Give Kashmir a chance

An independent and secular Kashmir is the only viable option for both India and Pakistan.

Danish Khan June 28, 2011
On June 26, 2011 elections for the legislative assembly were held in the Pakistani Kashmir, also known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). This is one of the most unique names you would ever encounter in the history of names of states - a territory which has to prefix Azad (free) to its name to proclaim its freedom.

The so called Azad Kashmir is by no stretch of imagination is ‘free’ - instead it has become a neo colony of the Pakistani establishment. The whole legislative assembly of Azad Kashmir is subordinate to the orders of GOC Murree and the minister of Kashmir affairs in Islamabad.

So what’s the buzz about these elections in Azad Kashmir?

It’s a big joke with the oppressed people of the region.

Interestingly, to contest elections in Azad Kashmir, the contestant must sign and pledge to annex Kashmir with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan - wow! And we expect the rest of the world to consider the polls to be free and fair?

Pakistan claims Kashmir to be a disputed territory in the international community, and propagates the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir.

Isn’t this a contradiction?

The people in Pakistan wonder why the issue of Kashmir hasn’t been highlighted in the international community the way it deserves to be.

The answer is easy. It is because of the hypocritical policies of the establishment of Pakistan. We all know about the brutal and murderous character of the Indian army in Indian held Kashmir, but such realities in Azad Kashmir have never been highlighted in Pakistan.

I think it is time that the people of Pakistan see this colonising and hypocritical character of their establishment in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The people of Pakistan have been kept under shadows of poverty, hunger and militarism in the name of the ‘Kashmir issue.’

The people of Pakistan deserve a democratic and prosperous country.

The state of Kashmir has been an independent state for last many centuries.

Officially the state of Kashmir has never been a part of the federation of Pakistan.

Then why do the 180 million people of Pakistan have to live under a militaristic and jihadi culture for the sake of Kashmir?

Unfortunately and irrationally, the establishment has ingrained into the mainstream thinking that the military of Pakistan and the jiadists are going to conquer the land of Kashmir.

Imagine, if Kashmir were to become part of Pakistan - would Pakistan become a developed country? Would unemployment, poverty, the energy crisis, religious extremism, US imperialism, military rule and corruption all disappear?

On the contrary, Pakistan would be worse off.

Pakistan already shares hostility with India - after losing Kashmir to Pakistan, the Indian state would become more putrefied, and stability and peace in South Asia would be under continuous nuclear threat. The people of Pakistan would be subordinated to military rule forever.

So, I think it is the time that the rational people in Pakistan stand up and tell their establishment, enough is enough.

It is time to let the people of Kashmir to decide their own fate. Independent surveys suggest that the majority of Kashmiri’s want an independent and secular Kashmir. The people of Pakistan will openly accept an independent and secular Kashmir.

In the end, strategically and economically, an independent Kashmir is a bigger loss for India as compared to Pakistan, because currently India controls most of the region. Thus, only an independent and secular Kashmir will be a viable option for both India and Pakistan.
Danish Khan A doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, his research interests include political economy of Kashmir, development economics, growth and income distribution and he tweets as @Daanishkhaan (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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