Ideology of JKLF
Dr Shabir Choudhry 14 November 2004
Whenever future of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is discussed the Third Option of an independent Kashmir, in one way or the other, is mentioned; and this ideology rightly or wrongly, is associated with the JKLF, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front.
Many people erroneously think that it was the JKLF which introduced the concept of an independent Kashmir. The JKLF was formed in England in 1977, whereas the concept of an independent Kashmir is older than the Kashmir dispute.
On 17 July 1947, Qaaide Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, in a response to a question regarding the status of Princely States said:
”After the lapse of Paramountcy the Princely States would be constitutionally and legally sovereign states, and free to adopt for themselves any course they wished. It is open to the States to join the Hindustan Constituent Assembly or decide to remain independent. In my opinion they are free to remain independent if they so desire.”
Maqbool Butt Shaheed who was projected as the JKLF leader after his martyrdom was not even a member of the JKLF. He was in Tihar Jail Delhi when the JKLF was formed; and the JKLF leaders on every available opportunity claimed that they were following thinking and teachings of Maqbool Butt.
The original JKLF ideology, no doubt, reflected Maqbool Butt’s philosophy of non sectarian politics. He was a staunch advocator of united and independent Kashmir, and regarded both India and Pakistan usurpers of our independence and occupiers of our beloved motherland.
I was among those who formed the JKLF in 1977, and can safely say that there has been a shift in the JKLF ideology, and different JKLF groups have made political somersaults either in order to appease agencies or for political and economic gains. In fact different groups came in to being when the JKLF leadership was perceived as making an ideological compromise or was conducting politics of regionalism and making economic gains.
In one interview Published in Weekly ‘Liberation’ Maqbool Butt identified four enemies of the Kashmiri independence, and Pakistani elite and bureaucracy was number two on that list. According to him these bureaucrats have messed up the Kashmir case and have opposed the independence of Kashmir, hence prolonged our misery and suffering.
One can see that in view of Maqbool Butt Pakistani elite and establishment was enemy of Kashmiri freedom struggle, but we have JKLF groups who are sitting in laps of Pakistani agencies, although in order to satisfy their members and in order to remain important in the market they still pay lip service to the JKLF ideology.
It was because some of these leaders were allegedly receiving brief cases full of money and fifty thousand per month plus other expenses, that some senior JKLF members protested and consequently formed their own groups. Their view was that those who receive a generous monthly income, first class air tickets and other benefits could not be the right people to represent the JKLF and its ideology; yet these so called leaders and ‘freedom fighters’ were imposed upon members as the JKLF leaders.
One JKLF leader who had difficulty even paying his rent, electric and gas bills, and a court action was taken against him in England for non payment; and since he joined hands with those who have commercialised the Kashmiri struggle, he flies first class and spends most of his time on tours doing his ‘good work’ for the ‘movement’.
There is old saying, ‘one who pays the piper plays the tune’, and he is surely playing the right tune for those who pay him. In his recent statement issued from Belgium on, he said: “Our people deserve to have the right to self determination as accorded by the United Nations Resolutions”.
This could be anything else but not the JKLF ideology. I have no problem if he projects this ideology on the platform of Muslim Conference or any other party which adheres to this view point, but I am disgusted when people in disguise issue statements like this and still claim to be the JKLF members.
It annoys me further when JKLF members who hail from Azad Kashmir say we know he is wrong and he is violating the JKLF discipline and ideology, but we cannot take any action because he is from the Valley.
His colleague does similar ‘good work’ in Islamabad, and is rewarded handsomely with monthly income, house, car, and foreign tours not to mention other facilities. He recently wrote an article which showed supremacy of the Valley over other Kashmiri regions and projected division of the State. He wrote: ‘Broadly speaking, Jammu and Ladakh in my view have little or nothing to share with the people of Kashmir and accordingly maybe well placed to stay with India’.
Of course no JKLF person could ever adhere to this ideology and project division of Kashmir. These two ‘leaders’ belong to the JKLF faction headed by Yasin Malik. A non JKLF person said to me that if Yasin Malik sincerely believes in the ideology of United and Independent Kashmir then he should take some disciplinary action against these people.
So far he has not done anything, and this he said, proves either he is not in control or he is also ‘one of them’, and reaping the benefits by exploiting the name of the JKLF and ideology of an independent Kashmir.
He further said there are two big JKLF factions: ‘one headed by Amanullah Khan and the other by Yasin Malik, and both in one way or the other have colluded with agencies and have damaged the nationalist cause; and all the hard work which you people do they benefit from it’.
He continued: they both pay lip service to the cause of United and independent Kashmir. Amanullah Khan has been in field for more than three decades and yet he could not have a branch of his party in his own area, Gilgit and Baltistan. Brief to him from agencies is we will support you as long as you keep away from these areas and concentrate on the Indian side.
His assertion was that the JKLF has got a bad name because of its close association with agencies of both countries; and that I was expelled by Yasin Malik faction of the JKLF because of my criticism of Pakistan on issues of Mangla Dam and Gilgit and Baltistan. It was disliked by the agencies and they asked him to issue a statement against you and Abbas Butt. ‘My sincere advice to you both is to say good bye to the JKLF and join another party’, he said.
Although he had a point, but that does not mean we should say good bye to the JKLF. We know Yasin Malik will never take any action against his colleagues who are his friends and who come from the Valley, no matter what image of the JKLF or its ideology they present to the world.
I once wrote an article and analysed the American role in the Kashmir dispute, and concluded that America will only support an independent Kashmir if it suited its interest as they always look after their national interest. Yasin Malik, for some reason was annoyed over this and set up a committee to investigate this matter.
The committee head Mr Zubair Ansari in his report to Mr Abbas Butt, President of the JKLF said: ‘We have examined Shabir Choudhry’s work and find nothing wrong with it. It is in line with the nationalist ideology to which JKLF ascribes; and if anything we commend him for writing and making efforts to put the JKLF ideology back on track. In our considered opinion he should continue with his noble task of projecting and refining the nationalist ideology under difficult time.’
My response to all those who want us to leave the JKLF is that we formed the JKLF in 1977 to project the cause of united and independent Kashmir, and our task has been made difficult by betrayals but we are determined to go ahead and project the ideology of the JKLF as it was enunciated in 1977. It is better for us to remain within the JKLF fold, and try to purify the party, and reassert its original ideological stand and character.
Writer is a Chairman of Diplomatic Committee of JKLF and author of many books and booklets. Also he is a Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org