Changing demography of Jammu and Kashmir
M. M Khajooria
Pakistan foreign Ministry spokesperson Tasneem Aslam astounded both friends and foes alike by terming the proposed return of the internally displaced Kashmiri Pandits, to their original habitat, the Kashmir valley as “a ploy of India to change the demography of the only Muslim majority state in India”. Well. At least she recognised Jammu & Kashmir as “the… state of India”. She further insulted the intelligence of the world community by decreeing that “Any effort to create special dedicated townships or zones or any other step to alter the demographic make up of Jammu and Kashmir is in violation of Security Council resolutions”. Which Security Council resolution is she talking about? Apparently Pak establishment was letting their perverse imagination run riot. Where and in what configuration sections of permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir chose to reside was the exclusive business of the concerned citizens. How does the UN Security Council come into the picture? And which resolution is she talking about any way ?
Pakistan Foreign Ministry could not be unaware of the fact that on the question of return of migrant Kashmiri Pandits to the valley there was complete unanimity amongst all section of Kashmir civil society, political class and others including the separatists of all hues. Addressing the Friday congregation Mirwaiz Umar Farooq announced that, “A team of Ulemas from Mutheda Majlas-e-Ulema wil be leaving for Jammu to meet their Pandit brothers to understand their concerns and needs and to convince them to return to their homes.” Terming Hindus, Sikhs and Christians as part of Kashmiri society, Ali Shah Geelani told a rally in South Kashmir (Tral) on the same day. “We welcome return of Pandits to their homes “. He, however felt that their settlement in separate townships was “neither good for the Pandits nor the Muslims”. Yes, there was difference of opinion on the issue of settlement of returning Kashmiri Pandits in colonies away from their homes. It may be rewarding for Pakistan to realise that those “opposed” to setting up separate colonies wanted their reintegration in the Kashmir civil society, a reiteration of rejecting of pernicious “Two nation theory”. Should this worry Pakistan which laid claim to Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of this theory? In fact, I have my own views on the resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits on their return home which was certainly not in conformity with the policy pursued by the Modi government or its predecessor UPA government in Delhi. But discussion on this shall have to wait for another day.
There were good reasons for the frustration that griped Pakistan establishment today. Demographic cleansing of ‘the paradise on earth’ was on the top of its agenda in early nineties. The tiny minority was squeezed out through terror, assassinations and other extreme brutalities inflicted through her terrorist strategic assets and local lump eons. Imported Whabi Mullahs aided and abetted by few new converts to Wahabism significantly supplemented the thrust by unleashing psychological war even misusing places of worship . Thus Pakistan successfully crafted the ‘demographic heaven’ free from Kafirs in which a fundamentalist/ Tanbanised “pure Islamic society” was to be located. Return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley would mark the demise of this artificially constructed unnatural and fake demographic character of Kashmir so painstakingly and determinedly constructed by that country at huge human cost violating all that the great religion of Islam stood for. Actually it was the change of changed demography that Pakistan foreign office and her ‘learned’ spokesperson were so upset about. Yes, Madam, like it or not, this devils contrived demography was going to change sooner than later. Problems relating to the timing and manner of return would, Pakis be assured will definitely be sorted out and that too amicably.
The response of Indian political class and army of experts to the Pakistan foreign office allegation of “changing demography of Kashmir” that “it amounted to interference in our internal affairs” was to say the least facile. If God forbid any country were to attempt to change demography within its borders, it would be certainly be the concern of the entire world community. In any case, resort to such diversionary tactics was resorted to by those who had some thing to hide. As it is, the charge of “changing demography of Kashmir “was patently absurd, baseless, false and fabricated. This fact needed to be asserted categorically, forcefully and convincingly. Some others made the strategic blunder of expanding the area of debate by questioning Pakistan’ own record of treatment of minorities. This provided Pakistani commentators and panelists on Indian TV channels the critical space to divert the focus away from the issue on which they were fatally vulnerable. And in the cacophony of shrieking and shouting of allegations and counter allegations of ill-treatment of minorities the core issue remained uncontested. Advantage Pakistan.
Kashmir province remained immune from demographic changes even at the time of partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 which triggered massive migration of religious minorities from both sides of the divide. Even refugees from Muzaffarabad, a part of the then Kashmir province were settled in Jammu. There was also no demographic shake up in the Frontier province (Gilgit-Baltisatan and Ladakh) at that point of time. Jammu province was however torn as under and the Pak occupied territory brutally cleansed of Hindus and Sikhs. Those who survived communal riots took refuge in Jammu. Similarly shameful communal riots in Jammu drove large number of Muslims to Pakistan and PoK. Reference has already been made to the ethnic cleansing of Hindu permanent residents of Kashmir – of Punjabi origin, Dogras and Kashmiri Pandits in pursuance of the Pak policy of making the valley “pure.” Gilgit Baltistan, which was practically gifted to Pakistan by her Anglo-American overlords through a well planned conspiracy, deceit and subversion , however posed a different kind of problem.
At the time of annexation by Pakistan its population was predominantly Shia around 85 per cent of the total population(including Ismailis). Shias comprised around 18 per cent of Pakistan population- a minority declared “Wajib ul Katal” (required to be murdered) by the Whabi/ Salafi schools of extremist Islamists wedded to cult of violence and terror. Deep and abiding link between the sect and Pak ISI were well known.
The demographic equation of Galgit-Balitistan, abode of peace and harmony whose pluralist society existed in happy equilibrium for centuries. was therefore totally unacceptable to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Pakistan army decided to resolve the Shia question in the Nazi way. A watershed in the history of Gilgit-Baltistan arrived in May 1988 when tribal Lashkars were personally authorised by General Zia, “the Mullah in Khaki” to “sort out the Shias” . The hordes massacred thousands of Shias in Gilgit and abducted and raped their women. Ever since sporadic but regular massacres have been enacted with ascending level of brutality and venom.
Simultaneously, Wahabi, terrorists and Pak army ex-servicemen mostly of Punjabi and Pashtun origin were inducted in large numbers to colonise the territory and decisively change its demographic character. By the end of 2004 the indigenous population had been reduced to 53% from 85% in 1948. The situation must have further worsened. Interestingly, the websites that carried Census figures and sect-wise break up of Gilgit Baltistan have disappeared from the internet.
Pakistan government which has no constitutional or any other locus standi abrogated the State Subject Regulation in an arbitrary and unconstitutional diktat to create a legal fig leaf for her naked aggressive alteration of demography of an integral part of the state territory. As may be seen the statement by Pakistan Foreign office spokesperson was a classical example of “Devil quoting the scripture.
Now what about our own Azadi Walas ? Why haven’they raised their voice against settlement of Non-state subjects in the state territory? What about the men on the fringes who shout Meri Jan-Pakistan and Jevay, Jevay Pakistan? Are they OK with what is happening in GB? Would they be happy if this were duplicated elsewhere? In fact, credible apprehensions of Pakistan design to colonise Kashmir was a major consideration in the decision in 1947 by Sheikh Mohd Abdullah and National Conference leadership to not to accede to Pakistan.