Azadi for Kashmiris
Voice of Azadi, Autonomy, Self-rule, etc are being raised again for past four months by a section of people in Kashmir except Jammu and Ladakh regions, resulting in calls of bandh, hartals and dusk to dawn curfew. Stone pelting with Army and security forces, has claimed many victims on both sides. While demand for Azadi is one facet of coin, the question remains that if the valley becomes a sovereign republic, can the interests of it remain secure while being surrounded by the borders of five countries like Pakistan, China, Tibet, Russia and India? Unfortunately, seventy five percent of Kashmiris do not take Azadi in this sense. For them Azadi means merger of the valley with Pakistan which is an Islamic republic. But that is not the only reasoning. I have a fair recollection that even after partition and declaration of freedom from Britishers in 1947, common people of Kashmir did not know that a new country has emerged within the country, the fact is that everybody had then become a follower of Shiekh Mohammad Abdulla, the patron of NC- National Conference which was founded on June28, 1939. It's first session was held in oct.1939, passing a resolution that Kashmir will remain with India and only with India. At that time National Conference followed the advices of Indian National congress. But it is the same National conference in which Jinnah took part by saying in 1940 that Muslims have one platform, one Kalma, and one God. It brought a sharp rejoinder from the members of National conference who said the ills of this land can only be remedied by carrying Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and other minorities together. This is a main principle of this party but even upto this date it bifurcated several times and the communalist forces in it played a vital part in keeping Kashmir problem alive and without having any solution. This is due to the fact that this party has changed colors from time to time for the last sixty years. Currently the party is bound on three principles ie Pro-India policy, Autonomy for the state and upliftment of people.
Basically, this is not acceptable to Pakistan, a country created on the philosophy of Jinnah who said in one of his speeches that 'We will have either divided India or destroyed India'.
Jinnah was successful in the 2nd part of his statement in creating so-called Kashmir problem. But this is a created problem and nothing else. Who is responsible fo? it. People of kashmir,-No, Jawaharlal Nehru, -No, the so-called leaders of Kashmir,- No. To my mind Maharaja of Kashmir Harisingh created this problem for his own narrow motives. It is clear that after granting freedom to India, British govt. made an announcement by saying that every princely state had an option to accede to either Pakistan or India. Unfortunately, Maharaja took it lightly. Instead of taking a decision, he opted for a wait and watch policy. He had no choice. Being a Muslim dominated state and direct road link from Srinagar to Muzzafarabad, Jinnah was pressurizing Maharaja to accede Kashmir to Pakistan. Even Britishers said at that time that the purpose of an Imperial ring can be achieved if Kashmir goes to Pakistan.
As I repeated in the first round-up of this write-up under title above that if Kashmir will remain independent, then five countries bordering it are under danger of big powers of the world according to the present political scenario. That is why India and Pakistan have openly rejected the demand of Azadi for Kashmiris where as both the countries have used the people of this land for this demand overtly or covertly since independence. Kashmiris have remained in a fix for the last sixty years about their solid decision on Kashmir. This process is still on but the lasting decision acceptable to all the parties concerned still seems a distant dream. It is true that both the countries have fully realized the importance of Kashmir and if this piece of land would have remained the part of any country ,then it was the problem. As we know one third of it is in the procession of Pakistan and this is called Azad Kashmir there. The wonder is that why this part is called Azad or independent there.? Is there any autonomous Agency which governs it with their own ways and means? No Pakistan govt is directly involved here and so much so she has given some part of it to China and in this way violated the U.N. Charter on Kashmir. The fact is that the people of this so-called Azad Kashmir derived either Azadi from Pakistan or merger of their side with Indian Kashmir.This is a crystal clear that the slogan of Azadi has been raised by Amanullah Khan from Gilgit in 1975 when he felt that the people of this land are under torture of Pak Army and their living conditions are zero in comparison of the people of Indian Kashmir. Actually he demanded Azadi for Gilgit and Baltistan from Pakistan but a section of people from this side of Kashmir are in favour of Azadi on religious lines. The viewpoint is that Pakistan has ninety percent Muslim population and this side of Kashmir should be the part of Pakistan in the grab of Azadi. So the queen of Azadi is changing her dress in both the parts of Kashmir according to her support.
One basic thing is worth interesting to note here, who is responsible to put crown of Azadi on queen of Kashmir or who has carved another territory for her. Pakistanno.Chinano. People of whole Jammu and Kashmirno. It is India and only India which brought close a fifteen month guerrilla campaign and a cease fire came into effect a minute before midnight on the first day of the year 1949, leaving one third of Kashmir to Pakistan. On the next day Jawaharlal Nehru declared at Allahabad that we stopped a victorious Army. We could have settled conclusions. In obvaincr to charter we restrained the action of our military forces. Instead of obtaining what we could have obtained by the use of force, we conceived to negotiate having accepted it. But this was a blunder on the part of our Prime Minister when according to him his Army was capable to flush out every raider in the valley. Why he restrained actions. If he would have gone forward then Kashmiris position would have different. The second main blunder of the then Indian govt. in controlling the situation of Jammu and Kashmir is that it made request to the United Nations to prevent Pakistan of sending tribals and Pak nationals from taking part in this fighting in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and to deny the raiders access and use its territory in operations of supplies and other kinds of aid to the people of Kashmir. By accepting Kashmir as problem by India and taking it to U.N.O was first presented by Gopalaswamy Ayenger with the help of Sitalvad. The UNO took action but Pakistans reply to the complaint was denial of that countrys Foreign Minister Affar-ullah-khan. But he was the same Zaffar-ullah-khan who admitted for the first time in one of the meetings in UNO that Pakistan has sent three Brigades of Army into the territory of Kashmir since May and this was for the protection of Pakistan from possible aggression by Indian forces. After that Pakistan has openly admitted from time to time that Kashmir will come from Pakistans side only through war and this policy has not yet changed. Even Z A Bhutto said in July 17, 1963 that in the event of war Pakistan would not be alone. Pak could be helped by the most powerful nations in Asia. War between India and Pakistan involves the territorial integrity of the largest state in Asia. Even Mian Mumtaz Daultana went two steps further by saying that Muslims will inflict a humiliating defeat on Hindus as they had done at the time of establishment of Pakistan.
However,the case of Kashmir as dispute came in UNO, the newly emerged world body, which was the main mistake of India and made proposal in three parts ie withdrawal of troops from both the sides of Jammu and Kashmir by the concerned countries, authority to govt. of India to invite major political organizations and thirdly that the govt. of India and Pakistan should each be invited to nominate a representative to be attached to the commission for assistance as it may require in the performance of talks .In this connection India proposed Czechoslovakia, the member of the commission while Pakistan prepared Belgium its member. The commission designated five members ie Afghanistan, Belgium, Columbia Czechoslovakia, and USA. Tregvie Lie, the first secretary of UNO set up the military observers in Kashmir under the command of Gen Murice. Since then the process is continued on the borders of Kashmir when four wars have been fought between the two countries upto this date, without having any solution of the problem. Since then UNO has become a meeting venue of its member countries. This has not given any solution of any vexed problem of the world. On the other hand it has been able to stop wars between the countries to some extent. There is no role of UNO in Kashmir except the mere presence of their observers from both the sides. Kashmir has remained secular in character. It has guided us to remain united. On the other hand Azadi of Kashmir will throw us into the abyss of economic bankruptcy and political slavery.
