If the past held no sway over the future, we would be different people. Times change, but people don't for you have to live on the grid and not off it. Equally, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Many philosophers and writers have dealt with history’s learnings, but no one has captured this essence better than Herman Hesse who wrote, “For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone.”
In many ways Pakistan’s approach towards Kashmir has been so repetitive that it borders on the ludicrous. It is uncanny, the similarity adopted in their strategy and tactics to pouch Kashmir. What Jinnah planned and failed with remains the only boilerplate. After the plan to partition the country and create the two Dominions of India and Pakistan was announced on June 3, 1947, Mohd. Ali Jinnah made every effort to cause a rift between the Maharaja of Kashmir and Indian leaders and thus prevent the state’s accession to the Indian Union. To facilitate this process, he sent detailed instructions to the Muslim Conference in Kashmir that they should advocate sovereign independence for the state and oppose tooth and nail any suggestion made by other political parties in favour of accession to India.
The Muslim Conference leaders, who in the normal course were anxious that the state should accede to Pakistan, could not follow the significance of this directive. So Chaudhri Hameedullah Khan, president of the Muslim Conference and a few other leaders met Jinnah in Delhi. Journalist G K Reddy who worked with Kashmir Times, first in Srinagar from where he was externed and then with Associated Press of India in Lahore, wrote several seminal pieces on those tumultuous times. Kashmir Times was pro-accession to Pakistan and as such was banned by the Maharaja's administration. So Reddy went to Lahore and reported from there. His insider's account of what transpired is considered one of the most authentic. Let him take up the narrative:
“I later learnt from them that Mr Jinnah told them that once Kashmir claimed independence and refused to accede to the Indian Union, then it will be quite easy to force its accession to Pakistan at an appropriate moment.”
“They were told to give all possible assurances to the Maharaja that the Muslim Conference would stand by the state’s independent status, so much so that Chaudhri Hameedullah Khan made a public statement that if ever Pakistan tried to invade Kashmir, he would be the first person to take up arms and fight Pakistan. In addition, Mr Jinnah assured the former PM of Kashmir, Pandit RC Kak, through the Nawab of Bhopal, that not only would Pakistan respect Kashmir’s sovereignty, but also if India refused to sign a Standstill Agreement with the state and imposed economic sanctions, Pakistan would help in every possible manner.
“The foreign minister of Bhopal Mr Qureshi was the intermediary who visited Kashmir several times to convey these secret assurances. When Mahatma Gandhi was to visit Kashmir, the Muslim Conference general secretary asked for Mr Jinnah’s instructions whether there should be hostile demonstrations or not, and in reply Jinnah sent the cryptic message: ‘Leave that rogue to the tender mercies of Kak’.
“Fortunately some documentary evidence of the Bhopal foreign minister’s secret missions and also some letters written by Mr Jinnah’s secretary to the Muslim Conference leaders in Kashmir fell into the Maharaja’s hands and resulted in Kak’s sudden dismissal (pressure from Mahatma Gandhi during his visit to Srinagar was also responsible) just before August 15. Mr Jinnah shrewdly understanding that his machinations were miscarried sent Sheikh Sadiq Hassan and Nawabzada Rashidali Khani, Muslim League leaders from Punjab, to Kashmir with instructions that the Muslim Conference should reverse its stand and launch a campaign demanding the state’s immediate accession to Pakistan.
“People in Poonch and Mirpur districts who are mostly ex-servicemen were also supplied with arms and ammunition. Thus in a matter of few weeks the stage was set for widespread internal disturbances when the signal was given. Actually attempts were made to start communal rioting in Srinagar on the pretext that the Pakistan flag was insulted, but these efforts did not materialise.
“Then all the important leaders of the Muslim Conference were asked to leave the state and carry on their subversive activities from Pakistan, so that the Kashmir government could not arrest them. In response to these instructions, almost all the Muslim Conference leaders and important workers left the state in batches and assembled in Pakistan, from where they established contact with their party workers in the border districts. The people of Poonch and Mirpur, mostly ex-servicemen, with the help of arms and ammunition supplied by the Pakistan government, rose in revolt in early September and fought pitched battles with the state troops. Armed bands crossed from the adjoining Pakistan districts into the state territory to help the insurgents.
