Saturday, 28 April 2018

Karachi Agreement of 28 April 1949 between Azad Kashmir and Pakistan government, speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry

Karachi Agreement of 28 April 1949 between Azad Kashmir and Pakistan government.
Speech of Dr Shabir Choudhry in a Conference arranged by JK National Awami Party in Leeds on 28 April 2018.
Mr President, Friends and colleagues Aslam o Alaykam to all of you.

Sardar Ibrahim and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas were the two people who signed this infamous Agreement with government of Pakistan, which is regarded by some citizens of Jammu and Kashmir as a ‘Document of Slavery’.

Both of them have been criticised and condemned by many people of Azad Kashmir, and people of Gilgit Baltistan; and hold them responsible for our problems and miseries, especially for miseries of the people of Gilgit Baltistan who were ruled by Pakistan with an iron fist.

I am also among those who have criticised them both, as well as the imperialist policies of government of Pakistan.

All those people who have made some contribution to the history have been controversial; and are criticised. I am also controversial and will always be a controversial person, because I have exposed some historical myths and challenged the forces of occupation and imperialism.

When we analyse a role of a person, we should see him in historical perspective. We should see the geo political and prevailing situation of that time. What Sardar Ibrahim and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas did in 1947/9, we are analysing that in 2018.

A famous saying is: Hindsight is a wonderful thing. We are viewing the events of late 1940s with benefit of knowledge we have today. Those who took those controversial decisions did not have this knowledge. They were influenced by the geo political situation of that time; and took decisions which are wrong in our view; and had very negative impact on us; and we continue to suffer.
Mr Chairman, role of Sardar Ibrahim Khan in 1947

 Before the partition of India and forced division of Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Ibrahim Khan was an employ of State of Jammu and Kashmir. He had oath of allegiance to the Maharaja and the State, that he will serve them honestly and sincerely.

People have a right to disagree with me, but in my opinion, role of Sardar Ibrahim Khan in the events of 1947 was that of a collaborator. He invited and helped the Pakistani raiders who wanted to capture State of Jammu and Kashmir. This unprovoked attack by Pakistan resulted in death of tens of thousands of innocent people, rapes and kidnapping of women of Jammu and Kashmir.

Those who arranged this attack, did not do anything in Gilgit at that time. Do you know why? Because they thought the raiders will capture Srinagar. If Srinagar had been captured, then there was no need to attack Gilgit. When the conspirators realised that their designs to capture Kashmir and Srinagar have been foiled; then they activated their plan B. They wanted to capture strategic areas of Gilgit Baltistan. Remember, areas of Gilgit were leased out to the British in 1935.

On first November 1947, they implemented their plan B, and arrested Brigadier Gansara Singh. Just like the Muslim army units betrayed the Maharaja Hari Singh in Muzaffarabad region, Muslim units stationed in Gilgit region also betrayed him; and joined hands with those who wanted to end his rule. Once again, many people betrayed their oaths and sided with those who were enemies of the Maharaja Hari Singh and his rule.

Mr Chairman, we should also look at the role of the local leadership of Gilgit Baltistan

People of Gilgit Baltistan claim they ‘liberated Gilgit’ on 1 November 1947. After liberating these areas what did they do? They contacted a neighbouring country – Pakistan - for help to run the administration of these areas.

When the Maharaja Hari Singh was attacked by Pakistan, he contacted a neighbouring country – India for a military help. Liberators of Gilgit Baltistan did not fear any military attack from anywhere; yet they contacted Pakistan for help. In return, Pakistan sent a low ranking civil servant to Gilgit to run affairs of these areas; and these ‘rebels’ and ‘liberators’ surrendered everything before him.

He taught them lessons which they will remember for many generations. He denied them fundamental human rights and treated them like slaves; but they did not rebel against him. Is it because this time the oppressor was a Muslim; and Muslims of today only rebel against non-Muslims?