As I already said in the episode-2 that the demand of Azadi by a section of people has deep roots and these have been sown not by kashmiris only, but by those who have their larger interests in the valley even upto this date. Kashmiris are players, where as India and Pakistan are refrees and the big powers are the members of management body and Kashmir problem is a type of cricket match.It is upon the management body to use the players in game according to their choice. This has happened in the past and the process is under continuation even either this way or that upto this date.Here we can start from our own people who remained indifferent about Kashmir in their first leg of diplomacy, leaving the common people of Kashmir in dark.For example, the lion of Kashmir S.M. Abdullah put these alternatives before the peopleaccession to India, accession to Pakistan or Independence and friendly relations with both. But this was the color of his speech before signing Delhi Agreement without consulting his cabnet collegues. The main points of this agreement are as follows:
Almost all the laws were applicable here upto 1953 but Kashmir problem was still there. On Matyrs day S.M. Abdullah he changed colors of speech again and said that Kashmirs position is such that it should have the sympathy of both the domonians. His ideology was again not favored by his Ministers and Member Assembly but he remained adamant to his words. In May 1953, Adai Stevensen of America came to Kashmir and met Shiekh. Both were with seven hours at Gulmarg exchanging viewpoints with each other, but the later refused to disclose the the nature of talks.The govt of Inia smelled something foul in this meeting and Shiekh was arrested on August 9, 1953 and later, the Prime minister of India said in Parliament that Kashmirs accession to India is final and complete in law and spirit. It is a part of India. Since then Shiekh was arrested several times and put in different jails of India. During his exile from Kashmir Shiekh changed another color of statement by saying that Kashmiris want the right of self determination. Actually that has been passed in UNO that Kashmiris are entitled to exercise the vote of plebiscite with the condition that the political atmosphere get clean, the Army of both the countries vacate from the land and then this right will be exercised under the supervision of UNO. India gladly accepted these conditions but Pakistan denied.The time frame of exercising the vote of self determination was with in one year. Without showing any interest to this formula of UNO, the leaders of Pakistan said that they have already liberated their side of Kashmir from India and the only problem is of Indian Kashmir which should go to Pakistan on religious grounds. This was not acceptable to India. This was a mere motivation otherwise India has the same number of Muslims as is found in Pakistan. They are not second class citizens here while as Hindus in Pakistan have no right to vote.But strange to say,on the name of Islam a section of Muslims changed their mind and wantrd direct Pakistan. Maulvi Yusuf shah of Jamia Masjid at Srinagar played a vital role in it but Shiekh who was then Emergency Administrator threatened Maulvi to vacate Kashmir. Maulvi crossed the border on foot and reachrd Muzzaffarabad. Pakistani leaders gave him the post of Prime minister of their side of Kashmir and he stood on it for three years.Two main changes emerged with this development. Pro-Indian Kashmiris ceased in number but Maulvi also realized during in tenure there that it will remain impossible for Kashmiris to accommodate in Pakistan and that is why he wrote to Nehru that he is not safe in Pak-Kashmir. But it is a common fact that a Muslim can leave everything but not fundamentalism. They have become aware that newly emerged Muslim country has become our neighbor. So instead of having connections with Hindu India, they should prefer Pakistan.It is true that they know about the facilities which they have in Indian Kashmir but the spirit of religion is the only factor which compells them to say of Pak. Another section of the people mostly of Mausuma Bazar of Srinagar are advocating for Azadi of Kashmir.But their reasoning is based upon some of the statements given by the different politicians before or after independence. For example Arjantinia delegation in UNO said in 1948 that Kashmiris may well decide not to accede to India or Pakistan but to remain independent T.C, Spear, fellow of Sahwyri college declared in UNO on December 13, 1951 that to turn the valley into an independent state should be guaranteed by UNO and separately by India and Pakistan and lastly in an interview with Macbal Devoson of London observer with Scotsman that accession to either side cannot bring peace. We want to live in friendship with both the dominions, perhaps a middle path between them in economic co-operation. will be the only of doing it There are some statements which compels a common Kashmiri to think about the future of their land. But one must realize that all these statements have been given not for the betterment of Kashmiris but for their own larger interests which they have in this valley about these light will be thrown in the next episode. Why is Kashmir demanding a separate entity and why not its one third part. If the Punjabis of Poonch or Pathans of Gilgit would want to choose Pakistan, let them do so but the whole Kashmiris will remain with both the dominions. Kashmir is a settled matter but the countries concerned do want Kashmir burning for their own ends. But times have altogether changed since Independence and even Shiekh who also advocated for Independence of Kashmiris at one time realized that he was on wrong path after Pakistan divided into two parts ie Pak and Bangladesh. Two nation theory of Jinnah completely failed and he accepted the Constitution of India and became chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir again. He knew to handover Kashmir to Pakistan is a mistake and demand of Independence is nothing but a joke .It is only India in which so many states where we have two times muslim population. So to think about Azadi of Kashmiris is irrelevant and baseless. Azadi is not the genuine demand of Kashmiris.
Autar Kridhan Razdan |
Senior Fellow, Ministry of Culture, Govt of India