria. It should be noted that the chief secretary Northern Areas had announced to make a list of the government officials involved in sectarian strife and punish them which was warmly welomed in the public circles and appreciated at large but the start of such an action is yet to be seen.

Banks witness huge

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Banks witness hugewithdrawals
By Our Correspondent
Gilgit: As a result of the financial uncertainty in the world, the people of Gilgit Baltistan have started to withdraw their cash from banks. “What to do with that profit if you are not sure of your capital,” said a customer while driving back home after withdrawing money from a bank in Gilgit city. An official of a private bank in Gilgit told Bang-e-Sahar on condition of anonymity that in two days the withdrawal by customers had dropped cash with the bank to half of what it had. He said last Friday and Saturday most of the withdrawals were carried out. When asked about the future scenario, he said God knows better, but the apparent lines of worries and dissatisfaction revealed much of what he knew. Fears are that the financial institutions working in Gilgit Baltistan will go bankrupt in the coming five years.

Lack of funds halts work on uplift projects

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Lack of funds halts work on uplift projects
Gilgit: Due to lack of funds the developmental projects being carried out in various parts of Gilgit-Baltistan have came to a halt. Contractors and those relying for their bread on daily wages are the worst sufferers. Sources said that only seven percent of the budget has been approved in the lapse of four months after the current financial year. The masses of Gilgit-Baltistan have expressed their concerns over the issue and termed it an assault on the progress of the region and condemned the lack of interest of chairman northern areas and the finance department. “The region is moving backward, poverty is at its peak and the masses are dying of hunger but the people’s elected representatives are busy in horse trading and running for tickets,” they said. It should be noted that migration of “seasonal birds” belonging to local political parties to the party in majority has started and it is being made possible with the aid of nobody but those “jiyalas” and “shers” who chant slogans of making Gilgit Baltistan mini-Lahore and mini-Larkana. The people have appealed to the government to take immediate action in order to save the region from financial meltdown.

Jails devoid of facilities: survey

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Jails devoid of facilities: survey By Our Correspondent
Gilgit: The jails of Gilgit- Baltistan are in abysmal conditions and devoid of very basic human rights, a report stated. In the report, issued by the special survey team of Bang-e-Sahar, the investigating journalists termed the condition as alarming and said immediate action were needed to improve the condition of the prisoners. The team stated that in a prison with the capacity of sixty people some two hundred prisoners were forced to live resulting in poor hygienic and health conditions of the prisoners. They said fight among the prisoners had become a routine and the weaker prisoner had no right to food, water and other basic necessities of life. “We appeal to the authorities concerned to take steps on war footing if the condition is to be made better”, the report said. It should be noted that the prisons serving in Gilgit Baltistan are without any basic structure and facilities. The jails in Gilgit Baltistan have their own interesting set up. The chief sectary is given the additional job of serving as inspector general jails while the deputy commissioners are given the additional job of serving as the superintendent of jails in their respective districts. The report has rendered this extra duty as one of the many reasons for the disintegration of jails as due to lack of time these jails don’t get the deserved attention of the authorities concerned. The report said another reason for the abysmal condition was the lack of budget allocated for jails an example of which is the District jail Gilgit, where medical dispensary and doctor’s facility was available. The required annual budget of the dispensary mentioned in the prior lines is four point four million but it gets only one point eight million annually. If this condition prevails the jails serving in Gilgit Baltistan will serve as a nursery for criminals instead of becoming a rehabilitation centre for those with a criminal record or those who fail to obey the rule of law.NO RELIEF ON EID: The prisoners of Gilgit baltistan remained devoid of any relief despite announcement made by the President. On the eve of Eidul Fitr, President Asif Ali Zardari had announced a relief of three months in the penalty of prisoners all over the country but this announcement fell on a deaf ear in Gilgit Baltistan.According to sources, local beaurocracy thought it not a big deal and did not compensate any prisoner while the prisoners and public expressed astonishment over the attitude of the local beaurocracy.The prisoners said on the occasion of Eidul Fitr Muslim prisoners all over the world are compensated but here in Gilgit Baltistan no thought is given to such issues and such It should be noted that all decisions are made independently here in Gilgit Baltistan by the local civil and military establishment without giving any second thought to rule of the law.

