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I vividly remember many insightful conversations on Pakistan affairs with my Pakistani friends and colleagues in Bonn, Germany, who, like people from other regions, have their political beliefs, ideologies and opinions — some strong and some not-so-strong. They come from varied backgrounds. Parents of some of them have served in Pakistan army and close relatives of few others are still discharging their duties in military. Others are quite liberal in their outlook and admire Argentine’s Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara and German philosopher Karl Heinrich Marx. There are others who love Imran Khan and believe only he could save Pakistan. A lot of them are fond of poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Habib Jalib and John Elia. Very few aspire for an Islamic state or Caliphate though.

Somehow, I can’t forget one interesting remark made by a friend from Karachi who, once in a discussion argued that democracy will never suit a country like Pakistan. She obviously has a military background. Her father has served in the Pakistan Air Force. I recall sending her a text message from the Cologne-Bonn airport in August 2008 when Pervez Musharraf bowed to intense pressure and resigned ahead of impeachment proceedings. The message read: “Pakistan’s dictator finally resigns.” Her reply was “Gowhar, very mean of you!” She obviously loves the Pakistan army and Musharraf. She’s been a good friend.

On another occasion, another Pakistani lady left an informal discussion in protest as she could not tolerate the views of her fellow nationals who were critical of the Pakistan army’s interference in political matters. Being fond of poetry, she is otherwise an epitome of tolerance in most matters.

There are some friends who nurture a strong passion for vibrant democracy in Pakistan and argue that democracy should be allowed enough time to mature to provide good results. Their line of thinking is that any bad democracy is far better than an able dictatorship. Others do not approve of the Taliban-style governance, as was practically showcased in regions like the Swat Valley.

All this isn’t surprising for me because I come from a place like Kashmir where people have strong opinions on politics and religion. In Indian-administered Kashmir, we have people who can endlessly debate and defend their political ideology of Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan. Same is the case with the pro-independence lot. Yet, there are people who think of the “independent Kashmir” movement as an “unrealistic goal” and therefore, seek a solution within the ambit of the Indian constitution. Obviously, the votaries of a free Kashmir are in majority.

So, I could easily understand this diversity of narrative from my Pakistani friends.

The author with his Pakistani friends in Bonn.
The author with his Pakistani friends in Bonn.

It was December 2007 when Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, was assassinated in the military garrison town of Rawalpindi. I remember covering this horrific event live on radio. It wasn’t easy. Talking continuously for half-an-hour about the death of an individual of Benazir’s stature was obviously going to be difficult.

And who could forget these words from Musharraf: “Whether I win or lose the impeachment, the dignity of the nation would be damaged, the office of the president harmed.” I am sure there are still some people who share this perspective that Musharraf should not be humiliated. But the question which no one bothers to provide an answer to is, why shouldn’t he pay for his undemocratic actions like deposing many senior judges of Supreme Court, removing an elected government of Nawaz Shareef in a coup, declaring emergency, and his style of authoritarian governance in the garb of ‘enlightened moderation’?

Covering Pakistan politics, current affairs, human rights, culture and sports for many years from Germany for radio Deutsche Welle, aka the Voice of Germany, I was quite sure about two things: One, Pakistan’s military dictator General (retired) Pervez Musharraf had to go after the lawyers’ movement. That did eventually happen. Second, the people of Pakistan will prefer democracy over dictatorship. I am glad both my predictions based on my observations and insightful deliberations with friends, acquaintances and colleagues were proven right.

Like many, my personal choice would have been Imran Khan for two reasons. One, I’m a huge cricket fan, and remember the legendary cricketer-turned politician lifting the coveted world cup trophy in 1992.

Second, I believed as a philanthropist he gave Pakistan a good institution in Shaukat Khanam Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre. So I thought his leadership skills and no-baggage could prove handy for Pakistan.

But I was also a touch disappointed after listening to his interviews on the Kashmir issue wherein he stated that India and Pakistan should allow the coming wiser generations to find an appropriate solution to this dispute. Also, his six poll promises did not include the K-word. I thought Imran lacked vision on Kashmir.

