Saturday, 3 June 2017

Tribal invasion - some more facts, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Tribal invasion - some more facts, Dr Shabir Choudhry

History is written by conquerors, or those who control and dominate society. Result of this bitter fact is that even those who are conquered, oppressed and subjugated, by and the large, are influenced by what is taught to them through books or other medium of communication and education. Although new technology, astonishing rise of media and access to mass communication allow more and more people to find out facts, but still ‘official’ version normally prevails.

Call it a ‘seasonally adjusted and re-branded history’, as my one critic puts it, but truth is history is always revised, as new facts and new versions come to light because researchers with conscience, and especially belonging to the oppressed and subjugated community with their hard work and dedication dig out more facts; and give new perspective to any given event.
Researchers have to find time to read many books, make comparisons and look at other circumstantial evidence or interview other scholars and experts of the topic and then write something. But some critics do not read, and they are ‘programmed’ to criticise without giving any logical reasoning or evidence. I am not above criticism, in fact, I welcome positive criticism as it helps me to improve myself; but I detest those who make irrational allegations when they have no logical arguments left.
When we talk of history and assert that it is written by those who control the society, we need to take example of Ganga Hijacking, which was carried out by two Kashmiri young men namely Hashim Qureshi and Ashraf Qureshi in 1970. After the initial heroes welcome to the hijackers, the rulers of Pakistan thought the event was not in their ‘national interest’; and they presented it as a conspiracy of India against Pakistan and arrested the hijackers and many other people.

As a suspected ‘agents’ of India they suffered brutal torture and humiliation in the Pakistani torture cells; and despite the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s verdict in favour of the accused – that they were true Kashmiri patriots, many people among Kashmiris and Pakistani still regard the Ganga hijacking a ‘conspiracy of India.’

Those who are in power and dominate the society, they have ability to influence people by their propaganda; and it is very difficult to eliminate the impression they have created with their State machinery. In the case of Ganga hijacking, those accused of working for India and their political party tried to counter the official propaganda with their limited resources; but they could not completely eradicate that wrong impression.

Tribal Invasion started on 22 October 1947, when people of Jammu and Kashmir were oppressed, and they were unorganised. Above all, they had no control of media; and leaders of one political party – Muslim Conference not only invited the tribal attack but also actively joined the raiders. Reward for this collaboration was that they were appointed rulers of this region known as Azad Kashmir; they and their political masters in Pakistan kept on feeding lies to people to strengthen the impression that the ‘tribesmen’ were ‘liberators’, and they came to Kashmir to fulfil their religious obligation.

The Tribal Invasion was a contentious and significant action, because of its serious consequences; and because it clearly violated the Standstill Agreement concluded between Pakistan and the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. Furthermore, it resulted in death and destruction of thousands of innocent people; and it forced the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir to seek help from India, which was only made available after the ‘provisional accession’ to India. Apart from that it divided our motherland resulting in enormous problems for thousands of families on both sides of the divide.

It should also be remembered that the Tribal Invasion, apart from other problems also resulted in the first India and Pakistan war, bringing its own problems, animosity and divisions. Both governments since 1947 have spent billions of dollars on arms and have had three wars over control of Jammu and Kashmir. Both governments have enormous problems related to poverty, education and welfare; but because of the competition to control Jammu and Kashmir, they continue to divert money for military preparedness and continue to develop more and more lethal weapons.

Hamid Karzai did not invite America to attack Afghanistan, but he was installed by them after the invasion of the country. Majority of Afghan people, Pakistani people and people of Jammu and Kashmir regard him as a collaborator and ‘agent’ of the occupying forces. People hold similar views for those who collaborate with foreign powers or who invite them to invade their own country; then question is why those Kashmiris who collaborated with a foreign power and invited them to invade Jammu and Kashmir should be viewed differently. We cannot condemn one collaborator for his actions and commend the other.

