In a statement a rabid pro-Pakistani and chairman of one faction of the Hurriyat Conference argued " that Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan was justified because of its seven hundred kilometers long common border with that country. Hence, Kashmir was natural part of Pakistan, he maintained. Many more people including units of both factions of the Hurriyat who want Kashmir’s accession with Pakistan, find a strong rationale in Pakistan’s two nation theory as the basis of Kashmir ---- a predominantly Muslim region --- acceding to Pakistan." This can cause confusion to the present and the future generations of the Kashmiris. Therefore, it is desirable that in the context of making J&K State a part of Pakistan or Hindustan, some facts of history are brought forward.
Five thousand-year-old history of Kashmir tells us that this state remained independent and self-ruling under various Rajas, Maharajas, Nawwabs, and Emperors. During Shahmiri rule, its borders extended from the Tibet in the north to Sir Hind and Multan in the south. However, owing to internal dissensions, its sovereignty came to an end with its conquest by Emperor Akbar in A.D. 1586. After the Mughals, Kashmir passed into the hands of the Afghans, Sikhs and lastly the Dogras. It is necessary to recollect that prior to the emergence of Pakistan movement Kashmiris had begun their struggle to liberate their land from autocratic rule of Dogras. Kashmir freedom movement was launched in 1931, at least nine years earlier than the 1940 Lahore Resolution, later on called Pakistan Resolution.
Independence Act of 1947 stipulated passing of Muslim majority areas to Pakistan and Hindu majority areas to India in the territory of British India. 560 princely states were not a part of British India administered territory though they had taken the oath of loyalty to the British Crown. In this way they had maintained a semblance of their semi - independent status. With the winding up of the Raj, these princely states automatically became independent. However, in accordance with Section 7 of the Independence Act, it was recommended that the states should take into account their geographical location and the wishes of the majority population to decide accession either to India or to Pakistan. The option of remaining independent too was there. Thus India and Pakistan came into being as two sovereign states of the sub-continent on the basis of Independence Act but the formula of passing the territories of 560 princely states to India or Pakistan on the basis of Hindu/ Muslim majority was not applied. If so happened that the question of accession of these princely states became a source of dispute between the two countries. In the process, Kashmir dispute proved a hindrance not only to the development and prosperity of India and Pakistan but it also became a source of great misery and suffering for the people of the State. Some questions arise:
- Why did the Muslim League, in a meeting of its Executive Committee, concede to the rulers of the princely states the right of deciding the future of their respective states?
- Why did Pakistan accept the announcement of accession of Junagar and Manawa to Pakistan despite the fact that the majority population in both the states was of Hindus
- Did not Pakistan accept constitutional status (independence) of Jammu and Kashmiris by accepting the stand-still agreement with the Maharaja of Kashmir
- The State of Hyderabad is not physically contiguous to Pakistan. It has Hindu majority population.Yet did not Pakistan accept the announcement of its self-rule status mad by the Nawwab?
The point is that if the princely states too had been distributed according to the Muslim and non-Muslim majority theory at the time of the partition, Mr. Jinnah would never have accepted the offer of accession of Junagarh and Manawa to Pakistan, nor would he have accepted the sovereignty of Hyderabad Deccan. A statement issued by Mr. Jinnah on 17 June 1947, and preserved in the archives of that country according to the Pakistani Minister of Information and Broadcasting endorses our view point. It says:
"These days conflicting opinions are expressed in regard to the Indian princely states. It has, therefore, become necessary for me to explain the view point of All India Muslim League on this issue. I would like to clarify misunderstandings and state what our strategy about these states will be. From constitutional and legal point of view, Indian princely states become independent with the termination of the British Raj. They will be free to make a decision about their future or to find a way of remaining independent. Their options are to join the constitutional assembly of India or Pakistan or decide to remain independent. In case they decide to remain independent, they can maintain their relations with India or Pakistan as they deem fit. The Muslim League’s policy in this regard has been very clear from the beginning, and that is not to interfere in the internal matters of any state. This matter should fundamentally remain between the ruler and his subjects. Such states as want to remain independent but would like to talk to Pakistan on any matter or some political understanding or any other sort of relationship like trade, economic etc. we shall agree to exchange ideas with them".
My candid opinion is that the Cabinet Mission Memorandum of 12 May, in which the policy of the British Government has been set forth, does not impose any restriction on them. Generally but wrongly it is said that the states have only one option of joining one or the other constitutional assembly. In my opinion if they want to remain independent they can do so. Neither the British government nor the British parliament can force them to do something against their free will. They do not have any power or authority to do so.
