Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Issues related to Provisional Government of 4th October 1947

Issues related to Provisional Government of 4th October 1947
Dr Shabir Choudhry 01 October 2012

Many Kashmiris regard 4th October 1947 as an historic day, as it was on this day, according to widely held view, some Kashmiris announced a ‘Provisional Government’ which was later to be called Azad Jammu and Kashmir Government. This Provisional Government was re-organised on 24th October 1947 and Pakistani authorities, and more precisely Commissioner of Rawalpindi appointed Sardar Ibrahim as a President of this government.

I acknowledge that I was among those who also actively supported the revival of this Provisional Government for many years, especially when I was part of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. However, later on, with more education and political maturity I started expressing doubts about this ‘historic event’; and for many years we have not held any functions on 4th October. Before I analyse this ‘historic event’ from a critical point of view, I must point out that views expressed in this article are mine as a writer, and my party has nothing to do with this.

It must be understood that under the terms of the Partition of India, after the lapse of the British Paramountcy, the State of Jammu and Kashmir and other Princely States that did not join India or Pakistan gained their independence on 15 August 1947. Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad and Junagarr were among those Princely States who became independent on 15 August 1947. 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 Junagarr declared to accede to Pakistan, even though there was no land link with Pakistan, and the majority of the people were not Muslims. Pakistan accepted this ‘accession’, and in response to this, a ‘Provisional Government’ for Junagarr was announced by non Muslims of Junagarr in Bombay on 1 October 1947.

Either encouraged by this move, or on instructions of some sections of the Pakistani government, especially Sir Zafarullah Khan, Foreign Minister of Pakistan; who was a Qadiani, and they as a sect wished to have a country under their control in that region, some Kashmiri activists, namely Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, who was also a Qadiani, Bashir Din, Mehmood Ahmed, Mufti Zia- U- Din, and Mohammed Abdullah Qadri, gathered in Lahore and declared a similar type of Provisional Government for Jammu and Kashmir.

Ghulam Nabi Gilkar used a fake name of Mr Anwar, and sent out the following statement, in which he described him as the President of the Provisional Republic of Jammu and Kashmir:

‘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.’

Let us leave the conspiracy aside and talk of some facts and apply some common sense to this. The first question is who was Ghulam Nabi Gilkar; and what was his political standing in the State of Jammu and Kashmir at that time? At that time there were two big political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, namely National Conference and Muslim Conference, with the former being most popular and well organised. Ghulam Nabi Gilkar did not even figure out among the middle ranking leadership of these two parties. In other words, he was not a known political figure, so what political significance we can assign to his statement issued in Lahore, a major city of our neighbouring country (which desperately wanted to get Kashmir) and signed with a fake name.

What right did he have to ‘depose’ the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir? What right or power he had to punish the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir and his officials for disobeying Ghulam Nabi Gilkar and his team? Who assigned this power to him? Where did he derive this power from? What legitimacy he and his Provisional Government had? Furthermore, did he have ability to enforce his orders; remember, at that time, this ‘Provisional Government’ had no army, no police and no other institutions.

Let me give few examples to prove my point. In Pakistan, Asif Zardari is President and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is Prime Minister (and Yousaf Raza Gilani was the Prime Minister before him). They both are the most unpopular top office holders in history of Pakistan. Majority of people of Pakistan, not only dislike them but hate them because of rampant corruption, severe shortage of electricity, water, gas and other essential items; and in some parts of the country people have taken arms against the Federal Government.

What if some middle ranking political activists of some party get together in Kabul and declare a ‘Provisional Government’ of Pakistan; and claim that they have deposed President Zardari and Prime Minister Ashraf from their respective posts. They warn people of Pakistan not to obey orders of President Zardari and Prime Minister Pervaiz Ashraf; and anyone who obeys their orders will be punished by the Provisional Government. I am sure many people with common sense will ignore this statement and some will laugh at it.