Nearly all those in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir who have written on the Tribal invasion, presented them as ‘liberators’ and Mujahedeen; and urged people of Jammu and Kashmir to respect them. One may ask, respect them for what? Are we fools that we respect them for trampling our sovereignty, respect them for dishonouring our women and kidnapping young girls; or respect  them for looting and killing innocent people and for giving bad name to our religion?
Non - Muslim writers gave some details of brutal acts of the tribesmen; but many people did not pay much attention to this because of the propaganda that these non- Muslims were churning out false stories to give bad name to Muslims, Jihad and Pakistan. All the crimes committed by the Tribesmen were camouflaged under the name of Jihad and independence. Only few Muslim writers have given some brief details of their crimes, among them was Justice Yusuf Saraf.

After reading my article on the Tribal Invasion, one Kashmiri critic accused me that I ‘was using pro India, non - Muslim and pro independent Kashmiri writers to promote anti Pakistan propaganda’. People like this critic use this weapon to harass Kashmiri nationalists and to create doubts in minds of innocent people. In my reply to him I said:

‘In the article concerned I used two writers as a source, one was Justice Yusuf Saraf and the other was Major General Akbar Khan. Both were Muslims, one was a senior army officer of Pakistan and the other was a Pro Pakistan Kashmiri. So how could you make that allegation against me?’

Another critic wanted me to trust whatever Sardar Ibrahim Khan wrote in his book, as if that was a gospel truth. Question is why I should believe a man who helped a neighbouring country of Jammu and Kashmir to invade his country - Jammu and Kashmir, and who signed away more than 28 thousand square miles of his country to Pakistan, and left the people at the mercy of bureaucracy of Pakistan; and who agreed to curtail powers of Azad Jammu government and gave a free hand to Pakistan to negotiate on behalf of people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Above all, how can I respect or trust a man who was appointed President of Azad Kashmir by a middle ranking officer of Pakistan (Commissioner of Rawalpindi Khawaja Abdul Rahim); and who served interests of Pakistan throughout his life. Sardar Mohammed Ibrahim Khan himself acknowledged that he did not know anything about this until on the night of 23 October when ‘he was awakened almost at the dead of night by Khawaja Abdul Rahim and Nasim Shah Nawaz…..who told him that it had become necessary to announce the formation of a reconstituted Government with himself as President, and that the announcement could not be delayed.’

Wounded Memories

I did my own research on this tragic and treacherous event of the Tribal attack when I was looking for materials for my MPhil, title of which was ‘Kashmir and Partition of India’. However, Muhammad Saeed Asad is the first person to interview those people who either suffered during the Tribal attack or witnessed the carnage and produced a book in Urdu with the name of ‘Yadoon Kay Zakhm’. This book was later on translated in to English and published by Institute of Kashmir Affairs with the name of ‘Wounded Memories’.

In the Foreword of this important book, Professor Dr Sabir Affaqi of Muzaffarabad, wrote:

‘When I visited Indian-occupied Kashmir in 2008, I met many Hindus and Sikhs in Jammu who had fled from Muzaffarabad and its surrounding areas in the wake of the tribal attacks of October 1947. When I asked them about the situation leading up to the tribal invasion, they stressed that they were living as brothers and friends with their Muslim neighbours. There was no bone of contention between them. That all hell broke loose with the arrival of the tribal invaders.’ 1

On the question that the tribesmen went to Jammu and Kashmir for the purpose of ‘Jihad’ he wrote:

‘As the tribesmen had limited awareness of genuine Islam and the true spiritual philosophy of jihad, it would be utterly incorrect to term the tribal attack on Muzaffarabad as a religious duty, holy war or jihad. Furthermore, the effect of this invasion had such negative implications for the politics and history of the region that in no terms could it be described as beneficial for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The unity of Kashmir was obliterated, it was taken over by foreign powers, it's social, religious, cultural and civilisational attributes were wounded to the extent that it has yet to recover and pick up the pieces. Blood is still seeping out from both sides of the divide and the deeply cut body is ever yet hopeful that somebody will patch up the wounds.’ 2    

In the preface of this important book, author Muhammad Saeed Asad, while discussing the tribal invasion, wrote:

‘This ill-fated and pre-conceived plan of the 22nd of October 1947 was designed to dismember our body. It totally disintegrated our society. It turned our history on its head and it buried our dignity. These aforementioned reasons laid the background for my search for an authentic version of our history. Further, to bring that authenticity to the fore. To bring public awareness of our past history that had hitherto been buried deep under the earth by fear and political correctness.’ 3

