Written by Haris Qadeer
On 24-25 September, the central convention of the Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation was organized in Muzaffarabad. The anniversary of the assassination by reactionary forces of the former general secretary of the JKNSF, comrade Fahim Akram, was also commemorated on the occasion. Overall 3000 attended the various session of the convention.
On 24 September revolutionary youth and student leaders from all over Pakistan, Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan gathered at Upper Adda in Muzaffarabad and then marched towards the Line of Control [LoC] that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. The President of the JKNSF, comrade Rashid Sheikh, together with Javed Iqbal, Ilyas Khan, Adam Pal, Yasir Irshad and other renowned Marxists lead the rally. They were demanding that Kashmiris should be allowed to cross the LoC without any visa restrictions. Also they demanded an end to the imperialist occupation of Kashmir by both India and Pakistan.
The police and state administration of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir tried to stop the march many times but the determination of the participants was so high that the police was trembling on their feet. Every time the police tried to stop the rally, the participants raised revolutionary slogans with full voice which echoed around the beautiful mountains again and again. After overcoming the threats from the security forces many times a demonstration was held in Chinari Bazar which is only few miles away from the LoC.
The JKNSF organised this protest after almost two decades. The last time this protest was held, security forces killed many leaders and activists of the JKNSF at the LoC. Those martyrs are still remembered as the “martyrs of Chakothi” and their killing is commemorated every year.
Amid heavy rain and the presence of security forces, the President of the JKNSF, comrade Rashid Sheikh addressed the rally. He explained that our comrades on the other side of the LoC couldn’t attend due to the heavy floods, but this would not be the last time that we have come here. “We will come here again and again until we abolish this LoC and not only unite divided families on both sides but also end the imperialist occupation of both states.” He said that next time “our comrades from the other side will also join us in our demands.” All the participants raised slogans of Inqilab [Revolution] and the march headed back towards Muzaffarabad.
After getting back to Muzaffarabad, an educational session was held in the auditorium of the Postgraduate College. This session was for the students of the JKNSF under the title “Youth and Revolution” which continued till late into the night. The speakers were leaders of various colleges and universities in Kashmir and those coming from different cities of Pakistan representing various progressive student organizations. President Comrade Rashid Sheikh also announced a new executive of the JKNSF that will lead the organisation for the next two years. At the end comrade Adam Pal addressed the participants and explained the role the youth will have to play in the coming period.
On the morning of 25 September a protest rally against capitalism, price hikes, unemployment, poverty, exploitation and terrorism was held in Muzaffarabad city. The rally, after taking a round of the city, arrived at Upper Adda where the stage was set for the convention.
The convention was presided over by newly elected President of the JKNSF, Basharat Ali. The well-known Marxist leader, Adam Pal, was the chief guest and the main speaker. Other speakers included Basharat Ali, leader of Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party, Sardar Khalid Ibrahim, former President of NSF Punjab, Syed Hassan Jaffar Zaidi, Chairman Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Sardar Muhammad Saghir Khan, outgoing President JKNSF, Comrade Rashid Shaikh, General Secretary People’s Lawyers Forum Pakistan Ilyas Khan, Marxist leader from Pakhtunkhwa, Comrade Ghufran Ahad, a Marxist from Britain, Javed Iqbal, leader of Baloch Student Organization Zareef Rind, President of Young Medicos Gilgit and leader of Young Doctors’ Association Punjab, Dr. Atif Ali, Khawaja Mujtaba, Rashid Khalid and Abrar Latif. Newly elected general secretary Awais Ali and senior vice-president comrade Khalil Babar jointly conducted the stage. The elected body of the JKNSF took the oath from the outgoing president Rashid Sheikh.
Yasir Irshad read out the solidarity messages sent by the Marxist Student Federation in Britain and from youth of USA, Brazil, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden and other countries. Comrade Alan Woods had also sent a solidarity message for this convention which was read out to the audience and the participants responded with applause.
For the first time in history a solidarity message for this convention was sent by the All India Students Association (AISA). AISA is one of the leading left-wing student associations in India. Its recent victories in leading educational institutions in Delhi have attracted fresh layers of youth towards it. This message was received with big applause and revolutionary slogans. This shows the solidarity among students on both sides and exposed the cruel intentions of the ruling class armed with nuclear weapons. Students from Srinagar, Kargil and other parts of Indian-held Kashmir had also sent messages of solidarity for this convention in their individual capacity which were also received with enthusiasm.
