Written by: Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
Chairman World Forum for Peace & Justice
Washington, DC July 10, 2022: Today, we commemorate the seventh death anniversary of Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, former Prime Minister and former President of Azad Kashmir who passed away on July 10, 2015.
“Sardar Qayyum Khan was a fascinating personality, and recognizable leader with wisdom, sharpness, and foresight. He was a preeminent politician of Azad Jammu Kashmir who rendered his services for upholding the human and political rights of the people of the State.
His advocacy of the cause of Kashmir at the corridors of power at international capitols have had a lasting impact on the policy makers, where he used to make a persuasive and convincing case for the resolution of Kashmir dispute. I remember a conversation between Sardar Sahib and Professor Rajmohan Gandhi (the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) on July 24, 2003, in Washington. Professor Rajmohan Gandhi said that India and Pakistan together with Kashmiris could have decided among themselves a plan to resolve the Kashmir problem and implemented it. Sardar Qayyum agreed with Professor Gandhi that the chapter would have closed down and bilateralism might have worked. But Sardar Abdul Qayyum added that since bilateralism has failed and that gave rise to multilateralism or internationalism as one would like to call it, now we have no choice but to pursue that option too.
He was a courageous leader who understood the long road ahead of labouring for the minds and hearts of people when he told us in Washington in 1994 that our top priority should be to make sure that the leadership of the State of Jammu & Kashmir is at one page.
He was a man with a vision. When asked by Amr Mousaa, then the foreign minister of Egypt during the Islamic Summit in Tehran in 1997, ‘who will represent Kashmiris if they are giving a seat at the negotiating table’? “The answer is simple. All Parties Hurriyet Conference will be our sole representative in any dialogue between India and Kashmir,” Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan replied.
When Azzedine Laraki, then the Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) asked Sardar Sahib that he would be speaking during the Islamic Summit in Tehran on behalf of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, Sardar Sahib suggested that Ghulam Muhammad Safi, the Convener of APHC has the mandate to represent the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Safi Sahib was the one who spoke before the 56 Heads of State and Government in Tehran. The session was chaired by none other than Yasir Arafat, Chairman of PLO.
By far the most vivid recollection I have of Sardar Sahib was his response to a question asked at Washington Kashmir Peace conference about Line of Control (LoC). Sardar Sahib responded, “I, as a Kashmiri, don’t recognize the control line. Kashmiris on both sides do not recognize it. We have not been a party to it. We were not signatories to it. We still call it the ceasefire line and there is fighting there which keeps the issue very much not only alive but makes it dangerous as well.” The participants were fascinated by his response.
Sardar Abdul Qayyum was always against the option of maintaining the status quo. “Let me say that if stability and peace in the region is of any importance then it is inconceivable without resolving the Kashmir issue peacefully. Status quo would be no solution if someone thinks so and let me also say that we in India and Pakistan have tried our best to set things return to peace. But failed. So, the sooner the solution is found, the better as a way forward for Kashmir,” Sardar Qayyum explained.
Sardar Abdul Qayyum was always in favor of including Kashmiris in the negotiations. He asked, “I really do not understand why Kashmiris are neglected, why they are not given an opportunity to meet freely and to interact freely so that they can become the bridge between New Delhi and Islamabad.
When asked: how to bring normalcy to Kashmir? Sardar Qayyum responded, “I am not sure that there can be normalcy without addressing the core issue of Kashmir. A delay in addressing the issue has further added to the gravity of the situation. Now is the time to avoid mental or intellectual luxury. We have had enough of it.”
Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan was a giant among Kashmiri politicians. We will miss him a lot!
Dr. Fai can be reached at: 1-202-607-6435. Or firstname.lastname@example.org