Two very important political parties of the centre-left in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (PoGB) have come together for the first time in the history of the occupied territories to jointly hold an all-party conference in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan.
Awami Worker Parties (AWP) of both PoJK and PoGB are to turn up in Islamabad on August 27. They have issued an open invitation to all parties and individuals who have been part of the recent upheaval in the respective territories to attend.
Let me remind our reader that an all-party conference was also convened on August 7 in Muzaffarabad. This was held to oppose the draft proposal of the 15th constitutional amendment. The host of the conference was Raja Farooq Haider, a conservative right-wing pro-Pakistan leader of the JK Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and former PM of PoJK.
It is claimed that 19 political parties and religious organisations including the Prime Minister of PoJK Tanveer Ilyas had attended the conference. A joint declaration was issued at the end of it, which stated that any attempt to disempower the PoJK government will not be acceptable.
However, the next day, the same Raja Farooq Haider voted in favour of the debate on the 15th amendment to take place in the PoJK legislative assembly!
Leaders of JKAWP and GBAWP are both seasoned political activists with simmering rebellious natures. Baba Jan, leader of GBAWP, has previously spent several years in prison for his anti-corporate, social, and protect-the-environment campaigns that began when mining contracts were issued to non-locals.
Nissar Shah is a practising lawyer and is well versed in revolutionary literature and history. He has also served as joint editor and later a member of the editorial board of an agitation-based left-wing journal.
Hence, no wonder the angry youth of both territories are expecting a rebellious outcome from the conference on August 27.
The problem with PoJK and PoGB political parties across the spectrum is that they all share an intrinsic prejudice against India. The lack of books and literature as well as the understanding of the true nature of the Kashmir conflict compounded by decades of anti-India propaganda is the main cause of the narrow-mindedness our political class suffers from.
It is something that cannot be corrected overnight. Therefore, patient, consistent and persistent acts of confronting the false narrative imposed by the Pakistani military establishment on my people are of key importance. And perhaps it is one of the reasons why today all across PoJK and PoGB we can hear chants of “Ye jo dehshatgardi hai, is kay peechay wardi hai (The uniform is sponsoring terrorism)”.
Today, slogans such as “Pakistan Se Lenge Azadi (We will snatch independence from Pakistan)” are a common occurrence during every protest rally in PoJK and PoGB. However, the slogan is in some cases followed by another slogan: “Hindustan Se Lenge Azadi (Will snatch freedom from India too)”. Thus, both slogans cancel each other out, since it is a manifestation of how much the political narrative bombarded on us for the past seven decades by the Islamic jihadist and the Pakistani military establishment regarding the Kashmir conflict has polluted our understanding of history.
In the UN resolution, passed on August 12, 1948, it is clearly mentioned that Pakistan is the aggressor and that it should withdraw all its forces from Kashmir. India, however, has only been asked to remove the bulk of its forces and leave a substantial number in Kashmir to maintain law and order and protect the territory against any further attempts of invasion by Pakistan.
This suggests that the United Nations recognises the instrument of accession signed on October 26, 1947, between Maharaja Hari Singh and the governor-general of India Lord Mountbatten. This also means that until Pakistan does not withdraw its military from PoJK and PoGB, we cannot move even an inch towards the goal of achieving lasting peace in the region.
In order to bring all broken and forcibly separated parts of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir together, the first step can only be to join the Indian union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, for which joining the Republic of India is crucial.
Therefore, the outcome of the all-party conference due in Islamabad on August 27 becomes very important to observe.
In the wake of the social uprising in PoJK, it is crucial to transform it into a political movement that could finally rid my people of an unjust and illegal occupation.
To restrict the demands of the conference to a mere draft resolution that condemns human rights abuses in PoJK and PoGB will not be enough and would be seen as an act of pacifism.
Unless JKAWP and GBAWP come up with a clear fighting programme that could give the current mass movement a concrete political direction, it will remain an exercise that would cause frustration among the population and further the cause of the Pakistan military establishment to keep my people wandering in the labyrinth of political narratives.
The initiative to call for an all-party conference of PoJK and PoGB is no doubt a fantastic development, but the question remains will the conference be able to deliver what at this historic moment is expected of it? The outcome of the conference due on August 27 will demonstrate not only the understanding of the leaders and their cadre of the Kashmir conflict but also their will to fight.
Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.