Friday, 30 May 2008

Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s visit to Kashmir and Tribal Invasion.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s visit to Kashmir and Tribal Invasion.
Dr Shabir Choudhry 21 October 2004

The debate will continue how we Kashmiris should have treated Pakistani journalist, but I agree that ‘We should have treated them with more respect.’ Kashmiris are known for their hospitality and this kind of ‘rude behaviour’ has not enhanced our reputation or created any goodwill.

Bashir Sahib has personally asked me to elaborate about Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s visit to Srinagar and the hospitality offered to him. His short note is produced below: Dear All (and perhaps Dr Shabir Choudhry can throw some light on the following):

The present Kashmiri problem has one of its roots in a similar episode!In 1948, when Jinnah came to Srinagar to meet the local leaders, includingMaulvi Yusuf Shah and Sheikh Abdullah, the latter, who had by then left theMuslim Conference and started the new 'National' conference, arranged for agarland of old shoes to be presented to Jinnah, as a form of spite forJinnah's rejection of Abdullah's absolute authority in deciding the fate ofthe Kashmiri nation. This convinced Jinnah that Abdullah was bent on joiningKashmir with India, and to forestall such a disaster, and in a panic,managed to send the Qabali raiders, calling them 'Mujahidin', to liberateKashmir.This was a fatal mistake, the consequences of which we are bearing untiltoday, and perhaps will continue to bear for a long time into the future.’Bashir

Mohammed Ali Jinnah last visited Kashmir in May 1944, and was received at suchetgarh by Ch Ghulam Abbas, AR Saghar and Guham Abbas on behalf of Muslim Conference and Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammed on behalf of National Conference.

During his visit in Jammu it was mainly a Muslim Conference show with National Conference playing a minor role as leaders of National Conference Girdahari Lal Dogra and Mulak Raj Saraf were pro Congress and perhaps didn’t want to welcome a Muslim Leader with full force.

But when he reached the Valley on 10th May the roles changed, here National Conference was playing a leading role in arranging his welcome which Mohammed Ali Jinnah himself called a ‘Royal welcome’. Sheikh Abdullah, Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq and Maulana Saeed Masoudi welcomed him on the outskirts of the Srinagar, and he was taken to Partab Park. Sheikh Abdullah in his speech repeatedly referred to Mohammed Ali Jinnah as ‘the beloved leaders of the Muslims of India’.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah, no doubt, was the most popular Muslim leader in British India, but Sheikh Abdullah was also the most popular leader in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. He was pursuing a nationalist politics and enjoyed support from all sections of the Kashmiri society.

Like other Kashmiri Muslim leaders he also welcomed Mohammed Ali Jinnah and his party held receptions in his honour, but situation changed when Mohammed Ali Jinnah, while addressing a Muslim Conference annual session held in Jamia Masjid, stated that: ‘Among the people who met him 99% supported the Muslim Conference’, and requested the Muslims of Kashmir to support Muslim Conference.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah rejected the nationalist politics in the British India and demanded a separate home for Muslims, so it was not possible for him to support nationalist politics in Kashmir, but he could have remained neutral. The situation in Kashmir was different to that of the British India. In Kashmir we had Muslim majority and harmony among citizens, and by pursuing politics based on religion we could increase tension and encourage partition of the State on religious lines.

By putting full weight in support of Muslim Conference Mohammed Ali Jinnah drew up political lines and invited wrath of the National Conference members. A number of meetings were held to explain the position of the National Conference in which Sheikh Abdullah advised Mohammed Ali Jinnah to concentrate on politics of British India and leave ‘the State people to their own fate’.

This was taken as a great offence to the Qaaide Azam, the great leader of Muslims. The statement was twisted and used as a propaganda weapon. Mohammed Ali Jinnah left Srinagar on 25 July, but by that time the relationship had deteriorated between the two leaders and this resulted in clashes of party workers of both main Kashmiri parties.