Cell phone firms slammed for tax


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Cell phone firms slammed for taxdeduction
By Our Correspondent
Gilgit: Cell phone users have expressed their concern over the tax deduction by cellular companies in Gilgit Baltistan and termed it an illegal act. The current fifty percent increase in tax deduction of cellular companies has compelled many to turn to the tax free system of SCom. “Gilgit Baltistan is a tax-free zone and the sole authority of tax implementation rests with the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly,” said a cell phone user while talking to Bang-e-Sahar. “The cell phone companies should stop their tax deduction process in Gilgit Baltistan immediately or leave the region at once, he added while a franchise officer operating in Gilgit city said the local customers were angry over tax deduction and said “people come to us complaining about the tax deduction giving their justifications but we have no answer.” Another franchise officer working on the complaint desk said it was unbearable to listen to a mob all day with only one complain for which you have no solution. “Sometimes the customers get out of control with anger and I consider quitting this job right at that moment,” he said, adding it was the thought of feeding a big family of over a dozen members which makes him stick to his job.Despite the chaos that the tax deduction has created in the region the representatives of the public remain unmoved. When asked, a public representative said he can’t fight with multi billion dollar companies. “If tax deduction concerns people that much they should stop using cell phones,” he added. It is interesting to note that no single word has been uttered by the concerned authorities of the public or those of the cellular companies.

Workshop on tourism


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Workshop on tourismOrganisers criticised for keepingstakeholders away
By A Correspondent

 

GILGIT: People belonging to the tourism industry and other stakeholders have criticised the organisers of a workshop on tourism held in the townfor keeping them out of the event.The regional workshop on tourism was jointly organised by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) and a German NGO, Invent. The people said the activity produced nothing except providing an excursion trip to the participants.The workshop was a closed door activity where nobody was allowed except a few selected NGO personnel from Germany and Nepal besides some government officials of the Northern Areas. The participants of the workshop later crossed the Sino-Pakistan border into the Xinjiang province of China where they would stay for three days.The secretary planning and development and the secretary law Northern Areas were special guests on the occasion. “Since the international donor agencies have shifted their priorities from Gilgit-Baltistan and are focusing more on Kashmir and Afghanistan, the AKRSP is trying to get government funds by appeasing the officials,” said a tour operator.”The NGO is building the capacity of government officials who are posted here for a specific period of time only. We are the promoters and at the same time sufferers in the tourism sector so we should be taken on board while discussing tourism-related issues,” Tariq Hussain, another tour operator said.Surprisingly, the media was also kept out of the event and even the official media manager of the region was ignorant about the activity.”I am surprised why they ignored the media and did not want coverage of the workshop. Everybody in this regionis a stakeholder of tourism industry,” said Nasim Khan,the regional information officer.—Dawn

Trout fish smuggling goes unchecked


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008

Trout fish smuggling goes unchecked

By Our Correspondent

Ghizer: A large number of trout fish was smuggled out from the Gupis valley of Ghizer district. Sources told Bang-e-Sahar that a few days earlier smugglers of trout came to the valley along a political figure of Gilgit and caught tons of trout and smuggled it to Gilgit safely without the notice of the law enforcers. The personals deployed in Sher Qila check post did not bother to check the smugglers. Residents of the locality have strongly condemned the negligence of the personnel of fisheries department. The residents said the personnel of fishery department deployed in the Sher Qila check post deal the local residents with an iron hand on minor issues while smugglers from outside the valley are left to do their job without any hindrance. The residents have appealed to the higher officials of the concerned department to take notice of the issue and ensure strong action against the culprits. “The lower personnel are being bribed by the white collar smugglers,” one of the residents said. “This trend needs to be put a full stop at the higher level,” he added.

