Jammu & Kashmir’s accession to the Indian Union on 26 October 1947 was the direct result of the incursion of Kashmir by the lashkars of North-West Frontier tribesmen that was conceived, planned and abetted by the rulers of the nascent state of Pakistan.
The diehard activists of Lord Curzon’s “Great Game in Central Asia” of the mid-19th century, working in tandem with the new brand of Islamists in the sub-continent, focused attention on one particular objective of stonewalling India’s access to the west and north. This unfolded on them the strategic importance of Jammu and Kashmir. Months ahead of the actual withdrawal of the British on August 15, the conspiracy of leading an incursion into the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was secretly discussed in Peshawar.
Brigadier Akbar Khan of the Pakistan Army working in close collaboration with some junior British Army officers drew the details of “Operation Gulmarg”, the code name for the invasion of Kashmir by the lashkars. The conspirators took the leaders of the pro-Pakistan J&K Muslim Conference on board.
On 17 July 1947, about a month earlier than the declaration of the independence of India, All J&K Muslim Conference (AJKMC) held a convention in Srinagar, at the residence of Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, prominent Muslim Conference leader (later on founder-President of the Azad Kashmir Government) wherein a majority of the participants decided in favour of the state’s accession to Pakistan. Only Choudhri Hamidullah Khan, the then acting President of AJKMC was in favour of the independence of J&K State.
Not many people know that the Pakistani cronies in conjunction with the outgoing colonial collaborators hatched the conspiracy of Kashmir incursion much ahead of the declaration of India’s independence on 15 August 1947.
Operation Gulmarg was Pakistan’s code for the Kashmir operations. Indian military sources say that Pakistan Army prepared a plan called Operation Gulmarg and put it into action as early as 20 August 1947, just six days after Pakistan became the newly independent state. The plan got accidentally revealed to Major O.S Kalkat, an Indian officer then serving with the Bannu Brigade as Brigade Major. He had read a ‘Top Secret’ letter written by General Frank Messervy, the Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army addressed to Kalkat’s Commanding Officer Brig. C P Murray. Pakistani officials suspected Kalkat and placed him under house arrest. He escaped and made his way to New Delhi on October 18.
The story of hatching the conspiracy of Kashmir incursion has been admirably traced by the twin authors of the well-known volume Freedom at Midnight (Dominique Lapeer and Larry Collins, Vikas Publishing House, pp 436 Et seq.)
On 24 August, Jinnah told his military secretary Col William Birnie to go to Kashmir and arrange for him a two-week stay there in September to recover from exhaustion. Five days later the British officer returned with a reply that stunned Jinnah. Maharaja Hari Singh did not want Jinnah to set his foot on his soil even as a tourist. Jinnah understood that the situation in Kashmir was not evolving according to the plan he had envisioned. Forty-eight hours later Jinnah government infiltrated a secret agent into Kashmir to evaluate the situation and determine Maharaja’s real intention. The agent’s report was shocking. Hari Singh had no intention of joining his state with Pakistan.
In mid-September, PM Liaquat Ali Khan convened a secret meeting of a select group of collaborators in Lahore to decide how to force the Maharaja’s hands. The plan of NWFP chief minister Qayyum Khan of deploying tribesmen for Kashmir incursion was agreed upon. King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan was already instigating the Pathans for rejection of the Durand Line and also the expansion of the Afghan kingdom up to Peshawar. Sending these barbarous tribesmen to Kashmir for the twin purpose of waging Islamic jihad in an infidel-ruled state and providing a big opportunity to the tribesmen for general loot and rapine of infidels in Kashmir were good enough to make the conspiracy a success.
The operation had to be complete secret and finances were to be provided from the secret fund of the Prime Minister. Neither the officers of the Pakistan Army or her civil servants nor the British officers and administrators in the service of the new state were to be given access to the secret.
