The Kashmir Question

Politics solves every problem. The only thing required is will and a way to do it. But when the path chosen is other than that, one must be prepared for problems and reaction which can be a plenty. Kashmir is one such case study which has suffered a great deal because of the reluctance shown towards a political solution. If history is to be believed, at one point neither Pakistan nor India wanted Kashmir.

Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan told Hayat Khan, ‘Sirdar Saheb, have I gone mad to give up Hyderabad which is much larger than Punjab for the sake of the rocks of Kashmir?’ sights Hayat Khan in his book ‘The Nation that Lost its Soul’. Interestingly Hyderabad Deccan at that time had a Hindu majority unlike Kashmir which had Muslim majority. Hayat Khan writes further, ‘I was stunned by the Prime Minister’s reaction and ignorance of our geography and his lack of wisdom. I thought he was living in a fool’s paradise and did not understand the importance of Kashmir to Pakistan while hoping to get Hyderabad, which at best, was only quixotic wishful thinking. It was not connected to Pakistan anywhere. As a protest, I resigned from the position I was holding in Kashmir operation.’

This showed the lack of vision and short-sightedness of Liaquat Ali Khan and preference of vested interest over the broader national one. Pakistan had the chance and opportunity but he let it go easily only for it to become a major dispute between two newly independent countries Pakistan and India. As if it was not enough, Quaid-e-Azam ordered the then Chief of Army General Gracey to attack Kashmir which he plainly refused. But this did not deter Quaid and with the help of the tribesmen Pakistan staged a war on Kashmir on October 22nd 1947. It did not take long for United Nations to take notice of the matter which happened only a few weeks after India and Pakistan got independence. It was unnecessary when the political solution was available and India had already shown willingness for that. On January 5, 1949 United Nations ceasefire line was established. Pakistan lost more than it bargained and might have lost more if not for the gritty fight by tribesmen and the part of Kashmir (Azad Kashmir) we have now it is to their credit.

Kuldip Nayar, in his book ‘Beyond the Line – An Autobiography’ writes on Sardar Patel’s consistent view that Kashmir should be a part of Pakistan. ‘My impression is that had Pakistan been patient it would have got Kashmir automatically. India could not have conquered it, nor could a Hindu Maharaja have ignored the composition of the population which was predominantly Muslim. Instead, an impatient Pakistan sent tribesmen along with regular troops to Kashmir within days of Independence.’

The first of many rounds of talk to seek the solution of Jammu and Kashmir issue were held in London and Paris in October 1948. The Prime Minister of both India and Pakistan took part in the session along with their respective contingent. United States of America and United Kingdom both were keen to settle the dispute arising from the ownership of the Princely states of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We have in this period essentially two parallel sets of discussions:

 First: there was an Anglo-American attempt to work out what options there really were and to produce a compromise which both India and Pakistan might be persuaded to accept in these exceptionally propitious surroundings.

Second: there were a series of discussions between Jawaharlal Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan in London and Paris during the course of October, followed up by officials on both sides, notably Chaudri Muhammad Ali for Pakistan and G.S Bajpai and Mrs Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit for India.”

In the final leg of discussions Jawaharlal Nehru tabled two propositions before Liaquat Ali Khan. First, Pakistan should accept the condition of self determination of Kashmiris, and make a sincere effort for it. Second, the current front line, soon to be a cease fire line, should be accepted as the new de jure border.

On 14th November, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan passed on the message to Indian representative Sri Prakasa with the decision of referendum in Jammu and Kashmir. Jawaharlal Nehru after hearing this concluded that it was pointless to try to decide the Kashmir question by further bilateral negotiations.

On 13th August 1948, United Nations passed a resolution in the light of which the referendum in Kashmir was supposed to happen. Liaquat Ali Khan made the announcement. The six conditions were:

1.       Pakistan will withdraw all the troops from Jammu and Kashmir because Pakistan started the attack and accepted it.

2.       Pakistan should use its best endeavour to remove Jammu and Kashmir the tribesmen and Pakistani Nationals not resident of the Princely states and entered for the purpose of fighting. The main reason for this was that in the war’s wake, Pakistan had the tribesmen settled by occupying the houses of Indians and Sikhs as plunder.

3.       The surveillance of the territory evacuated by Pakistan will be done by the local administration and United Nations commission. The definition of local administration however remained inconclusive.

4.       The United Nations commission for India and Pakistan will notify the government of India once the first two conditions are fulfilled by Pakistan. Only after that India will withdraw its troops from the territory. And it was decided and accepted as well that Pakistan will be the first one to start the withdrawal of troops.

5.       To support the local administration in the observance of law and order minimum military strength will remain in Jammu and Kashmir. This right was given to India with the United Nations keeping a close watch to ensure only the minimum strength is maintained.

6.       The government of India will undertake to ensure that the government of the States of Jammu and Kashmir will take all measures to make it publicly known that peace, law and order will be safeguarded and that all human and political rights will be guaranteed.

The referendum was to happen once these conditions were met but unfortunately our institutions avoided fulfilling them and misled the people of Pakistan. The civilian governments always wanted to abide by the United Nations resolution but the dictatorial regime unfortunately always escaped. Ayub Khan advised Sheikh Abdullah Haroon to agree the terms with India as per his wish and don’t worry about Pakistan. But Sheikh Abdullah Haroon knew of the circumstances so he refused. After that Zia ul Haq attempted the same and also Pervez Musharraf in the recent past. The concerning institution always looked for the other solution instead of abiding by the UN resolution. From Ayub to Musharraf everyone was in favour of area wise division of Kashmir.

In his article, ‘A tale of two States’ A. G. Noorani tell us, ‘A quarter century later, on 27th November 1972, the President of Paksitan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, told a tribal Jirga at Landikotal that India’s first Home Minister and Minister for the State, Sardar Patel had at one stage, offered Kashmir to Pakistan in exchange of Junagarh and Hyderabad. But, he added, Pakistan unfortunately didn’t accept this offer with the result that it not only lost all three native states but East Pakistan as well.’

It did not end here. To compensate for the lack of vision and leadership, anti India narrative was built up slowly gradually through mosques, newsprint and textbooks. The Kashmir we could have got easily and politically was made hard to get perhaps just for this purpose to win the battle lost to the short sightedness. And then Pakistan saw unprecedented support and promotion of Jihad for Kashmir. With every passing year it became a popular slogan and found many people joining the Jihad for Kashmir and the proxy religious parties tasked to promote the anti India and Pro Pakistan narrative in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. And for that the real spirit of the Jihad was twisted to suit the purpose. The reputation of word Jihad was tarnished for vested interests. The people were enticed in the name of religion and that they will be martyred and will get seventy two beautiful nymphs (hoors) in heaven, misleading them once again. Perhaps they themselves were unaware or purposely hid it from the masses. People started following it blindly without realising that let heaven be heaven and the fact that human body is formed of seventy two parts.

The slogans ‘Kashmir will be a part of Pakistan’, ‘Kashmir is Pakistan’s jugular vein’ and ‘Kashmir will become independent’ became so much popular that even shopkeeper’s had it displayed as ‘No credit until Kashmir become independent.’ It didn’t take long for the genius to understand how vital Kashmir was for our rivers especially after martial law administrator Ayub Khan sold control of three rivers to India under Indus Water Treaty. It is a fact that the water coming from the rocks refused by Liaquat Ali Khan has been a major source for the remaining rivers of Pakistan – an agriculture based economy. Pakistan must be ruing that why Liaquat Ali Khan refused Kashmir when offered? Zulfikar Ali Bhutto went public about it. But instead of politically correcting the mistake we preferred to go the way which brought a bad name to the country. Even though some efforts were made by the civilian governments but like Jawaharlal Nehru said when Pakistan chose the way of a referendum that the bilateral discussion are not the solution of Kashmir dispute. India strangely has shown more reluctance than Pakistan, perhaps they followed Nehru’s words to the letter.

Pakistan spent billions of rupees, lost many lives in the process but failed miserably to make the world understand its narrative. India successfully propagated Pakistan as the sponsors of terrorism in Indian Occupied Kashmir and continued the accuse Pakistan of infiltrating in the disputed territory. We only got mere words from the world after years of fighting our case and reminding them of their responsibility and the role they must play to have a referendum in Kashmir. One reason could be our diplomatic failure. India despite the brutalities, atrocities, pelting stones on innocent Kashmiris and killings in the Indian Occupied Kashmir escaped any charge. In fact India was able to get the world behind while accusing Pakistan of meddling in IOK. The world has only ever softly condemned Indian brutality but never dared to reprimand India of dire consequences. Pakistan however has always been on the receiving end.

On 5th August 2019 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi fulfilled the promise he made during his election campaign and repealed Article 370 and section 35A via Presidential order to make IOK India’s Union Territory. He surprised Pakistan and the rest of the world with the urgency shown. This happened within days of US President Trump’s offer to mediate between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir question during the meeting with Pakistan’s premier Imran Khan in Washington. As if the rebuttal from India was not enough that PM Narendra Modi never asked President Trump to mediate to solve the Kashmir dispute, Modi quietly made IOK a Union Territory. Modi’s action caught Pakistan unaware as we were busy celebrating the proclaimed successful tour of United States of America. It created uproar within Pakistan and the IOK. And so begin the curfew, media blackout, atrocities and brutal killings in IOK by the India army increased in numbers days before the Article 370 was repealed. No words are enough to express the plight of Kashmiri people who has been through the worst inhumane and uncalled torture. History however dictates that the occupier had always resorted to such actions just to prove their power and subjugate people by force.

Three days later, reacting to Indian action Pakistan cut all its diplomatic and trade ties. Pakistan vowed to raise the issue in the United Nations Security Council and elsewhere. But since 5th August every other country is suggesting that it’s India’s internal matter and that Pakistan and India should solve this matter bilaterally. This has left Pakistan alone in battling the surprise of Modi and its impact in the region. Even the countries we back as our friend has not come out in our support, leaving us stranded. At this critical juncture our diplomatic and foreign policy failed again. And whoever is making it should reconsider the policy or maybe give up on it and let those qualified to do the job. So, where all of this leaves us as a nation whose years old narrative stands rejected by the world? Something ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pointed out the infamous ‘Dawn leaks’ of October 2016 that we must put our house in order otherwise the world will not trust us. But instead of paying heed to what the three times Prime Minister was saying, we chose the easy way and called him a traitor.

As of now Pakistan is attempting to get the world behind it to force India to upend the annulment of Article 370 and section 35A. Which is highly unlikely at the moment and such actions indicate crying over spilt milk. What Pakistan must do at the moment is to ensure peace in IOK (now India’s Union Territory) so the life there can come to a normal course. We must engage with India diplomatically through the world and persuade to bring a halt to the atrocities and killings in the newly made Union Territory. This should be the first and foremost priority. Once this is achieved then the state should look to save the Azad Kashmir which after the status of IOK as Union Territory through Presidential order has become a working boundary. We must invest all our energies towards this and must refrain from hate speeches and actions as it will only create problems for already battering Kashmiri people.

United Nations Resolution 1948

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