January 10, 2002


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Arvind Lavakare

More Paki lies: on J&K this time

Continuing the funny fiction about Junagadh and Hyderabad posted on the Pakistani foreign ministry's Web site mentioned in my column of January 1, 2002, its article entitled 'Jammu & Kashmir Dispute' goes on to merrily mention the following:

"In Jammu and Kashmir State, the population was overwhelmingly Muslim and wanted to join Pakistan. In this case, India consistently pressurized the Hindu Ruler to accede to India. Apprehending that the Hindu ruler was likely to succumb to Indian pressure, the people of Jammu and Kashmir rose against him, forcing him to flee from Srinagar, the capital of the State. They formed their own government on 24th October 1947. On 27th of October, 1947, the Government of India alleged that the ruler had acceded to India on the basis of a fraudulent instrument of accession, sent its forces into the State and occupied a large part of Jammu and Kashmir."

There's much more that follows about plebiscite promises etc, but that can wait for another week. So can the blunder on quoting J&K's date of accession -- a full day after it actually happened.

Today, let's look at Pakistan's averment that India "pressurized" (consistently, poor dear!) the Hindu maharaja of J&K to accede to India and that "the population wanted to join Pakistan". The most charitable comment about this is that it comprehensively ignores the facts of recorded history.

First of all, there are those several telegrams and messages of Jawaharlal Nehru reproduced in a recent issue of no less than Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper, proving that Nehru was keen on a referendum in J&K all along. Well, that's not news to us Indians. We have known all along the fetish Nehru, a Kashmiri, had for his State. Let it be told to the Pakis what Mehr Chand Mahajan, former prime minister of J&K and later chief justice of India, has recorded. In his book on the J&K Constitution, Justice A S Anand, ex-chief justice of India, records that "according to Mr Mahajan, Mr Nehru was interested not so much in the accession of the State to India as in the power being given to the popular leaders". The point then is: if India's PM, the Mahatma's pampered lieutenant, was least interested in "pressurising" the J&K maharaja into acceding to India, where is the question of India the nation doing that?

Was then Sardar Patel the villain the Pakistani Web site has in mind? Was that ruthless nationalist and perceived-to-be-pro-Hindu Indian home minister "pressurising" the maharaja? Well, well, see what Alan Campbell-Johnson writes on page 223 of his Mission with Mountbatten (Robert Hale Ltd, 1951): "...the State's Ministry, under Patel's direction, went out of its way to take no action which could be interpreted as forcing Kashmir's hand and to give assurances that accession to Pakistan would not be taken amiss by India." Whatever his personal proclivities, you see, the Sardar was an honourable man -- perhaps the most honourable one our nation has ever had, Mahatma or no Mahatma.

The clincher came in Mountbatten's speech to the members of the East India Association on June 29, 1948, when the governor-general of India said, "Had he [the maharaja of Kashmir] acceded to Pakistan before August 14, the future Government of India had allowed me to give His Highness an assurance that no objection whatever would be raised by them." (Reproduced in Lord Mountbatten's Time to Look Forward, p 269).

Conclusion: The answer to the question, 'Did India pressurise the J&K Maharaja to accede to India?' is "No, absolutely not." Yes, some Indians did exert that pressure, but in vain because they were not in a position of power.

Who were they? What did they do? That's a tale for the next edition of this commentary -- and it is some tale, be forewarned, connected as it is with the ultimate fate of Jammu, the twin in the State of Jammu & Kashmir that was sought to be invaded, ravaged, plundered, raped and reined in by tribals from Pakistan in that country's first proxy war of 1947.

Meanwhile, all Indians should know that the very obverse of our main proposition was true: It was Pakistan that "pressurised" the J&K maharaja into acceding to Pakistan -- with dismal failure, as history showed.

It really began with the maharaja's personal predicament as August 15, 1947, approached. Previously, he had been averse to parting with an iota of power, but now he had to seriously consider the three alternatives: accession to India, accession to Pakistan and independence.

