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Ambassador Shahid Masroor Gul Kiani (R)

The writer holds a Masters in Political Science (Punjab University) and Masters in Diplomatic Studies (UK). He has served in various capacities in Pakistan’s missions abroad and as an Ambassador to Vietnam and High Commissioner to Malaysia. He is on the visiting faculty of four mainstream public universities in Islamabad and Adviser to the India Centre at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. E-mail: [email protected]

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Hilal English

The Jammu and Kashmir Issue: The Pioneering Protagonists

February 2024

Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah played a pivotal role in advocating for a UN-supervised referendum to determine the fate of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite historical commitments by leaders like Nehru for a plebiscite, the BJP's disregard for this commitment persists.


The Dispute and its Challenges
The Jammu and Kashmir dispute coincides with the anniversary of the Independence Day celebrations of Pakistan and India, the two neighbors, whose fireworks refuse to drown out the anguish and sufferings of the Kashmiris in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), cry for freedom for these Kashmiris is a stark reminder of the helplessness of the United Nations (UN), which had promised them a plebiscite and has not materialized even after more than seven decades. Innumerable people, ranging from writers, researchers, politicians, and leaders to diplomats, have penned their thoughts on the travails of the Kashmiris arising from the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. K. Natwar Singh, a highly accomplished Indian diplomat and politician, was spot on in his realism: “Kashmir is the main hurdle in the Indo-Pakistan relationship, and the future lies in the past and has to deal with Pakistan pragmatically to avoid making a mess of the relationship." Discussing the past, especially the UN's promise to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir, the late President Nixon, a historian in his own right, could not have been more forthright when discussing late Indian Premier Jawaharlal Nehru, opined that his Kashmiri ancestral ties made him obsessed with Kashmir to the extent of fierce resistance to letting the Kashmiris decide their fate, “a decision that would have certainly favored Pakistan than India.”  
The Colonial Trap 
The colonial masters in 1947 acted exactly as they are known globally to commit ‘premeditated’ blunders, and Lord Mountbatten, the last Governor General of India, was no exception. As the British masters hurriedly gathered their belongings to leave the shores of India, their leanings and personal relationship with the Indian Congress leadership were reflected in the case of Jammu and Kashmir territory, and they made a mess of it, and, not surprisingly, a dispute took birth. There was no secret that Lord Mountbatten, with the connivance of Sir Cyril Radcliffe, also gave an inlet to the Indian troops to enter into Kashmir by giving India Muslim majority Gurdaspur District, which Alastair Lamb, a reputed historian notes “On August 8, 1947, there emerged from Sir Cyril Radcliffe's establishment a provisional boundary map on which, there is strong evidence to indicate, the southern salient had been modified in what seemed to be Pakistan's favor by substituting for a small portion of the Lahore District the adjacent Ferozepore and Zira tehsils of Ferozepore District, thus extending Pakistan to the eastern side of the Sutlej. The same map also indicated that the three eastern tehsils of Gurdaspur District were now located on the Indian side of the Partition line.”


Responding to Phillips Talbot, the then U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, in a meeting in 1961 on the sidelines of a UN meeting in which he had shared Nehru's view that the UNCIP of January 5, 1949, for a “free and impartial plebiscite to decide the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was not feasible due to lapse of considerable time," Zafarullah Khan, quipped “Is the right of self-determination subject to time limit?”.


Furthermore, as the last Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was dilly-dallying with suggestions of a 'Standstill Agreement,' nursing a desire to make his State a sovereign one, and also contemplating accession with India, sensing the vagueness of the situation, the Indian troops acted on the pretext that the State had acceded to India. The immediate reaction of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, as indicated in Liaquat Ali Khan’s telegram of October 1947 to Lord Atlee, Prime Minister of Britain, was, "the Government of Pakistan cannot recognize the accession of Kashmir to the Indian Union, achieved as it was by fraud and violence.
The Dispute and the Towering Protagonist 
After much wrangling between the two neighbors and the failure to settle the Kashmir conflict, they agreed to take the matter to the UN. Another significant development before the tension took place on August 15, 1947, when Pakistan accepted the Maharaja's ‘Standstill Agreement,' which stated that 'till new agreements were made, all existing agreements and administrative arrangements shall continue.' The Quaid indeed was a far-sighted statesman, and during the fighting in Kashmir, he held discussions with Lord Mountbatten, his Indian counterpart, in Lahore in November 1947, and understanding the gravity and significance of the dispute rightly and sagaciously supported the principled step to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. Jinnah was the first to propose a detailed arrangement for the holding of a plebiscite.
A careful look at the past reflects that Quaid's proposals were not unreasonable, as Alastair Lamb considers it practical and farsighted, as the 'United Nations was soon to suggest very much the same.' This was the astuteness that the Indian leadership agreed to, even though reluctantly and on December 12, 1947, Premier Nehru indicated to Premier Liaquat Ali, “he was considering, albeit, reluctantly, the invitation of the United Nations Observers to come to India and advise on the plebiscite." Thus, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah is the leading and ‘pioneering protagonist’ in the incisive step to protect the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, insisting on a referendum. Successive governments in Pakistan have been consistent on the principled stand that the UN is the right forum to decide the fate of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, preferably by holding a referendum. Subsequently, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan and Prime Minister Nehru, in their correspondence, reflected a common understanding to take the dispute to the UN and to hold a referendum to ascertain the free and unfettered will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Katherine Frank, in the biography of the late Indira Gandhi, confirms Nehru's support for expression of the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide their fate as reflected in his November 2, 1947 All India Radio broadcast, “We are prepared when peace and law and order is established to have a referendum” and reiterated his pledge to his Pakistani counterpart, “We have agreed to an impartial inter-national agency like the UN supervising any referendum." While history reflects India’s firm commitment to ascertain the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s scorn for this ‘commitment’ by the opposition Congress Party continues unabated. L. K. Advani, a Senior BJP politician, in his biography, did not even spare Nehru, one of their country’s leading Founding Fathers, “It was at this critical stage of the war that Prime Minister Nehru, yielding to pressure from Lord Mountbatten, agreed, quite unnecessarily, to refer the Kashmir issue to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on January 1, 1948”. Not to be left behind, the ministers of Premier Modi’s BJP government, in their incumbent arrogance, followed suit, and early this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sought to remind Parliament “that it was the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who internationalized the Kashmir issue by taking it to the UN and even today, our neighbor is misusing this." 



The Ace Companion Rises 
After the UNSC supported the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) formed on April 21, 1948 and its plan of a creation of a UN’s military presence in the disputed territory in August 1948 "found favor in the eyes of neither side", i.e., Pakistan and India. The thread to find a workable solution was picked up by Sir Owen Dixon, a distinguished Australian jurist who the UNSC appointed as United Nations Representative. Sir Owen Dixon traveled extensively in 1950 in Jammu and Kashmir. He held discussions with Premiers Liaquat Ali and Nehru with little success in getting the desired results from the two premiers for a regional plebiscite of Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu, Ladakh, Vale of Kashmir, including Muzaffarabad and Gilgit agency). While Nehru was favorably inclined to that idea, Liaquat Ali’s statesmanship and patriotism did not allow him to accept any proposal that would go against the interest of the Kashmiris. He strongly rebutted that proposal on robust grounds, “it was a breach on India of the agreement that the destination of the State of Jammu and Kashmir as a whole should be decided by a single plebiscite taken over the entire state." This was later interpreted rightly by Liaquat Ali, who believed that “the Indian side was not seriously interested in a settlement and shall waste precious time and at the end of the day, it would give away nothing to Pakistan”. From the outset, Pakistan showed immense aversion to partition, an approach that can be detected even today. Another landmark of Liaquat Ali's defense of his country's interest is reflected as quoted by historian Alastair Lamb that Colonel Shah, a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), who had gone to Srinagar in October 1947. According to Mehr Chand Mahajan, the then Prime Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir’s memoirs, met him and brought with him a blank Instrument of Accession to Pakistan and hoped that he shall sign and that he did not agree to it.
According to Lamb, Mahajan further shared that he was seriously concerned at the situation and, in a deceleration directed at Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, asked him to stop the slide in the “deterioration of relations between his State and that of Pakistan, and he would be justified in asking for friendly assistance," which in other words, meant ‘Indian help.'  Like a true compatriot of the Quaid, Liaquat Ali Khan was bold and forthright on issues of national interest, and that spirit was reflected in his telegram on the following day to Mehr Chand Mahajan when he stated emphatically, "We are astonished to hear your threat to ask for assistance from an outside power. The only object of intervention by an outside power secured by you would be to complete the process of suppressing the Muslims to enable you to join the Indian Dominion as a coup d’état against the declared and well-known will of the Mussalmans and others who form 85 percent of the population of your state”. Concluding his telegram, Liaquat Ali, warned Mahajan that “If that policy is not changed, the preparations and measures you are now taking to implement this policy are not stopped, the gravest consequences will follow for which you alone will be held responsible”. This was the steel-willed character of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, rightly the second ‘pioneering protagonist’ in the bold steps to protect the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 
Developments before Jammu and Kashmir issue reached the UN were significant. There were fears that the war in Jammu and Kashmir might escalate, but negotiations led to a ceasefire, which took effect on January 1, 1949. The result was reflected in the Pakistani and Indian military representatives signing an agreement on July 29, 1949, in Karachi. This agreement defined the ceasefire line in Jammu and Kashmir, which remained in effect until the outbreak of the 1965 War. Alastair Lamb, the historian, regretted the demise of Jinnah but lauded his statesmanship which, in his opinion, continued, “Prime Ministers Liaquat and Nehru were reluctant to see their newly independent polities mutually destroy each other." The UN can also be credited with calming down the Kashmir situation. Kashmir was one of the first disputes to be put to the UN after its creation at the end of the Second World War and seemed to be a test for settling disputes between states by international conciliation.  
A Prudent Choice 
Quaid-i-Azam's sagaciousness and exemplary leadership continued into the dawn of independence. They were also reflected in the choice of his cabinet, beginning with Liaquat Ali Khan as the Prime Minister and then appointing Sir Zafarullah Khan, a highly accomplished personality and known jurist, as the country's Foreign Minister. The Quaid, knowing Zafarullah Khan's accomplished career as a Judge of the Federal Court of India and later as the representing the Muslim League in July 1947 before the Radcliffe Boundary Commission, the case of the Muslims in a highly commendable manner was crucial capabilities that made the Quaid to choose him to head the foreign office. The Quaid’s farsightedness was mirrored in Zafarullah Khan's outstanding defense of Pakistan's moral position in the UN of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Alastair Lamb lauded Sir Zafarullah's role in the UN: "Pakistan was ably represented by its Foreign Minister Sir Zafarullah Khan, who approached the question in a fundamentally different manner and denied all Indian charges of illegal actions in assisting tribesmen." On January 1, 1948, P. P. Pillai, an Indian Representative basing the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir's controversial accession to India, wrote to the President of the UNSC and complained against Pakistan's allegation of assisting the Pakistani tribesmen who had crossed over to Kashmir. Sir Zafarullah Khan, continuing his robust arguments, not only contested Maharajah's accession to India but also termed it as a “wider Indian project for the suppression of Pakistan itself." He invited attention to India's double standards, where it had accepted Kashmir’s accession but had unilaterally set aside Junagadh’s accession to Pakistan. The commendable manner in which Sir Zafarullah Khan put forth Pakistan’s point of view did not escape the ‘eye’ of the Quaid’s biographer and a respected historian, Stanley Wolpert, “Jinnah had no strength to fly to New York, for the UN debate on India and Pakistan, but Foreign Minister Sir Zafarullah Khan performed brilliantly as Pakistan’s advocate before the Security Council; he was judicious, articulate and often eloquent in presenting his case while refuting Indian charges." Abdul Sattar, one of Pakistan's most seasoned diplomats and foreign affairs historians, recalls the UNSC debate, “Zafarullah Khan spoke for five hours," and is a landmark in the UN records of marathon speeches. Zafarullah Khan’s wit and candor continued in his official interaction with senior officials of major powers. Responding to Phillips Talbot, the then U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, in a meeting in 1961 on the sidelines of a UN meeting in which he had shared Nehru's view that the UNCIP of January 5, 1949, for a “free and impartial plebiscite to decide the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was not feasible due to lapse of considerable time," Zafarullah Khan, quipped “Is the right of self-determination subject to time limit?”. Zafarullah Khan's vigorous defense of Pakistan's principled position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, advocating for a fair and free referendum to grant the people of that State their rights as per any standard of human rights and international law statutes, earned him the title of 'Third Pioneering Protagonist'. This issue continues to tarnish India’s global image of a ‘Rising India,’ a situation that successive Indian governments have globally shared so blatantly.
A Future Foretold 
As if the sufferings of Muslims in IIOJK and other parts of the globe were not enough, the inhabitants of Gaza continue to experience untold suffering. The suffering of the Kashmiris in IIOJK has tarnished the ‘Zero Defect, Zero Effect’ slogan of the Indian State. In the recent past, India has globally shared two predictable surprises:
▪     The Second First. The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India in December 2023 “unanimously’ upheld the power of the President to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution, which in August 2019 led to the ‘reorganization’ of IIOJK into two Union Territories and denuded it of its special privileges. Coining a new legal ‘terminology,' it reasoned that Article 370 was only a “temporary provision’ to ease the accession of the then princely State to the Union at a time of internal strife and war."
▪     The First. The election manifesto of the ruling BJP for the 2009, 2014, and 2019 General Elections affirmed its intention to abrogate Article 370 (even though a fig leaf to cover untold atrocities inflicted on the Kashmiris by Indian forces). After winning the election, the BJP government dissolved Article 370 with two Presidential Orders, CO 272 and CO 273, on August 5-6, 2019, respectively. The abrogation removes the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir by the Constitution. This means the Indian Parliament's power to make laws for the newly formed Union Territories is no longer restricted to three subjects. The Constitution and other territorial laws of India apply to these two territories as they would to any other State and Union Territory in the country. The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is redundant, and the region no longer has a separate flag. Further, the exclusive benefits granted, which were so close to the hearts of the Kashmiris and had shielded their rights significantly as 'permanent citizens' of Jammu and Kashmir to own and acquire property within the region, stand dissolved. BBC was blunt: "The government then stunned everyone by revoking nearly all of Article 370, which 35A is part of and which has been the basis of Kashmir's complex relationship with India for some 70 years”. 
Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Father of the Nation, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Zafarullah Khan, our country's 'pioneering protagonists' stand tall in the annals of history in upholding and defending the rights of the people of Kashmir to decide their fate, given to them by the UN, to which the other two parties, Pakistan and India had committed to adhere. Pakistan’s position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, even during one of the most challenging periods of the country’s history in the post-1971 War, has stood firm; during the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi meeting in Shimla in April 1972. Abdul Sattar cites that on the Kashmir question, Pakistan’s stand was firm “Pakistan did not accept the Indian demand for either legitimization of the ceasefire line or an agreement on some new principles for settling the issue." Bhutto, a protagonist of another era, ensured that Paragraph 6 of the Shimla Agreement of April 1972 clearly states that "a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir was one of the outstanding questions and that the establishment of durable peace between the two countries remained contingent on the resolution of this question."  
Fate of a Bonsai: A Continuing Irritation 
The history of bonsai, an art form celebrated for its grace and intricacy, finds its roots in the ancient Chinese practice of ‘pun-sai.’ This early form of bonsai, dating back to around 700 A.D., involved cultivating dwarf trees in containers. The tradition of stagnating trees may be applauded in the form of bonsai trees, but treating the Jammu and Kashmir disputes as a bonsai tree is tragic and unacceptable. The Kashmir dispute has remained a serious bone of contention between India and Pakistan since its inception in 1947, and the "international dimension of the Kashmir conflict, the issue between India and Pakistan has remained unchanged, indeed, static and frozen since the genesis of the dispute in 1947”.  
The voices of Kashmiris are drowned by the Indian brutality. The decision of the Supreme Court of India to put its stamp of approval on the 'blunder' of the Indian Government, in the long and short run, shall never dampen the 'defiance' of the Kashmiri spirit to reject Indian occupation of their State. Borrowing Bismarck’s famous saying, “A leader must wait until he hears the steps of God sounding through events, then leap up and grasp the hem of his garment." This may be a wise sound of 'Shanka' for Prime Minister Modi, and he needs to grasp it! Let India prove S. M. Burke, one of Pakistan’s most respected diplomats and historians, wrong that “Nehru employed double standards towards the Kashmir dispute on the one hand and other international conflicts in which India had no direct interest on the other."  


The writer holds a Master's in Political Science from Punjab University and a Master's in Diplomatic Studies from the UK. He has served in various capacities in Pakistan's missions abroad, including as an Ambassador to Vietnam and High Commissioner to Malaysia. Currently, he is on the visiting faculty of four mainstream public universities in Islamabad and serves as an Adviser to the India Centre at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad.
E-mail: [email protected]

 

 

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Ambassador Shahid Masroor Gul Kiani (R)

The writer holds a Masters in Political Science (Punjab University) and Masters in Diplomatic Studies (UK). He has served in various capacities in Pakistan’s missions abroad and as an Ambassador to Vietnam and High Commissioner to Malaysia. He is on the visiting faculty of four mainstream public universities in Islamabad and Adviser to the India Centre at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. E-mail: [email protected]

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