“In the meantime, a rigorous economic blockade was imposed on Kashmir and the supply of all essential commodities such as food grains, salt, cloth, petrol, kerosene and medical supplies were totally stopped in spite of Kashmir’s Standstill Agreement with Pakistan. Side by side with these tactics of economic pressure and fomenting of internal disorder, the Pakistan government started secret negotiations with the National Conference to woo it and win it over, if possible, or otherwise at least put it off guard while Pakistan perfected its plans for the invasion of Kashmir.
The DC of Rawalpindi and Dr Taseer, then an employee of the West Punjab government were sent to Srinagar to contact Sheikh Abdullah and persuade him to support the state’s accession to Pakistan. After preliminary discussions with these emissaries, Sheikh Abdullah sent one of his colleagues GM Sadiq to Rawalpindi for obtaining specific terms from the Pakistan government. Earlier, Ghulam Mohammed Bakshi, a top national Conference leader met the Pakistan Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, the provincial premiers of West Punjab and NWFP, besides other senior officials. I learnt later that Liaquat Ali Khan offered that if Sheikh Abdullah agreed to Kashmir’s accession by hook or crook, he would lead the provincial government in Pakistan.
“The plan was as follows : Sheikh Abdullah was to make a public statement that in view of the geographical location and communal composition of Kashmir, the state should accede to Pakistan. If the Maharaja refused to accept this advice, then Sheikh Abdullah and his colleagues were to cross over to Pakistan where they were to set up a provisional government of Free Kashmir in Pakistan and under its auspices a large scale invasion of the state was to take place.
“The Pakistan government, however, never believed that this plan would work. I learnt later from high level Pakistan officials that these negotiations were in fact a trop. The real plot was as follows:
“On the basis of these negotiations Sheikh Abdullah was invited to Karachi for personal discussions with Jinnah and if he failed to come around, he was to be secretly arrested and kept in an unknown place and a provisional government of Free Kashmir formed under his presidentship, while Sheikh would be rotting in a jail cell. That is why the D Day for the invasion of Kashmir had to be postponed several times, because the Pakistan government wanted to get Sheikh across to Karachi. Instead Sheikh went to Delhi because of which Pakistan authorities felt that their game was up and hence instructions were issued to launch the invasion without further delay.
“Actually the blueprint for the invasion of Kashmir was drawn up much earlier. Liaquat Ali Khan summoned a top secret meeting in Murree in the beginning of September and it was attended among others by Mamdot, Abdul Qayyum, Sardar Shaukat Hyat Khan, Khwaja Abdur Rahim, Brig Akbar Khan, Brig Sher Khan, Brig Shahid Hamid, Air Cmdre Jhanjua, Mian Mohd Abbas, and a number of INA officers.
“Plans for the invasion were drawn up and it was decided that ex-servicemen from Poonch, who number about 80,000 war veterans, should be used as the main striking force. The two provincial premiers were asked to give all the assistance to these military officers to collect, train and transport the necessary personnel to various points for a lightning invasion. Mian Mohd Abbas (Accountant General of Pakistan Military Accounts) was asked to provide them with the necessary funds. Orders were issued to the Army authorities to make available necessary arms, ammunition and other equipment required for such an invasion.
“Liaquat Ali Khan decided to conduct the political negotiations with Sheikh Abdullah under his direct supervision and the military officers were asked to speed up their arrangements for the invasion. Large number of Poonchis and also ex servicemen belonging to the border districts were collected in military training camps around Rawalpindi and given strenuous refresher training and held in readiness for the final attack, while in the meantime small armed parties raided the State border towns and villages at various points and forced the dispersal of the State forces.
“During those days, the situation in the tribal areas began fast deteriorating and it was feared that the worsening economic conditions coupled with growing Afghan propaganda in favour of ‘Pathanistan’ may lead to grave disorder. Sir George Cunningham wanted that Pakistan should make a dramatic move, which would stir up the religious fervor of the tribesmen and strengthen the bonds of Islamic fraternity between Pakistan tribal areas, was necessary to wean the tribesmen away from Afghan influence.
