J&K accession to India is more than justified

K N Pandita
Copious literature has been produced during the last half a century on the accession of J&K State to the Indian Union on October 26, 1947. Most of it tells us the why and how of the accession. Pakistan, claiming to be a party to the dispute, has been stubbornly refuting what the defenders of India’s stand on Kashmir say. It is the Pakistan-initiated and abetted incursion of Kashmir in October 1947 that ultimately led to the State’s accession to India.
However, not many people know that the Pakistani cronies in conjunction with the outgoing colonial collaborators hatched the conspiracy of Kashmir incursion much ahead of the declaration of independence on 15 August 1947. Upright historians know that the geographical entity called Kashmir has been integral to the “Great Game in Central Asia” of the imperial powers, and continues to be so even today though, of course, in its new avatar.
In this write-up, I have tried to tell my readers how Pakistan hatched a conspiracy of grabbing J&K State by treachery, sedition and muscle power with the tacit agreement of the remnants of its colonial collaborators. Three-quarters of a century down the line, Pakistan has been waging wars with India; resorting to proxy wars, armed infiltration, suicide bombing, propaganda blitzkrieg, Theo-fascism and lamenting for the “Gordian Vein” (Shahrug). Tricks and pretensions did not work nor shall they work for another century to come. But, wait a while; it did work in a sense, and Pakistan lost one half of its territory. We do not wish Pakistan to disintegrate; we want a progressive, hard-working and visionary Pakistani society to think to realise the immense benefits it can derive from Indian friendship and vice versa.
I have culled out the following excerpt from my book Ten Studies in Kashmir History and Politics and adapted it to meet the requirement of the occasion.
On 17 July 1947, about a month before the declaration of the independence of India, All J&K Muslim Conference (AJKMC) held a convention in Srinagar, at the residence of Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, prominent Muslim Conference leader (later on founder-President of the Azad Kashmir Government) wherein a majority of the participants decided in favour of the State’s accession to Pakistan except Choudhri Hamidullah Khan, the then acting President of AJKMC who was in favour of the independence of J&K State.
Operation Gulmarg
Operation Gulmarg was the code name given by the Pakistan army to the secretly planned incursion of Kashmir by the tribesmen of the NWFP. According to the Indian military sources, Pakistan Army prepared a plan called Operation Gulmarg and put it into action as early as 20 August 1947, just six days after Pakistan became the newly independent state following the partition of India. The plan got accidentally revealed to an Indian officer, Major O.S Kalkat, then serving with the Bannu Brigade as Brigade Major, and had opened a DO letter of 20 August 1947 marked “Personal/Top Secret ” and signed by General Frank Messervy, the C-in-C of the Pakistan Army. It was addressed to Kalkat’s Commanding Officer Brig. C P Murray, who was away at another post. Pakistani officials suspected Kalkat and placed him under house arrest. He escaped and made his way to New Delhi on October 18. The Kashmir Sentinel of October 2007 has given the fascinating story of the Major Kalkat episode. (http:// kashmirsentinel.org/ there-was-enough-evidence-about-tribal-raid/_)
The story of hatching the conspiracy of Kashmir incursion has been admirably traced by the twin authors of the well-known volume Freedom at Midnight (Dominique Lapeer and Larry Collins, Vikas Publishing House, pp 436 et seq)
On 24 August, Jinnah told his military secretary Col William Birnie to go to Kashmir and arrange for him a two-week stay there in September to recover from exhaustion. Five days later the British officer returned with a reply that stunned Jinnah. Maharaja Hari Singh did not want Jinnah to set his foot on his soil even as a tourist. Jinnah understood that the situation in Kashmir was not evolving according to the plan he had envisioned. Forty-eight hours later Jinnah government infiltrated a secret agent into Kashmir to evaluate the situation and determine Maharaja’s real intention. The report which the agent brought was shocking. Hari Singh had no intention of joining his state in Pakistan. It was something the founders of Pakistan could not tolerate.
In mid-September, Liaquat Ali Khan convened a secret meeting of a select group of collaborators in Lahore to decide how to force the Maharaja’s hands. The plan of NWFP chief minister Qayyum Khan of deploying tribesmen for Kashmir incursion was agreed upon. King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan was already instigating the Pathans for rejection of the Durand Line and also the expansion of the Afghan kingdom up to Peshawar. Sending these barbarous tribesmen to Kashmir for the twin purpose of waging Islamic jihad in an infidel-ruled state and providing a big opportunity to the tribesmen for general loot and rapine of infidels in Kashmir were good enough to make the conspiracy a success.
The operation had to be a complete secret and finances were to be provided from the secret fund of the Prime Minister. Neither the officers of the Pakistan army or her civil servants nor the British officers and administrators in the service of the new state were to be given access to the secret.
