On the other side of LoC

By K.N. Pandita

In a recently issued handout, the Institute of Gilgit Baltistan Studies in Washington has accused Pakistan’s secret agency of conspiring broad day murder of Arif Shahid, a prominent nationalist leader from PoK. Arif held the chair of All Parties National Alliance (APNA), a conglomerate of fourteen political parties of Gilgit Baltistan and PoK that strongly demands freedom and withdrawal of Pakistani troops from PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan. The conglomerate also advocates closer ties between peoples of these two regions. London-based Kashmir National Party (KNP) leaders have strongly condemned the assassination of Kashmiri nationalist leader Arif Shahid in Pakistan on 13 May 2013.

He was shot dead from close range in front of his house on Adiyala Road in Rawalpindi. It is reported that a car carrying the assailants arrived in front of his house exactly at the time when he was leaving his home in his vehicle. The assailants blocked his way and fired gun shots at him. Mr. Shahid died on the spot while the assailants quickly disappeared from the scene.

In a statement, Kashmir Nationalist Party (KNP) said that the deceased leader was a true Kashmiri and throughout his life he struggled against those who occupied his motherland. It said he was a brave soldier in the struggle for unification of Kashmir. Arif Shahid was a strong advocate of the rights of the oppressed and victimized people of PoK. Elected as Chairman of All Parities National Alliance, he was eyesore to the Pakistani authorities especially its secret agency notorious for suppression of the rights of the people of Gilgit Baltistan,

“It looks those forces which did not like his struggle, finally eliminated him to send the message that they will not tolerate true Kashmiri nationalist struggle on this side of the Line of Control”, the KNP leaders added.

Not mincing words KNP said in a statement that they share the view of other Kashmiri parties that he was eliminated because of his strong nationalist views and the forces which did not like his struggle finally eliminated him to send the message that they will not tolerate true Kashmiri nationalist struggle on this side of the Line of Control.

In his public speeches Shahid Arif bravely challenged the Pakistani policy in Jammu and Kashmir and strongly criticized the role of ‘Lent Officers’ of Pakistan, and the Pakistani secret agencies

.In a show of solidarity, and in protest against brutal killing of Arif Shahid, KNP and other nationalist parties observed one day fast in front of Pakistani embassy in London. “We want to expose Pakistani government’s hypocritical stand on the Kashmir dispute and tell people that they have imperialist designs on Jammu and Kashmir” said KNP spokesman.

Reliable sources reveal that Pakistani secret agencies have decided to crush the peaceful struggle in PoK and Gilgit Baltistan against Pakistani occupation of their motherland. For this purpose, ISI have prepared a list of more than two dozen key nationalist leaders and political activists that including some living abroad.

Progressive nationalist organizations in PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan are of opinion that Arif Shahid won’t be the last victim of the targeted killing. KNP announced it will spearhead a campaign and its branches in Pakistani occupied Kashmir are also holding a protest outside Central Press Club in Muzaffarabad. Their demands are that the Pakistani authorities (a) should constitute a judicial inquiry into the murder of Arif Shahid shaheed (b) arrest and punish all those involved with the conspiracy and murder of Arif Shahid (c) immediately stop policy of harassment and intimidation in Pakistani occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, and (d) allow people of Pakistani occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan to enjoy their fundamental human rights.

Author of dozens of books on his political philosophy, Arif Shahid was one of the most senior leaders of PoK and an outspoken person who held sentiments of freedom for Gilgit Baltistan and Pok very dear to his heart. Gilgit Baltistan National Congress based in Washington DC has decided to hold protest in front of White House and Pakistani Embassy condemning the role of Pakistani authorities in his assassination.

For some years his name was put on the Exit Control List (ECL) and he was barred from leaving Pakistan for international advocacy trips. His name was recently removed from ECL by the order of High Court but his surveillance remained thorough and strict and officials continued to harass him and his family. He continued to receive threatening phone calls till his last breath for his freedom related activism.

Few months go he was arrested and tortured in Mirpur along with two political leaders of Indian part of Kashmir who had gone to PoK on a valid visa. Pakistani agencies brought many false accusations against him calling him an Indian agent. That is the patent label ISI sticks to all prominent nationalist leaders of PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan when they want Pakistani army to quit their land.

Arif Shahid’s killing is an act of state terrorism.  Nationalists are finding similarity in the tyranny unleashed by the ISI in Baluchistan and detention, torture, rape and murder of innocent people of Gilgit Baltistan and PoK. All political groups of Kashmir demand that the judiciary should investigate the cold blooded murder and arrest the culprits immediately.

Arif Shahid respected separate national identity of Gilgit Baltistan. On many occasions he visited Gilgit Baltistan and played key role in the formation of APNA, a conglomeration of progressive nationalist groups of Pakistan administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. In the handout, the Institute of GB studies said that the ideals for which Arif Shahid sacrificed his life will always remain the guiding principles for the future generations of Kashmir who are struggling for justice and freedom from oppressive forces.

Surprising that cold blooded murder of a nationalist leader of PoK allegedly by the Pakistani secret agency has not evoked a single word of condemnation by the APHC in Srinagar. None of so-called Kashmiri freedom fighters and separatist leaders who swear day in and day out by unity of freedom cause across the LoC and demonstrate solidarity with the people in PoK and Gilgit and Baltistan, have chosen to remain tight lipped on the selective killing of a prominent Kashmir leader in PoK. It exposes their hypocrisy of leading a united freedom struggle. More surprising is the silence adopted by the leader of Jihad Council in Muzaffarabad over the barbaric killing of Arif Shahid. Assassination of Arif Shahid should also make the separatist and secessionist leadership in Kashmir sit back and compare the freedom and security they enjoy as against what we find in PoK.

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