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Articles

Article: Dr Ayub Thakur was a man with the mission

Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai

I want to express my appreciation to the leadership of Institute of Policy Studies, (PS) for organizing this memorial for Dr. Ayub Thakur, (March 10, 2004).who was a friend, and a colleague. He was a great thinker, scholar, an intellectual and a well-known expert on the subject of Kashmir. He was best known for his character, honesty and sacrifice. He was the first Muslim nuclear scientist from the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Dr. Ayub Thakur started his political career in early 70’s as a student leader when he was elected as the President of Kashmir University Research Scholars Association. He was also elected as the president of Kashmir University Students Union. In 1974, he established the Jammu and Kashmir Students Islamic Organization which later became Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, which he headed until 1981.

It was in 1973 when I first met Dr. Ayub at this residence at Kashmir University along with a friend, Aashiq Kashmiri, who was then the Editor of Daily Azan. We spent hours together.

Dr. Ayub was a man with a mission. In August 1980, Islami Jamiat Talaba announced an international youth conference on the right of self-determination. The conference was banned by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah who was then the Chief Minister, and Dr. Thakur was dismissed from his service in August 1980. His crime: He demanded the implementation of UNSC resolutions. He was arrested and imprisoned for five months.

Soon after his release, he went to Saudi Arabia in 1981and was appointed as an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah.

While in Jeddah, Dr Thakur was invited to the USA where he met half a dozen Kashmiri Americans. It was in 1981 that “World Kashmir Freedom Movement (WKFM)” was established. Dr. Thakur became its founding president. And Dr. Ghulam Nabi Mir as Secretary General. Dr. Akram, Dr. Rauf, Dr. Khalid, Dr. Fai and Nazir Qureishi were elected as the members of the Board. Dr. Ayub is not with us today but the board he established in 981 is still intact. AlhamdulilAllah!

Then in 1986, Moulana Sad-Ud-Din, Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu Kashmir came for Haj. Dr. Ayub arranged a series of meetings with Moulana Saduddin along with Moulana Abdul Bari, Ameer Jamaaat-e-Islami, Azad Kashmir, Professor Alifuddin Turabi, Tariq Mehmood Tariq, Nazir Qhreishi. It was decided that Dr. Ayub would leave Jeddah and move to England where the environment was suitable for political activities.

While Dr. Ayub was packing to move to London, he received the renewal of a job agreement for next three years which he declined.

I remember Dr Nejatullah Siddiqui, one of the internationally known Muslim economists calling me and wanting to meet with Dr. Umar Jamjoom, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering. Dr. Jamjoom told me that I have more than a dozen applications here who want this job, but I want Dr. Ayub to continue. I told him that it is almost impossible to convince Dr. Ayub to stay because he wants to pursue the cause of Kashmir in England.

Soon after his arrival to London, Dr. Thakur, Advocate Hassam-ud-Din, Professor Khurshid Ahmed, Khurram Jah Murad, Dr. Manazir Ahsan Gilani, Syed Munawar Hussan Mashhadi, Moulana Tufail Mohammad, Nazir Qureishi, had a few meetings on how to channelize our energy for the Kashmir cause. It was decided to establish the “International Institute of Kashmir Studies” with Advocate Hassam-ud-Din as its founding Director. Kashmir Press International was established from Birmingham. And Mercy Universal was established with Dr. Akram as its founding Chairman, whose current chairman is Nazir Qureishi.

In one of the board meetings of WKFM, Dr Ayub suggested mobilizing the academic and educational institutions in England. He said that WKFM does not fit here. So, the “Justice Foundation” was established in 2003. Ms. Nabila Sadiq, British national of Azad Kashmiri heritage who had graduated from Oxford University and was enrolled at Cambridge University was appointed to be its first Coordinator.

Although Dr Ayub passed away on March 10, 2004, the Salat al-Janazah was held at the Islamic Cultural Centre, (ICC) Regent’s Park, London on Friday March 12, 2004. Thousands of people attended the Salatul Janazah, including Mian Shahbaz Sharif Sahib, the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. Earlier Mian Shahbaz Sharif Sahib also paid a visit to Dr Ayub while he was admitted at St Mary’s hospital, Paddington, in central London. “Ayub Sahib was deeply committed to the cause of Kashmir. We have had many discussions together. He was a genuine and honest person. We will miss him a lot,” Mian Shahbaz Sharif Sahib said while expressing condolences in person to the family and friends of Ayub Sahib at ICC. Today, at this memorial of Dr. Ayub Sahib, I would like to thank Mian Shahbaz Sharif Sahib for raising Kashmir in his maiden speech at parliament and clearly saying that “Let’s all come together … and the National Assembly should pass a resolution for freedom of Kashmiris and Palestinians,”

The nation of Kashmir knows that the principle stand of the Government of Pakistan has been that the improvement in relations with India was contingent upon the resolution of all outstanding issues, including the long-standing issue of Jammu and Kashmir. And Pakistan’s position since August 5, 2019, has been that the relationship between New Delhi and Islamabad cannot be normalized unless India retracts its revocation of Article 370 & 35 A in Kashmir.

The moral, political and diplomatic support, which the government and people of Pakistan have been extending to the Kashmir cause, is a matter of historic record. However, within the past few years, the Government of Pakistan has not done enough in this regard.

We do not doubt that Pakistan will survive the present crisis because its very existence is a much bigger phenomenon than the multiplicity of dangers threatening it at present. But if, God forbid, Pakistani politics remains polarized, or otherwise, Kashmiris would still want to exercise their right to self-determination. The continuance of military occupation despite the great wrongs — over one hundred thousand deaths— it has inflicted is a huge atrocity by itself, reflecting the cynical indifference to human rights which governs the present world order. But it does not in any way elicit from Kashmiris acceptance of, or reconciliation with, Indian rule.

We would like to bring to the attention of Mian Shahbaz Sharif Sahib, the Prime Minister of Pakistan that there have been numerous attempts by some important Capitals, to mollify Pakistan to normalize relations with India. It is a historical fact that Pakistan resisted undue pressure from world capitals and rejected $5 billion dollars from President Clinton in May 1998 and did not compromise on the national security issue –- nuclear – of Pakistan. We hope that history will be repeated in 2024 and Pakistan will not compromise on its second national security issue — Kashmir.

The people of Kashmir are not against Pakistan developing friendly relations with its neighbors. But Pakistan must define three parameters about the normalization. One, that the issue of Kashmir is about the right of self-determination guaranteed under the UN Security Council resolutions. Second, Kashmiri leadership can never be marginalized in any solution. Third, violence and normalization do not go together. Therefore, all bunkers, watch towers and barricades set up by the Indian military and paramilitary forces in towns and villages must be dismantled so as to allow the people of Kashmir to have peaceful association, assembly and demonstration.

Mian Shahbaz Sharif Sahib, you know it better as the son of the soil of Kashmir (Shopian to be precise) that the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir acquire a continuing decisive importance from two crucial factors. One, they constitute the only international agreement freely negotiated between India and Pakistan on the future status of Kashmir. Two, they embody the only principle on whose basis a just and durable settlement of the problem can be achieved—the principle of freedom of choice by the people concerned.

The people of Kashmir can never forget the selfless contribution and the tireless efforts of Dr. Ayub Thakur. His efforts will remain forever a milestone in the history of the freedom struggle of Kashmir.

 

May Allah place the soul of Dr. Ayub Thakur in Jannatul Firdous! Ameen.

(Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai is Chairman of World Forum for Peace & Justice
Washington, D.C.)

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