Some would argue that a dictator like Musharraf scores a point or two over Imran in this respect, as the former did offer a four-point formula as his solution to the vexed problem like Kashmir by thinking ‘out-of-box’.

Still, I quietly wanted Imran to win elections and form government. But I also knew it was not going to happen for the simple reason that Imran’s in-dippers and yorkers were not going to be as lethal on the political turf as they were on the cricketing strip. And as experience matters on the cricket field, it certainly does matter on the political field as well.

I would argue with my Pakistani friends, exchange numerous e-mails and Facebook messages that Imran was going to make a decent start to his political innings but it was highly unlikely that he would be in a position to form government. I would argue that the number of people participating in rallies does not necessarily translate into votes. But young friends from Pakistan were expecting instant results, as instant coffee generation often does. They are disappointed. I am not.

It delights me to no end that Pakistani voters behaved maturely and came to cast their important vote, despite threats from radical elements, hot mercury and uncertainty of many kinds. I am glad that the Pakistani people led their nation to a smooth transition from one democratic government to another. I am happy that Pakistan chose democracy over dictatorship.

Imran may not have won many seats, but he certainly did make a mark and became a catalyst for CHANGE. I respect the peoples’ mandate.

I’m not blind to many a challenge that Pakistan faces today like bad economy, the pathetic security scenario, irregular power cuts and what not! No cricketing nation is visiting Pakistan. Hugely talented Pakistani players are not featuring in the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), which, in my view, renders the IPl brand orphaned. This brand has Caribbean flavour, Australian aggression, South African precision, but what it lacks is the fearless brand of Pakistan cricket! Pakistan’s relations with India are not good. But Pakistan has made a brave decision by giving democracy another chance.

Now it is up to the rulers of Pakistan to respect the peoples’ decision by governing them well and ensuring peace, prosperity and smiles return to Pakistan!

Today, I, as a Kashmiri, want to congratulate Pakistan for making the right choice at the right time for the right reason!


The writer has served as Editor at Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) in Bonn, Germany. Previously, he has contributed features for the BBC. He can be reached at


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Author Image

Gowhar Geelani is a Kashmiri journalist.

