The Kashmir conflict
historical over-view and possible alternatives.
(by Afzal Tahir)
The Kashmir question – as projected in official discourses or officially sponsored discourses, certainly influenced public opinion and mindsets both at home and abroad. The images been built as the source of conflict dragging two modern States into confrontation and conflict, out of all proportions. The bilateral image building of the conflict had been in practice for last 60 years, do not offer us any other explanation except that it was to confuse the thousands of years of Kashmir’s Political History, so to neutralise the question of self-determination under the cover of inter-state rivalry.
The work of scholars, writers and journalists, too, failed to escape the subject bilateral image of the conflict and so is the case with the State and non-State actors while contributing in the processes of conflict resolution. The strategic writers like, Ayesha Jalal concluded it: “A glittering prize, a tantalizing dream, a festering sore, Kashmir is the fairy tale that tortures the South Asian psyche.” Certainly, the dominant factor was and is: “a glittering prize” while dominating strategy had been influenced by “a tantalizing dream” among the “Siamese twins”.
One might take Ayesha’s argument in line with school of thought who see third world conflicts as endogenous and not exogenous in origin where the threat to national security come either from ethnic strife or weak legitimacy of ruling elites; or those who consider the distorted decolonizing process in the Indian-subcontinent; the incompatibility of different ethnic identities and economic backwardness etc. There is no disagreement on these lines of argument, but, one can not ignore the third world’s mindset, especially the ruling elites; partly the continuity of their colonial behaviour, and partly may be their training and skilled they have had, while serving part of Empire’s administration. There are still a dominating class of bureaucratic intellectuals who think that the colonial tools are still an available answer to the post colonial questions.
The history of elements of fear of the variation of multi denominations in a society had been used as a politicalweapon to deny or divert the public opinion, is a case in point. The concept of democracy, for the people, by the people, of the people, or the people’s relation to land, recognising their history and culture, had never been translated into public opinion, and never adopted as a policy, and, never practiced by the bureaucratic machines of newly decolonise States of the third world. The urges of the people’s right to self-determination, never allowed of its natural exit through democratic norms of dispensations. The socio political,socio economic and socio cultural demands dealth with patriarch, tribal and feudal responses on behalf of the State, that is by all standards, is an anti-thesis to a culture where rule of law prevailed and differences and demands settled through dialogue, arbitration, judicial process and finally through the process of vote only alternative course available to violence and anarchy.
There fore the history of an armed insurgency and violent resistance in third world, always been and is a natural out-come of the State’s backward responses; aggravating the social fabric of society, further into turmoil and turbulence resulting in human catastrophe, stagnation in socio economic, socio cultural and socio political life of a society. This might partly explain one of the reason of the poverty in third world.
The historical setting of Kashmir policy been persuaded by both India and Pakistan; for last sixty some years and the responses and approaches by the resistance movement, to identify and understand the fault line and to judge whether or not the present on going dialogue process would have any result oriented credibility that could pave the way to reduce the hardship of the people of the sub-continent of India. The element of suspicious in the people’s mind, is the rigid and barren mindsets of the bureaucratic machines of India and Pakistan, lacking any fresh air of creative thoughts that is necessary in the contribution of the process of conflict resolutions. The fact that there had been a clear legal and political guidelines, were available regarding to the Kashmir question right from the beginning, but, both the Governments are still lingering on and not ready to address the issue, in it’s frame work that was agreed and set out by both, sixty years before. Further hopelessness stems from the fact while taking into account the stated positions of both the Governments, yet, there is, no fresh ideas on the table, and the historical rigidity still prevail, and, dominated by patriarch, tribal and feudal mindsets.
Let us to see, the question, whether or not an approach of a historical rigidity adopted by the policy makers of both the Governments, is, one of the main reason of the failure and the continuity of the same, would be bound to fail too. We will look into the historical evidence, in the following, to prove the point of a rigid and non-compatibility of the policy over to the State of Jammu and Kashmir adopted and persuaded by both the Governments, i.e. India and Pakistan for last sixty years and the subject policy was also the clear contradiction of the very principle argument they have had used against Britain to get their own Independence:-
The representative of the Government of India, P. P. Pillai, (one of the Dominion of ex-British India) on 1st January 1948 sent a letter to the President of the Security Council transmitting a telegraphic communication from the Government of India dated December 31, 1947, lodging a complaint with the Security Council under Article 35 of the U.N. Charter, was a recognisation of the sovereign position of the State of Jammu Kashmir to the world body upon the request of Indian Dominion. The Instrument of Accession dated 26th October 1947 and the reply by the Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten on 27 October 1947 was and is a legal basis of the relation between India and the State of Jammu and Kashmir, that is in the political terms, a treaty base relations. It is also recognised both by India and UNO that the subject treaty is under special circumstances and subject to the approval of the people of that State. Further more, under the terms of subject Treaty, the Government of India took responsibilities to use all means to vacate the territory of the State from foreign invaders and to bring peace so that people of the united State of Jammu Kashmir could have chance to decide their future. The complaint to UN was one of the steps, taken under these responsibilities. What ever angle one may take to understand the conflict, the above mentioned legal and constitutional basis can not be ignore, and, that the World-Body, too, recognised the subject “Treaty document,” as the basic legal frame-work, by which the State of Jammu Kashmir is at par with another state, that was than Indian Dominion and now Indian Union. There fore the relations had been and still are based on the principle of treaty. The treaty base relations can not be confused with a constituent or associated constituent part of a political entity.