A women adjusts a traditional Gilgit cap at the first conference on rural women held at Lok Virsa In Islamabad

Afghans to be kicked out of Gilgit-Baltistan

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Afghans to be kicked out of Gilgit-Baltistan Gilgit: Considering the current scenario of law and order in the country, the local administration of Gilgit Baltistan has decided to remove Afghan nationals residing in the region without NOCs. “The administration has decided to keep a close eye on the activities of Afghan nationals residing in the region,” said a source in the local administration. He said a list of the Afshan nationals and their whereabouts in the region was also being started soon while those who are residing without NOCs will be deported from the region.—Correspondent

Zardari promises AJK-like assembly

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
Zardari promises AJK-like assembly
By Gohar Abbas Gojali
Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari has said an assembly like that of Azad Kashmir will soon be established in Gilgit Baltistan. In a meeting at the President House, Mr Zardari announced this on the demand of president PPP women wing Northern Areas, Mrs Sadia Danish.It was unanimously decided to grant 33% quota for females in the governmental jobs in Gilgit Baltistan. Besides, a women crisis centre and a women bank will also be set up in the region. It was also decided to distribute the Benazir income support cards through the women wing of the party in Gilgit Baltistan.Sadia Dansih also met the minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Qamaru Zaman Kaira, minister for media and broadcasting Shery Rehman, foreign minister Shah Mehmud Qureshi, and finance minister Naveed Qamar after the meeting.She briefed the President and ministers about the economic and political condition of the region in genral and women of the region in particular. She said a large polulation of women in Gilgit Baltistan was jobless while an equal number has suffered due to the killing of their husbands and bread owners in sectarian strife. While talking to Bang-e-Sahar after the meeting, she said she would do her utmost to uplift the condition of women in her region. She said Gilgit Baltistan was a land of “jiyalas” and who have rendered great services and sacrifices for the party. It should be noted that Sadia Danish is widow of late Ramzan Danish, a leading activist of the students wing of PPP who lost his life in the post-Jan 08 sectarian strife in Gilgit Baltistan.

International moot on Kashmir

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
International moot on KashmirCall to purge Kashmir of religiouselements
By Our Correspondent

