Friday, 30 May 2008

Kashmiri struggle:Role of Azad Kashmir Government

Kashmiri struggle:Role of Azad Kashmir Government

This presentation was made in a seminar: Kashmiri struggle - role of Azad Kashmir Govt.
I have produced proceedings of the seminar in a book form.

I am sending you a copy of my presentation if you want to publish it. You will find it informative.

First Presentation

1. Shabir Choudhry
Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs

1. Historical Background

Before we analyse the role of the Azad Kashmir Government it is absolutely important to look at the political scene of that time; and also see how and why the Azad Kashmir Government was established. Who were the people and what was their aim. Also we need to see if there were other forces behind this with other motives in mind.

As we know that before they left India, the British divided the Indian Empire on communal lines, and new independent India and Pakistan emerged from this division. The British Empire in India consisted of two units: British India which was directly ruled by the British, and the Princely India which enjoyed some kind of semi - independent status. The Partition plan was applicable to the British India and not to the Princely States. These princely States were given a right to either join India or Pakistan or make some other ‘arrangements’ with them.

2. Formulation of the Azad Kashmir Government
The Provisional Government of Azad Kashmir was announced on
4 October 1997. But some people, especially members of the Muslim Conference, claim that the starting point for the Azad Kashmir is 19 July 1947. In support of this claim they refer to the resolution passed by the Muslim Conference on 19 July 1947. This resolution is known as ‘Accession to Pakistan Resolution’.

Before we look at the text of this resolution it is important to analyse the resolution passed by the Working Committee of the Muslim Conference on 18 July 1947, which clearly supports the independence of the State. The Working Committee of any political party generally consists of individuals with political experience and vision; and it was the Working Committee of the Muslim Conference which passed a resolution to support the independence of the State. Unless there was some kind of conspiracy behind this move, it is inconceivable to even imagine that the following day there was a complete U – turn made by the same leadership of the Muslim Conference. Both resolutions are produced below and it is for the readers to attach appropriate value to them. The first resolution reads as below:

3. Support for an Independent Kashmir

In a press conference on 28 May 1947, Choudhry Hameedullah, acting President of the Muslim Conference said:

‘Accession to Pakistan will disturb Hindus while accession to India will disturb Muslims. Therefore, we have decided not to enter into any controversy either with India or Pakistan. The second thing we have decided is that we should try to acquire independence for the State. The third question now before us is what would be the position of the Maharaja? We have never been lacking in showing loyalty and respect for him and it is because of this attachment that we did not support the Quit Kashmir Movement although in one way it was a natural Movement. We, therefore, felt that we should try to find a solution which will maintain the position of the Maharaja Bahdur while at the same time, it should also satisfy the Praja. The best solution that we have found is that the Maharaja should become a constitutional King as is the position in many countries…… The fourth thing that we have decided is that we should a Constituent Assembly of our own to draft our constitution……

I have the support of all-important leaders of the Muslim Conference and Chaudri Ghulam Abbas Khan has himself expressed agreement with this proposal. A representative convention of the Muslim Conference will be called within a month where the proposal will be unanimously adopted. So, therefore, this solution should be considered the official policy of the Muslim Conference. Muslim League has not given this, nor we are presenting it to deceive the Hindus. We have arrived at this solution in all honesty and after taking into account of the local situation. The only connection that the Muslim League has with it is that the Muslim League’s past and present policy of non – intervention in Indian States has strengthened us. I would like to say in all honesty that we have had no talks in this connection with any leader or worker of the Muslim League. We do not want to get any instructions from the Muslim League and Hindus should also give up being led by the Congress. The best thing for us all is that the League and Congress should leave us undisturbed and we should give up both the parties. When we say we want to separate ourselves from Hindustan and Pakistan, we mean that we want to be friends with both of them. We would have political as well as economic relations with Pakistan and in the presence of Hindu ruling dynasty, we will also have pleasant relations with India.’

