Fight For Jammu & Kashmir: Pakistan’s Gains

Continuing from Fight For Jammu & Kashmir: Causes of India’s Failure at U.N.

The gains made by Pakistan in the first Indo-Pak war were considerable and significant- from every point of view. Militarily, she could claim to have scored a tactical victory over a much bigger and stronger India. At a much less cost in men and material she was able to add to her dominions a territory roughly equal in size to East Punjab. It was quite a rich dividend for her unprovoked aggression. It confirmed the impression created in the minds of her leaders by the past policy of appeasement and surrender on the part of Indian leadership, that India could be bullied and bluffed into acquiescence and acceptance of any demand however unreasonable it might be if it was backed by adequate force. This created a new confidence and psychology of aggression in Pakistan which has marked her dealings with India on all questions ever since.

Politically, Pakistan had made a mockery of the lawful accession of the Jammu & Kashmir State to India by Maharaja Hari Singh and asserted her claim to have a say in the future of that state. While she had obtained control over nearly half of the State by force, she had got the way cleared for getting the rest of it, or, at least the Kashmir valley, through other means by getting India committed to plebiscite under the supervision of the U.N.O. Knowing the Muslim mind, as she did, she was reasonably confident of the outcome of a plebiscite whenever it was held.

Diplomatically, she had scored a resounding victory over India. Taking advantage of Pt. Nehru’s bungling and indiscreet statements she had succeeded in putting India, the aggressor and the complainant, on the defensive at the U.N.O. and at the bar of world opinion and had won valuable friends and allies. Having foolishly minimized and underplayed the fact of accession by the Maharaja, which was the only real and legal claim of India to be in Jammu and Kashmir, for reasons which would have made the architect of India’s Kashmir policy liable to impeachment in any other country. India was reduced to the pitiable position in which she depended more on the good graces of Sheikh Abdullah and votes of the Communist Bloc rather than on the unassailable right derived from accession and the heroic defence of Kashmir by her armed forces.

This, had the effect of swelling Sheikh Abdullah’s head on the one hand and throwing India more and more into the lap of the Communist Bloc to the chagrin of the Western countries, on the other. The dangerous shift that this situation gave to India’s foreign policy directly led to her virtual isolation and the Chinese aggression in 1962 which humiliated India in the eyes of the whole world.

Pakistan’s gains in terms of territory, human and economic resources and, above, all achievements of important strategic objectives were immense.

The area of the State territories now held by Pakistan comes to about 34,000 square miles out of the total area of 84,471 square miles for the whole State. It includes about 17,000 sq. miles of Gilgit, about 12,000 sq. miles of Baltistan and about five thousand square miles of the Mirpur-Poonch-Muzaffarabad Zone. The total population of this Pakistan occupied part of the State was about 11 and a half lakhs out of a total of 40 lakhs for the whole State according to the 1941 census. It included the population of Gilgit which stood at 1,16,000 in that year.

Though these population figures are not very imposing yet they were important to Pakistan. The Poonchis, Mirpuris and Gilgit’s provide fine fighting material. They make good soldiers and seamen. In fact, military service is the main occupation of these people. There were at that time a lakh of demobilized or ex-soldiers in Mirpur and Poonch area. Thousands of them were employed in the Indian navy and mercantile marine as naval ratings or stokers. Being comparatively backward educationally and politically, they were considered to be more amenable to army discipline. This warlike manpower has since been an asset to Pakistan.

Apart from this manpower, Pakistan was able to achieve a major part of its objectives in the State by the occupation of these territories. Pakistan’s main contention about the State was that being a Muslim majority unit, it should accede to Pakistan. But the more realistic Pakistani leaders realized the difficulty in obtaining for Pakistan the Hindu and Buddhist majority parts of the State which are directly contiguous to the Indian Union. They, therefore, favored a division of the State on the same basis on which Punjab had been partitioned. Such offers in fact were made by the Muslim Conference leaders to the Dogra leaders of Jammu long before the troubles started there. But the division of the State on the basis of religion was disapproved by the Dogra people of Jammu for that would have meant loss of the Kashmir valley to them. The Kashmiri leaders like Sheikh Abdullah were also opposed to partition of the State on the basis of religion because that would have led to ascendancy of the Muslim Conference and the Punjabi Muslims in Kashmir valley as well.

Pakistan had now virtually brought about a division of the State. Three Muslim majority zones of the State were held by her. The only Muslim majority part of the State that still remained out of her control was the Kashmir valley.

From the strategic point of view she had obtained all that she could reasonably hope to get. The first objective of Pakistan in this regard was to cut off the State which she feared might accede to India any day from the N.W.F.P., the tribal area and Afghanistan so that no link up of Pathan home-land with India might be pcssible. The anxiety of Pakistan to prevent this link up was great because of the growing demand for Pakhtoonistan and the keen interest that was being evinced by Afghanistan in it. Though the Indian leadership had let down the Khan brothers; Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan better known as Frontier Gandhi, who was then in Pakistan’s jails and his brother, late Dr. Khan Sahib, who headed the Congress Ministry of N.W.F.P. at the time of Partition-the sympathies of the Indian Public were with the Pathans who had worked shoulder to shoulder with the Indians in their fight against the foreign rule. A direct link between India and Pakhtoonistan and Afghanistan, therefore, would have become a headache for Pakistan. That possibility was removed by the ‘de facto’ control of Gilgit and the Krishan Ganga basin by her.