The question that the treaty had been ratified by constituent Assembly of J & K, was brought-up to the attention of UN during 1957 and rejected because of the same legal reason. Further more, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) a non-governmental body having consultative statues with UN, had expressed the same legal opinion in their report published during 1994 that the people of J & K have yet to exercise their right to self-determination. In fact J & K is at par with Indian Union on the basis of the terms of the treaty and have yet to decide whether to ratify the subject treaty, renegotiate it or terminate once for all to restore its own sovereignty.
The notion that J & K, is, a constitutional part of Indian Union or claiming so, do not hold any water and reflect a mindset of undemocratic, illegal or unconstitutional norms of behaviour. The Indian political discourse had and has been contradicting the very principle by which they themselves attained their own national independence from United Kingdom; that was the recognisation of the people’s right to self-determination. Historically, on one hand, India have had signed the Provisional Treaty of Accession subject to be tested through a direct question to the people.
The Indian political class have had adopted and designed a policy that was in total contrast with the principle of Inter-States relations based on treaty. It would not be an over statement that on one extreme the right wing while on other extreme the left wing, so far the question of J & K concerned, every one was happy to ride the RSS set band-wagon of “Integrate Kashmir Movement”. An organized political opinion that influenced by the fascist trends and directions, been projected among the masses of India contributed by conservative, liberal or progressive alike.
The Bharatiya Jana Sangh whose successor the Bharatiya Janata Party proclaimed on 15 January 1948: ‘Historically Kashmir has been a part of India. By India, we mean the Hindu India (Indian King Akber by deception occupied Kashmir only by 1586 or 1583). The, party’s parliamentary spokesman, Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, asked on 20 June 1952: Is Kashmir going to be a republic within a republic? Are we thinking of another sovereign parliament within the four corners of India? The then RSS Chief, Golwalkar, declared on 24 August 1953 that “the solution of the Kashmir question: …should not be left to the people of Kashmir. The opinion of the entire country should be taken in deciding the future of Kashmir”. The liberals and socialists of India were too shouldering the force integration movement of Kashmir with India the sine qua non of secularism. Nehru while addressing Indian National Congress, declared: ‘Kashmir has become the living symbol of that non-communal and secular State which will have no truck with the two nation theory on which Pakistan has based itself. On an other occasion, Pandit Nehru said: ‘Kashmir is symbolic as it illustrates that we are a secular state, that Kashmir with a… large majority of Muslims nevertheless of its own “free will” wished to be associated with India’. The socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia argued stronger unity between India and Kashmir, rejecting the idea of a plebiscite on the ground that…if democracy created difficulty in the task of ….[creating] a common nationality of Hindus and Muslims, then I attach more importance to that task.’ The same argument supported by Praja Socialist Party leader H.V. Kamath and demanded that steps should be taken to recovering Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The CPI, the un-divided Indian Communists, too see …. ‘the best interest of the people of Kashmir lay in their union with India. That would help strengthen the democratic movement in both countries (Indo-Pak).’ Further more the Party (CPI) dubbed the UNO as an Anglo-American imperialist agency and demanded to be debarred from Kashmir while revising earlier thesis of the ‘right of self-determination for national minorities’. The irony, that, CPI had supported the creation of Pakistan on the ground of the right of self-determination of Muslims. The Muslim political leaders of India, too, put their weight behind integration movement of Kashmir. In fact, all the Indian political class consciously or unconsciously exposed even seen to be holding the banner of RSS, that was Ek Pradhan, Ek Nishan aur Ek Vidhan (One Prime Minister, one flag and one constitution). One can see the commitment of Indian political class with democracy that is why Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah identify Indian democracy, ‘….the democratic process [of India] stops somewhere near Pathankot. Between Pathankot and the Banihal Pass you find only a shadow of these rights and after Banihal you do not find even semblance of them.’
Indian political class not only had been projecting a distorted version of democratic and secular norms, but, also, a vague security threat. As early as 26 October 1947, when there was not a hint of imagination of any future Indian confrontation with China. Nehru had telegraphed the UK Prime Minister: ‘Kashmir’s northern frontiers …run in common with those of three countries, Afghanistan, the USSR and China. Security of Kashmir, which must depend upon its internal tranquillity and existence of stable government, is vital to [the] security of India, especially since part of southern boundary of Kashmir and India are common. Helping Kashmir, therefore, is an obligation of national interest to India.’ The Indian commentator further explained ‘[Kashmir gives] us direct gateways to the North-Western Province of Pakistan and Northern Punjab. It is India’s only window to the Central Asian Republics of the USSR in the north, China on the east and to Afghanistan on the west. He is identifying a window of opportunity where as Nehru is crying as National Security threat in spite of the fact that these are essential parts of Inter-States relations.12 We have failed to identify any statement that would explain the terms and obligations of the treaty and without democratic process one wonder how the citizenship would be created? It is the socio-economic discourse and the forces of means of production that bring people of different colours, faiths and genders together, and that is how the communities developed and shaped, based on socio-economic necessities. We wonder, especially, the Socialists, that, to create common citizenship of Hindu and Muslim! It is a wonderful utopian notion very similar to that of a mullah who is claiming in his every week prayer-sermon that the Muslims are one nation, but the same mullah would not be allowed to enter into another so-called Muslim Country without a valid passport that would identify his citizenship, especially to a “rich-Muslim Country”.
