July 2005 News

Fallacies About Kashmir

13 July 2005
The News International
Amanullah Khan

Islamabad: It was really a surprise to hear from people like former foreign minister Agha Shahi and retired lieutenant general Hameed Gul, the former chief of the Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI), that India had never agreed to the complete independence for Jammu and Kashmir State. The three of us were having a chat before a recent seminar on Kashmir. When I disagreed, Gen. Gul went a step further, saying that Jawahar Lal Nehru had once remarked that he would rather present Kashmir to Pakistan on a platter than agree to its independence. There are many baseless and harmful misconceptions in both India and Pakistan. Presenting its case on Kashmir before the UN Security Council in January 1948, India agreed that Kashmir had the right to opt for independence. In his address to the UN Security Council on January 15, 1948, the head of Indian delegation, Gopala Swami Ayngar, declared: 'The question of the future status of Kashmir vis- a-vis her neighbours and the world at large, and a further question, namely, whether she should withdraw from her accession to India, and either accede to Pakistan or remain independent, with a right to claim admission as a member of the United Nations - all this we have recognised to be a matter for unfettered decision by the people of Kashmir, after normal life is restored to them.' On July 9, 1951, Pundit Nehru himself declared at an All-India Congress Committee meeting: 'Kashmir has been wrongly looked upon as a prize for India or Pakistan. People seem to forget that Kashmir is not a commodity for sale or to be bartered. It has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future.' The Indian- occupied part of Kashmir had its own president and prime minister, its own flag, a national language (Urdu) and a separate constitution - with the approval of India under Section 370 of its Constitution. As a matter of fact, this position was taken to be an initial, necessary step towards full independence, which could not materialise due to many reasons not related to the present topic. Isn't this sufficient proof that India had committed itself to independence for Kashmir if the Kashmiris wanted it? There is a misconception in Pakistan that the Two-Nation Theory also applied to Kashmir, and hence, as a Muslim-majority state, it should have necessarily become part of Pakistan. The fact, is that the Two- Nation Theory applied only to British India and not to the princely states. If that were not so, Kashmir would have automatically become part of Pakistan and Junagadh and Hyderabad states part of India. But the ruler of Junagadh State, whose population had a Hindu majority of more than 80%, acceded to Pakistan and Pakistan accepted that accession. The other Hindu-majority state, Hyderabad, wanted to remain independent and Pakistan advocated its independence even at the United Nations. Had the Two-Nation Theory governed the princely states as well, Pakistan would never have accepted Junagadh's accession to Pakistan or support the independence of Hyderabad. The Quaid-e-Azam declared on June 17, July 11 and 30, 1947, that the Indian princely states had every right to join India or Pakistan, or to declare independence. (Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: Speeches and Statements 1947-48, published by the Pakistani Ministry of Information; pages 16, 17, 23, 24, 36 and 37.) Had the Two-Nation Theory also applied to the states, there was no reason why a state could have a right to remain independent. The only right of the Kashmiri people accepted in principle by India and Pakistan and the international community and demanded by the people of Kashmir is the right of self-determination. The third misconception that has been put into the minds of the people of Pakistan is that Quaid-e-Azam had termed Kashmir as the jugular vein of Pakistan. This is nothing but a concoction. No one has produced or referred to any press statement of the Quaid published before his death. How could a man of M. A. Jinnah's mental stature make such contradictory statements? He is clearly on record as saying that he was for the independence of both Kashmir and Hyderabad. How could he at the same time declare Kashmir to be Pakistan's jugular vein? You cannot live for more than a minute or so without your jugular vein and Pakistan has lived for about six decades now without Kashmir. There are misconceptions about the Kashmir issue in the minds of most Indians also. They claim that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir is an inseparable part (atoot ang) of India, whereas it is neither inseparable (atoot) nor part (ang). About half of Jammu and Kashmir State (the areas under Pakistan's and China's control) is separate from India. How can one term these areas as inseparable from India? These areas do not, for any reason, form part of India. Another misconception in India is that time itself will settle the Kashmir issue, to India's benefit. But the fact is that Kashmir is far more troublesome for India today than it has ever been during the past six decades. Therefore, instead of beating about the bush and taking cover behind misconceptions and baseless hopes, the peoples and the governments of both India and Pakistan adopt a humane and realistic approach to the issue and change it from the present position of a poisonous bone of contention to a bridge of friendship between the two nuclear neighbours. This is the only way to avoid a possible catastrophe and ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for South Asia, which is inhabited by one-fifth of humanity. The only practical and practicable way to do so is to reunite Jammu and Kashmir State and make it fully independent, with a democratic, federal and secular system of government having mandatory friendly relations with both India and Pakistan. After 15 years, a referendum must be held under international auspices in which Kashmiris would determine whether Kashmir should perpetuate its independence, become part of India or Pakistan or find some other solution. This popular verdict must be accepted by all concerned as a final settlement of the Kashmir issue and implemented. This would bring to an end a problem that has been eating into the vitals of India, Pakistan and Kashmir for the past six decades and which, if left unsolved, could destroy the entire region. The writer is chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).


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