Saturday, 3 June 2017

Tribal invasion and its implications, Presentation of Dr Shabir Choudhry

Tribal invasion and its implications
Presentation of Dr Shabir Choudhry on Black Day conference organised by Kashmir National Party in Watford, England.

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues aslamo alaykam


Tribal invasion was a major event in the modern history of Jammu and Kashmir. This tragic event changed the course of our history.
·      It changed our destination.
·      It changed secular ethos of Kashmir.
·      It undermined our sovereignty.
·      It deprived us of our independence.
·      It divided our beloved motherland.
·      It divided families and the nation.
·      It killed innocent Kashmiri men and women.
·      It dishonoured Kashmiri women.
·      It plundered and looted Kashmiri resources.
·      It is the main cause of our present miseries and troubles.
·      In one sentence, it is the cause of all of our problems we face today.

We need to investigate and analyse what was this tribal invasion? How did it happen? Who were behind this and what was the purpose of this? We people of Jammu and Kashmir are repeatedly told that tribesmen from North West Frontier came to Jammu and Kashmir to help us. They came there for Jihad.  However historic facts do not support this contention.

These tribesmen were set on us not to help us, but to subdue and invade us. Some of them might have been motivated by holy name of Jihad, but for the majority it was an opportunity to satisfy their hunger for loot and plunder, and take away Kashmiri women. Religion of victims was not an issue to them; and their victims included Muslims and non Muslims.

In name of ‘Jihad’ when these unruly tribesmen entered territory of Jammu and Kashmir, their first victim was a Muslim. When the tribesmen attacked house of a non Muslim citizen of Muzaffarabad, Master Abdul Aziz in line with his Islamic duty and Kashmiri ethos, tried to protect his neighbour. He asked them not to loot and kill his non Muslim neighbours.

The tribesmen did not like intervention from Master Abdul Aziz, and killed him on spot. To these ‘jihadis’ crime of Master Abdul Aziz was so severe that he did not even deserve a funeral (janaza) or a burial. They threw his dead body in River Neelam.
They created mayhem and sent the message to all that if anyone even questions them as to what they were doing, they will eliminate that person. Grandchildren of Master Abdul Aziz, first victim of the tribesmen still live in Muzzafarabad, and explain the tragic events which they heard from their elders.

Legal status of Jammu and Kashmir

It is well established fact that the State of Jammu and Kashmir had attained its sovereignty after lapse of the British Paramountcy on 15 August 1947. The Independence Act, Section 7.1 explains that after ‘the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian States lapses’; all powers which were responsibility of the Crown were to revert back to the Rulers of the States.
This point was further elaborated by Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten in his address to a Special meeting of the Chamber of Princes on July 25 1947, he said, and I quote:
There had been universal acceptance among the States of the Cabinet Mission's Memorandum of 12 May and when the political parties accepted the Statement of 3 June they fully realised and accepted that withdrawal of Paramountcy would enable the States to regain complete sovereignty……Now, the Indian Independence Act releases the States from all their obligations to the Crown. The States will have complete freedom- technically and legally they become independent. Unquote.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah agreed with the above legal position. He strongly believed that the State of Jammu Kashmir and other Princely States had a right either to accede to India or Pakistan, or become independent States. In a reply to a question on 17th June 1947 about legal status of the Princely States, Mohammed Ali Jinnah said:

‘That after the lapse of paramountcy the Indian States would be constitutionally and legally sovereign states and free to adopt for themselves any course they wished. It is open to States to join Hindustan Constituent Assembly {or Pakistan Constituent Assembly} or to decide to remain independent’.

Despite all pressures from Lord Mountbatten, different leaders of Congress and Muslim League the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir did not accede to any country. He wanted to remain independent. He attained his independence after lapse of paramountcy on 15th August 197. As late as on 12 October 1947, the Maharaja wanted to remain independent, and this position was reinforced by his Deputy Prime Minister Ram Lal Batra, who during his visit to Delhi said:

‘We intend to keep on friendly relations with both India and Pakistan. Despite constant rumours we have no intention of joining either India or Pakistan, and the Maharaja and his government have decided that no decision of any kind will be made until there is peace in the plains. He also revealed that the Maharaja had told him that it was his ambition to make Kashmir Switzerland of the East – a completely neutral state.’  1

All sovereign states must have four characteristics, and before any state attains sovereignty these attributes must be satisfied:

1/ First attribute is that the state should have people. This attribute Jammu and Kashmir satisfied before the lapse of Paramountcy. The people living within the State boundaries were regarded as citizens of Jammu and Kashmir; and State Subject Definition Notification dated the 20th April, 1927 further strengthens our case in this regard.