In The United States and India and Pakistan (Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press, 1953), p 162, W N Brown says, "He disliked the idea of becoming a part of India, which was being democratised, or of Pakistan, which was Muslim... He thought of independence."

To secure more time for himself, he offered, by telegram on August 12, 1947, a 'Standstill Agreement' with both India and Pakistan suggesting continuation of existing arrangements pending his final decision regarding the future of the State.

Pakistan promptly agreed to the Standstill Agreement. India requested the maharaja or his authorised representative to come early to New Delhi to negotiate the Standstill Agreement. For a variety of reasons, including Nehru's preference for "power to people" over accession, the Standstill Agreement with India could not be signed.

The absence of such a formal agreement with India was interpreted by Pakistan to mean that J&K would ultimately become part of Pakistan. And Pakistan began to put pressure on the maharaja to join it.

Jinnah's private secretary went to Srinagar at that time and, according to Mahajan (the maharaja's PM, remember?), "His Highness was told that he was an independent sovereign, that he alone had the power to give accession, that he need not consult anybody, that he should not care for the National Conference or Sheikh Abdullah... that he need not delegate any of his powers to the people of the State and that Pakistan would not touch a hair on his head or take away an iota of his power if he acceded to Pakistan." [Accession of Kashmir to India (The Inside Story), Sholapur, Institute of Public Administration, nd, p 2].

Though the maharaja refused to take Jinnah's promise seriously, his people could no longer withstand his procrastination. There occurred, in the second week of August, the Poonch revolt against his authority. His government alleged that the revolt was due to infiltration from Pakistan, while the Pakistan government charged the maharaja's government with attacking the Muslim villages in the State. Side by side started an economic blockade from Pakistan and this lent support to the maharaja's government's charges. Pakistan denied the charge of economic blockade pleading certain difficulties that resulted in lorries being reluctant to carry supplies between Rawalpindi and Kohala.

Even as Pakistan was pleading special reasons, Dawn, the Muslim League's official organ, said on August 24, 1947, "The time has come to tell the maharaja of Kashmir that he must make his choice and choose Pakistan." Should Kashmir fail to join Pakistan, it said, "the gravest possible trouble will inevitably ensue."

And there was the statement of Sheikh Abdullah himself. Soon after his release from prison on September 29, 1947, (he had been incarcerated on May 20, 1946, for leading the Quit Kashmir movement against the maharaja), Abdullah emphatically said in a public meeting in Srinagar: "How can Muslim League or Mr Jinnah tell us that we should accede to Pakistan? They have always opposed us in every struggle.... He even carried out propaganda against us. He even termed us goondas."

Conclusion: It was Pakistan that was pressurising the J&K maharaja to accede to Pakistan.

Now to the corollary. Were the lay Muslims of J&K enamoured of Jinnah and Islamic Pakistan? Did they want to join Pakistan?

Well, there is a record of a public meeting in Srinagar in 1946 when Jinnah, among other things, advised the Muslims of the State of J&K to unite under one banner. You know what happened? The meeting broke up in pandemonium amidst shouts of "Go back, Jinnah". And remember, Sheikh Abdullah was in prison then.

Then there's the article by Mrs Alice Thorner titled 'Issues in Kashmir' and published in 'Far Eastern Survey', No 15, August 11, 1948. It says, "Public opinion in Kashmir was sharply divided along religious and political lines. Both India and Pakistan had substantial support." (Emphasis added.)

The clincher is in Philip Talbot's 'Kashmir and Hyderabad', published in 'World Politics', No 3, April 1949. It said that since Abdullah was no longer in prison, "they [Pakistan] could not so easily dispose of the tenacious resistance against Jinnah and Pakistan of Kashmir's largest political party, the Kashmir National Conference, which was Muslim-led and largely Muslim-supported".

What's that saying about fooling some of the people all the time, etc? The Pakistani foreign ministry, Web site and all, doesn't seem to have heard of it -- just as Pervez Musharraf doesn't seem to have heard of the difference between "lay off" and "arrogance" or between "terrorists" and "freedom fighters".

Arvind Lavakare

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