Pakistan’s control over Gilgit besides preventing a direct contact between India on the one side and Afghanistan and USSR on the other, provided Pakistan with a bargaining counter to secure the sympathy and support of the USA and Britain for herself. Because of its strategic location, Gilgit was of vital importance to the USA in her world wide strategy of containing international communism. That explained the deep interest of USA and Britian in favor of Pakistan retaining control of Gilgit and securing control over Kashmir valley, which also could serve as a major supply base for the advance bases in Gilgit. For the same reasons, the USSR was determined to prevent Kashmir valley passing into Pakistan’s hands. Her support to India over Kashmir in the Security Council had been actuated more by her self interest than by sympathy for the Indian point of view.

Control over Gilgit and Baltistan also brought Pakistan in direct touch with SirLkiang province of the expanding Communist Chinese empire. Communist China became interested in securing control over Laddakh after her forcible occupation of Tibet. This has since created a com munity of interests between Pakistan and China in the dismemberment of Jammu and Kashmir State in such a way as may give Laddakh to China and Kashmir Valley to Pakistan. That explains the Communist Chinese attitude to the Kashmir questions ever since its inception and hobnobbing between her and Pakistan. Thus strategically the territories acquired by Pakistan have proved to be of immense importance to her.

From the economic point of view too these territories have proved to be of great importance to Pakistan. The Mangala headwork of the Upper Jehlum canal, which irrigates a large part of the West Punjab, lies near Mirpur. It flows for about 20 miles within the State territory before entering West Punjab. The economic life of a good portion of West Punjab could be strangulated by the destruction of these headworks. Even a breach in the right bank of the canal which flows parallel to the river could render the canal useless to Pakistan. Now, the headworks and the area through which the canal flows came under the direct control of Pakistan. Therefore, the real or imaginary fear of Pakistan about economic strangulation by India was removed.

The economic importance of Mangala, a name derived from goddess Mangala whose temple stands on the top of a cliff surmounted by a fort, has since been further enhanced by a high altitude dam on the Jehlam built with US help. It has become the greatest single power-cum- irrigation project in Pakistan.

Besides the Mangala Project on the Jehlum, the waters of the Krishan Ganga and the Poonch rivers, the major tributaries of the Jehlum flowing through Jammu and Kashmir State, can also be harnessed for producing hydro-electric power at a number of sites.

Furthermore, these territories brought Pakistan in possession of rich sources of timber as well as means of bringing it to the plains. All the rich fresh wealth of Kashmir and Karen is carried to the plains by the Jehlum. This was an important gain in view of the fact that Pakistan has few forests of good timber. The control of these forest areas has assured Pakistan of a regular supply of raw material for her Rosin Factory at Jallo near Lahore, and of other kinds of forest produce. Pakistan, in fact, obtained almost a monopoly of “Kuth”, a fragrant medicinal herb, which grows in the forests of Karen and Chilas.

As far as minerals are concerned, little is known so far about this area. But a geological survey is bound to reveal the rich mineral potentialities of these thirty four thousand square miles of mountainous territory. The surveys so far made have revealed the existence of mineral oils in the Poonch area. Lime stone suitable for cement and different types of valuable clays are also known to exist in abundance in these parts.

These gains of Pakistan have proved to be sure and permanent. The people of the occupied areas, who have close linguistic social and cultural ties with the people of the adjoining districts of West Pakistan, have been fully indoctrinated with Pakistan’s ideology. They are, therefore, sure to stand by Pakistan in peace or war. The question of plebiscite which has since lost all relevance to the situation has, therefore, never been a headache for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s military build up in these areas with the help of warlike and well-trained local population coupled with favorable geographical factors has made the possibility of the reconquest of these areas by India very remote. No local action confined to Jammu and Kashmir State can possibly succeed in dislodging Pakistan from Gilgit which she had since linked with Peshawar by a motorable road. Control of Burzila Pass by Pakistan has made the task of the Indian army in this respect doubly difficult.

Pakistan was not at all bothered by U.N. reactions. She had, in fact, from the beginning used that forum to malign India with total impunity. The fact that she had violated the U.N. Charter by crossing into the territories of Jammu and Kashmir State did not in any way compromise her position at the U.N. She was not bothered about her weak legal position or world opinion, so long as she was in firm possession of the territories concerned. As later events have proved, world opinion or legal quibblings matter only for the weak. The strong who can present the world with a ‘fait accompli’ can get away with it unless the victim of aggression can mobilise a bigger strength to undo the wrong.

Therefore, she went ahead with consolidating these gains untrammeled by any extraneous considerations or inhibitions. She established her direct control over the northern strategic areas of Gilgit and Baltistan which has since continued to be centrally administered units of Pakistan. In the Western districts of Mirpur-Poonch and Muzaffarabad she had already set up a puppet regime for the purpose of tactical maneuverability at the U.N. She gave this area the name of “Azad” (Independent) Kashmir even though it had nothing to do with the Kashmir region of the state which is cut off from the rest of the State by high Himalayan ranges. She has been systematically Islamising these areas and erasing their Hindu part. For example the name Krishan Ganga river has been changed to “Neel Darya.” She has raised many fully trained and equipped new battalions from among the local people which constitute the real striking force of Pakistan in the State.

Having thus acquired and consolidated her position in three out of the four Muslim majority regions of the State, Pakistan began to prepare for the control of the rest of the State. The cessation of hostilities and restoration of normal conditions in the valley enabled her to start a propaganda offensive inside the valley through her numerous agents in the State administration and the Mullah class to rouse communal feelings in the people there.

The state of affairs in the India-held part of the State, in spite of the sound legal and constitutional position of the Government of India, has been just the opposite. The developments there and the policy of the Government of India regarding them have further compromised and weakened the position of India both internally and externally.

 

NEXT  Fight For Jammu & Kashmir: Indian side of state

Leave a Reply