“He conveyed this to the Pakistan government and a meeting was convened in Rawalpindi which was attended by Liaquat Ali Khan, Mudie, Mamdot, Qayyum and Cunningham, besides senior military officers like Messervey and Gracey. It was decided at the meeting that tribesmen should be employed for the main invasion of Kashmir and effective propaganda carried out on in the tribal areas for a ‘jehad’ against Kashmir. Qayyum and Cunningham suggested that these tribesmen should be also encouraged to settle down in the 10 mile strip of land on the India-Pakistan border which was evacuated by Punjabi villagers for fear of border raids from East Punjab. But the West Punjab government was not prepared to take up this responsibility.
“The attack was to take place on October 12, then it was postponed to October 16 and then to the 20th and finally to October 22. The final decision not to wait any longer was taken at a meeting on October 20 in the Attock Rest House. Here it was decided that the main attack should be made from the Abottabad side and simultaneously a pincer attack was to be launched from Kohala. Poonchis and Punjabi ex-servicemen who were trained in military camps around Rawalpindi were to be sent to Poonch to make a dash to Poonch town and after its capture march to Uri where they were to be met by two columns from the Abottabad side and Kohala, thus all the three strikes forces making a grand dash for Srinagar”.
But the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Between collection, loot and wanton killing of non-Muslims, these tribesmen missed their deadlines on the grand dash for Srinagar. And then the tide turned, India put its foot in the door as it sent air borne troops. The aforementioned report prepared by GK Reddy provides valuable insights into the happenings of the time. Reddy, who was Editor of Kashmir Times and also AP’s representative in Kashmir and later Lahore, was externed by the Maharaja on charges of pro Pakistan propaganda. At some point, Reddy is believed to have been interned by Pakistani authorities who regarded him as a spy. He escaped to India in 1948, and the evidence he carried with him of the US and Pakistan involvement in the invasion of Kashmir was published in the weekly Blitz in a series of articles starting 9 June 1948, causing a national and international sensation. In any event, soon after he crossed over to this country, G. K. sought an interview with Jawaharlal Nehru and submitted to him irrefutable evidence of Pakistan's direct involvement in the Kashmir war with indirect US assistance.
He himself claimed that he was trapped by Pakistan authorities into visiting Lahore where he was forced to stay on for seven months, ‘till he escaped to India’. He wrote that his statement was an objective account of the information that came in his possession. What is interesting from his account is that Pakistan has not changed its strategy for Kashmir. The same modus operandi continues to be used even today.
In many ways, it is believed that the progenitor of this strategy was Sir George Cunningham. Who was this man and how did he play such an important role in Pakistan’s failed play for Kashmir? Philip Woodruff in his seminal work, Men who Ruled India, Vol II, provides the answers.
Sir George was governor of the North West Frontier Province from 1937 to 1946 and again, at the invitation of the governor general of Pakistan, from 1947-48. For the first three years of his tenure, he had the strange problem of a Muslim Congress ministry. Everything was topsy-turvy on the Frontier when in the 1920s, the people of the settled districts, not of course the tribesmen across the border, came to know that they might play a new game called politics, they began with enthusiasm. They were a healthy and high spirited people and their idea of politics was to embarrass the government. It was easy to form an anti government party; what was not so easy was to find a programme of grievances, or, turning it into jargon, an ideology, and someone to quarrel with.
There was really one genuine political question in administered territory; the Khans or chiefs retained some feudal privileges which were out of date and they were still in a position to exercise a good deal of influence. It was possible to draw a kind of party line between the friends of Khans and their opponents and the new anti government party took the side of the opponents.
Sir John Maffey, an amir parwa, a protector of the nobles, had made a belated attempt in the early 1920s to increase the power of the Khans and that had sharpened the feeling. And in villages that had no meaning at all, two factions who opposed each other for the mere sake of strife would choose one party or the other.
In the 1920s and in that part of the world, the Muslim League was a decorous and law abiding body; the opponents of the Khans and of the government therefore chose to affiliate themselves to the Indian National congress (INC) and in that improbable partnership they remained until politics suddenly became serious in August 1947. It was as though in Victorian times, the southern Irish of the shillelagh and moonlighter school had decided to join the Primrose League when the conservatives were in opposition, it might be a convenient alliance for the moment, but their ideals were different. In 1947, the affiliation to Congress India ceased to be convenient and disappeared.