He tweets @gowhargeelani

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (57) Closed

Sauron May 14, 2013 08:33am
Sure Pakistani players might have made IPL a little more interesting. But IPL is hardly orphaned without Pakistani players.
Zafar Kashmiri May 14, 2013 08:14am
Don't daydream. We Kashmiris are better with India, Pakistan has nothing to offer us.
Silajit May 15, 2013 02:24pm
The best solution for Kashmir will happen when they are allowed to travel freely across the existing border. Such a thing is impossible unless terrorists are shut down harshly on both sides. On the Indian side, the army is attempting this howsoever ham handedly. On the Pakistani side, the same things needs to be put in place so terrorism is nipped in the bud.
HNY2013 May 14, 2013 02:04pm
Grapes are sour
HNY2013 May 14, 2013 02:00pm
People like you or people who voted back NS are blinkered....why blame the author, bet he didnt have a choice to vote
HNY2013 May 14, 2013 01:57pm
Y do you want two countries just to bleed because of your demands. People have grown wiser, while you all live in utopia .....
Raj May 16, 2013 04:30am
Great yaar
R Singh May 15, 2013 04:06am
My friend, if you had taken time to read, most comments from Indians are constructive.And they give a different perspective to the situation, which is shared by both countries.
Prashant May 15, 2013 04:01am
Faithful to Pakistan ??? Even Pakistani people are not "faithful " to Pakistan....!!!
Rajiv May 15, 2013 03:45am
Thanks my brother... great views... thats why we can confident of a great, safe and prosperous india...
Rahat May 14, 2013 05:31pm
Believe me, if Pakistan was purity I will return from abroad right now. Learn to accept other views.
Syed May 14, 2013 05:13pm
you mean ..the writing is very decent."? Lacs is lacks? and "boarder" is "border"?
PPrasad May 15, 2013 10:23am
Wow... how correct your opinions are !! If only the so called "secularist" and the Congress Party in India would read this blog and come to their senses, India would be a great place for Hindus & Muslims to live peacefully and prosper!
ash May 15, 2013 10:25am
ipl was a lot better when pakistani players were in it and if it is so why are u using our coches boycott them aswell and even our empires
kulukku baba May 14, 2013 05:39pm
Well written my friend. Not all muslims are terrorists, after all!
Shakeel May 15, 2013 10:42am
Reema, my dear, your Pakistan is still evolving as a country. Sort out your internal issues first and you have many, before thinking about Kashmir. It is your obsession with Kashmir that has landed you in this mess.
Bakul May 15, 2013 12:33am
I am proud of you. You comment reminds me of actor Feroz Khan who while visiting Pakistan made a comment that Indian muslims are happier than their counterpart in Pakistan
Girish May 15, 2013 11:28am
@Ahmer What Cause of Kashmir are you talking about? Pakistan sponcered militancy had ruined Kashmir in 90's. 30% of Kashmir's population (pundits) where driven out from Kashmir Today same Militany is killing Pakistan, where as Kashmir is flourishing now. No province of Pakistan even close to the GDP growth of J&K. Life expectancy of Kashmiri muslim is much higher then any Pakistani (atleast they are less likely to die due to fellow muslim in suicide attack). Also their education level is improving. Not to mention, Per capita financial Grand from Central government to J&K is highest in India. Why would any Kashmiri would want to be part of economically, socially failed and radical Pakistan. Btw, any enlightenment about Pak occupide Kashmir? I am sure Pakistani establishment is taking care of them very well. There was a nice article in Dawn itself about the plight of POK and its low preference in government in terms of development.
Harish Dunakhe May 14, 2013 07:50pm
Good one...!
NSM May 16, 2013 01:11am
A balanced view. Well written.
Ahmer May 14, 2013 07:31pm
While I respect your right to express your opinion, one cannot forget that Pakistan has shed buckets of blood and made enormous sacrifices for the cause of Kashmir. It cannot let them go in vain.
Nauman May 14, 2013 07:00pm
People like me voted NS? You are joking. Obviously with your IQ you did not understand my reply. Try and do a course at Reading University.
Roman May 15, 2013 11:17am
kudos... i first of all would like to congratulate your parents and teachers for giving you such seeds of wisdom all your growing years... its heartening to see such mature and logical thinking from understandably a young man... every individual be it from any religion should take a leaf out of your book.... may your sect grow, power to you brother..
mashy May 14, 2013 11:09pm
You are deluded.
RamRahimRobert May 14, 2013 10:43pm
I Dare you publish my comment - Kashmiris please look at how pakistanis are treated their own citizens in Bangladesh, How are they treating Ahamdis, Baloch, Shia or sunnis
Guest May 14, 2013 10:42pm
Ms/Mrs Reema.....can you please elaborate why the double standards by people of Pakistan for Kashmir and Baluchistan issues? What EXACTLY has pak done for Kashmir?
Guest May 14, 2013 10:30pm
Syed sahib, ANYTIME compare the conditions on both side of the border in Kashmir. If the Kasmiri's were so uncomfortable in India there would have been a mass exodus to Pak. Aint happenin!