2/ Second attribute of a statehood is that the state should have a defined territory. Size of the state does not matter; it could be a city state. The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir had clearly defined territory of which he was the Ruler.

3/ Third attribute of a statehood is that there should be a government. A government could mean one or more people who are responsible for making laws and keeping law and order. All these attributes were satisfied before the lapse of paramountcy.

4/ Fourth attribute of a statehood is that a state should have capacity and right to enter in to relations with other states. This attribute distinguishes states from lesser units like members of a federation.

The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir attained this capacity after the lapse of Paramountcy. He demonstrated this ability or right by concluding a Standstill Agreement with government of Pakistan; and by offering to have a Standstill Agreement with government of India.

Some people argue that because the State of Jammu and Kashmir was not recognised, therefore it was not a sovereign state. This is not true. A State becomes sovereign when it is granted independence by a paramount power; legally it attains independence from that moment and does not depend on recognition of other states. Israel exists as a sovereign country, yet it is not recognised by so many countries.

In case of Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan could not have recognised it as a sovereign state as both wanted Kashmir to join one or the other Dominion. Other countries could not recognise the State of Jammu and Kashmir so soon because situation was not clear; and the State of Jammu and Kashmir could not maintain its independence due to the tribal invasion which forced the Maharaja to accede to India, which was provisional and had to be ratified by people of the State.

Who planned the tribal invasion?

Mohammed Ali Jinnah and government of Pakistan always took pro Maharaja and anti people position in Jammu and Kashmir, in hope that the Maharaja will join Pakistan. Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir RC Kak also gave them similar impression, but on 11 August 1947, he was replaced by General Janak Singh. In second week of September he was replaced by Mehr Chand Mahjan, who incidentally was a member of the Punjab Boundary Commission.

It is claimed by some Pakistani writers that he was assured of the post if he had provided the State a land access to India. Even though the District of Gurdaspur had a Muslim majority, the Radcliff Award divided the district in such a way that India had a land access to Jammu and Kashmir. 2

On 24 August 1947, Mohammed Ali Jinnah sent his Military Secretary, Colonel William Birnie to Kashmir that he can negotiate for him two weeks holiday visit in Kashmir in mid September. He came back after one week and gave Mohammed Ali Jinnah news he did not want to hear. Because of the political turmoil the Maharaja government refused this request. This stunned Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Pakistan government. They realised that all was not well, and things were not evolving the way they envisaged.

After few days the Pakistan government sent a secret agent to Kashmir to ascertain the situation there. His report was not encouraging either. In view of this report Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan convened a secret meeting of top officials in Lahore to ‘decide how to force the Maharaja’s hand’.  Authors of Freedom at Midnight write and I quote:

‘The conspirators dismissed immediately the idea of an outright invasion. The Pakistan army was not ready for an adventure that could lead to war with India….Colonel Akbar Khan proposed that Pakistan supply the arms and money to foment uprising of Kashmir’s dissidents Moslim population. It would require several months, but the end, Khan promised would see forty or fifty thousand Kashmiris descending on Srinagar to force the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan’. 3 Unquote

The second proposal was presented by Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, Chief Minister of North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, which involved use of the tribesmen to force the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan. I once again refer to authors of Freedom at Midnight, and I quote:

‘Sending those dangerous hordes to Srinagar had considerable appeal. It would force the swift fall of the Maharaja and the annexation of his state to Pakistan. And by offering the tribesmen the opportunity to loot the bazaars of Kashmir, their covetous eyes could be kept off the bazaars of Peshawear…..The gathering closed with a stern warning from the Prime Minister. The operation must be a complete secret. Finances would be provided by secret funds from his office. Neither the officers of Pakistan’s army nor her civil service nor, above all, the British Officers and administrators in the service of the new state were to know.’  4 Unquote

In line with this secret decision Muslim dissidents were encouraged and fully supported to rise against a ‘Hindu Maharaja’. The Maharaja government had many serious problems to deal with. Future of its State was uncertain. Both India and Pakistan applied tremendous pressure for accession.

Muslims in Poonch had started their armed rebellion at a time when there were communal riots in parts of Jammu, mainly started by non Muslims who uprooted from Pakistan. Situation in Gilgit Baltistan was not satisfactory either, as his newly appointed Governor Gansara Singh was having some difficulty to assert his authority in this region which was only reverted to the Maharaja on 1st of August 1947.

State forces were not capable of dealing with all these problems; and to make things more difficult for him the Pakistani government in clear violation of the Standstill Agreement stopped essential supplies to Jammu and Kashmir. The Maharaja government complained to the government of Pakistan, and requested to lift the economic blockade. Pakistani government was in no mood to lift the economic blockade without getting the accession of the State; and to accomplish this task they sent Major A.S.B Shah, a junior officer who had no knowledge of Kashmir history and had no skills in politics and diplomacy. A junior military man had to negotiate and persuade experienced Maharaja Hari Singh, Prime Minister Mehr Chand Mahajan and Ram Lal Batra Deputy Prime Minister.
Mehr Chand Mahaja later recorded that, ‘Major Shah was in Srinagar with a whip in one hand and a letter of accession in the other…..He was keen to have an assurance of the State’s accession to Pakistan or in the alternative, a negative assurance that I would not advise the Maharaja to accede to India. I told him this would take some time but he was not prepared to wait. When I found he had came there almost with an ultimatum, I said, “If you raise the blockade and allow food, cloth and petrol to enter the State I will discuss the matter with you.” 5

Major Shah agreed to persuade Mohammed Ali Jinnah to lift the blockade, and sent him a telegram, but got no favourable reply. Instead he was told to ask Mehr Chand Mahjan to go to Lahore and discuss the matter there. Mehr Chand Mahajan said: I was in no mood to fall into Pakistani hands. I declined the invitation as the object was to coerce me in to securing the State’s accession’. 6

Arrogance of Pakistani rulers

Government of Pakistan managed to fool people for sometime that these tribesmen came to help and liberate people of Jammu and Kashmir. They also claimed that these tribesmen were motivated by religious sentiments and came there on their own. Unfortunately some Kashmiris also advanced and supported that propaganda as it suited their political and personal agenda.

Over the years it has been revealed by many Pakistani officials and writers that the whole affair was initiated and managed by Pakistani officials; and main attraction for the tribesmen was not liberation of Kashmir or jihad but loot, plunder and Kashmiri women. Unfortunately those who planned this tragic expedition permitted them to loot and plunder and create atmosphere of fear that the Maharaja surrenders and begs Pakistan for accession.

People of Jammu and Kashmir had to pay a big price for this blunder of the Pakistani government. Despite all the humiliation and degradation which Sheikh Abdullah suffered at the hands of Mohammed Ali Jinnah and other Muslim League leaders, he was considering some kind of understanding with Pakistan where by the State could have maintained its special status in return for Pakistan taking certain responsibilities in line with the Standstill Agreement.

Even as late as first week of October 1947, he was persuaded by Dr M D Taseer and Mian Iftikhar Uddin to travel to Lahore and meet Mohammed Ali Jinnah and finalise matters. Sheikh Abdullah secretly travelled to Lahore with Dr Taseer and stayed at Mian Iftikhar Uddin’s house. Ego and pride of Mohammed Ali Jinnah overcame national interest of Pakistan and that of people of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite sincere advice of some people Mohammed Ali Jinnah refused to meet him, which was against Islamic teaching, against rules of politics and bad statesmanship.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah said, ‘I don’t need to meet this man. Kashmir is in my pocket’. 7 In another place ego centric Governor General of Pakistan said, ‘Who is Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah? I am prepared to discuss Kashmir with the Maharaja or senior Government official from Kashmir.’ 8