When this strange party came into office in 1937, they were led in the Frontier province by Dr Khan Saheb, a man who had been surgeon to a regiment of the Indian Army and had not the least personal animosity either to British officers or to European ways. Like the other Congress premiers, most of his views were a god deal modified when he came into office and it was seldom that any real controversy seemed likely with the governor, who was, on the whole, protector of the poor and felt some sympathy for the Khans. When difficulty did arise, Sir George Cunningham would ask him round to play bridge and lose a few rubbers amicably, after which it was usually possible to come to an agreement.
In 1947, when the new Dominion was set up, Sir George, who had been a year in retirement, was invited to come back as governor, being the man everyone trusted. In Mission with Mountbatten, it is clearly articulated: “Indian opinion has been inclined to suspect Cunningham of Machiavellian designs and of secretly sponsoring the diversions of tribes into Kashmir”.
On January 1, 1948, India arguably made its worst tactical diplomatic blunder. Almost overnight, a localised bilateral matter was turned into a global issue on a multilateral stage. India took the issue to the UN Security Council requesting it to:
to prevent the Pakistan government personnel – military and civil from participating or assisting in the invasion of Kashmir state;
to call upon Pakistan nationals to desist from taking any part in the fighting in Kashmir; and
to deny to the invaders – access to and use of its territory for operations against Kashmir, military and other supplies and all other kinds of aid that might tend to prolong the struggle.
Pakistan, of course, denied flatly having given any help to the raiders.
On January 17, 1948, the Security Council adopted a resolution submitted by the representative of Belgium, asking both, the government of India and Pakistan to refrain from any acts which might aggravate the situation in Kashmir.
On January 20, 1948, the Security Council established a commission composed of three members, one to be selected by India one by Pakistan and the third to be designated by the two members so selected. The resolution instructed the Commission to proceed to the subcontinent, investigate the facts and exercise any mediatory influence likely to smooth away difficulties.
On April 21, 1948, the Security Council adopted a revised draft resolution presented jointly by Belgium, Canada, China, Colombia, UK and US. The resolution reaffirmed the resolution of January 17 and enlarged the scope of the commission to five. It asked Pakistan to secure the withdrawal from Kashmir of tribesmen, Pakistan nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the state for fighting and to prevent any intrusion into the state of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the state.
After the withdrawal of the invaders, Indian Army forces were to be reduced and a plebiscite held on the question of accession of Kashmir to India or Pakistan.
Resolution of June 3, 1948 reaffirmed the earlier resolutions. It directed the Commission to proceed without delay to the area under dispute with a view to accomplishing in priority the duties assigned to it.
On July 7, 1948, the UN Commission arrived in Karachi. The next day, it was informed that the Pakistan Army had at that time three brigades of regular troops in Kashmir and that these troops had been sent there in the first week of May. These troops were sent without informing the Security Council.
On August 13, the UN Commission passed a resolution which asked for a cease fire and truce, envisaging three steps:
As the presence of Pakistan troops in the territory of the State of J&K constitutes a material change in the situation since it was represented by the government of Pakistan before the Security Council, the government of Pakistan agrees to withdraw its troops from that state.
The government of Pakistan will use its best endeavour to secure the withdrawal from the state of tribesmen and Pakistan nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the state for the purpose of fighting.
When the Commission shall have notified the Government of India that the tribesmen and Pakistan nationals have withdrawn, thereby terminating the situation which was represented by the Government of India to the Security Council as having occasioned the presence of Indian troops in the state of J&K, and further that the Pakistan forces are being withdrawn from the state, the Government of India agrees to begin to withdraw the bulk of their forces from the state in stages to be agreed upon with the Commission.
On August 20, 1948, India accepted the resolution. Subsequently, in two letters to the prime minister of India, dated August 25, the UN Commission gave the following assurances:
that the sovereignty of J&K government would not be brought into question.
that no recognition would be afforded to the so called Azad Kashmir government.
that the territory occupied by Pakistan troops would not be consolidated to the disadvantage of the state.
that the question of the Northern areas – through which the trade routes pass to Central Asia and which had not been under the effective control of the Pakistan army would receive consideration in the implementation of the Commission’s proposals.