Swaranjit May 14, 2013 09:30pm
Bravo! Excellent exposition of sane views, if respected by the bigoted diehards, could defang a thorny issue and usher in an era of peace and prosperity for both India and Pakistan.
hamza May 16, 2013 07:26am
Romi May 15, 2013 10:57am
What's happened in the past is a sunk cost. It shouldn't influence future decisions.
Elisa Tapscott May 14, 2013 08:56am
I had visited Kashmir during my visit to India. I found that Kashmiris want to live in peace and want to earn for their living. They are fed up of terrorists who have totally destroyed the tourism industry there. Due to terrorists they have to bear the presence of Indian Army. Many people who want to get separated from India want to do so for being part of Muslim country otherwise India with its all around is far better option for Kashmir.
Usman May 14, 2013 08:59am
I, as a Pakistani would like to thank you for the article. and for still keeping faith in Kashmir movement and its support from Pakistan. Yes, Pakistan is far less than perfect these days. But I hope that our conditions will be better from now on. In my personal opinion, Imran Khan felt a little immature in his speeches and even post-elections. But he is a very welcome entry as a transparent and honest personality. And by time, he and his party will grow stronger and by next elections be more prepared for the challenge. Please pray that Pakistan can get out of the current turmoil in coming years. Thanks
Nauman May 14, 2013 09:27am
What a hotch potch of personal sentiments. "Today, I, as a Kashmiri, want to congratulate Pakistan for making the right choice at the right time for the right reason!" What right choice? We've had the failed Mr N.S. twice before as PM. People like you are all blinkered.
ahmed2030 May 14, 2013 09:40am
Thanks for writing and sharing your wonderful and well balanced peice. I also support IK but believe its okay that NS can have a 5-year term to make things clearer as to who is better. We wish all Kashmiris as well as Indians the same.
ahmed2030 May 14, 2013 09:43am
Yes I agree, IPL has not been orphansed wihtout Pak players. Its actually Indian test cricket has been orphaned by IPL.Anyway, its you choice and we respect that. As for Pakistani players, I wish they were not greedy to be looking accross the border but concentrated on their own skill set as most of them are not test or ODI class players.
Syed Zeeshan Ali May 14, 2013 09:51am
Its Indeed a Great and Thorough joy while reading something indepth and core based analysis from someone who has such a close eye on the current affairs as well as the historic events from the past and current issues ... Gowhar Geelani you are a master of sharing and keeping something special which we all want to read and know exactly they way you write columns and comprehensive based facts with truth based information from either part of the borders !!!!! Hats off to you for writing something so appealing and realistic approach which we all must learn to know ... Thank you so much !
A kashmir May 14, 2013 11:46am
I as a kashmiri feel that this article lacks one of the subject viz a viz pakistan in relation to kashmir. I as kashmiri when I write or speak about pakistan i should always refer back to the obligation of pakistan to support kashmiris in their struggle which pakistan has misreably failed as a state from past 15 years. Secondly with related to current elections even if i didnt liked the stand of imran khan on kashmir but would have been happier if he would have won elections to give better ray of hope for a stronger pakistan. As a kashmiri i think nawaz sharief would do better on kashmir issue.
MKB May 14, 2013 11:53am
Very smooth reading. Well written, but it lacs reasonable outlook on India Pakistan relation. The writer is Kashmiri, hopefully this side of the boarder, so he is Indian as well. He must speak out his mind about the fragile relation between India Pak. How ever. the writing is very descent.
Rajan May 14, 2013 12:05pm
"Hugely talented Pakistani players are not featuring in the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), which, in my view, renders the IPl brand orphaned. This brand has Caribbean flavour, Australian aggression, South African precision, but what it lacks is the fearless brand of Pakistan cricket!" IPL does not need pakistanis for being successful. we are far better not hosting them, all ur former players now live mostly in india and earn in india.
Ishfaq Ahmed May 14, 2013 12:11pm
Nice piece of writing. Like you many Kashmiris wanted IK to come to power and change the prevailing situation in Pakistan. We feel he has well thought about plans to do so unlike Nawaz Sharief. But anyways we should respect what Pakis thought was better for them.However, we expect strong support from present government for our cause.
Kumar May 14, 2013 12:11pm
Not even once any one mentioned about your players in the IPL. It was an outright rejection. Accept it. We do not miss you at all and keep all fixing agents within your borders. Every one knew who is missing more by not participating in the IPL. IPL is bigger than any tournment and if you think it is missing pak players you are living in a fools paradise. Come out of your dream world... we have enough international players in India to make IPL competetive and interesting. First stop crying... you ill never get a chance to play in the IPL.