Three days later in the cellar of a ramshackle building in Peshawar’s old walled city, a group of tribal leaders met the man chosen to arouse their emotions and lead them on their march to Srinagar. He was Major Khurshid Anwar. Within hours, in the mud-walled compounds of their villages in Landi Kotal along the Khyber, the Pathans passed the ancient call of Islam for war, the jihad. From one bazaar to another bazaar secret emissaries began to buy hardtack and gurh, a mixture of cornmeal, ground chickpeas and sugar. Taken twice or three times a day the mouthful could sustain a Pathan for days.
The British officers in NWFP, Governor Sir George Cunningham and Lt Gen Sir Frank Messervy, the Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army were talking to each other on the telephone as this:
Cunningham: I say, old boy, I have the impression that something strange is going on here. For days, trucks crowded with tribesmen chanting Allah-o-Akbar have been pouring through Peshawar. My chief minister seems to be stirring up the Pathans. Are you certain that the government is still opposed to a tribal invasion of Kashmir?”
Messervy: “I can assure you I’m opposed to any such idea and the Prime Minister has personally given me his assurance he is too.”
Cunningham: “You would better inform him of what is going on up here.”
Liaquat Ali Khan’s government had arranged the departure of General Messervy to London to synchronise with the march of the tribesmen into Kashmir. Before leaving for London for arms negotiations, Messervy enquired of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali, who assured him saying, “His (Messervy’s) fears were groundless. Pakistan would not tolerate such an action. I shall immediately contact the Chief Minister of the Province and order him to stop his outrageous action.”
This is the story of the conspiracy of tribal invasion of Kashmir in 1947. This is also the story of the first prime minister of Pakistan telling lies and falsehoods. We have another source of information about the conspiracy.
Sardar Shaukat Hayat, the then President of All India Muslim League writes that he was given the command of the Kashmir invasion and he asked for the services of Brigs. Sher Khan and Akbar Khan. Gen Kiyani (formerly of INA), Col. Dara and Taj Khanadeh were also associated with the planning of the Kashmir invasion. He adds that Khurshid Anwar contacted the chiefs of about fifteen tribes of NWFP who included Afridis, Mahsud, Yusufzai, Wazir, SubhanKhel, Mohmand and Mengal etc. These tribal lashkars were led by religious leaders like Pir of Manki Sharif, Pir Sahib Lander, Pir Zakodi Sharief, Kaptan Mir Badshah Mahsud, Badshah Gul Mohmand and others
Researchers had noted the considerable movement of Pukhtoon tribesmen during September-October 1947. By 13 September, armed Pukhtoons drifted into Lahore and Rawalpindi. The Deputy Commissioner of Dera Ismail Khan noted a scheme to send tribesmen from Malakand to Sialkot in lorries provided by the Pakistan government. Preparations for attacking Kashmir were also noted in the princely States of Swat, Dir and Chitral. Robin James Moore (Making the New Commonwealth, 1982) states that “there is little doubt that Pashtuns were involved in border raids all along the Punjab border from the Indus to the Ravi.”
Pakistani sources deny the existence of any plan called Operation Gulmarg. However, Shuja Nawaz, a PoK author lists twenty-two Pushtoon tribes involved in the incursion of Kashmir on 22 October 1947. In Muzaffarabad, nearly 5,000 Sikhs and Hindus were massacred in cold blood and about 1800 Hindu and Sikh girls were abducted and sold for rupees two a person in the markets of Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.
On 13 October 1947 prominent leaders of the Muslim Conference had met in Paris Hotel in Rawalpindi. The meeting resolved to set up an Azad republican government. It said that Maharaja Hari Singh’s government would cease to exist from midnight of 14 October 1947.
Dr Malik Abdul Ghani Asghar writes (Kashmir ka uruj wa zawal) that the underground government of Muzaffarabad worked on a scheme of arresting Maharaja Hari Singh. The names of some Kashmiri political activists were given in code only. The task of organizing the volunteer force for the Kashmir campaign was left to one Chowhan the commander-in-chief for internal forces in Kashmir. The temporary Azad Kashmir Government made a formal announcement saying that nobody was permitted to run the administration in Azad Kashmir under the instructions of the Maharaja’s government.