After meeting with two Muslim Conference leaders, Chowdhury Hamidullah Khan and Muhammad Ishaque Qureshi, the Qaid Azam issued a press statement on 11 July 1947 that dealt with Kashmir situation. It said:
“I have more than once made it clear that the Indian states are free to join either Pakistan or India or remain independent.” He repeated it on 30 July 1947: “Muslim League has no intention of bringing any pressure on the states to adopt any particular course of action.” He added: “The legal situation is that with the transfer of power and termination of sovereignty, Indian states will automatically regain their full independent status. As such they will be free either to join one or the other dominion or to remain independent".
As a man of principles, Qaide Azam had adopted a stand that was in conformity with the situation that emerged after the termination of the British rule over India. He did not make religion, majority/minority or geographical proximity etc. a criterion for the states to decide their future. The two - nation theory was applicable only to the provinces governed by the Raj. This is why he accepted the accession papers of Junagarh and Manawa rulers despite the fact that these were Hindu majority states. Likewise, he accepted the declaration of independence made by the Nawwab of Hyderabad despite the fact that its border was not contiguous to Pakistan. In the light of this policy (of Mr. Jinnah), the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir sent a telegram to the head of Pakistan State Relations Department, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar on 12 August 1947 saying:
“The Government of Jammu and Kashmir desires to enter into a standstill agreement with Pakistan on such matters as exist between the State and the British Government at the moment. We propose that the arrangements existing today would continue to be the same with Pakistan till a fresh agreement is concluded with your government”. In his reply he said:
"The Government of Pakistan has received your telegram on 21 August. In regard to a standstill agreement, the Government of Pakistan agrees to continue the agreements, which exist between the states and the British government."
By accepting this agreement, Pakistan formally recognized the constitutionally independent status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. A similar telegram had been sent to the Indian government, and the reply was: “The Government of India would be pleased if a minister or some formal authority is deputed to talk to us on the stand - still agreement so that earlier agreements and administrative arrangements continue.” However, it did not become a formal agreement.
On 18 October 1947, the Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir sent a telegram to the Governor General of Pakistan. He said:“Despite a stand-still agreement that came into effect with the termination of the British rule, many difficulties have been created for his state. The system of civil supplies like, petrol, oil, food, salt, sugar and textiles etc. From West Punjab routes has collapsed; saving bank accounts have been closed and West Punjab banks are not honouring the cheques issued in their name. Imperial Bank declines to release our credits. Vehicles registered in the state are stopped in Rawalpindi, and the railway traffic between Sialkot and Jammu has been suspended despite the fact that state authorities have offered safe passage to a hundred thousand Muslims wanting to travel from Pathankot to Sialkot. As against this, out of 220 state nationals proceeding to Kashmir via Kohala, 180 were brutally massacred. Thousands of men from Pakistan armed with latest weapons have entered Poonch area. They have resorted to large scale killing and loot of non-Muslim population there and they are molesting women. Yet in spite of all this, Pakistani media has unleashed propaganda in which it tries to bring onus of these depravities to our door step. Actually these atrocities are perpetrated with tacit understanding and full knowledge of the Government of Pakistan.”
When riots escalated, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir sent a letter to Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General of India on 26 October 1947 bringing to his notice the current situation in the State. He requested for support from India and along with this request, sent to him the Instrument of Accession. Next day the Governor General sent his reply in which he indicated acceptance of the Instrument of Accession. Reacting to Maharaja’s request for military assistance, the Governor General wrote: “Meanwhile in response to Your Highness’s appeal for military aid, action has been taken today to send troops of the Indian army to Kashmir to help your own forces to defend your territory and to protect the lives, property and honour of your people”
Keeping the documentary evidence, statements of Qaide Azam and the events of contemporary history in view, it is clear that accession of the states did not take place on the basis of Muslim and non-Muslim factor. Needless to remind that the stalwarts of the Jama’at-e Islami of those days like Maulana Mowdoodi, the Indian Muslim ulema and most of religious groups were opposed to the division of India because they believed that division of India actually meant division of Indian Muslims. What do we know of the Muslims of the sub-continent today: they are divided and further divided into 20 crores in India, 15 crores in Pakistan and 20 crores in Bangladesh making up a total of 55 crores? They would have been the holders of half of the total ruling power of united India in which there would have been outright Muslim rule in the regions of Pakistan, Kashmir and Bangladesh as it is today.
