‘Pakistan Is Disturbed Because Of Kashmir’

Arrested in august 2010 on charges of waging war against the state by issuing the protest calendars Chairperson Dukhtran- e-  Milat ( daughters of faith)  Syeda Asiya Andrabi was released on bail a day before Eid. She talks to Tasavur Mushtaq about her family, her ordeal in jail and future strategies.

Kashmir Life:You spent 15 months in Jail. What do you think you were arrested for?
Syeda Asiya Andrabi
: Everybody knows why I was arrested. It is not only Asiya, whole Kashmir has been jailed now, from a 10-year-old boy to 85-year-old man. We are fighting for a just cause. It will continue till the day of freedom InshaAllah.

KL: You were released on the eve of Eid. What do you think why you were released?
AA:
I don’t know the reason why they released me. It is their discretion when to arrest and when to release. They didn’t ask me. They called my brother to submit the bail documents. This was my first Eid to be celebrated in home since 2007 and there was nothing special about it.

KL:Do your children understand why you are arrested. What do you tell them?
AA:
My children are aware about the situation in Kashmir. My elder son Muhammad Bin Qasim was seven months old when I was arrested in 1993. He started crawling in jail.  My younger son who was born in 2000 never found his father in home. He was introduced to him in jail. He also is aware of the situation.  They know why we are victimised. Why their father is in jail. For the last four  years I am also not with them. It is not only my children, there are lakhs who have suffered. There are thousands of orphans, but they have mothers with them, my children don’t have both. I used to tell them that we are fighting for a cause. We are fighting to please Allah. This is my duty which we are offering. InshaAllah when we will achieve freedom and then there will be a sigh of relief.

KL: Women in Kashmir rarely take frontline role in politics. Politically what do you stand for?    
AA:
I stand for Islam. I want to live as Muslim and die as Muslim. My Life, sacrifice and death is for Allah. I don’t believe in politics without belief in Islam and life hereafter.

KL: Tell us about the conditions in the jails, particularly for women?
AA:
Jails in Kashmir are a bit different, but the jails in Jammu are no more different than Guantanamo and Abu Garib. I don’t think there are many women in jails. In Kotbalwal there were only four women. When I was arrested in august 2010 I was kept in Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC) Jammu and that was the worst experience. I was interrogated for 15 days. This time the situation was hostile compared to when I was arrested in 1993. Nothing was provided to me including the lunch. This time age is also the factor, I am 48 years old. I had lot of problems. Both of my shoulders were frozen. I was crawling. When I was sent back to Rambagh police station, the behaviour there as well was completely changed. They use to shift me from Srinagar to Jammu and you know the travelling difficulties for patients like me. It really was painful. Alhamdulillah my courage is not sick, if physically I am. I can fight with my courage and faith.

KL: What you find is the reason of the changed behaviour?
AA:
This is the change in the policy. The present government has policy of being harsher to the freedom lovers. They thought that they were losing Jammu and Kashmir and it did everything to crush the movement.

KL:India and Pakistan are coming closer. Hawkish elements of Pakistan may be getting docile. What is your perception about the change?
AA:
India and Pakistan are coming closer but there are compulsions for Pakistan. They are facing problems from west and Indian side.  It is the compulsion that Pakistan has declared India as the most favourite nation. Economically they are crippled. There is terrorism in Pakistan. They are doing this for their economic benefit as Yousuf Raza Geelani said that by declaring India as most favourite nation Pakistan gained 800 million dollars. Pakistan is a weak nation this time and they have suffered a lot for us. If today Pakistan accepts Kashmir as integral part of India, there will be no problems in Pakistan. Pakistan is disturbed because of Kashmir.

KL: How this change in stand of Pakistan is going to affect the resistance movement in Kashmir?
AA:
Actually we should prove ourselves broadminded. We should not make Pakistan a scapegoat. It is Kashmiris who have to fight. Why you rely on Pakistan only. There are thousands of Mujahideen who fought here and whose graves are in Kashmir. It is Kashmir who has to fight. Whatever is the ground situation in Kashmir, it will decide future of Kashmiris.

KL: Your husband is in Jail for long now. How do you think it affects your children and politics?
AA:
It has affected my children, my family but not my politics. It is Asiya Andrabi who knows how to live without a man. In June 2012 my husband will complete 20 years in jail. He stood for my cause and in future also he will stand till my last breath.

KL:Is it possible for someone like you to do politics without risking of being jailed?
AA:
How is it possible?From 1994- 2004 I was totally underground but was not able to deliver what I am delivering today. When I was released in 1994 this house of my husband was raided by BSF. I was not here and then the started hiding from March 1994 to September 2004. In between, POTA was slapped on me. When I came here in 2004, just after few months I was arrested and the cycle is going on till this date. You know in 2005 when I was fighting against the immorality- sex scandal, I was arrested along with my eight colleagues, booked under PSA and released after eight months. It is not possible in Kashmir not to be arrested for doing any positive work.

KL:Where do you think the resistance politics stands vis-?-vis Kashmir?
AA:
There are ups and downs in movements everywhere. As far as Kashmir problem is concerned, I don’t think it will stop until and unless Kashmir gets freedom. It is a big jail now. Our children are in juvenile home. There is lot of pressure from Indian side using the maximum possible force. As the puppet government claims there is normalcy in Kashmir and tourists are coming, I don’t think so. Freedom lovers are here. Every Kashmiris is a freedom lover.If not today, not tomorrow but Kashmir will achieve freedom.

KL:Omar Abdullah is advocating for revoking of AFSPA from few districts of the Jammu and Kashmir. how do you see it?
AA:
That is a political gimmick. Nothing more than that.

KL: For three consecutive years 2008, 2009 and 2010 people came out on the roads but there is a general feeling that leaders failed them. What is your take?
AA:
we also admit that leaders could not deliver on the expectations of the people but also believe that people again will come on roads. They love freedom.

KL: What concrete stepswouldyou like to take to streamline the resistance movement?
AA:
I think Allah has sent us the Quran by revealing it to Prophet (SAW). Our success is conditional. Allah says ‘you will achieve success once you will become faithful’. We should help Islam and Allah will help us. InshaAllah we will get freedom from the clutches of India. We must submit ourselves. We must change our character. As a nation we must change ourselves from hypocrisy to Islam. Once we change our character and get into Islam, our strategies will accordingly get changed. We then will get the help of Allah the almighty. Some people think that we should not get Islam into our resistance as they fear west will get annoyed, I believe our priority  should be to make Allah happy and not the west.

KL: You mean to say what happened in Kashmir from last 22 years was lacking the spirit of Islam?
AA:
From last 22 years we have achieved nothing. We got only graves and mass graves. This all is because we lack spirit of Islam. Nations do not get freedom just merely by sloganeering. My message to leaders as well as masses is to get into Islam, there only we will get the right way.

KL: You are a great believer in capabilities of women. How you tackle issues concerning them?
AA:
We are preaching Islam, there lies the remedy of everything. Creating police force won’t matter. The police force should be within and that is fear of Allah.

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