It is too difficult in 2013 for any manner of Kashmiri leadership to continue to enjoy ignorance on the Kashmir case or acquiesce for any reason to a non-Kashmiri narrative. After their recently concluded visit of Pakistan Hurriyat (M) has stated “Our thrust is that whatever India has in mind or Pakistan has in mind, let them put on table. Let us discuss it. One cannot clap by one hand only. If Pakistan will show flexibility, India will also have to show.” Without waiting for an answer from either of the two countries leadership has taken a position and proposed that General Parvez Musharaf’s four-point formula can be one of the starting points for Kashmir resolution. It leaves out India to show its cards and leaders don’t use such an infirm narrative.
It does not even match the representative character and political narrative presented by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on 5 February 1948 while he addressed the 241st meeting of the UN Security Council. Sheikh Abdullah said, “The Security Council will concede that I am probably the one man most concerned in this dispute because I happen to come from that land which has become the bone of contention between the sister Dominions of India and Pakistan”. Our present leadership has yet to position in the manner in which Sheikh Abdullah pitched himself at the UN.
The joint control proposed by General Musharraf has been categorically rejected by Sheikh Abdullah in his address to the UN Security Council in 1948. One may or many more may not have the ability to commit to Sheikh’s political narrative at the UN. He stated, “I refuse to accept Pakistan as a party in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir State; I refuse this point blank. Pakistan has no right to say that we must do this and we must do that. We have seen enough of Pakistan. The people of Kashmir have seen enough. Muzaffarabad and Baramulla and hundreds of villages in Jammu and Kashmir depict the story of Pakistan to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We want to have no more of this” (UN Official Records Numbers 16-35).
Pitching the interests of his people Sheikh said, “we can find anyone among these 4 million people whom we can call impartial. After all we are not logs of wood; we are not dolls. We must have an opinion one way or the other. The people of Kashmir are either in favour of Pakistan or in favour of India”.
Explaining his “slogan freedom before accession” Sheikh said, “Immediately we were liberated from the prison we were faced with the important question of whether Kashmir should accede to Pakistan, accede to India or remain independent, because under the partition scheme three choices were open to every Indian State. The problem was a very difficult one, but I advised the people of my country that although the question was very important to us, it was a secondary consideration. The all-important matter for us was our own liberation from the autocratic rule of the Prince, for which we were fighting and had been fighting for the past seventeen years. We had not achieved that goal and therefore I told my people that we must do so first. Then as free men we should have to decide where our interests lay. Being a frontier State Kashmir has borders with both Pakistan and India, and there are advantages and disadvantages for the people of Kashmir attached to each of the three alternatives to which I have referred”.
On the question of representation Sheikh raised the benchmark by making a reference to 4 million people and prior to any decision of accession he reserved for his people the choice to be ‘free first’. Times have moved and we should be seen that we have moved with the times.
One may respectfully wish to disagree with the Hurriyat (M) leadership that “Kashmir continues to be the core issue”. As a matter of fact the Indian petition to UN Security Council and Indian statement at the UN makes a much favourable case for the people of Kashmir as compared to the stand taken by Pakistan at the UN.
There is no doubt that Muslims of Lahore were concerned with the plight of Kashmiri Muslims under Maharaja Rule as early as in 1896. Anjuman-i-Kashmiri Mussalmanan-i-Lahore was formed in 1896 to assist them. It held its first meeting in February 1896. Dr. Sir Mohammad Iqbal read a poem at the meeting and praised the effort. The good will has continued in the general public.
On the contrary Governments in Pakistan, in particular ever since their counter petition at the UN dated 15 January 1948 under article 35 and counter documents, Document I, Document II and Document III introduced other matters. It included accession of Junagadh, Manavadar, Kathiawar to Pakistan and the non-payment by Indian Government of Pakistan’s share in the cash balances etc. Pakistan never followed upon its claim on accession of these three States and has not been able to prove its claim that accession of the “State to the Indian Union would be tantamount to the signing of their death warrant”.
The counter claim filed by Pakistan on 15 January 1948 (S/646) resulted in converting the Kashmir Situation into India Pakistan Question. It created a number of ambiguities during the debate. Government of Pakistan failed to show any serious interest in its counter petition in the three documents, other than using the counter petition to exact political, financial and other advantages from India. Pakistan succeeded to wrest the first benefit in a week’s time. Government of India in its letter dated 21 January 1948 confirmed to the UN SC that Government of India had released to Pakistan their share of cash balances withheld by the Government of India. It further confirmed to abide by the UN Security Council Resolution (S/651) of 17 January 1948 on Kashmir Situation.
The fact that Government of Pakistan did not concern itself primarily with the Kashmir Situation, is highlighted by the letter dated 20 January 1948 from Zafrulla Khan Foreign Minister Government of Pakistan requesting the UN Security Council to call a meeting to consider the situation (other than Jammu and Kashmir Situation) set out in his letter dated 15 January 1948, addressed to the Secretary General.
Government of Pakistan continued to use Kashmir to exact further concessions from India. Government of India on 21 August 1957 lodged a complaint S/3869 on the execution of Mangla Dam Project in the disputed territory of Mirpur. India could not withstand the pressure on Kashmir and decided to conclude Indus Basin Treaty with Pakistan. On 4 September 1960 Ayub Khan in his broadcast to the nation said that the terms of the Treaty were ‘the best we could get under the circumstances, many of which, irrespective of merits and legality of the case, are against us”. The statement contains an undertone of apology and implies a sense of sacrifice which the Martial Law administration would have avoided if it could. But what Pakistan exactly sacrificed remains a secret to date.
The recent experience of an adhoc interest has been a political, militant and diplomatic script handed over to Kashmiri leadership on both sides of LOC in 1989. Valley has been used as theatre of proxy war by the two countries until General Musharraf in 2006 in his 4 point formula proposed to “curb all militant aspects of the struggle for freedom. It was all of a sudden that he came to realise that, “This will give comfort to the Kashmiris, who are fed up with the fighting and killing on both sides”.
We should not be asking India and Pakistan to put on the table, all that is in their mind. It is their privilege and a matter for the table when all gather around it. The leadership of Kashmir should have its own narrative and should be readying itself to force it on the two countries. Our leaders have to understand that United Nations continues to be a party to the question of self-determination. Pakistan in its letter dated 8 January 1948 (S/639) and India in its letter dated 9 January 1948 (S/640) have given an undertaking in regard to Kashmir.
The present leadership has to reconcile its narrative with the Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s, when he informed the UN Security Council that he had a heart to heart talk with Pakistani representative in Srinagar and that his friendship with Nehru and Congress would not influence his decision against the interests of his people. “I am not going to betray the millions of my people who have suffered with me for the last 17 years and sacrifice the interests of my country”, Sheikh stated at the UN.
(Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.)