Geneva: Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Chairman United Kashmir Peoples National Party (UKPNP), has said the people of Kashmir are pro-peace and pro-democracy. They demand that a culture of accountability and transparency be established in the polity of entire Jammu Kashmir without any distinction.Addressing a conference on “Kashmir Issue, Terrorism and Human Rights” at the United Nations offices in Geneva, he said we are against the teachings, preaching and education of communal hatred. And the forces which are using religion as a weapon must be discouraged and their infrastructure be dismantled anywhere in the region under any name.”We support and endorse reconciliation and the need of roundtable discussion of the political leaders, civil society of all divided parts of former princely state. We oppose proxy war and proxy politics, which left enormous effects on the daily life of the people of Jammu Kashmir. Today the entire population of the state is compelled to live in threat and harassment by the different non-state actors in the region.”We strongly demand from the government of Pakistan to abolish all discriminatory clauses from the constitutional act of 1974 which bars freedom of thoughts, freedom of assembly as well as discriminate and violates universal charter of fundamental rights of the local people.He said human rights must be protected without the distinction of caste, colour, creed, gender, social and political orientation. Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri said today entire population of Jammu Kashmir has become hostage to terrorists, which are still freely and independently operating and moving everywhere in Pakistani administered Kashmir. The government of Pakistan is still not successful to draft a modern day foreign policy out of the pressure of its military influence. He alleged that Pakistan is promoting, importing and still exporting terrorists and training camps are still intact in various parts of Pakistan, as well as in some far most remote areas of the mountainous region of so called Azad Kashmir.”For us, Kashmir comprises 85,000 square miles, including the Kashmir valley, which encompasses 8,000 square miles. Jammu, which constitutes 12,000 square miles, Ladakh, which has 35,000 square miles, Gilgit Baltistan and Hunza which cover the area of 28,000 square miles, and Pakistani-administered Kashmir (Azad Kashmir), 4,000 square miles. For us, Kashmir is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic State encompassing the most important strategic areas in the South Asian region in terms of its political and economic significance in today’s globalized world.But for some Kashmiri leaders, Kashmir is only the Valley of Kashmir and the rest is meaningless to them. Yet when we describe Kashmir as a land of peace, harmony, brotherhood, love and tolerance, these are not just words: Kashmir and its 13 million inhabitants from east, west, north and south truly reflect these noble sentiments of humanity to each other. Wular and Dal lakes set off the Valley of Kashmir; the Tavi and Chenab rivers water the fertile fields of Jammu; the Gilgit and Indus rivers give life to the land of northern Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan; and the River Poonch flows in the Poonch area, where people grow rice, wheat, corn and vegetables. The State of Jammu and Kashmir is replete with natural resources: five major rivers and many small streams, Sweetwater lakes, the world’s longest mountain ranges, such as the lofty Great Himalayas, and the world’s second-highest mountain, K2, situated in this many-sided area. From a cultural perspective Kashmir features unique diversity: in the Valley of Kashmir, we can catch a glimpse of old Persian and eastern European cultural influence, in Jammu, the vibrant Dogra culture encompasses historical Sanskrit letters and poetry, songs and dances; while in Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan, eastern European and Buddhist cultures and languages have left their mark on the everyday lives of the inhabitants. Kashmir has produced a host of renowned political leaders, intellectuals, musicians, historians, artists, writers and singers. To give just a few examples – and I could go on at length – the poetry of Lal Ded (Habba Khatoon) is full of love and her writings afford us fascinating insights into Kashmiri society. The poems of Dina Nath Nadim convey the pain, misery and plight of the Kahsmiri people in the early 19th century. Later, Fauq and Krishan Chandar gave Kashmiri literature a boost in the 20th century. Similarly, intellectuals, musicians and academics in all other regions of the former Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu have valiantly endeavoured to preserve centuries-old culture, music and literature in these areas despite present-day divisions.The geographic and strategic location of the former State of Jammu and Kashmir made it vulnerable, first in the 19th century, as the sun began to set over the far-flung British Empire, then after the Second World War. At the time, the British were preparing to leave the subcontinent, which featured vast amounts of inhabitants, resources and land and could pride itself on centuries of peaceful coexistence.We must remember that, although Mughals conquered India and ruled for several centuries, the sentiments of harmony, peace, and love coexisted side by side. Yet the British divided people into Muslims and non-Muslims, promoting a two-nation theory. Not only Muslims in India met the definition of a separate nation: many other nationalities enjoyed their own language, culture, traditions and religion, occupying substantial areas of the land. Divide-and-rule has been a centuries-old tool of occupying forces. Today, however, occupying forces are relying on the tactic of confuse-and-rule.To give you an inkling of Kashmir’s rich history, many believe that the Mauryan emperor Ashoka founded