On September 22, the Commission left for Europe as it felt it had temporarily exhausted the possibilities for further negotiations on the subcontinent. While in Paris, the Commission held discussions with representatives of India and Pakistan who had gone there to attend the UN General Assembly session. Meanwhile, on November 25, 1948, the Commission presented its first interim report to the Security Council, The Council desired that the Commission should continue its efforts for a peaceful solution.
However, between August 1948 and the spring of 1949, two important events took place. First Pakistan took over command and direction of the Azad Kashmir forces and built them up into thirty-two fully armed battalions which, according to the military adviser of the Commission, represented a formidable force. Secondly, Pakistan occupied some 10,000 sq miles of the strategically important Northern Areas.
Despite this, talks between the Commission and representatives of both nations went on favourably. On December 11, 1948, the Commission submitted to both nations its proposals on the basic principle of a plebiscite, which were supplementary to the Commission’s resolution of August 13, 1948.
The Commission also sent one of members – Dr Lozano – the Colombian representative and his alternate Mr Samper to the subcontinent to provide the two governments with any necessary explanations to its proposals. Between December 20 and 22, talks were held between Dr Lozano and the Indian prime minister. During the discussions, Pandit Nehru pointed out the presence of thirty-two armed battalions of Azad Kashmir would be a threat to the security of the state.
Moreover, Panditji explained that with such a large number of Azad Kashmir forces under arms, Muslim and non-Muslim refugees from the ‘Azad’ area, who held different political views, would not dare return to their homes to take part in the plebiscite. Dr Lozano agreed that there should be large scale disbanding and disarming of these forces.
On December 23, on the basis of clarifications given, the government of India accepted the Commission’s proposals. Two days later Pakistan also accepted them.
On January 1, 1949, the governments of both countries declared that in view of the UN proposals having been accepted, there was no reason for the continuation of the hostilities. Effective one minute before midnight of January 1, 1949, the cease fire came into being.
On January 5, 1949, the Commission reconvened at Lake Success and adopted a resolution embodying its proposals of December 11 – the accession of Kashmir would be decided by a free and impartial plebiscite and the UN secretary general would nominate a plebiscite administrator who would derive from the J&K government the necessary powers.
On February 4, 1949, the Commission returned to the subcontinent. After several meetings and communiqués with both governments, the Commission presented its truce terms on April 28, 1949. The truce terms were divided into three parts:
Ceasefire – Commission agreed that the Indian government might be allowed to station garrisons north of the ceasefire line (Northern Areas) should the Commission or the Plebiscite Administrator feel it was necessary for the defence of the area.
Withdrawal of troops – involved schedules of withdrawal of the Pakistan troops and the bulk of Indian forces.
It must be added here that in the view of the Commission, the replies of neither India nor Pakistan constituted an unreserved acceptance of the proposals. The Government of India, in its reply, stated that the proposals did not make adequate provisions for the security of the state and suggested:
that the agreement of the government of Pakistan should be obtained now to the disbanding and disarming of these 32 battalions (Azad Kashmir forces). The Commission has already agreed to large scale disbanding and disarming and has informed the government of Pakistan that this its objective; it should not therefore, be difficult, if Pakistan has accepted this objective, to obtain its agreement
the discussion regarding the procedure and phasing out of the disbanding and disarming of Azad forces should commence immediately after the truce is signed
the phasing of the withdrawal of the Indian troops should not be divorced from and should depend on, the progress made with the actual disbanding and disarming of the Azad Kashmir forces.
the principle that Indian troops should garrison important strategic points in the Northern Areas – to eliminate the dangers of locals armed by Pakistan indulging in raids into the Valley and in armed interference with the State’s trade with Central Asia, should be accepted.
Suggestion for arbitration
After a stalemate had been reached on the question of disposal of Azad Kashmir forces and related questions, the Commission on August 9, 1949, invited the two governments to joint meetings to consider the truce terms. No agreement could, however, be reached on the agenda of the meetings because Pakistan was not willing to discuss the question of disbanding and disarming of the Azad Kashmir forces and the administration of the Northern Areas. On August 26, 1949, therefore, the Commission suggested arbitration as a method of solving the differences.
