The Spy Subterfuge
A mix of fantasy, fallacy and fictitious depiction, sprinkled with a dash of selective facts
Jun 7 2018
Having affected considerable damage to the cause of both his country and the Institution he served, in Kashmir, through his maiden book, one would’ve thought Dulat Sahib would take a backseat, reflect upon the gravity of costs he inflicted and desist from further highfalutin revelations. But that was not to be. His tell-all book had stirred much resentment, trust-deficit and loss of credibility within Kashmir, slamming the door shut on any future rapprochement for a long time – a major national security setback.
A second book soon followed. I was tempted to read it – The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the illusion of Peace, for the part on my father to be precise – “Amanullah Gilgiti’s Dreams of Independence”. A mix of fantasy, fallacy and fictitious depiction, sprinkled with a dash of selective facts, I was taken aback at the brazen shirking of the truth and warped insight. Not only is the chronology of events grossly misrepresented but the derivations that ensue are entirely off mark. It was difficult to ascertain whether the misconstruction was by design or the Spymaster was actually so short on basic homework and analysis – literally raw.
Blindsided by his soft corner for Dr Farooq Abdullah and the National Conference, which on its own is not a bad idea, as long as it doesn’t cloud his ability for critical thinking and reasoned judgement – which evidently it does, he loses the plot very early on. For starters the name of the chapter in itself is reductionist in nature and aimed at deception. My father, Amanullah Khan, was never known by the suffix – Gilgiti and is in fact the only Kashmiri leader having roots and associations including political presence in all three divided parts of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir. If at all he symbolises the unity, diversity and collectivity of the Kashmiri identity, not the implied factionalism. The title also serves to sharpen the “otherisation” of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) with respect to Pakistan and embed it within a certain narrative. My father’s Ideology opposed GB’s merger with Pakistan, however the ultimate decision was left to the people.
The fabrications start to emerge soon into the narration “in the Valley he was general-secretary of the plebiscite front (PF) working closely with Mirza Afzal Beg”. My father had left the Valley in January 1952, three years before PF was founded. He did go on to form a Pakistan controlled Kashmir (PAK) chapter of PF in 1965 but that was largely autonomous of the Valley Chapter. Also, neither him nor any of his fellow “revolutionaries had a background in the National Conference”. He however did facilitate Dr Farooq Abdullah’s meeting with the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, during the former’s visit to the country in 1974.
The manufacturing continues, as soon after my father’s deportation from England the narrative places him in Belgium which also “finally threw him out” – the uncouth choice of words betray his disdain for Kashmiri’s, especially its finest, something which even his otherwise savoir faire ways fail to cover. The truth is my father had gone to Brussels on the invitation of the European Parliament in 1993 to attend a Seminar on the Kashmir Issue, a good six years after his deportation from England and relocation to Pakistan. During his stay in Brussels the government of India managed to get Interpol warrants of arrest against him and demanded his extradition to India. While he was kept behind bars for over a month, the warrants were eventually rejected by the Belgium Courts and he was sent back to Pakistan. India had already managed to get his US Visa cancelled in 1990, while Pakistan rescinded his passport soon after his return from Belgium. The one thing that India and Pakistan earnestly agreed upon on Kashmir, was to keep my father out!
This takes us to another intentional spin on the dates. While my father returned to Pakistan from the UK in December 1986, the narration very conveniently places his return to “post-1982” after which “he was reduced to an Ideologue” – but isn’t the ideologue the paramount force and driver behind any movement, the vigour that lends it an ideology, direction and purpose? the distortion goes on to state that soon after his return he “sat at home, organised marches” – ignorance or deliberate obfuscation? In reality within a year and half of my father’s return, the Valley witnessed the first rumblings of an indigenous nationalist movement. Also, the march that he alludes to – the attempted crossing of the Line of Control by unarmed civilians, led by my father in 1992, proved to be one of the most sensational highlights of the 1990’s, attracting both global media spotlight and attention to his cause.
The most ridiculous of Mr Dulat’s assertions is however his assumption that my father wanted to be “acknowledged as the ultimate leader as big as Sheikh Sahib”. While Sheikh (Abdullah) sahib retains his position as a tall leader of Kashmir, he is increasingly seen as part of the problem that created the conflict in Kashmir, not its solution. Revered in his own right yet given the “interesting times he was living in” and the stature of his contemporaries like Gandhi, Nehru or Jinnah – their personal sacrifices and unflinching commitment towards their respective Ideologies, Sheikh Abdullah pales in comparison. Also, while Sheikh Sahib was busy preparing grounds for the bait that was to pave his way towards becoming Chief Minister of J&K – a glaring comedown from his earlier position as Prime Minister, my father rejected overtures by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to head the GB chapter of his organisation and qualify to become the first Chief Minister of then intended GB province. Soon afterwards my father was interacting with revolutionaries of International standing such as Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, participating on broader platforms such as general-secretary, representing the Kashmir Committee, of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO) and undertaking activities underscoring his stance on Kashmir at the United Nations (1980). Sheikh Sahib had already become a spent force in terms of the revolutionary template by then and according to his close associates very heart-broken too.
My father lived a fulfilling life, dictated by his own terms and premised on his own will, in competition with none. His unwavering integrity and conviction continues to be celebrated and owned by Kashmiris across the divide. The second anniversary of his passing away was marked just a few weeks ago, with commemorative meetings held across not only all three divided parts of the erstwhile state of J&K, but also important capitals across the Middle East, Europe and North America. This, Mr Dulat is not a ”sad end to his story” but the echoes of a lasting legacy, well preserved and self-evident through the huge body of literature he penned and leaves behind- testimony to his writer-thinker credentials, including his maiden book “Free Kashmir” (1970) to be found in the bibliography of every significant International book on Kashmir, copies of his self-funded International magazine “Voice of Kashmir” (1962), his numerous speeches and press conferences including at UN Headquarters and as guest speaker at the prestigious National Press Club, Washington DC., his Road Map for the resolution of the Kashmir Issue (2003) – one of the very few indigenous articulations on the same, and most importantly his huge legion of followers and admirers across the globe. What however could be beyond sad, is that an entire career and service to an Institution built around the illusion of detangling the Kashmir knot, re-modelled in recent years on the ideals of Peace, dignity and trust, is poised to undermine just that, lost to gratuitous reflections on a borrowed pen.
THE WRITER IS AN ACADEMIC WHO DIVIDES HER TIME BETWEEN, SRINAGAR, NEW DELHI AND ISLAMABAD. SHE IS THE DAUGHTER OF LATE AMANAULLAH KHAN.