Apart from that, we all know and now most Pakistani leaders acknowledge that in Balochistan there are militant groups fighting to get independence from Islamabad. These groups have political and military support as well. These political leaders are very well known; and they openly speak about their rights and oppression of the Pakistani army and secret agencies. What if some of these senior leaders, who are well known around the globe, declare their Provisional Government in Kabul; and declare that anyone supporting the Islamabad Government will be punished? It must be pointed out that they have ability to punish people as well.

Furthermore, Amanullah Khan, as the Chairman of JKLF announced a Provisional Government in June 1990. Unlike Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, Amanullah Khan was very popular Kashmiri leader in 1990; and JKLF was also at its peak. How many people took Amanullah Khan’s Provisional Government seriously? It resulted in a split of the JKLF and expulsion of Amanullah Khan from the JKLF with two - third majority of Central Committee members deciding against him. Today, even the JKLF members don’t want to talk about it.

Then question arises, why we people regard statement of Ghulam Nabi Gilkar so sacrosanct, even though he used a fake name for this purpose; and had virtually no political standing? My view is that government of Pakistan wanted to increase pressure on the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir who, contrary to expectation and needs of Pakistan was refusing to accede to Pakistan.

In order to break down resistance of the Maharajah, the Pakistani authorities first encouraged a rebellion against him in areas of Poonch which was primarily a movement against Maharaja’s administrative policies, especially against different kinds of excessive taxes; among them was notorious ‘Malia’ - a land tax. On 21 October 1947, Sheikh Abdullah, while talking about the Poonch problems said: ‘The present troubles in Poonch, a feudatory of Kashmir, were caused by the unwise policy adopted by the State. The people of Poonch had started a people’s movement for the redress of their grievances...’ Source- Kashmiris fight for freedom, Justice Muhammad Yusuf Saraf, page 801

In other words, it was not a movement for independence as such. However, Pakistani leaders, secret agencies, army, writers and other members of the society termed that as a ‘Liberation Movement’ to justify their interference in Kashmir; and pro Pakistani Kashmiris under this propaganda happily towed that line and continued to call their struggle against administrative matters ‘a liberation struggle’. Later on, Pakistani officials launched a tribal invasion in name of helping people of Jammu and Kashmir, which resulted in death and destruction; and forced division of the State, which continues to date. Apart from that, the Pakistani authorities, in clear violation of the Standstill Agreement, applied economic blockade against the Maharajah, in which, of course, ordinary citizens of Jammu and Kashmir suffered.

As mentioned earlier, Ghulam Nabi Gilkar was a Qadiani, and so was Pakistan’s highly talented and influential Foreign Minister Sir Zafarullah Khan. Qadianis were also in search of a homeland for their sect; and they had their eyes on Kashmir, so it was more than likely that on his instructions Ghulam Nabi Gilkar declared this Provisional Government. Another important question is what happened to Ghulam Nabi Gilkar? According to one story, after declaring the Provisional Government, he travelled to Srinagar where he was arrested.

If he was genuinely a ‘President’ of the ‘Provisional Government’ would his Government and other officials allow him to travel to the ‘enemy area’ – Srinagar, where the Maharaja was still in power. It does not make sense. Reality is that it was a political stunt aimed at pressurising the Maharajah. However, powerful Sunni Muslim lobby feared a ‘Qadiani conspiracy’; and they got the ‘President’ out of way and changed this Government in name of re – organisation on 24th October 1947, and installed their trusted man – Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim Khan as a President who sincerely served the interests of the Pakistani ruling elite.

I know for challenging a popular myth and the status quo, I will get criticism. I do not mind positive criticism, if anything, I welcome it as it helps me to learn and address other related questions. However, forces of occupation have appointed certain individuals with a clear task of attacking me; and they are spearheading a campaign of character assassination against me. As a sincere Kashmiri, a writer and analyst, I feel it is my duty to expose myths and lies spread by those who occupy us; and in performing my duties to my enslaved and forcibly divided nation, if I get some battering it is price worth paying.

Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir

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