The meeting of the Working Committee of the Muslim Conference was called on 18 July 1947. The working Committee after careful consideration unanimously endorsed the statement made by, the acting President,Choudhry Hameedullah; and ‘ unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon the Maharaja to declare independence and assured him of the Party’s wholehearted support and co operation.’

The Muslim Conference ‘Convention’ for which no official invitations were given to delegates was held on the following day. A small advertisement was put in paper and members were requested to attend the ‘Convention’, which was attended by less than hundred people. The text of the resolution passed in this so-called ‘Convention’ is as follows:
4. Accession to Pakistan Resolution

‘This Convention of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim conference expresses its jubilation and great satisfaction at the coming into being of Pakistan and offers its congratulations to the Quaid – e – Azam.’

‘The inhabitants of the Princely State of the Sub – Continent had hoped that they would achieve the objectives of national freedom shoulder to shoulder with the inhabitants of British India but unfortunately, whereas the inhabitants of British India achieved freedom with the partition of the Sub – Continent, the Third June Plan has strengthened the hands of the rulers of these States; so long as these autocratic rulers do not bow before the demands of time, the future of the inhabitants of Indian States will remain bleak. Under these circumstances only three alternatives are open to the inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir State, namely accession to India or accession to Pakistan or the establishment of a free and independent State’

‘After carefully considering the position, this Convention of the Muslim Conference has arrived at the conclusion that accession of the State to Pakistan is absolutely necessary in view of the geographic, economic, linguistic, cultural and religious considerations because Muslims constitute eighty percent of the State’s population, all major rivers of Pakistan have their source in the State and the inhabitants of the State are strongly connected with the people of Pakistan through religious, cultural and economic relations.’

‘It is, therefore, necessary that the State must accede to Pakistan.

‘The Convention strongly demands of the Maharaja that the people of Kashmir should be given complete internal autonomy and the Maharaja should treat himself as constitutional Head of the State and set up a representative Legislative Assembly while handing over the portfolios of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communication to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.

‘The Convention wishes to proclaim that if the Kashmir Government did not accept the demands of the Muslim Conference or did not act upon the advice so tendered, on account of any internal or external pressure and instead brings about accession of the State to the Constituent Assembly of India, the people of Kashmir will stand as one man against such a decision and launch a struggle with all the power at their command.’

Both resolutions are contradictory to each other, and make people think that something must have happened between 18th and 19th July to bring about a complete U – turn on the existing policy of the Muslim Conference.

5. Provisional Republican Government for Kashmir announced

The provisional Government for Kashmir was announced on 4th October 1947. It is important to note that at the time the future status of three Princely States was not decided: Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad and Jungadh. The last two had Muslim rulers with non- – Muslim majority population; and Kashmir had non- –Muslim ruler with Muslim majority population.

The Muslim ruler of Junagadh declared to accede to Pakistan, even though there was no land link with Pakistan, and the majority of the people were not Muslim. Pakistan accepted this ‘accession’, and in response to this a provisional Government for Junagadh was announced in Bombay on 1 October 1947.

Encouraged by this some Kashmiri activists, namely Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, Bashir Din, Mehmood Ahmed, Mufti Zia- U- Din, and Mohammed Abdullah Qadri, gathered in Lahore to do something for Kashmir. They agreed to set up a similar type of Provisional Government, but no one was prepared to face the consequences. At last Ghulam Nabi Gilkar took the challenge, and as a matter of precaution, he used a fake name Mr Anwar, and sent a statement.

The statement, signed by Mr Anwar, described him as the President of the Provisional Republican Government of Kashmir read like this:

‘With the termination of the Paramountcy of the British Crown the ruling family of Kashmir have lost whatever rights it claimed under the treaty of Amritsar, under which Kashmir was transferred by the British to Maharaja Gulab singh, a forefather of the present ruler, for a paltry sum of Rs. 50 lakhs, and that the people have set up a Provisional Government with Headquarters at Muzaffarabad’.

