The story of Kashmir is a Greek Tragedy with successive lines drawn in blood. The struggle of the aspirations of the people aside, it is also an endless tale of betrayals, geo strategic intrigues and cantankerousness. The intrigues within, Nehruvian biases, Patel’s Machiavellism, the Kashmiri uprising followed by the tribal invasion, Radcliffe Award, the divided riparian, accession of Bikaner, Tibet, the Ceasefire Line and now the Line of Control.
If Narendra Singh Sarila the ex ADC to Lord Mountbatten is to be believed, all this was the fallout of the British geostrategic designs to contain a communist Russia and China. He goes on to write, “In agreeing to Jinnah’s project, the British also managed to whittle down Jinnah’s territorial demands to the minimum required for Britain to safeguard its defence requirements”. Plan for smaller Pakistan was not worked out by Mountbatten in 1947 as generally believed but by Lord Wavell in 1945”
Tragically, Pakistan’s unstinted support has been shadowed at crucial moments by the same overbearing allies. When I hear slogans like, ‘Kashmir runs in our Blood’, I often take it a prelude to forgetting the Kashmiri People and putting Pakistan’s interests first. But beyond the true aspirations of the people it also demonises those who played a role to stir the freedom struggle, amongst them, the Progressives of Lahore.
The late Professor Samuel Martin Burke, a founding member of Pakistan’s Foreign and Nuclear Policy understood the Congress and AIML mindsets. His books on framing of Indian Policy elucidate just that. He wrote that accession of Kashmir was crucial to Nehru’s dream of a rediscovered India of antiquity. A Muslim majority state suited his concept of secularism. Fabian socialism held a romantic appeal for the progressives, amongst them Faiz, Mian Iftikharuddin and Khan Abdul Qayum Khan who were also the Congress points men for Sheikh Abdullah, the symbol of resistance to the rulers of Kashmir. The division of Punjab ensured that India retained a land route to Kashmir, control of rivers and important head works in East Punjab. Bikaner, the State with biggest ammunition depots of united India ceded for these waters. In the days of Hind Chini Bhai Bhai and enamouring a socialist agenda, Nehru-Patel even traded off Tibet for Kashmir. These facts blow holes through Sarila’s belated revelations that undermine the struggle for Pakistan.
But the progressives of Lahore once the pride of Congress knew and challenged these motives. The trio of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Dr. MD Taseer and Mian Iftikharuddin enjoyed close relations with both GM Sadiq and Sheikh Abdullah. Later Hafiz Jullundri and Maulana Daud Gaznavi also made efforts to win him over to the AIML. This is precisely why Indian historians label these gentlemen as shameless intriguers of Pakistani left and a blot on the history of left movement in the Indian sub-continent. But these stalwart leftist Muslim Leaguers were also a pain in the neck for the feudal Unionists who were to later become the power base of Muslim League in Punjab. Close to the partition and later, they effectively insulated Qaid e Azam from these leftists and later drew their blood through military regimes.
Radcliffe had hit Pakistan’s interests in multiple ways. The Indian plan for annexing Kashmir was obvious. It is debatable if Jinnah knew of the invasion plans. What is definite is that Dr. Taseer and Mian Iftikhar travelled repeatedly to Kashmir to galvanise support in favour of Pakistan. They found an ally in Prime Minister Liaqat Ali who after the aborted visit by Mr. Abdullah in October 1947 gave the go ahead for the invasion. The invasion plans were a secret shared only with Khan Abdul Qayum Khan, Mr. Aslam Khattak, Khurshid Anwar and General Akbar. Some researchers write that an understanding to levels of over confidence existed between Jinnah and the Maharaja of Kashmir and that Jinnah was sure that Kashmir would join Pakistan. Ultimately, India managed to scare him to submission. Some opine that the tribal invasion was the catalyst.
A careful reading of the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharajah Hari Singh is convincing to the minute legal details. It is a deliberate, well drafted and a sound document seeking to secure the immediate and long term interests of the Kashmir-India Nexus. In no way does it appear to be a document prepared in a hurry when Lashkars from Pakistan were knocking at the doors of Srinagar and Sheikh Abdullah threatening a local uprising. If we carry out an analysis on the amendments in the Constitution of India as regards Kashmir, it is revealed that the progression of amendments is chronologically congruent to the points enunciated in the Instrument of accession in that progressively all control ultimately shifts to India.
Field Marshal Manekshaw’s own memoirs challenge the Indian version and describe the confused state of mind of the Maharaja when he flew to Srinagar with V P Menon to get the Instrument of Accession signed. He writes,
“We went to the palace. I have never seen such disorganisation in my life. The Maharaja was running about from one room to the other. I have never seen so much jewellery in my life - pearl necklaces, ruby things, lying in one room; packing here, there, everywhere. There was a convoy of vehicles. The Maharaja was coming out of one room….Eventually the Maharaja signed the accession papers and we flew back in the Dakota late at night”.
If this be the state of the Maharaja’s Palace, how could he be logically expected to write such a fool proof document? It is most probable that Sardar Patel and VP Menon with the help of some jurists first made amendments to the 1935 Act (a contravention of the Partition Plan) and finalised the Instrument of Accession.
Manekshaw’s memoirs also contradict the Indian assertion that the Maharaja wrote a letter on 26 October 1947 to the Government of India, the same day that Menon and Manekshaw landed at Srinagar. He also narrates that the entire entourage of Kashmiri Leaders led by Mr. Abdullah and those who later supported India were present at the Srinagar Airport lighting the runway with pine torches to see off Menon. This proves that these elements acted on the beck and call of Sardar Patel and Nehru to scare the Mahraja into submission and that Jinnah was right in ignoring them as double gamers.
The amended Government of India Act of 1935 provided in Section 6 that “a princely Indian state shall be deemed to have acceded to either of the dominion on the acceptance of the Instrument of Accession executed by the Ruler thereof” as a logical heir to the British Crown was legally misconceived. In the case of Madhav Rao, the Supreme Court of India found it strange that India should have claimed that the Government of India inherited any aspects of the paramountcy exercised by the British Crown. Again the Indian Supreme Court in Premnath Kaul and the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, in Magher Singh, observed that with the lapse of the British paramountcy, the princely Indian state became an independent and sovereign state in the fullest sense in international law a stand also taken by Pakistan. As the Governor General, it was Mountbatten’s duty to ensure that clauses of the Independence Act of 1947 should not have been changed by India in the 1935 Act and therefore declare the Instrument of Accession illegal. He did not do it and troops were airlifted to Kashmir within minutes for a pre determined occupation.
To be continued………
Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist.