| by Dr Shabir Choudhry
( April 24, 2012, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Tribal attack on Kashmir was a major event in contemporary history of Jammu and Kashmir with far reaching consequences. The Tribal Attack not only ended Kashmir’s sovereignty, but it also resulted in division of the State between India and Pakistan; and to date, it remains divided and families are forcibly separated since 1947.
Another sad part of this tragedy is that the brutal attack was launched in holy name of ‘jihad’ and liberation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The fact, however, is that those who planned this ferocious and unprovoked attack wanted to capture Kashmir; and majority of those who joined the attack did not do it because of any religious duty but for the purpose of looting.
It is unfortunate that because of very strong propaganda of the Pakistani ruling elite who planned this attack; and then justified it in name of Islam, still majority of people believe that the tribal attack was arranged to liberate people of Jammu and Kashmir. Furthermore, they claim Kashmir was part of Pakistan and illegally occupied by India; therefore, this attack was necessary and justified.
Before we discuss this, it is important that we explain the legal position of Jammu and Kashmir. The British Raj in India consisted of two units, namely British India and Princely India; whereas the former was directly ruled, the latter enjoyed semi autonomous status. The Rulers of the Princely States were allies of the British and under different treaties they accepted the British Paramountcy.
Many Muslims of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir are manipulated that because Pakistan was created in name of religion; and because Jammu and Kashmir was a majority Muslim State, therefore, it should have become part of Pakistan. That is not true; as Two Nations Theory did not apply to the Princely States, including the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Two Nations theory, whatever its value after the fall of East Pakistan, and after the separatist trends within the present Pakistan, was only applicable to the British India. The Rulers of Princely States had a choice to accede to either India, accede to Pakistan or negotiate some new terms with India or Pakistan.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah was a constitutional expert. He knew the Two Nations Theory did not apply to the Princely States; and that is why before the establishment of Pakistan he never asked Kashmir’s inclusion in Pakistan. When people asked him a question about future of Kashmir and other Princely States, he asserted:
“Constitutionally and legally, the Indian States will be independent sovereign states on the termination of Paramountcy and they will be free to decide for themselves to adopt any course they like. It is open to them to join the Hindustan Constituent Assembly, the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, or decide to remain independent. In the last case, they enter into such arrangements or relationship with Hindustan or Pakistan as they may choose.”
Mohammed Ali Jinnah demonstrated this policy by accepting accession of Junagarrh’s to Pakistan, even though this State had overwhelming non Muslim majority; and if the Two Nations Theory was applicable to the Princely States then this State would have automatically become part of India. Similarly, on question of Hyderabad, Mohammed Ali Jinnah supported Ruler of this State’s right to remain independent, even though this State also had overwhelming non Muslim majority; and if the Two Nations Theory was applicable to the Princely States then Hyderabad also should have automatically joined India.
Apart from that Governor General of India Lord Louis Mountbatten in his address to a Special full meeting of the Chamber of Princes on July 25 1947, said:
“Now, the Indian Independence Act releases the States from all their obligations to the Crown. The States will have complete freedom- technically and legally they become independent.”
The above examples prove without any doubt that the Two Nations Theory was only related to the British India and was not applicable to the Princely States. The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir had no intention to join either India or Pakistan and lose his power and status.
The Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir knew that the British Raj was going to end soon; and after the lapse of paramountcy, he wanted to become an independent Ruler of his State, so he decided to sign Standstill Agreements with India and Pakistan. Whereas, Pakistan signed the Standstill Agreement with the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir, India wanted to discuss this matter further.
Those who justify this unprovoked and brutal aggression claim that the tribal attack was arranged to save Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir who were killed because of communal riots. It is interesting to note that the riots took place in Jammu, whereas the tribal attack was launched in the Valley of Kashmir where the Muslims had overwhelming majority; and hundreds of miles away from the trouble spot.
The aim of this attack was to punish the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir for not acceding to Pakistan and to capture his summer capital and the political and economic hub. Jammu and Kashmir was important to Pakistan because of its great strategic location, natural resources and security it provided to Pakistan.
If the entire Jammu and Kashmir had gone to India, and the Indian forces were deployed on Kashmir’s border with Pakistan, then that would have seriously endangered Pakistan’s main civil and military lines of communication between Rawalpindi and Lahore. If Pakistan was to safeguard this route properly then that would make cities of Lahore, Sialkot and Gujrat vulnerable to the Indian invasion. Apart from that Jammu and Kashmir was important to Pakistan’s economy, especially agriculture. So as far as Pakistani ruling elite were concerned they felt it was absolutely necessary to get Kashmir at all costs.
With that in mind the Pakistani leaders and Pakistani officers of the Pakistan army (all senior officers were British at that time) started formulating a policy to capture Kashmir soon after the partition of India. Major General Akbar Khan, who was in charge of this military campaign, went to Murree, the hill station near the Kashmir border two weeks after the partition of India. This is where he met Sardar Ibrahim Khan (who was appointed President of Azad Kashmir by Khawaja Abdul Rahim Commissioner of Rawalpindi), and Mian Iftikhar Khan a leader of Pakistan Muslim League, Lahore; and who was on way to Srinagar to assess the situation there.
Major General Akbar Khan, at that time was a serving officer of the Pakistan Army, and was Director of Weapons and equipment at the GHQ. In his book, ‘Raiders in Kashmir’, while referring to the meeting with Mian Iftikhar Khan, he wrote:
‘All he could tell me was that some money could be spent…he said that any action by us to be of an unofficial nature, and no Pakistani troops or officers were to take an active part in it. With this inadequate data in my possession, I spent the next day or so with Sardar Ibrahim and others and returned to Pinidi where I wrote out a plan’. 1
The whole plan needed a lot of assistance from the Pakistan army in the form of military plans, weapons, and supply of ammunition, communications, intelligence and able and committed manpower to implement that plan. The plan had to be kept secret not only from the Indians; but also from senior Pakistani army officers of the British origin. Major General Akbar Khan produced a plan to capture Kashmir with the title of: ‘Armed revolt inside Kashmir’.
As the name suggests, the Pakistani plan was that it should look like a ‘revolt’ of the people of Jammu and Kashmir against its (non Muslim) Ruler. I know many people claim that it was a Kashmiri ‘revolt’ against a tyrant and non Muslim Ruler; and they give details of their sacrifices or sacrifices of their families.
I will not deny the sacrifices made by the people. Also I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, however, as a researcher and a political analyst, I have to see what were the motives of those who planned this brutal and unprovoked attack that resulted in forced division of our motherland; and which was to be the main cause of animosity and wars between India and Pakistan.
It would be a good analogy, if we look at the uprisings in Libya and Syria. One can say, people of these countries revolted against the rulers of these countries; and made great sacrifices. Yes, they have made great sacrifices and suffered immensely, but were these ‘revolts’ indigence or local with no help and support from outside?
Those who plan revolts of this nature always ensure that the fighting people believe that they are fighting for their own cause; and to advance interest of their nation, tribe or faith. I agree people of the present Azad Kashmir, especially people of Poonch had resentments against the Maharajah; but is it not true that foreign countries always exploit local, regional or tribal grievances and religious sentiments to start a revolt.
The man in charge of the campaign wrote: ‘As open interference or aggression by Pakistan was obviously undesirable, it was proposed that our efforts should be concentrated upon strengthening the Kashmiris themselves internally – and at the same time taking steps to prevent of arrival of armed civilians or military assistance from India into Kashmir.’ 2 To stop the Indian help reaching Kashmir he proposed 1,000 men to be stationed near Kathua and 200 men to be stationed near the Srinagar airport.
Total army of the Maharajah, at that time, was 9,000 out of which only 2,000 were Muslims; and because of the communal situation in the entire region, he was reluctant to put too much faith to his Muslim units. His remaining 7,000 army was widely scattered, and could not defend the borders; and in view of what the Muslim units subsequently did in various parts of the State, his judgement was not wrong.
Apart from Major General Akbar Khan other key protagonists were Mr Khurshid Anwar, Commander of the Muslim League National Guards, Mr Zaman Kiani, Commander of the former Indian National Army, Sardar Shaukat Ayat Khan a senior leader of Muslim League and a Minister in the Punjab government. All these met the Prime Minister of Pakistan in Lahore, in presence of Mr Ghulam Mohammed, Finance Minister and later Governor General of Pakistan and Mian Iftikhar Khan. In this meeting many important decisions with regard to the whole plan were discussed and finalised. 3
He claims that he also took some senior officers, like Brigadier Sher Khan, who was Director Intelligence at that time and based in the GHQ, in to confidence. Also he claims to have had support of Pakistan Air Force through Air commodore Janjua and others who helped them with winter clothing, ammunition and weapons etc. 4
I have always maintained that if there was no tribal attack then it was possible that we people of Jammu and Kashmir could have been still independent. We were attacked by the Tribesmen supported by Pakistani officials; and we lost our sovereignty as a direct result of this brutal and unprovoked aggression. Our suffering, deaths and destruction; and all that what has happened since October 1947, could be linked to that aggression.
Even Major General Akbar Khan tends to support this view point that the Maharajah was forced to seek help from India because of this brutal attack. He even agrees that Sheikh Abdullah was not in favour of acceding to India; and this is the view point I have asserted with evidence many times. Major General Akbar Khan wrote:
‘But then, suddenly at this stage, the whole situation was radically altered by the entry of Frontier Tribesmen into Kashmir on 23 of October. This event was of such significance that it led to the accession of the State to India within four days.’ 5
When the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir realised that the Pakistani authorities have violated the Standstill Agreement and have managed a tribal attack which has resulted in killing of innocent men, women and children and rapes and kidnapping of women and young girls, he had no option but to seek help from the other neighbour – India.
India was eagerly waiting for this invitation to intervene from the beleaguered Maharajah; in fact, in anticipation on 25 the October, they had alerted their Services Chiefs to prepare plans for sending troops in to Jammu and Kashmir. On the same day three senior officers flew to Srinagar to assess the situation and to advise the Maharajah to move to Jammu for safety.
There is plenty of evidence to prove that both the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir and the most popular Kashmir leader, Sheikh Abdullah were not happy to join India; if anything, they wanted to maintain independence of Kashmir by having cordial relationship with both India and Pakistan.
By having the Standstill Agreement with Pakistan, the Maharajah provided a foot hold to them in Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah on his part tried his very best to meet Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Governor General of Pakistan and reach some consensus; but alas, he was insulted and Mohammed Ali Jinnah refused to meet the tallest Kashmiri leader when the latter had secretly travelled to Lahore to meet him. In fact, Mohammed Ali Jinnah said: “I don’t need to meet this man, Kashmir is in my pocket’
Humiliated and disappointed Sheikh Abdullah returned to Srinagar. Although, he had was bitter and did not want to join Pakistan, but he did not close doors for some future dialogue; and his emissaries were still in Lahore waiting to see senior Pakistani officials to reach some agreement when the tribal aggression was launched.
Thinking in some important circles in Pakistan was, why talk to these Kashmiri leaders when we can get Kashmir by force. However, by use of force, within five days they pushed bulk of Kashmir in to the Indian corner, where it remains since that time.
It is sad that we people of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir are forcibly divided and oppressed on both sides of the divide. It is also sad that despite our sufferings and sacrifices we cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel; hence no end to our suffering, humiliation and miseries. But it is more disturbing that people who matter in Islamabad have not learnt anything from the past mistakes; and still that mindset prevails that they can get rest of Kashmir by use of gun.
Those who planned and launched that disastrous tribal attack, or took part in it, their followers and those who represent forces of extremism, violence and hatred will sharpen their knives and attack me for writing the above. Already for the past four months a concerted and well coordinated smear campaign is going on against me for speaking truth and for exposing those who have made the Kashmiri struggle for independence their business.
All those who speak truth and choose to travel on right path, ultimately suffer at the hands of those who either represent forces of the status quo, have personal or professional envy or they lack the ability to differentiate between good and bad. Whatever the real reason for their hate campaign, they need to understand that by smear campaign and by promotion of hate they cannot promote any cause, let alone winning independence for people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said: “Say what is true, although it may be bitter and displeasing to people”, so as far as I am concerned, I will continue my jihad of speaking truth, no matter how bitter it is, and exposing those who are using sentiments of simple and innocent people to advance their personal and political agenda.
Major General Akbar Khan, ‘Raiders in Kashmir’, Pak Publishers Limited, Karachi, Pakistan, page 12
ibid, page 14
ibid, page 17
ibid, page 19
ibid, page 23