‘Banking on Pakistan not sound’

Nasir Husain Peerzada [The Milli Gazette]

Azam Inqilabi is a pioneering figure who initiated a Kashmiri movement in the 1960s. He passed through many political phases. Presently he is chairman of the Qaumi Mashawarti Council J&K. The interview was conducted at Inqilabi’s residence at Nageen, Srinagar.

To start with, tell us about your political background.
I started my political career as a young man doing my BSc 1st year in 1965. The aftermath of the Indo–Pak war in 1965 prompted me to do something substantial for the liberation of Kashmir to ensure peace in the subcontinent. For gearing up the movement I crossed LoC several times. My political career passed through different stages; I spent a good time in jails as well. The fall of Dhaka in 1971 shocked me much and I resorted to political liberation for about a decade. Then in October 1982 I once again started my political activities, brought out an Urdu journal Wahdat and formed a political outfit ‘Muslim League’ and addressed my first press conference. In 1983 I crossed the LOC and reached Pakistan, merged Muslim League with J&K Mahaz-e Azadi.
Maqbool Bhat, our national hero, was the man who indoctrinated me. He was a strong advocate of an ‘Independent Kashmir.’ For a good time, I participated in socio-religious activities while working with the ‘Islamic Study Circle.’
During my trip to Pakistan in 1983, I found that banking on Pakistan for the liberation of Kashmir is not sound. I came up with a theory: ‘Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris.’ I gave the message to Pakistan: don’t take us for granted. Hands up both India and Pakistan, leave Kashmir and we do not accept the UN resolutions, act as per our aspiration and sentiments. So from 1989 to 1995, I was up in arms against India, and from 1995 to date, I feel the need for political dialogue and have resorted to the peaceful political settlement of the Kashmir issue after the ‘gun’ helped to internationalize the Kashmir issue. This, in brief, is my political background.

What has been the cause of ‘Kashmir conflict’ to emerge?
You know, there was a strong mass uprising against the Maharaja in 1933 under the leadership of Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah. Following the 1947 situation, the then Maharaja acceded to the Indian Union, but fortunately Lord Mountbatten, the governor-general, through his letter asserted that the accession is subject to the people’s will which has to be determined. Later the case went to the UNO where two resolutions were passed in 1948 and 1949 which voiced for the right of self-determination for Kashmiris and at the same time Pakistan was asked to leave the held territory of J&K. Neither Pakistan agreed nor was the right of self-determination given to Kashmiris. These factors later formed the basis of the Kashmir conflict.

How has the international community looked to the Issue?
The international community just regarded it as a ‘border dispute.’ Owing to the interests of their own diplomacy they do not want to aggrieve either India or Pakistan.

Even the Muslim bloc has not been able to find an amicable solution to the problem. Once as the chairman of the OIC, even the ambassador said clearly that Iran is not supposed to bring its army to Kashmir and we give preference to the 200 million Muslims in India. But lately, we realize that perhaps the international community is realizing the need for an early settlement of the issue.

What has been the role of Pakistan in resolving the issue?
Pakistan did something for us. It is now an open secret that Pakistan is involved in the fray. They help us morally and diplomatically.

During the early phases of the movement people strongly supported it. Have they now distanced themselves?
No, people, in the beginning, thought that within a very short span of time Kashmir would be liberated. But it was not so, now they eagerly wait for the international community to help them. They are not disillusioned.

How do you look to the Clinton visit to the Subcontinent?
Clinton is serious about Kashmir. He called the LoC as the most dangerous place in the world. I have written a letter to Clinton for an early resolution of the conflict. I am much optimistic about his visit to India and Pak. Albright, secretary of state, termed South Asia a tinder-box and Kashmir its fuse.

What is the lasting solution to the Kashmir issue?
The war-affected and disturbed zones of J&K state should get immediately demilitarized and should be identified as an independent region where people could enjoy the provisions of self-rule and later it can be ratified by the vote of the people.

Do you hint to the division of the state?
You see, Dogras of Jammu have not participated in the movement, we have to bear that in mind. We need an immediate solution. We cannot consume our youth for a long. 

This interview was first published in The Milli Gazette.

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