the city of Srinagar. Moreover, Kashmir was a seat of Buddhist learning in days of yore. History tells us that Buddhism came to China from Kashmir. In 1349, after Muslim rule was ushered in, Islam became the dominant religion in Kashmir valley. The Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir coexisted harmoniously by and large, as the Sufi-Islamic way of life of ordinary Muslims in Kashmir dovetailed with the Rishi traditions of Kashmiri pundits. The outcome was a syncretic culture where Hindus and Muslims prayed at the same shrines. Today, Kashmiris refer to the Rajatarangini, the chronicle of the kings of Kashmir, as the sole ancient record of Kashmir’s history and existence.At this point, I would like to give you a glimpse of recent history so that you can understand the present-day conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. By the early 19th century, control of the Kashmir valley had shifted from the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan and four centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals and Afghans to the conquering Sikh armies. This change began in 1780, after the death of Ranjit Deo, the Rajah of Jammu, when the Kingdom of Jammu was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore. Gulab Singh, Ranjit Singh’s subordinate, took the valley, annexing it to Jammu in 1819. With the help of his army officer Zorawar Singh, Gulab Singh seized Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan to the east and north-east of Jammu. In 1845, when the First Anglo-Sikh war broke out, Gulab Singh skilfully managed to avoid involvement until the battle of Sobraon (1846), when he acted as a useful mediator and a trusted advisor of Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence. Two treaties were then signed. Under the first, the state of Lahore, that is West Punjab, ceded to the British, as the equivalent of one Crore of indemnity, the hill countries between Beas and Indus.Under the second, the British gave Gulab Singh for 75 lakhs all the hilly or the mountainous country situated to the east of Indus and west of Ravi (that is, the Vale of Kashmir). Thus, the Kingdom of Jammu became a tributary of Sikh power in 1846. Not long after Gulab Singh died in 1857, his son Ranbir Singh swallowed up the emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar.The Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, as it was called at the time, came into being between 1820 and 1858. It brought together heterogeneous regions, religions and ethnicities; to the east, Ladakh was ethnically and culturally Tibetan with inhabitants who practised Buddhism, to the south, Jammu was a mixture of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs; in the Kashmir valley, the vast majority of inhabitants were Sunni Muslims apart from a small minority of Brahmans and pundits; to the north-east, thinly populated Baltistan had a population which was ethnically related to Ladakh but practised Shia Islam; to the north, the area of Gilgit Agency featured a mix of Shia and Sunni Muslims; and to the west, Poonch contained Muslims who were ethnically dissimilar to those of the Kashmir valley.After the subcontinent was partitioned, rulers of princely states were given a choice to decide their future: either to accede via union to India or Pakistan or in special cases to remain independent. However, a tribal invasion from Pakistan frightened the Maharajah of Kashmir into signing an instrument of accession with India. This instrument specified that the wishes of the Kashmiri people had to be taken into account and that India would protect the life, liberty and property of the Kashmiri people.” Property” in this respect meant that India had to do more to clear those areas which were illegally occupied by Pakistan. It was Pakistan which occupied the most significant regions of the State, and the presence of its military forces in the State materially changed the entire situation. United Nations Security Council resolution 47 was adopted on 21 April 1948. After hearing arguments from both India and Pakistan, the Council increased the size of the Commission established by United Nations Security Council resolution 39 to five members, instructing the Commission to go to the subcontinent and help the governments of India and Pakistan restore peace and order to the region and prepare for a plebiscite to decide the fate of Kashmir. The resolution recommended that in order to ensure the impartiality of the plebiscite, Pakistan withdraw all tribesmen and nationals who had entered the region for the purpose of fighting and that India leave only the minimum number of troops needed to keep civil order. The Commission was also to send as many observers into the region as it deemed necessary to ensure that the provisions of the resolution were enacted. Yet Pakistan never complied with the stipulations of the Security Council or UNCIP recommendations. It has not recognized these provisions and has continued to press for a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the people. Pakistan set up its own Kashmir, called Azad Kashmir, in a minute Western chunk controlled by it. The much larger region of Pakistani Kashmir in the north-west, which was a province named Northern Areas in the erstwhile State, hardly features in the laws and Constitution of Pakistan. Yet the military establishment and secret agencies claim that these areas are part of Pakistan and have nothing to do with the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The silence of the pro-Pakistan group APHC regarding these areas is also meaningful and regrettably shameful. Today, the former State of Jammu and Kashmir has been carved up by three countries – India, Pakistan and China. All – three have fought wars on Kashmiri soil: Pakistan with India in 1948, 1965 and 1999; and India with China in 1962, when the latter captured the vast area known as Aksai Chin.

