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The Kashmir Dispute and Pakistan’s Policy
                                                     
Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema

 

To comprehend properly Pakistan’s India policy, one needs to understand all shades of the ongoing Kashmir dispute- more specifically how the dispute originated. Even after the passage of 55 years, the dispute still occupies a paramount position in Indo-Pak relations. What is perhaps intriguing about the Kashmir situation is that while Indian government have consistently attempted not to recognize the problem, the Kashmiris have been gradually rallying around the nation that they will have to do something to keep the issue alive. The Indians have been pushing the argument that no dispute exists and that the Kashmiris, through several elections, have not only cemented Kashmir’s accession to India but have already accepted Kashmir as an integral part of the Indian Union. On the other hand, the Pakistanis continuously held that Kashmir's accession was secured by fraud and thus would remain unacceptable until a U.N. supervised plebiscite was held as promised by India in the U.N. resolutions of August 13, 1948 and January 5,1949.

While it has been repeatedly pointed out that India had justified her annexation of both Junagadh and Hyderabad on the grounds that their inhabitants desired to join the Indian Union even though the ruler of Junagadh formally signed the instrument of accession in favour of Pakistan, the Pakistanis demand that India should permit the people of Kashmir to decide their future though an internationally supervised plebiscite as promised openly by both Mountbatten and Nehru. Thus to the holding of such a plebiscite Pakistan argues, India is officially committed through the Indian government's repeated pledges to Pakistan as well as to the United Nations. To comprehend Pakistan's Kashmir policy and the continuing confrontation between India and Pakistan punctuated by three military conflicts along with innumerable border clashes including larger clashes like the Siachin and Kargil clashes and few short spells of correct state of neighbourliness, one needs to analyses what exactly happened in 1947 and how the dispute has evolved over the years. Thus the paper is divided into four sections; the origins of the dispute, Kashmir at the UN, Indo‑Pak wars and the post Simla Accord period. Each of these sections highlight the role of Kashmir dispute in Pakistan's foreign policy

How it all started?

According to the Indian Independence Act the accession of states to one or other of the new Dominion was left to the discretion of the rulers. The basic principle of accession was that it was vested in the personal decision of the ruler. But it was also recognized that the decision of the ruler should be qualified by the geographical contiguity of the states to the successor Dominion and its communal composition. With regard to Junagadh, Hyderabad and Jodhpur India insisted upon their accession to herself because of the Hindu majority population in those states despite the fact that the rulers of Junagadh and Jodhpur opted for Pakistan and Hyderabad for independent status. By this criterion, Kashmir should have automatically joined Pakistan. But in the case of Kashmir India applied political pressures on Maharaja to accede to India and once Maharaja had signed the instrument of accession, India relegated the `majority principle' to secondary place and pushed the legalistic approach to the forefront.

Just before partition the process of applying political pressures on the Maharaja was initiated in May 1947 with the visit of Acharya Kriplani who tried to influence Maharaja but failed in his mission1. The rulers of Patiala, Kapurthala and Faridkot who also tried to convince the Maharaja to join India as they had decided for their own states to accede to India followed Kriplani’s visit . During the month of June, Mountbatten also made a trip to Kashmir and advised the Maharaja to quickly decide to join either of the Dominions after ascertaining the will of the people . The next important leader who visited Kashmir in an attempt to influence the thinking of the Maharaja was Gandhi . Quaid‑i‑Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah also wanted to visit Kashmir but Mountabatten managed to dissuade him from undertaking such a trip . In August 1947 Gandhi went to Kashmir and held a series of meetings with the Maharaja, Maharani, the Prime Minister, and workers of National Conference. The purpose of Gandhi's visit was to influence Maharaja not only to join India but also to remove the then Prime Minister of Kashmir Pandit Ram Chandra Kak, a Hindu who wanted the state to opt for independent status . Not only within a week of Gandhi's departure from Kashmir, Janak Singh replaced Pandit Kak but also after the passage of a month even Sheikh Abdullah was released from jail whereas the leaders of Muslim Conference (like Chaudhury Ghulam Abbas), who were also jailed along with Abdullah on similar charges, continued to languish in prison.

The initial troubles sparked off in Poonch area, where Maharaja accelerated the process of systematic persecution of the Muslim population. The tempo of anti‑Muslim campaign increased gradually 'with the infiltration of members of the RSS, Alkali Sikhs, and the INA . However, this infamous campaign ran into troubles in Poonch and Mirpur areas, the home of thousands of demobilized soldiers of the British Indian Army who had fought for the British during the Second World War .  These demobilized soldier’s organized resistance against Dogra forces’ drive of eliminating Muslim population. With a small military organization they rose against Maharaja's suppression and soon declared the establishment of the Azad Kashmir government. The Muslim troops of state forces left Maharaja's service and joined hands with the Azad Kashmir government .

Towards the end of August and the beginning of September, 1947 many agents of Azad forces went to North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to purchase arms from the tribal factories in the mountainous area . Stories of Dogra brutalities moved many tribal leaders. Aroused by what they considered to be the persecution of their brethren by Maharaja, the warlike Muslim tribes of the NWFP proclaimed a Holy war and some 2000 tribesmen, mostly Mahsuds and Afridis set off on October 19, 1947 towards Kashmir . On October 26, Maharaja despite the Standstill Agreement with Pakistan decided to accede to India and sent the accession letter to the Indian Governor General . Two days before the accession Maharaja appealed to India for help, the Indian government, in accordance with the advice of Mountbatten decided to send help only if Maharaja first acceded to India . On the same day, it was generally believed in many circles that Maharaja under the influence of Congress leaders had already decided to accede to India . The interesting aspect of Maharaja's accession letter is that he did not accuse Pakistan of giving assistance or organizing the invasion whereas the Indian officials did not hesitate to levy such charges against Pakistan . While accepting the accession, Mountbatten specifically mentioned that as soon as the law and order is restored the question of state's accession would be settled by a reference to the people . Nehru also pledged to ascertain the wishes of people under international auspices like the United Nations . However, Pakistan did not recognize Kashmir's accession to India as it was regarded manifestly contrary to the wishes of people and was based on fraud and violence . The Maharaja, having already entered into a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan, was debarred from entering into relations with any other power unilaterally . Pakistan also pointed out "that Maharaja had no authority left to execute the instrument of accession because his subjects had overthrown his government by a successful revolt and forced him to flee from the capital .

 

 
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