First national of independent Kashmir
By Hashim Qureshi
Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered my release from jail on 7 May 1980. In its verdict, “the court said that Hashim Qureshi is originally a Kashmiri. Under Pakistan’s Citizenship Act of 1951, he can live in Pakistan like other Kashmiris living in Pakistan.” On the basis of this verdict, I lived in Pakistan from 1980 to 1986. I took part in politics. Pakistan government issued an identity card and passport in my favour. With that passport in hand, I travelled to London and returned to Pakistan.
Towards the closing days of 1984 and the beginning of 1985, I declined to compromise with ISI. In 1985, I approached Pakistani authorities for the registration of my two children, Junaid and Sana, as Pakistani citizens, I received a letter from the Director General of Registration of the Pakistani Ministry of Interior (No. 3/2/78-79 of July 10, 1985: copy attached) saying that I was an Indian national, and as such, under National Registration Act of 1973, my children could not be registered. Sometimes later, I received another letter from this office (I have misplaced the original but am looking for it) telling me that an identity card and passport were issued to me through a mistake and these have to be withdrawn.
I filed a writ petition against this order in Lahore High Court at Rawalpindi. Late Yusuf Saraf was the defence counsel. He obtained stay order from the court till the writ petition was decided and status quo was maintained. In the second or third hearing of the case, Yusuf Saraf told me that he had fears Pakistani government would arrest me. He told me that no doubt the Pakistan Supreme Court had set me free and that I had been living in Pakistan, have a Pakistani passport and identity card, but notwithstanding all this, there are institutions in Pakistan much above the law and the constitution. They are the parliament and the constitution all rolled in one. He candidly advised me to leave Pakistan if I wanted the safety of my person. On asking wherefrom had he got this information, he said that he was not in a position to reveal many things that he knew. The judge who was hearing my case was under pressures. I could gather who were behind this conspiracy. I had rejected ISI’s plan of giving Kashmiri youth to wanton killing. But some people wanted to adopt the plan on the bidding of Amanullah Khan in London.
It was I who had organized JKLF in my capacity as its chairman. Some activists of JKLF hatched a conspiracy with the ISI of removing me from their way. Leaving my wife and children behind, I, with assistance from some friends based abroad, managed to leave Pakistan even though my name had been entered in the exit list. My wife and two children joined me in a foreign country after some time. Amnesty International, some Human Rights organizations and the lawyers of Holland helped my family members to leave Pakistan without a visa. A top military officer of Pakistan Army posted at GHQ had helped me in this adventure.
In the light of the letter cited above, Pakistan Government has admitted that Kashmiris are Indian nationals. My children are born in Pakistan. My wife is born in Pakistan; her parents and close relations all are Pakistani nationals. They were not given visa for 15 long years.
How India treated me
The State of Jammu and Kashmir is part of the Indian Union according to the Indian Constitution. My children repeatedly requested for Indian visa, which was not issued till 1995. They wanted to meet me and their grand-parents. My son Junaid Qureshi aged 13 at that time made a petition to the Prime Minister of India, the European Parliament, Amnesty International and other Human Rights Organizations. He succeeded in obtaining Indian visa. I and my children were granted Dutch citizenship in 1992. With that we obtained Dutch passports as well.
In 2000, I returned to India. I was arrested on arrival and sent to prison. Under double jeopardy law, I could not be tried because I had already been punished for 1971 hijacking case in Pakistan. It is now fifteen years that I am tried at a special Sessions Court in J&K. The case against me has been revived. Seven years after my return to India, I applied for State citizenship on the basis of being a subject of the State of J&K. This application was made u under Section 5:1(a) of Citizenship Act 1955.
In 2012, I was told to apply afresh for State citizenship because (as they said) the file had perished in the fire. I filed another application for citizenship to the Home Secretary, under the old file number 186/207/5447 of 2007. On March 5, 2015 Under Secretary, Home Ministry, GOI sent a letter (26013/0156/2014-IC; to the Secretary Home Department J&K with a copy to me. It said.
“ Shri Muhammad Hashim Qureshi has been rejected by the competent authority due to his involvement in some case of illegal activity.”
Contrary to the wishes of the people of Kashmir, three adjoining countries, namely India, Pakistan and China, have divided and occupied parts of Kashmir. Therefore, Kashmiris living in these parts have the compulsion of seeking citizenship of respective occupied parts. They need to go out and as such they have to have passport, identity card and other such documents. If they apply and ask for it, that does not mean they become citizens of the occupying country.
However, those who fight election in any of these parts for membership of their assemblies or parliaments after taking an oath of the existing constitution in these parts, or seek a public office in the respective part under no compulsion, betray their conscience if they raise voice against that part’s occupational forces.
Asking for passport is a compulsion but fighting elections, not once but five times, and winning three of them, which would fill a period of eighteen years, then taking an oath of allegiance to the constitution of the occupying country and getting all accruing benefits including pension, is no compulsion. Obviously, all this is done consciously. But despite all this, it is rank hypocrisy to castigate the benefactor and instigate the people in favour of the adversarial occupant.
Kashmiris have to be careful about such misleading propaganda.
I must state here that despite being a Kashmiri by birth, both of the occupying countries viz. India and Pakistan have denied me their citizenship against the provisions in their respective constitutions. As such, I am justified in claiming to be the first national of independent Kashmir.