While criticising the Tribal Invasion, author of ‘Wounded Memories’, Muhammad Saeed Asad asserted:

‘Many eye-witnesses of the time along with a number of writers have opined that the tribal invasion of Kashmir was an ill-thought out and idiotic plan, which has proved fatal for Kashmir and Kashmiris…. In my opinion, there remains no doubt and there is no room for a second opinion that the planners and perpetrators of the tribal invasion on Kashmir: stand out as enemy number one of the Kashmiri nation. I would go further to say that if this invasion didn't take place; a dispute on Kashmir would not have arisen. As India and Pakistan emerged as nation states, so would have Kashmir.’ 4

Muhammad Saeed Asad further said:

‘The planners of the tribal invasion and their Kashmiri agents are the original and actual culprits of the Kashmiri nation. It is important for the nation to identify these criminals, bring them forth and make them stand in the court of time….I have strong hope that the new generation of Kashmir will not remain ill - informed or misdirected, as to who are foremost in killing their future and the enemy of their freedom struggle.’ 5
Khawaja Abdul Samad, while explaining the communal and religious harmony of Muzaffarabad before the Tribal Invasion to the author of this book, he said:
‘There was no concept of hatred or inferiority based on religious identity. When somebody amongst the Muslim community passed away, Hindus and Sikhs of the community would accompany us to the burial ground. As we would offer the funeral prayer, they would also stand in a separate line and witness the procedure. Whilst burying our dead, they would join us in the rite of putting soil over the deceased and offering prayers for their salvation. In a similar manner, we would also accompany their deceased to the funeral pyre and partake in the rites as appropriate. Religious celebrations such as Eid, Holi and Diwali were collectively celebrated by members of each community.’ 6
He further narrated:
‘Tara Chand was a prominent Hindu of Muzaffarabad at the time. He would recite ‘naats’ in an extremely melodious and sweet manner. Muslims were always keen to invite him to their gatherings for recitation. For worship, we would proceed to the masjid. Hindus would proceed to the mandir (Hindu place of worship). We would worship before sunrise, they would worship during sunrise. Time was the only difference. We would visit 'Saheli Sarkar' (prominent tomb and place of worship in Muzaffarabad) and they would visit the mandir opposite ‘Saheli Sarkar’.’ 7
While discussing about brutalities of the Tribal attack, Khawaja Abdul Samad said:
‘Hindus and Muslims were taking refuge in separate areas. Most of the properties that belonged to Hindus had been burnt down. Many Hindus and Sikhs had been mercilessly slaughtered and most of their bodies were still lying in their homes or on the streets. In the past two days, the tribesmen had dragged numerous bodies and thrown them into the river………..’ 8
Khawaja Abdul Samad further said:
‘Their attack had totally devastated Muzaffarabad. The homes of Hindus and Muslims were looted, shops were plundered and all the stock loaded onto trucks. Places of worship were not spared; they entered and took whatever they considered to be of value. They tore down mandirs and desecrated masjids. In their lustful search for gold, silver and rupees they even used digging equipment to search beneath the stone floors of shops. Whatever they could find would be amassed in a collective place where tribal leaders would supervise the whole process. From here, everything would be loaded onto trucks and sent on their way to the North West Frontier Province. In Muzaffarabad and its surroundings, no Muslim home was spared from this tribal bounty-hunt.’ 9
Tribesmen steal from a Masjid - Mosque
Khawaja Abdul Samad, while discussing the loot and plunder carried out by the tribesmen who apparently came to Jammu and Kashmir for the purpose of ‘Jihad’ and to ‘liberate’ people of Jammu and Kashmir, explained how they even looted materials hidden in a Masjid.
‘As there was no restriction on how much booty the tribal Pathans could take home, some of us locals consulted with each other and made a plan. We decided that in order to protect Hindu assets from being seized by the tribesmen, we would take upon ourselves (Muslims) to transport goods and valuables from Hindu homes and store them in the masjid. Some Hindu youngsters, many of whom were our close friends; who had yet somehow avoided the deathly onslaught were also utilised in this exercise….. ‘The ‘Bazaar Wali’ masjid was a two-storey building. By the evening, so much stock had been stored there that there was barely room for even a solitary ‘sandooq’ (large metal box for storing valuables) to fit in. We locked up the masjid at night and left for our respective camps of refuge. When I returned in the morning, I found that the masjid had been stripped bare clean. I was later to learn that the tribesmen had come late the night before and taken everything.’ 10
I must add, as I have done it on many occasions before that, not all Tribesmen came there for the purpose of looting. There must be some who came for ‘Jihad’. Similarly, I do not undermine the role of people of Poonch. My contention is that rulers of Pakistan encouraged that ‘rebellion’ to advance their agenda on Kashmir. Major General Akbar Khan, who was in charge of the operation, produced a Plan known as ‘Armed Revolt Inside Kashmir’.
As the name suggests, the Pakistani plan was that the Kashmiri rebellion should look like a ‘revolt’ of the people of Jammu and Kashmir against its (non- Muslim) Ruler. I know many people claim that it was a Kashmiri ‘revolt’ against a tyrant and non - Muslim Ruler; and they give details of their sacrifices or sacrifices of their families. However, Major General Akbar Khan said:
‘As open interference or aggression by Pakistan was obviously undesirable, it was proposed that our efforts should be concentrated upon strengthening the Kashmiris themselves internally’. 11

