Kashmir 1947: War and diplomacy

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Dr. Javid Iqbal Clausewitz, the German geo-strategist of yesteryears defines war as another form of diplomacy. Kashmir war 1947 moved eventually to diplomatic table. There were three centers where moves were being planned—Srinagar, Delhi and Lahore. Following the start of armed engagement on October, the 22nd 1947, Ram Lal Batra [RLB] Deputy PM of JK state was dispatched to Delhi on October, the 24th . On 25th, while RLB was in Delhi trying to get a deal with minimum diminution in Maharaja Hari Singh (MHS)’s sovereignty and stating total unwillingness to accommodate Sheikh Mohd Abdullah [SMA]. V.P. Menon [VPM] was flying to Srinagar accompanied by a small contingent of army and air force officials. Apart from others with him was Dwarka Nath Kachru (Allister Lamb—Birth of a Tragedy-Kashmir 1947, pub: Roxford, UK, 1994, page: 89/90). Kachru was Nehru’s liaison to SMA. SMA left for Delhi, as Menon touched down. There is hardly an account on Kashmir 1947, where it is not noted that day onwards, SMA was lodged in Prime Ministerial lodge-17, York Road, New Delhi as Nehru’s guest. RLB’s brief makes out that MHS was not willing to go beyond minimum diminution in sovereignty, and there was no place for SMA in the deal. Hence his mission concludes Lamb does not figure in Indian accounts stating the country’s ‘K’ case. Accession meant total surrender of sovereignty. Internal autonomy was a ruse to loop in SMA; in 1953 he realized it while cooling his heels in Indian prison. As the heat intensified, MHS while fleeing from Srinagar to Jammu on Banihall Cart Road had his PM—Mehr Chand Mahajan [MCM] up in the skies above with VPM flying to Delhi to clinch a deal, MCM in 17 York Road insisted on urgent aid, without which he might have no option but to go to Lahore (implying a deal with Pakistan). That halted the discussion, until SMA made, what Lamb [ibid-page: 91/92] calls ‘belated appearance’ and supported MCM’s view of situation being grave. Subject to Maharaja’s approval, MCM’s brief was—accession and deal with SMA. The deal resulted in 27th October landing. Post 27th October, as the day Indian forces landed in Kashmir, an angry Mohd Ali Jinnah (MAJ) ordered the stand in commander—Sir Douglas Gracy deputizing for CNC—Sir Frank Messervy (on leave) to engage regular Pakistani forces in Kashmir. Gracy pleaded his inability to do so. He had not only MAJ’s wishes to cater to; he had to accommodate the views of Field Marshall Sir Claude Auchinleck in Delhi, who held the joint command of Indian and Pakistani forces. The vertical division of forces and assets had still to take affect. The question arises—was non intervention of British officers biding on either side of the divide? Notes Lamb, ‘the Indian commander in chief, Sir R.Lockhart took a keen interest in Kashmir operations from the outset, as indeed did the Indian Head of State, the Governor General Lord Mountbatten. Operational command of the Indian forces on 27 October and the days that immediately followed was exercised by from New Delhi by Lt.General Sir Dudley Russell’ [ibid-page: 104]. Auchinleck on his Pakistan visit on October 28th, a day after Indian landing prevailing upon MAJ to withdraw his order to Gracy, as per what his secretary Shahid Hamid notes ‘Auk said that under the orders of his Majesty’s government, he had no options but to withdraw the British officers if border was violated’ [Hamid-Disastrous Thoughts--page: 278]. Comments Hamid ‘He [Auchinleck] was enforcing orders in literal sense, without appreciating extenuating [justifying] circumstances’ adding in conclusion ‘but then Auk was no politician’. How did Jinnah take it, Auchinleck reported it as ‘Jinnah withdrew orders… [for Pakistan troops to enter Kashmir]…but is very angry and disturbed by what he considers to be the sharp practice by India in securing Kashmir’s accession’. [Birth of a Tragedy-page: 135] George Cunningham-Governor of NWFP notes of his meeting with MAJ after Auchinleck had met him: ‘Jinnah said Auchinleck had just told him that, in the event of war between the two dominions, all B.O’s [British officers] in both armies would at once stand down. He said he had a good moral and constitutional case for intervening by force, just as India had…Kashmir had turned down every approach Pakistan had made to them, and the lives of Muslims in all Kashmir were at stake. But he realized Pakistan army was weak at present.’ [Cunningham ‘Diary’ as related in Victoria Schofield’s (Kashmir in the Cross Fire-I.B Tauris-- pub: London/New York-page: 153)]. Cunningham’s conclusion is noted as ‘Although Jinnah was not convinced that the decision was right, in his own mind, he had ruled out the possibility of sending troops to fight’. Pakistan in 1947 lacked the needed infrastructure to be called a nation state at all. The government was trying to shape up in Karachi; it was too much to expect MAJ launching a full fledged counter attack in Kashmir. Compared to Pakistan, India had a settled capital with a working government that had just changed hands as British Raj ended and the independence dawned, a reasonable industrial base to sustain the war. India could afford a war, which Pakistan could not? MAJ’s allegation of accession based on fraud and violence, therefore not ‘bona fide’  had Mountbatten make out a case for MHS being ‘perfectly entitled to accede to either of the two dominions, and violence coming from tribes for whom Pakistan was responsible had Maharaja accede to India to obtain help.’ Mountbatten was visiting MAJ as Pundit Nehru who was scheduled to meet him pleaded indisposition. MAJ repeatedly asserted India committing violence by sending troops. As recounted by Mountbatten, repetition of his line of argument had MAJ enraged at its denseness. Asked of his objections to proposed plebiscite (earlier approved in 28th meeting with Auchinleck) MAJ said ‘With the Indian troops in military occupation of Kashmir and with the National Conference under Sheikh Abdullah in power, such propaganda and pressure could be brought to bear that the average Muslim would never have the courage to vote for Pakistan’ [Victoria Schofield-Kashmir in the Crossfire-pub-I.B.Tauris-London, Paris, New York 1196-page: 153]. There it rests; the promised plebiscite could never materialize for one argument or the other put forth by India and Pakistan…the plebiscite that was and remains legitimate way of exercising self determination.   Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival] Feedback on: iqbal.javid46@gmail.com

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