sri1ram May 14, 2013 12:15pm
As an Indian enjoying and appreciating IPL, yes, you are absolutely right on the cricket. The Paki brand of "unpredictable" cricket that is also epitomized by T20 is missing. We just have an Azhar Mahmood, but hope that other able players will come in multiple routes through other nations. And hopefully, the army does not take over within a year and restarts this dialogue about democracy and dictatorships. And that Pakistani cricketers can join in the fun.
Satyameva Jayate May 14, 2013 12:16pm
Should a "Kashmiri" care about what Kashmiris in Indian Kashmir wiish for their children and grandchildren? Growing up and getting educated in Pakistan, particularly when they have an alternative? Let us be honest before answering this questions!
Syed Zeeshan Ali May 14, 2013 12:43pm
Opinion Polls reflects that majority of people have PESSIMISTIC MIND STANDARDS ! as mostly the people forgot to use 1st hands rather then using 2nd hands ... OPTIMISM seems fading away from even educated citizens of either countries ... as Truth is always harsh to swallow !
reema May 14, 2013 02:17pm
Mr.Zafar, if we Pakistani have nothing to offer you then make it realize by each & every Kashmiri !!!! people like you are not in interest of Pakistan ..... you forget the struggle done by Kashmiris uptill now, how can you be faithful to Pakistan???
Syed Zeeshan Ali May 14, 2013 04:31pm
Its a Tradition by indians to interfere without any purpose and for uselessly comment where there is nothing they should be indulging at
Shahid Shah May 14, 2013 04:40pm
I dont expect this newspaper to publish my remarks but I will post it anyway. By the way I am of Muslim heritage, born and brought up in India and proud to be Indian. Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India according to rules that were set at Partition. Jammu and Kashmir had about 55% Muslims and 45% non-Muslims in 1947. The rulers of contiguous province could choose between India or Pakistan. The ruler opted for India. India agreed with the UN for a referendum but the first condition set forth by the UN was Pakistan should withdraw all its forces from Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan refused to. In the 1950 the J&K Assembly voted to ratify the accession to India. So the dispute has been settled and there is no going back. Pakistan must vacate the areas that it is occupying. With regards to any Muslims in J&K who do not wish to be part of India, there is Pakistan. That is why Pakistan was created. So that Muslims of the subcontinent who wish to live in a Muslim majority country called Pakistan could go there. We must keep this promise to these Muslims by revoking the Nehru-Liaqat Pact so any Muslim in India who wishes to go to Pakistan or Bangladesh can do so. The reverse is also true. Any non-Muslim living in Pakistan should be taken in by India as also any Muslim living in Pakistan who wishes to abide by a secular civil and penal code of laws. I am sure there are millions of Muslims in India, including Muslims such as Umar Farooq who would love to become full fledged Pakistanis. But millions more like me love India and we will give our lives for it if needed. For those Muslims who wish to stay back India should provide them with equal opportunities for progress provided they abide by a secular civil code and not an Islamic set of laws.
Anidesh, Mumbai May 15, 2013 06:06am
Well written. Absolutely clear thought.
pathanoo May 15, 2013 06:10am
Dear Shahid, You are a great Muslim, a great Indian and a great human being to have the courage to speak the truth.
jey May 15, 2013 06:30am
brother I cant Say anything .... Just salute you ..........
ash May 15, 2013 10:05am
learn to love your country dude whatever it is it is our homeland
Shakeel May 15, 2013 10:02am
Shahid bhai, i fully agree with you and thank my ancestors and God every day for guiding them not to leave India during partition. Jinnah's Pakistan is today in tatters and things will only get worse.
Anil May 15, 2013 07:31am
Hats off...I wish this is implemented...
Roman May 15, 2013 08:27am
what cause ?
Rashid Sultan May 15, 2013 08:43am
I and my family are of Kashmiri origin. Please accept the fact that my extended family or other Kashmiri friends of ours do not feel 'Great Unity' with Pakistani people as you claim. Yes we have a few Pakistan born friends. And as far as I can ascertain they too don't feel that they owe anything to Pakistan or its people. Please try and accept facts not the fiction in your mind.
Shyam Kokku May 15, 2013 09:07am
Pakistan is unable to keep its "obligation" of safety and security of their own people, leave alone obligation to support Kashmiris. People like you who feel so obligated to Pakistan, should pack your bags and go there permanently than spoiling the peace in India. As for Nawaz Sherif, I think he has been making the right moves towards peace between India and Pakistan and he needs encouragement.
Shyam Kokku May 15, 2013 09:12am
Ms Reema, can you give ONE REASON why Kashmiris have to be faithful to Pakistan?