On his way back to the British India Mohammed Ali Jinnah proceeded via Baramullah and Muzaffarabad. In a Baramullah there was a reception in his honour where a group of National Conference members led by Maqbool Sherwani, tried to have a demonstration against Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and exchanged stones with police and Muslim Conference members.

There is no evidence what so ever that Sheikh Abdullah personally held any demonstration against Mohammed Ali Jinnah or ‘arranged garland of old shoes to be presented to Jinnah’. This is not true. It is ironic that it was Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference which invited Mohammed Ali Jinnah to Kashmir (although one can argue that there was a standing invitation to him on behalf of the Muslim Conference), and it was he who developed serious differences with him.

Differences between Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Sheikh Abdullah could have been bridged, and that could have benefited people of Kashmir, but people like Ch Ghulam Abbas and Mir Waiz Mohamed Yousaf Shah ensured that there was no unity between the two as this would have undermined their own political positions.

From then onwards Muslim Conference became subservient of Muslim League and National Conference further became closer to the Congress. Relationship between Sheikh Abdullah and Mohammed Ali Jinnah deteriorated to the lowest level, and when Sheikh Abdullah started ‘Quit Kashmir Movement’ against the Maharaja government, Mohammed Ali Jinnah asked Muslim Conference to stay away from this; and supported the Maharaja government to crush ‘goondaism of Sheikh Abdullah’.

Despite all this Sheikh Abdullah, after his release from prison, was persuaded to visit Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and for sake of unity and some kind of understanding with the Pakistani government, he secretly travelled to Lahore in the first week of October 1947; and was humiliated when Qaaide E Azam refused to see him by saying that there is no need to see this man, ‘Kashmir is in my pocket’.

On his return from Lahore, humiliated and embarrassed Sheikh Abdullah decided that whatever happens he will not let Pakistani rulers humiliate him anymore, and have their way in Kashmiri. A Muslim League member who persuaded Sheikh Abdullah to visit Lahore was also very frustrated with this outcome, and he commented that ‘we have lost Kashmir’.

Tribal Invasion

People of Kashmir suffered enormously as a result of the Tribal Invasion but this has nothing to do with ‘liberation of Kashmir’ or ‘punishing Sheikh Abdullah’. Widely held myth is that Muslims of Kashmir were butchered as a result of communal disturbances and Tribesmen, overwhelmed by passions of Jihad, went to help and liberate people of Kashmir. This is not true.

By and large there was peace in Kashmir even though when rest of the Sub Continent was engulfed by communal fire; but there was some trouble in Jammu and even that only started when non - Muslim migrants uprooted from Punjab reached Jammu. In places where Muslims were in minority they were killed, tortured and harassed, and this started around last week of August.

Not a single word from Mohammed Ali Jinnah or other senior leaders of Muslim League to oppose or condemn communal violence in Jammu, and did not criticise the Maharaja government for failing to control violence.

The reason for this inaction was a secret understanding between Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Maharaja government, which was reached through Nawab of Bhopal, that he will not accede with India and that he will either stay independent or accede with Pakistan. And it was because of this understanding that Mohammed Ali Jinnah supported the Maharaja government against Sheikh Abdullah’s Quit Kashmir Movement, and did not criticise the communal violence.
But when as a result of Gandhi,s visit to Kashmir and other pressures on the Maharaja, Prime Minister Kak was sacked and the Maharaja was seen as getting closer to India. It was during second week of October 1947 that Mohammed Ali Jinnah expressed his desire to visit Kashmir, and sent Col. Shah to meet the Maharaja.

The Maharaja knew what kind of pressure he had to put up with when Gandhi and other Congress leaders visited Kashmir, and he didn’t want to go through all this again, so he requested Mr Jinnah to wait until situation in Kashmir normalises. Col. Shah was sent back again to Kashmir and insisted that Jinnah Sahib wanted to visit Kashmir for a holiday this month, and when the Maharaja refused again he was threatened with serious consequences.