The rigid position that have had been the guiding principle for the Indian political class over to Kashmir do not carry any substance of dynamics of modern states system that is constantly evolving and continue developing to take different shapes. The pace of change in every society: has always been in proportion to the changes in means of production and the process of innovation and development in tools and equipment, play a dominant role, not only in material changes but also a change in human thoughts and behaviour. Is it possible to explain that lands are Muslims, Hindu, Buda, Jew or Christian? Abu Gaith, one of the al-Qaeda leader, while reacting against US offensive in Afghanistan, on a video-tape: “Leave the scared land of the holly Prophet before we burn it under your feet” was trying to nationalise Islam to confined it to a particular geographical location such as so-called “Muslim Countries”. The question is what about American, Russian, Chinese, French, British and German Muslims? The religion is an idea and ideology can not be inclusive and confined to a geographical location. That is why, one can not choose his/her neighbour, they have learn to live with it, a phrase of “natural selection” would be more appropriate. The children do not have an option to select their brothers and sisters, because they born out by a woman, that make them brothers and sisters similarly the people of a particular geographical location born out of a particular land, inheriting history, cultural, language norms and value system, that is: INCLUSIVE, regardless of colour, faith, gender or any other possible human variations. The urges and struggle of human history took thousands of years to achieve and recognise the right to be inclusive and to eliminate all forms of discrimination was in fact the principle argument and anti thesis to Imperial norms of behaviour and expressed itself in modern state system. Though people still narrates to identify differently. The possible answer may be the historical attachment, that is in minds but not in practice any more. The practice, is state and citizenship while there are still people who identify themselves with tribes, locality or religion rather than state. The answer is that in history of Imperial systems, they have had been identified so, there fore historical over-lapping still continue in the thought process of some people. The Citizen of a State is a reality of today’s world, and the State is responsible to guarantee the equal rights to its citizens. The history of Empires, do not recognise state or citizen-ship. It was having different rules of engagement: “the masters and slaves”, the “Empires and its subjects”. It was the Empires, were in need of a religion to control their slave population and promote Kings and Queens in their minds as divinely origin. The membership, of a religious community (ummah), in today’s world, does not guarantee an automatic citizen-ship of a state. There fore the confusion by using out-dated argument and bogus ideologies; is, in line to the urges of those who want to reverse the course of history and to re-establish the old system of masters and slaves. In short the imperial mindsets still exist in narration expressed in different ideologies, though leading into same direction that is to re-build the Empires. There fore, Indian political class failed to recognise the fact that people’s relation to land was the basic principle argument used against colonial powers. Further more they also ignored the fact that Kashmir’s antiquity as per archaeological discoveries at Baoursahama go back to 3000 BC, almost a contemporaneous to the Mohenjadaro civilization, do not fall within the narrow notion of Princely States of India. There fore, a land, that owns a history, spread over more than 3000 years, certainly would be in need of more than 3000 years of time to accept“ a force integration”.
The political class in Pakistan too adopted the policy, not, so different to their Indian counter part. They, too, had never adopted a policy based on the principle to respect and recognised the people’s right to self-determination. Even before the partition of India, Mohammad Ali Jinah went to Kashmir where he was given a public reception by National Conference headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. He was well aware about the fact that Sheikh Abdullah was enjoying full support of the people of Kashmir, but in another public reception organised by Muslim Conference: He declared in a very authoritarian manner ‘I am the leader of the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent. There fore, I wanted Sheikh Abdullah to dissolve his party and join Muslim Conference.’ Kashmir was the only state where people came out on the streets, protesting and demanding that Mr. Jinnah should leave Kashmir. Subsequently, he was forced to abandon his Kashmir tour. The irony that Mr. Jinnah, himself was using religion, as a weapon of scare mongering among Muslims of British India, but when he realised that Sheikh Abdullah’s popularity is too deep rooted and stronger than that of him. Observing the clear trends among the masses that neither he nor his Muslim League had not stand a chance, he gave historical remarks against Sheikh Abdullah: ‘This tall man is reading holly Qur’an and exploiting the sentiments of the people of Kashmir.’
