The Fai case

The Fai case

Are we victims of ideological Confusion?

Aristotle said that “He would walk the way shown by logic.” Thousands of people have sacrificed their precious lives for the sake of their ideology. Let us look around. We find Musaddeq in Iran, Hasan Nasir and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan, Bhagat Singh, Ashfaq and Sukhdev in India and Maqbul Bhat in our state who became martyrs for the cause they upheld. History tells us that rulers, exploitative elements and occupational forces have tried to change the ideology of revolutionaries through intimidation, oppression or persecution. Those who had accepted the truth of their ideologies did sacrifice their lives but did not change their course and struggle.

I would like to submit with humility that I am not against the ideology of any person, group or organization. Those differing with me on ideological basis continue to be my personal friends. I have fought against oppressive forces shoulder to shoulder with them. In the past, Altaf Husain Qureshi, Mujib-ur-Rahman Shami, Javed Hashmi and Mian Tufail Muhammad were all associated with Jamaat-e-Islami. But during my internship whenever excesses were done against them I stood by their side and took up cudgels with jail authorities on their behalf. Incidentally it was I who was the most victimized by torture in the jail. Let me come to the point.

Ghulam Nabi Fai is a personal friend. It was in 1981-82 when he, Ayub Thukar and a third person whose name I no more remember came to see me in Peshawar. This marked the beginning of our friendship. There is no disputing the fact that Fai Sahib was connected to Jamaat-e-Islami and made its teaching the lodestar of his life. Most of our meetings were held in Rawalpindi, Holland and especially in Geneva. He is a model of gentleness, hospitality and caring for friends. But there are no two opinions in his conformity with the thinking of Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan policy planners in regard to Kashmir issue. He considers Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Kashmir part of Pakistan. He considers it an article of faith to struggle for the integration of Indian-held part of Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan. He is a diehard supporter of J&K”s accession to Pakistan.

In the light of this ideology, Pakistani establishment and rulers deputed Fai Sahib, late Ayub Thukar and Nazir Qureshi to different countries of the world to carry forward Pakistani perception and support its interests in regard to Kashmir. Fai Sahib was deputed to Washington for launching Kashmir American Council in Washington. Ayub Thukar incepted International Institute of Kashmir Studies in London. Its foundation was laid by Pir Husamu’d-Din. Nazir Qureshi opened his office in Jeddah under the banner of WAMY.

Fai Sahib’s detention in the US is based on the charges framed against him that:

1. Fai’s Kashmir American Council is working for Pakistan without permission from the US Government, and as such, it is doing illegal lobbying.
2. ISI has provided him more than 4 million dollars clandestinely and illegally.
3. He did not pay the taxes on the money he received in accordance with the American law.
4. FBI has charged that Fai followed the diktat of ISI while organizing any function. Who would be invited to a proposed conference was dictated by the ISI.

Fai has pleaded guilty to lobbying for Pakistan and the court will pronounce judgment in March 2012.
Whatever has happened with Fai Sahib, I am grieved severely by it because of he is a friend and a gentleman. But my experience tells me that Fai’s Kashmir related struggle has been essentially for accession to Pakistan. It is also a fact that American authorities knew beforehand about his struggle, his mission and his funding sources. But when differences between CIA and ISI deepened, CIA made the Fai related disclosure just to show ISI down.

I remember that once during the days when Hillary Clinton happened to be the First Lady, Fai had met her with a delegation and presented her a costly cashmere shawl. Hillary Clinton remarked that “the Indian President, too, had gifted her with a shawl like that in New Delhi.” Fai gave an expensive Kashmiri carpet to Congressman Dan Burton who is a known pro-Pakistani lobbyist. The carpet carried the picture of US Congress building on it… He used to give donations to the American Congress as well as the American presidential candidates.

It is a fact that Fai has been made the scapegoat for rivalry between CIA and ISI. This calls for condemnation. But condemnation notwithstanding, the fact is that in case Pakistan does not come to the rescue of Fai, he can be given imprisonment for 3-5 years besides some fine. It is so because he has made confession in the court of law.

We appreciate Fai Sahib’s confessional statement for the fact that he has accepted before the entire world that he has been accepting financial support from ISI for last two decades. He accepted that he worked in the interests of Pakistan. Now it is Pakistan’s moral duty to give him fullest possible support. Since the US has many interests in Pakistan, therefore, Pakistan has the reason to talk to the US about Fai and his punishment can be reduced under some sort of a deal.

In the context of Fai’s detention, Sayyid Ali Shah Geelani called a seminar on 24 December 2011 in Srinagar. There was justification to do so because Fai is a basic member as well as a leader of Jamaat-i-Islami and above all a staunch supporter of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. Geelani Sahib is right in pronouncing Fai as the courageous ambassador and sympathizer of Kashmiris. He says the entire community is beholden to him and supports him.