Mr Chairman, we have to see if Sardar Ibrahim Khan and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas are responsible for suffering of the people of Gilgit Baltistan?

The point I am trying to establish is that Sardar Ibrahim Khan and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas had no role in the events of Gilgit Baltistan. Their role, on papers, started on 28 April 1949.

Question I want to ask is, were the people of Gilgit Baltistan independent; and enjoying fruits of their independence before signing of this agreement?

Answer to this question is no. They were treated like sub human beings and ruled very harshly. In other words, Sardar Ibrahim Khan and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas had no direct role or influence on the problems and suffering of the people of Gilgit Baltistan.

One can say, they were suffering because they asked Pakistan to send someone to rule them or help them to administer the region. It is a same mistake which people of Kashmir made when they asked government of Afghanistan to send a new Ruler to Kashmir.

So how can we blame Sardar Ibrahim and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas for the wrong doings of a Pakistani ruler, who was invited by the people of Gilgit Baltistan?

One can say, by signing the Karachi Agreement they ‘legitimised’ the Pakistani rule and everything they have done since that date.

Also, they have given unchallengeable powers in the hands of Pakistan to rule so called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan as it suits Pakistani policy makers.

We can criticise them and condemn them for signing the Karachi Agreement. Ask yourself, if rulers of Gilgit Baltistan and so called Azad Kashmir have no choice but to sign on the dotted line in 2018, did Sardar Ibrahim Khan and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas had any other choice available to them in 1949?

Just imagine if they had refused to sign it, then what would have happened to them? They could have been imprisoned or hanged with accusation of treason; and for being anti Pakistan and agents of India.

Don’t you think books of Pakistan studies, history books of Pakistan and syllabus in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan would have called them traitors, agents of India and enemies of Pakistan.

Even in 2018, leaders and many people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan are so terrified that they are reluctant to say anything which can annoy Pakistan and their secret agencies because they don’t want to be accused of being anti Pakistan and agent of India.

Just imagine what would be the situation in late 1940s? Could anyone have survived with the tag of being anti Pakistan and agent of India in 1940s and 1950s?

Mr Chairman, I have not tried to defend Sardar Ibrahim Khan and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas. I have only tried to provide you an alternative narrative and a situation in which they had to sign the Karachi Agreement.

Many Pakistanis claim that Jammu and Kashmir belongs to them because of the Two Nations Theory, even though this did not apply to the Princely States. However, Pakistan concluded a Standstill Agreement with the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir State in August 1947, and accepted that he was an independent Ruler with a power to decide about future of his State.
On 28 April 1949, by signing the Karachi Agreement, the Government of Pakistan, once again, accepted that the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir did not belong to Pakistan. When analysing the Karachi Agreement, we should look at all the aspects of this treaty.

In conclusion, Mr Chairman, I want to remind the audience that Sardar Ibrahim Khan, has more than once stated that he did not sign the Karachi Agreement. Once in London, he said, I have made many mistakes in my political life, but believe me, I did not sign the Karachi Agreement.

Only Allah knows, if this is true or not. Despite all the loyalty he expressed to Pakistan, when he differed with them he was imprisoned by Pakistan. Before we curse and condemn leaders of the past, we need to understand what was the prevailing situation under which they had to take those decisions.

If we were in their position, under that highly charged Hindu verses Muslim situation; and with all the vulnerabilities they faced, would we have done differently? Should we not be condemning the government which created all these problems for us; and deprived us of our fundamental rights.

Also, we need to understand that they belonged to a different ideological school; and did what they thought was right for the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir at that time.

In my view, it was a wrong decision. My struggle is for people of all religions and for all the regions. I promote nationalism based on principle of justice and equality for all the citizens of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; and not for only Muslims.

I do not promote Muslim nationalism under the garb of Jammu and Kashmir nationalism.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Writer is a renowned writer and author of many books. He is also a senior leader of UKPNP and Chairman South Asia Watch, London.
Email:       Twitter:  @Drshabir

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