When the Australian national Julian Assange took upon himself to make public a barrage of the US diplomatic cables—he never probably thought what an upturn it will make in a far off place like Kashmir – a tinderbox zone, bitterly contested between India and Pakistan.
With each new revelation, people who are considered to have a representative character are being unmasked. From an unnamed moderate Hurriyat leader supporting the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru to the leaders of the same group expressing wish to participate in the 2008 state assembly elections, both cases opposite to its public posturing, everything seems surreal and shocking.
What was being known in whispers or left embargoed by the local press has now come out in printed words in almost 1100 Kashmir cables leaked by Wikileaks recently. And as is a common refrain in Kashmir, truth can be false, but rumours can be true about the ‘stake holders’ of Kashmir. And what were rumours till yesterday have taken the shape of US diplomatic cables today … //
… The secret lives of Kasmiri politicians:
Wikileaks cables also show how embassy staff note everything about the Kashmir politicians from allegations of acquiring real estate overseas to how army officers allegedly bribe their superiors for postings to J&K.
The whistle-blower website has several instances explaining the vested interest of ’stakeholders’ in keeping the Kashmir issue boiling. The Mulford cables to the US State Department in February 2006 states that a recurring theme throughout all of “our interactions” with Kashmiris is how Indian and Pakistani money have made all Kashmiri political actors “dependant on handouts”.
The cable reads, “Omar and Farooq Abdullah, descendants of the Shaykh (Sheikh Abdullah) who first figured out Delhi’s money game, live in fabulous houses in Srinagar and Delhi, wear matching Panerai watches, serve Blue Label to their guests, and travel all over the world first class, courtesy the Indian government. Mirwaiz is alleged to have real estate in Dubai, courtesy Pakistan. The state administration receives huge amounts of money for development but the streets in J&K are appalling, even by Indian standards. Army officers, we have heard, allegedly bribe their superiors for postings to J&K to get their hands on the logistics contacts for the money.
“On the civilian side,” the cable says, “a recent newspaper article reported that the retired minister of state for irrigation and flood control is accused of embezzling funds and then using the money to construct two large homes in Srinagar.”
The cables offer an insight into how the US rate and view each of the politicians in Kashmir. The biographic report, compiled by an official with last name “Blake”, apparently referred to then US Deputy Chief of Mission Robert O Blake, views Geelani as “terrorist sympathizer” and the “most rigid and uncompromising pro-Pakistan Kashmiri separatist” with whom the US embassy in New Delhi has maintained a “no contact” policy since 2001 … //
… What is more shocking is that these revelations have proven that very few in the political spectrum of Kashmir are sane, let alone saints. It will be, however, interesting to learn what conversation followed the disclosure of these cables inside the diplomatic enclaves and safe havens, where the political leadership of Kashmir, who claim to be the guardians of Kashmiris, discussed everything – we may know only if the next set of cables is released in our lifetime. (full long text).
Julian Assange, on Kashmir Life, (Source: Radio Free Asia RFA), Sept. 12, 2011.