Current Affairs


Jammu & Kashmir

Kashmir issue was one of those many issues which Pakistan inherited at the time of the partition of the Sub-continent in August 1947. The misuse of the instrument of accession by Hari Singh the Maharaja of Kashmir coupled with the blatant military occupation of the Valley by India has become a living legend of the Hindu-British conspiracy against the Muslims of this region. Since partition the oppression and repression at the hands of the Indian soldiers in the Valley of Jammu & Kashmir has turned the worldly paradise into a hell of death and destruction. Since 1947 India on one pretext or another has been denying to the Kashmiries their just right of self determination.

        Geographical Location of Jammu & Kashmir

        The valley of Jammu & Kashmir forms the north western part of the Indian Sub-continent. The state of Jammu & Kashmir covers an area of 84471 square miles. It is bordered by China to the North East Afghanistan to the North West, India th South East and Pakistan to the South and South West. Kashmir shares 902 miles long border with Pakistan whereas the length of its border with India is just 317 miles. The valley of Jammu & Kashmir is geographically an extension of the plateau of Punjab towards the north because the three rivers of Pakistan namely the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab all have their sources in the mountains of Jammu & Kashmir. Both Pakistan and Kashmir share common history and culture. Like Pakistan majority of the population of Jammu & Kashmir consists of Muslims. Common religion, customs, traditions, historical background, festivals and trading routes bring Jammu & Kashmir closer to Pakistan than India.

        Historical Background

                The state of Jammu & Kashmir has a great historical past. Its occasional references are found in ancient and medieval history of Sub-Continent. The exquisite charm of the valley and mountainous terrain of Kashmir had been a favourite hunting ground for the pleasure seeking princes and the fugitive chieftains. It became a part of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century and majority of the Kashmiries became Muslims.
        In 1846 during the British rule the control of the state passed into the hands of Gulab Singh a Hindu Dogra Chief when through the Treaty of Amritsar it was transferred to him for a paltry 7,500,000 Rupees. Thus the people of Jammu & Kashmir were sold out to Gulab Singh without their consent as if they were logs of woods. The Dogra Hindu rulers had nothing common with their Muslim subjects. They were afraid of the latent strength of the Muslims. As a result they resorted to a tyrannical rule with the help of Hindu public officers. The Muslims soon realized the conspiracy hatched against them and founded All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference in order to safeguard their political rights. The Dogra Maharaja did not like these developments. He unleashed a fresh reign of oppression and repression to suppress the movement. He used force to disperse the meetings of the Muslim Conference. Many Muslims were killed and sent to jails. However the sacrifices of the Muslims did not go in vain. The Maharaja created a Legislative assembly. The Muslim Conference won 16 out of 21 and 20 out of 21 seats in the elections of the Legislative assembly held in 1933 and 1938 respectively. In 1939 the Muslim conference was renamed as National Conference and its scope was enlarged by opening its doors to the non-Muslim as well. This move fired back because the elected Hindu members of the National conference played Maharaja’s game by opposing all efforts for the introduction of a democratic system in the state. The subversive activities of the non-Muslim members resulted in the division of the National conference into two groups. In 1941 a dissident group under Ghulam Abbas re-established the old Muslim conference. On the other hand the group led by Sheikh Abdullah continued to work for the vested interests of the National conference. In the meantime the idea of Pakistan gained popularity among the Muslims. As a result the Muslim messes lost their interest in the activities of the National Conference Riding on the sentiments of the people Mr. Jinnah During his visit to Kashmir, did not acknowledge the National Conference as the true representative body of the Muslims of the valley of Jammu and Kashmir. This attitude forced Sheikh Abdullah to approach Pandit Nehru to get the support of Indian National Congress. Consequently Pandit Nehru visited Kashmir in 1945 with the purpose of strengthening the hands of his ally Sheikh Abdullah in the Valley. Thus on the eve of the partition of the Sub-continent tree divergent political interests regarding the future status of valley were operating in Kashmir. The Maharaja was interested in an independent state under his sovereignty. On the other hands, Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference was clamouring for a secular democratic setup in order to act in unison with the Secular India. At the same time Muslim Conference under Ghulam Abbas was endeavouring for unity with Pakistan.

        Partition of the Sub-Continent & Indian Aggression

        The Mountbatten Plan for the partition of the Sub-Continent was announced on june 3, 1947. According to this plan the British were to leave in August 1947 and the country was to be divided into two independent states called Pakistan and Bhaharat (India). The partition of the region involved the fate of 562 princely states which included Hyderabad and Kashmir. The rulers of these states were given the option of joining India or Pakistan. Lord Mountbatten while addressing the princes of the states on July 25, 1947 said, “Accede to India or to Pakistan bearing in mind the geographical situation of the respective states, the composition of their population and the wishes of their people.” This announcement gave a new impetus to the political manoeuvring in the Sub-Continent. Major states like Hyderabad and Kashmir faced difficult situations because the former had a Muslim ruler and Hindu majority of population and the latter had a Hindu Maharaja and a Muslim majority. After the independence of India and Pakistan on 14th August 1947 the Nizam of Hyderabad announced his accession to Pakistan but India didi not accept it and forcibly occupied the state on the plea that one person could not decide the fate of the majority of the population. On the other hand India flouted this principle in the case of Kashmir and was bent upon annexing it in utter disregard of the wishes of the majority of the Muslim population. Hari Singh the Maharaja of Kashmir wanted to accede to India but in view of the sentiments of the Muslims he did not make any immediate announcement and waited for the proper time. Thus in order to keep Pakistan statisfied he signed a standstill agreement with her on August 12, 1948 which placed Kashmir under restriction to have relations with any country other than Pakistan. This agreement soon proved to be nothing more than a hoax because on 26th October 1947 Hari Singh the Maharaja of Kashmir in contravention of all his commitments and against the wishes of the majority of the people of the state signed the instrument of accession in favour of India. Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General of India, who was a party to the conspiracy readily, accepted the accession. Shortly afterwards the Indian government dispatched a large number of her regular troops to the Valley under the pretext of helping the Maharaja to protect the lives, property and honour of his people. The people of Kashmir protested against this wanton aggression by Indian forces. The government of Pakistan too, strongly condemned this Indian action and informed the Security Council that the accession of Kashmir to Indian was not acceptable to her. The Indian army after arriving in the Valley of Jammu and Kashmir unleashed a reign of terror on the innocent Muslim population. The peaceful rallies were fired upon and the important Muslim leaders were arrested and subjected to unjust brutality. The people of Pakistan and the frontier tribesmen could not sit as idle spectators for long. They could not tolerate the cruelty which was being perpetrated against the Muslims across the border. Thus a large number of tribesmen from Pakistan responded to the call of their brethren and entered the Valley. They engaged the Indian army any started liberating the occupied territory. Lord Mountbatten the Indian governor general on November 1, 1947 proposed a plebiscite in the Valley under the auspices of UN. A week later on 8th November Pandit Nehru proposed that both India and Pakistan should jointly request the UNO to hold plebiscite in Kashmir. Liaquat Ali Khan the Prime Minister of Pakistan welcomed this offer and said, “We are ready to request UNO immediately to appoint its representatives in Jammu & Kashmir state to stop the fighting, to stop the suppression of Muslims in the state, to arrange a programme for the withdrawal of forces, to set up an impartial administration of the state till a plebiscite is held.” The India Prime Minister refused to withdraw Indian forces from the Valley. In the meantime, fighting continued in Kashmir with the result that by December 1947, the Pakistani tribesmen and the Kashmiri freedom fighters had liberated areas of Poonch, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit to give shape to the state of Azad Kashmir.

        Security Council’s Resolutions

Frustrated by the heroic resistance put up by the Kashmiri freedom fighters and the Pakistani tribesmen, India on January 6, 1948 took the Kashmir dispute to the Security Council. The Council passed a resolution on January 17, 1948 in which it asked both the countries to cease hostilities immediately. The resolution had no effect on the fighting and it raged on with added intensity because both India and Pakistan wanted to grab as much territory as possible before any ceasefire could take place.

United Nations Commission on Pakistan & India

As the bloody war continued the Security Council appointed a United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) in order to ascertain the facts and recommend the solution. “By another resolution of the Security Council on April 21, 1948 the Secretary General of the United Nations was authorized to appoint a plebiscite administrator to arrange for the plebiscite in the state. On August 13, 1948 the commission adopted a resolution directing both India and Pakistan to ceasefire, asked Pakistan to withdraw its forces from Kashmir; the commission also declared the future of the state shall be determined by the people of the state. The resolution was not clear on the specific arrangements for the plebiscite. On January 5, 1949 the commission passed another resolution spelling out the arrangements for a plebiscite in that the future of the state of Jammu and Kashmir would be decided by the free will of the people. In the meantime India and Pakistan negotiated a ceasefire which went into effect on January 1, 1949 and was signed on July 27, 1949.