The Government of Pakistan reacted on the “Provisional Treat of Accession” with India, on 30 October 1947: ‘The Government of Pakistan cannot accept the version of the circumstances in which Kashmir acceded to the Indian Dominion.’ Kashmir was and has been projected as ‘an article of faith’. The Pakistani’s have had been fed with propaganda to fight ‘for Kashmir on the same principle they had fought for Pakistan.’ Mr. Mushtaq Gurmani, Kashmir Affairs Minister Government of Pakistan, till Nov 1951 articulated Kashmir policy as follows: ‘Kashmir is an article of faith with Pakistan and not merely a piece of land or a source of rivers….we are fighting for Kashmir on the same principle as that on which we fought for Pakistan. We took a solemn vow that we would secure for all areas of the subcontinent where Muslims were in the majority, the fundamental right of self-determination’.
The Pakistani rulers like their Indian counterpart – had been and still under the influence of so-called Kashmir’s strategic importance for national security. Liaquat Ali Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan as early as December 1947 wrote to his Indian Counterpart, Jawaharlal Nehru: ‘The security of Pakistan is bound up with that of Kashmir, and ties of religion, cultural affinity and economic interdependence bind the two together still closer.’ The Foreign Minister of Pakistan submitted before the Security Council on 8th February 1950: ‘The whole of the defence of that area ..is based upon the fact that this line would not be threatened from the flank. If Kashmir acceded to India, the whole of that flank would be threatened ..and broken..India would obtain direct access to the tribal areas and through [them], on to Afghanistan.’ ‘Kashmir as you will see from this map is like a cap on the head of Pakistan. If, I, allows India to have this cap on our head; than I am always at the mercy of India’ a description given by Liaquat Ali Khan in his interview with David Lilienthal.
The Pakistani ruling elite viewed Kashmir further as economic life-line and supported their argument that the headwaters of Pakistan’s major rivers and canal system lie in Kashmir. Kashmir’s timber, fruit, vegetables, woollen products, mineral deposits and hydroelectric potential had been part of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. Sir Zafrullah Khan, Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister summed up Kashmir’s importance to Pakistan: ‘If Kashmir should accede to India, Pakistan might as well, from both the economic and the strategic points of view, become a feudatory of India.’
The over exaggerated security-cum- economic policy emphasis and the lack of proper understanding of socio historical dynamics, Pakistani ruling elite invaded Jammu Kashmir, forcing Maharaja to make a premature decision for accession with India so that he could get military help from India. The accounts from one of the cabinet member of the Government of Pakistan Sirdar Shaukat Hyat Khan admitted: ‘Seeing the Maharaja’s and India’s bad faith, we decided to walk into Kashmir. I was put in charge of the operation. I asked for the services of Brigadier Sher Khan and Brigadier Akbar, both of 6/13th Frontier Force and requested that we should be allowed some arms which we could retrieve from…Lahore Fort….We lost Kashmir through our own blunders. The people there were jubilant over Pakistan’s actions and wanted to join it, but the tribes fell back pell-mell.’ Here, again, Pakistani were over exaggerating and misreading the aspirations and trends of Kashmiri people as their leader Mr. Jinnah did upon his visit.
Kashmiri were not ready for any accession either India or Pakistan and so is the case was with Maharaja. He enters into a stand-still agreement with Pakistan so that after transfer of power in British India, supply line should continue. In the mean time he wanted to opt for a best interest that suite to his people and the state, keeping in view the multi nationality, multi religious dimension of his state. Further more; the Jammu Kashmir was not just one of the princely states as people make to believe. There was a history of thousands of years of an independent state and it shares borders with many countries including India and Pakistan.
All the Governments in Islamabad continued to persuade a policy of self-contradiction. Firstly they had been caught on record while lying with UN on the question that, Pakistan had not invaded J & K territory, and, do not have had any troop-presence in that state. The fact finding mission upon arrival on sport discovered that Pakistan Government lie to UN Security Council. In short, Pakistan Kashmir policy; starts with lie and deception and end with the same. The Government of Pakistan claim to be a Muslim State and on the same argument, they wanted Kashmir to join them. The Prophet of Islam presented to his people, as per Islamic History, a human social behaviour. He asked people, if I would say to you that an army is behind this mountain coming to attack you, would you believe it? The reply from the people was: yes. Then he said why? The reply was: because you never lie. So, one can see the contradiction. There is a policy that based on lie and deception could be every thing else but can not have any relation to the Prophet of Islam.
There are many examples to illustrate Pakistan’s Kashmir policy a stumbling block in the resolution of the J & K question and source of the miseries of the people of the state;
First: The Government of Pakistan failed to withdraw it’s troops from J & K territory commonly known as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan gave legitimacy to the Indian policy of Integration.
Second: The occupied territory been divided into Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. The territory of Azad Kashmir been projected as Kashmir while Gilgit Baltistan pushed into a mystery land, reflecting the real motive of Pakistani Government; that is, to grab the land of Jammu and Kashmir.
Third: The Government of Pakistan on every National and International forum, demanding the right to self determination to the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir where as the demand for the same right under it’s occupation is a serious criminal offence.
