Lt Gen PS Mehta, (Retd)
How did a non-practicing, chain smoking Muslim lawyer, who liked a drink, barely knew the basics of Islam, could speak no language other than English, preferred to dress in an immaculate suit, almost settled in England, snubbed mullahs for dreaming of an Islamic state, abhorred Gandhi for his hymn chanting politics and dreamt of becoming an Indian Ataturk single handedly create Pakistan? Pakistan was meant to be a solution to the problems between Hindus and Muslims.Why did India and Pakistan sink into such bitter hatred, and start a war that became a school for terrorism? By the age of 30, Jinnah was already among the élite in the growing national movement. His political line was clear and radical. He became a sharp critic of pro-British Sir Sayyid Ahmad who had already divided India into two nations in his political speeches. Conviction took precedence over popularity. He opposed the partition of Bengal in 1905 and attacked Curzon for dividing Hindus and Muslims with a stroke of the viceregal pen. Jinnah refused to become a member of the All India Muslim League, founded on 31 December 1906 in Dhaka. He warned Muslims not to fall prey to the British game of divide and rule and called the League’s demand for separate electorates poisonous.
Jinnah began to pick up various strands of Muslim anxiety scattered across the huge continent and knit them into a single canvas. His first test came in the elections of 1937. He failed. Muslim league candidates did particularly badly in the large Muslim- majority provinces of Bengal, Punjab, Sind and the Frontier. The congress won 711 of the 1584 provincial seats reserved for caste Hindus and most of the untouchable seats as well. However, Jinnah exploited the defeat of 1937 better than the Congress used its victory. Congress leaders did not realise that running governments in these provinces would be a headache, while Jinnah picked upevery instance of real or imagined injustice to Muslims by the Congress governments to widen the distance between Muslims and Gandhi. He judged accurately, that the further they moved from Gandhi the closer they would come to him, for the Muslim league was the only national banner to which they could turn to make their case in Delhi. Division and hatred spread in India splitting the communities further. Jinnah cleverly converted the religiosity of Gandhi into a weapon against the Congress. Gandhi would often fantasize about creating a ‘Ramrajya’ in India, the ideal state that existed during the timeof Lord Ram symbolizing an image of a domineering Hindu state. He converted anguish at such misinterpretations, but after the formation of the Congress governments in 1937 the Muslim mood began to flow against him. In a typical speech on 26 December 1941,Jinnah told the All India Muslims Students’ Federation,”The Muslim League has given you a goal which in my judgement is going to lead you the Promised Land where we shall establish our Pakistan’. The results of 1945-46 elections were unambiguous. The congress swept the general Hindu constituencies. The Muslim League won 86.5 per cent of the total Muslim votes cast for the Central Assembly and 74.7 per cent of the votes for the provinces. The Congress got 1.3 and 4.67 per cent of the Muslim vote respectively. Jinnah often said that the only thing that Muslims and Hindus had in common was their slavery to the British. He had made his point. On 2 June 1947 the British parliament passed the Indian Independence Act. It gave independence to two nations.
The British left on 15 August 1947. Sir George Cunningham, the then Governor General of NWFP, a tribal province straddling Kashmir and Afghanistan – recorded in his diary –
“There is real movement in Hazara (a region of north central Pakistan) for a jihad against Kashmir. They have been collecting rifles and making a definite plan of campaign, apparently for seizing a part of main Jhelum valley above Domel (in west Kashmir). I have warned everyone I could, including the Afridis and Mohamands, of the danger of taking part in anything like this, in case it leads to war betweenIndia andPakistan. I am not quite sure whether it could be made a casus belli at present, as Kashmir had not acceded to either Dominion”.
There lay the nub – a Muslim-majority Kashmir was ruled by a colourful Hindu Maharaja Hari Singh, who dreamt of independence. This was not the only unusual aspect of the problem. The most popular leader of the Muslims, Shiekh Muhammad Abdullah, had backed the trend and opposed the Muslim League. In his first public meeting in Srinagar after India’s Independence, on 4 October 1947, Shiekh declared, ‘I never believed in the Pakistan’s slogan. It has been my firm conviction that this slogan will bring misery’-(there were no elections in Kashmir in 1945 – 46because it was a princely state and not formally part of British India). The Maharaja had signed what was called, a Standstill Agreement with both India and Pakistan by the terms of which its status was frozen pending final decision. However, Pakistan interfered – The preparations for jihad were hardly a secret. Pakistan formulated a strategy to infiltrate and take some big action as soon as Kashmir would be isolated because of the coming winters. Vacillations ended when on the night of 21 October 1947 when some 6,000 well-armed raiders set off from Pakistan for Srinagar. This was the beginning of the dispute that has today acquired nuclear dimension. Undemocratic governments, searching for legitimacy, pick up help wherever they can find. Likewise since partition only two men who seized power through a coupand have ruled Pakistan for any length of timeboth were Generals. The first, Field Marashal Ayub Khan, was a ‘whisky General’ but could not avoid the temptation of sending irregulars into Kashmir, on the same pattern as 1947. His jihad, in 1965, also failed. The second General Zia ul Haq, who threw out and killed the first elected prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, ruled for eleven years from July 1977 to August 1988. Zia eliminated Bhutto through what can only be described as judicial assassination. He manipulated the judicial process and Bhutto was hanged to death. Zia became a pariah both with the West and the Arabs countries, who had genuine regard for Bhutto and were warmly supportive of Bhutto’s’ secret plan to build what was called an “Islamic Bomb” -Islamic culture was taking roots in Pakistan simultaneously. (Collated excerpts from ‘The Shades of Swords’ by MJ Akbar)
A history of anger and a literature of revenge divided India and Pakistan further witnessing wars over Kashmir in 1965, 1971 and as close as 1999/2002 Op Vijay / Op Parakram. On the evening of 12 January 2002 Pakistan’s fourteenth head of state and third general to take over in a coup, General Pervez Musharraf, appeared on TV to make the much awaited speech. The anticipation was justified. President Musharaff, addressing his nation, his neighbourhood and the world, declared that Pakistan would no longer tolerate the extremists and terrorists who had created a ‘state within a state’ in the country, become anew law themselves and a threat to the world. The time had come to end their Jihad. “The extremist minority must realise, ‘he said that Pakistan is not responsible for waging armed jihad in the world”. Sectarian terrorism has been going on for years, President Musharaff declared in a speech that was courageous and candid. Everyone is fed up of it. It is becoming unbearable. Our peace loving people are keen to get rid of the Kalashnikov and weapon culture. Everyone is sick of it…. The day of reckoning has come. Do we want Pakistan to become a theocratic state?
