Having inflicted considerable damage to the cause of both his country and the institution he served, in Kashmir, through his maiden book, one would have thought that AS Dulat sahib would reflect upon the gravity of his actions and desist from further highfalutin’ revelations. But The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the illusion of Peace followed.
The part on my father, ‘Amanullah Gilgiti’s Dreams of Independence’, turned out to be a mix of fantasy, fallacy and faulty depiction, sprinkled with a dash of selective facts. Not only is the chronology of events grossly misrepresented, but the derivations that ensue are entirely off-mark. It was difficult to ascertain whether the misconstruction was by design or the spymaster was actually so short on basic homework and analysis — literally raw! Blindsided by his soft corner for Dr Farooq Abdullah, which may not be such a bad idea if it did not crowd out reasoned judgement, he loses the plot very early on. The very name of the chapter is reductionist and aimed at deception. My father, Amanullah Khan, was never known by the suffix Gilgiti, and is in fact the only Kashmiri leader with roots and associations — including a political presence — in all three divided parts of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir. He symbolises the unity and collectivity of the Kashmiri identity, not the implied factionalism. His ideology opposed Gilgit-Baltistan (GB)’s merger with Pakistan, but the ultimate decision was left to the people.
The fabrications start to emerge soon in the narration: “In the Valley he was general-secretary of the plebiscite front (PF) working closely with Mirza Afzal Beg.” My father had left the Valley in January 1952, three years before PF was founded. He did go on to form a Pakistan-controlled Kashmir (PAK) chapter of PF in 1965 but that was largely autonomous of the Valley Chapter. Neither he nor his fellow “revolutionaries had a background in the National Conference”. He, however, did facilitate Dr Abdullah’s meeting with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974.
Soon after my father’s deportation from England, the narrative places him in Belgium, which also “finally threw him out” — notwithstanding his savoir faire ways, the uncouth choice of words betray his general disdain for Kashmiris. In reality, my father went to Brussels at the invitation of the European Parliament in 1993 to attend a seminar on the Kashmir issue, a good six years after his deportation from England and relocation to Pakistan. While in Brussels, the government of India managed to get Interpol warrants against him and demanded his extradition. They were eventually rejected and he was sent back to Pakistan. India had already managed to get his US visa cancelled in 1990, while Pakistan rescinded his passport soon after his return from Belgium. The one thing that India and Pakistan earnestly agreed upon on Kashmir, was to keep my father out!
This takes us to another intentional spin. My father returned to Pakistan from the UK in December 1986, but the narrative conveniently places his return to “post-1982”, after which “he was reduced to an ideologue”. But isn’t the ideologue the true force behind any movement, its paramount driver? The distortion continues, stating that soon after his return he “sat at home, organised marches”. In reality, within a year and a half of his return, the Valley witnessed the first rumblings of a secular nationalist movement. Also, the march that is alluded to — the attempted crossing of the Line of Control by unarmed civilians, led by my father in 1992 — proved to be a highlight of the 1990s, attracting global media and political attention.
The most ridiculous assertion, however, is the assumption that my father wanted to be “acknowledged as the ultimate leader, as big as Sheikh Sahib”. While Sheikh Abdullah retains his position as a tall leader of Kashmir, he is increasingly seen as part of the problem that created the conflict in Kashmir, not its solution. He pales in comparison to the stature of contemporaries like Gandhi, Nehru or Jinnah. Also, while Sheikh Sahib was busy preparing grounds for the bait that was to pave his way towards becoming Chief Minister — a glaring comedown from his previous position of Prime Minister — my father rejected Bhutto’s overtures to head the GB chapter of his organisation and become the first chief minister of then-intended GB province. Soon after, he was interacting with revolutionaries of international standing like Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, participating in broader platforms like the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO), and asserting his stance at the United Nations (1980). By then, Sheikh Sahib had already become a spent force in terms of the revolutionary template.
My father’s integrity and conviction continues to be celebrated and owned by Kashmiris across the divide. The second anniversary of his passing was marked a few weeks ago, with commemorative meetings held across all three divided regions of the erstwhile J&K state. This, Mr Dulat, is not a “sad end to his story”, but the echoes of a lasting legacy. A legacy borne up by the huge body of literature he penned, including his maiden book Free Kashmir (1970) — found in the bibliography of every significant international book on Kashmir, copies of his self-funded international magazine Voice of Kashmir (1962) and finally his Road Map for Resolution of the Kashmir Issue (2003).
Title: The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace
Author: AS Dulat, Aditya Sinha, Asad Durrani
Price: Rs 799