Forth: The people of Pakistan by themselves never have a stable civil and democratic rights. For example: In 1962, Bhutto had decided to address a student meeting on Kashmir at the Punjab University in Lahore, at which Tariq Ali was present. Bhutto spoke eloquently enough, but the students were more concerned with domestic politics. Bhutto realised that students talking themselves and not giving attention that offended him. He asked the students: ‘What the hell do you want? I’ll answer your questions.’ Tariq Ali raised his hand to asked question: ‘We’re all in favour of a democratic referendum in Kashmir,’ ‘but we would like one in Pakistan as well. Why should anybody take you seriously on democracy in Kashmir when it doesn’t exist here?’ Bhutto glared angrily at him, but wouldn’t be drawn, “pointing out that he had only agreed to speak on Kashmir”.
Fifth: The people of Gilgit Baltistan been deprived of their fundamental basic human and political rights for last sixty years. There is no media outlet. The economical, cultural and historical rights of the people both in so-called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan been violated with impunity. The territory been used for last sixty years as a propaganda tool to divert the public attention from the real issues in Pakistan as well as a launching pad for proxy war against India in IoK. An Indian commentator put it correctly: ‘Pakistan’s oligarchical inheritors of the two nation theory need the Kashmir conflict to keep themselves in power.
In spite of the above mentioned facts, Pakistani leadership even today, except few, do not recognise and realise their faulty policy to correct it and to fulfil the obligations they have had made with UN. To withdraw their troops from that territory would enable the world to force India to address the question once for all. Lingering on with Kashmir conflict would not be any beneficial to Pakistan. Sixty years, is, too long to realise the faulty and utopian policy that is nothing but driven by territorial greed and out-dated imperialists urges of expansionism. Stephen Cohen put it correctly: ‘For Pakistani leaders, both civil and military, Kashmir was a useful rallying cry and a diversion from the daunting task of building a nation out of disparate parts’.
The political history of Kashmir spread over centuries, that, is substantiated by the evidence of archaeological discoveries at Baoursahama, that put Kashmir a contemporaneous to the Mohenjadaro civilization. The last ruling dynasty, that was Chak of Gilgit, a north-western Nation of Kashmir State, lost their independence in the hands of Indian Mughals.
Though there are different accounts of history, some sources put it 1583 while others 1586 when the Kashmir had lost it’s sovereignty. While interpreting historical evidence, one, must not ignore, that, conquerors always distort facts in order to float a fictional chain of narrations putting conquering class of a super-natural, divinely origin with new hope of relief rather than force occupiers, looters and plunderers. That is even happening in today’s history. The Iraq is a case in point where occupying forces successfully projected different version of history that was miles away from the real facts.
Historically speaking, the mountains surrounded Kashmir, had been the best barriers against the invaders and so are the case was with Mehmood of Gazni who failed to subdue Kashmir, and, instead he managed to conquered Punjab, Sindh and North India. The Mughal King of India, Akber, too failed to subdue Kashmir, but, only by using the famous tools of infiltration to create internal discontent and sectarian conflicts, enabled his forces to enter the territory of the state resulted a first ever foreign occupation. A mischievous design of dialogue and negotiations was initiated by Indian forces to trap Yusuf Shah. In spite of his wife’s contrary advice, he went to attend the meeting, where, he was arrested and sent into exile as British did with Mughals the same by sending Zafar into exile to Burma. Yusuf Shah’s grave, which is in South India, had been a source of inspiration to the resistance movements in Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah while himself in exile in South India use to visit that Grave.
The Mughal Empire had begun its own slow decline by 18th century that gave way to Ahmed Shah Durrani, the brutal ruler of Afghanistan. Durrani took control in 1752, doubling taxes and persecuting the embattled Shia minority with a fanatical vigour that shocked the people. Fifty years of Afghan rule were punctuated by regular clashes between Sunni and Shia Muslims. The historical event was repeated by fanatic Afghan under the supervision of Pakistan Army during 1988 where villages been burnt and looted in Gilgit. The charismatic leader of Punjab, Ranjit Singh, already triumphant in northern India, by 1819 took Srinagar. Kashmiri historians regard the 27 years of Punjabi (Sikh) rule that followed as the worst calamity ever to befall their country. The principal mosque in Srinagar was closed, others were made the property of the state, cow-slaughter was prohibited and, once again, the tax burden became insufferable – unlike the Mughals, Ranjit Singh taxed the poor. Mass impoverishment led to mass emigration. Kashmiris fled to the cities of the Punjab: Amritsar, Lahore and Rawalpindi became the new centres of Kashmiri life and culture. (One of the many positive effects of this influx was that Kashmiri cooks much improved the local food.)
The first British-Punjab (Sikh) war in 1846 resulted in a victory for the Company. Jammu Kashmir as under Punjabi occupation came too, under British occupation. Raja Gulab Singh a member of Dogra Nation of Southern Kashmir, that was Jammu, was part of Punjabi Government, had helped British in their war. That is why Punjabi historians consider Gulab Singh, a traitor. The historical fact is that Jammu Kashmir was his own homeland, had been occupied by Punjabi. He paid 7.5 million rupees to the forces of East India Company of Britain and had managed successfully to put the political history of Jammu Kashmir, back on track. For the sack of argument, if, one entertains the argument of purely a sale-deed, than why would he pay money for the territory where the majority population was not his own co-religious? He could make a deal with Britain for a different territory, where population could be his own co-religious rather than J&K.
