Sunday, 15 August 2010

Q8. How important is the role of Pakistan in projecting Kashmir cause to the Western world?

Q8. How important is the role of Pakistan in projecting Kashmir cause to the Western world?

Answer by Dr Shabir Choudhry

A. Role of Pakistan in the Kashmiri struggle needs a detailed reply. I have written books on this. In my opinion, which is shared by Kashmiri nationalists and many neutral scholars, respective Pakistani governments have messed up the Kashmir dispute, because of lack of proper understanding the dispute, lack of proper vision and selfish attitude. A brief details are as follows:
B. Nehru asked Mohammed Ali Jinnah that people of Princely States should be allowed to decide future of Princely States. Mohammed Ali Jinnah refused this, and emphasised that the ‘Rulers’ should decide future of their states. Mohammed Ali Jinnah must have thought that this way he will be able to get Jammu and Kashmir as Maharajah Hari Singh and Pundit Kak, Prime Minister of Kashmir were in his confidence. He never got on well with Sheikh Abdullah, most popular leader of Kashmir, and if a right to decide was vested with the people Mohammed Ali Jinnah could have lost out.

C. With this policy Mohammed Ali Jinnah aimed to get States of Hyderabad and Junagarrh as well. Both of these States had Muslim Rulers, but majority of population in both states were non Muslim. Rulers of both States were in his contact, and were not willing to accede to India; but if a right to decide was vested in the public then of course decision would have gone against Pakistan.

D. Irrespective of Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s sermons on democracy and human rights, when it came to the crunch he supported autocratic rulers. He didn’t want people of the Princely States to take decision with regard to their future. He felt more comfortable with autocratic and unelected rulers.

E. At one time Pakistan was offered to take Kashmir and keep hands off Hyderabad and Junagarrh. The Pakistani government of the time refused to accept this, as they wanted to get all three States, but due to wrong policies and lack of appropriate planning they lost all of them.

F. Mohammed Ali Jinnah refused to talk to Sheikh Abdullah, most prominent leader of Kashmir, and insulted him at a crucial time of partition. Sheikh Abdullah secretly travelled to Lahore in second week of August 1947, to discuss and formulate some common strategy on future of Jammu and Kashmir, but Mohammed Ali Jinnah blatantly refused to meet him by saying ‘why should I meet him when Kashmir is already in my pocket’.

G. Despite this insult Sheikh Abdullah sent two representatives to Lahore that they can talk to Mohammed Ali Jinnah. These leaders were never given a chance to meet Mohammed Ali Jinnah – they were still in Lahore waiting for a meeting when on 21st October 1947, Pakistani government managed a tribal invasion with disastrous consequences. We people of Jammu and Kashmir are still suffering as a result of that illogical and brutal invasion.
H. Tribesmen invaded Barmullah on 24th October, and celebrated this victory for three days by dancing, pillaging and raping Kashmiri women (To them they were non Muslims; to me they were human beings and Kashmiris). They could have taken over Srinagar within hours as there was no defence of any kind as Maharaja’s army had deserted. Perhaps to these tribesmen and their leaders dancing, looting and raping was more important; and when they eventually decided to proceed to Srinagar, the Indian army had landed on morning of 27th October 1947.

I. Initially Kashmir was registered as a ‘Kashmir problem’ in the UN, clearly showing that the matter related to Jammu and Kashmir. It was government of Pakistan which got it changed to ‘India and Pakistan problem’, hence making it a territorial dispute, to which world powers were hesitant to take sides; but at that time were eager to support right of self determination and oppose imperialism.

J. The first UNCIP Resolution (13 August 1948) had inbuilt option of an independent Kashmir, which reads as follows: The Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people…

K. The phrase ‘future status’ of the state, implied accession to Pakistan, accession to India or an independent Kashmir. It was Pakistan and not India, which got it changed in the second UNCIP Resolution of 5th January 1949 to the following: ‘The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite;’

L. The purpose of this change was to ensure that ‘Kashmir dispute’ remains a territorial dispute; and that people of Jammu and Kashmir must not get independence. In other words for policy makers of Pakistan, it was acceptable if in a referendum Kashmir goes to India, but not acceptable if Kashmiris were to become independent.

M. The outcome of a referendum could have gone against Pakistan, especially when Sheikh Abdullah was at the helm of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, and Indian army was also present there. It is precisely why Pakistan did not honour conditions of the resolution and refused to withdraw her forces from AJK and Gilgit and Baltistan.

N. Pakistan as early as 1950 agreed to divide Kashmir; and had many rounds of talks afterwards to get maximum area of Jammu and Kashmir, which means Pakistani rulers had no interest in right of self determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. To them safety, welfare and prosperity of people of Jammu and Kashmir was not priority; they were more interested in territory, strategic security, water and other resources of Jammu and Kashmir.

O. Once we have established what Pakistani game plan on Kashmir is then we can see how well they have done to project the Kashmir dispute. When ever they project Kashmir dispute or take any action on Kashmir, be it diplomatic or political manoeuvring, some kind of war or a proxy war the planners always have Pakistani interest in mind, whether they achieve that or not it is a different matter.

P. Some critics argue that Pakistanis are not even concerned with interest of their own country, so why should we criticise them for not doing enough for Kashmiris. That is not a valid excuse. It is true they don’t have a proper system in place to discuss, plan and execute policies with sincerity and dedication, but that is not fault of Kashmiris. They are responsible for the mess they have created for their own country and neighbours including Jammu and Kashmir.

Q. Role of Pakistan is crucial in matters related to Jammu and Kashmir. It is because of their de – facto control of Jammu and Kashmir territory, and enormous influence which result in many problems in Jammu and Kashmir. It is because of their direct and indirect involvement which has helped to keep the Kashmir pot boiling; hence we see the present shape of the Kashmir dispute.

R. Kashmir was not the only Princely State to have rough deal at the time of Partition, but today we don’t even hear about their plight; but Kashmir dispute is still perceived as most dangerous spot on earth; and that is mainly due to the Pakistani involvement in this matter. People of Pakistan have also suffered due to the Kashmir dispute in many ways; and I believe Pakistan’s consent is crucial to any final settlement on Kashmir.

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