Continuing from Fight For Jammu & Kashmir: Nehru’s blunders in UN
But it would be wrong to put the whole blame for this near unanimous disregard of Indian complaint on the power politics of the two blocs which was reflected in their attitude and voting at the U.N. on invariably all issues. India’s handling and presentation of the Kashmir issue was so faulty, unrealistic and incoherent from the very beginning that it could not evoke any better response even from well meaning and really impartial delegates. This bungling on the part of India in handling a straightforward issue because of the mental cobwebs of Pt. Nehru must be clearly understood for appreciation of the Kashmir problem as it has since developed inside and outside the U.N.O.
From the purely Indian point of view it was, as said above, wrong to refer the Kashmir issue to the U.N.O. It was a domestic issue. Pakistan had committed unprovoked aggression. India was in a position to handle the situation militarily. It should have been left to Pakistan to invoke the interference of the U.N.O. to escape the thrashing it deserved. But instead of putting Pakistan in a tight position, India decided to put her own head in the noose. It was utter bankruptcy of leadership as well as statesmanship.
Having taken the decision to go to the U.N.O., the issue should have been put before that body in its true perspective emphasising the fact of Pakistan’s aggression in Jammu and Kashmir State which had become an integral part of India after accession in terms of the Mountbatten Plan. India should have specifically charged Pakistan of unprovoked aggression and not of mere abetment of aggression by giving passage to tribal raiders through her territory. There was an overwhelming evidence that the aggression had been committed by Pakistan itself. By avoiding the specific charge of aggression in her complaint, the Government of India compromised its own position before the Security Council from the very beginning. Such a complaint could not create that sense of urgency about the problem and the real issue of aggression in the minds of Security Council members who were not supposed to know the real situation and had, therefore, to be guided by the memorandum submitted by the respeetive parties and their elucidation through the speeches in the Council.
If the Indian plaint was wrong in so far as it underplayed Pakistan’s hand behind the invasion, its advocacy was worse. The man chosen to lead the Indian delegation, N. Gopala Swamy-Ayyengar, was a good old man who had been Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir for some years before 1944. But he was a novice to the ways of U.N. diplomacy which is conducted more at informal meetings and late night dinners and drinking parties than at the Council table. He was an honest gentleman who believed in the Indian concept of “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” He was too honest and simple hearted to be a match for Pakistan’s Zaffarullah Khan, who, apart from being a leading jurist, was man of few scruples, wide contacts and great eloquence. It is really surprising why Mehar Chand Mahajan who as a jurist and a debater was more than a match for Pakistan’s Zaffrullah, was not chosen for the job. Being the Prime Minister of the State during the days of Pakistani invasion, he was best suited to rebutt the baseless charges and lies of Pakistan. The only explanation for this lapse is that he was a persona non grata with Pt. Nehru who often gave preference to his own likes and dislikes over the interests of his country.
To make things worse, the Indian delegation included Sh. Abdullah, “a flamboyant personality” about whom Campbell Johnson, the gifted press Attache of Lord Mountbatten, had predicted that he would “Swamp the boat of India.” He was more interested in projecting himself and running down the Maharaja, who was the real legal sanction behind Kashmir’s accession to India, and Dogra Hindus than in pleading the cause of India.
No wonder therefore that the statements and speeches made by him on different occasions as also the statements and speeches of Pt. Nehru provided Zafarullah with the stick to beat India with.
Even more inexplicable was the failure of the Indian spokesmen to lay proper stress on the fact of accession by the Maharaja which in itself was full, final and irrevocable and from which all the rights of the Government of India flowed. They harped on the “will of the people of Kashmir” and India’s offer to them to give their verdict about the accession through a plebiscite after peace had been restored there.
The members of the Security Council as also world opinion in general had not been properly educated regarding the true facts of the Kashmir situation. The external publicity of the Government of India in this as in other matters was halting and hesitating. The government of India itself appeared to be apologetic about the acceptance of Kashmir’s accession. It felt shy of telling to the world the atrocities committed by Pakistani and local Muslims on the Hindus of the State. It was as anxious to run down the Maharaja as were Sh. Abdullah and Pakistan. It wanted to build its case entirely on the popular support of the people of Kashmir regarding the question of accession rather than on the ract of accession itself.
The Pakistan Government and its delegates at the U.N.O. on the other hand were aggressively assertive about their baseless and unrelated charges against India and blatantly emphatic in their denial of the Indian charge about aiding the Tribal invaders. In the face of Pakistan’s categorical denial and Government of India’s apologetic and hesitating approach the first impression on world opinion as also on the U.N. circles was distinctly pro-Pakistan and anti-India.
Pakistan had the added advantage of Gilgit on her side. The strategic importance of Gilgit in the overall western strategy to contain Soviet Union was immense and the British were fully conscious of it. Pakistan could treat it as a bargaining counter to win the support of the Western bloc for itself.
The comparatively favorable attitude of the Communist delegates toward India from the very beginning had also something to do with Gilgit. Control of Gilgit and Kashmir Valley by the Western Bloc through Pakistan was considered by Russia a major threat to her armament industries which had been shifted during the World War II to the east of the Ural Mountains. They were within easy reach of Gilgit based bombers. This fact, coupled with the dominant position of pro- Communist elements in Sh. Abdullah’s Government who wanted to use Kashmir as a spring-board for Communist revolution in India, influenced Communist Russia to take the side she did. This in its turn helped Pakistan to get further ingratiated with the Western Bloc which had the upper hand in the Security Council.
The pattern that was set in the early debates in the Security Council was reflected in the composition of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan- UNCIP. India chose Czechoslovakia from the Com munist block and Pakistan chose Argentina, and when Pakistan and India failed to agree about their common nominee, the Council President named the USA. The Security Council further decided to raise the strength of the UNCIP to five by nominating two more members-Belgium and Colombia to it.
Pakistan insisted that the Commission should also go into the question of Jungarh, genocide and certain other problems arising out of the partition of India. The USA and Britain helped Pakistan to get these issues discussed in the Security Council. On June 3, 1948, the Council President submitted a resolution which proposed that the commission be directed to proceed without delay to the area of disput and besides the question of Jammu and Kashmir, study and report to the Security Council when it considers appropriate, on the matters raised in the letter of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan dated January 15, 1948.
This resolution was passed by the Security Council with USSR, Ukraine and Nationalist China (Formosa) abstaining.This widening of the scope of the UNCIP evoked strong protests from the Indian delegation and the Indian Government. It was even suggested that India should withdraw its complaint from the UN and walk out of it. But, ultimately, the Government of India agreed to receive the Commission and cooperate with it.
The UNCIP arrived in India on July 10, 1948 and began discussions with representatives of India and Pakistan. The Pakistan Government which had so far denied any complicity whatsoever in the invasion of Kashmir now found it impossible to hide the facts any longer. Therefore, her Foreign Minister Zafarullah Khan, informed the Commission that regular Pakistan troops had moved “into certain defensive positions” in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. It created an entirely new situation. It more than substantiated the original eomplaint of India and clearly brought out Pakistan as an aggressor. It necessitated a review of the situation “de novo.” It put the question of plebiscite which had been projected to the forefront by Pakistan in the Security Council in the background for the time being and brought home to the Commission the urgency of getting the hostilities stopped first, a point which India had been stressing all along.
On August 13, 1948, the Commission, therefore, formulated and presented to the Government of India and Pakistan a resolution which called upon both sides to stop fighting which was to be followed by a Truce Agreement after which plebiscite was to be conducted in the State under the auspices of a plebiscite administrator to be appointed by the UN to determine the will of the people about the acession of the State. It asked Pakistan to withdraw her troops as a first step towards the creation of conditions in which plebiscite would be held.
India accepted this resolution after obtaining certain clarifications as it vindicated her stand that Pakistan being the aggressor must withdraw her troops first. She particularly stressed the “end of early withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the Northern areas where a garrison of State troops in the fort of Askardu was still holding out against heavy odds.
Pakistan too wanted certain clarifications particularly in regard to the position of the so called “Azad Kashmir” Government which it had set up in the occupied areas of the State. She also wanted to know the clarifications furnished by the Commission to India and Indian acceptance of the clarifications given by the Commission to her before she could accept the said resolution.
While Pakistan was thus procastinating, the Commission returned to Geneva in September 1948 where it drew up its report which was submitted to the Security Council in November 1948. It admitted in its report that admission by Pakistan about the presence of her troops in Jammu & Kashmir and her overall control of all Pakistani troops and tribals fighting there had “confronted the Commission with an unforeseen and entirely new situation”. It therefore recommended that as a first step toward the final solution of the dispute, the Pakistan Government should be asked to withdraw its forces from the State.
This has not been done by Pakistan so far.
The Security Council resumed its debate on Kashmir on November 25, 1948. It unanimously appealed to India and Pakistan to stop fighting in Kashmir and do nothing to aggravate the situation or endanger the current negotiations.
Following this resolution Dr. Alfred Lozano, a member of the UNCIP, and Dr. Erik Colban, personal representative of the UN Secretary General again visited New Delhi and Karachi to discuss with the two Governments certain proposals supplementary to the resolution of August 13, 1948. They dealt with appointment of a Plebiscite Administrator and certain principles which were to govern the holding of a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir after normal conditicns had been restored.
Another round of Conference between them and the Prime Minister of Inldia and Pakistan followed, Pt. Nehru asked and obtained certain clarifications from Dr. Lozano which were later published by India in the form of an aide memoire setting out the Indian point of view in greater detail. Dr. Lozano returned to New York on December 26, to report to the Security Council.
Soon after he left, the Government of India without waiting for any further initiative from the U.N.C.I.P. or the Security Council ordered a cease fire to be operative from the midnight of January 1, 1949. Pakistan reciprocated. This brought to an abrupt end the undeclared war between the two Dominions which had continued for nearly 15 months.
The Cease fire resulted in de facto partition of Jammu and Kashmir State. It was the second partition within 16 months of the first partition of India which had divided Punjab and Bengal on the basis of the religion of the people.
Whatever the reasons for this impulsive decision of Pt. Nehru the timing that he chose for or ordering cease fire was wrong, and disadvantaged India. Indian troops had left their defensive positions and were advancing on all fronts. Given some more time they could have cleared major part of the State of the Pak invaders and ended the encirclement of the valley. Nehru perhaps was keen to stop the war immediately because he had contended an international conference at New Delhi to consider the situation arising out of Dutch aggression against Indonesia which had just wrested freedom from Dutch Colonial Yoke. He wanted to establish his own bona-fide as a man of peace by ending the war over Kashmir which had been forced on India by Pakistan. This conduct of Nehru was in keeping with his reputation of subordinating national interests to his personal whims and craze for international praise.
The Cease Fire line which was finalised at a joint military conference of India and Pakistan held at Karachi from July 18 to July 28, 1949, divided the Jammu & Kashmir State roughly into two equal parts. Beginning from near the Siachin Glacier in the North this line runs close to the Srinagar-Leh road near Kargil and then runs along the great Himalayan range dividing Kashmir from Baltistan; then turning South a little it passes near the mouth of the Burzila pass on the Kashmir side. From there it runs along the Western mountains dividing Kashmir from Chilas and Karen unto Uri from where it goes South-West parallel to the river Jehlum and touches the Southern boundary of the state near Bhimber. A major portion of Baltistan excepting Kargil, the whole of Gilgit and a major portion of the Punjabi speaking area of Muzaffarabad Poonch and Mirpur fell on the Pakistan side of the Cease Fire line. The strategic Burzila pass, the only direct link between Kashmir valley and Gilgit, also fell on the Pakistan side.
Thus out of six distinct geographical linguistic and cultural regions of the State, three came into the hands of Pakistan. All of them are predominently Muslim. All Hindus including Sikhs in these parts have either been killed or driven out.
The remaining three – Jammu, Laddakh and Kashmir valley – lie on the Indian side of the Cease Fire Line. Of these, Kashmir valley alone has a Muslim majority. The remaining two are Hindu and Buddhist majority regions of the State.
Thus by proposing the Cease fire and allowing the Pakistani forces to remain in occupation of the Pakistan held areas of the State, the Indian Government virtually accepted a partition of the State. The Cease Fire Agreement did not mention the right of the State Government to administer the areas held by Pakistan or the so-called Azad Kashmir Government. Those areas were left to be administered by the the “Local Authorities” which practically meant the “Azad Kashmir” Government or any other authority sponsored and supported by the Pakistan Government.
Had the Cease Fire been brought about after a serious consideration of the military and political situation with a view to effecting a planned partition of the territory involved as in the case of Korea and Indo-China, it might have well nigh put an end to the problem of Jammu & Kashmir which never possessed any intrinsic geographical, cultural, linguistic and religious unity. But in this case the Cease Fire was the result of just another sudden flash in the impulsive mind of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru who had the rare quality of thinking at leisure after he had acted in haste.
As a result the Cease Fire line did not follow any set geographical topographical or demographical pattern. Even strategic considerations, which should have been kept in mind when drawing the line which had since become more or less an international frontier, could not be given due attention because the Cease Fire had been ordered at a time when the Indian army had left its defensive positions but had not yet fully dislodged Pakistan forces from the strategic and defensive positions which they commanded.
lt was just the line of actual control of the armies of India and Pakistan on the first of January 1940. Consequently while the strategic Yojila pass which links Kashmir valley with Laddakh remained in Indian hands, Pakistan retained the control of Burzila pass which links Kashmir Valley with Gilgit. Her control over this pass gave her a strategic advantage. Her army could descend into Kashmir Valley from Gilgit side in case of resumption of hostilities. Further South, the Krishan Ganga which could have formed a natural frontier fell from some distance entirely on the Indian side of the Cease Fire Line before passing into the Pakistan held area. As a result, the rich timber resources of Titwal and Karenforests cannot be fully utilized either by Pakistan or by India. On the west, the Cease Fire Line passed near the town of Uri, which remained in Indian hands, at a distance of about thirty miles from Baramula, the entrance to Kashmir Valley. Again while a major part of the erstwhile Poonch Jagir including out- skirts of Poonch town fell on the Pakistan side, the town itself remained in Indian hands.
This virtual division of Jammu & Kashmir State between India and Pakistan diverted for some time the attention of both India and Pakistan from the discussions at the U.N. to the task of consolidating their position in their respective parts. Pakistan had made valuable gains at the cost of India. But what still remained with India was of no less importance to her. A realistic appraisal of what Pakistan gained and what India still retained and the subsequent internal development in the two parts of the state is an essential per-requisite for proper appreciation of the developments which have made Kashmir a storm centre and a factor for new international alignments.