It is the Treaty of Amritsar that turned the history of J&K possibly back on it’s own course. Though, the dogra can not be term as a democratic republic, simply, because there was no democracy at that time. The autocratic rules of engagement and Empire’s suppression of populations were the rules of the game. There was no human rights, no citizen-ship, no right to vote, slaves and masters were the values and morals of the society. There fore those who are quick to condemn that British sold Kashmir, in fact unconsciously and unknowingly reflect the Punjabi version of historical account. Otherwise, did the British took India themselves as a Bride or before them the Mughels, Afghan and Punjabi came to Kashmir to attend a marriage party. It is a non-sense that distort the treaty of Amritsar as sales deed to under mine the history that gives legitimacy to the demand for right to self determination of the people. There fore a continuity of the historical movement they enter into new face in 20th century, directly benefited of dogra dynasty.
Jammu Kashmir, unlike British India have had it’s history of struggle. The first ever party that was the subsequent result of Reading-room groups, Young Man Association and Trade Unions: The formation of Muslim Conference under the leader-ship of Sheikh Abdullah. The Religio-cultural diversity of the state and society forced the political landscape to distance itself from sectarian exclusive expressions of their activities, and, rather inclusiveness is only option that can unite the masses in their march to achieve the goals of a liberated society, peace, progress and prosperity. This was the result that the Party unanimously decided to change it’s name of Muslim Conference to National Conference. The National Conference had approved in 1944, a constitution for an independent Kashmir, which began: “We the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and the Frontier regions(Gilgit Baltistan), including Poonch andChenani districts, commonly known as Jammu and Kashmir State, in order to perfect our union in the fullest equality and self-determination, to raise ourselves and our children for ever from the abyss of oppression and poverty, degradation and superstition, from medieval darkness and ignorance, into the sunlit valleys of plenty, ruled by freedom, science and honest toil, in worthy participation of the historic resurgence of the peoples of the East, and the working masses of the world, and in determination to make this our country a dazzling gem on the snowy bosom of Asia, do propose and propound the following constitution of our state . . .”
The Bolsheviks success in Moscow and the subsequent announcement came out from Radio Moscow: ‘That from today on, we will not invade other’s territories and we are withdrawing our troops from Persia’. This was a decisive turn in the history of mankind that forced the ideologue of Imperial system to discover new ways to counter the class consciousness.
The Empires identified religion, the only effective weapon that could counter and divide the class consciousness. The subject policy was the main reason that British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, wrote to Jewish leader Rothschild later become Lord, popularly known as Balfour declaration of 1917, assuring him of their future state upon which they formed an effective Jewish Organisation as well as to counter Waffd Party’s demands, Akhwan-ul-Muslameen was created in Egypt. The subject policy, too, projected initially by Congress in India to prepare a ground of a sectarian receptive, leaving no chance for worker’s unity. The false consciousness that was created by using the force of ignorance – into sectarian dominated fear – into sectarian hatred – finally into conflict and violence, ready for a stage-manage political drama to be unfold.
The Muslim League created from Congress itself so that natural reflection of the society should be portrayed as Hindu-Muslim conflict, leaving no room for third opinion. The CPI, too, in my opinion was the handy works of Empire administration were included, if not in the list of friends but at least in the book of good guys. The purpose was simple, to keep an eye on those, whose credibility still suspect in the path to “God”. That was the back-ground, the British Indian Politics was taking it’s shape and it’s fall-out was the natural out-come of the situation that J & K too was unable to escape.
The classified documents now available for researchers’ shows that it was in fact British Empire, who oppose Blauchistan Indepence as well as the resolution of Bannu that was for Pushtoonistan. The reason was that in both cases, leadership was having links with Communists movements. The National Conference won a landslide victory in 1951 election where there was no such election in so-called Azad Kashmir till 1965. The National Conference government started very progressive reforms that were according to build Naya Duniya (New Kashmir), the most important of which was the ‘land to the tiller’ legislation, which destroyed the power of the landlords, most of whom were Hindu absentees and Muslims. They were allowed to keep a maximum of 20 acres, provided they worked on the land themselves: 188,775 acres were transferred to 153,399 peasants, while the Government organised collective farming on 90,000 acres. A law was passed prohibiting the sale of land to non-Kashmiris, thus preserving the basic topography of the region. Dozens of new schools and four hospitals were built, and a university was founded in Srinagar with perhaps the most beautiful location of any campus in the world.
The economical reforms were regarded as Communist-inspired in the United States, where they were used to build support for America’s new ally, Pakistan. A classic example of US propaganda is Danger in Kashmir, written by Josef Korbel. Korbel had been a Czech UN representative in Kashmir, before he defected to Washington. His book, was published by Princeton, in 1954, and, in the second edition, in 1966, Korbel had acknowledged the ‘substantial help’ of several scholars, including his daughter, Mrs Madeleine Albright of the Russian Institute at Columbia University.
The British was so over conscious of Communist movements that one of his officer while describing the situation in Gilgit Baltistan, noted that the Russian (USSR) while on the way to Mecca for Hajj via Gilgit could have local sympathisers that could ultimately turn into a guerrilla movement. This was the reason that Major Brown mange to dismantle the independent net work that was working locally and brought them directly under NWFP of Pakistan.
