Mir Abdul Aziz

Mir Abdul Aziz was born in 1942 at Rambagh in Srinagar. He started his education at Primary School Natipora. After passing matriculation from SP School he did his graduation from Amar Singh College, Srinagar. During his college days he wrote for the ‘Weekly Millat’ and ‘Jawahar’, published from Srinagar.

This was the time when Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah visited Kashmir. Mir Abdul Aziz met him and was greatly influenced by his vision. He, soon after, joined weekly ‘Hamdard’, which was being edited by a veteran journalist Prem Nath Bazaz. His adventures in the field of journalism only added to his enthusiasm. Therefore, he joined Muslim Conference and became a top aid of Moulvi Muhammad Yusuf Shah.

On August 14, 1947, when Pakistan, was born, Mir delivered a fiery speech at Jamia Masjid Srinagar. It was also the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadhan and people from all parts of Kashmir had assembled in the mosque. Mir urged the people to celebrate the creation of Pakistan.

 In 1948 when Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah managed the show for New Delhi in Kashmir, a warrant was issued for Mir’s arrest. Mir, however, evaded arrest and went underground.

 Finally, Mir was forced to migrate to the Pakistan administered Kashmir. He became the General Secretary of Muslim Conference but was imprisoned for criticising the Kashmir policy of the Pakistan government.

After several months of imprisonment, he was released. Soon after his release from prison, he started his own Urdu weekly, ‘Insaaf’. He used this newspaper for strengthening the liberation struggle. Mir also edited English Weekly, Times of Kashmir. The local English newspapers, including Greater Kashmir, used to reproduce his articles.
One day a man from some intelligence agency walked into the office of the Greater Kashmir and sought the residential address of Mir Abdul Aziz from me. I was then the Associate Editor of the newspaper.  When informed that Mir lived in exile in Pakistan administered Kashmir, the intelligence sleuth was taken aback.

Notwithstanding the awards conferred on Mir Abdul Aziz by the Government of Pakistan, he never compromised on his stand on Kashmir. He would express himself without reservations much to the annoyance of the Pakistan government.

 After 1965 war when Pakistan President, General Ayoub Khan, and his foreign ministry officials including late Zulifkar Ali Bhuttoo, shifted the blame for the failure of Operation Gibraltor on the people of Kashmir, Mir came out openly to defend the hapless Kashmiris.

In a meeting with Shabir Chowdhury at his Rawalpindi residence, immediately after the war, Mir said, “When Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah visited Pakistan in 1964, he discussed a possibility of guerrilla war in Kashmir, and Pakistan’s support for it. He was disappointed with the response of the Pakistani authorities. When he returned back from Hajj he was arrested by India and once again put behind the bars. When Pakistan started the ‘Operation Gibraltar’ in 1965, he was still in jail and must have been astonished to hear about ‘guerrilla war’, if it can be called so.”

In the same meeting Mir added, “Poor Kashmiris were made the scapegoats. They were never consulted, not even informed that a war of liberation of Kashmir was being started. Those who were sent to Kashmir Valley did not even know the Kashmiri language. …..The whole affair was a wild goose chase.”

Mir Abdul Aziz also claimed that some Mujahideen went to shops and asked for ‘dho seir ata’ (two kilo flour), but they asked in weights which were abolished a long time ago. Also, the request for ‘atta’ was enough to expose them that they were not Kashmiris.

The ‘Operation’ created a number of difficulties for the government of Pakistan, and that time the planners were criticised for their hasty and badly-planned action. It is reported by a prominent writer and thinker, Altaf Goher, that in a Cabinet meeting after the war Bhutto and his team were severely criticised for bad planning and misleading the President. At that time Bhutto tried to put forward his case but realising that he was not cutting any ice, he started crying and said that his political future was ruined.

It was after the failure of the venture when the planners of the ‘Operation’ turned their propaganda guns against the poor Kashmiris, and claimed that if it were not for the non co-operation of the Kashmiris, the ‘Operation’ would have been successful. In a systematic manner this misinformation was spread and government resources were used to carry out this propaganda operation. The planners of the ‘Operation Gibraltar’ were unsuccessful in liberating Kashmir but they were successful in shifting the blame of Operation’s failure onto the Kashmiri people. This is because Mir Abdul Aziz, as earlier quoted, said, ‘poor Kashmiris were made the scapegoats.’

Aziz died in February 2002 and is buried in Rawalpindi. Before leaving for the eternal abode, he remained in coma for a few days.
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