New approaches on Kashmir whenever and whoever suggested were largely resisted by certain forces, both in Pakistan and India including Kashmiri’s on both sides. Those interests are entwined with the status quo. Such idea was initially advanced in early 50s and early sixties when dialogues between Bhutto and Sawarn Sigh were conducted to resolve this complex issue based on the changed ground realities and shared regional interests. The approach was advocated by the US then to persuade Ayub Khan that it is the time to come to recognize the ground realities and not to miss the opportunity when India was inclined to compromise on the changing situation. And when Sheikh Abdullah visited last time Pakistan, he had suggested along the same lines to Ayub Khan too.Opportunities were missed on both occasions when Patel asked Liaquat Ali Khan to take Kashmir and leave Hyderabad before ending up for nothing. But Pakistan leadership’s shortsightedness couldn’t see beyond the wall and helped India to keep both, Kashmir and Hyderabad. After 1965 lost war and 1971 Pakistan’s division – because of its own policies to marginalize the Bengali politically and economically – it was time or Pakistan to review its flawed and failed policies over all, on Kashmir and within its own provinces could have helped Pakistan to secure its economic and geographical interests. But military’s growing political interests and control over power led it to resist any change that was deemed necessary to keep this country’s larger interests ahead to the military institution. The unchanged policies and unchallenged military’s direct and indirect control over the political power in Pakistan has seriously discouraged every new approach that was suggested to resolve the conflict of Kashmir; that eventually resulted in the prolonged confrontation, hostilities and proxy war that strengthened the extremist forces across Pakistan and region, and military in Pakistan.Nawaz Sharif was first who had tried to depart from the traditional policy by inviting Vajpayee and signing Lahore Declaration which was thwarted through Kargil misadventure of Mushraf and eventually he was ousted from the power. Later, the same Mushraf agreed, who had accused Nawaz for sell-off Kashmir under the global pressure, on the new approaches on Kashmir suggested by the former Indian PM Mr. Vajpaee to soften the borders. Though the idea of soft borders has been advocated by many political scientists and practitioners since ago, at least to start with in order to mitigate the grievances and sufferings that division and barriers had caused or inflicted upon the people, was finally endorsed in 2004 after six decades of destruction and death. But again forces opposed to new ideas and fresh approaches are seen to be disenchanted with the utility of it and insist to embark upon the old notions, ideas and approaches of fighting for Kashmiri cause without winning it.Reasons and aims are obvious because in six decades military dominated politics and policies were largely advocated on both sides but especially in Pakistan without questioning its merits. However, India succeeded to keep military out of politics and its successive governments changed priorities of Indian politics from military to build Economy. But somehow Kashmir aspect has been determining factor between both countries relations whether it was under the two-nation theory in Pakistan, or secularism in India. As a result only military was strengthened on both sides but this mindset further entrenched in policy making to make military might unchallengeable on both sides which helped Pakistan military to take the charge of everything by demonizing and ridiculing the political leadership of country. The growing military control and interests in Pakistan helped it to resist any new idea or approach to resolve Kashmir conflict with India.