The Indian chauvinists exposed their real face while using proxy tools of their Imperial masters to conspire to topple Sheikh Abdullah where British pressure and contribution yet to be known. Kashmir was erupted. A twenty days long general strike began. A thousands of people indiscriminately and arbitrary arrested. Indian troops, who went to J & K under provisional treaty of accession to repel the invaders from the state territory but instead have had started war with people of Kashmir by opening repeatedly fire on demonstrators. The National Conference sources exceed thousands killed: official statistics record 60 deaths. An underground War Council, organised by Akbar Jehan, the wife of Sheikh Abdullah, orchestrated demonstrations by women in Srinagar, Baramulla and Sopore. The resistance movements in Pakistani Occupied side, too, crush ruthlessly. An armed resistance mostly lead by ex-soldiers of British Indian crushed with full force by Pakistan Army during 1954/55.
In fact, there was no plan for any militant movement against Maharaja’s Government during 1947 in Poonch. The reformist leader of Poonch, who had himself served in British Indian Army as Captain, Khan Mohammad Khan, invited Maharaja to Rawalakot. The purpose was to show a support of ex-British Indian Army soldiers who were in thousands, locally. It was expected that Maharaja’s Government in return would reform to accept his position as a constitutional head and powers would be transferred to an elected parliament (Responsible Government). The conspirators manage to succeed in scaring Maharaja that he might be killed; there fore he cancelled his visit. This started anger resulted into militancy-cum-sectarian conflict. Pakistan used the opportunity for a full fledge invasion that force Maharaja for a premature decision to sign a provisional treaty of accession. In both parts; the leadership drifted away from the basic point, which was to pursue the demands as laid down in the provisional treaty of accession that was the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from the territory so that people of United Kashmir could decide their future status.
The later evidence shows that both the Governments and their backers in London and Washington were of the opinion to maintain the division. As noted above that London was more worried about the Independent Jammu Kashmir. Kashmiri leadership failed miserably to understand the calculated traps. For example, Sheikh Abdullah’s meeting with China’s leaders organised by Pakistan, was a calculated move for a continuity of London and Washington approval towards Delhi and Islamabad’s Kashmir policy that was to consider it a bilateral territorial question. The point we have noted above, that, the British Empire, well before the partition of India have had comprehensives plans, in case of retreat, how the colonial territories would be shaped so to continue protect Empire’s interest? It would not be an over statement to say, that, in fact, it was British Empire the architect of the cold war.
It was British who had launched modern American Intelligence. There fore British secret opposition to the Blauchistan in spite of Mr. Jinnah’s favourable stance27, and opposition to Pashtoon Question, too, both on the pretext that the leadership was having some kind of links with communist movements. Further more, classified information shows that it was British pressure resulted to topple Sheikh Abdullah’s Government on the same pretext that three of his Ministers were known communist and he himself was too, was suspected of a communist inclination. This suspicious substantiated further when Sheikh Abdullah’s government introduced radical land reforms. The irony of the history is that the communist in Delhi were used under the pretext that Sheikh Abdullah was creating alliance with American. This is the hall mark of British way-of-doing-things.
There fore partition of India was not the answer to the problem except transfer of power from London to Delhi and Karachi. Leaving unsolved the national questions in British India and dividing on the basis of religion was not a step forward, in fact a step back-ward that further complicated the fabric of society.
Every passing day is bringing a new innovation, new development, the fast changes in terms of socio economic, socio cultural and socio political realities. The old barriers of religion, colour, gender and kinship are falling apart giving ways to new value, norms and behaviour. The human history finally on the course towards a liberated society, that would be bottom-up. The concept of USK exactly the principle of bottom-up that is how we understand society. The agricultural production by and large also transformed itself, linking with Industrial production. There fore the “Force of Economic necessity” is an essential factor driving people’s movement and uniting them in a place of work regardless of colour, culture, faith and gender. There fore every one have to learn to work and live with his or her neighbour regardless of variations and denominations of different of origins. Though, in history, there was a time when people use to live in isolation. For Portigies, until they did not had to managed to built a ship in-order to sail it to the bank of Morocco, in search of India, North African desert was a Hell in their believe system. There fore, communities, groups or states, based on exclusive ideologies can not work in today’s world. After partition of Indian, the problems are still exists. In Pakistan, the people of Sindh, Blouchistan, Punjab and Pashtoon are not ready to gave-up their national rights. That is why, Pakistan is a federal state. Same is the case with India. The Israel too, fail to ignore the Arab population because under International law, the State is responsible to guarantee the equal rights to all it’s citizens. The Saudi Arabia that is dominated by the Whaby’s of Njid, also under pressure because of it’s system still not up to the standard that should guarantee the equal treatment with women and contract work force.