Appointment of plebiscite Administrator

In the light of the findings of the UNCIP the Secretary General appointed Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (USA) as the plebiscite administrator on March 22, 1949. This move also did not materialize because India refused to accept arbitration of any kind.

Report of Sir Owen Dixon

The Security Council disbanded the UNCIP on March 14, 1950 and appointed Sir Owen Dixon a judge of the High Court of Australia to arrange for demilitarization. Mr. Dixon visited India and Pakistan and held talks with Pandit Nehru and Liaquat Ali Khan. Later on, he submitted his report in September 1950. But Dixon’s efforts to fail too solve the problem.

Frank Graham’s Report

On March 30, 1951 the Security Council appointed Frank P. Graham a former US Senator as United Nations Representative in Kashmir, Frank P. Graham in his report published on October 19, 1951 recommended that the Security Council should try for demilitarization of Kashmir. In May 1952 Graham held a second round of talks with India and Pakistan but his efforts failed due to the negative attitude on the Indian leaders.

 Geneva talks between Pakistan & India

In February 1953, India and Pakistan held several rounds of talks at Geneva. The main issues including the demilitarization of Kashmir and the holding of plebiscite were discussed at length. These talks also failed because India refused to accept the proposals.

Talks between Nehru & Muhammad Ali Bogra

In 1953 the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan Pandit Nehru and Muhammad Ali Bogra discussed Kashmir issue thrice in their meetings which were held in London, Karachi and Delhi. These talks did not bring about any result. During the visit to Karachi Nehru said, “We all know Kashmir is the toughest problem and there is no good my saying that it is nearer a solution.”

Change in Indian Policy on Kashmir

As time rolled on India used one pretext or another to avoid plebiscite in Kashmir. As a result all the efforts made by UN for a peaceful solution of the issue failed miserable. From 1948 to 1953 India succeeded in gaining time by holding dummy talks with the representatives of UN and the leaders of Pakistan. In 1953 India changed her policy on Kashmir. First of all on August 8, 1953 Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed from premiership of the state of Kashmir and a puppet government under Ghulam Muhammad Bakhshi was installed to protect Indian interests in the Valley. The puppet assembly passed resolution for accession of Kashmir with India. Later on India claimed the state of Jammu and Kashmir as her integral part. Secondly on July 9, 1955 Mr. Govind Walabhai Pant the interior minister of India declared, “We made certain statements when Kashmir acceded to India but when we made those statements circumstances were different from what they are now.” This statement clearly reflected the drastic change in Indian policy on Kashmir. Later on the Indian Prime Minister Pandit Nehru told the Lok Sabha the question of plebiscite in Kashmir was out of date because of the following reasons:
1.    American military aid to Pakistan.
2.    Economic development of the state.
3.    Creation of the constituent assembly in the occupied Kashmir.
4.    Pakistan’s membership of SEATO and CENTO.
Pakistan rejected Nehru’s statement in a categorical manner. On January2, 1957 Pakistan asked the Security Council to implement its earlier resolution of 5th January 1949 on Kashmir by ordering withdrawal of all troops from Kashmir and sending a UN force there to “organize a plebiscite and to require India to abandon the new constitution which was about to integrate Kashmir in India. India opposed UN intervention and the USSR vetoed the resolution endorsing Pakistan’s plan.” After the Soviet veto, on February 21, 1957 Security Council adopted a second resolution submitted by US, Britain and Australia according to which Mr. Gunner Jarring the President of the Council visited the Sub-continent and discussed the Kashmir issue with the Indian and Pakistani leaders. On 29th April 1957, Gunner Jarring reported to the UN Secretary General that Pakistan had accepted his proposal whereas India had as usual stuck to her traditional obduracy. India responded to the UN moves by setting Hindu immigrants in Jammu and Kashmir. In September 1957, the Security Council discussed the Kashmir dispute again. In the meeting Pakistan offered to withdraw its troops from Azad Kashmir with the condition that a strong UN force was sent there and India also reduced its troops in the Valley. Later on in February, 1958 Dr. Graham visited India and Pakistan in an effort to find out the peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue. His mission failed because India once again remained adamant as before. Thus the deadlock over Kashmir continued. On October 1958 General Ayub Khan installed military rule in Pakistan. He was keenly interested in resolving of the Security Council. He said, “We have to continue the struggle for the liberation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In no case we give up the struggle. “Two years later on October 6, 1960 President Ayub Khan reiterated Kashmir’s importance for Pakistan saying that, “Our communications, our rivers and event the cease-fire line in Kashmir Valley one and all are sufficient factors to indicate that our neck is in the grip of others. “In November 1962 Prime Minister of India and President of Pakistan through a joint communiquĂ© proposed ministerial level conference in order to resolve Kashmir issue in an amicable manner. However the six meeting held from December 1962 to May 1963 failed to produce any result. After the meeting Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto said, “We were quite willing that for about one year the Valley of Kashmir be put under international control, with the provision that at the end of the period, to ascertain the wishes of its people, a plebiscite shall be held. This proposal which we considered to be a fair one for an equitable settlement of the Kashmir dispute was also rejected by India.

