Three time acting president of Plebiscite front, Munshi Muhammad Ishaq was the first to revolt against the leadership for its wavering stand on Kashmir issue. Munshi writes in his diary, “Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Mirza Afzal Beg have started deviating from the basic stand of the Front. The Executive Council in its meeting, March 22, 1969, decided to contest elections, which we had been boycotting till date. I severely opposed the proposal. The people, by and large, and majority of the Front workers support me. I shall oppose the move tooth and nail come what may. Moulana Farooq and Moulana Abbas Ansari approached me and subtly expressed their support. Let us see what happens in the coming days.”
Munshi walked out of the meeting and decided to muster support against the decision. He called on the prominent members of the Front in every nook and corner of the Valley, but nobody, not even Sofi Muhammad Akbar, was ready to Munshi, finally, addressed a press conference on August 7, 1969.
The Daily Aftaab reported the Press Conference as follows: “The Panchayati elections are in news these days and some people are connecting self determination to these elections. However, the members of the Front have nothing to do with the elections because we believe elections cannot be a substitute to self-determination. For several years some people have been trying to crush the movement for enforcement of self-determination and several important members were sacrificed. The vice president Khawaja Abdul Gani Goni, Ghulam Nabi Wani, Ali Muhammad Naik, Ghulam Muhammad Bhat, Haji Muhammad Subhan and others were ousted from the Front. If some people decided to contest elections in total violation of the constitution of the Front, it does not mean that the Front has decided to join the fray. The Front is alive and shall continue to strive for the attainment of the right to self-determination. We want a referendum in accordance with the UN resolutions.”
The leadership responded by declaring Munshi a traitor. The Daily Aftaab, August 9, reported: “A statement of Haji Munshi Ishaq has been published in local dailies. Haji Sahib has accused the Front of deviating from the basic stand. The election issue was discussed by the executive council on March 22 and 23. The issue of participation or non-participation in the elections was put to vote. Most of the members, including Munshi Sahib, voted in favour of contesting the elections. The issue was again discussed in the General Council meeting on May 25 and 26. Out of 196 members, 185 voted in favour of contesting elections.
Again, Munshi Sahib voted in favour of elections. Munshi did not open his mouth for two and a half months. Today, when just two days are left for the elections, Munshi Sahib issued a statement. This statement has strengthened the hands of Congress.”
Munshi responded by denying the allegations that he had voted in favour of contesting elections. In his detailed answer, Munshi quoted two news items reported in Hamdard, dated April 9 and April 11, to expose the lies of the leadership.
“Our correspondent came to know that the Executive Council discussed the issue and 21 members including the President voted in favour and just 9 voted against it.” (Hamdard, April 9)
The same newspaper reports on April 12: “Our correspondent says that the Front Executive Council got divided over the issue. Most of the prominent members including advocates opposed the move. According to them, Kashmir issue shall become an internal issue of India if the Front participates in elections. Pakistan shall have no role to play and the people of Azad Kashmir will suffer.”
The Front leadership was pushed to the wall. They decided to oust Munshi from the Front. Mirza Afzal Beg’s letter No PF/2068, dated August 18, 1969, initiated the process. Beg sought an explanation from Munshi who responded by owning the statements published in the local newspapers. Beg in his letter No 2095/PF, dated September 3, 1969, suspended Munshi’s membership till further orders.
Munshi later published a pamphlet Nida-e-Haq in which he raised the following points:
1, The Front boycotted 1957 and 1964 so-called elections. Moving a resolution could set the boycott policy aside. No such resolution was passed. Such a policy decision cannot be taken by individuals.
2, After Beg’s release a session was held at Beg’s residence Sarnal, Islamabad on October 2, 1967. The proceedings of the session were published in the form of a pamphlet. The session, according to the Pamphlet, held that “those who want to contest elections are living in a fool’s paradise.”
Ghulam Muhammad Shah initiated the debate on the issue of elections in a hurry and the decision of participation in elections was also taken in a hurry.
The Pamphlet Zimni Intikhaab Ka Doong (The farce of by-elections), on page 6 and 7, urges people to boycott elections and persuade others to enforce the boycott to expose the tall claims of free and fair elections. “This pamphlet was published on the eve of Safa Kadal and Budgam by-elections and were signed by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Moulana Muhammad Farooq, Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg, Muhammad Yasin Hamdani, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Karra, Moulana Abbas Ansari, Moulana Iftikhar Ansari and Moulana Syed Qasim Shah Bukhari.”
The Front General Secretary, Ghulam Muhammad Shah, read a paper, titled “Kashmir dispute and its solution”, in the Peoples’ Convention on June 12, 1968. Shah informed the convention that a believer cannot get stuck in the same hole twice. He further said, “Elections cannot be substitute to self-determination. As long as Pakistan and India are interested in Kashmir, the election cannot be free and fair. The Government of India will never allow fair elections in Kashmir because it will hamper its integral part policy.”
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