It could not have been easy for a President to make that speech. Musharaff could have kept quiet, but he was different from his predecessors in that he was honest enough to admit that this cancer had reached the bloodstream. How did a homeland for Muslims become a homeland for Muslim terrorist? Fundamentalists who could not capture power at the inception of Pakistan gradually created a parallel state with two objectives: the indoctrination of young minds through those madrassas that were under their control and the declaration of jihad against a succession of enemies; India, Russia, the United States of America and periodically their own government. However jihad against India, widely supported by the people and the government, became the true sustenance of the state within a state and also a cover for the terrorists who were deployed for other wars. Pakistan’s anger against India is larger than the problem over Kashmir, and needs to be fully understood. A terrorist cause can always find use for an argument, and India provided one. Unfortunately Musharaff could not weed out the Kashmir fixation or contain spread of terrorism till he retired and escaped to Saudi Arabia seeking reassurance to live and return to Pakistan. General Kayani and Bajwa followed the beaten track to sustain Pakistan’s Army that lives on the oxygen called “Kashmir”.
The literature of revenge raged deep through the second half of the nineteenth century, its apex was the most literate and political city of the country, Calcutta. Calcutta was the capital of the British Raj as well as the capital of Indian intellect. One powerful strain of thought dwelt on a single question: what has gone wrong with Hindus? How had they permitted centuries of Muslim rule in Delhi and Bengal and then become the collaborative clerks and professionals of the British, the notorious ‘Bengali Babu’? Ever since the British left our country, the community that still controls Indian Armed Forces and the Politicians (by leveraging the links between the Service HQs and MoD and by regulating file movements besides feeding calibrated information to the Government) still rules the roost as Babu’s in Delhi.Probably this has remained the major stumbling block for the GoI over the last 72 years for driving the nation at slow speed besides non resolution of many bilateral issues. Fortunately for us now, India with BJP in power under the leadership of Mr. Modi has generated the Political Will which was lacking earlier, as also the National Strategy to deal with Pakistan.
Much like the viceregal pen, Narinder Modi’s proposal signed by the President of India on 4 August 2019 split the state of J&K into two UTs. This has left both the people of Kashmir and the state of Pakistan baffled and bewildered as the rug was pulled from under their feet unexpectedly. What Next ? – Now that the political maneuver is over, what could be the next move from within Kashmir and Pakistan -“Islamic jihad”? Is that possible under the prevailing circumstances across the globe? Both are now caught in an unexpected geopolitical quandary where no solution seems to appear on the horizon. People of Kashmir have no future in the past, what has happened over the last 72/30 years has to be lumped and greener pastures explored to move forward, especially for their youth. So much innocent blood has been spilt and the Pundit community forced out of their homeland for a non-comprehended Azaadi.Creation of UTs has rendered call for Azaadi irrelevant and dead.
The Chanakaya Niti unleashed (Post 1971) by this masterstroke has left the people in the valley pegged down by a cyber blackout, forced self-curfew, denying the children to attend schools / colleges, perceiving danger in their own homeland, not receiving goods transported into the valley nor exporting fruit (are some visible fears and implications).…I think the wisdom lies in facing the reality and seeing the present situation as the exit or escape route from the evils of Azaadi and indoctrination by Pakistan and Hurriyat, but with dignity and joining the mainstream socio politics of the new UTs along with Ladakhis and Jammuiets. Pakistan should now be left to eat fruits of its own sowings- intrusion into J&K and their final expulsion from POK. Preparations for the next move are on in India – The Chinooks – Apaches – Raffles – SAMs-MPATGMs – new military partnerships with Israel and Russia etc. Both Bajwa and Imran are left crippled with no credibility and support from within or outside their country. They have to face the next impending Indian onslaught -New Narrative/ Offensive into POK.
(The writer is Defense Analyst, Strategist and a Former GOC Strike Corps.)
Lt Gen PS Mehta, (Retd)