Sunday, 10 January 2016

Sanctity of Agreements in Islam and Kashmir dispute, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Dr Shabir Choudhry    10 January 2016

Individuals, groups, tribes, and nations that don’t honour their agreements lose respect and dignity. They are perceived as untrustworthy and dishonest. Islam strongly commands that all Muslims must honour pledges.

First we look at what Islam says about importance of agreements and pledges, and then analyse the Kashmir dispute in the context of pledges made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Almighty Allah commands:
Oh people of faith, honour your pledges’. 1

The last Prophet of Allah, Mohammed Peace Be Upon Him said:
‘Do not break your pledges, do not mutilate dead bodies, and do not kill children’. 2

At the time of first war of Islam when the Muslim army was ill equipped and had only 313 men against 1000 of the well - armed men of Quraish who had hundreds of horses against half dozen horses of the Muslim army, Prophet PBUH desperately needed armed men for the war. Huzaifa ibn al Yaman approached the holy Prophet and said he was travelling with his son towards Bader with intention of fighting against the Quraish. They were arrested by Quraish and on enquiry they told them that they were travelling towards Madeena and had no intention to join the war in Bader. On this assurance that they will straight go to Madeena and would not join a war against the Quraish they were released. They, however, travelled to Bader and expressed their desire to join the war against the Quraish.

After hearing this, the holy Prophet said: ‘Both of you proceed to Madeena to fulfil your covenant made with them, and we seek Allah’s help against them’. 3

From the above one can appreciate the importance of honouring pledges. All noble human beings and dignified people must honour covenants; but for the Muslims it is religious obligation, just like any other commands of Quran or Hadees.

When the British Empire ended in India, the State of Jammu and Kashmir emerged as an independent country, which had a clearly defined territory, people and a Ruler with an elected Assembly. Both India and Pakistan recognised this fact. Pakistan acknowledged this fact by making a written agreement with the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. This agreement is known as Standstill Agreement; and Pakistan in its written reply to the Maharaja Hari Singh on 15 August 1947 said:

“The Government of Pakistan agrees to have Standstill Agreement with Jammu and Kashmir for the continuation of existing arrangements …”

According to this Agreement Pakistan was to respect territorial integrity of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; and provide all the services to the Jammu and Kashmir State which were provided by Punjab under the British Raj.

The Government of India on the other hand acknowledged a separate status of Jammu and Kashmir State by requesting the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir to negotiate this matter further. Indian government in its reply said:

“Government of India would be glad if you or some other Minister duly
authorised in this behalf could fly to Delhi for negotiating Standstill Agreement between Kashmir Government and India dominion. Early action desirable to maintain intact existing agreements and administrative arrangements.”

Pakistan was established in name of Islam. So one can rightly expect the Pakistani governments to promote Islamic teaching; and among other things uphold laws related to equality, justice and pledges.

However, it is sad to note that Pakistan was the first country to violate a written agreement with a neighbouring country – Jammu and Kashmir. First they imposed an economic blockade to force the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan. When this economic blockade did not yield the desired results, then they, on 22 October 1947, openly attacked Jammu and Kashmir with intention of capturing it.

This unprovoked attack by a Muslim neighbour – Pakistan resulted in death of tens of thousands of innocent Muslims and non Muslims, kidnapping and raping of women and looting at a large scale. Also this unprovoked invasion resulted in the first India and Pakistan war and forced division of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In view of many experts, the root cause of problems of the people Jammu and Kashmir are directly linked to that unwise tribal invasion.

The Tribal Invasion forced the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir to seek help from India, which was only provided after the Provisional accession to India. One can acknowledge this fact that the Indian forces were sent to Kashmir on the invitation of the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, and after the written agreement; however, it is a bitter fact that India also failed to honour its obligations under the terms of the Provisional Accession.

India’s obligations to the people of Jammu and Kashmir increased after the UN Resolutions on Kashmir. Apart from the written agreements, there were a number of pledges made by Indian Prime Minister, Nehru. He said in the Lok Sabha on August 7, 1952: "...Ultimately - I say this with all deference to this Parliament - the decision will be made in the hearts and minds of the men and women of Kashmir; neither in this Parliament, nor in the United Nations nor by anybody else". 4

It is sad to note that both India and Pakistan, despite written agreements, have badly let down people of Jammu and Kashmir. Both countries pursued policies which were designed to advance their economic and strategic interests. Both violated pledges and written agreements; and ignored the welfare and sentiments of the people.

As a result of their brutal policies people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to suffer on both sides of the divide since 1947. Also because of the unresolved Kashmir dispute, there is a serious threat to peace and stability of the region; and welfare and economic development of the region is held hostage.

Because of the UN Security Council Resolutions there were certain obligations on this august body known as the United Nations; and the world community. However, after Pakistan’s failure to withdraw forces as demanded by the UNCIP Resolution of 13 August 1948, no plebiscite could take place. Later on the Kashmir dispute became part of the ‘Cold war’; and its resolution became more difficult.

It is sad that in the Simla Agreement of 1972, both India and Pakistan decided to resolve the Kashmir dispute bilaterally, with no reference to aspirations of the people. All the talks on the Kashmir dispute are held between the two countries, as if they were the main parties to the dispute and people of Jammu and Kashmir State have no role in it.

It looks we people of Jammu and Kashmir are only there to suffer, and accuse each other for our problems, and by doing so inadvertently help those who occupy us.
1.    Holy Quran, Sura Almahida, section 1
2.    Hadees narrated by Hazrat Buraydah in Muslim Shareef and quoted in Islam and sanctity of Human Life, page 9
3.    Muslim Shareef and quoted in Islam and sanctity of Human Life, page 10 says:

4.    Selected works of Jawaharlal Nehru, vol. 19 pp. 295-6.

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