Thursday, September 24, 2009

Voice For Independent Kashmir Comes From Omer Mukhtar's Land


Naseer A Ganai

Srinagar, Sept 24: For the first time any country has advocated the cause of independent Kashmir from the Podium of UN General Assembly.

The Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi changed the history when while delivering his first ever speech from the United Nations podium yesterday not only advocated independent Kashmir saying Kashmir should be an independent buffer state between India and Pakistan.

"Kashmir should be an independent state, not Indian, not Pakistani. We should end this conflict. It should be a Ba'athist state between India andPakistan," the Libyan leader said in his address to the UN General Assembly.

Interestingly, in Kashmir Libya is known through Hollywood film Lion of Desert on Libyan leader Omar Mukhtar. Omar Mukhtar was born in 1862 in the Mnifa tribe in the small village of Janzour near Tobruk in eastern Barqa (Cyrenaica).

Omar Mukhtar’s struggle of nearly 20 years came to an end on 11 September 1931, when he was wounded in battle and captured by the Italian army. On 16 September 1931, on the orders of the Italian court and with Italian hopes that Libyan resistance would die with him, Mukhtar was hanged before his followers in the concentration camp of Solluqon. Mukhtar's face appears on the Libyan 10 Dinar bill.

However, half a century later, a Hollywood movie on Omar Mukhtar, trigged a fresh rebellion in Kashmir.

Following the screening of the movie there were widespread anti-Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah protests across Kashmir forcing the then NC government to stop the screening of the movie in the first week when it was running houseful.

The ‘Lion of the Desert’ set in 1985 turned Kashmir into a volcano. “In one hour Kashmir realized follies of Sheikh Abdullah. The film changed the outlook of Kashmiris towards the National Conference and its role in their plight and subsequent it changed the political history of Kashmir,” said a retired bureaucrat.

Two years after the screening of the film, the National Conference rigged the elections of 1987 and declared itself winner contrary to the general perception that it was losing before the Muslim United Front. 

This brought sudden change in the situation and Kashmiri youth started crossing the Line of Control (LoC) from for getting arms training in Pakistanadministered Kashmir to launch a rebellion against the Indian rule.

The speakers are supposed to limit themselves to 15 minutes but Libyan leader spoke for 90-minutes. The Cuban leader Fidel Castro spoke for four and a half hours in 1960. However, VK Krishna Menon has delivered a longest ever speech in UN for eight hours. That too on Kashmir in 1957.

In Srinagar the political analysts see the statement for significant. “It is significant as Gaddafi is no longer pariah in the West. He is presently seen as an alley of the west and he is not outcast,” said analyst who wished not to be quoted. He said no other country has supported the independent Kashmir so far except the Libyan leader.

Significantly, Col Gaddafi, who is also the president of the African Union, praised Barack Obama and even referred to him as "our Obama."

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