There is some controversy about the beginning of the “Azad Kashmir Government”. Some writers say that the first President of the clandestine government was Sardar Ibrahim Khan while others believe that Ghulam Nabi Gilkar was the real originator of the underground rebel government announced as early as 14 April 1947. However, it appears that in its formal composition on 24 October, Sardar Ibrahim Khan was declared the head of the clandestine government. On that occasion, Ibrahim is reported to have issued a declaration the text of which has been incorporated by Prem Nath Bazaz in his work History of Freedom Movement in Kashmir (pp 622-23).
On the expiry of the lease deed of 1935 and with the transfer of power, Gilgit-Baltistan would have reverted to the State of Jammu and Kashmir on August 15, 1947. However, instigated by Captain Brown, the British Commander of the Gilgit Scouts, the force rose in a rebellion. With the help of the Pakistan Army he besieged and arrested Thakur Ghansara Singh, the Governor of Gilgit appointed by the Maharaja of J&K. Captain Brown offered Gilgit to Pakistan on a platter.
On 28 April 1949 Pakistan, through a proclamation, separated Gilgit-Baltistan from the so-called Azad Kashmir and gave it the name of Northern Areas. In violation of relevant clauses of the Security Council’s resolutions on J&K, a tripartite agreement between Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Muslim Conference was signed on 28 April 1949 at Karachi. Northern Areas meaning Gilgit-Baltistan were detached from PoK and the bogus government of PoJK was institutionalised. No representative of Gilgit-Baltistan was included among the signatories to the agreement. This is how an area of 72,9712 square kilometres was illegally grabbed by Pakistan out of which, later on, she ceded nearly 5,000 sq km to China plus 13,297 sq km of “AJK”.
Gilgit-Baltistan met with a chequered history. It was administered by a Secretary in the Kashmir Affairs Ministry of the Government of Pakistan. No democratic dispensation and hence no developmental programme for the region left the people disgruntled and dissatisfied so much so that the movement of the people for the liberation of their land from the grip of Pakistan has turned into a national liberation movement. The flames of dissatisfaction are stoked by inviting China to grab the strategic territory in the name of development. The massive presence of PLA in the region has increased the security concerns of India.
In the final analysis, we find that what Pakistan names “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” is actually an illegally occupied territory. World Watch: Human Rights Watch Report vol. 18, no 11@ September 2006 terms Azad Jammu and Kashmir “a legal anomaly”. According to the UN Resolution dating back to 1948, “Azad Kashmir” is neither a sovereign state nor a province of Pakistan rather a local authority with responsibility for the area assigned to it under a 1949 ceasefire agreement with India. It has remained in this state of legal limbo since that time. In practice, the Pakistan Army and government in Islamabad and the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) control all aspects of political life in Azad Kashmir — though “Azad” means free, the residents of Azad Kashmir are anything but free. They face curbs on political pluralism; freedom of expression and freedom of association; a muzzled press; banned books; arbitrary arrests and detention and torture at the hands of the Pakistani military State. Singled out are Kashmiri nationalists who do not support the idea of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan. Anyone who wants to take part in public life has to sign a pledge of loyalty to Pakistan, while anyone who publicly supports or works for an independent Kashmir is persecuted. For those expressing independent or unpopular political views, there is a pervasive fear of Pakistani military and intelligence services and militant organizations acting at their behest or independently.” (Ten Studies in Kashmir History and Politics by K.N. Pandit p.58).
This is how Pakistan created a bogus state called “AJK” in 1947 and then illegally grabbed the Northern Areas of Gilgit–Baltistan with the connivance of the British colonial functionaries. India has every right to take back the areas that legally belong to her. The people of both regions demand that they are repatriated to the original State of Jammu and Kashmir.