-- Tribute to Arif Shahid
Dr Shabir Choudhry 12 September 2013
Friends and colleagues, today we are gathered here to pay tribute to our friend, a nationalist Kashmiri leader and a freedom fighter, Sardar Arif Shahid who is no longer with us. Arif Shahid was callously killed outside his house in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on 13 May 2013. May Allah bless his soul?
Arif Shahid was a man with vision. A man with a mission, and his mission was to promote democratic values and fundamental human rights for all citizens of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. His view was that religion was a personal matter of individuals; and that religion must be kept out of politics. He promoted peace and strongly advocated equality for non – Muslims and other ethnic groups.
Arif Shahid bravely opposed religious extremists and forces that groomed terrorists. He openly challenged those powers that promoted violence and terrorism. He opposed those groups and parties that promoted religious intolerance and hatred.
Martyred Arif Shahid had become a symbol of resistance against Pakistani forces of occupation and secret agencies in Gilgit Baltistan and so called Azad Kashmir. He wanted to have united and independent Jammu and Kashmir with liberal, democratic and secular ideals.
He crossed the red line many times. He was cautioned to stop his activities; but he was persistent and dedicated man. He refused to surrender. Despite threats to his life from those who promoted violence and terrorism, he continued with his mission. On the evening of 13 May 2013, those who did not like what he did silenced him for ever. Two bullets were shot on his neck. Kashmiri nationalist believe it was a target killing; and we condemn it.
He is no longer with us, but his struggle for the oppressed and victimised people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir would continue. We are determined to expose Pakistani government's hypocritical stand on the Kashmir dispute and tell people that they have imperialist designs on Jammu and Kashmir.
It is feared that Arif Shahid won't be the last person to be eliminated because reliable sources reveal that the Pakistani secret agencies have decided to crush our peaceful struggle against the Pakistani occupation in so called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. For this purpose, they have prepared a list of more than two dozen key leaders and political activists, which include those living abroad.
We share this view of other Kashmiri parties that he was eliminated because of his nationalist struggle; and those forces which did not like his struggle, finally eliminated him to send the message that they will not tolerate true Kashmiri nationalist struggle on this side of the Line of Control.
Kashmiri nationalists demand that the Pakistani authorities:
· Should constitute a judicial inquiry into the murder of Arif Shahid Shaheed;
· Arrest and punish all those involved with the conspiracy and murder of Arif Shahid;
· Immediately stop policy of harassment and intimidation in Pakistani Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan;
· Allow people of Pakistani Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan to enjoy their fundamental human rights.
I pray Almighty to grant him a place in Heaven.
Dr Shabir Choudhry