Up till that time Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Pakistani government was under this allusion that the Maharaja will honour his pledge, but his refusal to allow Qaaide Azam to visit Kashmir was seen as a signal that the Maharaja has changed his allegiance.

So the government of Pakistan decided to teach him a lesson for this ‘breach of confidence’. As a result of this two telegrams were sent to the Maharaja Government on 12 October 1947. The telegramme sent in the morning stated that the Maharaja’s army was killing and burning houses of Muslims in the State. And that these ‘stories are confirmed by the large number of villages that can be seen burning from Murree hills. The government of Pakistan are vitally interested in maintenance of peace on their borders, and welfare of Muslims in the adjoining territories, and on those grounds alone is justified in asking for an assurance that steps be taken to restore order in Poonch…. The government of Pakistan would like to be informed of the action taken.’

The second telegram sent after few hours alleged that the Maharaja forces have raided across in to the Pakistani territory in Sialkot. The telegramme said: ‘continuance of these raids will be regarded as unfriendly act and urged immediate and firm action to put stop to them’.

The Maharaja government had only 8,000 troops at that time and most of them were scattered over and some were busy in dealing with uprising in Poonch; and in view of that who on earth would believe that the Maharaja of Kashmir who was beleaguered with domestic and external problems would ask his meagre forces to attack Pakistani territory.

These telegrammes were addressed to the Prime Minister of Kashmir who responded on 15 October by saying that his forces were putting down disturbances inside the Kashmiri territory, but agreed to have ‘an impartial inquiry made into the whole affair with a view to remove misunderstanding and restore cordial relations. He cautioned that if his request is not heeded then his government will have no option but to seek ‘assistance to withstand aggressive and unfriendly actions of the Pakistan people along our border’.

On 18 October the Prime Minister of Kashmir sent telegramme to the Qaaid e Azam who had now assumed responsibilities as the Governor General of Pakistan, and requested that despite Stand Still Agreement with the government of Pakistan, essential goods like petrol, oils, food, salt sugar, post, bank notes etc have been stopped; and that the Pakistani nationals were raiding from Sialkot and in Poonch. He requested the Governor General to personally look into this matter, and he repeated his threat of seeking outside assistance if his request was not heeded by the Government of Pakistan.

On 20 October Governor General of Pakistan directly wrote to the Maharaja of Kashmir and complained about allegations made by his Prime Minister. He explained his government’s difficulties in arranging the supply of these goods. He accused Maharaja’s forces for killing innocent Muslims, and asked him to send his Prime Minister to Karachi to ‘smooth out difficulties and adjust matters in a friendly way’.

While these telegrammes were being exchanged some senior people in Pakistani government were busy arranging the Tribal Invasion, and on night of 21 October thousands of them marched in to the Kashmiri territory. They came to ‘liberate Kashmiris’ just like the Americans and the British went to Iraq to ‘liberate’ Iraqis.

If the aim of this was to help Kashmiris who were being killed in certain parts of Jammu province where they were in a minority, then the best route was from Sialkot which is less than 30 miles from there. But Pakistani planners had less interest in Jammu and always had obsession for the Valley, and they decided to take the route to Srinagar which was more than 130 miles away and heavily populated by Muslims.

Tribesmen reached Barmullah without much problem and Srinagar was laid open to them because the Maharaja’s forces were on the run and he had already left Srinagar. While the tribesmen were busy celebrating their ‘victory’ together with killing and looting of Kashmiris, India was busy planning a defence of the Capital.

During this critical period Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference colleagues helped to organise defence of the city; and when after three days of ‘celebrations’ tribesmen marched towards Srinagar it was already too late, as on morning of 27 October Indian army landed at Srinagar airport to take control of the situation.

This is the brief story of both events, and I had to leave out many things in order to keep it short. The rest is generally known by the people.

Writer is a Chairman of Diplomatic Committee of JKLF and author of many books and booklets. Also he is a Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:

No comments: