I have many friends in PoK. A good number of them lives as expatriates in the UK and other European countries including Switzerland. We are good friends and, in a way, friends in adversity. Pakistan’s oppression forced them to seek asylum in western countries and for the same reason people of my community had to leave the homeland and seek shelter in different parts of our country. The difference is that they are the refugees in a foreign country and we are refugees in our own country.
I have been going to Geneva since our exile, viz. 1990 and the PoK people have also been coming to Geneva ever since. But while I was going to expose the perfidy of Pakistan against the people of Jammu and Kashmir, my PoK friends came with the tacit agenda of supporting “freedom movement of Kashmiris” and lauding Pakistan for promising to extend diplomatic, political and moral support to the gun-wielding youth, who at that time were mostly from PoK and the Punjab region of Pakistan. A year or two later, some Muslim delegates from Srinagar also put up their appearance at the UN Human Rights Council lobbies and halls. They established complete camaraderie with the PoK expatriates at the commission. They would jointly make interventions on various items linked to human rights; they would jointly organize briefings now called side events at the UNHRC; they brought even women delegations from Kashmir via London and at every session they jointly with their Kashmiri and Pakistani delegates staged huge anti-India demonstrations at the specific site outside the premises of the UN called the Broken Leg Chair.
It was in the course of these chance meetings and interactions that I came to know many among them. Although we pursued our respective agenda — diametrically opposite in essence—, yet we would take beverages, coffee and even lunch together at the restaurant. Ghulam Nabi Fai, based in the US was the key person who chalked out the roadmap for the anti-India delegates for the entire session. He is a genial man and would occasionally serve me a lunch as well. In the on-going sessions of the Human Rights Council we attacked each other fiercely to score a point but outside the meeting hall, we walked hand in hand. That was a classical example of suave diplomacy.
In my informal exchange of ideas with the UK expatriates, I came to know that they were the ardent activists of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) headquartered in UK (first in Birmingham and later on at Luton where its then supremo Amanullah Khan had purchased himself a house).PoK Diaspora in UK is massive to the tune of 8-10 lakh people. Pakistan’s super-intelligence outfit ISI had been instrumental in brainwashing this huge group. ISI told their leaders that if they contributed in whatever way they could to a liberation movement in Indian part of Kashmir, and initiated armed insurgency inside Kashmir valley, Pakistan army would march in once the J&K government was destabilized. ISI promised all logistical, financial and diplomatic support. A promise was made to them that once Kashmir was liberated, the first right of running the administration of the conquered land would be that of the people from PoK. JKLF in UK had created its moles in the political class in Kashmir and I remember once in their London seminar which I also attended, I found Saifud Din Soz and Swapan Das Gupta among the panelists. It has to be remembered that in the release of Mufti Sayeed’s daughter Dr. Rubiya Mufti from the JKLF guarded hideout, Soz had played the mediation by arranging release of five top JKLF commanders.
The message of ISI spread far and wide so as to reach each and every expatriate from PoK in any part of the world, from Europe to Australia and the US. Its activists in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia were the foremost in making huge financial contributions and Amanullah Khan was the central figure in coordinating all anti-India activities like publishing anti-India material, organizing anti-India demonstrations, giving anti-India TV interviews, dispatching delegations to the British and European parliamentarians to malign India and her stand on Kashmir. As the terrorist activities in Kashmir valley showed upward graph, in came the new item of alleged violation of human rights of Kashmiris. Such effective was the brainwashing and disinformation campaign of the ISI, that once I found a semi veiled Kashmiri Muslim woman with a 6 year old girl child going around from table to table in the coffee lounge of the UN HRC holding the child by hand who carried a headband with words written in bold: “Indians kill us”. The security men at the UN apprehended the woman and charged her with the crime of abuse of children’s rights.
However, around 1994-5, I suddenly found a big change in Geneva. The two were no more in tango. The pro-Pak Kashmiri lobby did not mix with the UK expatriates and did not make joint interventions. They moved like strangers, sullen and tongue tied. I began scratching the matter and thanks to one of the PoK expats based in a European country who I had cultivated as per necessity, I came to know that a big political and strategic development had become the source of estrangement of once bosom friends. In 1993, Amanullah Khan, believing that the massive supports of PoK expats and also the full patronage of ISI had given his movement for azaadi great impetus, he declared that the JKLF activists would lead a massive public march across the LoC to Indian part of Kashmir. All arrangements for the adventure were made and even some of the rabid volunteers carried their shrouds also with them with Allaho Akbar written in bold letters on them.
What would be the result if this multitude of azaadi slogan raisers managed to go across the LoC giving sacrifices of a few hundred of them? What would be the role of Pakistan in Kashmir in that situation? These and other considerations brought Pakistani authorities and the ISI to the conclusion that this was all going against the interests of Pakistan and the JKLF was becoming its Frankenstein. It decided to stop the march at any cost. And when the JKLF youth refused to budge, Pakistan army opened fire killing at least 27 (though unofficial sources compute the dead around 75) and several dozens wounded.
ISI directed the pro-Pak militants in Kashmir to create Hizbul Mujahideen to counter the JKLF in the valley. In this struggle of rivalry JKLF cadres solely responsible for the killing of innocent Pandits were decimated in the valley. In UK, ISI worked hard to divide the JKLF which it had raised with considerable scheming. Indoctrination of JKLF in its early days was to the extent that in 1982, JKLF (previously KLF) cadres had become bold enough to kidnap Indian Consul in Birmingham named Ravindra Mhatre and murder him in some sequestered place.
Many sensitive members of JKLF, who had contributed in large measures to the success of JKLF, now turned against Pakistan. They call themselves the nationalists and they regrouped albeit not in their earlier strength, and set up new political groupings by different names. They published material claiming that they are for the rebirth of the old State of Jammu and Kashmir that existed prior to 1947. Their delegations now began to show up in Geneva clamouring for an independent State of J&K. By and large they were appreciative of Indian policy in its part of the state.
However, soon after the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution doing away with the special status of J&K and bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories, the so-called nationalists of PoK in UK and other parts of Europe have come out with highly inflammatory statements against India. They have condemned the constitutional reforms vehemently and recently they organized a big rally of the expatriates in Dublin where they poured out venom against India. Now I am told that they are preparing to join hands again with their earlier benefactors to make interventions against India’s new move in Kashmir.
How ironic that these weird friends have chosen to condemn application of full democratic and secular dispensation in Kashmir and simultaneously have come out in outright support to a Wahhabized radical Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir.
I pity these friends of mine. I find them on the horns of dilemma. I am reminded of this sadistic Urdu couplet: na khuda hi mla na wisale sanam/ na idhar ke rahe na udhar ke rahe.