Here is the message sent by AISA:
Solidarity message from the All India Students’ Association (AISA)
The All India Students’ Association (AISA) extends revolutionary greetings to the Jammu Kashmir National Students’ Federation on the occasion of JKNSF’s 19th central convention being held in Muzaffarabad.
We indeed live in chaotic and difficult times, where the struggle for democracy and rights has to be taken forward in these trying conditions. The students and youth across the world who are committed to fighting for a democratic and progressive society have to unitedly resist varied assaults – curbs on freedom of expression, curbs on the basic rights of education, employment and healthcare, and orchestrated fascist divisive campaigns spreading hate and violence and targeting minorities. In the subcontinent, we are witnessing a systematic effort of the ruling class forces to forget our combined histories and legacies of struggle against imperialism and colonialism.
In India the communal fascist BJP has been propelled to power, with its commitment to a neo-liberal economic regime combined with a dangerous agenda of communal hate mongering. In the days to come, we hope to increase cooperation and solidarity between all progressive and democratic forces to mount a challenge to this corporate-communal fascist regime. We hope that JKNSF and AISA can work together towards this end, and collaborate and cooperate on several issues which are of common concern to us.
Once again extending revolutionary greetings and solidarity, on behalf of AISA,
Sucheta De, National President
Comrade Lal Khan couldn’t attend the convention but he had sent his message which was published in leading dailies all over the country. Imran Kamyana read out the message from Lal Khan for the audience.
After that, the speakers addressed the meeting and expressed their views about the topic “National Question of Kashmir in our epoch”.
Due to presence of Nationalist and bourgeois leaders of Kashmir on the stage this convention became a place of debate on this topic which was keenly followed by hundreds of participants.
The Marxist leaders present said that the only way for the liberation of Kashmir is through a socialist revolution and only a socialist federation of the subcontinent can guarantee genuine freedom for the youth and the workers of the region. Freedom is not the liberation of mountains or rivers, freedom cannot be achieved by dividing people on narrow nationalist lines while maintaining class oppression. Real freedom is the freedom for human beings to have the basic necessities of life for free and freedom from religious terrorism, fundamentalism, unemployment, poverty, disease, hunger and class exploitation. World capitalism is in an impasse and the states of India and Pakistan are prison houses of the nationalities. The struggle for national liberation in Kashmir and other areas should join together on a class basis to fight for a socialist federation. The youth of the JKNSF is taking this struggle forward in Kashmir under the slogan “We want Independence, Our goal Socialism.” Sooner rather than later a time will come when they will join hands with workers and youth of India and Pakistan and lead the way in uprooting this rotten capitalist system.
A Nationalist leader at first spoke about the need of a “national democratic revolution” but then concluded by misquoting Karl Marx that the Indian subcontinent is not fertile for revolutions. A bourgeois leader tried to explain the benefits of partition by achieving a safe land for Muslims where they can’t be killed for petty things. An ex-Stalinist tried to correct Marx and Lenin on the National Question without quoting any references.
In the end comrade Adam Pal summed up the debate and addressed the attacks on Marxism, one by one. He explained the character of the bourgeois state and how it is oppressing its working class. The limitations of the National Democratic Revolution were also explained and how the tasks of this can only be achieved through a socialist revolution. He outlined the Leninist position on the National Question and the slogan of “No to National War, Class War, Class War.” He explained the miserable plight of working class Muslims belonging in this so called “land of the Pure” and how they are mercilessly killed in suicide bombs. Adam Pal also drew parallels with the recent referendum in Scotland and the reasons for the defeat of the Nationalists. Despite the long debate and extended sessions, many students remained on the edge of their seats till the end. They were joined by workers and passers-by in the area who were enthralled by the revolutionary speeches.
Newly elected president of the JKNSF, comrade Basharat Ali addressed the convention at the end and thanked all the participants for their revolutionary enthusiasm that made this event an historic occasion.
The convention ended by the singing of Internationale.