‘If after 1pm on 4 October Hari Singh (the present Maharaja) or any person acting under his orders or instructions claims to rule over the State, he shall be punished according to the laws of the Provisional Government. Henceforth all the laws, orders and instructions promulgated by the Provisional Government shall be respected and obeyed.’

The trend over the years is not to mention the Provisional Government of 4 October 1947, and focus of attention has been the government which was set up on 24 October. It is unfortunate to note that even the historians and academics have increasingly failed to acknowledge the first Provisional Government. Man reasons are forwarded……….:

6. Provisional Government Reorganised

In the name of ‘reorganisation’ a new set up was put in the place of the Provisional Government, and it was announced on 24 October 1847. The good thing is that the new statement makes reference to the Provisional Government of 4th October, and reads like this:

‘The Provisional Azad Government, which the people of Jammu and Kashmir had set up a few weeks back with the object of ending intolerable Dogra tyrannies and securing to the people of the State, including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, the right of
self – government, has now established its rule over a major portion of the State territory and hopes to liberate the remaining pockets of Dogra rule very soon. In view of these circumstances it has been reconstituted with Mr Ibraim, Barrister – at –Law, of Poonch as its Provisional head and its headquarters has been moved to Pulandri, in Poonch’

‘The new Government represents the united will of the Jammu and Kashmir State to be free from the rule of the Dogra dynasty, which has long suppressed and repressed the people…..’

The Provisional Government which is assuming the administration of the State is not emphatically not communal Government. It will include Muslims as well as non – Muslims in the Provisional Cabinet, which will serve the temporary purpose of restoring law and order in the State and enable the people to elect by their free vote a popular legislature and a popular government….’

‘The Provisional Government entertains sentiments of the utmost friendliness and goodwill towards its neighbouring Dominions of India and Pakistan and hopes that both the Dominions will sympathise with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their effort to exercise their birthright of political freedom………..’

Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim was appointed the President of new Provisional Government. He passed Bar -at- Law from Lincoln’s Inn (London) and was appointed Assistant Advocate General in 1945. In 1946 he joined Muslim Conference, and later was elected member of the Constituent Assembly. At the age of 30, he was appointed the President.

Let us analyse the reasons why this ‘reorganisation’ took place and what was expected of this Provisional Government’. It is interesting to note that it was the Pakistani officials responsible for looking after the Kashmir situation, who managed this ‘reorganisation’. Prominent among them were Khawaja Abdul Rahim, Commissioner Rawalpindi Division, Nawab Iftikhar Hussain Mamdot, Chief Minister of Punjab and Nasim Shah Nawaz, who was married to General Akbar Khan.

Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim himself acknowledges that he did not know anything about this until on the night of 23 October ‘he was awakened almost at the dead of night by Khawaja Abdul Rahim and Nasim Shah Nawaz…..who told him that it had become necessary to announce the formation of a reconstituted Government with himself as President, and that the announcement could not be delayed.’

This clearly shows that the decision to ‘reorganise’ was planned and executed by the Pakistani officials. They, of course, would not appoint anyone as President who would disobey them. Full credit goes to them, they selected the right man who has served the Pakistani interest through out his life; even in his old age he is still carrying his duty loyally.

One of the main reasons put forward in support of this ‘reorganisation’ is that it was ‘illegal’, because Ghulam Nabi Gilkar did not get the permission from the party leaders (Muslim Conference leadership) to set up a Provisional Government. Yet all the prominent leaders of the Muslim Conference, such as Choudhry Hameedullah Khan, Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim, Mir Waiz Mohammed Yousaf Shah etc, were present in Rawalpindi. If this logic makes the first Provisional Government ‘illegal’ then it also makes the second one ‘illegal’ because the Muslim Conference leadership was not consulted on this occasion as well.

The other reason given for this change is that Ghulam Nabi Gilkar belonged to an Ahmdi Sect of Islam; and as an Ahmdi he was not suitable to lead the Provisional Government. One wonders if an Ahmdi foreign Minister

It looks that there were other reasons to ‘reorganise’ the first Provisional Government. One possible reason is that the leadership of the first Provisional Government was in the hands of those who believed in an independent Kashmir, and this was not acceptable to Pakistani authorities, as events proved later on.