Question is should I believe a story narrated by Major General Akbar Khan who was in charge of this operation, or someone with myopic view and who is full of bias; and who has no knowledge of historical events?

My father was in the Indian British Army and fought for the British in the Second World War; he later on fought the First Kashmir War and took part in the ‘liberation’ of areas now known as Azad Kashmir. He can tell me details of the war at the micro level; but he would not know in detail the purpose of the war, because his senior officers ordered him to proceed to a sector and fight. Later on he was told to stop fighting; and he followed the instructions.

I adore my father, love him and highly respect him, like any loving son would do; but as far as motives of the war were concerned I would give more credence to the information given by the Commander who planned the war, because my father with all his sincerity and sacrifices would not have access to the information available to the Commander and to those who planned the tribal attack.

I do not deny the sacrifices made by the people. Also I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, however, as a researcher and a political analyst, I have to see what were the motives of those who planned this brutal and unprovoked attack that resulted in forced division of our motherland; and which was to be the main cause of animosity and wars between India and Pakistan.

It would be a good analogy, if we look at the uprising in Libya. One can say, people of Libya revolted against the rule of Colonel Kaddafi; and made great sacrifices. Yes, they have made great sacrifices and suffered immensely, but were this ‘revolt’ indigence or local with no help and support from outside? We know it was planned from outside with help of USA, UK and France.

Some people claim that most of the areas of the present Azad Kashmir were ‘liberated’ before the tribal attack; and try to take credit for this. Yet the fact is that Major General Akbar Khan claims that he met Sardar Ibrahim Khan and some other leaders in the last week of August 1947; and encouraged people to take up arms against the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir.

If these areas were liberated in the last week of August (which they were not) then the claim of these people is correct; but if they were liberated in late September and by middle of October then one has to believe the story narrated by Major General Akbar Khan, who claims with evidence that he formulated the plan for uprising in Kashmir for liberation of Jammu and Kashmir.

Many Muslims of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir talk a lot about the Jammu massacres. It was a tragic communal event, in which tens of thousands of people, especially Muslims were killed; and some people hold functions on 6 November in their memory. I also condemn that butchery. However, communal riots in Jammu started in the third week of August 1947; and got worse with time. Question is why 6 November is commemorated as a day of Jammu martyrs? Professor Dr Sabir Affaqi, a known writer and historian puts it like this:

