Former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir and President of the Muslim Conference Sardar Attique Ahmad Khan has levelled the serious charge of “betrayal of the blood of hundreds of thousands of Kashmiiri martyrs” against the Pakistani leadership, both the ruling PPP and the Opposition PML-N. He took Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif to task for shouting the slogan of “India Zindabad” at a time when India was keeping 800,000 of its security forces in Occupied Kashmir to maintain its tyrannical hold. Sardar Attique advised him to go to the mausoleum of the Quaid-i-Azam and apologise for this grievous lapse. Turning to the PPP, he bemoaned that along with the PML-N, it was busy trying to form provincial units of the party in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan with the ultimate objective of declaring them as provinces. Sardar Attique sounded a note of warning that any shift in our stand on Kashmir would amount to compromising our water resources and, of course, the national defence. He feared that both the parties had already decided to step back from the country’s principled stand on Kashmir, thus indicating “retreat’ on Pakistan’s ideological frontiers, the atomic power and its friendship with China.
Sardar Attique’s candid assessment of the two parties’ motive – to befriend India even if that meant making a shift in our Kashmir policy or, even, putting the issue on the backburner for an elusive future to be brought forward – is hard to contend with. The PPP’s fateful decision to grant New Delhi the Most Favoured Nation status in order to promote trade relations between the two countries and even allowing it transit trade facility across Pakistan to Afghanistan and beyond, without witnessing any progress on Kashmir, testify to the nation’s apprehensions about their intentions. Sardar Attique was only articulating them. The PML-N is also on record to have openly advocated trade with India without waiting for the Kashmir dispute to settle, negating the age-old stand of Pakistan that there is no question of any trade with India unless it comes round to resolving the Kashmir issue, justly and fairly.
Undoubtedly, Kashmir holds the key to our development and prosperity, nay, the very survival; for therein lie the headwaters of rivers that flow into Pakistan. India is clearly conveying to the world, by its action of diverting our share of water as given in the Indus Waters Treaty, that it is tightening its grip on our jugular vein. Its fallout in the form of countrywide water scarcity is prompting the people to hold violent protests. Mian Shahbaz Sharif had to take emergency measures and install more tubewells to ease the situation. Yet, it is a great pity that our rulers keep extending the hand of friendship to India, without resolving an issue which has plagued relations between the two for decades. Once Kashmir is resolved, even if it opts for India in a plebiscite, then the road is clear for normalised relations, not before.
The Nation - June 19, 2012.