The Provisional Government was known as the Azad Government, and at the beginning its offices were set up in the village called ‘Sulair’ near Pullandri. Later on it were taken to the Pullandri Town and after that Trarkhal was made the capital of the Azad government. Although the capital or the offices of the Azad Government were in Pullandri or Trarkhal, but day to day work was carried out in Chadda building on Asghar Maal Road, Rawalpindi. After the cease-fire on 1 January the headquarters of the Azad Government was shifted to Muzaffarabad, and it still remains there to date.

The Azad Government had its own army of 30 battalions which increased to 40 after 1949. The Azad Army had its own General Head Quarters, and Major General M Z Kiyani was its first Commander in Chief, and Brigadier Habib Ul Rehman was its first Chief of Staff.

The Pakistani regular forces entered the State of Jammu and Kashmir in May 1948, and they took over the charge of the Azad Kashmir Army engaged in the war with India. From that day onwards the Azad Kashmir Army could not act independently, and the Kashmiri politicians on this side of the border were under their control any way, hence began a decline in the freedom struggle.

Cabinet Members of the Azad Kashmir Government:
1. Colonel Syed Ali Ahmed Shah (Defence Minister)
2. Syed Nazir Hussain Shah (Finance Minister)
3. Khawaja Ghulam Din Wani(Minister of Law)
4. Choudhry Abdullah Khan ( Minister of Maal)
5. Sanaa Ullah Shamim ( Minister for Development and Civil Supplies)
6. Mir Waiz Mohammed Yosaf Shah ( Minister of Education)

7. Role of the Azad Government

The role, functions and powers of the Azad Government were curtailed by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs, which was a department in the government of Pakistan. The Pakistani officials set up the second Provisional Government. It was controlled, managed and directed by them as well; and it did not have any kind of independence to think, plan or act on its own. The successive Kashmiri governments had to follow the rules laid down by the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs.

Whatever it may appear or people are persuaded to believe the real role of Azad Kashmir Government is to keep control over the people of this area, and ensure that they cannot take active part in the independence struggle. In order to achieve this objective set out by the government of Pakistan, the Azad Government is allowed to use every possible trick, which includes coercion, oppression, persuasion, manipulation and practically dividing people on religious, ethnic, regional and tribal lines.

The area known as Azad Kashmir has gradually increased its influence in administrative matters and has developed into some kind of Parliamentary Democracy. It has all the necessary ingredients required by law for any independent country, yet it has no standing in the eyes of international law. Whatever influence or power the government of Azad Kashmir may have in Azad Kashmir, the fact remains that it has no role to play in the independence struggle.

The government of Azad Kashmir government shunned its responsibilities with regard to unification and independence of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and delegated this ‘responsibility’ to the government of Pakistan. The Azad Kashmir government agreed to limit its role to the administration of local areas, and to the local matters. One of the signatories to the Agreement, Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim has denied that he ever signed any agreement of that nature. If that is true then one wonders on what legal strength the government of Pakistan is holding the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan; and also leading talks on Kashmir? Whatever the legal value of the Karachi Agreement of 1949, its text reads as follows:
Text of the agreement signed between Pakistan and Azad Kashmir Governments in March 1949. The Agreement was signed by the following:

1. Honourable Mushtaque Ahmed Gurmani, Minister without Portfolio, Government of Pakistan.
2. Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim Khan, the president of Azad Kashmir .
3. Choudhry Ghulam Abbas, Head of All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference.
This was the only Kashmiri political party on this side of the cease fire line at that time, and the Agreement it was persuaded to sign, very seriously limited the role of Azad Kashmir Government in the Kashmiri freedom struggle. Therefore it is no surprise that respective governments of Azad Kashmir have very little or no interest in the freedom of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

A. Matters within the purview of the Government of Pakistan.
1. Defence (as modified under....).
2. Foreign policy of Azad Kashmir.
3. Negotiations with the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan.
4. Publicity in foreign countries and in Pakistan.
5. Co - ordination and arrangement of relief and rehabilitation of refugees.
6. Co - ordination of publicity in connection with plebiscite.
7. All activities within Pakistan regarding Kashmir such as procurement of food, civil supplies running of refugee camps and medical aid.
8. All affairs of Gilgit - Ladakh under the control of Political Agent.