In the free homeland (Azad Kashmir) part 1


Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
In the free homeland (Azad Kashmir) part 1
(Translation of the hand-written account of Col Mirza Hassan Khan, Military Cross, Fakhar-e-Kashmir, during his imprisonment and confinement in the last stages of his life).
In April 1955, we were set free from jail after a long legal struggle. There was an element of good luck in this, besides the role of handicapped governor general Ghulam Mohammad and our capable lawyer Manzoor Qadir. Soharwardy was at this time in government and Ghulam Mohammad had bundled off Nazimudin along with the assembly. There was betterment for us in this fuss. In 1956, while in Gilgit, I formed a political party so that this impotent (bhanjh) region should line up in some political array. But this was not to the liking of nature and the governments as both of them were absolute dictators.My decision was also very firm. Despite numerous difficulties, this political party remained successful, but in 1958, when Sikander Mirza enforced martial law in Pakistan the politicians and politics were rounded off. After assuming the charge as foreign minister, Mr Manzoor Qadir wired me that the politics is finished now and come to me; otherwise you will be again put in jail. I could ill afford going to jail now, so he after rendering advices to me got me a government job in Azad Kashmir. There in 1961, I got charge of director “Village Aid” from Brigadier Noasherwan Khan, when after passing away he took charge of some other department in the other world. Azad Watan was free in the name only; it had none of its own army, neither police, nor a department of intelligence, no accounts and accountability department, though they had their own assembly.All the veterans of the war of liberation had been ousted. It had no comparison with the Azad Kashmir of 1949-51, when the writer was sector commander of Poonch and the war preparations were being conducted in every house and in every nook and corner, the activities of local mujahid committees under my supervision was felt. Every child was fully motivated for jehad and wanted to become a soldier. In the war of liberation, even the women of Poonch had started holding weapons. It appeared as if at that time Azad Kashmir was a Palestinian mujahid camp of today. In every place Yasin Arafats were roaming with their groups. At that time, Sakhi Daler also met me as a general of one such group. He was a Robinhood of Mirpur. Everyone had a feeling that if the war had stopped today, then it could start tomorrow, therefore at every level the war preparations were going on with full swing under the supervision of officers of Azad forces and Azad Govt.Azad army officers were solely the leaders of the people. But, this was not liked by the jealous arena. Now, when I assessed the situation after return from prison, the map was completely changed. The economic thinking had superceded the war thinking and some money was also coming in. But only this much, like a thirsty man gets dew from the ocean. In this, economic imbalanced situation, the rein of Azad Kashmir’s civil administration and army had come into the hands of Pakistan. The salaries of the local civil administration officials were just enough to merely survive. Americans now had started throwing naked bones to the hungry in the name of “Village Aid”, so that we should start fighting amongst each other instead of foreigners. Look at the irony of fate! The charge of this department was handed over to me from a Pakistani…. Various political parties had been formed. Every party was asking votes from the people in the name of liberation of Kashmir but both the parties and the people knew that all this is just superficial.The truth was only this much that every party wanted to appease the Pakistani ruling group to come into power. Muslim Conference used to nominate president of the government. People used to make him sit on the seat of power with funfair and the ministry of Kashmir affairs used to send him quietly to jail and those very people celebrated this very act as a spring festival and felt happy to witness disgrace of everyone, one after the other! I had seen no president of Azad Kashmir, who had not gone to jail. Only one perso.Besides the president, another supreme head stationed in Rawalpindi was imposed on this small region; who was very closely trailing the president. In 1962, when Mr. K H Khurshid became the president through “Basic Democracy” system, then he successfully tried to get rid of the ministry and the supreme hood. Ayub Khan of Pakistan initially supported him but later gave away and resultantly the President Sahib landed in Dalai (confinement place). Khurshid tried to provide some respectability to the Chain. In this downfall, there was a lot of contribution of own people. I had seen the flame of life, burning and extinguishing everywhere, sometimes on the battlefield and sometimes in my house. In my ancestral house in a village of Gilgit, I had seen Mount Rakhaposhi at sunset disappearing into nothingness with the last ray of sun like an extinguishing cigarette. There was a very little chance of revival from the charred material. It appeared as if some very organized Zionist movement has snatched the freedom of action from the Kashmiris. They have been broken down into three pieces: Occupied Kashmir, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and no chance was being provided to them to join their heads, so as to think to combine. There can be no denying the fact that the Gilgitis and Baltis were far more engulfed in bad luck as compared with Azad Kashmiris. They were not even free in their houses to regulate their lives. The ray of hope of liberation of Kashmir was missing in all these three parts. Those who use to dance to the tunes of every Pharaoh of time were issuing topsy turvy statements to sell Kashmiris and freedom of Kashmir. They were terming every bad act of their masters as good one. All the achievements of 1947 were watered down. The veterans of tongue had replaced those of character. I had come here after getting disappointed from my region but over here also I had assessed diminishing self respect. During the 1965 and 1971 wars, the charge of the ministry of defense of Azad Kashmir was with me (Secretary Defense), but who was I? … No person from Azad Kashmir, even including the president was not consulted that something was about to happen on 8th August 1965. The 1965 war was waged without preparation. This was an half hearted attempt, the motive of which could have been other than keeping the Kashmir dispute alive; in the shape of sliding away Ayub Khan from the seat of power, as it happened.There could have been only two purposes of sending across the Mujahids into the other side on 8 August 1965. First, to go inside and after setting of snow on the mountains remain there in cut off state so as to be minced meat by Indian army. Second, they should come back just before fall of snow by end October and thus those Muslims of Indian Occupied Kashmir, who in lakhs had sided with these mujahids should become victim of Indian army guns and rifles. The mujahids went inside in August 1965, and came out in October and brought along one lakh poor and hungry men, women and children. They kept languishing and dying in camps without support for some days and then went back so as to die from Indian bullets instead of dying over here…. Indeed, the mastermind of this scheme did not deserve to be called a soldier, as no soldier even with an average thinking could have chosen these timings of attack. The tale of Kashmir has been fiddled (chairr) and this tale cannot be complete, without a brief mention of K. H. Khurshid. It is true that everyone who had come into power has done his level best to keep alive the Kashmir dispute, merely to save his seat of power.They have not dared to go beyond just verbal rhetoric’s, so that Pakistan remains happy and spirited people are also deceived at the same time, but as it is said that Ghalib had a unique style! And Khurshid was bit impatient to become a practical mujahid and realized that it is futile to have a black record in the annals of history by just empty talks. If there was a Kashmir dispute, worth its name; then it should be solved in this World – in some debate or on some battlefield. He sought advise from this humble writer also and was told the only practical solution, which is disliked by all and without which, so much time is wasted and no other solution other than this has been found out as yet. This is to combine Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir and their combined govt of Azad Jammu and Kashmir is accepted as the true representative govt of whole former State like the one under the rein of Hari Singh; so that a struggle for freedom is launched; as a consequence of which, it is decided to accede to one of the claimants. This very government and people should be Azad i.e. free in real sense of the term, so that weapons can be obtained from friendly Islamic countries and China . Thus, the men, women and children of the liberated areas can be armed and fight like Palestinians in the battlefield. It is only possible if they have their own Yasir Arafats, otherwise many Shah Hussains and Anwar Saadats can strike other compromises. Luckily or unluckily, Khurshid got this idea approved from Ayub Khan. Ayub was a soldier and was aware of the practical aspects of this problem. But he failed to convince those politicians who were opposing this idea; those politicians who wanted to continue ruling these freed areas and remain only hollow mujahideen with empty talks. They were not at all interested in the freedom of Kashmir. For them, everyone who comes into power in Pakistan is a savior of Kashmir and a messiah of Azad Kashmiris. Among them, one of the sahibs has invented an empty slogan, “Kashmir Banega Pakistan”. In his opinion, in their arsenals, even Russia and America had not invented as yet a better missile than this. They had no answer whatsoever that when and how Kashmir will become Pakistan. It was a deception of very dangerous and harmful dimension. Consequently, Ayub Khan was soon made to be disappointed and distrustful of Khurshid and he was also confined in a Dulai camp. He must be cursing that meeting which he held with Ayub Khan and Abdullah. Both of them were incapable of taking a stand for even a moment on their point of view.