Three days later in the cellar of a ramshackle building in Peshawar’s old walled city, a group of tribal leaders met the man chosen to arouse their emotions and lead them on their march to Srinagar. He was Major Khurshid Anwar. Within hours, in the mud-walled compounds of their villages in Landi Kotal along the Khyber, the Pathans passed the ancient call of Islam for war, the jihad. From one bazaar to another bazaar secret emissaries began to buy hardtack and gurh, a mixture of cornmeal, ground chickpeas and sugar. Taken twice or three times a day the mouthful could sustain a Pathan for days.
The British officers in NWFP, namely Governor Sir George Cunningham and Lt Gen Sir Frank Messervy, the C-in-C of the Pakistan army were talking to each other on the telephone as this:
Cunningham: I say, old boy, I have the impression that something strange is going on here. For days, trucks crowded with tribesmen chanting Allah o Akbar have been pouring through Peshawar. My chief minister seems to be stirring up the Pathans. Are you certain that the government is still opposed to a tribal invasion of Kashmir?”
Messervy: “I can assure you I’m opposed to any such idea and the Prime Minister has personally given me his assurance he is too.”
Cunningham: “You would better inform him of what is going on up here.”
Liaquat Ali Khan’s Government had arranged the departure of General Messervy to London to synchronise with the march of the tribesmen into Kashmir. Before leaving for London for arms negotiations, Messervy enquired of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali, who assured him saying, “His (Messervy’s) fears were groundless. Pakistan would not tolerate such an action. I shall immediately contact the Chief Minister of the Province and order him to stop his outrageous action.”
This is the story of the conspiracy of tribal invasion of Kashmir in 1947. This is also the story of the first prime minister of Pakistan telling lies and falsehoods. We have another source of information about the conspiracy.
Sardar Shaukat Hayat, the then President of All India Muslim League writes that he was given the command of the Kashmir invasion and he asked for the services of Brigs Sher Khan and Akbar Khan. Them, Gen Kiyani (formerly of INA), Col. Dara and Taj Khanadeh were also associated with the planning of the Kashmir invasion. He adds that Khurshid Anwar contacted the chiefs of about fifteen tribes of NWFP who included Afridis, Mahsud, Yusufzai, Wazir, SubhanKhel, Mohmand and Mengal etc. These tribal lashkars were led by religious leaders like Pir of Manki Sharif, Pir Sahib Lander, Pir Zakodi Sharief, Kaptan Mir Badshah Mahsud, Badshah Gul Mohmand and others
Researchers had noted the considerable movement of Pukhtoon tribesmen during September-October 1947. By 13 September, armed Pukhtoons drifted into Lahore and Rawalpindi. The Deputy Commissioner of Dera Ismail Khan noted a scheme to send tribesmen from Malakand to Sialkot in lorries provided by the Pakistan government. Preparations for attacking Kashmir were also noted in the princely States of Swat, Dir and Chitral. Robin James Moore (Making the New Commonwealth, 1982) states that “there is little doubt that Pashtuns were involved in border raids all along the Punjab border from the Indus to the Ravi.”
Pakistani sources deny the existence of any plan called Operation Gulmarg. However, Shuja Nawaz, a PoK author lists twenty-two Pushtoon tribes involved in the incursion of Kashmir on 22 October 1947.
On 13 October 1947 prominent leaders of the Muslim Conference met in Paris Hotel in Rawalpindi. The meeting resolved to set up an Azad republican government. It said that Maharaja’s government would cease to be from midnight of 14 October 1947.
Dr Malik Abdul Ghani Asghar writes (Kashmir ka uruj wa zawal) that the underground Government of Muzaffarabad worked on a scheme of arresting Maharaja Hari Singh. The names of some Kashmiri political activists were given in code only. The task of organizing the volunteer force for the Kashmir campaign was left to one Chowhan the commander-in-chief for internal forces in Kashmir. The temporary Azad Kashmir Government made a formal announcement saying that nobody was permitted to run the administration in Azad Kashmir under the instructions of the Maharaja’s Government
There is some controversy about the beginning of the “Azad Kashmir Government”. Some writers say that the first President of the clandestine government was Sardar Ibrahim Khan while others believe that Ghulam Nabi Gilkar was the real originator of the underground rebel government announced as early as 14 April 1947. However, it appears that in its formal composition on 24 October, Sardar Ibrahim Khan was declared the head of the clandestine government. On that occasion, Ibrahim is reported to have issued a declaration the text of which has been incorporated by Prem Nath Bazaz in his work History of Freedom Movement in Kashmir (pp 622-23).