B. Matters within the purview of Azad Kashmir Government.
1. Policy with regard to administration of AK territory.
2. General supervision of administration in AK territory.
3. Publicity with regard to the activities of the Azad Kashmir Government and administration.
4. Advice to the honourable Minister without Portfolio with regard to negotiations with United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan.
5. Development of economic resources of AK territory.

C. Matters within the purview of the Muslim Conference.
1. Publicity with regard to plebiscite in the AK territory.
2. Field work and publicity in the Indian occupied area of the State.
3. Organisation of political activities in the AK territory and the Indian occupied area of the State.
4. Preliminary arrangements in connection with the plebiscite.
5. Organisation for contesting the plebiscite.
6. Political work and publicity among the Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan.
7. Advise the honourable minister without Portfolio with regard to the negotiations with the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan.
Shabir Choudhry, Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs ( Britain).

This agreement clearly defined the role of Azad Kashmir government. One can see that its role is not to act as a base for the liberation of the areas, which are occupied by India. The subsequent negotiations on Kashmir and events proved that Azad Kashmir has no jurisdiction over the Kashmir policy, hence any role to play in the freedom struggle. Its role regarding freedom struggle is to support the policies and actions of the government of Pakistan; and it is highly debatable that the policy of Pakistan regarding Kashmir is in the best interest of the Kashmiri people. Many people will say that it is not even in the interest of Pakistan.

8. Act 74 and Azad Kashmir

Other important developments have taken place since the Karachi Pact and I don’t have time to go into every detail. But it is important to look at the salient points of the 'INTEREM CONSITUTION OF AZAD KASHMIR ACT, 1974' generally known as Act 74, under which the territory of Azad Kashmir is ruled.

v No one can contest elections of any kind in AK without taking oath of allegiance to Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. If someone refuses to sign this allegiance, his nomination would be rejected for not filling in accession to Pakistan oath document.

v Similarly no Minister, Prime Minister or President in AK can assume office unless he takes the oath of Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. In other words if you want a job of any kind in AK you have to sign oath of allegiance.
1) Section 7.2 of the Act 74 clearly says: "No person or political party in Azad Jammu&Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the state's accession to Pakistan". Section 21 explains about the Azad Jammu&Kashmir Council: There shall be an Azad Jammu&Kashmir Council consisting of:a) the Prime Minister of Pakistan;b) the President (AJK)c) five members to be nominated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan fromtime to time from amongst federal ministers and members of Parliament;d) the Prime Minister of Azad Jammu&Kashmir or a person nominated by him; ande) six members to be elected by the Assembly from amongst State Subjects in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of thesingle transferable vote.
2) f) Prime Minister of Pakistan shall be the Chairperson of the Council.

One can see how Azad is Azad Kashmir government, the Chair of the AJK Council is a Pakistani Prime Minister, and five members are appointed by him/her. The Assembly members who elect six more members have already signed allegiance to Pakistan.