New approaches to Kashmir as suggested by Zardari

Weekly Bang-e-Sahar Karachi Saturday, October 18———-October 24, 2008
By Mumtaz Khan
New approaches on Kashmir whenever and whoever suggested were largely resisted by certain forces, both in Pakistan and India including Kashmiri’s on both sides. Those interests are entwined with the status quo. Such idea was initially advanced in early 50s and early sixties when dialogues between Bhutto and Sawarn Sigh were conducted to resolve this complex issue based on the changed ground realities and shared regional interests. The approach was advocated by the US then to persuade Ayub Khan that it is the time to come to recognize the ground realities and not to miss the opportunity when India was inclined to compromise on the changing situation. And when Sheikh Abdullah visited last time Pakistan, he had suggested along the same lines to Ayub Khan too.Opportunities were missed on both occasions when Patel asked Liaquat Ali Khan to take Kashmir and leave Hyderabad before ending up for nothing. But Pakistan leadership’s shortsightedness couldn’t see beyond the wall and helped India to keep both, Kashmir and Hyderabad. After 1965 lost war and 1971 Pakistan’s division – because of its own policies to marginalize the Bengali politically and economically – it was time or Pakistan to review its flawed and failed policies over all, on Kashmir and within its own provinces could have helped Pakistan to secure its economic and geographical interests. But military’s growing political interests and control over power led it to resist any change that was deemed necessary to keep this country’s larger interests ahead to the military institution. The unchanged policies and unchallenged military’s direct and indirect control over the political power in Pakistan has seriously discouraged every new approach that was suggested to resolve the conflict of Kashmir; that eventually resulted in the prolonged confrontation, hostilities and proxy war that strengthened the extremist forces across Pakistan and region, and military in Pakistan.Nawaz Sharif was first who had tried to depart from the traditional policy by inviting Vajpayee and signing Lahore Declaration which was thwarted through Kargil misadventure of Mushraf and eventually he was ousted from the power. Later, the same Mushraf agreed, who had accused Nawaz for sell-off Kashmir under the global pressure, on the new approaches on Kashmir suggested by the former Indian PM Mr. Vajpaee to soften the borders. Though the idea of soft borders has been advocated by many political scientists and practitioners since ago, at least to start with in order to mitigate the grievances and sufferings that division and barriers had caused or inflicted upon the people, was finally endorsed in 2004 after six decades of destruction and death. But again forces opposed to new ideas and fresh approaches are seen to be disenchanted with the utility of it and insist to embark upon the old notions, ideas and approaches of fighting for Kashmiri cause without winning it.Reasons and aims are obvious because in six decades military dominated politics and policies were largely advocated on both sides but especially in Pakistan without questioning its merits. However, India succeeded to keep military out of politics and its successive governments changed priorities of Indian politics from military to build Economy. But somehow Kashmir aspect has been determining factor between both countries relations whether it was under the two-nation theory in Pakistan, or secularism in India. As a result only military was strengthened on both sides but this mindset further entrenched in policy making to make military might unchallengeable on both sides which helped Pakistan military to take the charge of everything by demonizing and ridiculing the political leadership of country. The growing military control and interests in Pakistan helped it to resist any new idea or approach to resolve Kashmir conflict with India.
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