Geelani Sahib does not consider anybody as part of the nation except his organization and Jamaat-i-Islami. Therefore his labeling of Fai as the ambassador of the nation is right in its place. Yet I am baffled by the statement of Geelani Sahib in which he said “that the court case against Fai in the US has raised the head of Kashmiri nation high with pride.” I cannot understand this logic. Fai has confessed all the allegations brought against him by the America prosecutor which among others is having received 4 million dollars from ISI illegally. Does doing such things raise anybody’s head high with pride? It is not only I but there are many more observers who aver that “Fai’s confessional statement has caused serious damage to Kashmir cause. Freedom lovers all over the world were dismayed with his confessional statement. They have found that in his Kashmir related struggle it was the ISI that was at his back providing him with financial support and not the Pakistani government. With his confessional statement, everybody began to think that behind the Kashmir movement laid the hand of ISI.” Thus it can be inferred that those who consider Fai as the representative of Kashmiri nation or their ambassador consider Fai as the supporter and propagator of the ideology of ISI and not of Kashmiris…

The founder of independent Kashmir Maqbul Bhat was very clear and unambiguous about Kashmir issue. He statd “that entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed from Damchok to Lakahanpur and entire Kashmir is in slavery including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. Kashmiris will not settle for anything short of complete freedom and self rule.” The slogans which he raised from his platform were as these “aar bhi mange azaadi paar bhi mange aazadi” meaning let freedom be demanded by people on this and that side of the line. In the struggle for freedom he lived in the prison houses of both India and Pakistan. He was not the founder of Liberation Front but the views and ideology of Liberation Front drew inspiration from his ideology. That is why Liberation Front always considers Maqbul Bhat the martyr as its founder. It is because of this ideological contradiction that there has been a constant disagreement in the past between the organizations demanding accession to Pakistan and those for independence of Kashmir. Not only that, they have been damaging each other militarily.

After Geelani Sahib’s 24 December seminar on Fai, another seminar was organized in the name of Fai by the Liberation Front on January 1, 2012. After reading its proceedings, supporters of self rule in Kashmir, followers of Maqbul Bhat and millions of people on either side of the dividing line expressed their shock and regret. Chairman of Liberation Front, Yasin Malik, walking in the footsteps of Geelani labeled “Fai as the messenger of peace and representative of Kashmiris.” Yes, Fai has many sacrifices to his credit and his struggle is also in place. But all these sacrifices and this entire struggle is for accession to Pakistan and not for the complete freedom of entire Jammu and Kashmir State. Let me remind my readers that the part of Kashmir with Pakistan has been divided by Pakistan into two parts meaning Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. It would be only proper to call Fai as representative of the struggle for accession to Pakistan instead of calling him the representative of Kashmiris. We would not have any objection to that. Mainstream parties in Kashmir obtain financial assistance from India and they also fight elections. People cast their votes in order to seek solution to their day to day problem. Now if tomorrow Omar Abdullah or Farooq Abdullah or Mufti Saeed projects himself as the representative of Kashmiris, will the supporters of pro-Pakistan accession or freedom supporters accept their claim? Never.

Let me make it clear. We are for complete freedom and self determination of the entire state. If in a free and fair plebiscite majority of people from Gilgit to Lakhanpur opt for accession to Pakistan, India, China, Saudi Arabia or America, we shall have to accept the verdict of the majority despite the fact that we differ with it. I would like to remind the assertion of Maqbul Bhat the Martyr to his followers that “any movement conducted in the state on religious grounds will fragment the state not only in terms of killing and bloodshed but more so because of communal hatred. It will exacerbate the atmosphere of hatred and mayhem in South Asia. In division on the basis of religion, the Muslims of Indo-Pak sub-continent and other religious communities will suffer permanent estrangement and get involved in perennial acrimony. Peace and progress can prevail in South Asia only when the State of Jammu and Kashmir is restored to its original position in 1947. It should be an independent state and a buffer between India, Pakistan and China.”

I do expect that my readers look at this piece of writing from positive point of view as it deals with ideological question. I am not the enemy of those seeking accession to Pakistan nor do I harbour animus against Fai Sahib. I am actually elucidating the thoughts, ideas and the struggle of my deceased leader and guide. It is unfortunate that in the sub-continent and especially Kashmir people with positive thinking and with logic are invariably faced with opposition. The bard says:
“Kaan sun sun ke pak gaye Danish
Aise futwun se hogaye bezar
Baat jisne ki khari usko
Yaar logon ne kah diya gaddar”

Hashim Qureshi Is Chairman JK Democratic Liberation Party