The next point is about the borders. One fails to see any logic in the assertion that a region having contiguous border with another region or country should become its part. If we accept this logic then Canada and the US, Mexico and the US, Russia and China, Mongolia and Russia and many Arab countries should be part of one another on the basis of their long common border. Then Nepal should be a part of India or India a part of Nepal. In the case of Jammu and Kashmir it is not correct to say that J&K is a dispute between India and Pakistan. The truth is that it is an issue between the people of that State, and the Governments of Pakistan and India in regard to the freedom of the J&K State. It is an issue between the people of J&K State and the Government of China about that stretch of State territory, which the Government of Pakistan has gifted to China, and also the portion of the territory China grabbed after India’s defeat in Indo-China war of 1962.
India took Kashmir case to the UN on January 1, 1948. It was not only on the basis of State’s accession but also on the basis of Stand-still Agreement and the right of the States to remain independent. It was this basis which made Pakistan agree to the 13 August 1948 Security Council Resolution Part II that the situation had changed in the State of Jammu and Kashmir owing to the presence of Pakistani troops there. Part A of the Resolution sates:
- Pakistan will withdraw all its troops from J&K State.
- Government of Pakistan undertakes to use its influence to recall the tribesmen and Pakistani nationals from the State of J&K who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting.
- Until a final solution is found, the Government of J&K will hold the administration of areas through local authority.
Part B states:
- India commits that after Pakistani forces, tribal and Pakistani nationals leave the State, and a bulk of the Indian forces will gradually leave the State.
- Till the final settlement, Indian government will maintain minimum number of troops with the consent of the Commission to assist local law and order authority.
- Indian government ensures that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir will take all necessary steps to protect law and order, and political and human rights of the people.
According to Part C of the Resolution, both governments agree that a decision made by the people of the Sate will be acceptable to them.
On January 5, 1949, the Government of Pakistan submitted a draft resolution before the UN "that the question of accession of J&K State with either India or Pakistan should be decided through a fair plebiscite. The UN observed that plebiscite should take place only after the recommendations made in Part A and B of the 13 August 1948 Resolution is implemented. The Commission should be convinced that peace has returned to the State of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistani troops, tribesmen and armed persons have left the State."
The position is that neither India nor Pakistan acted on the recommendations of the resolution. Furthermore, in the UN Resolution of January 5, 1949, the Government of Pakistan introduced an amendment seeking replacement of term “Kashmir issue” by “Pakistan and India dispute over Kashmir”. This resolution actually deprived us (Kashmiris) of our right to national freedom but gave the right to choose our master. This is not acceptable to a large majority of Kashmiris.
Now Kashmir issue is not only an indication of enmity between the two countries but accession of the State or its division on the basis of religion is nothing short of a suicide for the people of J&K State and the sub-continent at large. As such, taking into view the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the desire for prosperity and development of India and Pakistan and also the principles established by Qaid Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in regard to the princely states, there is only one solution to Kashmir issue. The original state from Gilgit to Lakhanpore should be re-united not on clan or religious basis but on the basis of a federation of nationalities living in the state. Each unit should have its autonomous status with no discrimination on the basis of the size. No region will have ascendancy on any other region. Within the federation, all regions and units will enjoy freedom and self-rule on the basis of equality. Only an independent and self-ruling federal state can promote cordial and friendly relations between India and Pakistan.
India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru repeatedly promised to the people of Jammu and Kashmir from various platforms, that is:
"I wish to draw your attention to broadcast on Kashmir which I made last evening. I have stated our government's policy and made it clear that we have no desire to impose our will on Kashmir but to leave final decision to people of Kashmir. I further stated that we have agreed on impartial international agency like United Nations supervising referendum". (Nehru's reiteration of plebiscite pledge in a telegram to Liaqat Ali Khan, November 03, 1947)
"We have given our pledge to the people of Kashmir and subsequently to the United Nations; we stood by it and we stand by it today. Let the people of Kashmir decide."
(Nehru's statement in Indian Parliament, 12 February 1951)
"Kashmir has been wrongly looked upon as a prize for India or Pakistan. People seem to forget that Kashmir is not a commodity for sale or to be bartered. It has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future."
(Addressing the All India Congress Committee on 6th July 1951, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India)
Indian authorities should not forget the promises made by their outstanding leader. These promises made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be implemented. We want to put an end to ignorance and poverty among the people in India and Pakistan and we want an era of development and prosperity dawn on the entire sub-continent.
This article was published in various Indian, Pakistani and Kashmiri newspapers.