        1965 Pakistan India War

        After the failure of ministerial level talks in 1963 the circumstances in Kashmir took a dramatic turn when India tried the merger of Kashmir with her. In March 1965 the Indian Assembly passed the “Integration Bill” which made Kashmir a province of India. This step combined with the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah sent a wave of indignation throughout the Valley and the people of Kashmir raised the standard of revolt against the Indian rulers. There was a widespread unrest in the state when the people held protest marches and rallies against the Indian move to change the status of Kashmir. The demonstrations soon took the shape of a freedom struggle. India termed the freedom fighters as the infiltrators from Pakistan and on this pretext crossed the ceasefire line on August 15, 1965. a few days later, Indian forces shelled a Pakistani village named Awan Sharif. These provocative actions forced Pakistan to take a defensive police action against Indian aggression in Azad Kashmir. As a result Pakistan army along with the Azad Kahsmir troops launched an attack against the Indian army and pushed it many kilometers back into its territory. Within a few days the town of Jaurian fell to the advancing Pakistani troops. The city of Jammu was about to fall when on September 6, 1965 Indian in utter desperation crossed the international boundary of Pakistan. The whole world condemned this action. The naked Indian aggression resulted in full scale war between the two countries. The valiant armed forces and the people of Pakistan rose to the occasion and put up a heroic defense of their nation. The war lasted for seventeen days. Pakistan inflicted heavy losses on India and captured large chunks of its territory in Fazilka and Rajistan sectors. Sensing defeat India asked the Security Council for a cease fire which came into effect on September 23 1965. A day before the ceasefire Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto the Foreign Minister of Pakistan said, “Although Pakistan considered the 20th September Resolution unsatisfactory it would accept for the sake of peace and for solving the Kashmir dispute, the main cause of the conflict.” On January 10, 1966 Pakistan and India signed Tashkent Peace treaty according to which both the countries agreed to establish good neighbourly relations with each other. India failed to learn any lesson from the 1965 war and did not abandon her illegal hold on Kashmir. In the 1971 war India avenged her previous defeat by dismembering Pakistan. February 1975 witnessed a significant change in Kashmir affairs when Indira Abdullah agreement resulted in the appointment of Sheikh Abdullah as the Chief Minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Thus Sheikh Abdullah’s stubborn resistance which lasted for about twenty years finally ended in abject surrender to lust for power. He bartered away the right of self determination of Kashmiris in a shameful manner.

        Kashmir Issue during General Zia-Ul-Haq’s Regime  

        In July 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq took over as the Chief Martial Law Administrator of Pakistan by deposing Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto whose democratic regime had been functioning since December 1971. General Zia-ul-Haq was keenly interested in the peace solution of Kashmir issue. His efforts got a great setback at the hands of Soviet military occupation of Afghanistan in December 1979. the Soviet military treat and the problems created by about two million Afghan refugees became the focus of Pakistan’s attention and the Kashmir issue was relegated to the background. India felt very much pleased with Pakistan’s pre-occupation in Afghan affairs. Taking full advangate of the situation she created further problems for Pakistan by capturing Siachin Glacier and building a barrage on Wullar Lake. In the meantime the liberation movement of Kashmir witnessed a revolutionary change in 1987 when four major political parties formed the Muslim United Front (MUF) which proved to be a forerunner of the latter political alliance which led to the resurgence of armed struggle against the subjugation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir by India.