Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Why Kashmiris adore those who betrayed Kashmir, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues aslamo alaikam and good evening.

I know I will upset some people with my speech, not because I want to, but because they are not yet ready to face facts. They still want to live in a fantasy world. They are still influenced by the propaganda of those who forcibly occupy us; and who have distorted our history to suit their interests.
I know people like to criticise India and the last Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir and by doing so they think they are loyal sons of the soil; and at times, they get rewards for that as well.  At times, they criticise Pakistan too, and think they have now ‘balanced’ it.

That should not be our approach, as we don’t have to balance anything. We must tell facts and expose the culprits whether they are Pakistanis, Indians or Kashmiris. Why we remain quiet when it comes to criticising the treacherous role of some Kashmiri leaders and army men?
Indeed, we are a strange ‘nation’, if that is the correct term. We adore those who attacked our motherland. We cherish those as ‘heroes’, who conspired with our neighbours and helped them to attack the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Is it not true that Jammu and Kashmir State emerged as an independent country after the lapse of the British Paramountcy on 15 August 1947; and Pakistan acknowledged that by entering in to a legally binding agreement called Standstill Agreement? Is it also not true that some Kashmiri leaders requested the tribesmen and the Pakistan authorities to attack Jammu and Kashmir?

Those politicians who helped the tribesmen and Pakistan in attacking Jammu and Kashmir should have been regarded as ‘traitors’, because they betrayed Jammu and Kashmir. Those Muslim soldiers, who took oath of loyalty to the Maharaja Hari Singh to protect borders of Jammu and Kashmir, betrayed their oath and changed sides to help the attackers. Is that not a treachery? They were wearing uniforms of the Maharaja’s army, they received salary from the government; and when it came to protecting the borders of the State they sided with the enemy of the State.

What we have done in so called Azad Kashmir is to admire these people who betrayed Jammu and Kashmir, and sided with enemy of the State as leaders and heroes. Criticising India and Pakistan is OK, continue to do it, but is it not our responsibility to criticise and expose those who helped to divide the State of Jammu and Kashmir?

We can find among ourselves, people who helped the attackers, who joined them to kill and loot non Muslim Kashmiris. In eyes of any civilised person and loyal sons of soil, these people committed a criminal crime, and we have not held them accountable for what they did, instead we admired them and gave them respect they did not deserve.

Base camp
It is tragedy that many of us still regard so called Azad Kashmir as a ‘base camp’ to liberate the remaining parts of Jammu and Kashmir. We need to be careful with terms we use. If we accept that areas of Jammu and Kashmir conquered by the tribesmen are independent and are a ‘base camp’, then we are also accepting and legitimising everything they did during this brutal and unprovoked attack which resulted in death and destruction, raping and kidnapping of our women, looting and arson.

The point you got to understand is that the government of Pakistan had a legally binding agreement with the government of Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistani officials violated that agreement by stopping food and other essential supplies. Later on they attacked the State. Tribesmen were given free hand to loot, rape and plunder, as rulers of Pakistan were only interested in the land of Jammu and Kashmir. They almost succeeded in their plan, but the tribesmen were too busy looting, kidnapping and raping women in Baramula, and they wasted valuable few days there.

Forces of Maharaja of Patiala

Instead of condemning and exposing designs of the tribesmen and the Pakistani officials, who destroyed our Jammu and Kashmir, some writers and officials of Azad Kashmir fabricate stories and try to justify this attack by saying that:
•           The tribesmen came to ‘liberate’ Kashmiris;
•           They came to help us because the Kashmiri Muslims were killed in Jammu; The latest ‘obsession’ in this campaign of justifying the tribal attack is a false propaganda that forces of Maharaja of Patiala were in Jammu;
•           Later on they claimed Patiala troops were in Srinagar and protecting the airport.

Short replies to the above false notions:

If they wanted to help the Muslims of Jammu then they should have sent the army and the tribesmen from Sialkot which is only a short distance from Jammu, instead they chose a route which was more than 120 miles and which had overwhelming Muslim majority. Those who master minded this brutal attack, were only interested in capturing the Kashmir Valley, especially Srinagar, so they attacked the areas where there were no riots and Muslims were not under any threat, but that was the shortest route to the their dreamland – Valley of Kashmir.

Issue of troops of Maharaja of Patiala is a recent ‘fabrication’ - only highlighted in 1990s by some scholars who were close to Islamabad; and many believe that these people were hired to promote the cause of Pakistan on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Claim is that Pakistan and the tribesmen went towards Srinagar because troops of Patiala were there.

These genius people forget that the Ruler of Patiala acceded to India before the partition of India; and after legally joining India, there was no such thing as Patiala troops. In any case, let us assume for a minute that some so called Patiala troops were there, does that give a licence to Pakistani government to violate the Standstill Agreement, economically strangulate Jammu and Kashmir and send tribesmen and Pakistani troops to invade, kill, loot, rape and kidnap women?

Let us see what the Indian army officer who visited Srinagar to ascertain the military situation in Kashmir had to say on this topic. As a result of the tribal attack, when the beleaguered Maharaja Hari Singh requested help from India, VP Menon was sent to Srinagar to persuade him to accede to India and move to Jammu. Sam Manekshaw, the first field marshal in the Indian army, was a Colonel in the Indian army at that time. He also accompanied VP Menon to Kashmir to analyse the military situation and how India could help.
On the issue of accession whether it was signed in Srinagar or Jammu, he said,

‘I was at the cabinet (Defence) meeting presided over by Mountbatten when it was handed over....we'd got the Accession. I can't understand why anyone said that the thing was signed in Jammu, because we never went to Jammu’. 1
Sam Manekshaw was asked if there were troops of Maharaja Patiala in Srinagar before the Indian troops were sent; or did he see any other troops. His reply was:
‘If that had happened, I would have known. No. There were no soldiers of either the Indian or Patiala forces which had gone in earlier’. 2

He further explained that he was in the (Cabinet) defence committee meeting, and ‘remember getting out of that meeting and making arrangements’ for sending the Sikh Battalion, that was sent with Ranjit Rai. That was sent on the 26th’. 3

This account of events is explained by many prominent writers, researchers and scholars, but for some reason few Kashmiri writers like to go along with conspiracy theories propagated by those who occupy us to ensure that we remain confused and divided.
Mr Chairman
Before we can formulate a genuine strategy for unification and independence of our forcibly divided homeland, and layout foundations for a democratic and plural society where all citizens feel safe, we need to be honest with ourselves. We have to be pro peace and pro people. We must ensure that we defend and promote interests of Jammu and Kashmir and must not defend interests of India or Pakistan.

We have to accept that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is occupied; and occupiers have their vested interests in either maintaining the status quo or acquiring the entire Jammu and Kashmir, and this narrative clearly contradicts with our interests and our aspirations. Also we must acknowledge that those who have occupied us have deliberately and consistently distorted our history; and we have to correct historical facts and expose their designs.

True sons of the soil do not need to justify or provide excuses for contraventions of the pledges made to us, and invasion of Jammu and Kashmir. It is not our duty to provide excuses why Pakistan attacked Jammu and Kashmir. The fact is they violated the Standstill Agreement. They attacked Jammu and Kashmir which resulted in death and destruction, and forced division of Jammu and Kashmir.

Our struggle should be to regain our lost sovereignty, a sovereignty we enjoyed after end of the British Raj, and before the tribal attack and before the provisional accession. At least, I am not interested in any kind of accession to India or Pakistan; or justifying what they do in Jammu and Kashmir.
1/ ‘Kashmir 1947, Rival Versions of History’, by Prem Shankar Jha, Oxford University Press, 1996
Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.

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