The concept of USK is the continuity of the constitution passed by National Conference during 1944. The concept of USK based it’s notion of community both in origin and application, is socially grounded with all possible human variations. There fore different Nations and Nationalities, have a common political history. In fact in the history of Indian sub-Continent, the political term “United States” was first used by Maullana Hassrat Mohani. In 1924 on the occasion of Caliph Conference in Allabad, Maullana, proposed the guiding principle and clear objectives for Congress Party to pledge with, was: “Complete Liberation of India” and “United States of India”. He was on the winning side of the argument and most of the Congress workingcommittee was buying his idea but Mr. Gandhi put counter argument to defeat Mohani.
Now, the history is in front of us, and we are in a better position to judge the historical events: Had the Indian National Congress would have had adopted Maullana’s proposals; Subcontinent could have had avoided human catastrophe that was millions of massacre? There are no agreed figures, but according to the lowest estimates, the sectarian prescription of the subcontinent cost nearly a million lives. No official monument marks the casualties of Partition, there is no official record of those who perished. No one was held accountable. No war crime, no crime against humanity. Amrita Pritam, a Punjabi girl, 18-years old, born and brought up in Lahore but forced to become a refugee, left behind a lament in which she evoked the medieval Sufi poet and free-thinker, Waris Shah, whose love-epic ‘Heer-Ranjha’ was (and is) sung in almost every Punjabi village on both sides of the divide:
I call Waris Shah today:
‘Speak up from your grave,
From your Book of Love unfurl
A new and different page.
One daughter of the Punjab did scream
You covered our walls with your laments.’
Millions of daughters weep today
And call out to Waris Shah:
‘Arise you chronicler of our inner pain
And look now at your Punjab;
The forests are littered with corpses
And blood flows down the Chenab.’
Apart from NC constitution, the complex history of Jammu Kashmir was a demanding factor to explain the national question. The students of Gilgit, Baltistan and Hunza in Pakistani Universities, started questioning the scientific basis of Kashmiri struggle for national emancipation: a demand to clarify the role and future of different nations and nationalities, because they are of different ethnicity. Further
more Pakistani Student Organisations, especially right wingers, never leave an opportunity to not exploit the confusion that continued persisted in the resistance movement of Jammu Kashmir. USK was the answer to those questions, recognising Kashmir’s history, a history of different nations and nationalities who have had lived together in one political entity and still persist and sense of belong to the State (Country).
Politically speaking, there is a clear difference between Nation, Nationality and State. For example, Pakistan is a State but there are different Nations such as Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtoon and Blouch. Similarly, Indian Union comprises of different Nations, that is why it is known as Indian Union, though on papers. United Kingdom is the State but because there are differences over Northern Ireland, there fore State is Great Britain that is from Britannia recognising different nations such as English, Walsh and Scottish.
There are many examples to illustrate in order to prove the point. The term “member state” or “member states” used in the UN vocabulary, not “member nation” or “member nations”. Further more nationhood and statehood are the social expressions of human life reflect in political terms, which, is, dynamic and ever changing. For example: The ex-leader of Liberal Democratic Party of Britain, Mr. Charles Kennedy encountered with question to identify himself his relation with Scottishness and Britishness. His reply was: I am a Scottish, I am a British and I am the Citizen of Europe. Mr. Kennedy’s narration was correct, a reflection of socio political life that is taking place between Scottish and Britain and between Britain and Europe. The evidence of dynamics ever changing is; that the new citizenship, a European one, is, in the making.
The concept of USK is to recognise the dynamics of the society from bottom-up, that is how we understand the building-blocks of a society and political responses should be in the same way that is to recognising life as socially grounded reality? There fore USK would pave the way for a fast inter-action between the population of it’s neighbours. The free access to people’s socio economical socio cultural activities and free movements of goods and services with improved infrastructure, would be highly contributing factor between the people of North Western India, Northern Pakistan, Western China, Central Asia and to some extent Afghanistan. We see the ethnicity that over-lap between sovereign states, a strength rather than weakness. The over-lapping ethnicity with free movement in socio-economical inter-action, would pave the way as integrating factor. That is what happening in Europe, but in spite of the fact that Arab League was formed before European Union still failed to understand to recognise the scientific basis of a society, left them behind in the regional progress.
All the Nations and Nationalities agreed on one point, that is : No to division. This "NO" is from Poonch (Azad Kashmir), Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Baltistan and Gilgit. There are difference on the point that some wants union with India, others with Pakistan and a majority wants the restoration of it’s historical unity. Those, who want union with India, driven by the fear of the domination by bigger nations, similarly those who wants union with Pakistan, driven by sectarian hatred and an inconsistency of a mindset with the pace of change and the modern state system. All the political Parties of the State, have openly supported the idea of USK, except few who are still reluctant, because of third worlds experience where societies still driven by the forces of sectarian hatred, narrow mindedness and violent behaviour.
An open debate, cultural exchanges, close cooperation in business and socialisation would clarify the situation. Third World Societies don’t have to stay third-world for ever. It is time to change. That is why, Kashmir, is, offering advance ideas to address it’s political landscape? This would be a test case for the change as our four-fathers gathered in 1944 and declared from the platform of National Conference “to raise ourselves and our children for ever from the abyss of oppression and poverty, degradation and superstition, from medieval darkness and ignorance, into the sunlit valleys of plenty, ruled by freedom, science and honest toil”.
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