Moreover to make sure that AK governments does not make any ‘silly’ move, Pakistan has ensured that all high ranking officers like Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary, Inspector General Police etc for AK are sent by Islamabad government. One wonders what is the difference between IHK and AK? But the story does not end here, section 31.3 states that AJK Council and the Assembly does not have power to make any laws concerning the following:

v The defence and security of Azad Jammu&Kashmir;
v The current coin or the issue of any bills, notes or other paper currency;
v The external affairs of Azad Jammu&Kashmir including foreign tradeand foreign aid.
And Section 35 further degrades the AK Constituent Assembly, which says:

v Bills passed by the Council shall not require the assent of the President ( AJK ) and shall, upon its authentication by the Chairperson of the Council, become law and becalled an act of the Council.(Please remember that the chairperson ofthe Council is always the Prime Minister of Pakistan).
v Please note that according to ACT 74, there are more than 55 important matters concerning Kashmir, which are not under the jurisdiction of the AK President, Prime Minister and the Legislative Assembly. Some important matters are listed below:1) Nationality, citizenship and naturalisation, migration from or into Azad Jammu&Kashmir, admission into, and immigration and expulsion from AJK including in relation there to the regulation of the movements in AJK;2) Post and Telegraphs, including Telephones, Wireless Broadcastingand other like forms of Communications; Post Office Saving Bank;3) Council public services and Council Public Service Commission; 4) Administrative Courts for Council subject;5) Mineral resources necessary for the generation of nuclear energy;6) Aircraft and air navigation; the provision of aerodromes;regulation and organisation of air traffic and aerodromes.7) Copyright, inventions, designs, trade marks and merchandise marks.8) Banking, that is to say, the co-ordination with the Government ofPakistan of the conduct of banking business;9) The law of insurance and the regulation of the conduct ofinsurance business;10) Stock-Exchange and future markets with objects and business notconfined to Azad Jammu&Kashmir;11) Planning for economic co-ordination, including planning andco-ordination of scientific and technological research;12) Railways;13) Mineral oil and natural gas; liquids and substances declared bylaw made by the Council to be dangerously inflammable;14) Development of industries, where development under Council controlis declared by law made by the Council to be expedient in the public interest.15) Removal of prisoners and accused persons from Azad Jammu&Kashmirto Pakistan or from Pakistan to Azad Jammu&Kashmir;16) Population planning and social welfare;17) Electricity;18) State Property in Pakistan;19) Curriculum, syllabus, planning, policy, centres of excellence andstandards of education;20) Sanctioning of Cinematography films for exhibition;21) Tourism;22) Duties of customs, including export duties;23) Taxes on income other than agricultural income;24) Taxes on corporations.
9. Conclusion

We have habit of calling areas under Pakistani control as Azad Kashmir, and areas under India as occupied, but in reality there is not much difference as far as the legal and administrative structure is concerned. We have looked at the above points and it is very clear that AK is not Azad at all, therefore it has no role to play in the freedom movement, as it cannot function independently.

Let us look at the oath which rulers of AK take and compare it with the oath, which is taken by the rulers of Kashmir on the Indian side. AK rulers solemnly declare,"That as a President of Azad Jammu&Kashmir I will remain loyal to the countryand to the cause of accession of the state of Jammu&Kashmir to Pakistan"
Now let us look at the solemn declarations made by rulers on the other side – occupied side:
"........That I will faithfully execute the office of Governor of Jammu&Kashmir and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the constitution and the law and that I will devote myself to the service and well being of the people of the State".

This oath also explains to us how Azad are our rulers on this side of the border. In Hashim Qureshi’s words:

‘Azad Kashmir would be really free if the sovereignty rested with her people; if it could chalk out its independent policies and course of action; if itsadministration was run by its own sons and daughters; if its President was treated at par with any President of a foreign country. Where a President is made to stand in line to receive the Under Secretary from Islamabad. That land cannot claim to call itself Azad'.

To conclude, it is suffice to say that the people of Kashmir should not expect the government of Azad Kashmir to play any positive role in the freedom struggle, because it is not free to act independently. The name of the government may be Azad (free) but it is not free by any stretch of imagination, and its role is to look after the interests of Pakistan, and in doing so its rulers are by and large given a free hand to accumulate wealth and enjoy themselves. They are allowed to do everything else as long as they DONOT concentrate on the freedom struggle. Whatever lip service is being paid by politicians of Azad Kashmir, it is on individual basis, and it is largely to satisfy the masses, rather than to support the freedom movement.

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