Save Kashmir – II

A “tribal invasion” by “Muslim coreligionists” from NWFP was planned under the direction of British and Pakistan generals in the Pakistan Army. One must note that at this time, both the Indian Army and the Pakistan Army were still under Supreme Allied Commander-In-Chief Claude Auchinleck. Auchinleck and Lord Mountbatten should have been in the know but they feigned ignorance until the very last.

The main proponents for the establishment of Pakistan were Muslims from India proper rather than those from what is now Pakistan. Many of them found themselves unable to fit into the Congress, which was more focused on nationalism than religion. These Muslims considered themselves to be superior to what the thought were uncivilized brutes inhabiting the North-West India. This, they thought, would enable them to get a prominent position in the affairs of the new country, should it ever become a reality. In India, they would always finish second-best to the Hindus. The British colonial government was its principal backer of the Two Nation Theory and Indian Muslims were unconsciously its most willing collaborators.

In 1849, the British captured the southern part of Afghanistan and made it a part of their Indian empire. This region later came to be known as the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The Pakhtuns living in Afghanistan were now seperated from their kinsmen in NWFP by the so-called Durand line. The Pakhtun lands were not very suitable for agriculture. Their survival had traditionally been dependent on warfare and adventure. For centuries, Pakhtun men were employed as mercenaries. They were also known for their feuding nature and plundering ways. In 1929, Abdul Ghaffar Khan launched a non-violent anti-colonial movement called Khudai Khidmatgar. He opted for an alliance with the Congress, as he found the Muslim League to be very much pro-British. In the 1937 provincial elections, the Congress won 15 out of 36 Muslim seats while the Muslim League did not win a single seat. To counter the Pakhtun movement, the British had been providing patronage to the Muslim League. This was similar to the kind of support that the League received in its opposition to the Congress elsewhere in India. In the NWFP, however, the Muslim League failed to make much impact. The Muslim League then enlisted the support of mullahs and other religious leaders in various parts of the province, claiming that whoever supported the Congress was against Islam. Despite this, Congress emerged victorious in 1946 elections defeating the Muslim League with 30 out of 50 seats. In the Pukhtun areas, Congress’s victory won 16 out of 22 seats.

When the Congress finally accepted the Partition plan, the Pakhtuns felt betrayed. Gaffar Khan asked for a plebiscite, which the British agreed. He wanted the plebiscite to decide whether NWFP should become an independent state of Pukhtunistan or become part of Pakistan. This would never happen. Instead, a plebiscite deciding whether the NWFP should become a part of India or a part of Pakistan was allowed to be conducted in 1947. Backed by British officials, the Muslim League launched a campaign by sending its workers to the villages and denouncing the Congress boycott of Pakistan as un-Islamic and exhorting everyone to vote for Pakistan as it was their religious duty. The rest of India had by then become embroiled in Hindu-Muslim riots and Muslim refugees brought with them horrific tales of the bloodbath. In the end, the plebiscite was conducted and 99% of the votes were for Pakistan. Although the Congress alleged massive rigging, the fate of NWFP was sealed. The Khan brothers realised the changed realities and swore allegiance to Pakistan. But, they still continued to fight for autonomy within Pakistan.

The new rulers of Pakistan were not kind to the Pakthun leaders. Jinnah, who could not stand Congressmen in India, was not expected to tolerate them in Pakistan. Expectedly, he dismissed the Congress ministry in NWFP, which was headed by Gaffar Khan’s brother. The party paper, Pukhtun, was closed. Khan and his followers were put in prison.* Putting the Khans in jail did not mean Pakistan was safe.

So, the military generals of Pakistan had a new role for the Pakhtuns – to overrun the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. This would remove all the volatile elements away from the province and provide the hotheads with a mutually beneficial vocation to pursue. A “tribal invasion” by “Muslim coreligionists” from NWFP was planned under the direction of British and Pakistan generals in the Pakistan Army. One must note that at this time, both the Indian Army and the Pakistan Army were still under Supreme Allied Commander-In-Chief Claude Auchinleck. Auchinleck and Lord Mountbatten should have been in the know but they feigned ignorance until the very last.

At the time of the Partition, there were 569 princely states in British India. According to the Plan, the rulers of these princely states had only two options – join India or join Pakistan. There was no other alternative. The assimilation of princely states in to independent India and Pakistan went off smoothly except in Junagarh, Hyderabad, and Jammu & Kashmir. Junagadh was ruled by a Muslim ruler but non-Muslims formed the majority in his state. The same was true of Hyderabad, which was ruled by the Nizam. Both of these states were assimilated into the Indian Union by military force. Jammu & Kashmir was ruled by a Hindu prince who wanted to keep his state independant. He did not want to join either India or Pakistan. The Prince Hari Singh was hated by his people. This did not mean that his subjects were rooting for Pakistan. Jinnah had earlier visited the state and had a very hostile reception. Inside the Kashmir valley, Muslims had rallied behind Sheik Abdullah’s National Conference. Nehru had announced his support for Sheikh abdullah, who had been jailed by Hari Singh. If J&K became independent or joined India, Pakistan was finished!

* – In 1956, Khan’s property was confiscated in lieu of fines, whereas prison terms and house arrests continued until his death in 1988.

† – Jinnah married a Parsi and she died rather early in life. After Independence, his family did not move to Pakistan. His sister Fatimah though accompanied Jinnah to Pakistan. After Jinnah’s death, Fatimah Jinnah tried to follow his footsteps but her efforts were checkmated by general in the Pakistani military. These men then went on to make Pakistan into the world’s leading bannana republic. Pakistan was run under the supervision of American economists and advisors because of which it does not have any big manufacturing industries. It imports a lot and its exports are mainly agricultural items. Interestingly, Jinnah’s grandson Nusli Wadia lives in India and is the Chairman of the Bombay Dyeing group.

‡ – The Kashmir valley is a very small part of the entire Jammu & Kashmir state. There are many nationalities inside J&K. Kashmiri Pandits are Brahmins but eat meat and fish. Kashmiri is one of several language spoken in the state. Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists form the major religious groups in the state. However, a combination of several factors allows the valley to decide the course of events for the entire state.

Advertisements