‘Meanwhile, when clusters of Hindu and Sikh survivors of the genocide reached Jammu on the 6th November: their blood drenched attire and pitiful condition, evoked hatred amongst the locals for Pakistan and Muslims. As a reaction, extreme right wing elements amongst the Hindus of Jammu: with the assistance of like - minded Hindu militia from India decided to take revenge. Consequently, a genocide of Muslims that lived in Jammu and in its surrounding areas took place, on a similar scale to what to what happened to Hindus and Sikhs in Muzaffarabad, just days earlier.’ 12
I do not agree with everything the learned Professor has said, but I would not call him ‘anti Pakistan’, ‘anti Islam’ or ‘anti Tribesmen’. That is his view of the events. In my opinion right wing non - Muslim extremists reached Jammu in the third week of August when migrants from Pakistani Punjab, especially from areas of Sialkot reached Jammu; and in the communal riots that ensued tens of thousands of Muslims were killed. May be on 6 November it got worse because of what happened to non- Muslims in areas of Jammu and Kashmir, now called Azad Kashmir; but the scale of massacres were not same as more Muslims were butchered in Jammu.

On issue of the Tribesmen and their role in ‘liberation’ of areas of Azad Kashmir, even Sardar Ibrahim Khan, first President of Azad Kashmir acknowledge acknowledges it in the following words:

‘Tribesmen played an important role in the movement of Azad Kashmir. They came all the way from different parts, from settled and unsettled areas of tribal territory, to fight in Kashmir. Sulemankhel tribesmen came all the way from Afghanistan to take part in this Jehad.’ 13

The Tribesmen marched triumphantly towards Muzaffarabad, Uri and Baramullah, killing civilians and looting; but as soon as they encountered the Indian army they retreated with a great speed. Despite his praise of the Tribesmen and their fighting skills, Sardar Ibrahim Khan had to say:

‘…They disintegrated in to smaller groups and vanished; leaving the territory entirely defenceless….All the tribesmen reached Abbottabad (a city in Pakistan) safe and sound, leaving a completely helpless people to their own defence. At this juncture, General Tariq (real name Major General Akbar Khan of Pakistan Army) held back the Indian Army with fifteen men.’ 14

Lastly, why is it that when one explains a situation about Pakistan, which does not look favourable to Pakistan even though it is based on some hard facts, some people say it is anti-Pakistan? For example, if I say Pakistan lost East Pakistan in a war and more than 90 thousand soldiers surrendered; that Pakistan has experienced four military dictatorships; that a civil war is going on in Balochistan and Pakistan is having very serious economic and political problems; by saying all that I have not been anti Pakistan. I have simply stated some hard facts which some Pakistanis and some pro Pakistan Kashmiris don’t want to hear.

Some of Kashmir’s and Pakistan’s problems are directly related to this fact that people are not allowed to speak truth; and anyone who dares it, is immediately labelled as ‘anti –Pakistan’, ‘anti – Islam’ or an ‘agent’ of some country. This weapon has proved very effective in the past; but with time it is losing its impact. We need to mentally grow up and face problems of the real world; and must not live in the past or glorify significant achievements of Muslims many centuries ago. We need to see what contribution we are making to the mankind now; and how we can make progress and face challenges of the 21st Century.

I want to thank Sardar Shaukat Kashmiri for writing an introduction to this book. Also I want to thank those friends and colleagues like Abbas Butt, Asim Mirza, Sarwar Hussain, Ifzaal Suleria, Yasin Anjum, Professor Rafiq Bhatti, Saeed Asad, Farooq Ahmed, Muhammad Farooq, Sabir Hussain, Ishaq Sharif, Nasir Aziz, Jamil Maqsood, Ijaz Pracha and many others who have always supported me through thick and thin.

I hope my new book ‘Tribal Invasion and Kashmir’ will help people to understand what the motives of the Tribal Invasion were, and what the Tribesmen did when they entered the Jammu and Kashmir territory. Also it will help people to understand how stories were spread that Tribesmen came for ‘jihad’ and to help liberate people of Jammu and Kashmir.


1.   Wounded Memories, Muhammad Saeed Asad, page 6
2.   Ibid, page 7
3.   Ibid, page 13
4.   Ibid, page 11
5.   Ibid, page 12
6.   Ibid, page 19
7.   Ibid, page 20
8.   Ibid, page 49
9.   Ibid, page 52
10.                 Ibid, page 53
11.                 Raiders in Kashmir, Major General Akbar Khan, page 14
12.                 Muhammad Saeed Asad, page 7
13.                 The Kashmir Saga, Sardar Ibrahim Khan, page    97

14.                 Ibid, page 135

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