This was the fourth time Mohammed Ali Jinnah rebuffed the tallest leader people of Jammu and Kashmir ever had; and it was the last opportunity to bridge differences between the most popular leader of Jammu and Kashmir and Governor General of Pakistan. According to Balraj Puri, Mr Jinnah wanted:

‘Complete surrender on the part of anybody, particularly a Muslim, seeking political alliance with him. It was too tall demand from the tallest leader of Kashmir, who was no less proud of his own personality as also that of Kashmir’. 9

Pakistan lost Kashmir not because Indians were too clever, but because Pakistani leaders were not farsighted; and they were too arrogant and ego centric. To them satisfaction of their ego was more important than the national interest. At a time when Congress leaders were trying to meet and appease Sheikh Abdullah, leaders of Pakistan treated him like a trash. They thought with help of tribesmen they will be able to annex Kashmir.

Even after this last rebuff, Sheikh Abdullah’s men were in Lahore waiting to meet some sensible Pakistani leaders with whom they could negotiate something, but Pakistani government abandoned political and diplomatic route and relied on the force of gun. It was their arrogance, impolitical attitude and too much reliance on use of gun which cost them Jammu and Kashmir. Ultimately it was the people of Jammu and Kashmir who had to suffer at that time; and who continue to suffer because of follies of Pakistani rulers.

What if there was no tribal invasion

I understand we cannot turn back clock of history, but as thinking people who were victims of tribal invasion; and who are even today suffering as a direct result of that conspiracy, we can analyse what might have happened if there was no tribal invasion

All the available evidence clearly indicates that the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir did not want to accede to any country. He wanted to maintain his independence. It was possible that he could have maintained his independence if there was no outside interference.

True, not all of his citizens were happy with him; but it is also true that his subjects enjoyed more rights than subjects of other Princely States at that time. It was quite possible that after independence of his State and after independence of the Sub Continent, he could have made changes to his style of government where by he could have given more rights to people and Assembly.

He could have maintained his neutrality and made agreements with both India and Pakistan. Even few days before the tribal invasion his Deputy Prime Minister explained his vision of the State in the following words: ‘The Maharaja had told him that it was his ambition to make Kashmir Switzerland of the East – a completely neutral state.’ 

If there was no tribal invasion people of Jammu and Kashmir could have avoided loot, plunder and rapes in 1947. They could have avoided separation of families. They could have avoided division of their homeland. They could have avoided other miseries since 1947. They could have avoided the present suffering on both sides of the divide which was thrusted upon them as a direct result of militancy which started in 1988.

If there was no tribal invasion then there might have been no Kashmir dispute as we see it today. It was possible that both countries in absence of this dispute could have resolved other issues and could have developed friendly and cordial relations; and that could have led to peace and stability in the region.

In conclusion, one could say that source of many of our troubles and troubles of the region are directly related to that fatal decision of directing hordes of tribesmen in name of jihad to invade Jammu and Kashmir and loot, plunder and rape people without any accountability.

The genie of extremism and hatred released in name of jihad in October 1947 to advance political agenda, continue to spread extremism and hatred. Unfortunately that policy of promoting extremism to advance political agenda continued until very recently, and forces of extremism and hatred have become power in their own right. They have already affected lives of millions of people. Like any other living being, it wants to live and flourish; and has become out of control. Like Frankenstein monster it has turned against its creator, hence we see cries in Pakistan about terrorism, jihad and establishing writ of government, all claiming to be on the right path.

I hope those quarters who deliberately promoted extremism and hatred have learnt their lesson. Also I hope they will do their best to put things right; and will not promote terrorism and hatred in future, or create more hurdles in our inherent and most cherished right of self determination.

I thank you Mr Chairman.


1.   Kashmir Problem – its legal aspects, Dr HO Agarwal, page 31
2.   The Kashmir of Sheikh Abdullah, Bilqees Taseer, Page 264
3.   Freedom at Midnight, Larry Collins and Dominque Lapierre, Page 402
4.   ibid, Page 402
5.   opcit, Bilqees Taseer, page 265
6.   ibid, page 265
7.   ibid, Page 301
8.   ibid, page 303

9.   ibid, page 305

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