The Government of India, while not opposed to arbitration in principle, said the question of disbanding and disarming the Azad forces was no more a matter of arbitration than the complete withdrawal of the Pakistan forces which had illegally entered the state. They emphasized the necessity of creating a peaceful atmosphere, it was stated, could not be created as long as the Azad forces remained in being. Disbanding and disarming of the Azad forces was, not a matter of arbitration, but for affirmative and immediate decision. As a result of this disappointment, the arbitration proposal was dropped.
On December 17, 1949, the UN Commission presented its third interim report to the Security Council. The Council requested its then president, General McNaughton of Canada, to meet informally with the parties concerned and examine the possibility of finding a mutually satisfactory basis for dealing with the question.
On December 22, 1949, General McNaughton submitted his proposals. The programme of demilitarization, which included the withdrawal of the regular Pakistan forces; the withdrawal of Indian forces not required for the purpose of security or for the maintenance of local law and order on the Indian side of the ceasefire line; and the reduction by disbanding and disarming of the armed forces of the state of J&K on the one side, and the Azad forces, on the other.
The Northern Areas were also included in this programme of demilitarization; the administration was to be continued by the Pakistan authorities and not the lawful government of Kashmir.
Owen Dixon’s proposals
On March 14, 1950, the Security Council adopted a resolution appointing a single mediator in Kashmir. The mediator’s task was to bring about demilitarization of the state on the basis of principles of the McNaughton proposals or such modifications of these principles as might be mutually agreed to. He was also authorized to make other suggestions which would be likely to contribute to the expeditious and enduring solution to the dispute.
The mediator, Sir Owen Dixon, arrived in the Indian subcontinent on May 27, 1950. After preliminary discussions and study, he invited the prime ministers of Pakistan and India to a joint conference in Delhi. The conference, which took place on July 20-24, discussed various proposals for the holding of an overall plebiscite in Kashmir. No agreement, could, however, be reached between the two governments over the question of conditions that should govern the plebiscite. Sir Owen, therefore, put forward the plan that wherever the desires of the inhabitants were known, the territory should be allocated between India and Pakistan, due regard being given to geographical, economic and demographic considerations. But where the desires of the people were uncertain, a plebiscite should be held for ascertaining them. The voting would be confined to that limited area.
India, without entering into any commitment, expressed its willingness to consider a solution on these lines, but Pakistan refused to entertain the proposal. Sir Owen then indicated to India certain conditions he had in mind for a partial plebiscite. The major condition was the transfer of the complete authority and functions of the then Kashmir government to the plebiscite administrator. India rejected it on the ground that it justified aggression and was contrary to the resolution of August 13, 1948, in which the sovereignty of J&K government was recognized over the entire territory of the state, including the area under occupation by Pakistan and Azad Kashmir forces.
Report to the security council
In his report to the Security Council on September 19, 1950, Sir Owen expressed the view that when the frontier of J&K was crossed by hostile elements in October 1947, it was ‘contrary to international law’ and that when units of regular Pakistan armed forces moved into the territory of the state, “that too was inconsistent with international law”.
Stating that all means of settling the dispute had been exhausted, the mediator recommended that India and Pakistan should now be left to negotiate a settlement themselves. The Security Council should, however, press upon India and Pakistan to reduce the military strength of the two governments holding the ceasefire line to the ‘normal protection of a peace time frontier’. As regards the question of plebiscite, Sir Owen said, “If there is any chance of settling the dispute by agreement, it lies in evolving some means of allocating the valley of Kashmir rather than through over plebiscite”.
Once again convincing me that Pakistan remains steadfast in its quest for Kashmir, incorrigible in its belief that they were cheated out of the Valley, even as they stormed and captured most of the erstwhile princely state. Jinnah's obsession remaining the centrifuge for Pakistan foreign and military strategy. Which brings me to German philosopher George Hegel who developed a dialectical scheme that emphasized the progress of history and of ideas from thesis to antithesis and thence to a synthesis. - "Rulers, Statesmen, Nations, are wont to be emphatically commended to the teaching which experience offers in history. But what experience and history teach is this — that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it. Each period is involved in such peculiar circumstances, exhibits a condition of things so strictly idiosyncratic, that its conduct must be regulated by considerations connected with itself, and itself alone."